Ryo Sakazaki (リョウ・サカザキ, Ryō Sakazaki) is the main character in Art of Fighting, and one of the main characters in The King of Fighters, both fighting game series from SNK. His name is most often written in kana, however, in some games kanji is used to write parts of his name (坂崎 亮, Sakazaki Ryō). He earned the nickname, "The Invincible Dragon" (無敵の龍, Muteki no Ryu).
In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Ryo was voted as the staff's twenty-fourth favorite character. He shared the spot with Sie Kensouand Toru Kurosawa, a character from an adult game series. In a 2005 poll made by SNK-Playmore USA, he was voted as the fifth fan favorite character with a total of 193 votes.
Ryo is the son of Takuma Sakazaki and Ronnet Sakazaki and the older brother of Yuri Sakazaki. As Ryo was deemed to be Takuma's successor, he began his martial arts training at an early age. His father instilled him with the difficult principle of self-reliance, where a person's own strength can form their worth in the world. He eventually gained a sparring partner and friend when Robert Garciawas admitted into the dojo.
On Ryo's 10th birthday, his mother died in a tragic car accident. His father left their home and left Ryo to take care of Yuri. Ryo did this by partaking in construction work and tirelessly strived to defend his family's dojo. Remembering his father's lessons during his training, he also took up street fighting. At first, he did poorly but, after many years of persistence, he eventually established himself as a fearsome and renowned fighter.
In the first Art of Fighting, Yuri is kidnapped by Mr. Big, a local criminal mastermind of the dangerous city, Southtown on behalf of Geese Howard. During his journey, he met a bouncer named King, who guides them to Mr. Big's location. With Robert and King's help, Ryo confronts and defeats the kingpin. His pursuit for Mr. Big leads him to a karate dojo where a mysterious man challenges him. When Ryo prevailed, he threatens to finish Mr. Karate unless he told them information about Yuri's safety. Before he deals the final blow, Yuri reveals the man's identity as their father. After eleven years of separation, the whole family is reunited.
Before the events of the second game, Ryo went to the mountains for training. He received an invite for a King of Fighters tournament and accepted it to test his strength. When he reaches the finals, the tournament's host,Geese Howard, expresses his desires to recruit Ryo into his services. Ryo refuses and subsequently defeats him. Unfortunately, Geese manages to escape and later reenacts the beginning of the Fatal Fury story.
Ryo's role in the following game was reduced to being a supporting character for Robert. In his ending for the game, he hands his sister a ticket for Robert's flight back home and wishes the best for both of them. Additionally, he gains another rival named Kasumi Todoh, who is later mentioned in The King of Fighters series.
Presumably, after the Art of Fighting series ended, Takuma retired from fighting and entrusts the Kyokugenryu dojos to Ryo. At least two dojos are in operation, one near Southtown and one is later entrusted to Ryo's student,Marco Rodriguez. This is supported by the fact that Ryo takes over the Mr. Karate mantle that his father once held in Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition and Buriki One.
The appearance of Ryo in Fatal Fury Special as a secret final boss was perhaps inspiration to SNK's most notable fighting game series, The King of Fighters. Indeed, much of the appeal of the first KOF game, The King of Fighters '94, was that characters from Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury could fight alongside and against each other. Many details were originally retconned to allow the characters of Art of Fighting and Fatal Fury look around the same age though it's currently accepted that the KoF timeline is separate from their respective series. Although both protagonists would only play supporting roles in the series, Ryo and Terry share a friendly rivalry with one another. This is sometimes implied through special intros, official art, and game openings in select KOF titles.
Throughout the series, the Kyokugen style is depicted as a struggling family business, funded almost entirely by prize money earned from KOF and Robert's vast wealth. Each year, at the conclusion of KOF, the Kyokugen dojo would often have many applicants due to the strong performance of the team. Despite their hard fought success, most of these applicants would later quit, due to either the strenuous training regime or mysterious people who appear and trash the dojo. The family manages to keep two gyms running, one in South Town and a second in Mexico.
Ryo usually teams up with Robert, Yuri, or Takuma to continue spreading the fame of the Kyokugen style. He usually tries his best to keep his sister away from the tournaments and relents to his father's demands. In The King of Fighters 2000, he welcomed King into the team, even through his best friend's protests. Takuma apparently noticed (and somewhat mistook) the respect the young fighters had for one another and presses his wishes for her to join whenever the time calls for it. In The King of Fighters XI, Ryo indicates that Marco is currently a green belt.
Ryo is very serious about fighting and loyal to his friends and family. He has been given discipline through his Karate training by his father, Takuma. He treats Robert as his rival, but they are best friends. He is a little old fashioned and blunt, which sometimes alienates him from his trendier sister and stylish rival. He's also admits to not being very smart and talented but he believes that these are obstacles for him to overcome. Compared to Yuri and Robert's ideology on training, Ryo believes he can attain greatness in his art through hard work and experience. Having raised both him and her during their childhood, he struggles with his wishes to protect his sister and his own wishes to see her grow up. He accepts her growing maturity with bittersweet acquiescence.
It has been implied that there is some romantic tension between him and King. He apparently thinks her to be a good friend though she may think more of him since he contributed to her brother's recovery in Art of Fighting 2. Their relationship is referred to various times during The King of Fighters series. In King of Fighters XIII's story mode, Yuri specifically mentions Ryo and King going out with each other.
- Gather chi: Ryo can gather ki from Gaia, the mother-earth.
- Energy Projectile: Ryo can fire the Kouken and Haoh Shou Kouken blast normally.
- Multiple Attacks: Ryo can channel his ki energy into his arms to deliver multiple punches at a very fast ratio.
Ryo was taught to be the "tiger" of Kyokugenryu Karate, ironic since his nickname calls him the dragon. In Buriki One, he seems to use ordinary Karate. His main strength relies on his fierce punching attacks, which is closer to his father's techniques. His infamous Tenchi Haoh Ken (Heaven & Earth Supreme King Fist) is a good result of this type of style as such a punch often was able to automatically put oppnents in stun upon impact.
Ryo his Art of Fighting and KOF incarnations tend to differ from one another such as his fighting stance. His Kohou (Tiger Roar) often either faces towards the screen (KOF) or the background (Art of Fighting). In KOF [96 onwards, his signature Ko'oh Ken (Tiger Gleam Fist) turned into a close range attack afterwards though his Capcom crossovers beg to differ.
Ryo during the NESTS Sage adds defensive touches to his style. His Joudan and Gedan Uke (Upper-Level and Lower-Level Reception) parrying command normals enable him to shave off attacks and press the offensive as Ryo is able to cancel into attacks should he block via this method.
- Uma to Boku (The Horse and I) - Art of Fighting 2
- Get High - Art of Fighting 3
- Ryuko no Ken Ver.230000000.0 (Fist of Dragon and Tiger Ver.230000000.0) - Fatal Fury Special
- Ryuuko no Ken (Fist of Dragon and Tiger) - The King of Fighters 94
- Yureru Otokogokoro (The Trembling Male Spirit) - The King of Fighters 95
- Kamikirimushi (Praying Mantis) - The King of Fighters 96
- Art of Fight - The King of Fighters 98
- Ryu-Ko (Dragon-Tiger) - The King of Fighters 99
- Beauty and the Beast - The King of Fighters 2000, 2002
- Fight to the Limit - The King of Fighters 2001
- Kyoku-gen - The King of Fighters 2003
- After a Long Absence - The King of Fighters XI
- Kyokugen Training! ~ Mountain Seclusion - The King of Fighters XIII
- ART OF FIGHT ~ Ryuko to Tsubame (Art of Fight ~ Dragon, Tiger, and Wings) - The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
- Dragon Rising in the Night Sky - Days of Memories
- Masaki Usui - Art of Fighting series, Fatal Fury Special, King of Fighters '94~XI; King of Fighters XIII
- Masayoshi Kozaki - The King of Fighters XII (Japanese Voice)
- Curt Gebhart - Maximum Impact series (English voice)
- Tetsuya Besho - Art of Fighting anime
- Alden Crews - Art of Fighting anime (English voice)
- Akira Kamiya - Dengeki Bunko drama CD
- Henry HE - Art of Fighting 2 commercials
- Art of Fighting
- Art of Fighting 2
- Fatal Fury Special
- The King of Fighters 94
- The King of Fighters 95
- Art of Fighting 3: The Path of the Warrior
- The King of Fighters 96
- The King of Fighters 97
- The King of Fighters: Kyo
- The King of Fighters 98
- The King of Fighters R-1
- The King of Fighters R-2
- The King of Fighters 99
- SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millenium
- Capcom vs SNK
- The King of Fighters 2000
- Capcom vs SNK 2
- SVC Chaos: SNK vs Capcom
- The King of Fighters 2001
- The King of Fighters EX
- The King of Fighters 2002
- The King of Fighters EX2
- The King of Fighters 2003
- The King of Fighters: Neowave
- The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact
- The King of Fighters XI
- The King of Fighters 2006
- The King of Fighters XII
- The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match
- The King of Fighters XIII
- Quiz King of Fighters
- Days of Memories (first and fourth titles) - unplayable
- Athena On Stage - quiz show contestant
- The King of Fighters Mobile
- The King of Fighters Mobile R-2
- Moeyo! KOF Daiundokai
- SNK Gals Island Senkan Battle Gekichinshichaouzo!
- SNK Dream Battle
- SNK Gals' Fighters - during Yuri's ending
- Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits: Bushidou Retsuden (Neo-Geo CD version only)
- The King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise
- The King of Fighters (pachinko)
- The King of Fighters 2
Art of Fighting artworkArt of Fighting 2 artworkKOF 2003 artworkKOF XI artworkKOF XII artworkThe King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2 renderCapcom vs. SNK 2 artwork, Capcom grooveRyo in the AOF TV special.