Hado no Chikara is the equivalent of saying “The Force”
It’s a blanket term for a technique/power.
Satsui No Hado is the equivalent of saying “The Dark Side”. It is a specific methodology of drawing on a specific technique/power.
That said, the proper method of harnessing Hado no Chikara, as with the Force, is NOT with the SnH/Darkside. Doing that is inherently negative and imbalancing to the user & nature. It is an affront to the concept (though still potent). Hado No Chikara is the motion of life force within all beings and the cosmos…it is the harnessing of that universal energy. This is no different from the Force. Snatching up that power and directing it with personal malice, greed and desire? That is bad. Always. Gouken’s methods are inherently correct just as the Jedi’s valorous, principled use of the Force is inherently correct. Notice neither Gouken nor Jedi suffer the kind of rot, degradation and corruption of Akuma and Dark Jedi/Sith.
When you pervert nature to gain power…you pay. This goes for Bison as well. His power corrodes his body. It bursts the seams of his mortal frame forcing him to turn to technology (unnatural means) to attempt to counter that process. Just like Emperor Palpatine making clone bodies in Dark Empire.
Mu No Ken is a different thing all-together. That is why someone like Gen can use it without having any background training in the principles of the Hado (Wave motion technique).
Mu No Ken is a spiritual and mental state that a martial artist can achieve. Any martial artist (in theory). It is not tied to specific fighting techniques…but it CAN be used in any fighting style with their techniques.
That said, a persons background & training might help them in achieving a state of Mu No Ken. Bison, for example, could not do this because his martial art is inherently based on selfish personal interest. Ryu’s training has focused on valor and a higher spiritual calling for the purpose of wielding his fist…this makes it easier for him to divest himself of…himself and eventually achieve Mu just as Gouken did. Gen is such a straight-up bad ass with such unbelievable levels of training and spiritual awareness that he was able to achieve Mu against Akuma.
For parallels to my earlier comparison of Hado no Chikara/SnH to the Force/Dark Side…there IS a Mu equivalent in Star Wars.
Obi-Wan achieves Mu. He becomes perfectly one with the greater life Force of the universe…a part of it but still himself. He achieves immortality of the self by understanding that the self is a lie.
Yoda does the same.
Palpatine? He goes screaming into the abyss, never to be heard from again. The same will happen to Akuma. The candle that burns twice as bright, lasts half as long…or…in this case, lasts INFINITELY less when compared to oneness with the universe.
Here’s a breakdown I’ve been considering doing for a while now…insight into this entire topic that comes from the best portrayal of SF as a coherent product: SFII The Animated Movie
[details=Spoiler]"Be prepared for the unexpected
Concentrate, mind and body as one
Achieve tranquility through movement
Integrate spirit and flesh
Channel the powers
Focus the mind
Cleanse the soul
Release that which is negative!
Separate darkness and light
Mind and body as one
Give birth to yourself
Oneness through knowledge
Define your existence
Oneness through emotions
Create your definition
Oneness with the heavens
From strength, learn gentleness
Through gentleness, strength will prevail!"[/details]
The mantra Ken goes through with Gouken in his mind. Let’s look at a few things about this entire scene because it is pivotal to understanding the martial arts philosophy that infuses Street Fighter.
First of all. Ken was crippled. Bison destroyed him as a martial artist.
“My legs…they won’t move” - Ken
This was not anything but literal. When Bison discarded Ken he did so fully believing the attack would kill or cripple him. And he was right. “You don’t seem very concerned about your friend…who’s probably dead by now”. Again, Bison is not being hyperbolic. He threw Ken at damn near terminal velocity (or more) into a goddamn stone wall so hard it left a dent. It would have shattered Ken’s vertebrae.
And that’s the key thing to understand. It did. The injury could probably be most closely compared to the damage suffered by Steve Austin in a match against Owen Hart where he got spiked onto his head. He also had limited mobility afterwards and took a long time to heal (and never fully recovered).
Ken drags himself to the edge of the battle, attempts to stand…and collapses. He then thinks back to his training…and touches Mu. In doing so, he is able to re-enter the fight and fight at 100% capacity as if nothing had happened.
Let’s break down the mantra and what it means in full context keeping in mind the translation from the original Japanese is MORE than adequate enough for our purposes. And yes, there are differences between the two with the Japanese originally focusing more on harmony of movement and overt zen principles…but the message is the same. Perhaps later I can break down the Japanese dialogue and how it reinforces these same concepts but, for now, let’s stick to what everyone is more familiar (save for ONE difference I’ll mention at the end)
“Be prepared for the unexpected
Concentrate, mind and body as one”
“Be prepared for the unexpected” is inherently paradoxical. This is on purpose. It’s a koan. A Koan is a Zen Buddhist riddle designed to point out the inherent flaws of using strict logical reasoning to understand the divinity of nature. It is EXPLICITLY used to provoke one towards the path of enlightenment.
Mind and body as one is the very essence of chi manipulation, gathering and use. We are not just “crude matter”, as Yoda called us. We are a mind and a body and, through that synthesis, so much more than the sum of those parts.
“Achieve tranquility through movement
Integrate spirit and flesh
Channel the powers
Focus the mind
Cleanse the soul
Release that which is negative!”
An unbelievably important passage.
“Achieve tranquility through movement”
Another paradox. Tranquility is stillness…is silence…is peace. Movement is anathema to tranquility…yet the tranquility of nature and, indeed, the entire vastness of the stillness of space is ALWAYS in motion. Another paradox. Another koan to ruminate on.
“You will know, when you are calm. At peace, passive” - Yoda
That is when you touch the Force. When you avoid the Dark Side. Yoda tells Luke to be passive and peaceful…while having him run, flip and leap through Dagobah. Tranquility through movement.
It’s the Force. It is the wave motion. It is the Hado. “Concentrate…feel the Force flow”
The Hado is literally “wave motion”. It is the ebb and flow of chi not only inside the body but outside of it as that energy mingles with the energy of the universe. “Luminous beings are we” is exactly what Yoda says regarding us. It’s the same principle as the Hado.
“Release that which is negative!” - Gouken
“Let go, Luke” - Obi-Wan
Fear. Self-doubt. Anger. Hate.
Release these things. They pollute the soul. Trust in the universe and trust in the self.
“Separate darkness and light
Mind and body as one”
Do not mistake ‘darkness’ and ‘light’ in this context as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. The second line clarifies entirely that this phrasing is meant to reference yin & yang in balance. We separate darkness and light because they are two different things. Night is not day. Day is not night. Now create the paradox. The mind is not the body and the body is not the mind…make them one. How do you make two separate things one? How does the day become the night?!
But wait…the day ALWAYS becomes the night just as the night ALWAYS becomes the day. They are not separate things (yes they are) but they are part of a whole greater than either. Darkness & light is the universe…mind and body is the self. The universe exists as both at once but separate…Gouken tells Ken to do the same.
What follows is a series of instructions/replies from Gouken to Ken. Ken is not specifically answering Gouken’s statements though. They’re working together to build understanding.
“Give birth to yourself
Oneness through knowledge”
Gouken’s statement is a challenge. One cannot give birth to their self because that is not how nature works…Ken will achieve it anyway. How? Oneness (and make no mistake, in this regard “oneness” is absolutely “Mu”. It is “nothingness”).
Knowledge of ones self along with a greater knowledge and understanding of the universe pushes one towards enlightenment. Enlightenment is explicitly spiritual rebirth. You must know yourself, for good and for ill, as well as possess knowledge of the nature of the universe. In doing so, you realize you know everything when you truly know that you can never know everything there is. Again, paradox is implicit in this.
Know yourself and realize you know nothing.
“Define your existence
Oneness through emotions”
This is an important statement by Gouken. We are what we choose to be. The important thing to keep in mind is that, just like with the Force, fate is not deterministic. “Always in motion” is the future, after all. If the future is in motion, then so is our fate. So is our existence. The martial artist exists as a living example of what can be achieved through will, focus, training and desire. It is too easy to think that the martial artist/Jedi is a fully passive being that is ready to go along with the whims of fate. This is absolutely untrue. Gouken’s training EXPLICITLY focused on valor and principle. It is the defining trait of wielding ones fist in his tutelage. Just as the Jedi is a protector of justice, Gouken’s training in martial arts is focused on being a good person.
Ken’s reply makes this clear.
Emotions & feelings are not the enemy. In fact, as Luke was told “They do you credit” as Obi-Wan tells Luke…but he has to bury them against the Emperor. Why? Kens ordeal makes this clear.
After waking back up, Ken struggles to remember what happened. PAY ATTENTION TO THE ORDER OF EVENTS HERE. “A plane?”. He starts to remember. He’s still confused. Bison strikes Ryu down with casual ease.
“RYU!” Ken sees his friend. Then he gets angry. “I’ll have your head!” He cries out in anger “BISON!”…and he immediately fails to stand and tumbles back down. ALL of his progress is reset. Utter failure.
His hatred and anger doomed him.
The fall reminds him immediately of the emotions that actually do him credit because as soon as he hits rock bottom…what does he say? “Ryu!” He’s worried for his friend. He wants to help him.
His desire to help his friend is the quality, the virtue, that is greater than himself. Notice that this is the same exact quality to leads to Luke to going to confront Vader despite the danger to himself. This lets Luke gain greater knowledge about himself and his own fallibility when he learns that Vader is his father. If he had learned this in ROTJ when confronting Vader AND the Emperor? DISASTER. Luke trusted in his own valorous feelings despite the warning of his teachers. Ultimately, it was what lead him to success.
When Ken calms himself and focuses on the actual task that is worth achieving, he is able to start to fix his situation. That task is NOT defeating Bison…the task is helping his friend. That task requires the defeat of Bison, yes, but channeling anger and revenge towards Bison is NOT the goal. And that is of paramount importance. We see that next…
“Create your definition
Oneness with the heavens”
The Force surrounds us…and it binds the universe together.
As it is in heaven, so is it on Earth.
Same concepts. Gouken’s challenge of “Create your definition” however harkens back to Ken’s previous reply regarding emotions. Emotions are in turmoil when they are not in accordance with “heaven”. Heaven is justice. Heaven is that which is right. Ken must understand his emotions…and feel his emotions…and DEFINE himself with his emotions…by being in accordance with the heavens.
Just like with the Jedi, a martial artists emotions are NOT bad…but we must keep our emotions in tune with what is true and righteous. Vengeance and anger are NOT emotions…they are perversions of emotions. Vengeance is a perversion of justice. Anger is a perversion of passion.
There is injustice in the world. This is impossible to avoid. Answering injustice with injustice cannot create justice. A Jedi never wields the Force in anger. A true martial artist never wields their fist to destroy.
This is proven in the next refrain…
“From strength, learn gentleness
Through gentleness, strength will prevail!”
This is NOT a parodox. REPEAT: THIS IS NOT A PARADOX. The true martial artist realizes that strength is not a lack of gentleness and gentleness is not a lack of strength. A Jedi is not more powerful when they have their lightsaber drawn. Remember, never wield your power to destroy. Destruction is a perversion of strength. When one is truly strong, they learn what it is important to wield that strength for. In this way, we recall the lessons imparted about righteous emotions and virtue. Ken wishes to help Ryu. He wants to protect his friend. His desire comes from love for his brother and NOT a desire to destroy Bison. Bison’s own evil actions have put him on a crash course with a Shoryuken. That is NOT Ken’s desire…it is the karmic weight of Bison’s own inadequacies and evil. Ken harnesses his emotions, balances his body and spirit (figuratively and, because it heals his damaged body, LITERALLY) and does so by tempering himself with the virtue of love.
In doing so, all his strength (and more) is returned to his body. Strength prevails because of gentleness. We see this echoed in Ryu Final where Ken becomes stronger than ever because he fights not to win…but for his family. His love gives him incredible focus and power. He tells Ryu it has made him a “true martial artist”. Gouken would agree.
“Ken…what do you see beyond your fist?”
The last question. One posed to Ken and Ryu just as another challenge was posed to Ken.
“Go beyond victory”
Gouken tells Ken he must go “beyond victory” to defeat Bison. What does that mean and why is it important?
Well, we see its importance. It is a flashpoint for Bison.
Bison accurately points out that Ken’s strength derives from rivalry with Ryu. We see him pervert that emotion with his Psycho Power during the brainwashing scene. Corruption of virtuous emotions towards evil. Passion out of balance. The Dark Side. We see Ken’s thoughts of Ryu…a representation of his feelings towards him. The Psycho Power infests Ken’s mind and warps that image beyond recognition…and then into the image of Bison…the man that Ken hates at the moment. Bison so warps Ken’s perceptions and so imbalances his emotions, in Ken’s mind there is no difference between his desire to destroy Bison and his desire to compete with Ryu. It is this imbalance that Ken has to banish when he falls down the hill and cleanses himself. And I can prove it.
When Ken is unconscious his mind recalls his last instruction from Gouken…to “go beyond victory”.
Ken then, just as before, doesn’t understand. He asks for clarification. His answer? “I’LL EXPLAIN IT TO YOU, BOY!”
Bison offers HIS answer. HATE. Bison is still in Ken’s mind…still perverting his emotions and thoughts. This is how we get to “I’ll have your head” and Ken’s failure at the summit. “Strike me down” “Use your aggressive feelings, BOY”. Both the Emperor and Bison choose that word ‘boy’. Interesting, no? It implies a junior status. It implies master on the part of the person talking. Mastery implies knowledge. Bison and the Emperor both try to manipulate Ken/Luke via their emotions…they both claim to know a higher truth through hatred and evil.
Ken’s “fist” becomes an allegory for combat. Allegory for victory. At the end of Ken’s enlightening, Gouken asks him “What do you see beyond your fist?”
He is asking him if he finally understands what is “beyond victory”?
In English, he answers “My fate”. Not a bad answer really. It speaks of the movement of the universe and knowing ones place in it. The original Japanese, however, is the cherry on the point I’ve been making.
What does Ken say in Japanese to answer the question? “Ryu”
His friend. Beyond “victory”…beyond “his fist”…beyond the desire to win or to destroy or anything else selfish and temporal…Ken sees his friend. Ken awakens to the virtue of love once again. Bison has been banished from his mind and that earlier warping we saw during the brainwashing is gone. His rivalry with his friend, the source of his power, is back.
By no longer focusing on himself and his own feelings of rivalry, Ken has realized that these desires actual spring from love for his ally and brother. He finds true purpose in the universe. He achieves “Oneness”. He touches upon “Mu” as he turns his focus outward instead of inward. His physical frailty is immediately banished because the physical body and mind are now one…strengthened by one another and stronger than they could be apart. Compare this to the physical toll the Dark Side, Psycho Power and Satsui No Hadou take. They all ROT YOU…and they do so from the inside out. Mu/Oneness/Nothingness opens one up to the vastness of the cosmos and the power it holds…the other power sources turn INWARD and focus there, burning out the frail body that is out of balance with the strength that bursts forth.
We even see that imbalance cost Bison everything. Ken joins the battle alongside Ryu. Bison still VASTLY overpowers them if he were to use the full extent of his powers. Does he? No. He’s arrogant. Hateful. Just like the Emperor, he fails because he is too self-assured. Too self-obsessed. Bison decides to fight hand to hand. He has no need to. Not really. Not in the grand scheme of things. He does it to prove that he can. He does it out of egotism and anger. Though he’s still incredibly impressive in this fight (just like the Emperor throwing lightning at Luke) Bison’s shortsighted approach costs him.
He thought he killed/crippled Ken…and so he toyed with Ryu instead of killing him too.
He thought he could embarrass Ryu & Ken in hand to hand even 2 v 1.
The Emperor thought he had total control over Vader so he toyed with Luke instead of killing him outright.
They were wrong and it leads to their failure.
Neither Ryu/Ken nor Luke win by superior force of arms. Indeed, Ken & Ryu and Luke are all EXPLICITLY inferior in strength to their opponents. All three win by teamwork. Ryu & Ken work together to become more than the sum of their parts to overcome Bison. Father and son unite as Vader overcomes his own failings, fear and doubt because of Luke’s example. Evil is destroyed, banished screaming in an explosion of futile rage. In fact, note the near identical deaths of the Emperor and Bison. Both careen out of control…one barreling into a plane…the other plummeting down a reactor shaft. Both EXPLODE in violent, electrical fury as they’re SMASHED against a technological symbol of their grand, grasping evil desire (for Bison this is his high-tech Shadaloo VTOL and for the Emperor it is, of course, the Death Star). Both scream in fear and pain. They have no dignity in death because they existed without that virtue in life.
Instead of peacefully fading away like Obi-Wan or Yoda (and, indeed, even the last we see of Gouken in the movie is the serene fading of his presence from Ken’s mind as growing light), Bison and Palpatine BURST from within and explode…consumed in a conflagration that announces their end totally definitively. The sensei and Jedi masters? They fade into the universe…becoming one with it. Immortal. The masters of the Dark Side? They burst with the most definitive death imaginable. The universe puts an exclamation point on their very existence, marking their desire for immortality (something the Emperor and Bison both crave) as a total and complete failure.
Oneness/Mu no Ken, like the teachings of Yoda, is not a power. It is a mindset. It is the path of the Buddha. It is enlightenment. Don’t mistake it for the same thing as The Force or Hado itself. Chikara no Hado and the Force are merely the manifestation of the universe expressing itself…and, since we are of the universe, we can touch those things. With the right mindset (Mu), however, you can become ONE with those things and, in doing so, become “more powerful than you can possibly imagine”