What are the difference between Strong fundamentals and weak fundamentals from a player?
I thought fundamentals are basically knowing the what the meter, life bar and what special moves are? I am so lost. Can someone break this down for me? My little brain thanks you.


It goes beyond simply knowing the interface of fighting games (life bar, super meter, ultra meter, assist status, etc etc). Fundamentals is talking about the basic skills that underlie every fighting game. Certain fighting games may reinforce specific fundamental skills over others, but they all use fundamentals.

Think of it in terms of sports. You basketball, football, baseball, soccer, etc etc. But beyond knowing the rules of the games and certain strategies, you have to learn basic skills in order to do well at any of them. So if you play basketball, for example, you have to learn how to dribble, pass, and shoot. Those are the 3 core skills needed in basketball. So you can practice how to dunk all you want, but in the end, those 3 core skills are what’s largely going to determine your performance in a game.

So how does it relate to fighting games? Well, it means things like understanding spacing, defense, anti-airs, reading player tendencies, ground game, execution, etc etc. For example, a scrub who plays at low-levels does a lot of random and risky moves. They do a lot jump attacks, random special moves, they press attack buttons without any purpose, etc etc. A top-level player understands how to properly use special moves with minimal risk, how to defend against their opponent’s attack, knowing which of their attacks have priority and range, how to capitalize on momentum, and how to defuse your opponent’s momentum, etc etc.


Here’s a vid example. John Choi is a classic example of a solid player with strong fundamentals. He’s not doing anything fancy or excessively complicated in this match, but his simple playstyle works very well. He makes strong use of Ryu’s various normals to stop Akuma’s air attacks, strong ground game to keep Akuma at bay and land damage, and the use of Ryu’s fireball to set the pace.


The scurbiness of this paragraph pretty much explains me as a player. Thanks for a great writeup and a video to boot.


I’m happy to help. We all started off as newbies in the fighting game scene, but as long as you continue to practice, and have fun while playing, you can become a good player. The fact that you’re willing to ask questions and want to learn what fundamentals are, already makes you better than most idiots out there who just complain.


Some players also have something called yomi. That alone is its own story.


which basically means, all the enjoyment goes away!


I’m 100% new to SF and I’m having a big problem in this department.

After I get knocked down, I’m 100% free; I can never seem to make the right decision.

I eat ambiguous x-ups left and right, am relentlessly thrown/tick-thrown, tagged with overheads, and on the occasion I try to do a reversal, it whiffs just under my opponents jump or is blocked and I get punished right back into the same situation.

Kind sir, do you or any other SF elders have any advice in this department?

I know it’s tough to answer a question like “how do I defend against mix ups”, so perhaps a better question is how do YOU approach defending against mix ups? (assuming you have never seen your opponent play before)

Do you make decisions before hand and commit, or do you prefer to try and wait and do something on reaction?

Keep in mind that this is almost entirely based on my experience playing online. I was a notoriously shitty online player in my “main” game, MK9 even though I had modest tournament success in that game.

pls nd thnx


Really? Admittedly I’m not very good, but I LOVE learning all that stuff.
That’s half the fun.


you can have fun even at high level sure, problem is till then you have to forget the fun at low level!


I disagree entirely. I’m low level and the fun is seeing training pay off and slowly learning the game. I don’t share your attitude towards it at all. The challenge IS the fun.


Not true. Some people find great enjoyment in taking their training methods and level of improvement seriously. Does it mean you’re going to lose a lot before you start winning? Yes, but this is largely why FG and RTS games have some of the highest learning curves among the various gaming genres. But there’s a certain pleasure you gain from being able to accomplish that is quite difficult for most newcomers to grasp. Look at the popularity of RTS games. They are immensely difficult to become a proficient player at it, but once you, it’s a very deep and real accomplishment that you can feel proud of.

But at some point, yes, the game starts to be less about fun and more about serious work. Every competitive play has, or will eventually, encounter this hurdle at some point. The better you get, the harder it is to improve even more beyond your level.

Learning proper defense isn’t something that’s going to come overnight, or even with extra practice in training mode. It’s a skill you develop over time, slowly and deliberately, as you learn more about the mechanics of how to be a successful fighting game player. A LOT (and i stress this) of it is simply experience.

Learn the exact spacing/timing that your opponent likes to do cross-up attacks. Some characters have extremely ambiguous cross-us, whereas others have pretty easy-to-block cross-ups. Once you’re able to visually identify which they’re going to go for, it becomes easier to block. Some players also tend to favor doing cross-ups, safe jump attacks, or tricky non-crossups, more than others, so that can help clue you in as to your next move.

You can counter throws by carefully crouch-teching while blocking low (press lp+lk while crouching). This is a great basic option-select, because it allows you to throw out a fast, light attack if your opponent does nothing, block the attack if your opponent hits you early (due to block stun), and tech throws if they go for the tick. This takes some timing to perform correctly, but there are plenty of guides online on how to practice this. Also realise that backdashes usually have a good amount of invulnerability, and will get you out of situations where you don’t know if he’s going to frame trap or throw.

Overheads take some reaction to block, but the majority of overheads are either pretty slow, and can be blocked with practice. Most overheads usually don’t allow the other person land a combo for high damage or positioning, but there are exceptions.

As tempting as it is, don’t try to always go for the reversal. A lot of new players do this because a) reversals are pretty damn easy to do in SF4, and b) you’re scared and don’t know what to do, so you mash. Against smart players, they’ll be able to observe this bad habit, bait it out, and severely punish. You have to learn to stay calm, realize you’re in a bad situation, and work to get out of it. You’d be surprised how effective blocking can be for this. You let them push you out with an attack, and you’re in the clear.

Of course, the best strategy would be to not get knocked down so much. Easier said than done, I know, but being knocked down is a HUGE disadvantage. Not only do you take damage, but you give your opponent any option he wants to continue his offensive pressure against you.


Are you weighing their options against each other based on position, speed, damage risk and player tendancies before they attack?
For example

  • sometimes you have to guess a cross when its directly on top of you, but depending on the game and the movement options of the character you can tell if a hit will cross up by the spot that they began their jump.
  • If their option is a fast low or a slow overheard, block the low and look for the overhead.
  • Are they outside of the range for their throw, or a fast low?
  • Do they have a command grab or can you tech if they go for a grab.
  • Does getting the block wrong left vs right or low vs high give them significantly higher damage one way or the other? - If getting hit by the low cost you 20% life and getting hit high will cost you 50% you have to factor that in as well or will missing the crossup one way lead to a corner combo in one direction and a midscreen combo in the other, and is the person you’re playing smart enough to know that and skilled enough to do that?
  • Have they been repeating the same pattern?
  • Is one of their options unsafe? can they afford to use that option and have you guess correctly without being screwed? Are they smart enough to know this? Are they reckless enough not to care?

Use what you know about the game to weigh and eliminate options of theirs whenever you can.
Don’t just know your own character’s options getting up, know their character’s options against a downed opponent.


yes and this is the point where I drew the line. Better to use to the fullest what little I know and enjoy the game, rather than fill my mind with so much information, that I wouldnt know how to use in the first place. To reach that level it would take at least 2-3 years of constant training and this for one game alone.


No, that when the real fun starts. Just wondering how much of your play is in person with other people, how much is solo and how much is online? Because when you have other people around you getting better and beating you the training doesn’t seem like work at all. Building smarter decisions and higher damage into your gameplay becomes fun when are going to play the same person again tomorrow or next weekend and you have no intention of losing again. Getting better seems like more of a chore when you don’t get to regularly test yourself against challenges from other people in person.

If by the fun at low levels, you mean making bad decisions for the hell of it then, yes. Shouldn’t that be the case though? If you are a two year old and amused by blocks and playing in cardboard boxes thats perfectly fine, but when you’re 20 you still shoudn’t be crawling around inside a box. Its a natural progression to not find low level play stimulating at some point. When you get to the point where low level play becomes predictable and impossible for you to lose to unless you handicap yourself in some way you will probably avoid it too.

  1. You would know how to use the information if you were learning it in context.
  2. It wouldn’t take anywhere close to 2-3 years if you learned it the right way.


with other people currently I dont have that luxury, except with my brother sometimes. I wouldnt consider those sessions training, just fun. Online mostly but in non-ranked matches.

Video games at my age and at a more competitive level are something rare, when other priorities have to take place. Plus arcades with fighters here are non-existant.

in my case it is like I was two and suddenly all my toys were taken away. Then at age 20 I have suddenly to play with older toys. I wouldnt know how to use them in the first place. Missed both SF4 and SSF4. blocks would be exciting that way. Still I treat every match like a puzzle.

With my schedule, skills and devotion at this current level it would take 1 year to do most training sessions for one character, playing just SF4. Nothing else and no other fighter. I mean I have the game for over 1 year and still cant do most BnB combos for 1 character. Timing required for that is beyond my skill level. In spacing and footsies I fare better. Then it would take another year bridging the gap between training sessions and real matches. Then in the third year would I be able to play the way I should.

that game has so many characters that even pros have trouble learning all the matchups.


Proper spacing, proper normals, and strong defense.
Just basic footsies.
If u get this down, surpassed scrub ranking.
Also note that these aspects r sf fundamentals.
In all sf, these principals never go away, that’s what makes this game sf.

If u learn how to properly counter, whiff punish, solid anti air, etc and all that sugar.

U reached intermediate level.

See vid for high level fundamentals.
Notice the spacing, normals and everything is tight and reaction and execution heavy.