gunslinger’s guide to Ken
BACK TO BASICS
The three major categories are Canceling, Links and Chains.
Every move/command/attack in SFIV share 3 characteristics: “Start-up, Active and Recover”. Which means:
- How long before the move begins to hit your opponent (Start-up)
- For how long the movement is capable of hitting the opponent (Active)
- And how long it takes for you to finish your movement and be able to make another move (Recover)
Canceling means to interrupt the animation (Recover phase) of a move and go straight into another.
A link is connecting another successful hit on the opponent whilst they are still stunned from the previous hit. But the difference is that you do not cancel the Recover of the previous move. Instead, you wait for the previous move to finish its animation before attacking again.
A Chain is a combo in which specific normals (usually lk and lp) cancel into one another to successively hit the opponent.
Why this all matters…
First of all people think… why not just combo all the time using Chains as oppose to Links. Chain is easier to do (no need for strict timing) and it is guaranteed to hit/combo with no gaps/holes for the opponent to counter.
The reason is…
Specials/Supers cannot cancel a Normal which already canceled another Normal. Specials/Supers can only cancel a Normal which was Linked.
They made it this way because…
So as to prevent people from mashing lp a gazillion times, see that they are hitting the opponent, and then proceed to mash out a Special. So if you want to be able to incorporate higher damaging moves such as Specials/Supers into combos - you will have to use a minimum of skill to Link your last normal before the Special.
cr.lp [cancel] cr.lp [cancel] cr.lp [cancel] DP will not work
> The DP will not come out as it is against the mechanics of the game to try and [cancel] a normal into a Special
cr.lp [cancel] cr.lp [link] cr.lp [cancel] DP will work
> The DP will cancel the cr.lp as it was a [Link] of the previous normal
cr.lp [cancel] cr.lp [cancel] cr.lp [link] DP will work
> The DP itself is used as a Link. DP will hit so long as the opponent is still in a state of stun from the previous cr.lp
THE FIRST STEPS. Using Ken
Picking Ken for the right reasons…
Ken is a far more zealous fighter than, Ryu. He overcomes his opponent’s by pressuring them into fault or by overcoming their guard. This is achieved by his quick and varied arsenal of attacks which is difficult to guard against correctly.
He is a close combat specialist that relies upon quick-thinking and on the fly changes to his assault. His main assets in this regard are: f+mk, k-throw and TATSU.
Players who are not aggressive and do not make use of these special abilities are perhaps better suited with Ryu.
Ken’s most effective attacking range is outside of sweep distance where he can strike quickly with a variety of set-ups. It’s where his options increase and the opponent’s options decrease. Eg of assaults that can be made…
- f+mk poke
- f+mk, cr.mk, FB
- f+mk, j.mk/lk (cross-up) or f+mk, cr.mk, j.mk/lk (cross-up)
- f+mk, FA
- Jump attack
- Dash-f and k-throw OR lk.TATSU (Whiff) and k-throw
- f+rh (overhead) OR f+rh **hold[/] (fake overhead) into k-throw/combo
- Fireball (Most forgotten move at this range)
STRATEGY - THE GAMEPLAN
First of all - the gameplan should always be character specific. During the match it also caters in opponent player specific behavior.
Ken’s main strategy vs MOST characters…
- Knowing all your attacking options and mixing-up to prevent your opponent from blocking/tech’ing correctly.
- Spamming of attacks from all directions WILL overcome an opponents defense. Ken can launch a lengthy assault with many on the fly corrections to break the opponents guard. Break their guard and floor them, resetting, and repositioning yourself for the next assault.
cr.lk, cr.lp, cr.lp, cr.mk, FB is long block string. It is a fundamental combo which allows you to branch off at any point to MIX-UP your attack.
1. Breaking guard
Tick-throws are more deadlier with ken with his ability to boost his range with kara. ABUSE THIS LIKE AN ANNOYING WIFE! Not that I promote violence against women… just wives
- Empty jump and throw
- Jump attack and throw
- (Using string above) cr.lk, cr.lp, cr.lp, tick-throw
– cr.lk, cr.lp, tick-throw
– cr.lk, tick-throw
- b+mk (overhead). I personally don’t use this as most high level players are spamming “options select throw” during your string… meaning it will get beat. But it’s an option none-the-less.** NEVER FORGET YOUR OPTIONS.**
Ken’s best normal. Comes out quickly and covers a lot of ground. It gives Ken initiative over opponents.
> However it is flawed. It leaves you in negative frame advantage ON BLOCK. So that cr.mk follow-up can get beat - by a normal - by a special - and by an ULTRA.
It’s best used at the peak of it’s length where you will recover ever so slightly quicker so as to follow-up. Hence, “distancing” topic up above. If you DO find yourself doing one TOO CLOSE to the opponent - don’t cr.mk. If you do attack, use cr.lk or even k-throw.
> Branching options AFTER a f+mk
- Block, gauge the opponents tendencies against f+mk.
(Best thing an opponent can do against a blocked f+mk at full distance is to retaliate with cross-up. Reverses the situation putting you on the back foot.)
- cr.mk and block. Gauge opponents reaction
- cr.mk, FB (even though FB cancels cr.mk… people can reverse through it and even ULTRA you). cr.mk xxFB is flawed
- (my personal favorite) j.mk/lk cross-up. A lot of experienced players KNOW that they can beat you out of a crouch follow-up if they block your f+mk. They WILL immediately cr.mk themselves to beat you to it. TA-DA! You’re in the air like a ninja and cross-em up!
- FA. Yeah throw one out! If you believe they WILL BLOCK your f+mk then, A OPTION, is to FA and try to counter … their counter. (Don’t do against crouching Guile’s… FLASH-KICK > FA). If they don’t retaliate… they are in range for it and you can make FA2 safely and dash-f to continue an assault.
This, to me, is his main game. This is something you should master. Ken’s combo strings should be second nature as they allow you to CREATE opportunities to BREAK-GUARD. I don’t work on CREATING MASSIVE DAMAGE OPPORTUNITIES. If the opportunity arises… I will try my best (cl.rh, rh.TATSU). I work on keeping pressure upon the opponent, keeping initiative and breaking guard.
ZONING… and an advanced tactic
Zoning is a strategy with the aim of KEEPING YOUR OPPONENT in a desired position where you are at an advantage to deal damage. It generally makes use of a characters projectile (in this case FB) to deal damage from a safe distance whereby making it difficult for the opponent to approach. Not to be confused with, the above, ‘DISTANCING’ which in this thread talks about ken specifically. Zoning is a GENERAL strategy employed by all people and characters.
You could argue that Zoning is what Ken is doing when he keeps you at f+mk range. This is true - this is ken’s best zoning tactic. But I want to point out another STRATEGIC location outside of f+mk that I launch many attacks from.
Now when I first heard about zoning. It made sense. Just get really far away from the enemy and throw FB’s at him all day, right? But Ken isn’t very good at it - but he still CAN DO IT!
An IDEAL place AND DISTANCE from the opponent to be- is JUST OUTSIDE of a JUMP-ATTACK range and JUST INSIDE SWEEP DISTANCE *after *they have jumped.
Let me elaborate. Ken’s FB is shit. But ken’s assault game is A+. You use the FB to get them to voluntarily come into your CROSS-UP range (making some characters lose charge too).
Start off by turtling with FB’s drawing them in. Adjust your location after each FB to get into this desired distance. Eventually they are going to jump forward, with or without an attack, over your FB (and it’s usually too late to anti-air DP and they should be too far also). They should land inside sweeping distance but still too far for their aerial attack to connect.
You are to then begin your assault by jumping forward immediately and attack them from the air aiming to get the cross-up.
After using this tactic… I started to learn ‘second nature’ this invisible distance. And in situations that the opponent ‘empty’ jumped at me, I could immediate jump forward too (whilst they are in the air) and time it so that as soon as they landed - they had to immediately block my cross-up as I landed a second after. Where by you go into Mix-up shenanigans.
I’ve been hit many times during my aerial forward jump into theirs as I Jumped too early forward or launched off the ground too close to them. Some Ken players instinctively fp.DP the opponent. But I do not rely on fp.DP’s as an anti-air - has a tendency to get beat out… or trade.
Also, sometimes I’ve done it just too far and landed a jumping frontal attack (instead off cross-up) - most of the time it is okay… but some quick moving opponents, with ryu/sagat, have sure punished me with DP into ULTRA. A cross-up is much more safe as trying to anti-air a cross-up like that is VERY DIFFICULT.
extra thoughts f+mk is a great distance to hover in with ken. But it ISN’T THE ONLY ONE. I use this ZONE strategy mainly against turtles. Having trouble approaching Guile? Make him come to you. Works relatively well on Boxer too if you are ever full distance away from him. It’s a defensive way off fighting that creates before unseen opportunities to attack. A many times when an opponent jumps into sweep distance - either you or the opponent will block a sweep. How about launching an immediate cross-up attack? KNOW THIS OPTION
A DISCUSSION ON KEN’S SPECIAL MOVES
Let’s talk about Ken’s special attacks. Fireball/Hado (FB), Dragon Punch/SRK (DP) and Hurricane Kick/TATSU
Inferior to Ryu’s. It moves across the screen slower. It doesn’t come out as fast and it takes a tad longer to recover from the animation. But it’s a projectile none-the-less and Projectiles are useful. If you’re not confident about launching an aerial assault on a character (zangief!) then an alternative is to use the FB. WE ALL KNOW VERY WELL its downsides - opponent jumps over and attacks. But that is a fault of your own. I write to remind people TO USE IT. When used appropriately it can chip away the enemies health and cause them to make untimely jump ins. Using it safely comes with experience… but you are not going to have that experience if YOU DO NOT USE IT.
2. Dragon Punch
- lp.DP good for anti-pokes and anti-cross-ups. (hits once)
- mp.DP great for anti-air with beautiful invincibility frames. (hits twice and only the second hit has FLOAT property)
- fp.DP great horizontal distance (hits three times. Second hit FLOATS the opponent. 3rd hit will knockdown)
- ex.DP same as fp.DP but with more damage, and more reliability and invincibilty frames (hits four times. 2nd hit FLOATS. 3rd and 4th will knockdown)
Hints and useful DP knowledge
> DP’s can go through projectiles. So if, say Guile, does a SB in sweep distance to get you on wake-up… SUPRISE! The horizontal ground covered by fp.DP is effective for this one use and will go through the SB.
> If you anti-air DP (especially lp.DP)… you can follow up with another fp.DP to juggle the airbourne opponent. In some cases - you can even dash in forward and ULTRA. mp.DP should still be the preferred anti-air DP. And MOST CASES will allow you to follow up with a fp.DP as they float.
> Very important: their are many shortcut commands to do a dragon punch. Most used DP command is: f, d, df, f + p (f, qcf+p). What you NEED TO KNOW is that you can shortcut…
- f, df, f +p
- f, d, df +p
- THE BEST SHORTCUT OF ALL … df, df + p (yep. two quick diagonal presses gets out a DP. So everyone “including me” should be making this a ‘no think’ command. It will take you to the next level as your anti-air will improve so drastically.
> These few are the most important variations as they allow you to DP from a crouched position.
- df, d, df +p
- db, df, d, df + p (the most effective DP from crouch when blocking) So we are executing a DP from a crouched+blocking position.
- db, d, db + p (Doesn’t make sense? This is the anti-crossup DP) Makes sense once they jump over you reversing your command into a DP. Best used as you wake-up and trying to anti-air their cross-up as you would be executing the DP from a crouched position giving you that little edge in an effective reversal. Not easy to DP a cross-up… best chance is whilst still crouching.
> I’d much rather block than attempt to counter a good cross-up.
[spoiler=HURRICANE KICK… THE MEANING OF VERSATILITY]
> lk.TATSU: -9frame adv on block and -5frame adv on hit
- Not useful for DEALING DAMAGE. But good for set-ups. At sweep distance one can TATSU over opponent’s sweep and then attack. Whiff TATSU into k-throw is most common.
> mk.TATSU: -4frame adv on block and 0frame adv on hit
- Better off using rh.TATSU for combo and damage output. But it is useful to cross-up the opponent on wake-up.
> rh.TATSU: -5frame adv on block and -1frame adv on hit
- Great damage and good to cross-up opponents on wake-up (however this is more useful with Ryu as it does knock-down)
> ex.TATSU: -3frame adv on block and +1frame adv on hit
- Most used in a combo situation as it is SLIGHTLY SAFER.
The above has some comments that depict possible uses from the ground. Just before an opponent wake-up you can sneakily get across to (the other side) mess up their ‘charge’ or even get a hit in the back of their head.
TATSU in combo’s
TATSU can be used in combo’s. But, make no mistake, it LEAVES YOU in a “ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS” situation (ON HIT) and even worse if they blocked it. It is not a godly combo BRIDGE to extend your assault… but it has the potential. I can not voice loud enough the randomness after A HIT with this. Take the “ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS” analogy SERIOUSLY. THAT IS WHAT IT IS if you hit them. And if they block… you’re are usually screwed.
> Let’s say you spam throw during hit with TATSU (as most do). Let’s look at outcome
- He will tech ALL the time if he spams throw
- 1/4 the time an opponent beats you out with a normal poke
- If the opponent reversals with special… HE WILL BEAT YOUR THROW - and possibly FADC into ULTRA. YEAH… YOU JUST GOT FUCKED UP!
- Counter ULTRA. Not often… but if he predicts your throw - HE WILL GET YOU
> Let’s say you spam normals to try and continue the assault
- 5/6 of the time HE WILL THROW YOU!
- 1/5 the time the opponent beats you out with his normals
- If the opponent reversals with special… HE WILL BEAT YOUR NORMAL- and possibly FADC into ULTRA. YEAH… YOU JUST GOT FUCKED UP!
- Counter ULTRA. Not often… but if he predicts your spam- HE WILL GET YOU
> Let’s say you spam DP after to finish him off
- If he throws HE WILL LOSE. I’m not sure what happens when he “option select throw”. He might get lucky and get a block.
- 1/7 the time the opponent will beat you out with normals
- HIS special will reversal and beat your DP out. Even if he DP’'s… he will get it first. Your ex.TATSU should dictate that you have priority over his DP… but man… you gotta time that shit SO PERFECT which is rarely the case.
- Counter ULTRA. Sometimes you get lucky and DP animation interrupts his start-up. Most of the time you don’t!
Maybe you ULTRA after TATSU (on hit). You got balls or you’re are desperate. Because of shitty start-up on ken’s ULTRA half the time they can just change their minds and block. They might be spamming out an attack after your TATSU… but start-up on your ULTRA gives them a second chance.
If you are going to DP after it… you best know how to FADC. Might save your arse and it might also just lead to your ULTRA. But there is NO MISTAKING IT. TATSU IN A COMBO IS RANDOM OUTCOME!
Making use of “option-select-throw” after TATSU has given inconsistent results. I have no conclusions upon it’s use. Still in experimental phase.
The positives to TATSU in a combo
Ken is a good fighter due to his ‘mix-up’ capabilities. A TATSU in a combo will create that… but it’s so risky. However… that rh.TATSU sure does a lot of damage! It hits 5 times (counting the start up knee) and packs a whollop. Use it TO FINISH the opponent off. I’m taking a real liking to “cl.rh xx rh.TATSU”. 6 hit combo and takes about 40% health. If they don’t die… then I’d suggest just blocking. If they throw you… so be it. You lose a little hp and it gives them the advantage… but atleast you don’t GET ABSOLUTELY WRECKED AND THEN FLOORED WITH THEM HAVING THE ADVANTAGE completely making all that damage you just done obsolete in the oncoming slaughter. The choice is ENTIRELY YOURS.
Fighting momentum and the psychological state of the opponent is the major variable in this situation. It is a variable that NEEDS TO BE TESTED atleast once.
> Can be used as a anti-air against opponents in situations a DP wouldn’t be effective.
> Mainly use to escape corners and cause the opponent to lose charge or whiff an ULTRA.
> Can be used to cross-up the opponent. Timing and distancing is extremely difficult and it will get beaten out a lot by cr.hp from many characters.
Air.Ex (unlike regular air tatsu) generally shortens your jump and makes you come down fast. There is a way to get the extra distance like that of normal-air-TATSU… Kara-TATSU.
Executed by doing a regular TATSU but using a ‘piano’ technique by immediately pressing another kick afterwards. eg. Piano from rh to mk - rh will execute the normal TATSU sending you forward and the mk will then TRANSFORM the TATSU into a EX.
> If jumping forward over the opponents projectile but still outside of striking range… kara-TATSU will get you the distance. And you can combo off it too.
> Air.Ex is a great rushdown move. It travels across the screen quickly surprising most opponents.
> Air.Ex can be used to ambiguously cross-up the opponent. A frontal jump-in attack can be changed to a cross-up when Air.Ex kicks in.
> Air.Ex has quick recover and inflicts lengthy hit stun upon the opponent. Leaving enough time to combo into ULTRA. YEP… RE-READ THAT SENTENCE. COMBO INTO ULTRA!!!
The numbers… (in relation to combo’ing into ULTRA from air tatsu)
-All Air-TATSU’s inflict 15f block-stun and 18f hit-stun
-Air-TATSU has 10f recovery where-as Air.Ex has 4f recovery
-ULTRA has 1+9f start-up (10f)
The explanation…(in relation to combo’ing into ULTRA from air tatsu)
>Normal Air-TATSU into ULTRA: 18f(hit) - 10f(recov) = 8f adv. to do a 10f(start-up) ULTRA. Doesn’t work
>Air.Ex into ULTRA: 18f(hit) - 4f(recov) = 14f adv. to do a 10f(start-up) ULTRA. Works.
*This isn’t FULL FACT. Just my interpretation of the numbers. There are still things that don’t make sense to me according to these numbers.
> Normal Air-TATSU (going by these numbers) should enable you to combo from it. But I’ve never achieved it
My initial theory of how Air.Ex combo’s into ULTRA is based on the following assumptions
- landing upon the ground has an ‘environmental cancel’ effect. (free cancelling off move into ULTRA without needing to spend 2 ex.bars FADC)
- Normal Air.TATSU speed is insufficient to “ground” (cancel) quick enough, after hit, to enable enough time to ULTRA or COMBO
- Air.Ex “superjuicing” speed enables sufficient time to “ground” (cancel) quick enough, after hit, to enable enough time to ULTRA or COMBO.
I can only surmise that the EXPLANATION for all this is a mixture of both framedata AND my theories of relativity… i mean “environmental cancelling”.
note: there is no framedata for ‘frame adv.’ in relation to Air.TATSU/Air.Ex
Which is why theorizing is needed
RESEARCH: FRAME DATA and YouTube
Frame Data is important for a serious fighter. It let’s you know, in theory, what can work before a battle even begins. Do your homework and learn it. Instead of just knowing that a certain combo works… it is much more important to understand WHY IT WORKS.
- You can calculate damage output of combo’s
- You can pre-plan counter movesets against characters
- You can know more about the opponents character than they do. You will know what parts of opponents’ combos are flawed and when you can counter.
YouTube is the single most important reference for a fighter. Simple as that. Use the pause button frequently and STUDY every little thing you see.
The following links are “general” SF tips. Old vid… but very relevant. Even if “think you know” about some of these techniques. Sit down and really think about them. The part about “controlling space” is something I always new. But I didn’t REALLY know it til I watched this vid!. Always be wary of the ‘space’ of not only yours… but the opponents. So watch all of them thoroughly!
THE ART OF DEFENSE
OST is a technique which allows a player to successfully defend against ALL ATTACKS made in close combat by the opponent - either punch, kick or throw - this **SINGLE **technique will defend against all.
There is no need to stop blocking and attempt to guess when to tech a throw. It is a universal guard.
OST command is: “block+throw” (down/back + lk/lp)
HOW IT WORKS…
When you are blocking an opponents’ attack - you are left in a ‘block-stun’. During this time, commands entered will not manifest. This means your character will not suddenly stand up and try to throw the opponent. However - you will tech his tick-throws if he so tries as the requirement for tech’ing is to input lk+lp the same time he does… which is what is being done.
So this alone makes OST a great blocking technique. However it has far greater use which can be explained by the scenario’s possible whilst using OST.
- If the opponent executes a block-string: You will stay in block-stun
- If the opponent tick-throws: You will tech
- If the opponent has a flaw in his block-string: You will counter and go into a block-string of your own
- If the opponent does not time his tick-throw correctly: You will counter and go into a block-string of your own
Don’t get in the frame of mind that you can spam OST during block and you will be invincible. As noted above- a jab will come during the times of opponent flaws - but what if those flaws… are not flaws? What if the opponent intentionally paused his combo so as to make you jab out?
There are block-strings and there are links. Links require perfect timing - which is the reason why OST is so useful - one flaw and the opponent gets countered.
Which leads into counter DP. A counter-hit will do more damage. So attempting to DP during the ‘link’ parts of the opponents combo - you increase your payout potential.
A combo string mentioned above was (in crouch) lk, lp, lp, mk xxFB.
The last cr.lp into cr.mk is the link. At this point the player must precisely time it correctly or it will not combo. Meaning there is a higher chance of fail…giving you a more opportune time to insert a counter DP. A better thing to do at this time is to attempt DP xxFADC ULTRA.
COUNTER DP PRECAUTIONS
Of course an experienced opponent could be looking to stop his combo after cr.lp, cr.lp to try and bait out a counter DP.
Things to come…
> Normals (f+rh/f+rh fake)
> FA and FADC
> Specials vs Super
> Corner game
> Saftey first