Discovery Orders 'Ultimate Ninja Challenge' Survival Competition Series

A new survival show called Ultimate Ninja Challenge is headed to the Discovery Channel later this summer.

The series will consist of brutal challenges of athleticism and survival in the unforgiving Pacific Northwester wilderness. The series order was announced on Monday, July 2 according to The Hollywood Reporter. It is set to premiere on Sunday, Aug. 5 at 10 p.m. ET.

The show will reportedly focus on nine contestants. They will come from various backgrounds, though all of them will willingly face the challenges of the show. The cast of the upcoming season is rumored to consist of a UFC fighter, some martial arts experts and veterans of both the military and fire departments. Participants will be tasked with a total of eight missions, all of which will relate to the "ancient laws of the Ninja."

The authority on these ancient practices is reportedly Jinichi Kawakami. Kawakami devised all eight of the show's missions. Widely known as the "last living Ninja," he is currently the head of the Banke Shinobinoden, which claims to be the only remaining school to teach authentic ninjutsu. Kawakami is also a professor at Mie University, the honorary director of the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum, and the head of the Koga Ban family.

With his extensive background in these esoteric practices and martial arts, Kawakami has designed challenges to test participants' physical, emotional and mental endurance. Failing any one mission will automatically eliminate a contestant, meaning it is very possible the show will have no winner. However, anyone who makes it through all eight challenges will get the rare chance to train with Kawakami himself in Iga, Japan. There, they will face a final challenge.

While Kawakami may be the world's foremost expert on the ancient arts of various nijutsu schools, he holds a pragmatic view of their usefulness in modern times. In 2012, he gave an interview with the BBC, where he stated candidly that he has no intention of appointing another grandmaster to carry on after he is gone.

"In the age of civil wars or during the Edo period, ninjas' abilities to spy and kill, or mix medicine may have been useful," he said. "But we now have guns, the Internet and much better medicines, so the art of ninjutsu has no place in the modern age."

This makes the potential to train with Kawakami that much more valuable to contestants.

Ultimate Ninja Challenge was created by Charlie Foley, known for his work on shows like River Monsters, Ice Lake Rebels and Tanked. He developed the show alongside Vaibhav Bhatt, who has worked with him on TV documentaries like This is A.I. and The Cannibal in the Jungle. Both are executive producing Ultimate Ninja Challenge for Discovery's Original Content Group.


They're joined by fellow EPs David Garfinkle, Jay Renfroe, Stephen Rankin and David Burris for Renegade 83, and Joseph Boyle and Michael Gara for Discovery.

The show will begin on Sunday, Aug. 5 at 10 p.m. ET.