Dhalsim is often depicted with having pupil-less eyes. His build is that of a normal man who exercises and weight trains regularly except for his abdomen and waist which appear much out of proportion and emaciated. His arms are also quite extraordinary in length, and he uses this to create an advantage over his opponents during fights, usually opting to wear them down from the outside. He wears torn saffron shorts as his only clothing attire as well as saffron wristbands and anklebands. He has three colored stripes adorning his head, and in the Street Fighter Alpha series, he wears a turban that he removes before battle. The skulls he wears around his neck are those of village children that died during a plague.
Dhalsim's minimal clothing and necklace of skulls are reminiscent of the medieval Hindu ascetics known as Kapalikas ("skull-bearers") who were often related to macabre imagery such as cannibalism and human sacrifice.
Dhalsim is quite stoic, serious, self-disciplined, humble, and also very stern when needed. Being a pacifist, he will never hurt a person more than necessary, or kill an adversary, even the most evil ones such as M. Bison. His pacifistic beliefs also allow him to be a greatly loving father and husband towards his family.
Being an extremely altruistic man, Dhalsim fights mostly for the poor and oppressed, as he constantly tries his best to raise money for his poverty-stricken people. Dhalsim is aware that if he uses his power to harm, he may become evil, and frequently questions his decisions to use his powers for fighting. Furthermore, all forms of yoga are meant to aid a personal journey towards enlightenment, and not to harm others. Therefore, Dhalsim is constantly concerned about his fighting style overwhelming his own principles of nonviolence.
In contrast with Ryu's youngster (but still serious and self-focused) type, Dhalsim has a more "mature" and less "enthusiastic" nature, as he regularly relies on his traditional yoga meditation rites to expand his spirituality, and keep his inner neutrality off any emotional involvement that may prejudice his discipline.
Dhalsim always remains calm and serene. When he fights, he is always in a constant state of meditation so he can focus on the opponent. He rarely speaks to his opponents outside of calling his attacks, and when he does, his words are riddles that leave the foe confused about his or her own being.
Lead designer of Street Fighter II, Akira Nishitani, stated in a interview with Polygon that the concept of Dhalsim's ability to stretch his limbs comes from the Hamon Zoom Punch technique (from the manga series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure). This is reconfirmed in the comment section of Dhalism's bio in the Street Fighter X Tekken Artworks artbook.
Dhalsim has a wife, Sally, and a son named Datta.
During Street Fighter Alpha 2, Dhalsim raises money to save his village, and gains the respect of villagers; some call him "Great Yoga Master Dhalsim". He questions what good could come from his damaging powers.
In Street Fighter Alpha 3, he sets out to destroy the evil M. Bison. He travels around the world and meets Rose and Birdie, and uses his mind control powers to get his answers. He is responsible for making Cammy White self-aware, thus freeing her from Bison's control. He later confronts Bison and destroys the Shadaloo base, but this is not considered canon.
Dhalsim enters the tournament to raise money for his village, but realizes that it contradicts his pacifist beliefs. Dhalsim retires from fighting after the second World Warrior tournament, and continues to roam the world helping those in need.
Dhalsim makes his return in the Street Fighter IV series, this time to free the flow of water to his village after S.I.N. builds a dam upstream. His son, Datta, is a penpal of Amy, Guile's daughter. When Datta informs Dhalsim that his penpal's father is away on a mission to investigate said dam, Dhalsim recognizes that the situation is even more serious than he thought. He is reluctant to use his powers for self-serving purposes, but feels compelled to save his village.
Dhalsim goes to participate in the tournament S.I.N. was organizing. When the dam base is destroyed at the end of the game, the water returns to the village. Although Dhalsim believes that Shadaloo represents an evil in the heart of humanity that will never truly be defeated, he also recognizes that "the goodness in mankind's heart is also endless".
Dhalsim is one of the playable characters in the Street Fighter EX series.
Capcom vs. SNK games
Marvel vs. Capcom games
Dhalsim is a playable character in Street Fighter X Tekken, his tag partner is Sagat.
Dhalsim is the original long-range fighter of fighting games; his intense training has given him the ability to contort and extend his limbs into forms physically impossible for a normal human. He can project his arms and legs outward in order to deliver attacks that would be out of the range of normal limbs, and teleporting to maintain the distance.
Dhalsim also has the ability to breathe fire in various ways. In earlier releases, Capcom USA claimed that Dhalsim's ability to breathe fire stemmed from his consumption of curry, but Capcom of Japan changed this to a blessing from Agni, Hindu god of fire. In Super Street Fighter IV, however, Gouken theorises that it might be a energy-based ability instead. This may also explain Seth's ability to use some of Dhalsim's moves, though it is ability to use some of Dhalsim's moves, though it is just as likely that he is more directly mimicking Bison's teleport.
In the UDON comics, Dhalsim says that his fire is actually an illusion that won't hurt a person if they believe that they won't be burned; he proves it via engulfing Adon in flames, and as he recoils and notices he's not getting burned, taking advantage of Adon's confusion to knock him out. Also, in Super Street Fighter IV, he calms Hakan after defeating him by mentioning that his fire is only an illusion that won't burn his oil.
His fighting style is based off of Kalarippayattu, one of the very first developed martial arts in recorded history. Oddly enough, the manuals for the SNES and Genesis versions of Street Fighter II identified Dhalsim's fighting style as Kabaddi, which is actually an Indian sport.
Dhalsim's abilities also resemble those of an Indian fighter in the 1976 motion picture Master of the Flying Guillotine starring Jimmy Wang Yu. Like Dhalsim, the fighter in the movie used a yoga-based fighting style, and had the ability to extend his limbs to attack.
Dhalsim's gameplay style involves keeping the opponent at bay with distance attacks and projectiles, only getting close to strike with a surprise aerial attack or sliding kick. Dhalsim has both very low offense and defense, making it vital for him to avoid sustaining too many blows from a strong fighter.
Dhalsim's sprite, while standing, is actually quite a small target, due to the total number of pixels it occupies while not attacking; he becomes a much larger target while attacking. As of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, the player can make Dhalsim perform only short range attacks by holding back on the joystick.
In addition to his fire-breathing and stretching, Dhalsim has a "slow-motion" floating jump that allows him to surprise foes with midair attacks. He can also utilize his teleport in midair to throw off opponents who attempt to knock him out of the air.
His Super Combos commonly include powerful flames attack, the most common of which is known as the Yoga Inferno. Some games also allow him to aim the Inferno upwards instead; this variant is known as the Yoga Volcano. Another relative common Super Combo is the Yoga Strike; Dhalsim uses his stretching limbs to grab a faraway foe and slam them into the ground.
In the Street Fighter IV games, Dhalsim's new Ultra Combos continue this trend. His first Ultra Combo is the Yoga Catastrophe, which is similar to the Metsu Hadoken, but recovers almost immediately, allowing for a plethora of cross-up combo opportunities. His second Ultra Combo, Yoga Shangri-La, is a midair grab that targets an earthbound foe; if successful, he headbutts them repeatedly using the momentum granted by his stretching limbs. Dhalsim also has the most reach with his Focus Attack, and has one of the few Personal Actions that actually have an effect on gameplay.
- Dhalsim got his name from an Indian restaurant in Osaka near Capcom's office (Dal is lentils, shim is Hyacinth beans).
- Despite having the same rival as he did in Street Fighter IV, Dhalsim's rival fight stage has been changed in Super Street Fighter IV. It was the Crowded Downtown stage before, but then got changed to the Exciting Street Scene stage. This was due to the fact that the Exciting Street Scene stage is located in India (which is Dhalsim's home country), and thus suits him better.
- Dhalsim makes a small cameo at the end of Sakura Ganbaru manga along with his wife and Rolento, complaining about their lack of appearance. Rolento and Dhalsim were the only members of the cast of Street Fighter Alpha 2 to not appear at all in the Street Fighter Alpha manga or Sakura Ganbaru.
For more images of this character, see their Gallery.