Akuma and his brother Gouken were students of Goutetsu. Goutetsu taught a nameless life-threatening martial art, which incorporates elements of Karate, Judo, and Kempo. He also taught the Shun Goku Satsu (literally Instant Hell Murder), a lethal technique which, although incredibly powerful, puts the user in considerable danger.
As the brothers progressed under Goutetsu's tutelage, a dispute arose on the true nature of their fighting style and the path to master it. Gouken, unable to accept the violent nature and the Satsui no Hado of his fighting style, left Goutetsu to begin his own dojo, which Goutetsu did not oppose. Akuma continued Goutetsu's teachings, and vowed to use their fighting style as it was intended.
In order to learn Shun Goku Satsu, Akuma embraced the principle of Satsui no Hado, and was forced to give up any compassion he held towards other human beings. In addition, Akuma realized his limits as a martial artist could be expanded, and left Goutetsu's guidance of enlightenment to train alone to gain more power. However, due to embracing the Satsui no Hado to his fullest extent, he developed a lust to fight to the death, unlike Goutetsu, who had been able to use the Satsui no Hado without giving in to its dark side.
After coming back from his island, Akuma went back to Goutetsu, and fought him. Akuma killed him with the Shun Goku Satsu and, believing that he was the true master of the Art, took the prayer beads of his dead master and placed it on his neck. Gouken came to visit his former master to see how he was doing, only to find his lifeless body and his brother, now no longer human. Gouken, shocked to see that his younger brother took the life of their master, berated Akuma, who said nothing and left for the woods.
Many years later, Akuma fought Gouken, while the then-young duo of Ryu and Ken watched. Akuma told Gouken that he was not strong enough to face him without giving in the killing intent; Gouken retorted that the art was much more than just death and destruction, accusing Akuma of dishonoring their master's name. Akuma told his brother that Goutetsu did not truly understand the art, and that he was a fool for not using the Satsui no Hado to its fullest extent. The fight continued, and Gouken won. Akuma told his brother to kill him, but Gouken had no intention of murdering his own kin, prompting Akuma to call him weak for sparing the life of a strong opponent and declare that he would return.
A couple of years later, Akuma came back to Gouken's dojo and fought him in battle, using the Shun Goku Satsu on him. Akuma believed him dead, not knowing that Gouken had somehow lived through the attack by emptying his soul, and was only in a coma. Ken saw the flash of the attack while running to the dojo, but arrived only to find Gouken on the floor. Knowing who was behind this, Ken confronted Akuma in the woods and fought him, only to be defeated. After defeating Ken, Akuma disappeared without a trace.