Brand new to Fighting games please Help

Hey there SRK users,
The title says it all really. I have been playing alot more computer games over the past 2 years but have never played a fighting game so i decided to pick up SSF4 AE and try to get to know and get good at the game. One problem… I SUCK!

Here are some of my problems:
[]I dont know what Fighter to choose. Please can someone tell me a good character for a beginner =)
]I can hardly pull off a combo due to my speed.
[]I find it hard to cancel and link my moves.
]I dont know what to do in different situations E.G When someone is jumping towards me i freeze and dont know what move to do.
Also i thought i would mention i use an wildcat xbox 360 pad. If anyone could be so kind and point me into the doretion of an arcade stick that is not too pricey (£50-£110) that works on PC please can you do so i would be extremely happy. =)

Please can you more experienced players give me some tips. Thank you

The easiest character preferred by most beginners is Ryu. He has all the basic tools for you to slowly learn and catch the learning curve. Fireballs to teach you what zoning means, when to chug one out and when not to. He’s received a nerf, harsh enough for most pro players to drop him, but he’s still solid in my opinion. If you’re up for a stronger character but somewhat of a challenge I’d say start playing with Makoto and see if you like her playstyle. Regardless of what character you pick, practice some combo’s and repeatedly beat arcade mode untill your confident enough to go at it online. Only time will tell how you progress but that’s how most make their start. Don’t underestimate the importance of practicing your combo’s and training various match-ups. Good luck!

Charge charcters that are good for beginners:
M. Bison, Balrog, Guile

Circular motion characters that are beginner friendly
Ken, Ryu, Zangief