Please, before you read any of this, familiarize yourself with the game’s basic gameplay elements. Know what FADC, meaty attacks, cross ups, kara cancels, etc. are.
With that said…
Q: Why is Sagat considered the best character in Street Fighter IV?
A: I think if you analyze Sagat’s gameplay, you come to realize that he has an outside as well as an inside game; meaning, he can zone very well, but he can also get close and apply pressure (unlike a character like Dhalsim) if it need be. For example, Sagat can do an excellent job zoning Zangief. In fact, only Seth zones Zangief better than Sagat does. On the other hand, Sagat can also apply pressure with Tiger Knee strings very well against characters, such as C.Viper and Abel, who are much harder to zone. So, both aspects, the outside and the inside game, are very strong for Sagat.
Sagat deals tremendous damage, too. You are never out of a fight with Sagat because HP Tiger Uppercut -> FADC -> f+HK -> ultra combo does a lot of damage, especially on opponents with below average stamina. Are you down 50% in life against Chun Li, or even 70%? No problem. If you can get that Tiger Uppercut to connect, you will deal tremendous damage to her and switch the moment of the match into your favor. On the other hand, Sagat’s stamina is above average, so your opponents will have to take some risks in order to deplete your lifebar completely.
The only legitimate weakness that Sagat suffers from is speed. He moves very slowly, and his backdash is awful because of its speed and recovery. The good news is that he may use kara Tiger Knees to advance forward when he needs to.
In short, Sagat is a powerhouse. One of the best zoning games in the game. Solid pressure up close with Tiger Knee strings. Tremendous damage. Above average stamina.
Q: How do I do Sagat’s fake kick on a pad?
A: Soon to come.
Q: What are Sagat’s best normal moves?
A. In no particular order.
st.HK - excellent range, very good damage, hits twice, can be used as an anti-air attack
f+HK - this move may only be used as an anti-air attack. It has no uses on the ground. If you catch your opponent very high in the air with it, you may do f+HK twice followed up by Sagat’s ultra combo.
st.LK - excellent range, and good for setting up strings
j.LK - this is Sagat’s only jumping cross up attack
j.MP - very good jumping attack with a lot of priority
j.HK - decent range and very good damage
cr.LK - all of your strings and combos will start from this crouching attack
cr.MK - only good for whiff punishment. For example, if Ryu or Ken whiff a LP Shoryuken in front of you, punish it with cr.MK -> HP Tiger Uppercut
More on best normal attacks.
Q: Can you talk about Sagat’s up close / footsie game?
Q: Does Sagat have a cross up move?
A: j.LK crosses up, but you need to hit it very deep (i.e., around opponent’s hip area) in order to combo from it.
j.HK can cross up big characters in corners, but the timing is very, very strict.
Q: I have seen a Tiger Knee cross up? What the…?
The Tiger Knee cross up does not appear to work on all characters. In fact, it seems as though it only works on medium sized characters. It is also very hard to set up because the distance and timing are very, very strict. Your opponent must also be crouch blocking and quick standing for it to cross up.
Take a look at the second part of this youtube video (roughly starting at 0:17 seconds):
As you can so, after the cross up the opponent is in a “juggle-able” state. You can follow up with another Tiger Knee, a super, or even an ultra combo as shown in the aforementioned video.
If you want to practice this cross up, go into practice mode and set the training dummy (preferably El Fuerte) to “all block”, “crouch”, and quick stand “on”. Hit him with a focus attack level 3 and follow up with cr.LK -> cr.LK -> cr.LP -> HP Tiger Uppercut (scroll down below to get tips on how to perform this combo) after it. Then see if you can time a MK Tiger Knee so that it crosses up El Fuerte. When done correctly, the Tiger Knee will be blocked from the other side.
It is said that Mago does this cross up fairly often on El Fuerte players in Japan.
Q: What is Sagat’s most damaging combo without the use of super meter and the ultra combo?
A: Close st. MP -> HP Tiger Uppercut does the most damage. cr.MP -> HP Tiger Uppercut does a little bit less.
Q: Can you talk about Sagat’s focus attack?
A: Sagat’s focus attack is one of the faster focus attacks in the game. However, it does not have too much range.
Q: What do I do after a focus dash level 2 or 3 successfully connects?
A. See the answer above.
You usually want to do close st.MP -> HP Tiger Uppercut, but you have to be fast and fairly close to the opponent for the close st.MP to connect in time. If you have any doubts, just do cr.MP -> Tiger Uppercut. Follow up with FADC if you have meter of course to combo into Sagat’s ultra combo.
cr.HP -> cr.LP -> HP Tiger Uppercut works on big characters, too.
Q: What is Sagat’s best meaty attack?
A. Sagat’s best meaty attack is cr.LK.
Let me quote this wonderful post because it explains everything perfectly.
Q: What is there to know about Sagat’s Tiger Shots?
A: High Tiger Shots (QCF+P) have a better recovery than low Tiger Shots (QCF+K) do. High Tiger Shots may be dodged by holding down; low Tiger Shots may not be dodged by holding down. Most players will neutral jump low Tiger Shots.
Q: Are there any short cuts for Sagat’s Tiger Uppercut (f,d,d/f+P)?
A: d/f, d/f+P executes a Tiger Uppercut. Crouching by holding d/f and then quickly pressing d,d/f+P executes a Tiger Uppercut as well.
Q: Which version of the Tiger Uppercut do I use when my opponent is jumping at me?
A: You should generally use the HP version of the Tiger Uppercut. It has the most range. However, in rare instances a LP version may be appropriate if your opponent is jumping at you from a higher angle.
Take a look at the following video and pay close attention at 0:49 seconds:
If Mago had done the HP version of the Tiger Uppercut at that moment, it would have missed C.Viper completely.
Q: Can Sagat’s Tiger Uppercuts beat safe jumps?
All Tiger Uppercuts are 5 frames fast. That gives your opponent enough time to safe jump you.
Q: My Tiger Uppercuts trade frequently with jumping attacks. Why is that?
A: All Tiger Uppercuts have the most invulnerablity frames on start up, not at any other moment. If you want to avoid trade offs, time your Tiger Uppercut with your opponent’s jumping attack as late as possible. Trade offs are not necessarily bad for Sagat. His stamina is above average (1100 points), and a trade off of Sagat’s Tiger Uppercut may be followed up by an easy f+HK -> Tiger Destruction combo without wasting any meter.
Q: How do I deal with cross ups?
A: Soon to come.
Q: Do you have any tips on Tiger Uppercut -> FADC -> f+HK -> ultra combo?
A: Tiger Uppercut -> FADC -> f+HK -> Ultra Combo is very easy. Be sure not to mash forward for the FADC part of the combo or you will dash underneath your opponent. Obviously, you must learn this combo to play Sagat at any serious level. Go into practice mode and practice it until you can do it with a 100% consistancy rate.
Q: My f+HK misses my opponents sometimes after Tiger Uppercut -> FADC. What does this happen?
A: Some characters float very differently than others do after Tiger Uppercut -> FADC.
Q: The last hit of Sagat’s ultra combo does not connect properly when I am close to corners. Is there any way to avoid this glitch?
A. Yes, there is.
You have to charge your FADC to level two (after the Tiger Uppercut), quickly dash under your opponent, and then perform Sagat’s ultra combo. This requires a lot of practice.
Here is a demonstration of it:
**Q: What do I do after Tiger Uppercut -> FADC if I do not have my ultra combo? **
A: The most damaging combo without using Sagat’s ultra combo is:
Tiger Uppercut -> FADC -> f+HK -> EX Tiger Shot (only one hit connects)
Most players like to save their meter, so they usually just do Tiger Uppercut -> FADC -> f+HK and backdash, throwing a HK Tiger Shot.
Tiger Uppercut -> FADC -> HK Tiger Knee is good if you are cornerned and need to get out.
Q: How do you do EX Tiger Uppercut -> ultra combo?
A: You have to buffer the motion of the ultra combo as soon as Sagat lands on the ground after the EX Tiger Uppercut. If you do it correctly, your opponent will be well beyond Sagat’s head height, and the ultra combo will connect. If you do it too late (i.e., opponent’s body is well below Sagat’s head), the ultra combo will miss entirely and you will get punished when your opponent quick stands.
EX Tiger Uppercut -> ultra combo works on all characters. It is harder to connect the ultra combo on a character such as Zangief because he falls very quickly to the ground. However, if you catch an opponent jumping at you with the EX Tiger Uppercut and all hits connect, the ultra combo will juggle any character rather easily.
Do not bother spending countless hours practicing this combo since the EX Tiger Uppercut does not play an integral role in Sagat’s gameplay. Besides, you must save your meter for FADCs and EX Tiger Shots.
Q: My opponent spins after my Tiger Uppercut connects sometimes; I cannot connect Tiger Uppercut -> FADC -> f+HK -> ultra combo. What is going on?
A: The spinning animation only occurs when a Tiger Uppercut hits as a counter hit. You cannot connect with f+HK (after FADC) when that happens. Nonetheless, you still have two reliable options.
you can connect f+HK but ONLY after backdashing; meaning, once you do the focus attack dash cancel (FADC), tap b,b to backdash, and then f+HK can connect into Sagat’s ultra combo.
follow up directly with Sagat’s ultra combo. There is some timing to it, however. Input the motion for the ultra combo when your opponent’s body is about to reach Sagat’s head height. Do the ultra combo too soon and Sagat goes underneath his opponent; do it too late and your opponent drops to the ground before the ultra combo can juggle.
Go into practice mode and set the “counter hit” option to “random”. With enough practice (and match experience), you should be able to distinguish between a non-counter Tiger Uppercut and a counter Tiger Uppercut and follow up appropriately after a FADC. You can react to both scenarios if you are good enough.
Counter Tiger Uppercut -> FADC -> HK Tiger Knee always works, by the way, if you do not have your ultra combo.
Q: I have seen videos of players trapping their opponents with Tiger Knees. What is the secret?
A: All Tiger Knee attacks are awfully unsafe when blocked. However, when only the tip of Sagat’s knee hits, the Tiger Knees become 100% safe on block. They even give tremendous advantages if your opponents block them crouching.
The secret lies within understanding the different ranges that produce the “tip of the knee” scenarios, so that you are always safe from punishment. Go into practice mode and experiment with these ranges. Remember that you want the tip of the knee to hit ONLY. You also want the knee to hit when Sagat is “landing” from the Tiger Knee as opposed to when he is going up with it.
Furthermore, strings are generally used to produce the aforementioned ranges in collaboration with LK and MK Tiger Knees. HK Tiger Knees are not used in strings because of its different hitbox.
More on Tiger Knee strings.
Q: What are some commonly used Tiger Knee strings?
A: Some commonly used Tiger Knee strings include:
st.LP -> LK Tiger Knee
st.LK -> LK Tiger Knee
cr.MP -> cr.MP -> LK Tiger Knee
cr.LK -> cr.LK -> st.LK LK Tiger Knee or MK Tiger Knee
You may be creative and make up your own strings as long as you understand that only Sagat’s tip may hit. You are punishable otherwise.
Here is an example of Mago trapping Genius’ Vega (Claw):
Also, do no go ballistic with these strings as you are obviously still vulnerable to reversal attacks, especially against those characters who have excellent reversal moves.
Q: I just cannot do cr.LK -> cr.LK -> cr.LP -> HP Tiger Uppercut. Any tips, please?
A: First of all, you must learn to link cr.LKs in order to do that combo. Once you know how to do that, the combo is fairly easy.
Hold d/f and press LK, LK, and LP. Then move the stick from down to down-front and press HP.
This method is so easy that you will even be able to pull off this combo on an X-Box 360 pad.