I want to learn the "rush down" style of playing fighting games (any fighting game)

The title says it all. I need to learn how to play more aggressively. What I’m looking for is a discussion on how to develop a more aggressive style of gameplay, how you learned this style, what sort of things are common to this kind of style (regardless of game mechanics), advice for faking people out, how do you develop your mix-up game, and any other advice for rushing people down.

Again, this topic is meant to be discussed in general for any game or character, but if you require some specifics, then I’d like to pick up:

Boxer(Balrog in US)

If you play rush down with characters that are not these, your advice is welcome as well.

The problem is rushdown changes by character and by game. So focus on one of those characters in each game and try to learn them. But I can give you some general tips.

What you should know first is… I guess you could say rushdown has two components:

  1. Getting in
  2. Making them guess wrong when trying to defend themselves

So you have to think. How do you get in? Jumping in is the immediate answer. But many people will be watching for jumps as you fight better players. Dashing up to the opponent and throwing (or something else) is also good. You can also try to use pokes, like sweeps, to get that knockdown before you can go in. So look for characters with long, safe sweeps (like Balrog, Akuma, Chun-Li in sf4, Makoto in SF3). You can also try to counter their move. For example, focus dash cancel through a fireball and grab them, or uppercut someone out of something. That starts up offense, too.

Once you get in, you need to know how to make people guess. You have to break through their defense. However, defense is different in every game. For example, in 3rd Strike, people can try to parry your attacks as they get up from a knockdown, but throws are really strong in 3rd Strike because of this (and other things).

In SF4, throws are worse, and defense is better. So the best way to play rushdown in these games is to use someone with a lot of crazy ambiguous crossups or a command grab. Command grabs are very good for mixups because they can’t be teched like a regular grab. You have to jump away, backdash out, or uppercut through it, and all of those leave the opponent extremely vulnerable. So if you want to rush down in SF4, I would pick Abel. Read up more on him at the abel boards.

How much of a factor is pressuring opponents when you’re trying to get in?
How do throwing random pokes factor into getting in?
Block strings seem useless to me, but I bet they are not useless at all. Could you explain?
I never try to rush down/pressure people with dragon punch moves on wakeup because I don’t want to get reversaled. How do I get around this?
What goes through the mind when you’re playing rush down? A lot of it seems random.

Feel free to offer advice for any character on any fighting game, esp. if you’re comfortable doing rush down with that character.

Also, talking about any other aspects that come up that are related to rush down play is good too.

Throwing random pokes like cr. MKs don’t get you in, but pokes are not always part of rushdown. Pokes can also be used to keep someone out. Abel’s forward+MK poke is different because you can cancel it into a dash, which does get you in. Poking is good because its not very risky but it can do some damage, give you meter, and pressure the opponent.

Block strings are not useless because they give you meter (more meter = better options, usually) and they can set the opponent up. Im gonna keep talking about Abel because I think he’s better than a shoto if you want to rush in SF4.

With abel, you can do something like cr. LK x2 or 3. cr. LKs are airtight which means if the opponent does anything but block low after the first cr. LK, they will start getting hit.

So you can do things like cr. LK x 2 -> LP command grab. This is very annoying and will catch a lot of good people. If people get hit by one of the cr. LKs, a lot of them will immediately block. If they try to jump away from your command grabs you can do something like cr. LK x2, cr. LP, forward+MK -> dash -> repeat from the start. Thats a very basic effective abel block string.

Rush down is not really random, but it is a rock paper scissors game. Shoryu is one of their options. Sometimes you will get hit by shoryus, but it’s not that bad unless they have two meters and an ultra. Abel is especially good at baiting shoryus because he has a roll, which can go through shoryus. Heres a sample setup:

Land LP command grab. Dash forward, LK roll. Now you’re right in front of them as you’re getting up. LK Roll. If they did a shoryu, you’ll go right through it and you can dash up to them in recovery and hit them with cr. HP -> Ultra.

Other characters just have to make it look like they’re going to attack but just not attack. Not attacking is just as much as mixup as attacking. If they uppercutted, they will get punished hard. If they didn’t, you probably won’t get hurt.

Also, one thing to keep in mind: only an idiot just rushes down all the time. Part of rushdown is stopping for a little and just walking back and forth. If you’re always trying to dash in, roll in, jump in or something, the opponent can usually counter you pretty easily. You need to hesitate for a little bit to make them lose their focus or throw out a move before you go for the knockdown.

So, do you have a list of things that you do when you’re trying to get in or have already gotten in… or it it just random? Like, I’ll try to attack low, but they’ll block low. So I’ll toss in an overhead and ok they got hit by it, but what comes next? Or worse, I’ll try to walk/dash in and go for a throw, but my opp is already mashing c.lp/lk, effectively keeping me out. Now I’m on the defensive and have to wait. Crossing up is difficult too because you have to be at a certain range to do so, which means I just jump over them and whiff. Seems like I have the choices of low, overhead, crossup, or throw, but I’m not doing them at the right times. So I guess if they block low all the time, I could jump, but that sets me up for anti-airs. If I try throwing, I get c.lk’ed. If I overhead, I whiff, and if I do nothing I lose momentum. Could you talk more about the mind games involved?

You’ll want to give the “Street Fighter Footsies Handbook” series of articles written by Maj a good read. Rushdown is a natural reward of successfully getting into your opponent’s head, which is accomplished by baiting a inappropriate move or by causing them to do nothing at a key point in time.

Here’s a link to the first five chapters. The rest are on his site.

EDIT: If your opponent just mashes on c.lk or lp when you get in, blow through it with either EX Change of Direction or EX Tornado Throw. That’ll make them more hesitant to do so next time, which will allow you to establish your will on them.

You need to set your shit up properly so that your timing is tight and you cant just be jabbed through. For now, with Abel, ill just say your most important “bread and butter” shit.

Step kick (forward+MK cancelled into a dash) is really important. If you connect with one, you can try:

HP Command grab. Beats scared blockers or people trying to mash (unless they’re mashing shoryu!) If they backdash or block, they will escape but you probably won’t get hurt.

OR Standing HP -> Change of Direction. This is Abel’s bread and butter combo, but even if you don’t know the combo it’s STILL useful because people will jump away after you try to step kick them.

OR LK Roll. This is a dodge if you know they want to uppercut (its very good to try if they have two meters and an ultra because they will think thats a safe option. But it isn’t)

OR cr. LP, cr. LK. This is a block string that will leads well into LP command grab or another step kick.

So heres your basic mixup. You need something that beats uppercuts (the roll), something that beats blocking low (the command grab), something that beats jumping back (standing HP or cr. LP blockstring). Change it up between these options, you have mixups. Certain kinds of people will fall for these more than others, and they will change how they defend against this depending on what options you chose before. That’s where the mindgames come in.

Your main mixup with Abel is probably going to be mixing up between command grabs/hitting them. The overhead is not necessarily something you do just because your opponent blocks low a lot. Basically overheads in SF are best used to get a little bit of guaranteed damage in close games. You can assume they will rarely ever defend against your overhead (close HK). It’s best to try after landing a crossup. Do crossup MK -> close HK -> step kick -> step kick mixup.

Its very hard to visualize the offense im talking about from a forum post. Watch some abel match vids.
You’ll see a lot of what I mentioned in there.

Learn Rufus.

One of the first things you should do is get into training mode with your character and put that dummy on all-block and find as many things as you can that seem like they would be really hard to defend against. He’s worried about which of six things you’re going to hit him with and you nail him with a seventh. Take special note of which ones allow you to reclaim a position from which you can continue attacking as well.

To be successful with a rushdown playstyle, you to have build a strong understanding of what makes other players feel pressured, and how other players are most likely to react when you put them in the pressure cooker. (This will usually come down to the specific character they’re using too.) Your goal is to make your opponent feel totally overwhelmed by your offense. That feeling makes most people panic, and everyone plays so much worse when they’re freaking out. Your mindset is that you are an animal, you are the predator, and they should be scared of you because you’re about to tear them apart. They will know the fear. Paralyze them with that fear.

Keep in mind that when people panic, they also get desperate, and when people get desperate, they try wild things. In most games, the very best rushdown isn’t about attacking 100% of the time. It’s also about shattering the other guy’s trust in his own methods and means of counter attack or escape. Make him lose all faith in the only defensive options he has that could make the madness stop. When you feel him freaking out you bait his big risky jailbreak gamble and make sure he knows that it was the biggest mistake of his life, and you will have left him mentally broken. It’s about convincing him that he’s stuck and he just has to take this and eat your mixups all day and he’s going to die and get eliminated from the tournament and then someone will steal his buss pass + lunch money.

I know this all sounds very exaggerated but I’m using hyperbole to get my point across. You need to think about it in this way or it will not work. JUNGLE FURY. BEAST EYES. STOP WAXING YOUR CHEST HAIR.

Also remember that, against a fundamentally solid player, you won’t get to start your plan of attack just “randomly” or when he lets you (hint: he never will). You’ll need to find a way to “open him up” first: you have to start by earning the right to begin running your offense on him. Most of the time, this is achieved by being fundamentally sound yourself.

This is pretty much how you win with a rushdown style. You have to be aggressive, but not too much. Just put that fear in your opponent that maybe they can’t uppercut you out of your approach without getting stuffed, and they’ll just clam up.

If you start chain throwing your opponent with Ryu, you can really punish them with an EX Tatsu. Like, throw, then empty jump throw on wakeup, then walk up and throw again, etc. Then make it look like you’re about to throw AGAIN, then inch back and EX Tatsu your opponent’s whiffed throw attempt, and it’s a major mindfuck. Try it out sometime.

any character can rushdown, the thing is that the harder to rushdown with a character means that that character has no/little forward moving moves/safe moves…

in order to easily rtsd, you need a character that has:

safe on block normals/ specials.
good mixup game (not necessarily needed)
moves that move the character forward.

the characters that most have those attributes in sf4 are:


pick one, press towards and some buttons, and good things will happen… repeat til you get to honda or gief. then pick sagat.


^ lol

seriously, i do agree that being aggressive all the time isn’t going to work. It’s like, 70 or 80% (maybe even more) or your attacks (mostly normals) are gonna get blocked which means that they are gonna have time to think and analyze. there also has to be an element of surprise which I believe is a better description than “random”. It only feels or looks random because the player got surprised.

no they won’t. autoblock.

How do you guys set up your offense? Rushdown is something that I’ve also had trouble doing properly; especially now in SF4 since shoryus seem to come out like candy. blah, that’s not properly specific.

How do you get somebody in SF4 to stop spamming shoryus during strings? How do you approach maximizing the chances of a mix up landing?

You have to get them scared to throw out that DP. The best way to do that is to use safe jumps and bait them into throwing out the DP in addition to other baits, don’t JUST use safe jumps. Once enough of them fail to land they’ll be a little more hesitant and you’ll be able to capitalize. The thing to remember about Rushdown is that there is no such thing as a full Rushdown just like there is no such thing as a full Turtle. Know when to press your advantage and when to back off. Basically, the key to a good Rushdown is using your footsies to seemingly stay in their face while maintaining a relatively safe distance to initiate your attack.

Any of the local dudes I play with will tell you rushdown is not my style but I am inplimenting it more and more these days. Good info has been given so far so I’m more or less going to reiterate what others have said…

Footsies for sure. When I rush (I play Akuma) I am looking for a non tech knockdown the whoooooole time. A sweep, tatsu>sweep, throw or demonflip throw. Those are my best options. The reason these are so good is that they cannot recover quickly from these knockdowns, it allows you time to move in, set up your mix up and you’ll always know how fast they get up. You don’t have to worry about an SRK you didn’t think was going to come out that early or timing a cross up on their wake up assuming they would quick recover… same every time. SRKs are still a viable threat, don’t get me wrong… it’s just you’ll know the timing and know when it is going to come out should they decide to do that.

Jumping gets you in quick… and can get you killed. Jumping isn’t wrong but you have to set it up. Please please please don’t do that dash in from full screen and then jump when within range. It doesn’t work… it never will. Dashing in to someone works as well, but it’s a lot like a jump. You’re extremely vulnerable to all sorts of fun stuff when you dash forward. You have to make them think about it before you do a dash. Get them blocking… cMK, Hadoken… cMP shenanigans, that type of thing. Make them worry about your pokes then dash in, jump or maybe a cross up tatsu.

Like everyone else has said, trying to RTSD doesn’t neccisarily constantly attacking more than it means to impose your will. Make them think they have no options but to block. People suck when they think all they can do is block. You have to read your opponent, make a judgement call based on what they’ve done previously that match, your previous experience with that character and sometimes you just have to take a gamble and go with it.

Sum it up… look for a non tech knockdown. Pressure them, bait reversals or pokes as best you can, mix up. I hope that helps. My rushdown isn’t that great though…

Best way is to make sure your execution is excellent, so there are no gaps. You can also stop your blockstring halfway and bait the uppercut. If they guy is mashing uppercut, you can punish him after blocking it.

To maximize the chances of your mix ups, you must learn to read your opponent’s patterns, and also be aware of subtle patterns that you sometimes fall into that will make you predictable. Throughout the battle, keep in your mind various things you notice about your oponnent, such as: does he shoryuken on his wake up when he has life lead or does he tend to do it when he has very little health, would he take risks even though he has life lead, etc. If you notice he does shoryuken on his wakeup when he has very little health, then you know you should bait that shit and kill him. Reading your opponent’s patterns is one half of it. The other half is a bit harder in my opinion, which is to look at how you play and see if there is any predictable patterns you are falling into(offensively and defensively). For example, when I first started out, everytime I would throw my brother on his wake up, the next time I would do one of two things usually (bait the uppercut or overhead). My brother picked up on it, and I didn’t realize it until he told me about 20 games later.

I personally don’t like the guy, but I like the Playing to Win stuff. Here’s his piece on rushing. Here’s the part that I believe will help you.

For the tl;dr crowd, basically it means that even if you rush down, do it in a way that’s as safe as possible, then every so often throw out some bait or something crazy.

One more link, because Everybody Loves Daigo:

That’s probably what you’ll face if you decide on a non-projectile character: projectiles.

P.S. If you want to be in their face, I recommend Ken over Ryu.

well, i main cammy now in sf4 and as such it’s either rtsd or die. so speaking from my experience let me answer a couple of your questions. as far as pressure goes that really doesn’t start until your in, while your still trying to get in you need to play patient and look for your opening to advance so if you are trying to apply pressure too much your prolly gonna eat it for that.

pokes: not really a part of rush down but if you get good at counter-poking when they stick out their zoning pokes it tends to allow you to move a bit more freely in and out of your effective range.

Block Strings: these are pretty essential imo for rush down characters for 2 reasons, first of all they provide a safe way for you to confirm if your offense landed and make the decision to end your combo accordingly. (hit confirming) and then secondly they provide a GREAT ability to either simply stop and test your opponents reactions and panic buttons, ie. if your seeing him dp a lot you can stop at any point to get a feel for when he hits his panic button and just let him fly up in the air. secondly they can mask a tick-throw attempt and if you have someone get a) scared to mash dp out of your string and b) complacently thinking that your gonna finish the block string, then you can easily slip in a throw which can get them to second guess themselves and maybe even tech into your dp into ultra the next time you make it look like your going for that tick throw.

Pressuring people with DP’s: the trick here is to provide them with openings that LOOK nice and juicy but in reality are actually safe, your basically trying to trick them into taking your bait, and once you do that a time or 2 they become more hesitant to dp you after that and you can actually apply real pressure instead of the fake pressure that is only there to bait a dp. so for cammy specifically she has a number of setups where after a throw you can either jump towards then and cannon-strike at the top of your jump so that they see you falling from the sky and think DP but in reality your gonna land a frame or 2 before their dp can ever hit. another is to do a early instant strike so that once again it looks like your in the air and able to be dp’d but your actually gonna land in time to block (added benefit for cammy that her dp can beat ryu’s clean other than ex and ken only wins with mp and ex dp’s) or dp. some more general examples of the bait is to focus near them and then backdash away from their dp, walk up next to their body like your gonna meaty or throw (maybe even throw out a normal to help sell it) and then backdash away from the dp (especially effective if they have 2 bars because they think if they simply fadc it that it’s 100% safe), another good one is to do a EARLY jump and hit a normal to make them think it’s a safe jump, they try to dp and you land. there are a ton of other examples but you gte the idea.

mindset: well with a strong rushdown character while your out you need to look for openings to close distance and remember to stay patient because even if you are way behind on health you still can end it in a single good series of rushdown, and once you get in you really gotta look at how your opponent likes to react to certain situations and WHEN he reacts to certain situations. like do i think is reaction times are fast enough to take a bait that is only on screen for a couple frames? or will he simply be too slow to react and as such the bait will be a waste anyway. things like that.

Wow, this thread is such a treasure trove of information. These responses are great! Keep it going.

So, Viper seems pretty cool. Thing is, once I’m in close, I don’t really have a whole lot of mixups I know of that I can do. Every now and then I catch em with an overhead, or I do a block string and then throw, but I think there are other things I should be doing that I don’t know… like maybe using her flame kick. I think its supposed to cross up, but I don’t know how to use it at all really.

I started playing Cammy too. I have a super turbo background, but I never used her in ST, but I know her hooligan was pretty good for catching you off guard. In SF4 though, it doesnt seem to be as good. I think you can just duck it now? (not sure). I’d like to add it to the list of things to do on rush down, but it doesnt seem to be as reliable. What can I do to pressure once I get in?