The Unspoken Dangers of Being a Street Fighter

Head Kick TaekwondoA few weeks ago, my best friend tested for his black belt in Taekwondo. On a whim, I asked his instructor if I could be his sparring partner for this.

There we stood, squared off in those ridiculous chest pads. The instructor gave us the signal and I slid forward with a front-leg roundhouse. My friend moved to counter with his own, but I threw a back kick and pushed him away. I went in for another roundhouse and, as he began to counter it with his own, whipped around with a back spin hook kick. I felt my heel connect with his head and finished turning in time to see him hit the ground.

The board-breaking section was postponed until the following week. Thankfully, he was not concussed, but he still spent the rest of the weekend needling me about the incident.

Now? I think we’re good.

But this got me thinking about fighting games. How fucked in the head must Ryu and Ken be at this point?

Ninety-nine percent of matches in fighting games don’t go to time; they end in a knockout. Not a knockdown or a submission. A full-on “flopping to the ground like a ragdoll” knockout.

The serious dangers of concussions have brought even the mighty NFL under fire, with a lawsuit from former players that resulted in a $765 million settlement on behalf of the players, only for that settlement to subsequently be rejected by the presiding judge for not being substantial enough.

I guess this is less pressing in fantasy worlds like that of Tekken or Dead or Alive — doubly so with Mortal Kombat and its canon-shattering Fatalities — but I can’t help myself from thinking about it every time I deliver an Izuna Otoshi off the edge of a stage.