Gouken (剛拳 Gōken?, "strong fist") is a playable character in the Street Fighter fighting series. He is Ryu's adoptive father, Ryu and Ken's martial arts master and Dan Hibiki's former master, as well as Akuma's older brother. Gouken is most often depicted as an elderly man with a white beard and prayer beads around his neck. In his most recent Street Fighter IV appearance, Gouken wears a single sleeved, navy blue-colored karate gi and sports a long, white braid of hair adorned with a single prayer bead. Gouken plays an integral role in the series' backstory, and was first depicted as a picture in Akuma's ending in Street Fighter Alpha. Gouken's first actual appearance as a character was in Street Fighter IV as a boss character. He is an unlockable character in the home console version of the game. His Mortal Kombat rival is Raiden. While earlier Street Fighter games made references to Ryu and Ken's master, Gouken made his first illustrated appearance in Street Fighter II RYU, Masaomi Kanzaki's manga adaptation of Street Fighter II. Since then, Gouken has appeared in several Street Fighter movies and comics, including UDON's Street Fighter line of comics, and the Street Fighter Alpha: Generations movie. Before having a canonical illustration in Street Fighter Alpha, Gouken's appearance would differ vastly between media.
According to Capcom's official account of Akuma's backstory, the two brothers were once students of Goutetsu, a practitioner of nameless martial art that was originally developed with the intention of killing an opponent, which origins are rooted back to Japan's feudal age. Goutetsu taught his skills to Gouken and Akuma. Eventually, the two brothers began to differ in the methods and usage of their fighting style. Akuma became bent on completely mastering the style, and embraced the killing and dark aspect of the art to the point of succumbing to the Satsui no Hadou, or "killing intent" and wanted to embrace it to his fullest extent to become more powerful. Gouken, on the other hand, developed his own style of the art and wanted to embrace the peaceful and spiritual aspect of the art by removing the Satsui no Hadou: turning fatal techniques such as the Hadouken and Shoryuken into tools for self-defense, removing their killing potential. After succumbing to the Satsui no Hadou, Akuma would fight and murder Goutetsu for not embracing it to his fullest extent, before leaving behind both his master's dojo and his brother in order to train by himself to grow even more powerful.
During this time period, Gouken would found his own dojo, and took Dan Hibiki as his first pupil. However, Gouken learned that the reason Dan wanted to learn martial arts was for revenge, and Gouken rejected him for his motives, fearing that his anger would lead him down a dark path. Later, Gouken would find an abandoned orphan baby, Ryu, and take him under his wing. Ryu was joined by a second student, Ken Masters, who was sent from America by his father, a good friend of Gouken's, in order to learn humility and respect for a bright future. After Gouken began to train the two boys, Akuma would make a sudden appearance at Gouken's dojo. There, Akuma would challenge Gouken to a fight. Akuma was soundly defeated by his brother, but Gouken spared his life even after Akuma's insistence that Gouken should kill him. After Akuma's arrival and departure, Gouken would continue to train the two boys. Eventually, Gouken would find his two students adept enough to leave the dojo and travel the world to continue their studies to become better people.
Afterwards, Akuma would reappear at Gouken's dojo, and challenge his brother to a rematch. This time, Akuma ended up as the victor, supposedly killing him with the Shun Goku Satsu. However, because Gouken used a technique similar to Gen's and emptied his soul of emotions, he was merely left in a deep coma. Because he was unconscious for an extended period of time, Ryu and Ken believed their master to be dead, and put his body in a graveyard.
After awakening, Gouken leaves his dojo and tails his students, pleased that they have come so far. However, he is not satisfied with just watching them, and enters the new S.I.N. tournament in order to test their strength himself. Gouken successfully finds Ryu after Seth's defeat, and manages to seal the Satsui no Hadou so he would never have to suffer with this power again. Akuma appears afterwards and is furious at Gouken for completing this task, knowing that he will never have a chance to kill Ryu in battle. The two brothers then face off in another rematch, with control of Ryu's fate as the prize. The outcome of this fight is unknown, though it is known that both survive and that Ryu does not go to Akuma. Afterwards, Ryu and Ken ask Gouken to stay with them a while, but Gouken tells them that are both grown men and no longer need a master.