I dont understand sf4


I seek assistance because I am lost.

I main Ryu in SF4. I can’t stop losing, to both good and bad players. I don’t understand how to weigh decisions during a match.

For instance:

-Why throw fireballs when most characters can jump over them, simply block and react to the next one, focus through them, or blow through them with a special, super, or ultra? I don’t believe that zoning is an effective strategy for Ryu in this current version of SFIV. Fireballs are often more trouble than they’re worth and anti-air dps don’t do enough damage to adequately punish jump-ins. Fireballs are Ryu’s main poking tool outside of cr.mk range, but they are horribly unsafe if spaced improperly. How can you maintain proper spacing against a live target who could randomly do anything? I can consistently zone and perfectly anti-air Cammy 5 times and still lose the match because of one well timed EX Cannon Strike that leads into a knockdown/vortex.

-Why cr.mk to space out opponents when a random focus will lead to a crumple and many characters have moves that will completely ignore the cr.mk hitbox? Ryu has 2 poking tools, cr.mk and fireball. Cr.mk is fast, but many characters have moves that they can space properly to beat it every time. Fireballs are a gamble in a game where everyone, besides few characters, has built in counters to Ryu’s essential gameplan.

-Why tech throws when frame traps are far more deadly and end rounds much quicker due to the increased damage, frame advantage, and stun awarded by counterhits? Should I just eat the throw over and over again, or risk the tech and possibly eat a counterhit into a fatass combo (that leads into a knockdown, that leads into a mixup, that usually leads into KO).

-Why should I resort to frame traps when many opponents simply do not care, and would rather reversal?

-I don’t even understand how to walk forward, I just walk into pokes and special moves that move the opponent forward.

I feel like this game is largely based upon guesses:
-Guess whether you should cr.mk or fb?
-Guess whether you should bait the reversal or pressure an opponent’s wakeup?
-Guess which way to block the ambiguous crossup?
-Guess throw, frame trap, walk up block, or invincible move?

Ultimately, I spend much of my time down-backing or walking back because I feel like there is rarely an educated decision to be made. People can do anything, so I try to keep distance (just outside cr.mk range) between myself and the opponent (to limit the random, guessing, and things I can’t react to). This practice usually results in a loss, with me in a corner or with me eating ambiguous jump-ins one after another. I don’t understand.

I don’t understand how others more successful than myself can just hop on ranked and start beating people. It’s all random to me. I try to zone, and sometimes I am successful, but I’m usually done after one knockdown (if I haven’t backed myself into the corner). I feel like people just do things without thinking about their opponent’s options.

And yes, I watch Daigo videos. He is not a human, he is a Daigo. The rules do not apply to him.

I’ve been playing this game since 2009, I’ve gotten better but not good enough.


Better players make better educated “guesses” that work more consistently aka reads.

If you look at Daigo and assume he’s literally reacting to everything that he responds to, then you have your perspective of good players completely wrong. Daigo is human like the rest of us, but has the experience and the knowledge to make these crazy reads consistent.

It applies to other games as well. Cooller, a amazing player from the Quake 3-4 era doesn’t have the craziest reactions or even relatively good aim, but his reads and insight are insane enough to destroy players with much greater mechanical skills.

Fighting games isn’t just about playing the matchup, and even making reads based on what you think the opposing character would usually do, it extends way beyond that. It extends to trying to figure out how your opponent thinks, his habits, his personal fears say a player REALLY don’t like it when they get thrown so they act a certain way or they completely get thrown off their usual game, list goes on. This extends to other competitive outlets as well.

So what you need to work is to learn how to better read an opponent, then you’ll have more success with making those tough decision as you gain experience.

Daigo/Valle and other well known players often tries to dedicate their entire first round to feel out his opponent, often losing in the process but then destroying his opponent in the following rounds if they got a good read on them. They adjust those reads as the match progress against better players, otherwise they just sit back and relax as their opponent plays into their hand.

Generally weaker players have very obvious tells to what they’re thinking and a mediocre player with enough insight can completely exploit the fuck out of them. They like mashing on wake up? Meaty them until they get ultra and then block on the next wake up. Tendency to mash while pressured? Tendency to jump when you poke/pressure them a certain way? Tendency to poke at you with a specific timing? Tendency to completely overreact to certain things like whiffing jabs? We can probably write a book of general player habits that you can exploit and often those top players can write them.

Again, players like Daigo are human. Thinking otherwise will completely shut out your potential to grow to that level. You know the risk/rewards of those decisions and you know some of your given options within a match, so that’s a good start.


problem is you are over thinking. Shut your brain off. certain thing work better on different people. Throw fireballs because the work against certain people. You want to be teching throws when you fight me because my favorite thing to do is see how many throws I can do on you in one match https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2lQ1l_pUk8&feature=c4-overview&list=UUQdKlDFErctNMMnB8OHfkmg


I’ll just start with this. It’s easily one of my favourite videos on fighting games.

They may have all these options, but you’ve failed consider that they are responding. When they are responding to your fireball, they are giving you information. After enough fireballs, you can gauge out their gameplan in dealing with them, and you can respond accordingly. If you see first rounds in pro matches look tame with lots of fireballs, it is for this very reason.
If they ultra through your fireball, that means they managed to do a good read on you, which normally means you were predictable enough for them to take stock in pulling as great a risk as using ultra on you.

Also, you have to be considerate of spacing. I’ll just use sakura as a quick example. Her EX otoshi lets her jump almost fullscreen distance very quickly, fast enough to punish a poorly timed fireball. What this means is, you need to prepare for the possibility of sakura to do this. Watch her positioning and watch her meter, and try to bait it out. If you anticipate it well enough, you might even be able to punish it with DP.

Also, DP is more than enough to punish jump-ins. If your opponent doesn’t care after 5 dps, you should probably just sit and wait until they jump in again. Like, just stand still until they jump into your DP again or something. It’s not just about the damage, you’re telling your opponent that jumping forward is a bad thing. If they fail to recognize that and you’re punishing, I literally don’t see a problem here.

Don’t say random. It’s not random if it works.
Also you mention ‘characters have moves that they can space properly to beat it every time’.
This is the point of footsies. cr.mk is a GOOD poking tool, so good players will try to avoid that range, and be in the range of their pokes. You, on the other hand, are trying to get into the cr.mk range so you can hit them with it. Their pokes don’t magically beat out yours, they’re just poking from a better spacing, which is why their pokes are beating yours.
Recommended reading: http://sonichurricane.com/?page_id=1702

I throw tech all the time and I don’t eat tons of counterhits from frame traps. You learn to recognize the frame traps and throw attempts, which comes from both matchup knowledge and reading the opponent. Remember though that throw tech doesn’t make you immune to throws. If people catch on that you’re relying too much on throw tech they can take advantage of it.

It just seems to me that you’re either not aware of, or you’re failing to grasp the mindgame of Street Fighter. If you didn’t already, please watch the video I linked.
Also, as owattjacob said, Daigo IS human. Joking aside, thinking that you’ll never reach his level only means that you have a 100 percent chance of that happening. Consider that daigo’s skill level is reachable at least gives you a chance of reaching him.


Thanks guys, I’ll keep this advice in mind as I continue my training.


Not long ago I had a kind of similar problem like you. I lost against all kinds of stuff that seemed completely random to me, for example jump ins, ultras and even tatsus. What really helped me deal with this is to pick up Guile. Suddenly, the thread of jump ins is almost eliminated, since Guile recovers so fast after a Sonic Boom. That means on the other hand that you can throw Sonic Booms without thinking too much. It’s surprising how many people you can beat by just using Sonic Booms and antiairs. He also has normals with great range and some that move him around the screen, which helps throwing off your opponents spacing. Since he’s a charge character, you’ll be blocking most of the time, which isn’t wrong if your opponent seems to do random stuff. When dealing with aggression, you have will automatically take a closer look on windows to get out, since you can’t just mash Flash Kick like a Shoryuken.


I just don’t understand. I know how the game works but I can’t read people. It’s frustrating to lose against everything, some people are just bad at SF. After 4 years I just don’t get it, I just don’t have it. I have no execution, no reads, can’t block mixups, all that shit. My friends have been watching me get destroyed online for a while now, they wonder why I even play the game when all I do is lose. Whatevs, maybe I’ll pick up chess or something lol…


If you thought SF4 was hard…


Chess is easier than fighting games in many ways. In most settings you have a lot of time to think about moves. In competitive settings you’re on a timer, but people aren’t likely to get creative with their openings or midgame strategies (unless you’re GM) so it’s less complicated in that respect.

Chess is all about memorization, SF4 is about memorization, timing, reactions, spacing, physical dexterity (execution).

Chess is by no means easy, but it’s harder than fighting games in a different way (well established game, tons of variances in openings to memorize, very difficult to beat higher ranked players).

If you don’t have execution after 4 years you’re training wrong.

Start at the ground level.

Go into training mode, throw 50 hadoukens to the right in a row using different buttons (lp, mp, hp, lp, mp, hp, rinse repeat).
Now throw them to the left.

Now practice jump back -> land -> hadouken to the right, then the left, you see where I’m going with this?
Practice taking one step back, hadouken, one step forward hadouken.

Now do the same for uppercuts.
Then do crouch -> uppercut, then do all the jumping around + walking around into crouch -> uppercut.
Seeing a pattern?

Can’t block SF4 mixups? Go into practice mode with a friend, never attack, just let them try and open you up, if they come at you with an unsafe string then sweep them and get away.

Don’t understand spacing? Fight a bunch of matches without using special moves. Play a bunch of matches without jumping.

James Chen has some great videos in his first attack series


-Mods please delete-


you know everything you need to know about sf already. I can tell by your post. You are like someone who took algebra, but never took the application class for algebra. You know the formulas but don’t know how to apply them so that you profit from them.

Can you play people in PA? You on xbl? Send a friend request to Finkledoodoo and I’ll level you up…

If you can’t i’ll go over the general practice regimen I give to new players. Basically it goes in this order:

Stop 100% people jumping in on you -
You have to learn to do one of three things by watching your opponent: 1. Push less buttons. Wait for them to jump, especially if you have already seen them jump before 2. Force them to jump. Make them scared to just walk in on you by either poking with sweep or crouch medium to hadoken or just threatening by wiff-ing a bunch of crouching mediums. If they don’t get the message, hadoken them till they get the point… Ex is great for that. 3. Trick people to jump. Smart people will wait for you to do something before they jump, you can make the think twice about jumping by performing fakes. Do a hadoken with light kick and take your free damage when they jump. Fake a crouch medium kick or sweep by just pressing light kick. See what they do. Some people just focus instead of jump, you can punish those with ultra if you have it.

(getting knocked down than jumped in on does not count, that is considered wake up games. And neither does a hard punish like jumping your fireball and hitting your recovery, that is considered a bad fireball punishment.)

Learn to combo-confirm/punish with max damage combos (I know you punish a blocked dp with throw, everyone does at first and its not good enough)
Learn about pokes, fakes and wiff punishes.
Learn your okie game
Learn stun combos and confirms
Learn your close/pressure game
Learn how to trade
Learn offensive option selects
Learn gimmicks
Learn character specific stuffs

As you progress, everything builds on the previous. Just remember that the previous lesson take priority over anything you learned later. So if you are doing great damage and putting lots of pressure but letting them jump in on you, slow down, push less buttons, bait to discourage the jumps and work back up to your awesome pressure/damage game.

That list will only bring you up to about average. You still have to work on defense. Basically, anytime somebody hits you with something, you stop all training, go to practice mode and break down that string to figure out how to block or defeat it…

Once you have the list and your defense practiced up and it just comes out naturally, you’ll be able to teach yourself…

PS: If you have trouble back dashing away from focus attacks like I do, just remember to focus before you back dash. It prevents you from getting crumpled while you input and still gets you out of the way…


IMO, you handicap yourself by playing a “zoning” character in this game. I’ve felt for a while that fireballs are generally easy to avoid in this game and that the payout is rarely worth it. The space you have to be in to be able to SRK your opponent right as he jumps over your fireball is soooo strict that it’s not worth it. Plus its so easy for characters to just walk forward and cover 3/4th of the screen just like that. Its not like ST where you even feel the heat full-screen and feel like you absolutely have to jump. So many people argue that the large stages help zoning, but I feel they take away as much as they give. Fireballs in this game are less for keepaway and more of a mid-range poke in terms of use. That’s why you’ll see shoto players throwing fireballs right outside footsie range, for example.

Take it from someone who has always played very defensively: pick a different character archetype. The characters that succeed in this game either have relentless pressure and good pokes, or insane mix-ups. Its no secret that, for example, Guile’s worst matchups are against Viper, Fuerte, Seth - characters that HERP A DERP nonstop. I’d recommend you try Adon, Bison, Honda, Seth, Balrog, and Yang. Bison and Adon are pretty easy to pick up and play, same with Balrog. Yang has a simple gameplan but you need some execution to make him work (I’ve tried him at length).

And yes, Daigo is different. He has such a insane reputation that he can throw fireballs and opponents will never jump at him. I don’t think anyone can play Ryu like he can at this moment.


srk is 100% lost on how teach new players… you guys are bombarding him with all kinds of crazy off the wall shit that has no relevance.

playing sf4 is REALLLLLY easy as long as you follow some simple rules

  1. play one good character 90% of the time for 1 year.
  2. watch your character tutorial on youtube multiple times until you can memorize it
  3. watch top players of your character playing the style you prefer to play( watch 3\4 different players)
  4. put in daily practice @ least 1 hour in training mode of the things you learned from tutorials\matches
  5. don’t play online a whole lot

#5 is really important as online play is no where near the level of what a tournament setting is going to be if you don’t live in Japan. Furthermore what you end up doing is training yourself against shit that no one would actually do\use in a real tournament setting. It taints your game play tremendously as you now start adapting to online play and now use those online tactics in an offline setting.

The majority of the best sf4 players, excluding Japan, don’t play online and for good reason.


I agree with 99 percent of this^… The one caveat to this post I would say is if you can find a local scene to play with often, then yeah pretty much screw offline except for just dicking around and trying things, or matchup knowledge against characters nobody plays in your scene.

Otherwise, play often online if thats all you got and your connection is decent. DO take note that because its not frame perfect like offline that there will be derpy exploitable stuff happening that is not advisable offline. Of course that only matters if you want to play in person anyway.

I would like to add that when watching match footage, watch it a LOT multiple times. Dont just watch, but try to actively recognize and breakdown situations within the match footage. If theres good commentary, then try to make sure that you understand exactly the things they point out during the match. MOST IMPORTANTLY, watch your own matches and do the exact same to them. Try to recognize why youre losing if you lose. Work feverishly not to make those same mistakes. write them down in a notebook if you begin to notice patterns of bad decisions or poor execution and focus on those things in practice mode. Dont let to much time go by between you learning something new and practicing it.

Do this and you will learn what to look for in matches and how to read opponents because you’ll begin to recognize patterns and tendencies that you can then learn to bait and punish.

Follow these steps and you should definitely begin to see improvement. It may not be overnight so be patient and stay the course!

Good luck!


Justin Wong would disagree with you about playing online
"Another good way of training on hitting your targets is playing online. The purpose of online fights is to give you the match up experience that you cannot get if your area does not accommodate a scene.
Even though, online play may embed bad habits to your gameplay, you can still train your execution, strategy, knowledge and reaction online. One of the best players in America was an online warrior; WolfKrone. One of the ways he got better was because he was a grinder. He kept practicing online and learned every match up that online play can offer."
You can also often catch PR Balrog’s stream with him playing online
Aquasilk also comes to mind as a top player that plays online and streams it.
as far as your #1 stick with one character 90% i see no evidence of that being true either for everyone. You are more likely to get better beating a character if you learn the basics with them, and switching characters can keep the game freash for you. Personally after playing only Juri for two years my game was lacking. I decided to do the C to C achievement I learned more about street fighter in the couple of months it took me to bring everyone up to C than I did the whole two years before. Now I not only Have a B ranked Juri, but my Ken, Ruy, Cody and Cammy are B ranked. Now working on Sakura :slight_smile:


Gotta disagree with you on this. Ryu isn’t just zoning, he can rushdown, he can poke from netural, he can turtle, ect. As fireballs being useless, this isn’t 3S. Projectiles are importaint. Using a certain speed fireball to train the enemy to expect it then switching speeds is a valuble skill. it takes time to learn to put a slow fireball right where the opponent will land on it thinking he is jumping over a fast one. Also the slow full screen fireball, while not a huge threat in it self, it does stay on the screen for a long time, cutting down on the opponents options.


I’m not saying they’re useless, just that they represent the weakest gameplan in SF4. Yes, Ryu is a versatile character. But his gameplan is very honest and requires perfect precision and execution. This is in contrast to a character like Cammy, for example, where the game engine is suited to the character. Characters with good pressure, frame traps, and ambiguous jumping moves are rewarded much more than basic footsie-fireball characters. Just look at the top tier. Fei-Long is the only exception as he’s a pure footsie character, but then he has a very powerful footsie and pressure tool in the rekka.


awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww shiet ! :sweat:


Perfect. You flawlessly articulated what I’ve been feeling for a long time. I’m going to play Yun for a year and see where I end up. Thanks for the advice everyone.


Sagat is a zoning character that succeeds in this game. Bonchan, a Sagat player, just won one of the biggest competition Japan, all the best players were participating. I have no problem playing a zoning game as Sagat, even against characters who have anti-fireballs tools.

I should mention that there are 9 Sagat players in the top 100 BP rankings in the arcades. That’s more than any other characters, the problem is players make the mistake of picking Ryu who is not an easy character to play, they’d be better off with Sagat or Guile imo.