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Unlock Your Potential in Training Mode: Part 2 – The Buttons You Hit the Most

Welcome to Part 2 of this 4-Part Series.

In our first installment, Unlock Your Potential in Practice Mode: Part 1 – The Beginner’s Practice Plan, we took a look at how to ultimately build a practice plan to reduce input errors and build muscle memory.

If you’re newer to Street Fighter or fighting games in general, definitely start there.

If you’re here for Part 2, I assume you’ve already done Part 1! I can’t stress this paradigm shift enough when it comes to guides…

The most effective way to learn is to read a piece and then go do it. When you’re ready for more, come back, read more, then implement again before moving further!

As a reminder we’re working through three main goals for training mode:

  • Reduce Input Errors (Build Muscle Memory)
  • Identify Your Options (Learn What’s Safe)
  • Learn Basic Combinations (Make Them Automatic)

This entire guide on Practice/Training Mode will be broken up into these main three parts (plus one bonus part). Here in Part 2, we’re going to dive into “normals” and learn what it means to be safe on block.

Ken Hurricane Kick Tatsu on Ryu - Street Fighter 6

Why Normals? I got Specials!

Listen, I get it… Specials are flashier, they look fancier, and dog gone it you just feel cooler when your character is sending a flaming fist into your opponent’s chin.

However, in the world of fighting games your normal attack buttons are going to be the main drivers of getting the job done… in this case depleting the health bar of your opponent.

In Street Fighter 6 you have at least six normal standing attacks per character: light punch, medium punch, heavy punch, light kick, medium kick, and heavy kick.

NOTE: You’ll inevitably hear people refer to these normals by their old Street Fighter 2 names like jab or fierce, but we’re going to stick with the modern interpretation for now.

You’re in training mode, you have your character selected (we’re using Ryu for examples in this guide), and you’re ready to hit buttons.

With your character standing completely still, hit the light punch button. Watch what happens. See that?

Go ahead, hit light punch again. Notice three things that happen when you do:

  1. How fast the attack was
  2. The range of the attack
  3. The animation itself

Light attacks are typically the fastest in the game. When you start to understand another concept called “frame data” this matters greatly. In a nutshell, a light attack may come out fast enough to interrupt your opponent.

Second, you can tell that the light attack doesn’t reach out very far. So the trade-off for speed is less range and, what you’ll find out soon enough, less damage.

Finally, watch the animation and really start to identify what a light attack from this character will look like. Not only will It help you when you fight a mirror match (where your opponent is using the same character), but you’ll also start being able to make educated guesses about what type of normal attack your opponent is throwing out.

This may not seem important on the forefront, but later will be a crucial part of your game plan in dissecting how to dismantle your opponent.

Luke and Jamie in Street Fighter 6 - Drive Impact

Now, hit the button again and continue to hit it as fast as you can. Notice how fast the second light attack comes out after the first one.

For some characters you can even chain two light attacks together for a quick two-hit combo.

Great! Standing light punch down… Now do the same for the rest of the buttons. And, after that? Do the same while holding down crouch!

You’ll notice the attacks while crouching are about the same speed and range. There’s one big difference. Every character’s crouching heavy kick is also a sweep and causes a knockdown.

A definite big button worth keeping in your back pocket when the moment strikes! A sweep leads to more options as the opponent tries to guess what you’re going to do while their character gets up off the ground. More on that in another guide!

Finally, some characters also have different normal attacks that come out depending on if you’re holding either forward or backward.

For instance, with Ryu in Street Fighter 5, his regular medium punch is a short stubby lead hand punch. You can easily block it while standing or crouching.

However, if you hold forward and hit medium punch as Ryu, then it turns into a two-hit downward punch that must be blocked while standing on the first hit.

If you’re crouching and blocking when that first hit comes out, well, you’re about to eat both hits from the forward + medium punch.

This unique attack is called an overhead. And, while we didn’t talk about them, jumping attacks are also considered overhead attacks which is just a fancy way of saying you can’t block them while you’re crouching. You can only block them while standing up.

Now, what about learning what’s safe?

Even though what we’ve done is very simple so far, the intention behind going through each normal button (while standing, crouching, or even jumping) is massive!

The next thing to figure out is what is safe to attack with even if your opponent blocks it. Here is where we can tear open the can called “Frame Data”. But, truthfully, not in this post…

“Frame Data” is just the number of animated frames each attack takes including its startup frames, the number of frames while hitting (or being active), and the recovery frames (after the attack).

Just know this… If your recovery frames (the time it takes your character to go from attacking to blocking) is slow, well then there’s a good chance your opponent can attack before you’re even able to block.

We don’t have all the data for Street Fighter 6 yet, but in Street Fighter 5, the fastest attack had a startup of 3 frames. So, if your recovery time was 4 frames…well, then they could squeeze in that quick attack before you could even block.

We’ll worry about that dizzying bit of information later. For now, get a sense of what takes a long time to recover or which attacks are leaving you wide open if your opponent blocks. For instance, when you’re trying to sweep (down + heavy kick).

What I want you to pay more attention to is the RANGE you can hit a character with each of those normals. Because even if your recovery time is 4 frames and they can dish out that light attack that’s 3 frames…if they’re too far to hit you because your attack had better range, then it’ll miss every time. AND, that means you can punish them back!

So instead, pay attention to how far your character is from the opponent and try to find the furthest pixel away you can be standing or crouching from that dummy CPU, hit your button, and still make contact.

A great example in Street Fighter 5 is Ryu’s crouching medium kick. It’s called a “poke” in this case because you can throw it out there and “poke” away to open up your opponent’s defense. Plus, if it connects, it has potential to combo into other moves.

Alright, that’s enough! We’re hitting our threshold here of knowledge before we start pouring our brains onto the training room floor. At least I know if I was a beginner all over again, I’d need to implement and re-read this section a few times. It’s almost somewhat of a proud moment that I can recall all this stuff from memory now. Just goes to show you what practice mode can do for you!

Do you have enough tools to jump into a match now? Absolutely! No one is stopping you from doing so. But, remember, each match is a learning opportunity. Don’t get discouraged if you forget a button or can’t quite get that special move off flawlessly.

You’ll come back to training mode and work it out all over again. Just like working a muscle… You don’t expect a few push-ups to make you super strong right? No, you do quite a few push-ups. And, then in a day or so…you do quite a few more. You build a regimen around gaining strength with all the proper rest, nutrition, and mindset that comes with it. Same goes for fighting games! Sounds like a future topic… 😉

Ok, so get a few more reps in or test your mettle in the digital arena. Either way, when you’re ready, you want to learn a few combinations for your character of choice.

And, that’s exactly what we’re going to expand on for the next part of our guide! See you in Part 3 – Unlock Your Potential in Training Mode: Making Combos Automatic.