The Chaos of Balance–Kenneth Kao

A man searching for a balanced life has many stories.

On Being Rejected by Ninja Warrior: Male Ego Crushed


So, I recently was told that Ninja Warrior 2013 didn’t accept my application video.  This was tough for me to accept, enough that I’ve just got to blog about it just to get things off my chest because it’s distracting me from my writing.  Admittedly, I didn’t want to compete as much as many others did, but the feeling of rejection immediately made me question my self-worth.

Am I not athletic enough?  Am I not unique enough?  Was it the video, or a mistake in the submission, or…something else?

My ego flared, and I had every urge to publicly declare defiance and “up yours” to Ninja Warrior.  I mean, how many Asian Male Pole Dancing Parkour Instructor Writing Chiropractors do they really have?

I felt as if I gave them everything they could’ve wanted on a silver platter.  Athleticism, unique and significant credentials, varied background, a sympathetic history, and a decent previous run on Ninja Warrior 2012.  I wonder if I should’ve said more, or done something different–or not pulled on so much old footage anywhere from 3-4 years ago to throw into the video because I don’t record myself enough (prior to pole stuff).  Then again, I didn’t edit the video, and though Ryan Ford was kind enough to cut something together for me last minute as I know exactly zilch about video editing–it didn’t turn out as I’d hoped.  I didn’t post it publicly because I was a bit embarrassed by it.  Ryan’s a busy guy so he basically pasted everything together without much trimming or emphasis on “da good stuff.”  It’s my own fault for relying on him when it wasn’t his responsibility, don’t get me wrong.

Anyway, in the end, I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter WHY.  They rejected me for whatever reasons they did (and if I was embarrassed by the video–maybe that’s explanation enough).  What’s important is that apparently I have too big an ego.  Because if I didn’t care about running Ninja Warrior that much, and their rejection is affecting me this much, then it must be because I thought I DESERVED a spot.  My head is too big, and this is a reminder to keep it deflated.

So, here’s my embarrassing Ninja Warrior Sub Vid, and hopefully now that I’ve written this blog, I can move on and focus on all the other things more important than just another rejection in life.




ps–comments like, “There’s always next year,” are unnecessary, but thanks anyway!


Ninja Warrior 2013 Sub:



7 comments on “On Being Rejected by Ninja Warrior: Male Ego Crushed

  1. Gregg
    May 8, 2013

    I thought the stuff you showed in your video was absolutely insane… but it was a bit awkward at times (and I know you were using awkward humor in certain parts). A little less pole-dancing and more Parkour would have been good probably.
    It didn’t seem like you actually had too big of an ego in the video; any big ego stuff seemed to be in a joking fashion. It did seem to be a video of someone expecting to get in, and unless you are one of the huge names in ANW, that’s gotta be a turn-off to the casting people. Even Matt Lessig didn’t get in once, and when I watched his video last year I thought to myself “hmmm, I’ve seen all this footage before. He didn’t try hard with this video”.
    I don’t know how much editing and fun stuff they like to see in videos, but I would guess that if you don’t enjoy watching the video, then they won’t enjoy it either. They may see you as someone who can kill the course, but maybe not as someone who they want on camera.
    Watching the first 10 seconds of your 2012 video and 2013 video… if I had to choose who I wanted to be on Ninja Warrior, I would want the smiling, humble guy from 2012 over the guy from 2013 who came off as a little less sincere.

    Your athleticism is on an insane level that can be matched by very VERY few people. I’ve watched a lot of parkour videos, as well as all that Bar Brothers and european bar stuff… and the strength you show still made my jaw drop.

    If you really want to get in, just be sincere and make your video more fun to watch!

    Good luck in the future!

    • pkchiro
      May 8, 2013

      Thanks for the words, Gregg. Your response helped quite a bit, actually. I appreciate the time you took to analyze the possibilities, and it does help me come to grips with their decision. Thanks!

      • Gregg
        May 9, 2013

        No prob. I was hoping I could be helpful. If i see someone that could do really well on the course, I want to see them on that course and kill it… so hopefully you’ll get in next year. I think you have the personality and athleticism to make it on, as long as you take the effort to show both in your video.
        Also it might help to adhere to the specific things they ask for in a submission video (see ).

        PS: I want to see you do some of this stuff in next year’s video! :

      • pkchiro
        May 8, 2013

        Yes–someone showed me that video a while back. Pretty amazing stuff. I’m looking forward to bringing more to the table next year. Thanks again, sir.

  2. Gabe Arnold
    May 9, 2013

    I didn’t get a call back either despite doing fairly well last year and having what I thought was a decent video. I have a feeling it was a wide range of factors. The producers probably wanted new faces so unless you were a “main stay” of ANW you’d probably be passed over for new potential. When your video was submitted was probably a factor as well, considering the number of submissions this year vs. last year. And then simply quality/style of video, like Gregg said. If you’ve seen Evan Dollard’s video you know that some guys had TV commercial quality stuff haha.

    In the end I try to put the ‘snub’ in perspective by reminding myself it’s a TV show; entertainment first and competition second. It’s an incredibly fun challenge but the producers main goal is ratings and spectacle, not athletic achievement. If it was about getting the best performance then the course would be the same for every region, instead of changing dramatically at each location. And we’d run during the day instead of sleep deprived and groggy, or doing endless interviews and posing for ‘hero shots’.

    So it’s a blow to pride but I know I can challenge myself just as hard physically in other ways – that’s why I signed up for a Strongman event two days after I got back from trying the walk-on line in Baltimore. Funnel the energy into new goals and accomplishments, experiences that will make for an even better video next year. 😉

    • pkchiro
      May 9, 2013

      Finding out that you of all people, not to mention some other top 30s weren’t called back does help explain some things. So thanks for pointing that out. I agree, we can only keep our heads up and focus on the importance of more-to-life-than-ninja-warriors, and then go for it again in the future. Preciate the comment. Thanks.

  3. Stan Yan
    July 26, 2013

    I think posting excerpts from your public pole dance performances instead of some of the practice footage might have made for a better video. The pacing is a bit slow, and getting to the meat of your athleticism is probably a better idea. I like the intro, but you could’ve probably sped up your delivery and cut a good 30 seconds off of it.

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