Wields the greatest fighting art known to man or ever conceived. To trade hands with him is certain death. He is the sole heir to Hokuto Shin Ken. He has 5 Brothers. 3 wield hokuto shin ken and 2 of them wield hokuto ryuken.
Kenshiro is characterized as the youngest of four adopted sons trained by the previous Hokuto Shinken successor, Ryuken. His origin is revealed during the latter half of the Fist of the North Star manga, in which he was sent to Japan, along with his future nemesis Raoh and Raoh's brother Toki, to escape from their homeland, the war-torn Land of Asura.
Kenshiro is trained in the art of Hokuto Shinken along with Raoh, Toki and a fourth student named Jagi, and is eventually named successor by Ryuken. After surviving the nuclear war, he tries to live in peace with his fiancee Yuria, until Jagi instigates Shin, a jealous rival from the Nanto Seiken school, to challenge, then defeat Kenshiro. Shin then engraves the iconic seven scars on Kenshiro's chest and leaves him for dead. Prior to this event he was more forgiving of his enemies, as shown in a flashback of Jagi's failed assassination attempt against him, in which Kenshiro chooses to spare Jagi's life after defeating him. When Kenshiro later fights his old rivals in the present, particularly Shin, Jagi, and Raoh, they all remark on Kenshiro's acquired mercilessness.
The initial story arc centers around Kenshiro's quest to reclaim Yuria from Shin. In the very first chapter, he meets a pair of orphans who follow him in his journey: Bat, a thief; and Lin, a young girl rescued by Ken. Throughout the course of the series, Kenshiro protects the weak and innocent from the numerous gangs roaming the post-apocalyptic wasteland, eventually gaining his reputation as the "Savior of the Century's End". Kenshiro's skills improve through his encounters with members of the Nanto Roku Seiken and his Hokuto Brothers. At the end of the first part, he eventually confronts and defeats his eldest brother Raoh and is reunited with Yuria, and lives with her until she eventually dies from a terminal illness.
The later half of the manga (and the corresponding Hokuto no Ken 2 anime adaptation) sees Kenshiro joining forces with the now grown Bat and Lin, who have formed the Hokuto Army to fight off the now-corrupt Gento Kōken warriors. The story eventually takes Ken to the Land of Asura, where he learns of his Hokuto Sōke heritage and fights against the Warlords who control the Land of Asura: his estranged blood brother Hyoh; and Kaioh, Raoh's other blood brother. The final story arcs of the manga (which were not adapted for the TV series) sees Kenshiro taking Raoh's orphaned son, Ryu, under his wing, before continuing on his own.
Although still emotionally repressed and stoic like most male heroes in 1980s media, Kenshiro is notable in anime culture for being a sensitive and kind-hearted man who broke the then-ironclad cultural expectation that men do not cry. He is famous for openly shedding tears, if not outright weeping for the suffering of innocents and the deaths of his few noble enemies. This trait is downplayed in the 1980s anime adaptations, but comes back into the franchise in the adaptations of the 1990s and onwards.