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Ryu from Street Fighter on guard


(Tom's profile)


Ryu is the main character from the long-running, very successful Street Fighter brawling video games series.

If you’re going to do a set of characters it’s always best to start with the main one. Yes, Ryu isn’t the most interesting character and can often come off as a generic martial arts do-gooder who’s only interested in improving himself with martial arts and doing the occasional good deed along the way.

But he nonetheless does represent the corner stone of his universe, is connected with most of the other characters, and the mechanics of his style were adapted to create a ton of other characters in later games.

This take looks at Ryu and the entirety of his updated history and some of the alternate versions from some of the versus series.

  • This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay – see our video games writeups FAQ for more.



  • Real Name: Ryu.
  • Other Aliases: An old enemy awaits down the road, The eternal challenger, The lone fighter.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Gouken (adoptive father), Ken Masters (surrogate brother).
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 5’10” Weight: 167 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown

Powers & Abilities

Ryu has basically forsaken everything else in life to improve his martial arts and to walk the path of a warrior. He is one of the most powerful fighters in the SF universe. He has won countless victories over highly skilled world class martial artists.

His time spent in deep meditation has allowed him to harness his chi. Now he can turn it into one of the most potent projectile attacks in the SF universe, the Hadouken (in DC Heroes RPG terms, Energy Blast).

His martial arts style is a nonlethal version of Ansatsuken or the killing fist style. When Gouken taught it to Ken and Ryu he removed all of the killing moves. Thus, he taught them a safer toned down version that focused more on solid technique rather than doing as much irreparable damage as possible in the quickest amount of time.


As such Ryu does not ever enter killing combat. The only notable deviations from this are when he has been influenced by the Satsu no Hadou. Likewise his Hadouken is nonlethal, but still nonetheless powerful enough to kill an opponent outright.

In game terms this means that none of his attacks are killing combat, but they could kill if he knocks an opponent through a wall. Since Ryu is a highly skilled martial artist and well aware of his strength he thus always responds to opponents with the appropriate amount of force necessary.

Another notable thing about his style is that while Ken chose to focus on flashy kicks and a somewhat erratic fighting style, Ryu chose to focus on having solid reliable techniques. In DC Heroes RPG terms he almost always substitutes his Martial Arts for either EV or RV and tends to stick to punches a little bit more than Ken does.


Pre-Street Fighter

Ryu was an orphaned whom Gouken found in the woods and chose to take in and raise as his own. The circumstances behind him being orphaned and his parentage are unknown. Shortly after taking Ryu in Ken’s father sent him to train under Gouken in order to learn some discipline.

Ryu shooting a fireball

The two of them grew close during their training days and would regard each other as brothers for the rest of their lives.

When Ryu turned 23 Gouken felt that he was ready enough to travel the world in order to perfect his martial arts skills. This led Ryu to enter the World Warrior tournament to test his skills.

Street Fighter 1

Ryu proved a worthy warrior indeed. He was able to best all other challengers including his former sparring partner Ken. Thus, he was granted a title match with the current reigning champion Sagat. However despite putting up a valiant fight against the current champion he was not able to defeat him during the title bout.

Sagat was able to soundly defeat him and offered a hand up to the nearly unconscious Ryu as a sign of respect to a worthy challenger. As Ryu lay dazed on the ground consciousness slowly slipping away from him he felt a dark cruel rage boil up from the depths of his soul.

He wanted to win at all costs and with new found strength he attacked the vulnerable Sagat with one his most powerful Dragon Punches ever. The punch was so powerful that it cleaved a gigantic scar across Sagat’s chest and nearly killed him.

Having knocked out the reigning his opponent Ryu was declared the winner of the World Warrior tournament. Sagat would later swear vengeance upon him.

Street Fighter Alpha 2, part 1

Ryu returned home to tell Gouken of his victory, but was shocked to find out that he had apparently been murdered in his absence. This led him to seek out and challenge his killer who was none other than Gouken’s former training partner Akuma.

Ryu fighting in a cobbled street

Ryu eventually found and challenged him on the secluded island of Gokuentou. However Ryu’s earlier brush with the the Satsui no Hado and the fact that he had not reconciled with the grief of his recently deceased master left him unfocused.

After a long battle Akuma proceeded to tell him about the true power of the Satsui no Hado. He told Ryu how it would make him an unstoppable warrior in exchange for consuming him with the insatiable desire to win even at the cost of his opponent’s life. Akuma had chosen this path and had merely been toying with Ryu.

The evil warrior then demonstrated his true strength by smashing the small island with a single blow.

Street Fighter Alpha 2, part 2

Still confused and deeply shaken Ryu sought out his former sparring partner Ken Masters. Ken had also heard of his sensei’s death and wasn’t sure what to make of the situation. The two agreed to a friendly match in the hopes that it would keep them focused. Ken easily defeated Ryu.

Ken realized during their bout that Ryu had not been himself every since his brush his victory over Sagat, his brush with the satsui no hadou, and his encounter with Akuma. He gave Ryu his hair tie as a parting gift to remind Ryu to stay focused and be ever vigilant.

Shortly after this Sakura Kusagano found him. He formally requested that Ryu take her on as his student. She had become obsessed with him after watching his title bout on TV and amazingly had mastered a few of his signature moves despite having no formal training or a teacher.

Ryu politely declined to become her teacher. He still felt that he had a lot to learn and was not yet worthy of a student. Sakura vowed that she would one day make him accept her as his student.

Street Fighter Alpha 2, part 3

Later he was confronted by Sagat who angrily demanded a rematch. Ryu did not wish to fight, but Sagat would not take no for an answer. Still feeling guilty of using the satsui no hadou to attack Sagat in a moment of weakness, Ryu purposely threw the match. He hoped that it would give Sagat some closure.

Sagat later came to realize that Ryu had let him win. This was an epiphany for him. It would lead him to cast aside his hatred of Ryu and leave Shadaloo whose criminal mind set was incompatible with his true warrior’s spirit.

Street Fighter Alpha 3, part 1

Two years later Ryu was still troubled by the previous events that happened during Alpha 2. He travelled the world trying continuing to train and fight worthy opponents. This lead to a fight with Rose. She informed him that the only way that he could defeat the legendary fighter Master Bison was at the cost of his soul. The news only served to further confuse him.

Ryu by Ripten

Ryu did eventually fight Bison. Despite putting up a valiant fight was not able to overcome Bison’s onslaught. Bison had sought him out as he wished to recruit only the strongest fighters to serve in his criminal ambition for world domination. Knowing full well that the noble Ryu would never willingly serve him he had him brainwashed.

Bison then offered Sagat, who had been having second thoughts about his commitment to Shadowloo since his last encounter with Ryu, a rematch with his former rival. Sagat immediately realized that Ryu had been brainwashed by Bison. Since the brainwashing had not been completed Ryu was not able to fight at full capacity and Sagat was able to defeat him.

Street Fighter Alpha 3, part 2

During the match Sakura and Dan, who had been traveling the world in search of Ryu challenged Bison to a fight for Ryu’s freedom. Even together the pair were no where near strong enough to challenge Bison. They were on the ropes until Sagat defeated Ryu.

Sagat was furious about Bison’s treachery. He quickly turned on his employer and after being defeated Ryu was able to snap out of Bison’s mind control. Together all four fighters proved more than enough to defeat Bison.

In the ensueing battle Bison was killed somehow. But he would later be brought back to life with the help of his secret weapon the Psycho Drive.

Street Fighter 2

Ryu once again entered to test his skills as a warrior. The exact details of his matches were a little fuzzy, but it was said that he defeated numerous fighters in the tournament.

There is some implication in later games that he may have actually lost to his former training partner Ken Masters, but this has never been confirmed.

Street Fighter 4, part 1

Ryu once again entered the World Warrior tournament to test his skills. He had a rematch with his long term rival and emerged victorious. He was able to best ever other challenger and fight the champion Seth in the final round.

The fight was so ferocious that it caused structural damage to the building. The place started to crumble. With the building crumbling around and Ryu up against the ropes he willingly released the power of the Satsui no Hadou in a desperate gambit to defeat Seth and destroy the BLECE machine granting Seth his powers.

Gallery of early Ryu sprites

The gambit worked and Ryu was able to overcome Seth. Sakura who had again been following him was knocked out from a stray blast from the damaged BLECE machine. But Ryu threw a final hadouken at the machine destroying it once and for all before escaping the rapidly collapsing building.

After escaping Ryu was confronted by his former master Gouken who he had long thought to be dead. Gouken had used the power of nothingness (basically the Buddhist concept of zen no mind) to survive Akuma’s Raging Demon attack. He had since been in hiding. He used this power on Ryu to permanently seal the dark energy within him.

Street Fighter 4, part 2

After Gouken had successfully sealed the Satsui no Hadou Akuma showed up. He challenged Gouken to another bout, stating that the winner would get Ryu as a prize. The outcome of the battle is unknown, but there are several fan theories based on what happened later in the storyline.

It seems most likely that Akuma did not win as Ryu is later seen free of the taint of the Satsui no Hadou. It is possible that their match was either a draw or was interrupted or that Gouken won. Another possibility is that Gouken lost, but by this time Ryu had grown strong enough to repel Akuma himself.

Ryu and Ken were later seen chasing their former master along a cliff. Ken begged him to stay and train them some more while Ryu merely bid him farewell. Ryu then said good bye to Dan, Blanka, and Sakura who had all been travelling together.

Sakura, now a full grown adult (but still for some unknown reason still wearing her school girl uniform) once again asked him to be her teacher, but Ryu once again refused saying that he was not yet ready. She once again vowed that she would one day force him to acknowledge her this time as an equal.

Note: Ryu sports a few new moves in the SF3 storyline, so it is possible that he was further trained by Gouken at some later point, but is merely a no prize hypothesis  and not confirmed by anything official.

Street Fighter 3 Second Impact

Ryu was challenged by a hot headed wrestler named Alex. Although Alex wasn’t quite up to the seasoned champion level of Ryu he put up a good fight. Thus, Ryu encouraged Alex to continue training and eventually overcome the tournament’s host Gil.

Ryu later lost to Oro. Oro was an old man well over 100 years old who knew that his time was near. He had been looking for a worthy successor to carry on his legacy. Ryu had come to his attention, but Oro needed more time before deciding that Ryu was to be his successor.

Street Fighter 3 Third Strike

Ryu fought his way through several challengers in the next tournament. His most notable match was against Hugo. The lumbering giant was able to stand up to Ryu’s most powerful attacks and Ryu was thoroughly impressed. He later agreed to be Hugo’s tag team partner for a short time in some wrestling matches.

Oro, though this is somewhat disputed, but likely, did eventually choose Ryu to be his successor and secretly aided him in his training using his mental powers.


Ryu is a nondescript Japanese man in extremely good shape. He always wears a sleeveless karate gi. The fabric has gotten more worn as time goes by suggesting that it is the same gi.

Ryu with his guard up

He always goes barefoot and wears a red head band (a keepsake from Ken to remind him to stay focused), and sparring arm pads. His belt is emblazoned with the kanji for wind, woods, fire, and mountain.

This is a reference to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War  which states that in battle one should be, “as fast as the wind, as quiet as the forest, as daring as fire, and immovable as the mountain.”


Ryu is essentially the Japanese ideal of a true martial artist. He is humble and constantly training. He strives to both test and improve his skills and is utterly dedicated to self improvement.

The temptation of the Satsui no Hadou is not unlike the temptation of a darker power that many archetypal heroes must first overcome. In particular it seems to draw a lot of parallels with Luke Skywalker being tempted by the dark side of the Force.

Ryu’s particular struggle is at heart very Buddhist. Certain sects of Buddhism believe that in order for one to attain true enlightenment one must first destroy the false face or mask that one wears. Ryu’s own personal struggle is to overcome his battle rage and lust for winning at all costs.

He struggles with this in his youth and most of his appearances, but in the end he does finally seem to overcome it.


“You did quite well, but you need more training to defeat me !”

“You must defeat my dragon punch to stand a chance !”

“I look forward to our next battle.”

“You fought well. I was honored.”

“Now I will find a better challenge !”

“What’s wrong ? Why do you hold back ?”

“True victory is to give all of yourself, without regret.”

“Whatever you find worthwhile in life, is worth fighting for !”

“Your strength is equal to that of your will to win !”

“One fight. One more step on the path to becoming a true warrior !”

“The only way a true fighter can suffer, is by not fighting !”

“I see a strong will to fight in your eyes ! Don’t give up yet !”

“Sometimes the most important battle is the battle within…”

Rose: Ryu… you are not strong enough to win the battle with that man. Or should I say, you COULD win, but at the cost of your soul…”
Ryu: Who are you ? And who is “that man” ? Fight me now… and defeat me, if you can !”


Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats


Dex: 08 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Upholding the Good
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 08 Occupation: Martial Arts Instructor
Inf: 05 Aur: 07 Spi: 08 Resources {or Wealth}: 001
Init: 021 HP: 090

Adrenaline Surge: 05, Energy Blast: 06, Gliding: 01, Jumping: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Adrenaline Surge only works with Energy Blast, Jumping, and Martial Artist.
  • Energy Blast is nonlethal.

Acrobatics: 06, Martial Artist: 12

Expertise (Survival), Iron Nerves, Language (Japanese), Schtick (Stance Assessment).

Ken Masters (High), Sakura Kusanagi (High), Sagat (High), Guy (Low), Edmond Honda (High), Oro While (High), Alex (Low), Chun Li (Low), Street Fighting circuit (Low). Ryu has all these connections he is highly unlikely to use any of them unless it’s for a sparring match every couple of years.

SIA (Improving his martial arts skills and seeking out worthy opponents).

Duffle Bag [BODY 01 STR 02]

Previous Statistics

SF1: Martial Artist: 10, Mind: 04, Spirit: 05.

SFA: Martial Artist: 11, Mind: 05, Spirit: 06.

During this period Ryu was being tempted by Satsu no Hadou or the Way of the Killing Art. This basically functions like a Star Wars Jedi getting tempted by the Dark Side of the Force. By the end of SF2 he’s basically over it and much like Luke Skywalker, through hard work, training, and discipline he manages to get to that level without giving into the dark side.

Dark Ryu does exist as a playable character in SFA, but only as a what if Ryu had given into the Satsu no Hadou. His stats would be the same as above, but he would gain Teleport: 03 and the Raging Demon attack. The Raging Demon is a devastating blindside attack performed by teleporting in blindsiding the opponent, and hitting them with a devastating attack of Magic Blast: 12, lethal and range of touch only enhanced with Adrenaline Surge: 8 and maximum HP expenditure as well.

Ryu’s Mind and Spirit enhancements aren’t without their drawbacks. At 5 and 6 respectively and he gains Catastrophic Rage, MPI, losses all his Conections, his motivation also becomes Nihilist and his SIA rises to a CIA.

In Marvel versus Capcom he could also switch between Ken and Akuma’s styles. His mystical and mental attributes would stay the same, but his powers, physical attributes and advantages would change to suit his new style. This ability is considered Seriously Marginal and costs 15 HP and takes a full round every time he switches styles like that.

Versus series

The versus series enhanced most of the SF cast that it crossed over with considerably making them capable of going toe to toe with Marvel’s heavy hitters:

Dex: 09 Str: 05 Bod: 06 Motivation: Upholding the Good
Int: 07 Wil: 06 Min: 09 Occupation: Martial Arts Instructor
Inf: 06 Aur: 08 Spi: 09 Resources {or Wealth}: 002
Init: 024 HP: 100

Adrenaline Surge: 13, Energy Blast: 10, Gliding: 04, Jumping: 09

Bonuses and Limitations:
Adrenaline Surge can only work with Energy Blast, Jumping, and Martial Artist.

Acrobatics: 07, Martial Artist: 13

Expertise (Survival), Iron Nerves, Language (Japanese), Schtick (Stance Assessment).

Ryu also gains a high connection to Iron Fist.

By Tom Eilers.

Source of Character: Street Fighter video games.

Helper(s): Sean MacDonald (for the previous version), Kal el Vigilante, Alan Wilkinson, Sébastien Andrivet, Peter Piispanen.

Writeup updated on the 11th of December, 2013.

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