- This article is about the Street Fighter character. For other characters named Ryu, see Ryu (Breath of Fire) or Avenger.
Ryu (リュウ Ryū) is the main character in the Street Fighter series. Ryu is the archetypical fighting game protagonist, and he has provided the basis for many other fighting game characters. Ryu has made an appearance in every Street Fighter game with Ken Masters, as well as in almost every crossover fighting game to feature Capcom characters.
Ryu is portrayed as a Japanese man whose basic, and most recognizable attire from the Street Fighter II timeline consists of medium-length brown hair, brown eyes, a long, red headband; a white karate gi with the sleeves ripped off at the shoulders, bare feet, and a black belt. Ryu's first appearance in the original Street Fighter replaced the red headband with a white one and depicted him with bright red hair, gray eyes, and red slippers. In the Street Fighter Alpha series, Ryu’s hair became a lighter shade of brown, and he retained the white headband which hearkens back to his appearance in the first Street Fighter. Ryu would not canonically receive his red headband until after a sparring session with Ken during this timeline. In Street Fighter III, Ryu has black hair, and facial stubble to show his growth in age. Ryu's gi becomes increasingly tattered and aged throughout the game’s timeline, indicating its years of wear and tear. Ryu's most recent appearance in Street Fighter IV has him in his original Street Fighter II outfit.
In many of his appearances, Ryu carries around a large, white duffel bag containing items important to his travels such as: clothing, plane tickets, passports, and local currency.
In some official Street Fighter II artwork, Ryu's belt has four kanji emblazoned upon it: kaze (風 wind), hayashi (林 woods), hi (火 fire) and yama (山 mountain); these four kanji make up the furinkazan. The same four kanji can be seen on a sign on the left-hand side of Ryu's stage in Street Fighter II. The four words are based on chapter seven of Sun Tzu's Art of War, which dictates how one should conduct battle. These kanji are again visible on his belt in Street Fighter IV.
Ryu is usually a silent, serious individual whose severity is often juxtaposed against the light-hearted, fiery persona of his best friend, Ken. He travels the globe with a stern nature, often appearing to others as boring or detached. In rare occasions, Ryu shows a very bad sense of humor. Ryu's overarching goal in Street Fighter is to become a total master of his fighting style. To this end, Ryu plays the part of the wandering warrior, and takes both his travels and his training very seriously. Although he appears to be aloof and unemotional, Ryu is actually a kind and honorable warrior. He respects others with skills equal to his own and holds heroic figures like Captain America, Spider-Man and Cyclops in high regard, as seen in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. However, by the time of Street Fighter III, it seems that Ryu has developed a somewhat more friendly personality. He is still very quiet and reserved, but is willing to greet people with a smile and some kind advice, very much like his master Gouken.
There is, however, a dark side to Ryu; his drive to improve himself (no matter the difficulty) can sometimes develop into a drive to win and be the best (no matter the cost) when the Satsui no Hadou starts to take over, as these two goals are so dangerously similar. This desire to be better can sometimes make his advice to his defeated opponents in his win quotes seem more superior and judgmental than Gouken's. At times such as these he relies on his friends - primarily Ken and Sakura - to keep him grounded and snap him out of it.
Ryu is a Japanese stock character, the "wandering warrior": a person whose life is entirely devoted to spiritual perfection through the art of the fist. He does not care about winning or losing so much as the moment of the fight and the opportunity for spiritual advancement.
Ryu was an orphaned baby, with no knowledge of who his parents were or if they are still alive. When Ryu was a baby, he was adopted by a man named Gouken and began living with him as well as learning a mysterious and dangerously powerful nameless martial art. Gouken would later get the bratty son of his best friend, Ken Masters, not only as a sparring partner for Ryu, but to also give Ryu some company since Gouken was the only person Ryu had seen in a long time due to the seclusion of Gouken's dojo. Ryu looked up to Gouken as a father figure during his early years and Ken as a best friend and surrogate brother, which is how their relationship remains to this day. When Ryu was about 23 years old, Gouken thought that Ryu was ready to travel the world in order to test his skills against the best fighters in the world. With this, Ryu left Gouken and Ken, and headed to fight in the first World Warrior tournament.
In Street Fighter, Ryu is one of the participants of the World Warrior tournament. After defeating all challengers, his skills earn him the right to fight its host, Sagat. Despite nearly losing against the "Emperor of Muay Thai," Ryu secures a difficult victory, and is crowned champion.
The later canon games elaborate on the final battle between Ryu and Sagat. In this version of the battle, Sagat nearly beats Ryu into unconsciousness. So sure is he that he had won the fight that he offers the reeling Ryu a hand to his feet. Ryu, however, having such a strong desire to win, he was unwillingly engulfed by the Satsui no Hadou and he strikes Sagat with rage with a very powerful Metsu Shoryuken that it not only knocks Sagat unconscious but also marks his chest with a great scar. After regaining consciousness and discovering what had happened, Sagat swears vengeance on Ryu in order to regain his honor and pride as a warrior.
Street Fighter Alpha
In Street Fighter Alpha, Ryu leaves Sagat behind and returns to his home only to find that Gouken, his master and adoptive father, has been murdered (or so he thinks). Learning that Akuma had fought and killed his adopted father. Driven by anger and haterd, Ryu began to travel the world to find this man in hopes of geting revenge on Akuma for murdering his master.
He encounters and fights Akuma on a secluded island known as Gokuentou, as they fight. He senses that Ryu has the same powers as he does, and tells Ryu about the Satsui no Hadou - a dark ki that consumes the practitioners of their shared fighting style, driving them to win even when it means destroying their opponent. Ryu refuses to unleash this dark power within him from taking over him, and Akuma uses his fist to smash the small island, leaving Ryu stranded in the ocean.
Sometime after escaping the island, Ryu battles Ken and loses. Ken realizes Ryu is not himself and has been deeply troubled since his last victory over Sagat and upset about his master's death. He gives him his red hairband as a reminder to stay focused, which Ryu was sincerely grateful for. Soon thereafter, a fan of his named Sakura, comes up and expresses her desire to train under him. Ryu replies that he himself still has much to learn, but allows Sakura to take a picture of him. She swears to make him accept her eventually.
Ryu continues to be troubled by what Akuma had told him about the Satsui no Hadou, compounded by his encounter with Rose, who has intricate ties to M. Bison. She tells him that he cannot defeat Bison unless he fights him at the cost of his soul. True to form, when Ryu confronts Bison, he is captured by him. Bison takes Ryu and begins brainwashing him with his Psycho Power, using the revelation that the Satsui no Hadou - the dark power Ryu struggles to avoid using in battle, is akin and similer to Bison's own Psycho Power.
This scene is interrupted by the entrance of Sagat, Ken, and Sakura, each of them having followed Ryu for their own reasons. While Ken and Sakura distract Bison, Sagat challenges the brainwashed Ryu (different versions of this story coexist; in one version, Sagat is offered this battle as an enticement to stay with Shadaloo). Sagat quickly notices the effects Bison's brainwashing have had on Ryu, and, at Sagat's urging, Ryu comes to his senses, confronts and defeats Bison with the Satsui no Hadou, forcing him to retreat.
Street Fighter II
A few months later during the World Warrior tournament, Ryu enters to test his skills, and easily defeats many of the new warriors. After the tournament, he goes to train while visiting his master's grave.
Street Fighter IV
In the Street Fighter IV series, sometime after the second World Warrior tournament, Ryu enters into a new tournament to further perfect his skills as well as reunite with his longtime friend Ken for another friendly rematch. During his journey he meets up with Sakura whom he encourages to train harder. Meanwhile Ryu also meets up with Sagat and remembers the promised rematch they made with each other. During the final round with the Tournament host Seth, he defeats him in the S.I.N. headquarters. During and after this battle the building fell around them as Ryu unleashed Satsui no Hadou on the BLECE machine, a weapon of mass destruction developed by S.I.N. that harnessed the energy in the human body. During this, Sakura - who has been searching for Ryu - finds him and the BLECE machine, and a pulse of energy from it knocks her into a wall (possibly geting infected with the ki of the the Satsui no Hadou). Ryu defends her by unleashing a Shoryuken on the machine, and they leave the building together, the weapon destroyed. He then encounters Gouken, who has in fact survived his last battle with Akuma, and Gouken uses the "Power of Nothingness" to seal the Satsui no Hadou which is eating at his humanity, to help him control it, knocking him unconscious. Akuma then arrives on the scene to challenge his brother for a death duel, the winner of which will claim "the cub" (meaning Ryu). The outcome of this battle is unknown, though it is known that both Gouken and Akuma survive it. Later, Ryu and Ken chase their long-lost master along a cliff face, with Ken wanting Gouken to stick around while Ryu wishes him well. Afterwards, he and Ken trek through the desert while Rufus mocks them on his motorcycle, though it later breaks down and he is left pushing it while Ryu and Ken finally reach Ken's jeep. Ryu later bids Sakura farewell as she, Dan and Blanka leave for home on a cruise ship. Some time later, having decided that his battles have made him stronger, he meets a now-older Sakura (possibly at the events of Street Fighter lll). What happens next is unknown.
Street Fighter III
A few years later, in Street Fighter III, Ryu enters the third Street Fighter tournament to further advance his fighting skills. He defeats Hugo, but with a considerable amount of difficulty due to his strong body. Hugo puts on a grand fight and even withstands a direct Shin Shoryuken, Hugo even respected him of his fighting skills. Ryu loses to Oro in a friendly match, but the hermit was so impressed by his strong will and fighting skills that he takes an interest in Ryu and begins to train the warrior. Later, Ryu defeats him as a test of the training. During the events of "Third Strike", Ryu and Ken have another sparring match and Ryu comes out as the victor. Ryu was then challenged by Alex who won the earlier tournament. Ryu won the fight and said that he would want to fight him again and later in the finals Ryu defeated the tournament host Gill and once again continues to train. What happens after this remains unknown.
Both Ryu and Ken are practitioners of a nameless martial art, which incorporated the most violent techniques from a blend of four styles of martial arts, alongside a mysterious sure-killing technique called Shun Goku Satsu. Both Ryu and Ken learned their art from Gouken, who vowed to teach a less violent variation of the art taught to him by his master Goutetsu which does not include the discipline's life-threatening techniques such as the Shun Goku Satsu.
While Ryu and Ken follow the same martial arts discipline, as the Street Fighter series evolved, the differences between the two characters was portrayed by their attacks: Ryu focused on technique while Ken opted for stylish unpredictability.
Ryu's normal attacks are slightly slower than Ken's, albeit straightforward. His special moves are more focused; Ryu inflicts damage with individual strikes rather than combinations. His Shoryuken does only one hit, so Ryu can effectively use this move at full power against airborne opponents, although Ken's is still much stronger since he follows the Shoryuu principle. Ryu can dodge projectiles at the start of his Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku maneuver and knocks an opponent down with one hit.
Ryu focuses more on the Hadou principle of his fighting style, which translates to him being very skilled with his usage of ki - Ryu has the most concentrated Hadouken amongst all "non-lethal" Goutetsu-style Asatsuken users, and only Akuma can match and/or surpass Ryu's Hadouken in both gauge and concentrate in certain instances. Ryu is the warrior of his fighting style capable of using the Shakunetsu Hadouken with the greatest of care—ensuring that the surge still burns bright with flames, but won't result in immolation.
Ryu and Ken's duality is comparable with two real-life philosophical approaches to karate, and Japanese martial arts in general. Do and Jutsu, or "the path/way", and "method/technique". One is more for personal development (see judo) and the other is more for practical application (see jujutsu).
Capcom USA originally referred to Ryu's fighting style as "Shotokan" despite bearing little resemblance to the discipline. Because of this, Ryu and other characters who use similar styles (such as Ken and Akuma) are still called "Shoto clones" or "shotos" by fans. Although as the Ryu character is based on the real life events of Yoshiji Soeno, who was a practitioner of Kyokushinkai karate under Mas Oyama, the traditional Kyokushinkai techniques can be clearly seen in the character's fighting style. In Japan, the martial art style of Ryu and Ken is never given a name. The original form of the style used by Akuma has been referred as an ansatsuken or "assassination fist". This is a general Japanese colloquialism that can be applied to any martial art developed for assassination, therefore it is not really the name of Ryu and Ken's fighting style per se. Gen's unrelated martial art style has also referred as an ansatsuken.
Ryu is the quintessential "basic" character in fighting games with an intuitive array of punches and kicks, and very basic special moves. This simplicity makes Ryu a favorite for beginner and intermediate players. Ryu is available in every single Street Fighter game, allowing players familiar with previous Street Fighter games to begin playing immediately, without having to worry about learning how to use a new character, however, there are a few tweaks in his moveset which vary depending on the game.
Ryu's techniques are the "Hadouken" which has become a staple projectile among fighting referred to as the "Fireball", the "Shoryuken" which is a favorite among many players to use, referred to as a "Dragon Punch" and is an uppercut maneuver that hits once, and the "Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku" or "Hurricane Kick" as most refer it to. In early versions of Street Fighter II, Ryu could only use all attacks on the ground, however in later versions, he is able to perform the Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku in the air. Also he has the ability to use a more powerful version of the hadouken known as the "Shakunetsu Hadouken" where the hadouken is a variation of fire and deals more damage. In the alpha series, he has a tactic known as the "Hadou no Kamae" which is a tactic of trickery, fooling the opponent into a potential counter. More variations of Ryu's attacks came in the form of his medium punch, kick, and heavy punch moves where holding forward and pressing any of the 2 punch buttons enables different attacks which deals two hits but has a delayed start. In Alpha, The Medium Kick action performs a weaker version of the Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku, which deals less damage but is quicker to perform. In the Street Fighter III series, Ryu gains one new special move called the "Joudan Sokutou Geri" which is a powerful side kick that shoves opponents away with great force while its EX version is powerful to bounce the opponent off the arena wall. In the Street Fighter EX series, his Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku is replaced with a flying kick attack which can be done in succession by inputting the same command twice or three times.
Super Combos/Super Arts
Many of Ryu's Super Combos (Super Arts in Street Fighter III) are more powerful versions of his normal moves. The "Shinkuu Hadouken" delivers up to five hits on one fireball, The "Shin Shoryuken" is a close range move that acts like a normal Shoryuken unless it connects and delivers two more punches, and the "Shinkuu Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku" is a multi-hitting "Hurricane Kick" that stays in one spot in the air. This was replaced in SF3 with the "Denjin Hadouken" which is an alternative of the Shinkuu Hadouken, where the player must "charge" the fireball. The longer the move is charged, the more damage, hits and "stun" it deals. Exclusive to Super Gem Fighter, he has a move called the "Reppuu Jinrai Shoryu" which is a multihitting punch attack that ends in the same fashion as a Shin Shoryuken.
Ryu has a unique ability in Marvel vs. Capcom, where he is able to change his fighting style (and outfit), to those of Ken and Akuma (to compensate for the lack of the two characters in the game). When giving his quote at the end of the fight, however, they are the same no matter which "mode" he's in.
Given with the name of Ryu's fighting style, any character that contains any two or three of Ryu's basic special attacks are considered "shotos" by fans, signifying that they are easy to use characters. In the Street Fighter series, usually most "shotos" in the games sport a gi of a different color (with the exception being Sakura) and are referred to as "shoto clones". Ryu's attacks have been passed on to Ken Masters and Akuma with some alterations to the mechanics, while Dan Hibiki and Sean Matsuda have different styles yet very similar to the originals.
In other games, such as SNK's Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury, characters such as Ryo Sakazaki and Terry Bogard have similar attributes to the "shoto" style with a projectile (in Terry's case, a ground wave) and Dragon Punch and special kicks which are quite different from Ryu's but have similar properties and in some cases, have the same inputs as Ryu's attacks. Many fighting games have certain characters that operate in this function but always have varying differences to make them stand out from Ryu as well. To this day, shoto characters can be found in a huge majority of 2D fighting games.
Examples of Shotos
- Demitri Maximoff and Morrigan Aensland from Darkstalkers.
- Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami from The King of Fighters.
- Terry Bogard and Joe Higashi from Fatal Fury.
- Ryo Sakazaki from the Art of Fighting.
- Akira Yuki and Kage from the Virtua Fighter.
- Kazuya, Heihachi and Jin Kazama from Tekken.
- Sol Badguy and Ky Kiske from Guilty Gear.
- Ragna the Bloodedge and Jin Kisaragi from BlazBlue.
- Jago from Killer Instinct.
- Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, Scorpion and Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat.
- Mario, Luigi and Dr. Mario from Super Smash. Bros.
Ryu is voiced by Katashi Ishizuka or Toshiyuki Morikawa in many of the games he appears in. In some of the Alpha games and in the first two Street Fighter III games, he is voiced by Wataru Takagi. In Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, his voice is done by Toru Ohkawa. His voice in the Street Fighter Alpha anime was Kane Kosugi, and Kojiro Shimizu in the Street Fighter II anime movie. In Street Fighter II V, he is voiced by Kōji Tsujitani. He was portrayed by Byron Mann in the 1994 movie adaptation of the game. His English voice actor for Street Fighter IV is Kyle Hebert.
- A hacker found evidence of sound files for Ryu's theme music in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, hinting he could be available as DLC. On June 14th 2015, it was confirmed that Ryu alongside Lucas (Mother 3) and Roy (Fire Emblem) would be DLC.
- Ryu had a little-known cameo appearance in the game Varth: Operation Thunderstorm.
- Ryu's surname is "Hoshi".
- In the Street Fighter Alpha movie, there was a boy named Shun who claimed to be his little brother, but this is non-canon.
- Ryu's likeness appears in the game We Love Golf! as an unlockable cosplay outfit for Tony.
- In 2008, Sackboy skins for Ryu, Chun-Li, Guile and Zangief were released as downloadable content in LittleBigPlanet.
- Ryu and Chun-Li are the only Street Fighter characters that appear in every Capcom Versus game.
- In the UDON Comics, Ryu seems to sometimes sleepfight.
- Because of Ryu's Satsui no Hadou, many companies like that of Shadaloo and S.I.N have a habit of going after him.
- Capcom Fighting All Stars - (canceled)
For more images of this character, see their Gallery.