Katsuhiro Harada Considers Adding A Pakistani Character To Tekken
Updated: Nov 18, 2021
South Asia is the most populated region in the world with two of its main ethnicities the Bengalis and Punjabis being among the top 10 most common ethnicities in the world, numbering at around 230 million and 125 million respectively. Yet there is little to no representation for South Asians in fighting games outside of Street Fighter's Indian character Dhalsim. With Pakistani competitive gamer Arslan Ash becoming a 2 time EVO Champion at Tekken and named ESPN E-Sport athlete of 2019. Pakistan is now in the spotlight for the FGC especially among Tekken fans.
After Arslan Ash's victories in the Tekken competitive gaming scene. Pakistanis around the world have tweeted Tekken Producer Katsuhiro Harada regarding the possibilities of adding a Pakistani character to Tekken. Harada replied (Look above) and it seems that he is in fact interested in representing a new country. So what could a Pakistani Tekken character look like and how would they fight. Would the be based off anyone real? any martial arts or martial artist unique to Pakistan? Well lets take a look to see the possibilities of Tekken's first potential Pakistani Warrior.
Pretty easy for us to come up with is a Pakistani boxer based off many British Pakistanis who have taken up boxing. Whilst it may seem pointless due to the presence of Steve Fox. But that doesn't mean we can't have two British Boxers in Tekken especially if they decide to distinguish the two like Street Fighter does with Balrog, Dudley and Ed. The first British Pakistani boxer to become a world champ was Jawad "Too Sleek" Khaliq who also won an MBE for his contribution to the sport, followed by Amir "King" Khan a boxer from Manchester known for his incredible punching speed, he became an Olympian silver medalist at 17 (the UK's Youngest Olympic medalist so far) and a world champ at 19. Another British Pakistani Boxer of the similar name Amer Khan is a 6'3" boxer who spends his time working as a paramedic driver and a firefighter (sounds like interesting potential). Additionally British Pakistani singers and former boy band members Zayn Malik and Tariq Jay Khan both have had an interest in Boxing, with Zayn having trained in it during his late teens and Tariq Jay Khan attended a charity celebrity boxing match in Germany and won in his bout. So there is a lot to choose from. Also in Pakistan and North West India boxing styles like Musti-Yuddha have been very popular.
Another potential idea for a Pakistani Tekken character is a Wrestler, specifically a practitioner of either the Punjabi style of Pelwani (related to the Iranian Pahlevani) or the Sindhi style of Malakhra. For a real inspiration, Ghulam Mohammad Baksh Bhatt aka The Great Gama was a legendary Kashmiri Muslim wrestler from pre-partitioned Pakistan. Arika created an Indian Hindu wrestler named Darun Mister who was loosely based off The Great Gama however this doesn't mean that Tekken can't do a more culturally accurate character based off him. He was well known for his strict diet and training regime to increase his strength and performance. Even the legendary Bruce Lee was an avid follower of The Great Gama, considering that Marshall Law is based off Bruce Lee a potential friendship or rivalry between Law and Tekken's Pakistani Wrestler could be a interesting story.
Form one wrestling style to another. Why not a Pakistani American Luchador? sounds strange? Lucha Libre is a the Mexican wrestling style known for its slimmer and shorter wrestlers who specialise in acrobatic, flashy and showy styles. So why would a Pakistani Luchador work? Well one there is a notably Punjabi Mexican American community in Los Angeles... ok maybe not the best inspiration for Pakistani Luchador but there is also a real person to base this idea off. WWE Wrestler Adeel Alam better known by his stage name Mustafa Ali, is a Pakistani American police officer turned Wrestler. He initially wore a mask in his first 6 years to hide his face and background to avoid racial discrimination, he was also the subject of a documentary regarding the portrayal of Muslim wrestling as villains or "Heels" usually taking on the terrorist stereotype. Ali grew up Idolising the likes of Bret Hart, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Hayabusa, the Hardy Boys and Chris Jericho. We can expect this type of Wrestler to have a bombastic showboating personality.
Going back to look at some UK examples. Whilst Wrestling and MMA have never been all that popular here as it is across the pond. Boxing and Kickboxing on the other hand are. A few British Pakistani Kickboxers have made their way into the sport with Qasim "The Dream" Beg, a two karate-Kickboxing champion, during 2010 he held a charity event for cancer research UK where he would take on 50 opponents in 5 hours. Another Pakistani Karateka Kickboxer is Nisar Smiler who trained under the legendary Gogen Yamaguchi a master Karateka from Japan. Another example also includes Imran Khan a British Pakistani Muay Thai kickboxer. Not much on him except he was a 2 time world champ and 3 time European champion.
Meet Muhammed AbuBakr Farooq, an 8 year old British Pakistani Karateka from Manchester. There is plenty of young characters in fighting game, though typically teenage girls. Not so much for young men looking to grow into the best fighters. Farooq at the age of 8 had successfully attained a gold, silver and bronze medal in three different categories and is one of Britain's youngest martial arts champions. Muhammed Abubakr Farooq created history by winning a gold medal in weapons (Nunchaku), silver in fighting (Kumite), and bronze in self-defence. He has previously won competitions in the Dojo Karate squad, which made him eligible for the national qualifiers in seven- to 10-year-old age category, winning silver. So there is a lot of ideas Tekken can go on if they want to introduce a kid appeal character.
Whilst we have mentioned plenty of male examples and influences, what about women? Are there any potential Pakistani women worth bringing up as a potential Tekken character? well actually yes there are, in fact a few examples that can give us different type of Female fighters. One is British Pakistani boxer Ambreen Sadiq from Bradford. Much like her male counterparts, she had been a determined practitioner of the boxing style but has had little support due to her gender and community. But if the men can do it so can she. Additionally in Pakistan itself, we have Anita "the Arm Collector" Karim who alongside her Brothers Uloomi, Ehtisham and Ali are all a family of MMA badasses. Judging by her nickname Anita is most likely a Brazilian Jujitsu Fighter and specialises in Arm Bar Techniques.
While we are on the topic of MMA, lets take a look at Pakistan's god father of MMA. Pakistani born American raised Bashir "Somchai" Ahmad was a former US Soldier that was deployed in Iraq as part of the Medic Team. He was also a keen practitioner of Brazilian Jujitsu. In 2007 he visited Lahore, Pakistan to promote MMA whilst also taking up Muay Thai training to promote the style there. He became the first Pakistani to fight in professional MMA on an international level with victories over the likes of Shannon Wiratchai, Tanaphong Khunhankaew and Mahmood Mohamed. Its early days for the former soldier turned MMA fighter. But still worth a mention here.
Looking into martial art of Pakistan. Many of them are shared with India. Especially considering a specific Sword and Shield style called Sqay. Sqay is a Kashmiri Martial Art, said to be one of the oldest in the world. However while it was a deadly style in the past, in the modern day it is mostly a soft style practices with soft shields and sticks. Now a sword and shield character may not feel like a fit for Tekken, but with Yoshimitsu, Raven, Master Raven and Alisa being Weapon users, it is not out of the realm of possibility. Additionally Namco Bandai also own another fighting game called Soul Calibur, so making a Pakistani fighter (or a Kashmiri fighter as modern Pakistan and India didn't exist until the 1940s) could be an ideal fit. Also Yoshimitsu has crossed over between Soul Calibur and Tekken. So why not this one too? Interestingly Tekken can borrow influences from other existing Video Game characters such as Sinclair from Art of Fighting whilst stated to be a "Middle Eastern" swords woman. Many source theorise her Kenjitsu sword style is more accurately or likely based off Kashmiri Sqay with TV Tropes even stating her style is Sqay. British Asian Martial Arts performer Ayesha Hussain also happens to be a skilled performer in knife throwing, whips and swords. Being of Pakistani, Indian and Qatari origins she can be a good influence for a modern Sqay fighter with some of her own ideas. Finally Assassin's Creed Brahmin, provides us with a playable Kashmiri assassin of the name Arbaaz Mir who likely practices many South Asian style including Sqay.
This one is a huge stretch. But the Nordic countries do not get as much representation as other European countries do surprisingly when it comes to fighting games. But then what has this region got to do with Pakistan? well Norway's largest Asian minority happens to be mostly Pakistani, they also make up the majority of Norway's Muslim population. There is also a significant Pakistani population in Sweden too. In fact one particular individual is currently working as a martial arts stunt man in Hollywood. This man is Umar Khan, a Pakistani born Swedish raised Martial Arts stunt man and actor. Many of you may have spotted him briefly at the start of Captain America: Civil War during a stand off with Black Widow and another one of CrossBones henchmen. Umar Khan appears to be a practitioner of multiple sports and styles from Taekwondo, Capoeira, Eskrima, Kung-Fun, Muay Thai, Boxing and actively trains hard in gymnastic, parkour, swimming, motorcycle riding, nunchuckus and bastons. Considering he Swedish Pakistani upbringing, he could easily be the influence for a new character maybe a friend of ally to fellow Nordic Asian fighter Lars Alexandersson who is Swedish Japanese.