Looking Back at Josie Rizal, Tekken’s very own Filipino Fighter

Looking Back at Josie Rizal: Tekken’s Very Own Filipino Fighter

Her mixture of Filipino martial arts with a meek personality makes her something unique to the Tekken series.

If you need proof of Tekken’s popular appeal in the Philippines, then you only need to look at Josie Rizal. Bearing the colors and fighting style of our country, she’s a character that appeals to both pros and casuals alike.

Looking Back at Josie Rizal, Tekken’s very own Filipino Fighter
Josie Rizal from Tekken 7. (Image from the Tekken Wiki)

The soft-spoken Filipina kickboxer debuted in Tekken 7 as part of its initial arcade roster. While she may be Tekken’s first Filipino fighter she’s actually developer Bandai Namco’s second, with the first being Talim from the sister fighting game series Soulcalibur. Nevertheless, many details of her design call back to her Filipino heritage which all comes together to make her a solid addition to the Tekken cast. 

Visually, it’s very self-evident that the colors of her main costume is based on the Philippine flag. Red, yellow, and blue are featured prominently in her design together with golden sun rays on her jewelry. The white, floral patterns on her clothes were even inspired by the Sampaguita flower.

Looking Back at Josie Rizal, Tekken’s very own Filipino Fighter
Tekken 7 Designer Mari Shimazaki called these floral designs “Sumpa Kita,” which means “I promise you” and is the origin of the name of the flower. (Image from Tekken Facebook)

As for her fighting style, she uses Eskirma, which is the unarmed variant of Arnis. While Arnis is a faster-paced and armed fighting style, Eskrima is more defensive with a focus on grappling. Couple this with some kickboxing moves and Josie ends up as one of the more versatile characters in Tekken 7’s roster.

Critical and fan reactions

Initially, Josie received a fair bit of criticism when she was first revealed. People pointed to how she was un-Filipino-like in terms of her physical appearance and personality. In fact, she doesn’t speak a single word of Tagalog in Tekken 7. At most, she speaks in English with a bit of a Filipino accent. 

There was also that fuss with an officer from the National Commission of Culture and Arts saying that they were unhappy with how the character latched onto Jose Rizal’s name. It was later clarified that the NCCA had no official stance on the matter. A good thing too since Tekken’s Director, Katsuhiro Harada, was threatening to delete the character if they had to change her name.

Since then, Josie Rizal has been positively accepted by both local and international Tekken fans. The Filipino Tekken community has taken such a liking to her that REV Major 2019 made a viral Josiebee parody featuring Pinoy pro players Alexandre “AK” Laverez and Andreij “Doujin” Albar. It was a gag so good that they had to do it again for REV Major 2022. Even actress Nadine Lustre did a cosplay of Josie which got a rare compliment out of Harada.

Right now, Tekken 8 is launching without their first Filipino fighter on the roster. Considering the already massive number of characters available in the game it’s disappointing but the jury is not out yet. A new and improved Josie might be down the line as additional content so we’ll have to wait and see.

Banner image from Tekken Wiki.

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