Ryu Is Faster Than Usain Bolt, Research Shows

Have you ever wondered what it would take for a person to perform Street Fighter’s Tatsumaki Senpukyaku in real life? Or how loud the Dragonborn would have to shout to attract all those dragons in Skyrim? Or maybe if the scream energy used by the monsters in Monsters, Inc. is actually viable as a power source? One ingenious British researcher has found the answers to these questions and more.

Osarenkhoe Ogbeide is a university student currently studying for his PhD in engineering at the University of Cambridge. As a graduate at the University of Leicester, he tapped into his love of nerdy mediums like video games and comics to choose the areas he would research and publish papers about. One such paper, published in 2015 and titled “Tatsumaki Senpukyaku,” sought to produce hard data on the real-life physicality that would be required to perform the eponymous Street Fighter attack.

“I’m a huge gamer—I recently platinumed the new Spider-Man game—and I love fighting games, like the Street Fighter series,” Ogbeide told Kotaku via email. “So, one day as I was playing a friend, I performed the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku. The horizontal flight of the move looked so bizarre, that I thought, ‘How fast would Ryu have to move in reality…’”

To find the answer, Ogbeide first gathered all of the necessary data, like the average height and mass of a British male, and ran it through several formulas to calculate the horizontal speed someone would have to achieve in order to fly through the air like a helicopter. He determined that a forward velocity of 67 miles per hour (109 kilometres per hour) would be necessary to perform Ryu’s iconic attack.

“I knew the number had to be high, so it wasn’t too shocking,” Ogbeide explained. “Although 67 miles per hour is beyond the limits for humans, there are other mammals, like the cheetah, which can achieve speeds beyond this. For reference, the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, reaches a top speed of around 27 miles per hour (44 kilometres per hour).”

Ogbeide published other papers in a similar vein, looking into the real-life implications of fantastical concepts from Skyrim, Monsters, Inc., and Superman.

The purpose of these papers was to help students acclimate to the idea of peer review, so the journal these papers were published in didn’t require actual experimentation. That allowed Ogbeide to focus on topics that personally interested him but which might have been difficult to test in real-world settings. He told Kotaku he felt that doing research on a topic you find enjoyable benefits the process greatly, and compared his work to fan projects like Dragon Ball Z Abridged and Afro Samurai Champloo in that they are all labors of love that produce entertaining results.

Since graduating and moving on to working towards his PhD, Ogbeide has continued to mix his studies at the University of Cambridge with personal interests. His current area of research deals with formulating 2D materials like graphene into ink and using them to create 3D printed objects. One of his first test prints, Ogbeide said, was a conductive model of Pikachu, using graphene-based materials to bring the Pokémon mascot to life. He also launched his own company, New Africa Comics, in 2018 to publish comics inspired by African mythology and culture.

As for the grade Ogbeide received on the Street Fighter paper? He told me he couldn’t remember the feedback he was given, but he did remember receiving the highest mark possible for that module. More importantly, he taught us all the Ryu’s intense training regimen has made him significantly faster than even Usain Bolt. Hard work pays off.

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