What Is A Shoto? Explaining A Common Misconception In Fighting Games

Things have been crazy recently in the Fighting Game Community, and the word Shoto has been tossed left and right frequently. We can thank Smash Bros players for this topic surfacing, though. It seems that for some reason, they hate when Smash adds characters from Traditional Fighting Games to their game. And now they think that any character that comes from a Fighting Game is a Shoto. Well, they're wrong. But if they are, what is a shoto?

What Is A Shoto?

what is a shoto

A Shoto is a Fight Game Character Stereotype that is used to define a character with special moves that mirror Ryu's Hadouken, Shoryuken, and Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku. In other words, a character that has a fireball, a flying anti-air, a physical attack that travels forward is often considered a shoto. Some versions of those attacks might not be perfect copies of the original, but they are usually very much alike in visuals, function, or both.

Let's take this slowly, though. This is a long discussion, and we should tackle every single aspect of it before going to the conclusion.

Where Does The Term Shoto Come From?

Shoto is short from Shotokan. When Street Fighter reached the Western Market, Capcom USA decided to declare, for whatever reason, that Ryu's fighting style is Shotokan Karate. It isn't. In fact, the name of his Martial Art is never mentioned. All that is known about Ryu and Ken's Martial Art is that it is based on some sort of Ansatsuken, a Japanese term for "Assassin's Fist," which is how they call a martial technique that is meant to kill.

Since many of us, Arcade Kids, grow up with the western version of Street Fighter, we call the Boxer Balrog, the Spanish Ninja Vega, and Ryu's Martial Art Shotokan. It just got stuck in our brains that way. So when a new character showed up and used the same special moves as Ryu and Ken, we said that he was "Another Shotokan Karate Fighter," or just "another Shoto."

So when Akuma showed up with his fireball, a flying uppercut, and a spinning kick that made him move forward, the first triad of shoto characters was defined.

From Shotokan To Shoto

The term Shotokan would soon stop being used for these characters. Shoto was slowly becoming a unique term, and it happened due to many other fighting games coming into existence. With more games, we had more Ryu clones. For instance, Ryo Sakazaki, who practices Kyokugenryu Karate, was soon defined as Shoto due to possessing a flying uppercut, a fireball, and a kick attack that travels forward. For some reason, many protagonists of several different fighting games had would fall into this archetype. Although there are noticeable exceptions, like Terry Bogard from the Fatal Fury games.

With time, the word Shoto was associated with those three moves and disassociated from Shotokan Karate. Shoto became a term for characters who shared those special moves or moves that worked very similarly.

What Other Characters Are Shotos or Shoto-Clones?

Here Are Some Examples Of Shoto Characters:

  • Hanzo and Fumma from World Heroes
  • Gran from Granblue Fantasy Versus
  • Haohmaru from Samurai Showdown
  • Hideo Shimazu from Rival Schools
  • Hotaru from Garou: Mark of the Wolves
  • Ryo Sakazaki from Art of Fighting
  • Ky Kiske from Guilty Gear Strive
  • Makoto Mizoguchi from Fighter's History
  • Mario and Luigi from Super Smash Bros

I hope this article was enough for you to understand what is a shoto in the Fighting Games context. Now you know that Kazuya is definitely not a Shoto. For more on Fighting games such as Guilty Gear Strive or Street Fighter, just check our articles right here, at GamesAtlas!


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