I’ve been hearing quite a few comments recently about how whacky the characters in SF2 used to be. That’s not the way I’ve seen them all this while, but I guess being 80’s style designs, they probably do look whacky to the younger people out there.
I’ve always thought that Street Fighter was basically Stereotype Fighter, and that’s what made it great. Stereotypical ninja, stereotypical punk, stereotypical American soldier… Everyone could pit their favourite stereotypical badass against the others, and early Fatal Fury was the same. Through the stereotypes, you could also see some real research being done on actual martial arts or just ways of beating people up. Sure, you had Dhalsim and Blanka, but back in 1991, there were still these crazy myths about Amazonian wild men and Indian mystics with strange powers, so it wasn’t as whacky back then as it seems now. Dictator? Well there were a couple of those in South East Asia at the time. Claw was a bit different though, being a ripoff of a minor character from manga Hokuto No Ken.
I thought SF4 and the Alpha series kinda dropped the ball a bit with their research. Sure they had some original character designs, but I’d rather see one of the hundreds of amazing real martial arts or even movie fighting styles in a game, than some generic stuff the animators made up, which is why I don’t like C Viper and Rufus, and am generally unimpressed by the animations on Abel and El Fuerte. Glad that they did some real research with Super, and I hope that game designers will continue to use real martial arts in fighting games to come.
Unfortunately, stereotypes seem to be on the way out, which is too bad, because some of the best characters in SF were the most awful stereotypes.
Anyway, I thought I’d have a go at listing what martial arts I’ve noticed are in and what I’d like to see in future. Naturally, we expect Capcom to take huge liberties with interpreting the arts, but it would be nice to see more real techniques in there too. I apologise if this post has no real point to it and ends up as just another stupid wish list, but I feel like typing at the moment, and I figure a mod will just delete this if its that bad. I appreciate any corrections and additions people may have.
American Full Contact Karate - SF1 Joe is basically Benny the Jet. Not only has he got the iconic red pants, but he even has his spinning back kick.
Traditional Karate - Ryu and Ken are Karate in name only unfortunately. The only thing close to karate is the hadouken motion, which is one of the basic exercises. Makoto however does have a moveset which does the style much more justice.
Boxing - Mike Bison is a no brainer. Also of note is scrapped SF2 character Dack Jempsey, obvious reference to Jack Dempsey, which shows someone at Capcom had a fairly good knowledge of boxing history. Dudley is based on the boxer Chris Eubank.
Ninjutsu - SF1 Geki was the original token ninja complete with smoke bomb and shurikens. Oddly, he carries a Jutte, which was a police weapon used to catch and break swords during the Meiji period, so that is totally out of whack.
Escrima - SF1 Eagle is meant to use Filipino Escrima. British traders travelled throughout South East Asia and India during the 19th century, and some of them picked up bits of the local martial arts, modifying them and adding fencing techniques to create a “gentleman’s form of self defense.” The more typical version of this hybrid style uses single canes and walking sticks though, as opposed to dual sticks. Not sure if that was what Capcom had in mind and maybe got a bit mixed up.
Muay Thai - Adon and Sagat. Their kicks from SF1 and SF2 look a lot closer to the real stuff than in later games though.
Chinese martial arts - There are so many Chinese martial arts out there that most people just jumble them together from whatever Hong Kong Kung Fu film they happened to see, and that’s what we generally get in any fighting game. Lee and Gen were pretty good stereotypes in SF1 and Chunli carried it on in SF2. Feilong = Bruce Lee. I have a feeling Rufus was Capcom’s attempt at putting Sammo Hung in the game, but they were a bit off. I’d much rather have had Sammo.
Shorinji Kenpo - Japan’s version of Shaolin martial arts, SF1 Retsu just screams Shorinji Kenpo. Stereotypical Japanese fighting monk.
Sumo - Alright, E Honda was whacky. The Sumo Association would never allow him to use Kabuki theatre facepaint during a match. It was like they took two unrelated Japanese stereotypes and put them together. The palm attacks he uses though are fairly representative of the surprising speed at which Sumo wrestlers can strike.
Mixed Martial Arts - Abel. They got the look down, but I wish they could have gotten the moves down too.
Lucha Libre - Rainbow Mika got the feel closer than El Fuerte. El Fuerte’s design and moveset is actually a bit bland compared to how colourful and outrageous Mexican wrestling usually is.
Wrestling - Zangief is your power wrestler. I’d like him to have a moonsault though…
Taekwondo - Finally we get a Taekwondo character in Juri, but she looks like she’s from KOF. Not bad if you like KOF, but I was hoping for a more traditional look.
Yagli Gures - I had to Google this one. Glad Capcom took the time to find this interesting Turkish wrestling style for Hakan.
Capoeira - Elena definitely has Capoeira influence in her moves. Too bad she’s from the wrong part of the world.
Tokusatsu - Okay, not really a martial art, but Japanese special effects films have had some influence on Street Fighter as well. Think of the style as Power Rangers fighting. Without it, we wouldn’t have Skullomania and Q.
Other games have also included some great martial arts styles. The Japanese love Geese Howard from Fatal Fury, because he’s Steven Segal, Aikido master. The Mortal Kombat team researched a heap of obscure martial arts, in part thanks to getting in real martial artists to do motion capture(nevermind the fact the end game looks over the top retarded). Virtua Fighter have always done a great job at portrayal of real martial arts and movie martial arts. And Tekken and KOF have more or less developed their own style of martial arts animations, whether you like them or not.
But here are some things I’d like to see in future games. These are not necessarily martial arts which are practical or oh-so-powerful, but they are ones which have unique movements which would be interesting to apply to games.
Silat - This Indonesian style is characterised by slow, flowing motions which give it a mystical quality.
Wing Chun - Small, efficient and blindingly fast.
Krav Maga - Nasty and brutal, yet technical as well.
Boxing, London Prize Ring rules era - That really old boxing style we used to see on old cartoons where you have characters going “Put em up! Put em up there pal!”
Kalari - Very graceful, almost like a dance.