lol at equating learning a fighter to learning something way more difficult.
Street Fighter is essentially numbers. You have to be a good judge of numbers. Know distances that work to your advantage and disadvantage, know how long a move will put you in block stun and what you can counter it with, know how long your moves are out there, how long your move’s hitbox lasts, and its block/hit stun, etc. It’s all rote. If you take the time to memorize numbers, you can already be a lot better than where you are now.
The next step is a lot of repetitive practice. A lot of people don’t take full advantage of training mode and that’s where you will undoubtedly get better. Majority of people go to training mode to practice combos. That’s just ONE fraction of what you should be doing. You should also go in there with your character and repeat a move/set-up you’re losing to. For instance, Ken’s c. MP to run to throw always catches you? Get your ass in training mode and practice what move beats THAT. It’s a lot of trial and error. A lot (surprisingly a lot) of people who want to be competitive don’t do that and would rather test in-game. That’s fine, but you won’t get the time to know WHY it didn’t work and test out what does.
Another step is taking those numbers and testing out what’s safe/unsafe. You can set up a lot of pressure strings if you just take the time to see what move can lead to another one with the smallest reversal window. This is a combination of the previous two steps. You’re going to need a lot of numbers handy and know the right way to use training mode. Something I like to do to test if a set-up is safe is have the AI block and then attack when not in block stun. I usually use c. jab as it is almost always the fastest button. Then I see if I can frame trap it or not.
After this I tend to practice combos. Combos from a preferred set-up and combos from an errant hit. The errant hits are key. For example, in Guilty Gear a 6P may land on the opponent and I need to know how to convert that one hit into a damaging combo. If you do not know how to do this, you will never be a top player. You can be good, but never great. If you look at any major finals, you’ll see that every player can do this.
The next is harder to teach, and that’s reading your opponents. Everyone has a tell. I don’t care who you are, these games rely on repetitive movements so you’re going to have a pattern. Some patterns are better hidden than others, but they are there and you need to learn to read that. The better the player the more difficult this is going to be but you’re going to have to do it if you want to improve. Using myself as an example, I barely play SFV and haven’t competed in a game since early Marvel 3 but I do well and reached Gold simply because I was able to read opponents. Shit, it was a necessity since I play Zangief. So if you’re going to stick with FANG, you’re going to have to learn to read your opponent so you can make it in safely and do your damage.
I guess that’s a mouthful so you can either take that advice or just go pay for it but I doubt any of these players will tell you differently. I’ve been in this scene as long as you have (15-16 years) and these rules are the fundamentals of being good at a fighting game.