When Ken was about 12 years old, his father, a rich hotel tycoon, thought that his son needed to learn about discipline, or his son would become a spoiled brat all of his life and try to leech onto the Masters' family fortune. In order to do so, the elder Masters sent Ken to Japan to train under his best friend, the mysterious karate master Gouken. At first, Ken was very hesitant to learn from Gouken, wanting to go back to the United States, but later began to respect his master. He even enjoyed the company of Gouken's adopted son, Ryu, since he had a foil to finally pull pranks on, although this got Ken into a lot of trouble. Ryu and Ken would later become best friends and each others principal rivals.
When Ryu was 23, Gouken decided that both of his pupils had grown up to be fine fighters and decided that their training was over and could now leave the dojo. Ryu decided to travel the world in order to continue his training, whereas Ken was finally happy to be going back home to the United States after his years of straining his back for his master, Gouken, and finally learning the meaning of humility. After coming home, Ken competed in many different Martial Arts tournaments held in the United States, winning most of them.