What does Tekken Mean? Origin of Name Explained

Wondering why is Tekken named that? Here are the origins of the word, its references and some interesting trivia.

With the hype of Tekken 8 and the actual game living up to expectations, it has brought in a wave of new players to the franchise. If you’re someone who is dipping their toes into fighting games for the first time, or simply want to know the origin of this particular one, here’s what Tekken means.

What is the Meaning of Tekken?

Tekken is 鉄拳 in Japanese which means Iron Fist, derived from “Tetsu” and “Ken” meaning Iron and Fist.

The main games in the series have a King of Iron Fist Tournament where you can play as different fighters from all over the world vying to win the title. It’s mainly focused on hand-to-hand combat which is why the translation “Iron Fist” accurately reflects the themes of martial arts combat and the fighting game genre associated with the Tekken franchise.

While less common, “Tekken” can also be interpreted as “Punching Fist”, highlighting the action and physicality of the fighting style depicted in the Tekken games.

what is the meaning and origin of tekken
Source: Bandai Namco

What was Tekken originally called?

The developers were originally going to title the game as Rave War for the Western markets as noted from the EGM issue 65 scan of the beta. On one such image, you can see that “Rave War’s fighting style is like that of Virtua Fighter 2” which was the original inspiration for Tekken since it was directed by the designer of Virtua Fighter.

However, the team abandoned the idea of the name “Rave War” and kept it as “Tekken” worldwide. Interestingly, there is a reference to Rave War in two of Marshall Law’s attack strings (“Rave War Combo”; f+2,2,2, and Quick Rave War; 2,2). The name Rave War is also present on a car in the arcade version of Ridge Racer.

Here’s what Jerry Momoda (who was the product manager for NAMCO USA and launched Tekken 1-3 and more) has to say about the game’s name, “Tekken was the first video game with a Japanese name to succeed in the US market. I argued against the name, but the team loved it. It’s a good thing the game was a hit in America or else the foreign name would have been viewed as a marketing faux pas.”

The “Iron Fist” interpretation has become widely adopted by fans and media, resonating well with the series’ focus on powerful fighting techniques and competitive tournaments. So, depending on where you encounter the term “Tekken”, it could refer to either “Iron Fist” or “Punching Fist”, but the first meaning is generally more recognized and relevant to the Tekken video game franchise.

Is Tekken English or Japanese?

Tekken is Japanese because the game is created by Japanese developers, the main story revolves around a Japanese family and so are a majority of the voices in the franchise to maintain authenticity.

With that said, if you are a beginner in this world, we’ve got a list of the best characters to play for those just starting out in Tekken 8.