Josie Rizal is NOT a fail – quite the opposite, actually.

Josie Rizal Attract Image 01 (Witty Gamer) Pic

 

So there’ve been these uproars recently regarding the new additions to the Tekken universe. Since I’m a Filipino, I’ll be tackling the controversies swirling around Josie Rizal.

 


ON JOSIE'S CLOTHING

Dr. Leodenito Cañete, a coordinator for the Philippine NCCA’s (National Commission for Culture and the Arts) Bayaning Bayan program, lamented the implications of Josie’s skimpy outfit and the fact that it shared the same colors as the Philippine national flag. It is said he plans to correct any wrong impressions foreigners might be getting about the country and its national hero Jose Rizal, from the way Josie is presented.

 

…Huh.

 

Damn. I just don’t see it. This feels like one of those ‘making mountains out of molehills’ moments.

 

Josie’s attire is actually a modernized version of the baro at saya, which is one of the Philippines’s traditional female garments. So it’s trendy and patriotic at the same time.

 

Baro't Saya Evolution (Witty Gamer) Pic

Also, it’s easy to infer that the climate was cooler back then.

 

A reboot like this would probably be lauded as “daring and inventive, with just the right dash of nationalism” if it were unveiled in a Pinoy fashion show. So what’s the fuss about a Pinay heroine donning something like this in a videogame set in modern times?

 

It could be argued that the average Filipina doesn’t really like wearing tops that expose her navel, let alone her midriff, but looking at the trend of Tekken’s female costumes, I don’t see how Mari Shimazaki could’ve gone any other way without betraying the franchise’s signature visual style.

 

The Women of Tekken (Witty Gamer) Pic

Which I suppose is: “Ready to fight, and party afterwards!”


ON JOSIE'S NAME

If you ask me, having a videogame character named after a historical figure can only help increase curiosity toward the namesake, helping keep his or her memory alive.

 

Jose Rizal Attract Image (Witty Gamer) Pic

“I’m getting Googled? Sweet.”

 

From the gameplay footage that I’ve seen, I’ve also gotten the impression that Josie is humble, earnest, goal-oriented and hardworking. Jose Rizal would’ve been tickled pink to have a woman like that, virtual or no, named after him.


ON JOSIE'S VICTORY TEARS

…Yeah, this was definitely a gaffe.

 

To elaborate for people who haven’t seen this, Josie has a victory clip where she falls down on her knees, burbling: “I can’t believe I won!” before wailing like a lost 5 year-old.

 

Josie Rizal Crying (Witty Gamer) Pic

Looks like Katsuhiro Harada hasn’t watched any Feminist Frequency videos…

 

I can see this working if it’s framed properly. Like, if this happens after Josie’s first match in Arcade Mode, since there’s the implication that this is her first victory outside of sparring sessions. Everyone comes close to tears after achieving something with such personal significance.

 

This could also work as a victory screen after Josie beats Kazumi Mishima, the final boss in the game, implying that she’s grateful to have survived such a harrowing ordeal.

 

Kazumi Mishima Attract Image 01 Pic

This is Heihachi’s wife?! Why that devious old dog!

 

Outside of these situations, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s reasonable to think that any woman who’s decided to take up martial arts already possesses a healthy measure of grim determination. But someone as well-versed in her discipline as Josie, reduced to a shivering ball of whimpers after every other win? Way to destroy the immersion, Harada…

 

Come to think about it though, it’s pretty easy to fix this controversial clip – just snip off the crying bit. Shouldn’t be too hard a patch, since even arcade cabinets have Net capability nowadays…


ON JOSIE'S MARTIAL ART

I’ve been hearing naysayers neigh: “She’s not an eskrima practitioner, she’s not even wielding any sticks!”

 

…C’mon. Really? Tekken is a fighting game series centered on barehanded combat. We can’t have somebody swinging force multipliers around!

 

Yoshimitsu Attract Image (Witty Gamer) Pic

Except for this guy, at least…

 

Also, I can only conclude that Bandai Namco goofed on the promotional materials. Josie doesn’t practice eskrima. Any martial arts fanatic who’s seen Josie’s gameplay footage can instantly figure out she’s a Yaw-Yan practitioner.

 

Yaw-Yan is short for ‘Sayaw ng Kamatayan’, which translates to ‘Dance of Death’ in English. In a nutshell, it’s the Filipino version of kickboxing.

 

Although eskrima, arnis, and kali practitioners do make use of kicks, they limit them to the low line (waist level and below) because in a street fight between armed foes, it is not advisable to kick high – doing so exposes the legs to a vicious weapon counter. They are used more to score bonus damage at midrange, to impede or disable movement at clinch range, to distract the opponent, and to disengage and open up space.

 

Josie Rizal Sample Matches

 

If you look closely at the fight footage, you’ll see that Josie employs both low and high kicks. So right there, we’ve already established that she’s not using eskrima.

 

Now take a look at these vids:

 

Demonstration of Yaw-Yan Techniques

 

We Are Yaw-Yan Buhawi

 

One Fighting Championship – Eric Kelly (Philippines) vs. Mitch Chilson (USA)

 

The kick variations, the spacing, the emphasis on strikes and the stand-up game – it’s impossible to miss.

 

Knowing this, I don’t see what there is to whine about anymore. Josie Rizal indirectly promotes Yaw-Yan, which was developed by Napoleon A. Fernandez, a Filipino.


CONCLUSION

The way she is currently, Josie is somewhat overshadowed by Soul Calibur’s Talim when it comes to accurate and respectful representation of Filipinos in videogames. But she actually comes closer than she’s given credit for. So for what it’s worth, thank you very much Katsuhiro Harada, Mari Shimazaki, Markman, and Bandai Namco! I mean, I’ve yet to see a Pinoy in a Capcom fighter, after all…



 

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