The choices made on the American Ninja Warrior course decide every make or break moment. A split-second decision either sends a Ninja home or sends them on to the next round. This week, we’re taking a closer look at some great decisions - Examples of making the right choice in the right moment for the right competitor.
After we discussed Jessie Graff’s Daytona City Final’s choice, we asked the readers to share what other moments we should break down. Reader Dylan Payne suggested a few perfect examples, starting with this one: JJ Woods on Stage One of the 2017 National Finals.
JJ made a choice on Parkour Run that would have made zero sense for most competitors. But for him, it was the right choice.
In season nine, JJ was on a comeback tour. He fell VERY early in season eight and was ready for redemption. In the 2017 Daytona Qualifiers, he completed the course with a strong time. In the City Finals, he placed second overall.
JJ has a long history with parkour and freerunning. So maybe he felt like it was kismet when he saw Parkour Run on Stage One of the National Finals. He made a choice to turn it into a true parkour challenge.
JJ takes a moment before the obstacle to map out his plan. Everyone thought he was catching his breath.
He was actually setting himself up for this move. At first, this looked like an error. The “design” was that the Ninjas would stay upright on this pedestal and bounce their left, hitting that large platform and leaping to the rope to swing to the landing. Stopping here looked like it would freeze his momentum.
But JJ climbed to the top of the pedestal and exposed his plan. The Ninjas were not required by the rules to utilize every step and the rope. So JJ planned to skip them.
Look. At. This. Jump.
JJ nimbly stuck the landing.
It left him in the perfect position to run straight into the next part of the course.
The move allowed JJ to finish the course with just over 16 seconds left.
For many, many other Ninjas, that move would have been a massively unnecessary risk. For JJ, it was a choice to save himself time on the course, solidify his redemption, and pay homage to the sport that brought him to Ninja Warrior.