Learning to defend

Hello to all,

This is my first post to the SRK boards, but, like most, I’ve been a reader/lurker for quite some time. I’m unsure as to where I should post this question. I’ve done many searches, but, I must be honest, the results of the searches have been very daunting. Let me get to the point; my defense is worthless and I’m unsure of the best way to improve. What is the best way to use training mode to help improve my terrible defense?

I also have some direct questions about blocking. First, should I hold the stick backward through an entire block string, or can I simply block the first attack and then start to input another command? I’m sure that I’ve encountered scenarios where I’ve continued to block even though I’m no longer holding the stick back. Second, is there a resource that explains which attacks need to be blocked standing or crouching? I understand that a c.MK needs to be blocked while crouching, but it seems like some jumping attacks can be blocked while crouching and some can not.

I hope this post isn’t too long or drawn out. I would appreciate any replies, even if they are simply links to resources which I could read through and learn. I find it very difficult to find resources for defending myself.

I guess I should mention that I play Ryu pretty much exclusively. I find little worth in trying to play multiple characters when I can’t defend myself worth a damn.



What I did in the beginning was to go to “versus mode” and play against the computer on the hardest difficulty setting. Once the battle started, I would not fight back but only block and tech throws and my personal goal was to survive 99 seconds without KO.

Before people come in this thread and tell me that it is useless playing the computer, I would like to stress that this depends on your level of play. Of course it is better to do the blocking exercise with your friends, but not many people want to train with you that way and especially online people are not very fond of you not fighting back and will kick you very soon. But if you can find someone to practice with you, it is really nice - see who can survive the longest (in seconds) without fighting back.

Playing the computer gives you at least

a) the possibility to concentrate on blocking/defending only
b) figure out why a move keeps hitting you and how you would need to defend against it

Once you have experience of defending perfectly against the computer, you will have to move on to human opponents though, at a certain level there is just no good way around it.

Play nothing but MvC2 for a few months.

First, should I hold the stick backward through an entire block string, or can I simply block the first attack and then start to input another command? I’m sure that I’ve encountered scenarios where I’ve continued to block even though I’m no longer holding the stick back.

-If your opponent is performing a block string, this means that because of block stun, you will not be able to do anything else but block during this string, which means that even when you’re not holding back, your character will block. I would suggest to just keep blocking though, but that’s just me.

Second, is there a resource that explains which attacks need to be blocked standing or crouching? I understand that a c.MK needs to be blocked while crouching, but it seems like some jumping attacks can be blocked while crouching and some can not.

-Most attacks can be blocked low, so you’ll usually be holding down and back when blocking. Overhead attacks (like Ryu’s f. MP) and jumping attacks have to be blocked high. To check this, go to eventhubs, pick a character, and check his/her frame data. The second to last column tells you whether the relevant attack should be blocked high(H) or low(L).

Good luck!

Most air attacks have to be blocked high, cammy’s dive kick registers a hit on the torso of your character, so it can be blocked low. However, until you can pick these moves out and tell when they are done, it is just better to block high on all air moves. Like said previously, most attacks can be blocked low, but some characters (like Ryu or Guile) have attacks called overheads which you have to block high. Again this mixup is just part of the game, and learning which characters can do that is all about learning your character’s matchup against that character. Most (if not all) characters have an air attack that can do something called crossup. An example is Ryu’s jumping hk or mk. If the attack is done deep enough, he will attack your character’s backside and despite doing a standing block, you’ll still be hit. When you see someone going for this, you have to block in the opposite direction because the opponent attacks so deep that the game registers him as attacking from the other side of you. So depite the animation of you turning around not having shown, you are considered facing the other direction.

When it comes to blocking block strings, hitting block once and letting go is a bad idea. If the opponent recognizes this and changes up pacing of his attacks so you leave block state or if they switch from attacking low to an overhead you will end up eating damage.

I’m going to assume you’re talking about SFIV.

A block string, by definition, is a series of attacks that keep you in blockstun. If you leave blockstun for one frame between attacks then it’s not a true blockstring. For the sake of brevity and simplicity though people will usually refer to safe and unsafe blockstrings in SFIV, even though an “unsafe blockstring” is a contradiction in terms.

The reason you’re able to block certain attack sequences even by not holding back is because SFIV employs a mechanism referred to as “absolute guard”. If another attack lands before your own blockstun ends, the game will keep blocking at that level (meaning high or low), regardless of whether or not you’re holding back.

To answer your question, you should always hold back during manual blockstrings because you can never be sure if the opponent is going to perform a safe or unsafe blockstring. If they perform an unsafe blockstring then you could get hit if you’re not blocking when blockstun ends. If you want to attempt a reversal, then do it as the opponent’s attack lands so that you can continue holding back to block if the next attack landed before your blockstun ended. eg. You can input a reversal between Ryu’s c.lp and c.mp if you block the c.lp, but the reversal won’t come out if the opponent chains two c.lp’s and then c.mp.

If the opponent performs a multihitting move against you that keeps you in blockstun, then you do not have to keep holding back. In fact, sometimes you might want to hold up so that you can jump away on the first possible frame. Keep in mind however that some special attacks can be FADC’d and the followup could hit you if you’re not blocking correctly.

Attacks can hit at 3 levels: High, mid and low. High attacks have to be blocked high (most aerial attacks and standing overhead attacks). Mid attacks can be blocked low or high (most crouching punches, projectiles). Low attacks have to blocked low (most crouching kicks). Some attacks can hit at different levels and you have to adjust your stance accordingly (eg. Blanka’s Ultra hits low first, then high, then mid)

It’s better to just experiment in Training mode and learn from live matches than to read the frame data because chances are you won’t be able to recognize the move from the frame data unless you’re familiar with the character.

Also keep in mind that blocking is just one (albeit important) aspect of defense.

You should learn how to block mixups and crossups. It’s one thing to block something if you see it coming. Generally block strings are for your opponent to pressure you or limit your movement. However, crossups are meant to be hard to see and hard to block, so you may find yourself getting hit by these as you are blocking wrong. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I block a lot of stuff. The key to it is to watch the movement of your opponent’s sprite. I always pay attention to my opponent’s character, it’s jump angle and where they may land. you should also get into the habbit of “seeing” things like overheads. A lot of times people will try to throw them out if you’re hitting DB too much. A lot of them are unseeable, but you should get use to reacting to them nonetheless.

you just gotta play people and focus on your blocking. play as safe as possible throwing fireballs and poking, when they go on the offensive block. Throws aren’t that big a thing in sf4 so you’ll just have to get better at crouch teching them over time

Play Marvel, you’ll learn how to block faster than any other method.

I actually have a blocking question of my own (OP, ignore this shit for now!):

I’ve been told to block certain things high, which could be blocked high OR low. For example, Sagat’s TK, Rufus Dive Kicks, the fireball at the end of shoto blockstrings, etc. All of those things could be blocked in any stance, but players prefer to block them high. From what I gather, this is so that you can recover faster (relative to the recovery you’d be in had you blocked low).

The question, then, is what types of non-overhead moves should I be blocking high? Should I be trying to high-block everything that CAN be high-blocked? Or is that just straight up impractical?

Im not sure where that idea came from. If I do cr.jab-cr.jab-cr.short and you are blocking the jabs high, you won’t be able to react to the low short. But if I do cr.jab-cr.jab-Overhead and you block low you’ll be protected from an unreactable low short, but overheads are slow enough that if you see a pause in my move animations, you should be able to react by blocking high. Even if it does hit, overheads generally can’t start combos (in sf4 that is, in 3s you’ll eat a super) Defensive crouch protects against more options, which is why you see so many people bunkering down.

Thanks dude, s’what I figured.

Still, what about those things like Tiger Knees / Dive Kicks / end-of-string Fireballs? Should I just down-back through those attacks too? And, if not, what is it about THOSE moves that makes blocking high a good idea?

The reason you block TK high is that if you don’t it will hit later in its active frames because it won’t actually hit with the last hit until late. This means that Sagat gets more frame advantage if you block low. Dive kick is a similar reason: If you block high it hits you sooner so Rufus is less plus on block. I still suggest blocking divekicks low in the corner in case he does whiff divekick -> cr.mk though. The whole idea is to make their attack hit you faster so that you can recover faster since the opponent doing the attack has the same amount of recovery no matter what.

Training mode isn’t going to be much help. If you record the dummy then you know what it’s going to do. The point is that you need to be able defend when you dont know what the opponent is going to do.

Some key components of defense:

[]Blocking low, then blocking overheads on reaction: overheads are slower than low attacks almost always in SF. They’re possible to block on reaction.
]Teching throws: The easy answer to this is just hit throw after every single poke in an opponent’s string. But in higher level play opponents punish this and can make you actually guess.
[]Anti-airs: Even more important than blocking and teching throws is preventing that situation in the first place. Anti-airing is essential in order to play a solid game. Otherwise the opponent can grab free momentum.
]Counterpoking: Counterpoking is important because otherwise your opponent’s pressure may just never end. Counterpoking is as simple as blocking an attack and throwing out a good poke afterwards (Ryu’s best counter-pokes are cr.mp and cr.mk). Counterpoking is risky if your opponent is throwing out plus on block moves though because his attacks are ‘faster’ than yours more often than not because of frame advantage. It’s a balance between preventing your opponent from walking forwards with a really loose string and not throwing out moves that you get counter-hit out of because the opponent is doing a tight string.
[*]Reversals: If the opponent is just not letting up a reversal is the simplest answer. Obviously if you get baited you’re done for. But a few reversals now and then make you opponent respect your space more and let you get away with more counterpoking and backdashing. It’s important to note that you rarely have to reversal during an opponent’s rushdown (although if it’s a situation where there’s a free DP involved you should). Reversals are kinda like cheating. You can get away with as many as the opponent isn’t watching for.

Block the entire string at down back otherwise you’ll get hit by loose blockstrings. You could always DP in between the moves but that’s obviously risky.

There’s no shortcut to getting better defense. Once you know all your options and their costs and benefits it’s all up to playing people good at rushdown and adapting on the fly.

All “normal” jumping attacks need to be blocked high (as in, jump and then press a button) to my understanding. The air to ground attacks which can be blocked low are universally either special moves or command normals which require more specific input, such as Rufus’s divekicks or Sakura’s Otoshi. If it can be “spammed” very low to the ground, it’s always blockable low (Cammy’s/Rufus’s divekicks), although it’s not necessarily a good thing to do so. Some (like headstomps or Gouken’s divekick) must be blocked high however.

As for specifics, frame data will tell you, although I have a feeling from your description that all of the other information there might be a bit much at this point. Just going into training mode and testing also works.

Frame data can be found on the wiki or on eventhubs. Eventhubs will have it sometimes just in the description page too, so if your having trouble with the frame data, you can try looking there. It’s not complete, but it will show you the ones more likely to be used by people who know what they’re doing.

Thank you very much for the resource link, DeusLucas! :slight_smile:

Thanks everyone for the replies. I appreciate them.

I found Kikuichimonji’s post particularly helpful. I can pull out the very weak points of my defense from there.

He mentions a few things:

Blocking Low: I used to do this out of habit. Then I fought a huge amount of Zangief crossup splash -> lariat players online and I started blocking standing, almost exclusively. I need to learn to block low more as a habit again.
Teching throws: This is a concept I think I have down pretty good. I get caught with my pants down sometimes with tick throwing (I think its called that – where people attempt a throw after a blocked attack just as you come out of blockstun). Sometimes I don’t tech simply because I’m not anticipating a throw.
Anti-Air: I see this as a weak point for myself. I use DP almost exclusively (sometimes I’m just a hair too slow) for AA and it’s a habit I’m having a hard time breaking. Is there anything other than cr.FP (and DP) that Ryu can use for AA on reaction?
Counterpoking: I pretty much lean on cr.MK -> Hado as a counter poke. I think I need to mixup and NOT throw the Hado because either they start to read the Hado and jump anticipating it or my counterpoke gets stuffed because they’re spamming a blockstring out.
Reversals: I think the only time I’ve ever scored one of these is a DP on wake-up. Maybe I just don’t notice the reversal notifier. I try not to DP on wake up, but, I played against the computer for awhile because I moved the PS3 and wireless is terrible for online gaming. I finally have it wired again and I’m getting back into it.

Maybe someone can comment on my post here and with something I’m not seeing or don’t understand.



As much as I hate you I was coming here to post this.

Ha so good. i agree, this game teaches change up so well. It is a great game for learning to play on the fly and punish even when being pummelled.

indeed this works well… likewise playing competitive CvS2 for a while will teach you how to defend almost aswell… just not as fast

Some basic blocking techniques.

When the opponent is on the ground, almost always block low. Most overheads are slow enough that you can react to them and block them standing. Unless you know its coming.

If the opponent is in the air block high. To my knowledge, in most general 2d fighting games there are no air moves that can hit low.

Play MvC2 constantly and you will learn to block very quickly, which was stated already.