Sunday, 30 March 2014

Old School Villain of the Week: Sagat

“A strong fighter is not one who always wins, but one who stands after defeat.”

No character in Street Fighter is as intimidating as Sagat. There are some hard core characters that will beat the crap out of you. There are characters that use mystical powers, there are monsters, there are insidiously evil men. There are even characters that are bigger than Sagat (I’m looking at you, Zangief). But they aren’t Sagat.

Sagat was originally a boss character. I was ridiculously happy when he became playable, though I ended up swaying towards Vega because he won me more games. I kind of forgot the fact that Sagat was awesome until watching the manga Streetfighter II movie for the first time. That first fight scene, well… just watch it for yourself.
The conflict between Sagat and Ryu is more than physical. Across many Eastern cultures, the tiger and the dragon are considered to be equally powerful, but dualistic. The symbol of my old martial arts club included a tiger and a dragon circling each other. Whilst the dragon (Ryu) is associated with the heavens and spirituality (yang), the tiger (Sagat) is of the Earth and things of substance (yin). Whilst the dragon in martial arts is associated with the internal search for truth and peace, the tiger is external and aggressive. Sagat is the Yin to Ryu’s Yang, and a worthy villain of the week, albeit one I secretly root for in every battle.
Name: Sagat

Background: Sagat held the first World Warrior Tournament to prove that he was the strongest fighter in the world. He managed to pin Ryu in the final round, claiming victory. Ryu became desperate and performed a dragon punch, grievously wounding Sagat and giving him a massive scar. After his defeat, Sagat’s hatred towards Ryu festered. He sought a new opportunity to challenge Ryu and defeat him, recover his title and restore his lost "honour". Depending on which story/game/film you have watched, Sagat wins the rematch against Ryu, but feels empty after the fight. Despite enjoying tournaments, he turns most of his attention towards testing himself against Ryu in honourable combat, whom he now considers "the only man able to defeat him and worthy to be faced in a life or death battle.”
Weapon of choice: Muay Thai. Tiger. Tiger. Tiger. Tiger knee. TIGER UPPERCUT!

Claim to fame: Sagat is a man mountain. The massive scar on his chest is a result of surviving a dragon punch from Ryu in the original Street Fighter. He does not conceal the disfigurement, instead drawing power from the hateful memory it invokes. He delivers lightning fast kicks with devastating power, as well as a punch that mimics Ryu own famed Shoryuken. He was also the only character capable of throwing fireballs at two different heights in the game, which provided some interesting tactical opportunities.