Focus Attacks!


Being from the older days of SF, I just cannot seem to integrate the SFIV Focus attack system into my gameplay and would appreciate any advice on how to acclimate oneself to the use of focus attacks outside of canceling in combos and on block.
I’m talking about oki or to absorb an attack and get a crumple and in the use of maintaining pressure.
Also, if the FA counts as two hits in damage scaling, why does everyone use it after the get a dizzy?


It depends on the character. Some character’s level 3 FA do high enough damage to justify the damage scaling, whereas for other characters, it’s better to go with a jump attack first.


I’ve been playing since vanilla and that’s news to me. Is there a list somewhere of what characters should focus and punish a dizzy vs which characters should jump attack and punish? Guess I gotta hit training mode n see, interesting dude, thanks.


You can just go into training mode and see whatever punish combo does the most damage. Meterless, with meter, with all meter, whatever. Go nuts.


Being that the usage of FAs whilst the opponent is in stun is character based, FAs used in footsies, oki etc must also be character based. The reach, the speed of the FA, etc have a bearing on the justification of their use, I estimate.
What characters have terrible FAs and what characters have great ones?


Balrog has the worst in the game, I believe. Chun Li’s is great, because her hit box is so far back and she really reaches out there to hit. Ken’s is pretty damn nice, too.


It depends on your definition of good or bad. You can’t just look at focus attacks itself in terms of animation, reach, frame data, and frame advantage. Dash speed has a lot to do with it, along with usability of special moves, pokes, and close normals.

For example, technically Balrog has a really bad FA, but smart players can still make use of it as a counterhit setup (i.e. what PR Rog does).


I’ve seen Rog’s set up; it’s great.
Basically it seems that you just have to experiment with a character’s FA to then implement it in gameplay.
I guess it breaks down to universal FA uses that everyone is able to utilize, and character specific uses. (PR Rog’s CH set up)


Konichiwa Specter, I find that Claws focus may be one of the best in the game, even without his tools. I find that using it and dashing out in a vortex can work wonders, and footsie games may benefit from them like Vega parrying a Cammy arrow or such. Using FA to parry or etc should be used to level 2 unless you’re positive about getting a level 3. I find many high level claw players prefer to jump in after dizzy, but if my scaling is large, I try this method to get them more into the corner.
Level 3 focus, dash forward, neutral jump and air throw as you reach their head on the way down. It does more obvious damage than a normal throw, and shoves them in the corner. Possibly a little glitch, but cool nonetheless.
Oh and the focus on Claw is great because of how he steps back before the stab: gives a better range away from them and saves some nicks.


Evil Ryu’s focus attack has a deceptively long range


IMO, the characters with the best FAs are Fei, Chun (the only one that is plus on block even on lvl 1), Evil Ryu, Hakan (when oiled), Vega. Maybe also Dudley and Sakura.

Regarding your question, I think one of the most popular uses of FAs is to regain momentum after you did a blockstring.

Say you just did a frame trap, but it didn’t work and the opponent blocked all of your hits: now you are at a neutral distance where the opponent is out of danger. You can start playing footsies again, which is often times your wisest and safest choice. But if you feel like you wasted your chance to do some big damage, and just want to go in, do a lvl 2 FA and dash forward, and mix him up again. Just watch out for reversals.

Many players have developed the bad habit of doing it after every single blockstring, so be careful not to get too used to it because if the opponent expects it he’s gonna punish you hard.


Ways you can integrate focus into your game

  1. Defense

on wake up, use focus to mess up option selects and unblockables by absorbing the air attack and back dashing the ground attack

when someone focuses you, don’t regular backdash, focus backdash

when the only poke that can reach you at farthest range is non cancellable, use focus to threaten and punish it

absorb fireballs to build ultra and end the fireball game by threatening to ultra

  1. offense

on their wake up can threaten an unblockable (poor idea though)

use in a block string if people like to mash non-cancellable moves (sweep for example)

use at end of blockstring to dash back in

effective poke vs cornered opponents

better focuses make great pokes

absorb a poke and dash in (like vs sim)

  1. FADC

safe dp on wake up or pressure (if you have)

ultra combo (if you have)

safe sweep poke

extra damage in a confirm when its hard to hit your opponent (like sim or guile)

use at end of failed frame trap string to stay in when a character is hard to get in on (like guile or ryu)

  1. Don’ts

Do not use raw focus as anti-air, its good vs new players but you’ll lose a third of your life to anyone who know how to punish that.

Do not use raw focus when most people have ultra, many players can ultra on reaction

Do not use raw focus as part of a common safe string, you will learn its not safe

Do not use if you have a lot of gray life, red life takes forever to get back if you have a lot of it

  1. Stuff to know

Gray life does not recover while you are blocking

you can be counter hit out the attack part of your focus

when hit by three hits during focus, all three attacks are unscaled in stun and damage, the fourth starts at 80%

vs anti air focus attack as low as possible in your jump and use your ultra, super, dp, focus breaker, grab or fastest button after landing

when you do any special move out of block stun or on wake up, it is reversal. All reversals break focus

when people focus on you wake up, usually you can just wake up ultra or super, you can also focus back dash or reversal a special

Any tips on incorporating Focus Attacks into your game?

Finkledoodoo you rock! Thank You.
Hopefully I am not the only one who benefits from this info!


I certainly did. I have the same problem as OP. I play fighting games here and there and usually just go on raw fundamentals. Focus attack still hasn’t quite clicked with me like it has with others.


one way to learn how to use focus attacks is play a character you know almost nothing about. Don’t look up anything about them, just go in raw. This way focus attack is one of the only tools you know how to use so you will rely on it, and use it more, thus learn more about the mechanic.