SF4 Game Mechanics: Meaties and Safe Jumps (Balrog Emphasis)

Youtube Video - Proof of Concept - SF4 Game Mechanics: MeatiesYoutube Video - Proof of Concept - SF4 Game Mechanics: Safe Jumps
When you knock your opponent down, you have a number of options to sway the match to your advantage, whether that is creating space between you and the op or building meter. Two other options you have are: meaties and safe jumps. A meaty is an attack timed to make the active frames of a move coincide with an opponents invincible recovery while a safe jump is usually a meaty jump-in timed so where if the opponent does a reversal on wakeup you can still block/avoid it. Both meaties and safe jumps lose to certain moves, namely non-normal strikes invincible specials and grabs. They lose because invincible specials effectively make the move whiff so remaining active frames and recovery frames determine if the reversal will hit. Both meaties and safe jumps allow you to “force” a situation that wouldn’t be possible otherwise and allow option-selecting.


Meaties go active during your ops invincible recovery and thus they have to “deal” with it by doing one of the following actions: blocking, backdashing, special with armor or an invincible special. Meaty attacks cannot be jumped out of, allow standing combos on hit and also have added frame advantage on hit or block if you connect with late active frames.

An attack has the same amount of recovery whether or not you hit with the first or later active frames. For example if you connect with cr.lp on the first active the frame advantage on block is +4 and on hit is +7 while the recovery is ALWAYS 5f for you and the op. In contrast if you connect with the second active frame, the frame advantage on block is +5 and on hit is +7. Thus a move that has at least +3 frame advantage on hit or block can be turned into a block string or a cr.lp combo if in range. To visually see how a hit with late active frames looks you can perform either of Jav1ts Tricks: j.hp/hk cl.hp on Shotos in the corner hits with late active frames, or j.hk, cr.lp, cr.lk xx hp.ds on Blanka hits with late active frames.

To test a meaty setup on hit, if you’re just trying to figure out the timing for a specific frame advantage in training mode, you have to set the training dummy to no block, or else they’ll block by default on wakeup (even if it’s set to auto-block). The following list is useful for testing the frame advantage of a meaty hit setup (if in range):[LIST][]3f - cr.lp
]4f - cr.lk, st.lp
[]5f - cl.mk, cl.hp
]6f - cl.mp
[]7f - cr.mp, cr.hp
]8f - cr.hk, cr.mk, st.hk, Super(activate with punches, hold kicks), Ultra 1 (activate with punches, drum/hold kicks)
[]9f - st.mk, U1 (hold kicks), st.hp
]10f - U1 (Hold punches)[/LIST]
Balrog’s cr.lp and TAP are two very useful meaty attacks. Crouching jab is useful because it’s really fast so you’ve got plenty of time to walk over to get in range and if you whiff it, it recovers quickly enough to block in time or input another move. lvl1 TAP is useful because if the opponent doesn’t do an invincible move, it’s in Balrog’s favor. If it hits meaty and at least one frame late, you can combo into cr.lp at the least, U1 at most. If the opponent jumps you get an airborne juggle to combo into U1/Super, and if the opponent blocks, it’s positive and you recover in time to avoid/block any reversals. TAPs have lengthy recovery, so it’s punishable by a decent number of invincible specials. For example, if you do a meaty attack and Abel does reversal U1 on wakeup, a jab will recover in time to block and punish, while a TAP will be punished during recovery. If you hit with the first active frame then you can be punished by a 7-frame invincible special (e.g. Dudley’s U1), but if you hit with the second active frame you will be able to block. This information will also come in handy if you want to bait out an invincible move that’s 4-5 frames you can intentionally whiff the attack on your opponents wakeup and still be able to block, but in this case you may still lose to wakeup moves if in range and still in recovery. This is useful for counter ultras like Cammy and Fei Long’s U2 since cr.lp ONLY has 2 active frames, if you were to hit with the second on their wakeup then you would be in recovery when they went active.

To perform a meaty TAP and keep back/down-charge sweep with cr.lk+cr.mk+cr.hk, pause, then release or, throw, start charging during the throw animation, pause then release.

Combos using meaty attacks

Meaty lvl1 TAP, cr.mp xx ex.ru, cr.lp, st.lp, cr.hk
Meaty lvl1 TAP, U1
Meaty cr.lp, cr.hk
Meaty st.lp, st.hp

meaty jab option-select sweep
cr.lp, cr.lp+cr.hk

This is a simple option select that uses a meaty to force them to do something, then lets the game choose to either chain in the cr.lp, or if the jab whiffs, button input priority makes the cr.hk come out and tag the op in their backdash AND if the opponent does an invincible reversal that’s more than 5 frames you block. For certain characters this reduces their options to only burning meter. For example, if Dudley gets knocked down and wants to avoid the option select, he can only win offensively by burning meter, none of his other options will work. Defensively he can only block (or backdash and get swept and do the O/S all over again) into which balrog can start a block string or go into a tick throw. FYI Dudley’s non-ex dps are not invincible on startup. If you hit with the first active frame, Dudley’s U1 will connect on reversal, but if you hit with the second you will be able to block. Super and ex.dp are the only consistent offensive options Dudley has to offensively avoid this O/S.

Meaty Jump-ins

Meaty jump-ins are also really useful because you’re attacking AND considered airborne at the same time, so you’re invincible to ground-to-ground throws during that moment, and sometimes ground-to-air throws because of their startup. Meaty jump-ins work just like meaty jabs and the op won’t be able to AA with normals and non-strike invincible specials in general. Meaty jump ins will lose to any invincible ground-to-ground strikes that goes active in 1-3f and some invincible ground-to-ground grabs that go active in 2-5f. This definitely depends on how meaty the jump-in is, the above assumes you hit with the last active frame of the jump-in. 1+0f invincible ground-to-ground grabs lose to meaty jump-ins because you’re still considered airborne while invincible ground-to-air grabs might win such as Hakan’s U2 and Gen’s crane super.

“Not all meaty jump-ins are safe jumps.”

**Safe jumps **

A safe jump is a meaty jump-in timed so that you can block a reversal on your opponents wakeup. Safe jumps are defined by meatiness and range. When you perform a late jump-in (you hit the button when you’re close to the ground) and you get close enough to the ground, your attack’s active frames are cancelled into grounded landing frames. During this jump-in you’re vulnerable when you’re in the air and for the first two landing frames. Meatiness for a safe jump determines how long you are considered airborne, while range determines what reversals will connect.

Safe Jumps requiring meter
[LIST][]Super, 3x dash, nj.hp
]Ultra, backdash, 3x forward dash, j.hp/hk[/LIST]
Meterless Safe Jumps
[LIST][]Back throw, 1x dash, j.hk/hp
]cr.hk, cr.lp, j.hp/hk
[]dash low, slight pause, j.hp/hk[/LIST]
]Forward throw, cr.mp/cr.mk, j.hp/hk*
[*]cr.hk, walk back, j.hp[/LIST]
Untechable Knockdowns**:
cr.hk, dash low, Ultra, Super, Forward throw, Backward throw

*Outside of 1.4 grab range
**Adon Wakes up significantly faster than any other character in Super

Testing Safe Jumps


The following list is useful when testing a safe jump to determine what moves it can safe-jump.

Invincible strike/projectile Specials (Block)
[LIST][]Ken - 4f ex/mp.dp
]Ryu - 3f dp, 3f super
[]Sagat - 5f dp[/LIST]
Grounded command throws
>=1.4 Grab Range[LIST][
]Zangief - U1/lp.spd
[]Hakan - U1/oiled p.spd
]E. Honda - ex/lp.oicho
[]T. Hawk - U1/spd[/LIST]
<1.4 Grab Range[LIST][
]Abel - ex.tt/lp.tt
[]E. Honda - U2
]Guy - U2
[]Zangief - Super
]Everyone - Normal throw[/LIST]
Advancing Grabs (Lots of Active frames)[LIST][]Abel - U2
]Akuma - U1/Super[/LIST]

Frame Counting

[details=Spoiler]If you were trying to discover some safe jumps and/or find a reliable way to time it, you can use confirmed ones to figure them out.

5-frame safe jump:
Backthrow, 1x Forward dash, j.hp/hk
18f + 36f + 4f

Testing using the above mentioned specials, you can determine if you need fewer frames, or more frames. For example, if you get hit with an invincible strike you can assume you’re being hit either while airborne or, during the first two vulnerable landing frames and adjust the safe jump from there. If you can’t jump out of an invincible ground-to-ground command grab, then you can assume that you’re being grabbed during those four landing frames. If you can’t jump out of a non-strike invincible command grab you can assume that your attack is not meaty, and that their attack is going active somewhere in those four landing frames. And if you’re getting hit with a ground-to-air invincible grab (e.g. Hakan U2, Gen Crane Super) you can assume you’re still airborne for at least 2 frames.[/details]

Jumping is similar to an attack, it has startup, active and recovery frames. Startup frames are called pre-jump frames, and these are frames where you can’t perform an attack, while the active frames allow you to perform an attack, and recovery frames happen when you get close enough to the ground. Balrog’s jump is 44f total. You are invincible from ground-to-ground grabs when jumping. You can only block on the last 2 frames of a jump if you perform an attack, and if you perform an empty jump, then you can block on the last four frames. During landing you can only tech normal throws and block, you are unable to move or perform an attack until after those four landing frames.

A safe jump by definition is meaty, thus the BEST safe jump (from an invincible strike perspective) is one that hits on the last airborne/active frame. From a combo perspective, this would be the deepest possible jump-in for the most hit-stun and allow pretty much comboing into anything given necessary charge/meter. This safe jump would allow you to safe jump, at best 4f reversals. If your opponent performs a 4f reversal on wakeup you spend the first frame in the air (active frames), frames 2-3 vulnerable, but grounded, and the fourth frame (when he goes active) you can block. This is the reason why it is impossible (under most circumstances) to safe jump a sub 4f invincible/armored reversal since those moves go active during frames you can’t block. You can get around this limitation by spacing your jump-in so that the 3f move won’t reach you hurtbox until frame 4 or 5 and you can block. Some moves have slow horizontal speed even though they have fast startup. For example, Ryu’s super versus his dp: if you perform a spaced 5f safe jump, his dp will always connect on reversal, but if he does a reversal super, you may still be able to block. This also happens with Gen’s Crane super, which should always catch meaty jump-ins, but will whiff on spaced jump-ins. Compare this with Hakan’s U2 which has the exact same startup, but an instant hitbox with great horizontal range.

Meatiness is also important when taking into consideration wakeup strike invincible grabs, for example if Zangief wakes up with U1 and you do a safe jump that leaves you airborne for at least 2 frames (a 5f safe jump). You will still be airborne during his active frames and his invincibility will have ended and you will hit him. Compare this to a invincible grab that goes active in 2-5 frames, if you did the same 5f safe jump against Abel and he did a reversal ex.tt you would get thrown, since his invincibility would last long enough for you to enter you grounded recovery frames and you’d get grabbed before you could move. You could perform a really meaty jump-in and hit the user after his invincibility ended on ex.tt, but you’d be fodder for ex.fs…and that wouldn’t really be a safe jump at all.In general, 5f safe jumps lose to 1f GtA grabs (Hakan U2, Gen crane Super), win against 1-2f invincible grabs (Dirty Bull, Zangief U1/Super), lose to invincible grabs that go active in 3-5f, and lose to invincible/armored strikes that go active in less than 5f.

Also something that is associated with jumping, is the fact that you can’t block while in the air, so certain low attacks with big hitboxes can catch you as you’re in the air such as Viper’s Seizmo and Dictator’s U2. If he knocks you down and does an ambiguous cross-up with U2, instinctively you want to jump but you’ll be hit by it if you jump on wakeup since its a low hit, thus you have to pick a direction to block. Most characters can get out of it with wakeup ex attacks with decent invincibility, or in Balrog’s case, TAP/ex.hb; non-ex.hb will lose because of the lack of lower body invincibility.

Along with safe jumps, feints should be mentioned. Feints are never meaty, but can “appear” to be meaty. A feint is simply a attack timed so that you can block early than you would be able to if you had done a meaty. For example, If you do a jump-in and time it a frame or two earlier, if your opp does a 3f reversal you can block it, BUT the attack can never hit, thus your opp has 3f or so where you can’t move or attack and mount an offense. For characters like Gief/Hakan/T-Hawk/Fuerte where 3 frames where you can’t move can end a match (and generally being in range) the risk/reward factor must be considered. This can also be done with jabs, but unlike jump-ins, you can actually be normal grabbed/attacked on your recovery with no ability to tech or block. Also Safe jumping Abel’s breathless is entirely possible because of its 1+7f startup. If you perform a jump-in that goes into landing recovery before frame 5 of his startup, you recover in time to jump out of his U2, also j.hp will whiff since he squats.

Balrog’s options against safe-jumps

Defensive Options:[LIST][]block
[]focus attack/absorb backdash[/LIST]
Offensive Options:[LIST][
]ex.ru ~4fsu
[]ex.ds ~4fsu
]dirty bull 1+1f su
[]lp.hb/super/ultra 1 8fsu
]focus attack[/LIST]

Each option has its own pros and cons. Offensively, ex.ru and ex.ds are good choices for meaty jump-in/safe jumps that are not cross-ups/don’t break armor and aren’t rangy meaning that the opponents hitbox isn’t too far away from balrog (making the startup on the ex dashes longer and allow the op to block). This is possibly the only legitimate use for ex.ru armor cancel U2 since U2 would normally lose to the meaty jump-in if done on reversal, but this would allow you to absorb the hit, let them go into landing recovery, and execute U2 (and be in range) before they can move.

ex.ru/ds also lose to cross-up attacks because you absorb the hit and then travel maybe a character space away (1.5 and you’re in range for a lot of follow-up attacks while in recovery (Gief U1, lp.spd, gen [M] cr.hk etc etc). They also lose to rangy meaties since although it absorbs boxer still has some ground to cover and they can block by the time he connects. Dirty Bull will work against feints (non-meaties) for sure, and theoretically for 4f safe jumps as well as cross-up tatsu safe-jumps on wakeup, especially on auto-correct. lp.hb/super/ultra 1 all startup in 8f and can punish really BAD safe-jumps/jump-ins. Also, lp.hb will beat some air buffers, while ex/hp/mp will not.

Blocking is usually the best option, unless you’re about to be chipped to death. Backdash avoids the jump-in, but in will give the opp ~20 frames to punish, also it will activate any air-buffers. FADC backdash negates any air-buffers but does still give the op ~20 frames to punish and you take damage. A lvl 1 FA has 21f of startup and will most likely be CH if attempted.

Safe Jumps in the corner and auto-correct specials

To explain auto-correct briefly; when you’re being crossed-up you delay your attack and it will perform the special on the opposite side. The best way to do this is usually, to perform your directional input when they’re in front, and the button input when they’re behind you. An auto-correct can have the same startup as if you did it normal and can be a reversal, but the difference may lie in the spacing on wakeup because of the interaction of the hitboxes as well as how easy the move is to auto-correct. In the corner, safe jumps still work, because even though you’re attack isn’t in range and your jump-arc is cut short, your still have the same jump frame data and you still be able to block, and more so it its a meaty cross over jump.

The inherent difference between safe jumps in the corner vs mid-screen is that you’re always point blank with the op, and since Balrog doesn’t have a cross-up there’s always the risk of eating a grab which on reversal would normally miss or be hit. Also ex.ru/ds won’t work in the corner if you don’t absorb the meaty jump-in and the op will be able to block.

Obvious Gameplay Disclaimer

Everything has its place in sf4, just like full screen whiffed headbutts (before and after AE) there is a risk and reward, both for failed safe jumps and successful ones. Safe jumping is only a small portion of the game (although it can shutdown an opponent on their wakeup), and is by no means an end-all. Xaaz sums it up nicely.

Great reading 3nigmat1c, as usual.


nice thread.

There aren’t safe jump setups from fwd throw?

Thanks for the great read man. Extremely informative and thanks for taking the time to write a really useful, interesting thread :slight_smile:

I’m sure there are, the factor is the distance though, A jump-in after a forward throw is not in range, so you have to walk forward, and then jump. In the corner it’s probably easier. But I don’t know any atm.


Thank you Kenshiro but I was looking for an automatic setup which does not requires that “take 1 step forward”. Maybe that step can be replaced with a whiffed lp (jumping right after the recover).

I will try to find out something useful in training.

Good luck and let me know if any whiffed attacks work for the timing!

It works!

But it’s not easy to do the lp right after the fwd dash. My first tries was unsuccessful so i thought it was simply an invalid setup but then somehow i managed to record fwd throw - dash - s.lp - j.hp correctly and it’s perfectly safe against ?5 frame reversals (if the character wake-up time is standard). So it’s safe against cammy, sagat, seth, etc… also against their super and ultra and also if the reversal is ex.

Yea, was just gonna post that when I saw someone ask if there was one off of forward throw. The only different thing I do when I throw is after I dash, instead of a s.lp I just walk back slightly and then jump with either a j.hp or j.hk. Both work. Also, I option select a sweep to punish a wake-up back dash or certain wake-up specials such as viper’s EX Seismo.

Thx for your information but I was searching for a setup which does not requires “walking” or “waiting” because those are not strictly measurable, anyway if you are used to perform a safe jump like you explained (and if you are consistent in the execution) i think it’s as good as my setup.

Talking about option selects you can also ad another one to punish late back dash which are not performed as a “reversal”:
J.hp (or hk) os cr.hk (Like you said)
cr.lp + cr.hk

I also use safe jump os TAP to punish Dictator teleport (if you perform the safe jump correctly you don’t get hit by the psycho crusher).

Yea, it’s just a matter of practice with it. You’re right when you say there’s no way to measure it 100% of the time but I’ve practiced it so much that I can’t tell you the last time I messed it up.

If it’s a safe jump, then you can’t perform a late backdash, that’s what makes it a safe jump, it’s meaty AND it’s safe from certain reversals, so they have limited options, non of which involve a late backdash. Could you clarify?

Your request is legit.
If you are facing someone who likes to mash back dash to escape your pressure strings or your frame traps you may want to stop briefly after your safe jump.
If he back dash on wake up your os sweep comes out but if he start mashing back dash after blocking your jump in at some point he will escape your pressure because obviously you can’t perform an infinite block string. So, as I said, you may want to stop briefly after your safe jump and then start your hit confirm with the addition of a second os sweep, like I wrote in my previous post:
cr.lp + cr.hk

This is sort of a trap for those who likes to abuse backdash.

Apparently I was testing “fwd throw, cr.mp, j.hp” wrong. It’s a safe jump AND a meaty. And really rangy, so it can be walked out of by some characters (Abel, Honda yes, Hakan, no).
[]It will lose completely to Ryu ex/mp.dp, trade with hp.dp and makes lp.dp whiff.
]Stuffs Ken’s lp.dp, makes ex/mp.dp whiff, and loses to hp.dp :[ . Akuma’s hp/ex.dp whiff, trades with lp.dp, beat completely by mp.dp.
[]Makes Dudley’s ex.dp and super whiff.
]It can safe jump Cody’s U2.
[*]Also this will beat all grab ultra’s except Fuerte, Akuma, and Abel (and Gen’s crane super and Hakan U2 obv).

And “fwd throw, cr.mk, j.hp” is a Safe jump against Super Adon.

In the master guide from vanilla there is some informations which can help you.

They listed the frame advantage after a knockdown with a throw.

For Boxer :

He has 66 (sixty six) frame advantage after a forward throw
He has 56 (fifty six ) frame advantage after a backthrow.

Now to compare versus Ryu perfect safe jump after a sweep, Ryu has 40 frame advantage after his sweep.

That means that if boxer want to make a perfect safe jump versus 4 frame reversal he need to wait 26 frames at least before he start to jump because Ryu and Boxer have the same jump.

DukeSharp use dash - stand lp after a throw.

Dash = 18 frames
Stand lp = 9 frames in total ( 3 + 2 + 4)

18+9 = 27

so it’s safe versus 5 frames reversal like he said

Boxer sweep = 48 frames advantage on hit (not versus everyone though, be careful about adon, cammy, sagat, and blanka for example)