The move involves the user spinning forward like a top with one leg outstretched. When used on the ground, it will not go over ledges, despite the user appearing to be airborne.
This move can be used as a decent horizontal recovery due to it slowing the user's fall while moving and not causing helplessness (which gives the user quite a good recovery if combined with his Shoryuken), although the move can only be used once in midair. Additionally, it can be used to nullify projectiles. In Ultimate, the move makes the user's legs intangible, allowing it to fly over low attacks and small projectiles.
The move's distance and power goes up if the special button is held rather than just tapped; when the button is tapped, Ryu spins once and deals 8–9% damage, while he spins thrice and deals 12% if the button is held, with enough diagonal knockback to KO at 165% in SSB4. Ryu's leg is intangible while the move is active. When Ryu uses the regular special move input, he merely grunts.
Ken's Tatsumaki Senpukyaku lands multiple weaker hits rather than Ryu's single solid attack and while it deals more damage than Ryu's version if held, it lacks the leg intangibility that Ryu's version provides when grounded. Ken's tapped Tatsumaki Senpukyaku hits twice when tapped, dealing a total of 6% when grounded and when held, it hits four times, dealing a total of 12% when grounded. However, the tapped version's final hit does considerably more knockback than the held version's, yet is still too weak to offer much utility compared to Ken's other options. Unlike Ryu, Ken announces "Tatsumaki Senpukyaku!" when grounded or "Tatsumaki!" when airborne, instead of merely grunting.
If a player happens to use the Heavy Down Tilt and then input this move (by either Side B or Input), the ending lag cancels out and immediately makes Ryu use this move. The length concept is still used. A similar combo using the Light Down Tilt can be used for the Hadoken as well, although the Inputted one is usually the best to use.
Input Tatsumaki Senpukyaku
As with all of the user's special moves except for Focus Attack, performing the move's original arcade input (down, down back, back, either attack button) will result in the attack gaining more power. When successfully performed, Ryu announces "Tatsumaki Senpukyaku!" if done on the ground or "Tatsumaki!" if done in the air. Additionally, the wind effect around Ryu becomes more opaque while he spins and a small spark flashes during the attack's first frame.
A tapped Input Tatsumaki Senpukyaku deals 10% damage and KOs at around 220%, though it does less damage at point blank range (only 9% before Ryu starts spinning). If held, the move deals 13% damage with KO potential at 140%. It is a decent finisher for Ryu's standard attack combos, although there are better options (since the move is less powerful up close).
Ken's input Tatsumaki Senpukyaku deals 3.4% per hit, with the tapped version dealing 6.9% and the held version dealing 13.9%. Like with the move's normal variant, Ken announces "Tatsumaki Senpukyaku!" when grounded or "Tatsumaki!" when airborne if he performs the input Tatsumaki Senpukyaku, albeit in a fiercer tone.
Special Move customization was added in Super Smash Bros. 4. These are the variations:
Like the other DLC characters in Smash 4, Ryu has no custom move variations.
Tatsumaki Senpukyaku (nicknamed by fans as the "Hurricane Kick") is one of the original special moves Ryu and Ken had in their arsenal ever since the first Street Fighter, where they could perform it by moving the joystick down and in a quarter circle away from the opponent and then pressing any kick button. In-universe, the practitioner forms an invisible ki-tornado below their non-kicking leg just after jumping in order to suspend them and make them spin.
There was also a variation just known as the Senpuukyaku (Whirlwind Leg) used by both Ryu and his supposed evil counterpart, Akuma (Gouki in Japan), which was a command normal/unique art version that involved simply leaping with the back-spin kicking motion to kick once without any extra flight; however, that version was not used in all of both Ryu or Akuma's appearances.
In Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, both Ryu and Ken's Tatsumaki Senpukyaku dealt a single hard-hitting hit, with the distance depending on the kick button pressed. The attack has the ability to phase through opposing projectiles and is one of the few special moves in the Street Fighter series that can be performed both on the ground and mid-jump, traits that are both carried over into Smash (the midair version in particular in later games is a staple cross-up attack for Tatsumaki Senpukyaku users due to the back-reaching hitboxes).
Ken's Tatsumaki Senpukyaku diversified in Street Figher II: Champion Edition, dealing multiple weak hits as opposed to one strong hit, while more fighters showed the ability to use variations of the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku technique, including Akuma and Gouken. In many of those cases, the hitbox for the move often varies, as in older games it was possible to duck underneath the Tatsumaki due to the height of the said hitbox(es); later games often make it impossible to do so.
In some games, however, especially recent ones without Ken in them, Ryu's Tatsumaki would act akin to the aforementioned Akuma's variation, the Tatsumaki Zankuukyaku (竜巻斬空脚, Tornado Slashing Air Leg), where it would deal both multiple hits and knock down (a combo of both Ryu and Ken's) and in some crossovers can even emit trailing lightning on his leg; while common in recent Vs. Capcom crossovers, this isn't the case in Smash Bros. as Ryu's version returns to its original roots. Ryu himself also has a later variation of his Tatsumaki Senpukyaku known as the Shinkuu Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku (真空竜巻旋風脚, Vacuum Tornado Whirlwind Leg), a stronger Super Combo/Move version of the base technique akin to his Shinku Hadoken, only via the literal translation of the kanji, the ki-tornado expands with enough force to even literally suck in foes and deal multiple hits; it later becomes one of Ryu's EX Moves instead, much like the Shakunetsu Hadoken's case.
This is the codifying example of an "expansion-type special move" (as named by the assist system in Marvel vs. Capcom 2), thus other fighters have a similar move, such as Chun-Li's Spinning Bird Kick. These types of attacks as named are generally physical attacks that cover a form of horizontal distance. Sakura's variation, however, the Shunpuukyaku (春風脚, Spring Breeze Kick) is one such "Tatsumaki-styled expansion" that does not make use of the aforementioned ki-tornado, causing her flight during the move to behave more like a normal jump arc (especially true since it is her personal take on the technique rather than an existing variation in-universe).
The only time the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku used by Ryu was not done in the usual form was mainly in the Street Fighter EX series, where it becomes a multi-input special with swinging spin kicks in midair ending with a turning heel drop.