First, watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boM7T3BWewY
Understand and play by the basics, this is the quickest and easiest way to becoming good.
Then, pick whichever character you want and go through command training until you have a decent grasping/memory of that characters move set (make sure ‘detailed stats’ are on).
Then, learn some basic combo’s and basic avenues to those combo’s; some basic wake-up/oki tactics etc. Vfdc is a good place as was mentioned.
Then, play against the CPU in any of the various modes (including training mode cpu) simply to get comfortable with your character and his/her moveset, combo’s etc.
Then, watch alot of match videos. Always watch (japanese) match videos, as often as you can, you learn so much and it is guaranteed to put you ahead of those who don’t and those who don’t watch them enough. Match videos pertaining to your character are important ofc, but don’t just watch those videos as you wanna learn about all the other characters too. Plus, you may be inspired to use another character after seeing how a high level player uses them.
Anyway, once you’ve gotten accustomed to your character; just practice basic nitaku and hit-checking. Hit-checking is to be aware of whether your attack landed on neutral hit, counter hit or was blocked. If neutral, jab or 2p if your characters elbow leaves you at 0 frames (Pai’s elbow puts her at +3 so in this case you can go for another); if it hits on counter, go for a grab as they can’t fuzzy; if it gets blocked, you’re most likely at -4 so crouch dash fuzzy.
When you learn how to hit-check your commands, and you’ve learned the options leading off each scenario and their counters…you will pretty much breeze through the majority of people who don’t respect the honesty of your play; it also makes it alot clearer and easier to read them because you’ve broken it down to a basic game. This may not make much sense now but it will after you watch Dandy J’s video.
There is alot more to say; and there is alot you can read up on on vfdc, but take it step-by-step so you don’t overwhelm yourself and fall into the psychological trap of thinking this game is ’ insanely hard’ to learn.
My channel has alot of Lei-Fei, Pai and Brad matches so you’re lucky, just remember to make an effort to understand what they’re doing and why they do so…I personally pause and rewind alot: http://www.youtube.com/user/abysmalmonkey/videos?view=0