SRK Newbie Saikyo Dojo Execution Guide (read me!)

Trouble BrewingTrouble Brewing AAAAAA!Joined: Posts: 3,697Registered, Moderators
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:

1) 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.

2) 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.

Cancel Combos

1) Firstly, all of the advice above applies. If your special is not coming out, you may not be executing it correctly.

2) 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.

1) If the second move you intended to hit with never came out, you pushed the button too early.

2) 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.

SSF4:AE: http://shoryuken.com/forum/categories/character-discussion.11/

MVC3: http://shoryuken.com/forum/categories/character-discussion.54/

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.
The artist formerly known as Starcade RIP


  • Trouble BrewingTrouble Brewing AAAAAA! Joined: Posts: 3,697Registered, Moderators
    This space is mine. And stuff.
    The artist formerly known as Starcade RIP
  • Sephiroth417Sephiroth417 Sephiroth in HD Joined: Posts: 208Registered
    Good read. I'll forward this to a few of my friends that are just getting into Street Fighter.
    SSF4: AE: Gouken/Adon/Cammy
    UMvC3: Chris/Taskmaster/Dante
    KoFXIII: King/Terry/Vice - Play KoFXIII, it's a good game.
  • Kelter SkelterKelter Skelter Joined: Posts: 2,791Registered
    Another immensely helpful newbie FAQ that will go unnoticed by new posters
  • Hyper ShadowHyper Shadow Mid-tier for life!!! Joined: Posts: 23Registered
    How on earth do you stop yourself from going mental when doing long combo's? I can break long strings down into separate combo's, and perform them adequately and with a calm head, the second I try and put it all together, 3 or so moves down the line, I tense up, my mind goes and I'm looking at myself trying to mash out a combo I can do if I just stayed calm.

    It happens in fights too, I know what to do, yet my heart rate goes up, and what should be easy blocks, attacks, counters, which I know in my head I can do, I mess up and get owned because my execution is all OMGWTFBBQ WHERES THE BUTTANS! mashmashmash.
    -Ore-sama no masshiroku hikatteru hada no mae ni SHINeeeZE!!!!!-
  • HaceHace CHOW DOWN Joined: Posts: 1,236Registered
    Good shit, this hopefully will help some dudes out right away. Starcade you're a goddamned savior of the newbie section.
  • zippo masterzippo master dibs Joined: Posts: 186Registered
    Good read. I'll forward this to a few of my friends that are just getting into Street Fighter.

    Good shit, this hopefully will help some dudes out right away. Starcade you're a goddamned savior of the newbie section.

    Another immensely helpful newbie FAQ that will go unnoticed by new posters

    and unfortunately, this

    seriously though, this is incredibly well written, and hopefully some new members will take the time to read and learn. Thanks Starcade
    "I had to buy fat kids their chips last night, you wouldn't think it was much but it was over $4." - ZombieBison

    If you're from the Canton area, check out our thread: http://shoryuken.com/f21/canton-oh-go-easy-us-242272/
  • KooperKooper Need a dispenser here! Joined: Posts: 2,116Registered, Moderators, Premium
    Thanks again Starcade for doing this for me, and hopefully for the good of all new members. As much as I'd love to write these guides myself I don't have the time, so I appreciate the help, thanks for the dependable work. :tup:

    If anyone feels they can contribute please don't hesitate to contact us to better improve on the stickies.
  • Ansatsuken-TKDAnsatsuken-TKD T. Lang @ Cap Unity Joined: Posts: 213Registered
    I'm guessing that plinking's gonna get added pretty soon. :-)
    *Dictator does EX Double Knee Press* "DIE!!!!!!!*
    *me* I don't wanna die. Why don't you die!
  • Trouble BrewingTrouble Brewing AAAAAA! Joined: Posts: 3,697Registered, Moderators
    Eek, good catch. My copy/paste ate the plinking link. Yes, that was a street fighter pun.

    Thanks for the kind words guys. I know that posts like these do go unread by people. We'll still get posts that could have been avoided by people reading stickies. The evidence if obvious. Maybe less so, the first guide had over 12,000 views, so I have to think it averted a few questions.
    The artist formerly known as Starcade RIP
  • Puppet_DoctorPuppet_Doctor Joined: Posts: 42Registered
    Really good guide and as a newbie to Street Fighter series its really been helpful.
  • Unknown Joined:
    Thank you very much man. Taking in any info I can get at this point and this helped a lot.
  • RyanMacRyanMac Joined: Posts: 26Registered
    Another immensely helpful newbie FAQ that will go unnoticed by new posters

    I noticed it!!
  • Kelter SkelterKelter Skelter Joined: Posts: 2,791Registered
    I noticed it!!

    this guy didn't:

  • Puppet_DoctorPuppet_Doctor Joined: Posts: 42Registered
    this guy didn't:


    Lol! I always try to look in the search option or find something that answers my question before starting a new thread. I wish more people would do that.
  • Fr3akSh0w777Fr3akSh0w777 Capcom(: Joined: Posts: 29Registered
    Not new to the game, very experience in some cases, yet I still needed the frustration part XD. This helps newer players immensely. Great Job :). Even I learned a thing or two :).
    Character week trainings :).
    Week 1: Sakura
    Week 2: Cammy
    Week 3: Adon/Akuma/Makato
    Repeat, I will be known for those characters :D
  • Unknown Joined:
    As a newbie who's struggling to figure out where to start the learning process, this post is perfect. Thank you!
  • The Art Of NoizeThe Art Of Noize Joined: Posts: 225
    Not new to the game, very experience in some cases, yet I still needed the frustration part XD. This helps newer players immensely. Great Job :). Even I learned a thing or two :).


    And you have my thanks as well.
    Shoryuken.com: The main reason why the fighting game community has a bad rep.
  • Unknown Joined:
    because this thread is about execution mainly i would like to ask: how do you do the dp?? do you just pres right bottom corner twice or do the full motion?? is it better to do the first one?? i seem to miss it sometimes when i do the first one but think that its a little slow doing it full motion. also. i seem to have problems doing the dp motion on the left side. any sugestions??
    thank you in advance.
  • Unknown Joined:
    Awesome post, now back to the training grind for me.
  • Kelter SkelterKelter Skelter Joined: Posts: 2,791Registered
    because this thread is about execution mainly i would like to ask: how do you do the dp?? do you just pres right bottom corner twice or do the full motion?? is it better to do the first one?? i seem to miss it sometimes when i do the first one but think that its a little slow doing it full motion. also. i seem to have problems doing the dp motion on the left side. any sugestions??
    thank you in advance.

    the input is :r: :d: :df:

    You practice on the left side, that's how you get better at doing it on the left side
  • Unknown Joined:
    the input is :r: :d: :df:

    You practice on the left side, that's how you get better at doing it on the left side

    and for the first part of my post?
  • HaceHace CHOW DOWN Joined: Posts: 1,236Registered
    Full motion
  • Trouble BrewingTrouble Brewing AAAAAA! Joined: Posts: 3,697Registered, Moderators
    because this thread is about execution mainly i would like to ask: how do you do the dp?? do you just pres right bottom corner twice or do the full motion?? is it better to do the first one?? i seem to miss it sometimes when i do the first one but think that its a little slow doing it full motion. also. i seem to have problems doing the dp motion on the left side. any sugestions??
    thank you in advance.
    Firstly, down/forward, down/forward is not a valid command for a DP (you need a down in the middle). Check out the misconceptions thread.

    Secondly, use both motions. They both have advantages in different situations. The shortcut is good for really deep anti airs and for any combos starting with a low attack.

    And like everyone (and the guide) said, just go practice it from both sides. Just because you learn something on one side, doesn't mean your execution will be flawless on the other. There is nothing to do about this but practice.
    The artist formerly known as Starcade RIP
  • JablesJables In Training Joined: Posts: 240Registered
    This is a freaking awesome introduction guide. I've had a lot more success with links lately, after realizing exactly HOW they work and what my timing should be. Thanks so much for writing this up.

    In reference to the Dragon Punch input question: I came across this video quite some time ago that I thought was really interesting. The video is initially for SF4 and shows how a player using a Square Gate stick can use the forgiveness of the input system can be pretty forgiving and how players can use it to their advantage. (I assume this hasn't changed for Super as well) Part of me is a little hesitant to send it out though, as I believe newer players should still really learn how to properly input DP motions without using alternate methods, but if nothing else the video shows some "Creative" solutions for how the input system in SF4 (and SSF4) works. Also note, this might not always work for characters like Adon, who have regular DP inputs and "reverse" DP inputs (Jaguar Kick and Rising Jaguar). I noticed this when I was goofing around with Adon, though I didn't test it extensively so anyone else can feel free to refute or correct such claims.

    An additional video for how 360 inputs can be done as well.

    Hopefully it helps, if not, hopefully people learn what NOT to do. :P
    Rockin Out Tasty Abs Washerboard Style with "Team Smiley Chins" - DeeJay/Dictator
    In Street Fighter Online, much like in real life, all that matters is how big your PP is
    Avatar by Master Chibi
  • IceColdHateradeIceColdHaterade Joined: Posts: 224Registered
    Dude, I've been scanning gameFAQs for a month and still didn't learn a tenth as much as I did here.
    Great read.
  • Unknown Joined:
    Very nice intro guide.
    Especially nice as I'm getting back into SF. Even learned a few new things. (^_^ )
  • sK1LLzk1LLzsK1LLzk1LLz Joined: Posts: 33Registered
    How exactly do you double tap the buttons on your stick so you get a double input within a few frames(1-3). I can double tap with one finger manually but I think that that is too slow. I've been try to do the method where you like drum your ring then index finger on the button but it only registers as one input for me. Could it possibly be because of my buttons? I have a madcatz SE stick and i don't have the funds to get sanwa parts. Would getting sanwa buttons help me double tap or do I just need to get better at my technique somehow?
  • Unknown Joined:
    After playing pad for 2 years, I've finally caved in and bought a stick (MvC2 tournament edition, didn't even know those were still in circulation lol).

    I'm just curious as to what exactly "riding the gate" means.
  • smilersmiler Joined: Posts: 96Registered
    This is a great guide, helped me and i'll be recommending it to a couple of ppl as a good starting point.

    The main problem i have with combos is remembering the damn things, spec in the middle of being battered, so baby steps it is!
  • Unknown Joined:
    this guy didn't:



    Good guide. Very insightful. I'm hoping within a few months I can actually get pretty decent.
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