Improving Sakura's Defense *UPDATE - Ryu match up!

[SIZE=4][FONT=Arial][SIZE=19px]Defensive Decision Making[/FONT][/SIZE][/SIZE]

I take personal lessons with Air and one of the big things we been working on and that’s been improving my game drastically is in my defensive decision making. One of the things he told me was to determine my opponents offensive decisions more based off of meter and health and what helped me do this was to determine my decisions I make when I’m on offense and why I do it. It seems a lot of players calculate health and meter when they are offense but forget to do it when on defense. Determining where your opponent stands based off health and meter is crucial in being defensively strong.

Lets say you have 3 quarters life and your opponent has chip health away and your opponent gets a knock down and an offensive opportunity. Your opponent needs to make a large comeback and the chances are if you block something they are going to try and frame trap you since the counter hit can lead to heavy damage. Determining that frame trap BEFORE getting put into the block string is crucial, It gives you the ability to prepare for it and make your decisions less frantically. You could then prepare for a ex shou, or a backdash, or just simply block until your out of the trouble. Same goes with meter, You don’t have to always end with ex shunpu. Sometimes ending with hp shou to save that bar can help you get outta trouble when its needed. When my health is lower against strong offensive characters sometimes I like to keep those 3 bars to get outta trouble in case I get knocked down.

A lot of players are always telling you to block more and by all means that’s good advice but to compete with top level players you need to make more technical defensive decisions. Try to prepare for things before they happen. That being said my approach is blunt and simple, take a throw and know how to deal with it. 130 damage is way better than the 300 damage counter hit you could be taking. Don’t mash crouch tech, determine the throws and tech them. Throw teching should be a conscious decision, a choice you made to do.

When you are not given the tools like shoryukens for defense you have to be smarter. You can’t just eat 4 counter hit frame traps in a round then blame it on Sakura’s defense being bad. What’s bad was your idea to crouch tech every block string.

In conclusion, don’t stop thinking when you’re on defense. This is a game of resources… meter and health are resources. Calculate those resources to make your decisions.

Dealing with Frame Traps and Proper Throw Teching with Air

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=5]Key Points[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Key points are either scenarios created by you or scenarios you are put in where you can learn information. It can be as simple as teching a throw and observing what your opponent does after. Although this sounds simple it is easy to forget this. A lot of players build habits when put into a certain scenario and if you can find those there is always an answer to them, if you know something is going to happen you can counter it. Lets look at an example on an opponents wake up. You have knocked your opponent down and now your going to do jab, jab, walk back. What is important here is observing what your opponent does when you walk back. Players will build defensive habits and even good players will keep doing this until they are punished enough for it. It is important to find those when applying your offense. Here are some of the scenarios[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Mashing crouch tech - Answer: Frame trap (jab, jab,[/FONT][/SIZE]
Delayed crouch tech - Answer: Most likely reacting to the walk, try and walk forward and then frame trap with cr.hp or whatever.
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Stand tech - Answer: Punish the throw whiff[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Nothing - Answer: Throw[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Reversal - Answer: Pretty obvious, block and punish[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Jump - Answer: Frame trap or could bait it if they are neutral jumping and use U2[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Anyways, you get the point. As straight forward as this seems, its important to remember to use whatever you can to learn. 99 seconds is a long time, if you lose your offense but learn something crucial in the process, it really isn’t much of a loss in my opinion. Those key points can win you rounds at the critical times. There is more depth to this and by no means am I a top top player but I’d like to share some of the things I use to learn my opponent for my own personal learning and for feedback, as well as to possibly help others.[/FONT][/SIZE]

[SIZE=4][FONT=Arial][SIZE=19px]Character Specific Knowledge[/FONT][/SIZE][/SIZE]



[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Obviously Ibuki’s strong game comes from the fact that she has so many untechable knockdowns with a great deal of safe mix ups. In this guide I’ve listed some ways to stop some of the set ups but it really comes down to just make proper reads and BLOCKING. BLOCK BLOCK BLOCK!!! Don’t get hit with a mix up then get frustrated and start mashing, that’s exactly what an Ibuki player wants.[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]So lets start with her ground pressure. Ibuki has a lot of tools and frame traps to keep her pressure strong so the key to this is just to block and look for your way out. This becomes a lot easier if you know what you need to react to. A very common combo for Ibuki is just c.lp, c.lp, so lets use this for an example and figure out her options.[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Well first off, c.lp to isnt a true block string to begin with so you can avoid all troubles right off the start by just backdashing after 2 jabs. This makes the opponent have to play differently, right off that bat your not giving them the options they want. Your forcing them to option select or change their habits and well if they are not good enough to do that, you win.[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]But let’s say the opponent is good enough and has made you respect their c.lp to Mainly this comes down to a couple options. More common ones you will see is lk tsumuji, mk tsumuji, command dash.[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Now first thing I wanna note is that the only safe one is lk tsumuji, but the lk tsumuji can’t lead to a knockdown and only hits twice so even if you do get hit with it you should be able to backdash and pushed back enough to reset the situation.[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px] to mk tsumuji is a frame trap so you cant be caught hitting buttons. This one is 2 hits with an option to do 3 up high or down low for a knock down. In my opinion the best option to deal with this is to just block the first hit then start back dashing. If they go for the 3rd one low you will backdash and you will whiff. Obviously if you know they are gonna do it you can always go for a ex dp but remember, the key to this game is removing all risk. Risk is something you take if you need a comeback and even then its not always smart. Play solid![/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]This basically comes down to reactions. For this I react with stand throw. STAND THROW, don’t crouch tech this. The reason for this is that if they go for a throw obviously you tech it but if they go for a frame trap or jab or something you will throw them outta it. With crouch tech you can get counter hit much easier.[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Well this is a position you never wanna be in but its going to happen and your gonna have to deal with it. You gotta respect being knocked down with Ibuki. The more you disrespect this the more you get punished. block block block… and find your way out with how I explained it above.[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]There isnt much you can really do to 100% block the ibuki vortex and ex dp and U2 are too risky and don’t work all the time however there is one trick I can give you to help. If you hear Ibuki scream when she jumps it means it was a super jump which means it is much more likely for the kunai to cross up. That audio cue helps me block it a lot more. That being said, it is possible for the kunai to cross up without a super jump too. Air also told me that it is harder for the kunai to cross up if you are blocking low.[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Ibuki doesn’t out footsie Sakura at all. Even Ibuki’s will trade with most of the time and its really slow and easy to whiff punish with Focus dash can be destroyed with just and dp’s buffered. Slide is unsafe on block and you can just backdash to avoid any pressure anyways. I like to try and make them whiff slide and punish with into dp. will keep them outta range but just be wary of focus dash in since A lot of Ibukis use that for their way in. I try to avoid hk tatsus since she has no fireball and isnt much of a threat at this range… its just a unnecessary risk unless your using it with I tend to just zone with fireballs if she has no meter and AA with lp dp. Be aware of where they are jumping from because if they jump and are gonna land right above your head with, it will make either beat your cr.hp or make it whiff. Its better to zone from far away and use lp dp’s and once they have meter you can play a little more footsies.[/FONT][/SIZE]


[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]f.throw -> step back, pause -> kunai[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]f.throw -> step back, whiff lp -> kunai[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]f.throw -> whiff b+mp -> kunai[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]f.throw -> dash -> kunai[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]f.throw -> command dash -> kunai[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]These set ups are really hard to cross up with but it is possible, but 90% of the time its not gonna cross up. You can also buffer in U2 and react to when they jump. If they jump forward you can hit them with U2, even if they don’t throw a kunai. If your reactions are not good enough don’t take this risk, if they jump backwards U2 will whiff. But after some practice I can react to this with U2 once their feet leave. U2 can have some weird properties though, don’t be afraid to block![/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]b.throw -> forward dash -> ambiguous[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]You can beat this with cr.hp. Just mash it out if you see it coming[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]b.throw -> lk command dash -> ambiguous[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]You can beat this with cr.hp. Just mash it out if you see it coming[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]neckbreaker -> -> j.hp/[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Safe jump set up, if you see this after neckbreaker get ready to just block regular side[/FONT][/SIZE]

neckbreaker -> -> j.hp/
Safe jump set up

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]ex neckbreaker -> mk command dash -> ambiguous[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Use to make the jump in whiff[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]ex neckbreaker -> lk command dash -> ambiguous[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Use to make the jump in whiff[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Unblockables vs Sakura[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]back throw (opponent into corner) ->slight step back , slight pause -> j.LK[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]These unblockables can be stopped. Basically think about it like parrying. If you hold block regular side and as the attack is gonna hit you switch to cross up block you will block it. That is the only way I know of how to stop this set up.[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]raida (into corner) -> dash, whiff cr.lp ->[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]This is incredibly timing specific but I thought I should add it in here anyways. Same rules apply as the other unblockable[/FONT][/SIZE]

[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]Thanks to Orikasa for helping me with the Ibuki section :D[/FONT][/SIZE]
[FONT=Arial][SIZE=15px]I may add more to the Ibuki section in the future or if requested[/FONT][/SIZE]



Good stuff thank you

This is a good idea, thanks very much for this

There’s a wake-up reversal that very few people even know about. It’s an OS (Option Select) and it has saved my butt a few times!

FADC into backdash on wake! You can do this simply by hitting back twice and Focus twice at the same time. This OS protects against the following.

1) ambiguous jump ins. The first hit would be focus absorbed. They may get an extra hit after you dash back, but you’d do a backflip recovery meaning that you won’t fall on your back! This, however, doesn’t work on Ultras!!

2) Protects against Ibuki’s kunai crossup.

3) Protects against regular fireballs (not EX ones).

4) Protects or reduces damage against 89% of all wake up attacks!

The OS works like this. If someone hits you with an attack that a backdash can’t avoid, you’ll Focus absorb the attack. Otherwise, you’ll just backdash. A backdash has a few frames of invincibility, so it’s very very safe to use.There is absolutely NO animation for the focus, which allows you to save precious frames getting away. You can even FADC forward depending on the situation.

A) Someone does an empty jump. --> You will backdash
B) Someone does an empty jump and attacks low —> Your backdash will avoid their attack.
C) Someone does an ambiguous jump-in —> You will focus absorb the attack.
D) Someone does an ultra --> You will get raped.
E) Someone does an EX attack --> It will hit you. As long as it’s not a grab, you’ll perform a recovery land. If it’s a grab, you will backdash to safety (as long as you’re not in the corner).

F) Someone does an armor-breaking attack --> You will get pwned.
G) Someone tries to cross up --> You will absorb the first attack. Depending on the direction you’re FADCing, you can run closer to your opponent and get spanked. If you FADC away, you’ll be safe.

H) Someone does a neutral jump followed by an attack --> You’ll absorb the attack AND backdash away to avoid the second attack.

I) Someone shoots a regular ol’ fireball. --> You’ll absorb the attack (if timed correctly).
**J) Someone does a meaty attack --> You’ll absorb the attack as long as the attack **doesn’t have armor-breaking properties.

K) Someone performs an OS on your OS. --> This would mean they were expecting you to do this. Not much you can do but get raped.

The tech/focus backdash OS is still sounds better to me. Just hit LP+MP+LK+MK and backdash.

Is this something different from just the normal focus backdash? What does hitting focus twice do?

It prevents the focus animation from starting.

Wonderful, definitely like what I read from up there. Will watch this thread now!

This is nice. Thank you! It’ll definitely help.

Updated with a lesson with Air improving my defense with frame traps and throws. I have some more character specific stuff coming very soon.

The focus dash is still a very handy tool to have in the arsenal. The method for FADCing has also greatly improved my ability to absorb incoming projectiles when standing. The original video was also helpful- was a good visual for me of exactly how frame traps are executed. Thanks!

Ibuki section is up! feedback welcome!

I watched the link vs his Ryu. What’s going on with that part where you’re blocking his crossups? He calls it “fuzzy guard”, but I’ve never heard it used in a crossup context before, only high-low. Are you doing some kinda OS crossup block?

Its basically just switching your block as you block. The game allows some leniency so in a way your blocking both ways

Thanks for Ibuki tips. She’s extremely hard to fight.

Updated with all my information I know about Ryu from lessons with Air and sparring with him. Was too long to post right on the boards so had to link it to my google documents, sorry about that. Hope you guys enjoy it!

whoo this is good stuff from both leggo and quinton. I appreciate because i’m one of the biggest offenders of mashing crouch tech or ex dp if i got 3 bars.

also i have a question about the 4 button tech, So you hit grab+focus+backdash all at the same time? Is that only on wakeup or can you use it to get out of block strings? I’ve heard about it but never understood how to do it properly. I did it once by chance but I didn’t really understood what happened lol

I have been out of the game for a while now but I still come back to read all the posts from time to time, Thanks for posting your lesson with Air, as soon as I can get to a playstation I know putting all the tips that I have picked up from this will be a big help. I never really understood much about crouch tech, but I did it anyway. I think thats the main reason why I lost so much. Thanks again Leggo and Air for helping us all improve, as well as everyone else in the forums.

No prob! Thanks for the appreciation! Be sure to watch out for me and Air starting something on YouTube very soon ;). I’ll also be grabbing another friend from my community to do my next guide, is there any character you guys prefer? I was thinking Rufus. We also have a very very good Gief player around here.

Blanka or Honda are ones I have a troublesome time with. If not next, I hope for soon at least. Thanks again for these lessons/tips. Good stuff Leggo!