A brief update on our current quest, The Call of the Bluebird before we begin with Ryu’s skills; we are one “follow” from the halfway point, which means we’re just about halfway to a game character video combat guide!
Quest info done, onward to Ryu’s skills!
Combat and Fighting Style
Ryu, of course, is a fighter. Both he and his fighting style hail from Japan, where he was raised and trained. His style share similarities with some other fighters in the series, particularly Gouken, Akuma, and Ken. All four are trained in a Japanese form of ansatsuken – the assassin’s fist. Ansatsuken is a general term for any art whose main purpose is to inflict mortal damage upon another with your strikes, however, so it is not a distinct codified set of techniques. For that, we need to look to the roots of Ryu’s fighting style.
Ryu’s fighting style has roots in the striking arts of Shotokan and Kyokushin karate. Shotokan karate is system developed by the late Gichin Funakoshi, with roots in the Shorin-ryu and Shorei-ryu styles, originating in Okinawa(an island just south of Japan). Kyokushin was created by the late Masutatsu Oyama, and has its roots in Shotokan, though it also borrows some principles from Kempo and other styles. Additional, both Ryu and Ken frequently utilize throws from Kodokan Judo, a style of throwing and grappling born from Japanese Jujutsu, codified by Dr. Jigoro Kano.
As in the game, the real-life style features hard, turn-knuckle straight punches, punishing kicks including the roundhouse, side blade, and straight forward kick, as well as various traps, grapples, sweeps, and throws. Unfortunately, none of them feature fireball techniques(at least, none that have been recorded or demonstrated…), so you’re going to have to wait on firing a hadouken at your foe. I highly recommend you check them out, however, if you’re interested in learning to fight like Ryu. As someone who fights with a similar style, and has fought practitioners of those arts, I can definitely attest to how similar they are to the in-game styles of Ryu and Ken.
Body Mechanics and You
Karate, especially more modern styles, rely heavily on utilizing proper body mechanics. A lot of the old “ki” magic tricks that masters used to demo their style with were actually just successful use of the body’s own natural mechanisms(the unbendable arm, etc.). The main principle of body mechanics is working with how your body wants to work naturally.
For instance: punches in most martial arts styles(and, as far as I know, all Japanese/Okinawan styles), focus on striking with the top two knuckles on your fist(the index and middle finger knuckles). This focuses all of the force your body is putting into the punch onto a very small location, generating large amounts of impact force. Speaking of that force, most of the power comes from the legs and back, not the fist!
Basically you want to work with what your body likes to do. Stand naturally, move the way your joints want to move, and stay lose(not clenching your muscles and working against yourself). I actually often tell my students that martial artists are inherently lazy. We want to effect the largest possible result from the smallest possible effort!
The Heavy Bag
Speaking of striking! Hitting the bag is a tried-and-true method of training the body to strike and work combinations. Styles from all over the world utilize this tool in various forms, from plain old bags of sand in Thailand, to the distinct style of the Makiwara in Okinawa.
When working a heavy bag, you want to make sure you keep proper form. Wear gloves of some kind, and make sure you strike correctly(don’t let your wrist flex/give, hit proper angles, with the right parts of your hands). Additionally, remember the point is not to move the bag, it’s to control your strikes and hit the bag to drive it where you want it. Stay on the balls of your feet as you work the bag, and move around it as you strike.
Literally translated, hadou means “surge.” In-game, it is used in the name of several techniques and super moves, including the hadouken(“surge fist” or “wave fist”). It is also used in the phrase “satsui no hadou” or “surge of murderous intent.” This is the dark energy that Akuma unlocks within himself, that Ryu resists every day, and that Gouken has learned to eliminate. It is considered the peak form of ansatsuken.
Hadou is the neutral form or reference to the “ki” or energy that Ryu, Ken, Gouken, Akuma, Dan Hibiki, Sakura, and the other members of their crowd in the Street Fighter games use. It is the focus of the user’s intent into pure energy, or into certain techniques. In both the game, and in the various animated movies, Ryu harnesses this energy through meditation and extreme focus.
While you most likely will not be throwing fireballs anytime soon(at least not without mechanical aid), gaining the ability to focus your intent is extremely valuable.
I’m going to be doing a full write-up on meditation sometime soon, because it really deserves its own full post, I will leave you with some simple focus techniques to tide you over until then.
Seriously. The start of any mindfulness meditation is to focus on your breathing. During the day, when you find yourself overwhelmed, tired, or just scatterbrained, try taking five minutes to yourself, closing your eyes, and just taking deep, steady breaths.
Focusing on a goal or intent is much easier if you have some way to picture it. “Eyes on the prize,” so they say. Figure out what the embodiment of your goal, desire, or intent is, and see it in your mind. Try to feel, smell, taste, and touch it, really go beyond just picturing it, instead make it a reality in your head.
Counting is actually a great way to calm your mind down and hone your focus. Just try to count to ten in your head, without thinking about anything else(at all!). Even try to visualize the numbers if you can(as described in the previous exercise). It also helps when you’re trying to sleep and your brain won’t calm down.
That’s is for the skills of Ryu. Tune in tomorrow to examine what it means to be at war with yourself, and how we can better unify ourselves, while living an honorable and focused life, with The Spirit of Ryu. Until then, make sure to like the Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, and go follow the Tumblr as well, and, as always, continue to be awesome!
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace