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The Hadouken is an iconic attack in Street Fighter that appears to produce flames. But what exactly is it? I skimmed the Street Fighter Wiki, but it just says that it's "energy" that is "as warm as normal body temperature, contrary to popular belief that it is a fireball".

So what exactly is a Hadouken? Is it a magical spell? Some sort of ancient martial arts technique that heats up the air? Something else?

Hadouken!

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    My understanding is that it's just a projection of the actual punch. The hadouken shot shows a replica of Ryu's hands - so I imagine it does damage by striking someone as hands would, rather than as a fireball would. – Misha R Jul 15 at 4:39
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    It's a method for indenting code – Machavity Jul 15 at 12:52
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    The real question: Why does Ryu have two right hands in that image? – GreySage Jul 15 at 15:16
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    @GreySage Due to the severe lack of resolution, I'm having trouble how you can definitively say which way either hand is facing. – JMac Jul 15 at 18:31
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    @GreySage I see the top hand differently than you (thus my half-joking point about the low resolution and issues with definitive statements). To me, the top thumb is also closer to the viewer. The backwards "J" shape is the back/side of the thumb where it connects to the rest of the hand. The colours don't indicate how meaty the hand is, they just have the closest part to be lightest, as you would expect. – JMac Jul 15 at 18:47
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tl;dr: it is based on a weapon in the anime Space Battleship Yamato, with the in-universe source being chi, a concept of energy in Chinese martial arts and traditional medicine.

Out-of-universe:

The designer of the first game, Takashi Nishiyama, talks about the specific move’s inspiration:

I was inspired by anime and manga from the time, so for example the Hadouken was inspired by a Japanese anime called Space Battleship Yamato. In that, the battleship has a laser missile called Hadouho — it collects energy and then blasts it into space, destroying the enemy. That that's where I got the idea for the Hadouken.

The name apparently is directly derived from the weapon in the show; 波動拳 ("wave motion fist") is the Hadouken and 波動エンジン ("wave motion engine" with "engine" in English) is the name of the weapon. A Wikia page on the weapon.

A picture of the Hadouho:

An image of the weapon in the anime


In-universe:

Wikipedia says this about the move:

The move is achieved by the character thrusting their palms forward, sending a surge of spirit energy (or ki1) towards the opponent ("chi1 blast").

On “chi”1, a supposed energy or life force in Chinese traditional medicine, Wikipedia says:

Qi1 is the central underlying principle in Chinese traditional medicine and in Chinese martial arts.

The practice of controlling one’s chi1 is called Neijing.

The in-universe explanation for this is using chi1, a concept in real-world Chinese martial arts.

1Note that all of these are the same thing; "ki" in Japanese is the same thing as "chi" or "qi" in Chinese

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    Today I learned the origins of Yamato Cannon in Starcraft. – Ege Bayrak Jul 16 at 14:57
  • Also in Japanese Martial Arts, but I have never seen this in base reality. Put your trust in Newton instead. And here is Motorball King Jashuan doing Chi Exchange with is old teacher. – David Tonhofer Jul 16 at 21:00
  • Bah, Newton was wrong. Put your trust in Einstein and nuke em from space. – candied_orange Jul 17 at 5:52
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    @EgeBayrak To follow the reference further back, the Yamato and it's sister ship, the Musashi, were battleships in the Japanese navy in WWII. They were the largest battleships ever created. – Harabeck Jul 17 at 16:41
  • @candied_orange it's the only way to be sure. – Paul Jul 17 at 19:14

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