Yamada Katsumi (山田 勝己) is a SASUKE competitor, a SASUKE All-Stars member and the leader of the Black Tigers who first competed in SASUKE 1, making it to the Second Stage but ultimately failing the Goren Hammer. He would go on to compete 26 more times, missing only SASUKE 13, SASUKE 25 and SASUKE 29. He was banned after SASUKE 30, and concentrated on training the Black Tigers, his team of younger athletes who he trains for SASUKE. His ban was lifted in SASUKE 33, which allowed to compete for the 20th anniversary.
Yamada has held many nicknames over the years, including "Mr. Banzuke", "The Nagiwa Terminator" and "The Black Tiger of Nagiwa" (the inspiration for the name of his team. However his most famous nickname by far is "Mr. SASUKE", bestowed upon him because he was once thought to be the most likely competitor to clear all four stages. However, since SASUKE 12, he has been plagued with a string of First Stage failures.
He is particularly notable for his unusual devotion to SASUKE. He has sworn to retire several times after failing to complete the 1st Stage, but the draw of kanzenseiha is too great for him and he always manages to resurface again. Earlier on, he competed with the support of his family, but after he lost his job prior to the 6th competition because the factory where he worked (as a propane tank delivery driver) was closed, he did nothing but train for SASUKE, alienating his family in the process. He continues to train at his home even today. He has constructed several SASUKE obstacles and trains there daily.
He has held various jobs over the years, including delivering propane tanks and working in the steel industry, but he now devotes all his time to SASUKE training, only holding a part-time job. He has also vowed to retire several times (after SASUKE 8, SASUKE 17, and SASUKE 24 for example), but has only missed three tournaments. Out of the 27 tournaments he has participated in, he has cleared the first stage ten times, the second stage four times and the third stage once. Though he showed good consistency in the early tournaments, since his comeback in SASUKE 14, he has never cleared the First Stage.
Yamada was one of the strongest competitors in the early competitions. He passed the First Stage in the first six SASUKE tournemants. In the first tournament he failed the Goren Hammer. In SASUKE 2, he struggled on the Spider Walk and failed there. In SASUKE 3, he was one of the five people to reach to Final Stage and Yamada did the best, missing the victory by just a meter. In SASUKE 4, he wore #100. His dreams of Kanzenseiha ended where he failed the new Cliffhanger. In SASUKE 5, when he attempted the Rolling Maruta, the log fell off the track but Yamada amazingly didn't touch the water. He advanced in Second Stage before failing the new Spider Walk. In SASUKE 6, he advanced to the Third Stage and took his revenge to the Cliffhanger. On the Pipe Slider, he landed on the mat, but losing his balance and fell on the ground.
SASUKE 7 was the first time that Yamada was unable to clear the First Stage, timing out on the Rope Climb. Before the 8th competition, Yamada had announced his retirement. But he returned for the eighth tournament. He took on the 1st Stage, and ran out of time on the Soritatsu Kabe. Clearly emotional, Yamada just stood there in defeat for a few seconds. Then unexpectedly, he ran and climbed over the wall with ease and completed the Rope Climb quickly. It was a very emotional moment in SASUKE.
Yamada's retirement did not last long; he returned for SASUKE 9 and reached the Second Stage, only to time out on the Wall Lifting after spending 17 seconds removing the tape on the bottom of his shoes before the Spider Walk. In the 10th Competition, Yamada was the only All-Star to complete the First Stage and the only one who made it to the Pipe Slider, however he failed the Pipe Slider and since then hasn't returned to the Third Stage. His emotional interview after his failure prompted him to say one of the most famous lines in the history of the show, "俺には…、SASUKEしかないんですよ" which literally means, "For me, there is nothing else except SASUKE."
He would clear the First Stage in SASUKE 11 and SASUKE 12, but would fail the Second Stage both times. In SASUKE 11, Katsumi fell off near the end of the Balance Tank. In SASUKE 12, he made it through the Second Stage, but was disqualified when he forgot to take off his gloves before the Spider Walk. This would be his most recent 2nd stage appearance, almost making it in SASUKE 16 And SASUKE 18. Yamada would not compete in SASUKE 13, even though he earned a spot during the SASUKE 13 Trials, but would re-appear at SASUKE 14, failing on the Jump Hang.
First Stage failures
After SASUKE 14, Yamada has had a long string of First Stage failures. In SASUKE 15, he failed the Cross Bridge when he fell off the side of the mat after completing the obstacle. He then had a string of three straight time outs: on the Rope Climb in SASUKE 16, the Soritatsu Kabe in SASUKE 17, and the Rope Ladder in SASUKE 18.
For three of the next four tournaments - SASUKE 19, SASUKE 20, and SASUKE 22 - Yamada failed the Jumping Spider. SASUKE 19, he used up a lot of time on the Pole Maze and fell on the Jumping Spider. Even if he would stick the landing, he still would time out about halfway. In the one tournament he cleared, SASUKE 21, he again failed the Soritatsu Kabe.
In SASUKE 23, Yamada would move easily through the first half of the course. On the Half-Pipe Attack he would carry too much momentum, and almost go off the mat. On the Soritatsu Kabe he would take many tries to scale the wall, and once he cleared it he was low on time. When he reached the Slider Jump he griped the bar with a reverse grip, then slid down, but similar to Nagano Makoto in SASUKE 22 he sliped from the netting, and failed, making it his tenth consecutive First Stage defeat and even if he had cleared the Slider Jump, he would've timed out while still in the netting.
In SASUKE 24, Yamada, took on the first stage once more. He cleared the Jumping Spider which he had failed three times, and easily cleared the half pipe attack, showing good speed. However, he suffered another heartbreaking defeat when he timed out attempting to clear the Soritatsu Kabe.
Yamada again vowed to retire after SASUKE 24 and missed the following tournament, only to return for SASUKE 26. He performed quickly through the first two obstacles, but stumbled on the Rolling Escargot. Though he cleared, he then failed the Jumping Spider for the fourth time, though this was the first time since the 10th competition that Yamada progressed the furthest of the All-Stars (tying with Nagano in the process).
Before SASUKE 27, Yamada finally raised his Soritatsu Kabe 20 cm higher, but he kept grasping the lower bar before scaling it. During the tournament he performed well through the first few obstacles. On the redesigned Half-Pipe Attack Yamada had to go back for a second try at the obstacle and he made the landing. Yamada once again struggled on the Soritatsu Kabe and timed out on the obstacle for the fifth time.
In SASUKE 28, Yamada's home course had not been maintained and he opted to tear it down. In the tournament, Yamada lost about 20 seconds on the Rolling Escargot and wound up having virtually no time left on the Ni Ren Soritatsu Kabe. He slipped on the first wall on his first try but climbed to the top as time ran out. In an all cut interview, he revealed that he injured his leg prior to the tournament, explaining why he was slow throughout his run. Ιn a post SASUKE 28 exclusive interview, he stated that he will not retire yet and he will return when he feels he's ready.
POST SASUKE RISING
For SASUKE 29, instead of competing, he formed a team of 4 newcomers to SASUKE; Yamamoto Hiroshige, Watanabe Yousuke, Okada Satoma, and Mizukawa Keishi. They were called the "Black Tigers" and wore #'s 47-50, respectively. However they all failed the 1st Stage.
Also, in that tournament, just for fun, Yamada ran the Third Stage (in the daytime) for the first time since SASUKE 10, but fell from the second ledge of the Crazy Cliffhanger. However if he competed in the actual tournament, he would be disqualified at the Iron Paddler as he used the metal supports to hold on and not fall in the water.
Yamada then competed in SASUKE 30, alongside the four other All-Stars, including Shiratori Bunpei. He wore his lowest start position to date, #2934 (He would have been #34 in a regular tournament.) Unfortunately, his run was completely cut though it was stated that he failed on the Ni Ren Soritatsu Kabe. It was later known that the reason he was cut was because he was banned from SASUKE because of a bad argument with Inui Masato. However, one of his protégés, Yamamoto Hiroshige, reached the Second Stage however failed when he was disqualified on the Swap Salmon Ladder.
Despite being barred from competing, Yamada reappeared in SASUKE 31 to cheer on the Black Tigers again. Also, in that tournament, just for fun, Yamada had a monkey run the course in his place. The monkey subsequently timed out on the Soritatsu Kabe, despite taking many shortcuts on the course that would disqualify a normal competitor. Hiroshige also made it to the Second Stage in this tournament however timed out on the Backstream,
Yamada appeared once again in SASUKE 32 to cheer on the Black Tigers, although this time none of his protégés cleared the First Stage for the first time since their debut in Sasuke 29. Also, in that tournament, Yamada was entrusted with the production of promotional content, including 360-Degree Video Walkthroughs of the course. According to the Japanese Wikipedia page for Yamada, he concludes these videos by expressing a desire to return to competing on the course, although this is likely impossible due to his ban.
He was, however allowed to take part in a side event where competitors attempt four First Stage obstacles from SASUKE 32 for real, while they attempt another four on a Super Mario Bros. game with the paths in each game designed like their respective obstacle. He attempted it with 7 other competitors, including Akiyama Kazuhiko and failed at the transistion from the Quad Steps to the Rolling Hill
Yamada was allowed to compete in SASUKE 33 for the 20th anniversary of SASUKE. He managed to navigate his way past the Quad Steps and the Rolling Hill, but was unable to complete the TIE Fighter. Here, he was given his lowest starting number, 33 which correspond with the 33rd tournament for SASUKE.
Since KUNOICHI 9, he is entrusted as an analyst for the runs of the competitors.
|1||92||Failed Goren Hammer (Second Stage)|
|2||91||Failed Spider Walk (Second Stage)||Digest. According to Yamada's Japanese Wikipedia page, the walls were slick with moisture. The Spider Walk would become Yamada's first home obstacle.|
|3||89||Failed Tsuna Nobori (Final Stage)||Time Out. 14.7m up.|
|4||100||Failed Cliffhanger (Third Stage)|
|5||100||Failed Spider Walk (Second Stage)|
|6||99||Failed Pipe Slider (Third Stage)||Yamada landed poorly on the finish mat and toppled sideways onto the ground. See Yamada Katsumi's Pipe Slider Disqualification.|
|7||100||Failed Rope Climb (First Stage)||Time Out.|
|8||100||Failed Soritatsu Kabe (First Stage)||Time Out. Cleared Soritatsu Kabe and Rope Climb after defeat.|
|9||99||Failed Wall Lifting (Second Stage)||Time Out. Second Wall. He spent 17 seconds on tape and spray.|
|10||1000||Failed Pipe Slider (Third Stage)||Last Man Standing.Final appearance at Third Stage by Yamada Katsumi.|
|11||100||Failed Balance Tank (Second Stage)|
|12||98||Failed Spider Walk (Second Stage)||See Yamada Katsumi's Glove Disqualification.|
|14||99||Failed Jump Hang (First Stage)|
|15||99||Failed Cross Bridge (First Stage)||Course Out.|
|16||99||Failed Rope Climb (First Stage)||Time Out.|
|17||100||Failed Soritatsu Kabe (First Stage)||Time Out. Was at the top as time expired.|
|18||73||Failed Rope Ladder (First Stage)||Time Out.|
|19||91||Failed Jumping Spider (First Stage)|
|20||1999||Failed Jumping Spider (First Stage)|
|21||96||Failed Soritatsu Kabe (First Stage)||Injured, Time Out.|
|22||81||Failed Jumping Spider (First Stage)|
|23||71||Failed Slider Jump (First Stage)|
|24||80||Failed Soritatsu Kabe (First Stage)||Time Out.|
|26||90||Failed Jumping Spider (First Stage)|
|27||91||Failed Soritatsu Kabe (First Stage)||Time Out.|
|28||99||Failed Ni Ren Soritatsu Kabe (First Stage)||Time Out. First Wall. Was on top as time expired.|
|30||2934||Failed Ni Ren Soritatsu Kabe (First Stage)||Time Out. Second Wall All Cut. External Information.|
|33||33||Failed TIE Fighter (First Stage)|
|2||99||Failed Cannonball (First Marine Stage)|
|3||81||Failed Captain's Cabin (First Marine Stage)||Time Out.|