Cover of the 2015 Street Fighter: World Warrior Encyclopedia showing most of the Shotokan characters in the series.

Shotokan (松濤館 Shōtōkan?), or Shoto for short, is the colloquial term used to describe the fighting style used by characters such as Ryu, Ken Masters, Akuma, and Gouken.

Origin of the termEdit


A picture of Ken Masters a Shotokan

Capcom USA originally referred to the fighting style as "Shotokan", despite it bearing little resemblance to the real-life discipline of the same name (especially the special moves used from the style); in fact, Makoto's Rindo-kan style shares the most similarities to actual Shotokan karate.

As a result, characters in other fighting games that have movesets similar to Ryu (i.e. characters that more or less have an anti-air uppercut, a projectile, and an advancing kick move) are referred by fans to as "shotos", and usually take on the role of the main character.

Hideo Shimazu's own fighting style, Shimazu-style Karate, closely resemble the nameless fighting style used by the "Shoto" characters.

Storyline historyEdit

The fighting style is an assassination art, or ansatsuken, that was founded in Japan during the feudal age (according to Ryu's victory quote against Guile in the Japanese version of Capcom vs. SNK 2[1] and Zero's pre-battle dialogue in the Japanese version of SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos[2]). The style used by Ryu, Ken, Gouken and Akuma is rooted in this very art, which is energized by the Satsui no Hado (殺意の波動 Satsui no Hadō?, lit. "Surge of Murderous Intent"), an evil energy that awakens within a warrior who has embraced the dark and violent aspects of their art, or else possesses an intense, inhumane rage.

Gouken, who only wanted to embrace the peaceful and spiritual aspect of the art, developed a sublimated variation of the same martial art style by removing the Satsui no Hado from its techniques before passing down his version of the art to Ryu and Ken, so no one would have to suffer from the negative aspects of the art.[3] Later installments revealed that Gouken's form of art used is known as the Mu no Ken, and the inspiring powers to replace the Satsui no Hado's killing potential are that of the Hado no Chikara, a flow of ki allowing one to embrace necessary violence but out of a purpose, and the Power of Nothingness, a state of mind to flow with the world and follow into the natural destination of one's life.


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.

There are two philosophical approaches to Karate, and Japanese martial arts in general: (? lit. "path/way") and jutsu (? lit. "method/technique"). One is more for personal development (as in judo) and the other is more for practical application (as in jujutsu).

Ryu focuses more on the jutsu (or "Hado") principle of his fighting style, which translates to him being very skilled with his usage of ki. Ryu also does most of his damage via single strikes, and he has the most concentrated Hadoken between him and Ken. His mastery is evident by his possession of the most variants of the Hadoken throughout the series, as well as his ability to harness the power of pure energy (often manifesting as electricity).

Ken's style, focused on the , is naturally more reflective of his personality, and is fittingly fierce; most of his attacks focus on multi-hitting strikes, particularly his Shoryuken. Where Ryu has a more "electric" affinity, Ken's personal development of the style gives him an affinity to fire, most evident in his heavy Shoryuken among other moves.

Criticism in gameplay Edit

In games, players in online settings tend to use shotos because of familiarity. It is expected that characters like Ryu will be in every game, plus he has a simple moveset. Many new players tend to ignore the rest of the roster for characters such as Ryu, Ken, Akuma, and also regularly Sagat. Then proceed to try and bypass mechanics such as learning Frame Data, Link Combos, and Jump Cancels, in favor of simply trying to throw projectiles and attempt to anti air with their Shoryukens. In games such as Street Fighter IV, Street Fighter X Tekken, and Street Fighter V It is very common to run into many Shoto style characters by players who have learned basic zoning and no other mechanic. This leads to other characters such as Grapplers or high execution characters like Ibuki or C. Viper receiving very little use in online play.


  1. "My techniques are from a martial style built during the feudal age. However, I will never use them to take the life of another!" (俺の技も戦国の世で築かれた流派。 だが、決して人を殺めるためには使わない! Ore no waza mo sengoku no yo de kizuka reta ryūha. Daga, keshite hito o ayameru tame ni wa tsukawanai!?)
  2. "That person is Gouki. He is a master of an assassination art dating back to the feudal age" (その人は豪鬼。 戦国時代から伝わる暗殺拳の使い手ね Sono hito wa Gōki. Sengoku Jidai kara tsutawaru ansatsuken no tsukaite ne?)
  3. All About Capcom Head-to-Head Fighting Game 1987-2000, Encyclopedia entries on Gouki, Gouken and Goutetsu on page 311 ISBN 4885546761
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