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?


  • 1
    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
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 4:39
  • 58
    It's a method for indenting code
    – Machavity
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 12:52
  • 12
    The real question: Why does Ryu have two right hands in that image?
    – GreySage
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 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
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 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
    Commented Jul 15, 2019 at 18:47

2 Answers 2


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.


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


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
    Commented Jul 16, 2019 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. Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 21:00
  • Bah, Newton was wrong. Put your trust in Einstein and nuke em from space. Commented Jul 17, 2019 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
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 16:41
  • @candied_orange it's the only way to be sure.
    – Paul
    Commented Jul 17, 2019 at 19:14

As both a martial artist and Street Fighter fan, the Chi explanation rings true. It also essentially functions as an extension of a fighter's will or spirit. In the 1995 Street Fighter cartoon, all moves like that, from Guile's to Bison's, were fueled by Chi, but could produce or be expressed different energy effects, from sound to heat [Chun Li's was an actual "fireball"] to yoga fire-----which was actual flame---- to electricity or electromagnetism to even flight.

Chi could also fuel physical moves, such as the Flash kick, Psycho Crusher, rolling attack, Spinning Bird Kick and Dragon Punch. There is no "magic" involved, thought there Are SF characters who use forms of magic or technology to power their attacks. Most rely on Chi in some form, though, as this form of energy is highly connected to a "Fighter's Spirit".

  • 1
    Can you provide any evidence this is true in-universe?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Sep 15, 2019 at 23:29
  • Relying on anything from that travesty of a Street Fighter story is pretty 🤦😑
    – nikodaemus
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 1:38

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