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Street Fighter Sonnets #1

by Nick Holloway

In the run-up to the release of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li at the cinema later this week, Ross Sutherland is sharing his sonnets based on the Street Fighter universe. Over to him...

These sonnets were written for a live show that I’m touring this autumn, entitled Infinite Lives: How Video Games Hacked Literature.

I’ve always considered video games an extension of literature. Take one look at the Odyssey, and you’ll see that its basically Super Mario Brothers. Except rather than Greeks on boats, you’ve got Italians on dinosaurs. Everything else is pretty much left verbatim.

So, in Street Fighter we have these twelve characters (twelve apostles? twelve signs of the zodiac?) each with their own interlocking back story. Together they span the bandwidth of the human psyche: Vega (vanity), Blanka (wrath), Ryu (discipline), Chun-Li (vengeance), Dhalsim (bendiness), and so on. The human condition broken down into its primary elements, all fighting for supremacy.

Deep inside all of us, I believe we all have a specific Street Fighter character, controlling our urges, policing our anima, and so on. Either we learn to control that fighter, or the fighter will learn to control us. Oh, and no button mashing.

Today’s character is the classic Japanese hero, Ryu. As it’s the first, I’ve decided to include a message of good sportsmanship...

RYU (JAPAN, 150 lbs)

From fairest heroes we desire a code

that locks our bare soles to the dojo floor.

Four kanji in blood, as was foretold

in chapter seven of the Art of War:

Crouch, Crouch Forward, Walk Forward and Punch:

Electric Shotokan, open your palms.

A murderous globe of qi, the surging touch

of death, the fireball between your arms.

Yet as Hadouken burns the air between

Remember: fire can never be untaught.

No noble fighter’d do it constantly,

on every single fucking bout he fought.

Whoever fights like wind has but one blow;

One only fights themselves in different clothes.



  1. What element of the human psyche does Edmund Honda represent? Hunger?