Breaking down the whole "rushdown" mentality (SFIV)

Ok, so I’ve been seeing small gains in my gameplay (better execution, fireball spacing, blocking/teching more, better opponent awareness, etc.) But its the super aggressive rushdown players that completely shut me down, and really make me feel like I’m backsliding. Their mixups aren’t cookie cutter (switching between one thing and one other thing I guess you could say.) And I’m scared to do anything but block and spam crouch tech. I feel like this is the great barrier I need to overcome for me to continue to improve, otherwise I’m going to be 2 and out at tournaments for a long time. The problem is I cannot read my opponent that fast when I don’t even know why it looks like they’re just blindly rushing me (even though I know its not blind,) and throwing out “safe” pokes isn’t going to push them back. The only way I think I could get around this is one of 2 ways:

  1. Take a step back, adopt the rushdown style myself.

I’ve always been a firm supporter of taking a step back to move two steps forward, but I don’t really know where to begin. I’m not exactly a super creative guy, for me to do mixups well I’d almost have to do an algorithm and follow a purely logical path to different combos/blockstrings/throw attempts, until I become predictable. Every time I’ve ever tried to go aggro I get destroyed. But when I take my time that’s when I see a lot more wins at the arcade. Clearly there is a right way and a wrong way to go about this, but I don’t know what that way is. Unless someone can point me in the direction of a good article on how to start playing aggro I’m lost on this one.

  1. Break down the rushdown psychology, and overcome it playing defensively

I’d honestly rather do the this. But I have a million questions. Here’s a good one though.

Am I being rushded down because they are assuming I don’t know how to defend it well?
Or, are they rushing me down because their defense game sucks and by playing the offensive they’re not giving me opportunity to attack? Is it both? Please explain

Although I think it’s important to learn to rushdown, you may want to think about playing to your strengths and try picking up someone like dhalsim. If you naturally play defensively and tend to well with that playstyle it makes more sense to pick a character that compliments your playstyle rather than try to fight your instincts. Just my 2cents.

Someone else can explain rushdown strats better than I can.

It’s vanilla IV, learn to abuse the engine to punish their rushdown with well timed reversals.

I don’t like using blocking as a defensive tool. I like to use it as a set-up tool (I use walking and blocking as positioning tools to push “chase” zoner strategies to the corner for example) or as a last ditch tool. Do not think of your defensive tools as defensive tools, think of them as set up tools or last ditch tools. If you play too defensively, I can easily push you to the corner and mix you up, or i can do cross up shenanigans. Every move, defensive, or offensive, opens and closes doors in their decision trees, thus, you should think of offensive moves and defensive moves as opening and closing doors.

For example, if i’m in the corner, or I’m close to the corner as Ryu, and I’m facing Abel with full ultra, and that Abel knows I’m ballsy throwing fireballs, I can back him down by feigning fireballs. I’ve avoided the corner, and am pushing him towards the corner. Note that you are most likely going to have to inch your way out of there. Maybe you see a fireball as an offensive tool right? Well I’ve used the fireball in this example as a defensive tool. All your tools can be used in different ways.

Maybe you walk back because you feel the pressure? Well, don’t think about it exclusively in terms of a way to say “get off me.” Use it to set up something, like an anti-air.

How exactly do you defend though? What is your overall thought process when you go on offense?

Perhaps you don’t know your character very well. Do you use every button? Do you REALLY? Some buttons aren’t useless at all. Do you know your matchups? Are there shenanigans that keep getting you?

Here’s a scenario: Boxer is scary as fuck. Recently I’ve been working on my Gouken because I’m not playing him as wreckless as I used to when I started playing. Anyways, when the Rog gets in close he’s got the super quick jab beating my pokes, the throw, armor breaking rush punches, a longer sweep and that headbutt to scare me out of jumping. What the hell can I do besides block well and/or get a lucky counter in? Honestly?

Read the matchup thread for that and learn the strategy for beating Boxer.

I think most people who play aggressive/rushdown aren’t so analytical that they think “this guy has poor defense, I will take advantage of it.” They are just doing it because they find it fun. Either way, I think its better to let your style grow organically instead of say “rushdown looks cool, I want to learn to play like that.”

pherai is absolutely right. If you’re new, you’re only going to hurt yourself in the long term trying to predefine yourself as a rushdown/zoning/turtling/runaway player. Pick characters, do your homework (practice + video/theory-fighter research), experiment in casual play, and see what your strengths and weaknesses actually are. Only THEN can you have an informed opinion about what kind of player you actually are. (I could not have told you before I started playing SF4 that I would be a Bison/Vega player. I wanted to play Viper, found out within 30 minutes of booting the game that she wasn’t for me, sucked it up, experimented, and found my calling with sharp claws, stupid screeching, and eventually the infinite supremacy of Psycho Power.)

And don’t worry about romantic crap like rushdown being more glamorous than turtling or runaway. Play however you play best, whatever gets you best results (which may certainly BE rushdown…it very much depends on what kind of person you are), and if you play with good sportsmanship and demonstrate that you’re playing seriously, you will get respect from the people that matter (the people you play with).

Learn every style you can for your main. With Boxer you can play as about every style except for zoning and to be a great one you should be able to adapt to the other fighter. I always try to learn multiple styles of play with the characters I use so I have options as to how I fight somebody.

Rog can zone. Just in small cases.

Be an immovable wall that is slowly but surely moving forward.

OP here,

So I just got back from an arcade tournament, in which I played a good Rog every single round, (no joke, we’re like nothing but balrogs out here in Norcal.) I lost in the loser’s bracket 2nd round, but I feel like I did a lot better after keeping some of these replies in the back of my mind. I threw a lot more, and I tried to zone with tiger shots, cr. jabs and sweeps (even though eventually they got in my face.) Aside from the obvious mistakes I made (like not punishing with ultra when I should’ve,) I thought it went ok.

One thing I wanted to touch on though is when you’re going up against a superior/more experienced opponent, it’s hard to have confidence in your strategy to win the match. Especially if you’re playing against someone who’s only useful if they’re right in your face. I went in knowing I was the newest player there, and when it came down to fighting beastly Rog players, it’s like my strategy to knock them out went out the window. All I could focus on was keeping them as far away from me as possible. I feel like I’m not “learning street fighter” at that point. There’s no psychology to win just reactionary play. Am I doing it wrong?