SRK Newbie Saikyo Dojo Execution Guide
Street Fighter is, in essence, a strategy game with a manual dexterity requirement. The community usually refers to input portion of the game as execution. Though some games?and characters within games?have lower execution barriers than others, it is still a fixture in every fighting game worth speaking of. New players have questions related to execution ranging from how to do specific combos to how to develop execution as a whole.
What this guide meant to do:
-Explain basic Street Fighter combo terminology and theory
-Explain basic combo execution techniques
-Provide tips on how to develop execution
**Perhaps more importantly, this guide endeavors to provide players with the tools and information needed to diagnose their own execution problems. **Although SRK is a great resource, the idea is to get new players to a point where they understand the game well enough where they can identify their own problems.
This guide is written with Super Street Fighter 4 in mind, though most of the execution tips can be applied to other games as well.
Note: This terminology guide is meant to be both general and basic. The following terms are only what you need to know in order to make this guide useful. More advanced terms and older, game-specific terminology may not be included here. Check The Newbie Saikyo Dojo Glossary or game-specific sub sections to find out more information.
Unless you know the lingo, it’s difficult to understand exactly what people are telling you to do. To make matters more confusing, many new users misuse terminology. Because of this, I’m starting from square one here. I’m using Ryu here for examples not because I use him (I don’t) but due to his popularity. Many people are familiar with his move set, whether they main him or not.
Street Fighter button notation - you might see this written a few ways by different people. Here are the common ways. The jab/strong/fierce notation comes from the names on the old arcade cabinets.
Jab = light punch (lp)
Strong = middle punch (mp)
Fierce = heavy punch (hp), sometimes fierce punch (fp)
Short = light kick (lk)
Forward = middle kick (mk)
Roundhouse = heavy kick (hk)
Normal - a normal is any attack that only requires one button press to initiate. A command normal is achieved by holding a direction and pressing a button (for example Ryu’s forward + HP ).
Special - fireballs, Dragon punches, etc. Moves that require a multi-input command or a charge (holding a direction for a set amount of time) are called specials. In some games (SF4, 3S) you can make specials EXs by spending meter.
**Super/Hyper **- super is the term used for a technique typically requires a full stock of your bar to use. They generally use a “double” motion, IE, Ryu’s super fireball is a double quarter circle forward instead of quarter circle forward. In the Marvel series, supers are often referred to as hypers.
Combo - in simple terms, a combo is a series of attacks that after the first hit, any subsequent attacks are unavoidable.
Cancel - cancels are a staple mechanic in virtually every Street Fighter. A cancel is defined by any action that interrupts the normal animation of an attack causing another attack to be initiated. IE, the full animation is canceled out of early, allowing for time for the second attack to combo. The second attack is generally a special or super. Ryu’s low medium kick to fireball is a textbook example of this combo.
Chain - chains are a type of cancel that applies to normals. This allows a second normal to be used before the first normal has fully completed its animation. For example, in the SF4 series, many character’s light punch and kick can be chained into each other. Rapid fire crouching light punches with Ryu is an example of a chain. It is important to know that in the SF4 series, you cannot cancel specials or supers out of a chain combo.
Target combos are–as far as the game engine is concerned–a special kind of chain that generally allows for specials and supers to be canceled out of. For example, Ken’s close standing middle punch > heavy punch.
Link - a link is type of combo that allows the animation of one move to fully finish before executing the next move. The first hit causes enough stun so that there is time for the second hit to combo. Generally (in SF4) links refer to normals that are linked into other normals, but with some characters it is also possible to link normals into specials or supers and many other combinations as well. A lot of new players misuse this term! The word link is not interchangeable with the word combo! A link is a type of combo! Not all combos are links!
Frames - frames are units of time in Street Fighter. Most fight games animate at 60 frames per second. In other words, 1 frame is 1/60th of a second. Attacks in street fighter are programmed to perform certain things at certain frame intervals. How difficult a link is can be traced to how small the window is to activate the second attack. A 1 frame link requires timing accurate down to 1/60th of a second! There are ways to cheat this, however. See the section below on links for more info.
Frame data for various Capcom games can be found at the SRK wiki. For example: http://wiki.shoryuken.com/Super_Street_Fighter_IV/Ryu
Diagnosing Execution Problems
I’ve seen a lot of posts here at SRK that go something like this, “my moves aren’t coming out, what the hell?” The simple reason why is, well, you’re doing in wrong. Of course, what this question is really asking is “what am I doing wrong?” Unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard for us on the internet to diagnose precisely what mistake you’re making. It’s much better for you to learn how to self-diagnose. This is intended to help new players understand the likely ways they are screwing stuff up.
Note: Turning on input display in training mode is essential to isolating execution issues. The following advice assumes you are working in training mode with input display on.
Specials, Supers, and Ultras
There are two main ways people screw these up:
Not completing the motion. Very basic, but this advice is intended to be. Make sure all the required inputs are being hit. If you’re having problems with specific motions, first practice doing the motion slowly and deliberately. Afterwards, practice doing it faster.
Not hitting the button at the correct time. The punch or kick button is should be hit immediately after the motion is completed. Not before, not three seconds after.
A common example of this: Ryu/Ken players who go for Ultra but get EX DP hit the buttons at down forward, not forward. Although you didn’t complete an Ultra motion, the DP motion was completed, so that’s what you get.
Firstly, all of the advice above applies. If your special is not coming out, you may not be executing it correctly.
Not canceling fast enough. If you wait too long, the special will either not combo or not come out at all (depending on the character, combo, and distance). Some normals need to be canceled out of extremely fast.
Links are often more timing sensitive than cancel combos. Although links cause much frustration to newer players, problems with link combos are easy to diagnose.
If the second move you intended to hit with never came out, you pushed the button too early.
If the second move you intended to hit with came out, but did not combo, you pushed the button too late.
There really isn’t much more to it than that. Practicing links are a matter of developing muscle memory. They often aren’t learned in one sitting, especially for a newer player. Unfortunately, this can be a long process for some.
*SF4 specific: The game mechanics of SF4 allow a technique we call “Plinking” to be employed which can make links significantly easier to execute. Read more about it here.
Tips for Developing Execution
Generally speaking, there really is no magic trick to learning execution in Street Fighter. If something seems hard, it probably is. As with most things, it’s as important to practice smart as it is to practice hard. Below are some general tips to help you improve your execution.
1) Use training mode. Make a little time to practice every day. If you are having issues with basic execution, be sure to turn on input display. This will allow you to see where and how you are screwing up. Smart use of training mode allows you to set up virtually any situation you might come across in game by using the recording function. If you ever find yourself wondering how to deal with certain things, record it and try to figure a way out.
If you usually play on emulators, look up cheat codes for unlimited time, life, and super meter. Although this isn’t as robust as training mode, it still helps.
2) Baby steps. If you still find Dragon Punching difficult, attempting Ken’s hard trials are probably beyond you. It’s better to properly learn execution of basic things than move ahead too fast and try to mash out things that are beyond you.
3) Slow, then fast. When learning stick movements, start slow, then work your way to faster. Motions should be fluid, not jerky. Also, if you’re using a Japanese stick with a square gate, there is no need to follow the gate on circular motions. It’s best that you don’t.
4) Don’t mash. I see a lot players, new and old, hit way more buttons than required when practicing new things. A properly executed dragon punch only requires one button press. Don’t use three. Or seven. You?re only making it harder on yourself. You are also not developing proper muscle memory this way.
Note: there are some instances where multiple button presses might aid execution in specific instances. For example, pianoing, plinking, and double tapping. If you don’t know what these are or how/when to use them, you’re mashing.
5) Sides matter. Many people seem confused when they can execute a move or combo from one direction but not the other. This is perfectly normal. If you encounter this problem, simply practice from both sides.
6) Repetition! If you are having difficulty doing something consistently, do reps. Can’t dragon punch from one side? Practice until you do ten in a row. This applies for combos as well, or anything you are having a hard time with. Some tournament players actually do reps of far greater numbers. If they fail once, they start over.
If you can’t do something at least ten times in a row in training mode, you probably aren’t as consistent as you might think you are.
7) Break it down. Many new players look at long combos and think they are too hard. Generally speaking however, longer combos can be broken down to smaller parts. Break them down to smaller parts and then put them together. For example:
In SF4, Ryu’s DP > FADC > Ultra is a combo that gives many new players trouble. This combo is can be broken down to four main parts: Dragon Punch (DP), Focus Attack, Dash, and Ultra. If you find this hard at first, look at the part your are having problems with and practice it in isolation. Start with just focus canceling out of the DP until you can do it easily. Then add a dash. Finally, add the ultra. If you think the dash > ultra is hard, try just doing it alone, then add it to the rest of the combo.
8) Know the lingo. Make sure you know the difference between chains, links, and cancels. If a combo requires a link and you?re trying a chain, you will be wasting your time. (see above for some information on links, chains, and cancels.)
9) Chill. If you’re becoming frustrated, take a break. Most people do not practice well when they are angry.
**Moving Past Execution **
Although execution is an important aspect of fighting games, you need to know that execution alone will not win you games. The genre is a compelling one to many of us not because of the joystick gymnastics, but because of the strategy. You can learn a lot from training mode, but how to think fast on your feet–or maybe more to the point–how to deal with other people who think fast on their feet is something you can only learn from playing other people. Much of this strategy is probably outside the scope of the Newbie Saikyo Dojo. If you are interested in learning more about the depth of the game, I recommend checking out the following places:
Domination 101: this section is a collection of older articles originally written by Seth Killian. Though some of the examples seem a bit dated to people starting with Street Fighter 4, the meat of the articles is extremely useful still to this day. Most of these concepts are things that apply to all Capcom fighters.
Character specific sub-sections: really specific questions dealing with the ins and outs of a character are better asked in the character specific sections. Most of the sections are pretty well organized and have sticky threads with bread and butter combos, matchup information, and general strategy.
Strategy Corner Articles: check the main page regularly for strategy corner articles. Many of our members regularly publish articles dealing with higher level strategy. Take advantage of them!
Regional Matchmaking: this might be the most important part of the whole forum. Use the regional matchmaking section of SRK to find people locally to connect with. The best way to level up your game is to find a regular crew of people to game with.