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Kazuya = Shoto? Debate rages over terminology between Super Smash Bros. community and FGC after Tekken character's reveal

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • June 16, 2021 at 6:46 p.m. PDT • Comments: 50

Nintendo's E3 Direct yesterday brought the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate community and wider FGC together with the hype reveal of Kazuya Mishima as the next DLC character for the massive crossover, but that would only help spark a duel of diction shortly thereafter.

Debate quickly broke out between all sides regarding the usage of the fighting game term "Shoto" used by some to describe the Tekken character, which was rebuffed by many in the FGC and Smash scene. Do they have a point though?

There are two cruxes to the argument at hand between the usage of Shoto being used to describe all outside fighting game characters in Smash and whether or not the Mishima fits the mold of the traditional Shoto archetype.

The best way to start this is probably to define what Shoto actually means in the FGC lexicon.

Well, Infil's great fighting game glossary does so as such: "An archetype in the Street Fighter series for a character that has a fireball, a shoryuken, and a tatsu. Their main gameplan is to play solid footsies with fireballs and pokes, and then uppercut you when you jump at them."

Since it originated in Street Fighter, you'd think that may automatically disqualify Kazuya right there, but a lot of people in the community use the term for similar fighting styles outside of that franchise.

Ryo Sakazaki from the Art of Fighting / King of Fighters series is a pretty clear-cut example of a Shoto outside of Street Fighter, and some also use it to describe characters with weapons like Ky Kiske from Guilty Gear and Gran in Granblue Fantasy: Versus.

So then where does that leave Kazuya? As some Smash players have pointed out, the original Tekken lead's moveset does indeed contain a leaping uppercut (like a Shoryuken), a forward-moving spin kick (similar to a Tatsumaki Senpukyaku), and a projectile thanks to his Devil laser beam.

While all of that is true, those attacks aren't really at the absolute core of his gameplan and are largely used in different ways compared to fighters like Ryu and Ken — the two "original" Shotos.

These reasons are why a character like Sagat, who also technically has all of the attributes as well, isn't considered one either.

Instead of a Shoto, Kazuya is generally viewed as a part of the Mishima archetype, since many of his moves and attributes are shared between his family in Heihachi and Jin.

This is where we take everything to the next level, however.

The original use of the term Shoto is derived from the use of the Shotokan karate martial arts style, which was then obviously shortened decades ago to describe characters of a particular style.

Kazuya fights using the aptly named Mishima-style karate, and interestingly enough, it's largely based on the practice of Shotokan as others in the Smash community have pointed out.

That sounds pretty straight forward then. Kazuya fights using moves from or similar to Shotokan, so why wouldn't he be a Shoto?

Well, this is where things take a turn for the weird and complex, so follow me here.

Going all the way back to 1993, the Super Nintendo version of Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Hyper Fighting stated in its game manual that Ryu and Ken were practitioners of Shotokan... except that text is nowhere to be found in the original Japanese versions.

What the white and red gi'd fighters actually use is based on the Ansatsuken (Assassination Fist) style in-universe, and has little resemblance to Shotokan.

Essentially, Shotos as the FGC defines them generally don't fight with Shotokan karate as weird as that may sound.

The closest character Street Fighter has to an actual Shotokan user is Makoto, and no, she isn't a Shoto either.

Now, some in the Smash community are attempting to repurpose the FGC lingo as a way to describe the growing list of outside fighting game characters in Ultimate.

It was easy in Smash 4 considering there was only Ryu, but now we have Ken as well as Terry Bogard (who also has similar moves to Shotos but isn't normally viewed as one) and soon to be Kazuya too.

Fighting game characters is too long to write out in fast-paced society in need of abbreviations, and shortening that to FGC just makes everything even more confusing.

The Smash community already has specific terms for certain archetypes and groups of fighters like Spacies, which refers to the Star Fox gang of Fox, Falco and Wolf.

This has led some to suggest names like Punchies or Fighties, but many have seemingly grasped onto Shotos despite it already having defined characteristics outside of this usage.

Some top players in the Smash ranks like PG|ESAM and Liquid|Hungrybox (who originally seemed to be on the other side) are pushing back on the idea of using the term because of the aforementioned definitions that may only serve to confuse everyone further.

It'll probably take some time for the Smash community as a wider group to agree upon what to call these fighting game characters, but something is sure to stick one way or another.

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