How do I block effectively?

So, I’m a big newbie, and I’m having trouble adjusting to street fighter/fighting games. I’ve read many threads here and everyone just said “block”. But, I seem to be terrible at blocking. Specifically, I want to ask how and where to block.

For example: I finally got down that when people jump in, I have to high block first and that if I’m crouching, I’ll get hit by someone in the air automatically. Believe it or not, this took me a while to figure out. My friends enjoyed the free hits I guess (have since moved out of town, so I play alone crying in a corner now). Now, after that first aerial hit, it’s typically best to low-block because when I don’t, I get owned (and combo-ed). Is there a point to blocking high again at this point? Or should I remain in downblock?

For some reason, I have a really tough time with Ken and the shoryukens. Is the first hit of the shoryu always low? Crossups still give me a little trouble, but at least I know I ended up picking the wrong direction when I got hit.

Mainly, I was wondering if anyone had tips on blocking strategy, or where to block (high/low). This seems to be the hardest part of the game for me. I enjoy playing a rushdown game, but the match will inevitably shift, and they go on a string of about 80% of my lifebar it seems :(.

Any advice welcome. I’ll clarify where needed! Just let me know.

Characters I play with/want to play well: Sakura, Gouken, and Akuma (probably best with him).

It just takes time to amass the knowledge of what moves need to be blocked high or low. If you look at the shoryuken wiki and look at the frame data of each character it tells you if the move has to be blocked high or low or can be blocked both.

Generally speaking everything can be blocked low except for moves that hit overhead (means hits high). A jumping attack usually hits overhead as well as certain command normals such as Ryus :r:+:mp:.

Most normal moves are pretty easy to tell if they hit high or low. Special moves are the ones you’ll have to learn.

There isn’t any strategy except for learning the moves and how they need to be blocked. You learn this by playing.

You will pretty much always want to block low when you’re just “trying to block”. The fastest low attack that most people have is around 3 frames, and I think overheads are like 10+ frames of startup. To translate:overheads cant be comboed into…they’re used to mix up an opponent. Low attacks, however, and generally very combo friendly and can lead to big damage if you get hit by one. Once you understand the matchups then you’ll be able to block overheads on reaction and sometimes punish them for trying it (balrog’s comes to mind), but otherwise, holding down+back is a good idea.
If you have a friend online you can play with, just play some matches where you do absolutely nothing but block. Me and my friend made a game out of it when we first started…if he couldn’t KO me before the timer ran out then I “won”. You’ll learn how to block jumpins, block low attacks, block crossups, and then learning the crouch-tech option select is the final stage of creating a beastly defense.

Really its all about experience. As you play more blocking will come naturally. I remember when I was first starting out cross-ups would mess me up every time. Now I just sort of block on reaction without thinking about it. But there are a few characters like Bison who have weird ass jumps that still catch me off guard.

Rule of thumb, block everything low, if it hits you then make a mental note and block high in the future. Most jump ins are high but you do want to know which ones you can block crouching… notables include viper Flamekick, and cammy’s dive kick, are mids, and thus can be blocked high or low.

In 3D fighters your going to want to block everything high at first.

Overall mixups in SFIV arn’t too bad to block, you don’t have any sudo unblockables flying around, or marvels triangle dashing to make things complicated.

One thing that made a great deal of sense to me was that there are two different options a player will choose when blocking.

The first is blocking but looking for an out or reversal opportunity. In this case, the player is more likely to eat an overhead because they aren’t looking for it.

The second is committing to blocking, where you’re blocking down, and blocking up on reaction to an overhead (virtually all overheads are slow enough to do this). In this case you’re less likely to recognize escape opportunities.

In both cases you should be blocking down. You have to choose whether its better to block your way out, or try an escape based on what you think your opponent will do.

This is great advise, I second that! :tup:

In point form, just because:

  • If you’re just learning to block, forget about winning… that’s not your goal yet.

  • If your opponent jumps at you and attacks from the air, high-block his attack. After that, low-block until he’s done his attack string. Remember, low-blocking covers MOST attacks that aren’t jump-ins.

  • Some moves have special properties, and, even though your opponent isn’t jumping at you, you can only high-block. Forget about these for a while, just eat the damage – again, focus on the basics.

  • Don’t press buttons when you’re blocking. You’re going to get thrown a lot by good players, but just forget about that for a while. For now, focus on high-blocking, and then immediately low-blocking.

Some very good suggestions. Thank you all for the constructive feedback. I think trying out that blocking match from Prorook might be fun.

I will also try to look up the data on the wiki. Thanks Kelter +1!

If I am being rushed and I try to block I usually get thrown instead.

You probably are throwing out normals when Ken does his DP that’s why you’re getting hit. Remember, some moves have invincibility during their startup so even if your move comes out first, you’ll get hit by theirs because they are invincible for a short period of time. Ken’s DP can be blocked high or low. If you’re having problems against it, it probably means your opponent is spamming them. Block, then punish.

Besides learning to block, you should also remember to use your opponent’s tactics against them. This will also give you an idea about how defend against them.