|“||There's a saying: the Yellow River does not grudge unto streams. But my view is different.||”|
– Retsu to Katsumi Orochi.
Kaiou Retsu (烈 海王, Retsu Kaiō; Chinese pinyin: Liè Hǎiwáng) is a fictional character in the Baki the Grappler anime and manga series. He was as a very accomplished fighter of Chinese Kenpo and a friend of Katsumi Orochi. At first, he was an antagonist in the series, but later became one of the main characters.
His real name is Eishuu Retsu (烈永周, Retsu Eishū; Chinese pinyin: Liè Yǒng-Zhōu). In his training days in Heilongjiang, Bailin Temple he was called Shaoron Retsu (烈小龍, Retsu Shaoron; Chinese pinyin: Liè Xiǎolóng).
Born in a temple in China, Retsu was trained to be the heir to their Chinese Kenpo style. A man of great discipline and skill, he was sworn to uphold the honor and pride of the ancient art of Chinese Kenpo, although in time, Retsu learned to appreciate the diversity of all the worlds fighting styles rather than claiming that Chinese Kenpo was the strongest as he'd done throughout a majority of the Maximum Tournament. Despite his great knowledge in his style, he did not open his mind to the possibility of learning from other disciplines at first, but after striking up a friendship with Katsumi Orochi post-tournament he appeared to wished to both teach as well as learn at the Shinshinkai Dojo.
Retsu is an intelligent person. As a trained martial artist, both physically and mentally, Retsu Kaiou possesses a level of intellect unachieved by most commoners. Like other master martial artists in the franchise, Retsu can easily decipher one's fighting technique, such as how it's utilized and its weaknesses.
While he may seem very composed, Retsu is anything but patient when it comes to combat. He also proved throughout the course of the story to be overconfident in his abilities which, when compounded by his urgent desire to prove his own strength in battle against powerful foes, eventually led to his death at the hands (or blade in this case) of Musashi Miyamoto, who managed to overcome Retsu's defensive Shaorii and cuts through most of his internal organs as well as his spine.
He is more uptight than the rest of Baki's friends but does some really absurd things sometime, such as throwing a windmill punch out of frustration. While never really an evil person, he grows from an exemplary stereotype to perhaps one of the kindest and most caring people in the series. When Kaiou Dorian became mentally disabled, Retsu took pity on him despite all the things he'd previously done, even promising to buy the now childish man a mountain of candy whilst holding back tears.
Retsu Kaiou was a very well-built man, whose long black hair is tied up into a single pigtail braid. His eyebrows are somewhat thick and reminiscent of small scythes. In a fight, Retsu will most of the time be dressed in dark blue/black shaolin monk pants and boots, with no shirt on. Occasionally, however, he may dress smartly or casually.
After his brutal battle against Pickle, Retsu's leg was severely damaged, forcing him to wear a pegleg instead. Though it luckily didn't seem to have any negatvie effects on his daily life nor did it appear to weaken him whilst in combat.
Baki the Grappler
Retsu learned martial arts at the Bailin Temple. During his training days he was called Shaoron Retsu. One day he was forbidden to take part in the Kaiou title test. This title is given only to the best fighters of Chinese martial arts. Retsu was locked up in a cell defended by six armed guards, but he freed himself from there, beat up the guards and appeared on the Kaiou exam. Angry Retsu asked why he wasn't allowed to take part in the test. His master, Kaiou Ryuu, led him to the place where the great tunnel was located. Ryuu told him about the man who dug this tunnel in one night, using only his fists and legs. As it turned out later, this man was Kaiou Dorian. Retsu thought he was forbidden to take part in the exam because of his villainy nature, but Ryuu explained to him that he couldn't make him Kaiou just because of Retsu poor skills.
The truth is that Retsu already had great skills in Chinese martial arts at that moment, and Kaiou Ryuu presumably just wanted to motivate him even more. After this event Retsu probably started to training even harder. For example, he was known for using his hands and feet to carve a perfectly round ball out of stone. One day during training in a temple, Retsu killed his sparring partner. Maybe that's why he started being held in a cell, but it was never said directly. Eventually, Retsu somehow gained the title of Kaiou. In the anime, it was said that Ryuu gave him the title not only because he thought his skills were good enough, but also because of a suggestion from Kaiou Dorian.
Maximum Tournament Saga
For the first time, Retsu appears in the series as a participant in the Maximum Tournament in the Underground Arena. He accosts Katsumi Orochi in the locker-room, demanding he to admit karate is a weaker fighting style than Chinese Kempo. Retsu explaining he feels offended that something as "weak" as karate could even be considered better than the 4000-year-old Chinese martial arts on which it was based. Katsumi tells him that he'd never say such a thing in his life and claims that instead of arguing they can both simply check which style is stronger by fighting. Retsu takes up a fighting stance, but Sergei Taktarov, a Russian sambo fighter who is supposed to be Retsu's first opponent, breaks them up. Taktarov tells the Chinese man that if he wants to get beaten up that badly then he can wait until their both in the arena. Retsu gets angry hearing this comment and seems ready to explode, but the whole situation is interrupted by Andreas Regan, a professional wrestler beaten in the first round by Baki Hanma. His appearance distracts both martial artists and eventually Retsu decideds to not fight with anyone in the locker-room. When the official match between Retsu and Taktarov begins, it becomes clear the sambo practitioner doesn't stand the slightest chance of winning the fight. He tries to catch the Kenpo master with some grappling techniques, but he fails. Retsu claims he was unreasonable, thinking he can take this match seriously. He provokes Taktarov by approaching him very closely, as if to allow the Russian to perform his technique. After a while, Retsu ends the match with his Spinning Lotus and nearly breaks the neck of his opponent. Baki Hanma and Kiyosumi Katou, who watched the fight attentively, are impressed by the extraordinary power of Kaiou Retsu.
In the next round of the tournament, Retsu's opponent is Mount Toba, the giant pro wrestling star. Before the start of the duel, Retsu confidently tells his opponent that he will finish the fight in a minute and Toba answer that he has the same plan. At the very beginning, Toba unexpectedly throw his robe at Retsu to block his vision, attacking him with all his might, but Retsu blocks all of the wrestler's strikes. When Retsu pulls Toba's apparel off, the larger man tries to blind him again using the sand from the arena to do it this time. Unfortunately, while Toba does his best during the match and even uses his famous "Bodydrop", Retsu quickly notices the giant's weakspot is his knee, so he brutally smashes his leg when Toba tries to perform his Bodydrop. Retsu says that there are still a few seconds left until the end of the minute and he wants to continue the battle, but Mount Toba decides to give up, clenching his teeth in pain.
In the third round of the tournament, Retsu fights against Katsumi Orochi, a karateka he's already had a hard time with. The young prodigy of the Karate Shinshinkai is very confident and decides to use his special technique, the Mach Punch, right off the bat. He starts to slowly approach Retsu and the kung-fu expert prepares for a counterattack. After a while, Ratsu blinds his opponent with his Invisible Squash technique and in a blink of an eye appears before Katsumi, who is confused but desperately tries to use his Mach Punch. Their duel ends unexpectedly quickly as Retsu overtakes his ultimate move and uses a technique known as "Sunkei", a very powerful blow launched from a distance of one-inch, striking Katsumi point-blank and sending him flying into the audience. The young karateka manages to rise up and return semi-conscious to the middle of the arena. Retsu explains to him that his karate is an incomplete martial art that has no chance of winning against his Kenpo. Katsumi, as well as the whole audience, is in heavy shock at what happened. Then Retsu turns his back on him and leaves the ring whilst, Katsumi falls to his knees unconscious as Retsu is declared the official winner.
In the semi-finals, Retsu's opponent is Baki Hanma, the young champion of the Underground Arena and son of Yuujiro Hanma, the strongest creature in the world. Before the match begins, Baki's father meets Retsu in the corridor. Before Yuujiro approached him, Retsu was doing a kind of shadowboxing opposite the wall, in which he made a big hole. When Yuujiro approached him, he smiled and easily made an even bigger hole in the wall using only a single movement. Yuujiro warns him about Baki's strength, laughing at the Chinese fighter and claiming he's afraid of him. Retsu gets angry and tries to attack him, but Yuujiro turns around and walks away, advising the Chinese fighter not to underestimate the "history of Hanma".
Finally, the match begins and it turns out that Baki prepared himself for the fight by analyzing Retsu's movements and imagined them fighting each other. At the beginning of the fight, Baki easily uses the Spinning Lotus, a specific technique of Retsu, but his comes out of it in one piece. Retsu tries to use Sunkei, but Baki had already figured out how to neutralize the impact. Retsu decideds to go all out, taking off his shoes and using his powerful feet, and begins to dominate the fight. Eventually, however, Baki gets into a strangely ominous and relentless mood, which Yuujiro calls an arousal of the "Hanma's blood". Baki manages to return to normal, but not before almost breaking Retsu's neck. Luckily, Retsu save his own life by resetting his neck. In the end, however, Baki wins the match by delivering a powerful kick to Retsu's face. When the fight is over, Kureha Shinogi checks the condition of Retsu and tells Tokugawa that when the head of the Retsu was turned, the fighter deliberately pulled his skull out of his spine to prevent breaking.
Most Evil Death Row Convicts Saga
Kaiou Retsu is meeting with Katsumi Orochi in the Shinshinkai dojo where they have a short sparring match. After the fight, Katsumi starts telling Shinshinkai's disciples about how he was defeated by Retsu. Both fighters have a different attitude towards each other than at the Maximum Tournament and they don't treat each other as enemies. After a while an American named Dorian, one of the five convicts who escaped from prison and came to Tokyo in searching of "defeat", suddenly enters the dojo. Dorian starts a brutal fight with Katsumi and defeats him. When he tries to leave the dojo, Retsu stops him and challenges Dorian to a duel. The convict uses his trick and sets Retsu on fire. The Chinese fighter is not harmed in the end, but Dorian escapes from the dojo.
Later on Retsu arrives in the Underground Arena with Doppo Orochi, Kaoru Hanayama, Baki Hanma and Gouki Shibukawa. They meet the five convicts in order to settle a war between the two sides. After leaving the arena, Retsu tries to challenge Dorian again, but is overtaken by Doppo who does a surprise attack on the convict, and the Chinese fighter just watches their battle.
There is a meeting with five main fighters at the Tokugawa's house. The meeting is interrupted by Dorian, who appears by surprise and tries to set the house on fire. However, right behind him Katsumi Orochi enters the room wanting to retaliate against Dorian and in an ironic twist sets the convict on fire. After a while Retsu looks at Dorian, who is lying there with a burned body, and notices that the American hasn't lost consciousness at all. Suddenly, Retsu kicks Dorian to prove that the convict has not been defeated yet. The confusing situation ends eventually with Dorian throwing a grenade and causing an explosion at the house of the owner of the Underground Arena, but no one dies.
He later encounters Doyle in a bar and brutalizes him, setting him on fire and stabbing his eye with a knife weapon.
Retsu was an accomplished fighter who attained the rank of Kaiou, strong enough to beat Mount Toba in less than a minute and Katsumi with just one punch. In fact, his punch was powerful enough to permanently damage Dorian's brain, reducing his mindset to that of a child. His most impressive feat was pounding a boulder into a perfect sphere using only his bare hands. During his engagement with the convict, Hector Doyle, Retsu also demonstrated himself to be very skilled with a wide variety of weapons ranging from throwing knives, ropes, a nine-section whips, and even a dao.
Retsu fights with dirty tactics sometimes, such as using his hair to blind his opponent, setting them on fire with alcohol, or using his shirt to throw dirt as projectiles. Retsu once used the "Mushin", a mental state in which he automatically uses his techniques and reflexes to defend and fight. Despite this, he was defeated by Pickle's strength. According to Yuujiro Hanma, Retsu was able to awake the "Hanma spirit" in Baki Hanma.
Ever since the first part of the franchise, Kaiou Retsu has been striving to become more and more powerful, even practicing non-Chinese martial arts. Later, he thrived as China's second strongest, right after Kaiou Kaku, until his death.
- Spinning Lotus – an unusual yet deadly technique in which the user wraps their arms and legs around the opponent's head before snapping their neck; Retsu first used it during his first round of the Maximum Tournament to beat Sergei Taktarov.
- Sunkei – a powerful one-inch punch capable of sending a grown man flying nearly a dozen meters away; Retsu first used it against Katsumi Orochi in the third round of the Maximum Tournament.
- Invisible Squash – used against Katsumi Orochi.
- Headbutt – used against Baki Hanma.
- Toes Using – used against Baki Hanma and Kaiou Jyaku.
- Windmill Punch – used once against Pickle.
- Crushing Fist – used against Pickle.
- Mach Punch – used once in the Shinshinkai dojo.
- Musunkei - an improved version of Sunkei; used against Andrei Valev.
- Ippon Ken – used once against Joe Crasier.
- Defensive Shaorii – used against Musashi Miyamoto.
- Roll Kick – used against Musashi Miyamoto.
- Leaning Forwards Stance – used once against Musashi Miyamoto.
- Kaiou Retsu is based on the real-life Chiinese martial artist Bruce Lee. Retsu's temple name is Shaoron Retsu (Chinese pinyin: Liè Xiǎolóng), while Bruce Lee's Chinese pinyin name is Lǐ Xiǎolóng.
- Feng Wei from the Tekken series is possibly based on Kaiou Retsu.
- Initially, the English dub of the TV series mistakenly pronounces his name as "Retsu Keio". This is later corrected.