First of all, Dhalsim has a very good focus attack. It cames out fast and has a big range. You can even focus a shoto on a jump in attack IF they attack far enough from the ground (this is generally NOT advised, I’m just using it as an example) and you’ll be able to release before they can hit the ground and SRK.
One way of using a focus attack (not for Dhalsim due to his slow dash) is to release the attack at level 1 or 2 and then just dash forward. The opponent is put into hit or block stun and often (at least after a level 2) you’ll be at 0 frame advantage meaning you can begin a true mixup in your character’s favor.
If your opponent attempts to hit you, and your focus attack hits them first then it’s considered a “counter hit.” A counter hit focus will cause a crumble stun. ANY counter-hit focus will cause a crumple stun. Level 2 focuses create a crumple stun if they hit an opponent as long as the opponent isn’t blocking. As you stated in your post a level 3 focus will create a crumple stun on hit even if the opponent is blocking.
Focus attacks ARE actually quite useful for Dhalsim. However, it’s very easy to over use them. Remember, whenever you focus attack you’re losing health. Yes, the health regenerates in an IDEAL situation, but in many situations you’ll be hit shortly after and will permanently lose that health. **Literally, to use a focus attack is to gamble with your health bar. ** You should only use a focus attack in a PLANNED situation. That means that you shouldn’t throw out the focus and see what happens, you need to have a plan.
In every situation after you land a level 1 or level 2 focus attack you should backdash. You simply cannot tell if the opponent was successfully hit or not on reaction and Dhalsim doesn’t want to be close to the opponent anyway. If you backdash and notice that the opponent was successfully stunned you can either s.FP or throw a LP yoga fire to create a wakeup fireball teleport mixup. If you have a full super meter you can immediately dash forward and then super them. Even though it appears like the opponent is on the ground the super will still hit them.
In full screen fireball wars you’ll want to utilize your focus for 2 reasons.
- to build meter. Dhalsim is DEADLY with meter, period.
- to mix up the way that you’re dealing with fireballs. If you react to fireballs in the same way every time, or in a pattern, your opponent will be able to plan traps for you. By focusing, sliding, yoga towering, neutral jumping, jumping then immediately roundhouse drilling, throwing a counter fireball and mixing up these options seemingly randomly your opponent will have to make many guesses. Neutral jump changes your position and your options. j.MP and j.FP become available as well as the in air teleport which can be used on reaction to escape situations and set up damage. Neutral jump into an immediate RH drill makes the opponent second guess the jump animation. If they see you jump and start to react only to have you drill you’ll find yourself on the ground and ready to react with an anti air as they jump towards you. Sliding not only avoids fireballs, but moves you forward changing the spacing of any jump ins or attacks the opponent may be planning. Yoga tower allows you to keep your position while simultaneously allowing you to instantly cancel into backdash, slide, super, jump, anything… As an added bonus, yoga tower dodges the fireball completely --leaving it on screen-- and there’s a good chance the opponent will try to throw another fireball, end up with a standing fierce punch, and eating a s.FP of your own.
Playing predictably is the #1 weakness of a Dhalsim player. You have to keep them guessing and be ready with setups for each situation.