"Concentrate not on destroying your foe, but on attaining your own victory."
"Hmm... You shall make an interesting opponent.
(ほぅ 面白い相手と巡り会うたわ Hou Omoshiroi aite to meguriouta wa?)
—Gouken (Street Fighter IV series)

Gouken (ゴウケン(剛拳) Gōken?, "Constitutionality", "Strong Fist") is a character from the Street Fighter series who was originally featured in the 1993 manga Street Fighter II: Ryu before appearing as a playable fighter in Street Fighter IV. He is a master martial artist and mentor to Ryu and Ken as well as the older brother of Akuma.



Gouken is most often depicted as an elderly yet very well-built man with a white beard and prayer beads around his neck. In his most recent Street Fighter IV appearance, Gouken wears a single sleeved, gray-colored karate gi and sports a long, white braid of hair adorned with a single prayer bead.

Alternate Costumes

Gouken's first alternate costume has his gi top removed; he now sports bandages on his forearms, and a rope on his back, extremely similar to the one found on Akuma's first alternate costume.

Gouken's second alternate costume is an altered gi with a conical hat similar to those once worn by ashigaru, foot soldiers employed by the samurai of feudal Japan.

Gouken's third alternate costume is an outfit worn by the Yamabushi, who are Japanese mountain ascetic monks who followed the Shugendō doctrine.

Gouken's fourth alternate costume has him imagined as Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea.

Gouken's fifth alternate costume has him wearing a red leisurely haori with black pants and a drum hanging off the belt, while accessorized with black wrist guards and brown leather body straps similar to those of the aforementioned yamabushi with wings on the back and a tengu mask.

Gouken's Horror themed costume has him imagined as an "evil" counterpart; he wears but a brown loincloth and shorts, with chains bound on his right arm and left leg. On his chest is branded his symbolic kanji of "mu".


Gouken's personality is naturally that of the archetypical "master elder", which is common within media related to martial arts; the "elder" personality type is evident in the same type of media (as well as Western media characters such as Pai Mei); despite this, he does have many aspects that do have him stand out as a character.

As stern and serious as he can be, Gouken is nonetheless enthusiastic in the nature of competition, being a spirited and modest good sport at heart. His approach is silent and calm, evocative of "zen" principles, and he often shares insightful (if not also blunt and critical) advice and wisdoms to that effect. For example, he tells Dan that anger will not help him (fearing it would lead him to a dark place), and he informs Dee Jay that if he is silent, he would be surprised at what he learns. He is on good terms with people like Rose and Dhalsim, who share similar ideals and beliefs. Gouken detests Akuma for killing their master, Goutetsu, and embracing the darkness that resides within their arts instead of seeking a more pure form of strength. He also despises Bison for his use of Psycho Power, believing he endangered the world.


While earlier Street Fighter games made references to Ryu and Ken's master, Gouken made his first illustrated appearance in Street Fighter II: Ryu, Masaomi Kanzaki's manga adaptation of Street Fighter II. Since then, Gouken has appeared in several Street Fighter movies and comics, including UDON's Street Fighter line of comics, Akuma's ending in Street Fighter Alpha, and the Street Fighter Alpha: Generations movie. Before his illustration in Street Fighter Alpha, Gouken's appearance would differ vastly between media.

Gouken himself was based off Sheng Long, a character that originated from the infamous English mistranslation of Ryu's win quote from the early versions of the Street Fighter II series ("You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance"), which many speculated was referring to Ryu's master; it was intended to say "you must defeat my Shoryuken to stand a chance". April Fools jokes created by EGM in 1992 and 1997 actually provided an appearance for Sheng Long, which in turn directly influenced Gouken's current appearance. It should be noted that, prior to Street Fighter IV, Sheng Long was actually used as Gouken's western name in some media, similar to how his brother is referred to as either Akuma or Gouki depending on the region.

Gouken was finally introduced as a playable character in Street Fighter IV in response to fans demanding Sheng Long. One of his obtainable player titles states "AKA Sheng Long", and one of his win quotes even references the original quote ("You must defeat me to stand a chance").

It's likely that Gouken's personality was based off Morihei Ueshiba.

Character Relationships



Ryu is Gouken's first disciple and adopted son. Gouken inspired him to be a martial artist and views him as a son, but no longer views him as a student, but as a rival, as he has gone far in his journey and is skilled enough to learn his own techniques. He also helped him overcome the Satsui no Hado.


Ken is Gouken's second disciple and the son of his best friend. Gouken trained Ken when he was young, but no longer trains him, as, like Ryu, he is already skilled and views him as a rival due to this.


Gouken has little respect for his former disciple, kicking him out because of his desire for vengeance and his lack of skill; however is also concerned for his former student as he could harbor the Satsui no Hado as a result. Still, Gouken does try to fulfill some of his abandoned role over Dan, by convincing Dan to abandon his hatred over Sagat.


Retsu is mentioned to be a friend of his.



Akuma is Gouken's younger brother and nemesis. Gouken greatly despises him for embracing the Satsui no Hado and murdering Goutetsu. Because of this, he does all he can to protect Ryu and Ken from him, to the point where he willingly fought Akuma in a battle to the death so that he won't come after them.


Oni is the only being that has ever intimidated him, due to the demi-demon wielding fearsome power beyond imagination. It is implied Gouken knows very well this was what Akuma would become. By this time, Gouken considers his brother- or what he sees as formerly his brother, dead.



According to Capcom's official account of Akuma's backstory, the two brothers were once students of Goutetsu, a practitioner of an art that was originally developed with the intention of killing an opponent, the origins of which are rooted back to Japan's feudal age. Goutetsu taught his skills to Gouken and Akuma. Eventually, the two brothers began to differ in the methods and usage of their fighting style.

Akuma became bent on completely mastering the killing and dark aspect of the art and embraced it to the point of succumbing to the Satsui no Hado, or the "Surge of Murderous Intent" and wanted to embrace it to his fullest extent to become more powerful. Gouken, on the other hand, developed his own style of the art and wanted to embrace the peaceful and spiritual aspect of the art by removing the Satsui no Hado: turning fatal techniques such as the Hadoken and Shoryuken into tools for self-defense, removing their killing potential. After succumbing to the Satsui no Hado, Akuma fought and murdered Goutetsu for not embracing it to his fullest extent and left behind both his master's dojo and his brother in order to train by himself to grow even more powerful.

During this time period, Gouken founded his own dojo, and took Dan Hibiki as his first pupil. However, Gouken learned that the reason Dan wanted to learn this martial art was for revenge, and Gouken rejected him for his motives, fearing that his anger would lead him down a dark path as well as the fact Dan did not possess the skills necessary to learn from him. Later, Gouken found an abandoned orphan baby, Ryu, and took him under his wing. Ryu was joined by a second student, Ken Masters, who was sent from America by his father, a good friend of Gouken's, in order to learn humility and respect for a bright future.

After Gouken began to train the two boys, Akuma made a sudden appearance at Gouken's dojo. There, Akuma challenged Gouken to a fight. Akuma was soundly defeated by his brother, but Gouken spared his life even after Akuma's insistence that Gouken should kill him. After Akuma's arrival and departure, Gouken continued to train the two boys.

Eventually, time would pass, and as his students matured, Gouken found his two students graduating from his tutelage, adept enough to leave the dojo and travel the world to continue their studies to become better people. Afterwards, Akuma reappeared at Gouken's dojo and challenged his brother to a rematch. This time, Akuma ended up as the victor, supposedly killing him with the Shun Goku Satsu. However, because Gouken used a technique similar to Gen's and emptied his soul of emotions, he was merely left in a deep coma. Because he was unconscious for an extended period of time, Ryu and Ken believed their master to be dead, and put his body in a graveyard.

Super Street Fighter IV

After awakening two years later, Gouken leaves his dojo and tailed his students, pleased that they have come so far. However, he was not satisfied with just watching them and he decided to enter the new S.I.N. tournament in order to test their strength himself. Gouken successfully finds Ryu after Seth's defeat, and managed to seal the Satsui no Hado so he would never have to suffer with this power again.

Akuma appeared afterwards, furious at Gouken for completing this task; Akuma felt that he would no longer have a chance to kill Ryu in battle. Akuma realizes the power Gouken used to seal it was nothing ordinary, but the Power of Nothingness. The two brothers then face off in another rematch, with control of Ryu's fate as the prize, with Gen witnessing the beginning of the fight in awe. The exact outcome of this fight is unknown, though it is known that both survive and that Ryu does not go to Akuma, so it could possibly be implied that Gouken may have won. Afterwards, Ryu and Ken ask Gouken to stay with them a while, but Gouken tells them that they are both grown men and no longer need a master.[3]

Street Fighter V

In Ryu's character story, Gouken fights Ryu in a sparring match, training him to control the Satsui no Hado within him. The two of them are later confronted by Rashid and his servant, Azam, as the former wants to challenge Ryu to test his mettle. Gouken gives Ryu some advice as Ryu silently accepts Rashid's challenge.


Fighting style

As the preceding master of the martial art that Ryu and Ken practice and wield in the series, Gouken is nonetheless the originator and peerless practitioner of the toned down assassination martial art taught by Goutetsu. As seen in his moveset, Gouken has mastered the martial art to the point that he has grown to create techniques that better suit his own dynamics and philosophies, one that follows the use of both the Hado no Chikara and the Power of Nothingness for an effective and powerful form of self defense, rather than the violent and destructive form of the martial art that his brother wields with the Satsui no Hado. This is most significant in his repertoire's spelling and dynamics; many of their kanji are those with more benevolent and less wrathful interpretations than ones seen in Akuma's, and they are performed in such ways where they are intended for knockout stopping force than maiming and severe injury.


Gameplay-wise, Gouken's play style is representative of the martial arts concept of katsujinken (lit "fist/sword that gives life"), focusing on reading the opponent, being able to react and counter accordingly to their actions, and to react appropriately to an opponent's openings to unleash powerful attacks to the victory of the battle. Compared in metagame to Ryu and Ken, Gouken's play style is rather unorthodox when it comes to Shotokan style characters, lacking punishing anti airs and comboability. While a character of advanced and tricky disposition, he is nevertheless a powerful adversary in the hands of one who knows and can react quickly to the ins and outs of the game and with tools to immediately turn the tide back to their favor.

Gouken is powerful enough to be capable of performing a Gohadoken with only one hand, is able to perform a similar Ashura Senku move, but with an offensive twist, the Senkugoshoha, has perfected an anti-aerial vertical Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, the Tatsumaki Gorasen, and has a powerful counter move, Kongoshin, that is able to counter nearly any attack with lightning fast oppressive force. Furthermore, he shares the Airborne Tatsumaki Senpukyaku of his students from the Street Fighter II series and the Hyakkishu of his brother with a different variation, and shares his brother's Tenmakujinkyaku. His throw, Ama no Oroshi, is a simple subduing hug before Gouken tosses them into the air, and is useful for starting up aerial juggles.

As the master of the toned down assassination art, Gouken appears to have specialized in the usage of the Shoryuken, to the point that they are only available as Super Combos and Ultra Combos, in the forms of the Forbidden Shoryuken, while his first Ultra Combo is the Shin Shoryuken, and the Hadoken, as using both hands allows him to perform the Denjin Hadoken with a greater deal of power.

As a Boss

His boss counterpart in Super Street Fighter IV, has powered up special moves quite similar to that of playable Gouken's EX moves and sports a light blue-green gi. Gouken's EX Senkugoshoha travels further, faster, and has Super Armor. The Gohadoken projectiles are immediately and fully charged, which means they always land two hits. The Denjin Hadoken is also fully charged upon activation. Gouken's normal counter can react to both high and low hits, eliminating the need to guess.


Street Fighter TV series

Gouken also appeared in the Street Fighter episode "The World's Greatest Warrior", with his character design being similar to that in prior Street Fighter manga.

Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation

Gouken makes a cameo appearance in Ryu's flashback.

Street Fighter Alpha: Generations

Gouken and Akuma are training together under Goutetsu's teachings, at some point, Akuma had turned to the dark side to grow in power and throwing away his humanity for the Dark Hado after murdering Goutetsu, this event causes the two brothers's relationship to strain.

At some point, he takes in Ryu as a pupil along with Ken, and teaches them the art of Ansatsuken, he is eventually murdered by Akuma in front of Ryu who tried to help Gouken.

Street Fighter IV: The Ties That Bind

Gouken is seen in Ryu's flashbacks.

Live-action series

Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist

Gouken appears along with Ryu and Ken in Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist portrayed by Akira Koieyama, and Shogen as young Gouken.


Street Fighter II manga

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UDON comics

Although not exactly canon the comics have been influenced by the games and vice versa. Gouken's role in the UDON series is much the same as his in-game story as he teaches Ryu and Ken in the ways of Ansatsuken. During his younger days, Gouken committed himself to training after seeing his family murdered. The assailants were people who had a hatred for his father, who used the Dark Hado to murder the leader of the bandit gang's father.

Gouken came to Goutetsu's temple after seeing his mother's life fade away from an unknown sickness, and Goutetsu agreed to teach him after hearing his reasons for learning Ansatsuken. After passing many trials and tests from Goutetsu's teachings, his final trial was to stay in the mountains with no food or water for days as a mental endurance test. Retsu reveals himself to Gouken and another student of Goutetsu that had stayed in the mountains and tells Gouken that he has been in the mountains for ten days and has reached enlightenment.

He leads Gouken to the village of the bandits that murdered his father. Gouken, having no desire for revenge, did not go after them. He asked Retsu about the other student who was in the mountains with that lasted as long as he did. Retsu told him that it was his brother, Gouki.

When the village and the bar was on fire due to the attack from Gouki under the influence of the Dark Hado, Gouken found a woman with an infant in the burning bar. He saved the baby from the place before it burned to the ground. Gouken then raised the boy as his son and named him Ryu.

He teaches Ryu positive aspects of the art, sparing him from the darkness that would come from teaching him the full range of techniques (the side that embraces the Satsui no Hadō, or "Dark Hado"). He also would train the son of an American businessman, Ken Masters, much in the same way. At some point, he was visited by Retsu who told him the stories of what became of his brother. He told him Gouki has cast away his humanity and became Akuma. Many villagers and fighters feared Akuma and thought of him as a demon that was cast down from the heavens to destroy everything.

After hearing about the people who had lost their lives to Akuma, Gouken sets out on a personal journey to find him near the river, only to find that he brother had truly become a demon after all. Telling Gouken that he would be better off alive if he went with Akuma, Gouken is enraged by Akuma a the two begin to engage in combat. After attack with a ki-charged Shoryuken, Akuma falls near a waterfall. Gouken wanted to save him from failing into the waterfall, but Akuma denies his help and drops in. He surveries the tital wave and climbs out of the river, revealing to Gouken his intention to one day fight against another person who uses the Dark Hado.

Gouken maintains a different philosophy then that his brother, his brother believing that the only true path to mastery and perfection can only be gained by throwing away humanity, love, loyality, and compassion. Gouken believes that true mastery can be achive through goodness, peace, and honor, and this eventually leads the brothers to argue over the future of Ryu's destiny.

Sometime after that event, Gouken was visited in the middle of the night at his dojo by another unwelcome visitor, whose aura was akin to that of a pure, threatening, empty shadow. Though he did not introduce himself, that entity was that of a younger M. Bison, and he demanded Gouken to show to him the techniques of Ansatsuken, having heard of its reputation through rumors and word of mouth. Forced to duel with the threatening figure, Gouken ultimately lost the fight, but won the battle, having held back and refusing to show Bison any of his techniques. However, Bison made word that he would one day encounter his two students, and ultimately reveal to him the secrets of Ansatsuken and its principles of Hadou; though beaten badly and fallen unconscious shortly afterwards, as if the events were nothing but a bad dream, Gouken knew irrevocably that his students would not be able to resist that fate of encountering Bison, and was driven to teach them to the best of his abilities in turn

During Ryu's absence from the dojo to attend the first Street Fighter tournament, Akuma murders Gouken by using the Raging Demon, unaware that Gouken used the Power of Nothingness to protect his soul. As Akuma seeks to have Ryu embrace the Dark Hado for the remainder of the comic series, Gouken remained absent. Ryu forces himself to not show the hatred that wells up within him, adhering to his master's precepts of humanity and respect for one's opponent. However, Ryu also yearns to avenge Gouken's death and honor, and will seek out Akuma at any cost.

This all comes to a head at the end of the Shadaloo tournment that Ryu is attending. Akuma intervenes before the final battle of the tournament between Ryu and Bison and destroys Bison's body so he may fight Ryu. The two clash but Akuma still overpowers Ryu. Before he can land the final blow, Gouken (using the Power of Nothingness) returns in time to save Ryu, expressing his pride, and engages a shocked Akuma. The two warriors battle to an unseen conclusion.

Gouken told Akuma to give up his persuit on Ryu as he has shown that he is above the Dark Hado's evil. Akuma responds, stating that Ryu is not as pure as Gouken thinks. Akuma teleports to Sakura to prove his point. Shocked that Akuma would go this far to get to Ryu, Gouken told him to keep her out of this. Akuma then teleports away, leaving Gouken in the snow.









  • In Gouken's win quote against the boss form of Oni, he says "Goodbye, brother". This implies that (he believes) his brother Akuma is gone or deceased, since he finally became a full demon.
  • The kanji 無 (mu, "negative") on the back of Gouken's costume represents the Buddhist concept of emptiness, and is often associated with Gouken himself.
  • Although Gouken did not make an actual appearance in Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, he is hinted in Ryu and Ken's flashbacks during their days as his students. He is referred to as "Goutetsu" in the closing credits for the film, probably because the movie was made before the names "Gouken" and "Goutetsu" were incorporated into the games.
  • Before the Alpha series, Gouken's death was portrayed in some materials to have been at the hands of M. Bison. This was later changed in Alpha to him being killed by Akuma, and in IV, to be merely a duel that nearly killed him, but survived.



See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Street Fighter: World Warrior Encyclopedia Hardcover
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8
Street Fighter series Playable Characters
Main Series
SF Logo Ken · Ryu
Street-fighter-ii-logo The World Warrior Blanka · Chun-Li · Dhalsim · E. Honda · Guile · Zangief
Champion Edition Balrog · M. Bison · Sagat · Vega
Super Cammy · Dee Jay · Fei Long · T. Hawk
Super Turbo Akuma
Ultra Violent Ken
SFAlogo Alpha Adon · Birdie · Charlie Nash · Dan · Guy · Rose · Sodom
Alpha 2 Evil Ryu · Gen · Rolento · Sakura · Shin Akuma
Alpha 3 Cody · Juli · Juni · Karin · R. Mika
Alpha 3 Upper Eagle · Maki
Alpha 3 MAX Ingrid
Street fighter iii logo New Generation Alex · Dudley · Elena · Ibuki
Necro · Oro · Sean · Yang · Yun
2nd Impact Gill · Hugo · Urien
3rd Strike Makoto · Q · Remy · Twelve
Street fighter iv logo IV Abel · C. Viper · El Fuerte · Gouken · Rufus · Seth
Super Hakan · Juri
Arcade Edition Oni
Ultra Decapre · Poison
SFV-Logo-R-3 V F.A.N.G · Laura · Necalli · Rashid
Season 2 Abigail · Ed · Kolin · Menat · Zeku
Season 3 Falke · G
Season 4 Kage · Lucia
Street Fighter The Movie Logo Arkane · Blade · F7 · Khyber · Sawada
Street-fighter-ii--the-animated-movie Cyborg
Sfexlogo EX Allen · Blair · C. Jack · Darun · D. Dark
Hokuto · Kairi · Pullum · Skullomania
EX Plus Bloody Hokuto · Cycloid-β · Cycloid-γ · Garuda
EX2 Hayate · Nanase · Shadowgeist · Sharon
EX2 Plus Area · V. Rosso
EX3 Ace · Bison II
Marvel vs. Capcom Logo MSHvSF Cyber-Akuma · Dark Sakura · Mech-Zangief · Shadow
MvC Shadow Lady
SFO Shin
Street Fighter IV Characters
Original Abel · Akuma · Balrog · Blanka · Chun-Li · C. Viper · Dhalsim · E. Honda
El Fuerte · Guile · Ken · M. Bison · Rufus · Ryu · Sagat · Vega · Zangief
Console Cammy · Dan · Fei Long · Gen · Gouken · Rose · Seth · Sakura
Super Adon · Cody · Dee Jay · Dudley · Guy · Hakan · Ibuki · Juri · Makoto · T. Hawk
Arcade Edition Evil Ryu · Oni · Yang · Yun
Ultra Decapre · Elena · Hugo · Poison · Rolento
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