You need a good controller.
Arcade stick is usually the best for the SF4 series due to all the links and tricks you have to pull off. A link is where one move puts the opponent into enough hitstun ( what the opponent is doing when they are reeling back from an attack) so you can connect another move, but only with very specific timing. In contrast, there is something called a chain combo. For example, there is Ken’s medium punch to hard punch, which works like a short Tekken left right left jab jab combo, where you can just mash it out. Everyone has links, and many characters have chains. Sticks are layed out like every other stick- 4 to eight buttons (the extra two are usually for 3 punch or 3 kick inputs) and are rather organized*. And you may just find it easier to do special moves on a stick. It varies from person to person though, so try both if you can.*
Learn Basic Controls
You may do this with ANY character. Every character has the same layout of normals and directions they can go in. The standard layout is this:
Directions: Forward, Back jump up, jump up forward, jump up backwards, crouch, crouch back (this is also crouch blocking, which blocks low attacks) crouch forward (or offensive crouch. the same thing as holding down to crouch really.)
Dashing: Tap forward or back twice. Some games like the SF2 series, SF3, or SFEX don’t have this.
Blocking- Hold back for high attacks, hold down back for low attacks. You need to Hold high block for overheads, which are attacks that are high but can hit someone crouching. An example would be ryu’s forward medium punch.
Punches: :lp: Light punch :mp:Medium Punch :hk: Hard Punch
Kicks: :lk: :mk::hk:
On a stick it’s layed out like…
(LE STICK GOES HERE) :lp::mp::hp: (3 punch button)
With the Start and Select buttons on the side or top of the base of the arcade stick to avoid pressing them accidentally.
3 Punch and 3 kick buttons are typically for moves like Zangief's lariat, where you would have to press all 3 punches or kicks at once. They make it easier. Some players don't use em and they were not originally part of arcade sticks back in the sf1 and sf2 days. However, most retail sticks have them now.
**You need to find a character you LIKE.**
You aren't going to have fun typically with a character you don't like. Every character has a unique look and style of fighting. Pick the one that works for you. To do this, just mess around in training mode doing people's moves. This will let you get sort of a feel for how moves work in street fighter. Specials are very important to this game and you need to know how to do them on both sides of the screen, since the motion for them changes depending on the side you are on. I suggest messing around with the record mode in training too to test what your moves are good at doing- this was something I didn't have because I learned on SF 2 Once you've messed around enough and found your Guy or Girl that you want to represent you, you can go on to learn strategy.
**Once you've found your character, read a guide on how they work.**
Heck, you're registered on shoryuken.com, you might as well. Look at the name of your game and click on the section named after it, then click the character. Go into their thread in their section and there will probably be a guide within the thread. For example; if you are in the Juri thread, the first few posts are usually a guide to Juri. The rest are usually comments or new things people have found.
**Play and learn Matchups.**
Matchups pretty much ARE this game. You do certain things in certain matchups. In a situation of Ryu Vs Zangief, you definitely want to keep a good distance from his grab range, which is roughly a large square the size of Zangief standing in front of Zangief. Like if a gief were to stand in front of gief, that would be his throw range. YOU DO NOT WANT GIEF TO THROW YOU. So you want to use your Hadoukens to space him out. Learning matchups also helps you learn what moves you can punish, or hit them for doing. In the Ryu vs Zangief situation, Zangief can counter a fireball by doing a lariat, which goes through the fireball. However, ryu's sweep can duck under the lariat and knock Gief down. That would be a basic punish, and most Giefs know this, so they will space their lariat just so a sweep will miss and then counter with something else. *This is where SF's depth is- **mind games.** Making things appear one way and having them be another to control the match. This is what keeps people playing after they've learned seemingly everything- fresh techniques to fight against and fresh mindgames. The more you learn, the better you get, and the more you realize that there is still more you can learn.*
**Jumping without good reason to is bad.**
Jumps are really high and vulnerable in most SF games. You cannot block, nor focus, nor parry. All you can do is attack while jumping up, forward, or back. Like everything, your jumps have to have a use and purpose. If you aren't jumping with a purpose, you are better off not jumping. Always try and limit meaningless or jumping in general in sf.
Once you get good, you can use jumping's disadvantage to your advatage with something called an empty jump mixup. You jump straight up and act like you are going to do an air attack, but instead opt out for a ground option, which the opponent has to guess to defend properly. Typically, you can go high, you can go low, overhead (like ryu's forward Mp) if they are crouching, or throw. That's a 25 percent chance of each leaving little margin for error on your opponent's part.
**Anaylyze what you did wrong, and correct it.**
With this game, you never stop learning. If you are consistently losing to some character or some tactic, think of why and how you are doing it, and correct that. The best players in the world are there partly for this reason- they can ADAPT and CHANGE, and many times, on the fly as well. This adds a new layer to the matchups at high levels because suddenly you both can become so adaptive that the match may not even play according to theory anymore, and it becomes a different game. That is what I find the most fun.
**Youtube** is a great resource for this. Type in the player name and character and you are bound to find a good match that you can learn from. You can also look on xbox live. Again, another treat newschool players have that I didn't. If I wanted to see someone better, it was either download off dial up (I wasn't into sf enough to do that and dial up is slow) or watch my brother.
Small Player index:
Abel- Shiro, Juicebox
Akuma- Tokido (Hajime Taniguchi IRL), Eita, Toxxy
Balrog (The big boxer guy)- PR Balrog, Keno, ice0ager
Blanka- Shin Blanka, Tsrai, Choco Blanka (a female player, like you. Japanese. Real name is Yuko Kusachi)
C. Viper- Latif, Uryu
Cammy- Sako (Super SF4 and Sf4). Type in "ae cammy" for ae Cammy matches, since she's less powerful and a lot of notable Cammy people have dropped her.
Chun Li- Nuki (original SF4), Kayane (AE and Super).
Dee Jay- Akimo
Dhalsim- Arturo Sanchez, Iyo, Kasugai
E. Honda- Mike Ross, Daigo Umehara (He has recently done decent in a evo after hours match with him), Akimo/Takehiko
Evil Ryu: Can't remember right now
Gouken- ViperRX, Desora
Guile- Gameoutt. Guile is yet another downgraded character in ae. However some people are still very good with him.
El Fuerte- Godman, Iori. For older versions of sf4, search for Kai.
Fei Long- Mago, Fuudo, Ryukichikun
Rose- Arturo Sanchez, search "ae rose" as well (Rose is another underused character due to being severely downgraded in power)
Ken- Bannanaken, Levistrauss
Sagat- Piyoppia, sunset01, Mago
Seth- Poongko, Onlinetony
T. Hawk- Can't remember right now. Powerful but underused character.
Yang- Mago, Nemo, Accqua
Yun- Daigo Umehara aka THE BEAST, Momochi
**Too many people get overly frustrated and become "salty" whenever they lose. AVOID THIS. If it isn't fun anymore, go outside or something.
I'm tired now that I've written this. TNB out.