I played a CP match the other night - it was pretty late, I’d been playing for a while - when I literally surprised myself with a couple of moves I’m not totally sure I knew. I’m talking instinctive, twitch-reaction defensive moves, reacting in tiny fractions of a second to new information and coming up immediately with the right response.
Nothing new there, really, I know - in a way that’s what the entire game is about. But surprising myself in that way got me thinking. SF4 is all about decisions: making the right one, forcing your opponent to make the wrong one, cutting off their options, painting them into a corner… Anyway, I realised that my decision making in the game is massively improved by the assistance of, erm, let’s say, the ‘green goddess’. Indica, sativa, da funk, chronic, whatever you want to call it. It’s a performance enhancer. In the SF4 Olympics it would be banned (although afterwards it would come out that the biggest medal winner had actually…nah, too easy…)
With so little time to make so many instant decisions, a heated bout doesn’t leave any time to really think. You may have a general plan for dealing with the matchup, you may bear in mind there are moves you shouldn’t make, you may have a gameplan to force them into the corner or catch them on wakeup, but you don’t really have time to actually think.
And this is where a fattie boombattie is your friend. Like Bruce Lee said, ‘don’t think, feeeeel’. A little disassociation brought about by a gentle smoke can really help my mind relax into the rhythm of instant decisions. Stone cold sober the CP mode can be a little intimidating, the constantly changing matchups and varying player skills can sometimes seem too much to keep track of. But with a smoke the decisions get made without first having to be processed. Hence you end up surprising yourself by employing a tactic you didn’t even know you knew.
Which brings me - very longwindedly - to my actual point. SF4 is JAZZ.
You’ve got your instrument, which is your character, and it’s shackled to a set of rules and moves - just like any musical instrument is restricted in what sound it can make and what notes it can play. A SF4 fight is constant improvisation. Your opponent makes a move, you react, he reacts. You don’t really know what note you’re going to play until you can react to his playing. Sometimes you play a note that you didn’t know you knew, and it works perfectly. Sometimes there’s harmony, sometimes discordance.
And it’s no surprise to me that jazz musicians are well known for liking the odd hit of grass, daddy-o. It frees you, loosens you up, allows you to see beyond the musical scale and play the wrong note and make it right. Jump kick>sweep = a C major scale. Bor-ring. Free yourself from the pop music of scrub play and delve into some freewheeling jazz combos. When your fingers pull off the perfect move at the perfect time, that you didn’t really consciously know you needed to do, it’s like a jazz master instinctively feeling his way through a solo. No inner translation from mind to fingers, no interpretation of intent. Just feeling it and letting it out. Straight from the fridge, Jack.
PS: Just to clarify, recreational drug abuse is not big or clever. Nor are John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, or Jimi Hendrix. Never do drugs or listen to music. Ever.
PPS: Smoke too much and it’s game over: ‘Decisions to make? F**k that I’m watching TV!’