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Unlock Your Potential in Training Mode: Part 3 – Making Combos Automatic

We’ve reached Part 3 of this 4 Part Series!

Our goal here is simple, we’re setting up your very own training curriculum to make the best out of learning Street Fighter 6 (and really any fighting game!).

Our focus is these three main points:

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

Part 1 and Part 2 served as foundations for what we’re covering in Part 3. I assume you’ve laid the foundation, so next we’ll get into one of the main features of training mode: learning and executing combinations.

You’ll often hear of training mode referred to as the “lab” or you’re “labbing a character” because people use training mode to experiment. And, boy are some of the things the fighting game community discovers just crazy sick. We’ll highlight more of these discoveries later!

For now, let’s get into the lab ourselves!

Attack Strings? Combinations?

Right now, if you were to pull up the move list for Luke in Street Fighter 5, you’d see a couple unique attacks that look like normal button presses one after the other.

Is this a combination? Well, yeah it is, but in fighting game terms it’s often called an attack string or sometimes even an auto-combo.

And, the reason for this is simple… You press the buttons in order at a relative speed and your character performs hits that equal a combination. That’s it!

You don’t have to worry about timing very much or special canceling into another move. You just press the buttons one after the other.

For instance Luke in SFV has one unique attack (or auto-combo) that is light punch, medium punch, heavy punch. Easy as it sounds and a three-hit combo comes out. No recovery frames in between!

If you tried that same sequence with most characters, you wouldn’t even be able to string light punch into medium punch. That’s because the game identifies Luke’s unique attack as an attack string and allows you to go from normal attack to the next normal attack.

Where for most other characters the game sees each normal attack separately and puts you into recovery frames after each one.

Ok, so what do we practice? Let’s start with Special Canceling.

I know we were just talking about Luke, but erase erase… Let’s go back to Ryu.

If you were labbing with Ryu in Parts 1 and 2 you may have noticed some good poke potential from his crouching medium kick. You’re not wrong! Crouch + Medium Kick (MK) is arguably one of Ryu’s best poke tools especially as a newer player.

First, crouch + MK hits low. So if your opponent is blocking while standing, they’re going to get hit. Second, we can special cancel out of it into that Hadoken you were practicing in Part 1!

Ryu throwing a Fireball at Chun-Li in Street Fighter 6 - Learning Special Moves Hadoken

I keep saying that phrase, “special cancel,” but what is it? Basically, if you remember our glimpse into the world of frame data, after you hit with crouching MK you’d go into recovery frames.

However, if you cancel into a special move, like Ryu’s Hadoken, you’ll negate the recovery frames and go right into throwing a fireball instead! If you play Ryu, this will become your new best friend.

Let’s learn how to do this so we can practice!

First, be close enough to your pal, the CPU dummy, so that your crouching medium kick will hit. Then on your controller, you’ll hit down and medium kick at the same time. Right away, (make sure you let go of medium kick) go from down, to down forward, then forward… Our basic quarter circle forward. As you hit forward, your crouching medium kick should be hitting your CPU dummy, and you should be hitting any of your punch buttons.

If you do it right, the crouching medium kick will abruptly end on hit and go right into Hadoken!

This takes practice at first, but that’s why we’re here. Almost think of doing one right after the other except the down motion on your crouching medium kick is part of the down motion of your fireball.

So again, hit down + MK, then down-forward, forward + punch.

Get it? Great! No? Keep practicing.

In fact…either way, keep practicing it. Just like before when we practiced our special moves 10 times on each side, we’ll want to do the same here. And, this is also where you may discover you have a favorite side in performing some of these special moves or cancels.

Combo Achieved!

By the way, you may have noticed that this is a two-hit combination. And, you may also be wondering, what if you tried to cancel into Ryu’s Tatsumaki Senpukyaku (or Hurricane Kick – either way, oh my emotions what a move to type out!)?

Yep. It works, you can special cancel from crouching MK into Tatsu (that’s the short version you’ll hear a lot).

That’s cool, where are the 27-hit combos at now?

Well, I got good news and I got bad news… The good news is, learning how to special cancel is part of pulling off those big hit combinations. And, later, you’ll even super cancel into your Critical Art.

The bad news is… We’re not covering any of that here, nor am I the right person to show you all the big bad combos for each character.

That’s where I would always defer to GrandMaster YouTube. There are countless guides on how to perform everything from basic or “bread n’ butter” combos to the big damage highlights that grace Twitter.

My advice here is simple… Stick with one character. Find a video that takes you through some simple combos, maybe ones that go from normal attack into another normal attack.

OH, by the way, we were so caught up talking about special and super cancels that I forgot to mention that even some characters have normal attacks that will cancel into other normal attacks. Kind of like Luke’s attack string from before.

Back to the video you’ll follow for combos… I’m guessing the video you’re watching is going to have the button inputs shown while they perform the actual combo. Watch them perform it… start to notice the timing of each button press. Then pause the video.

Go back into the lab and try to repeat that sequence.

Getting stuck on a combo? Yep. We all do.

Let’s say you’ve found this five-hit combo you’re practicing and you got moves one, two, and three down, but moves four into five are giving you trouble.

Well, if you can, practice just four into five. Typically if it’s a combination (especially longer ones) you can pull out segments and just practice those segments.

Once you feel good about four and five again, then try moves one, two, three, four… then once you have those, add five!

In fact, whatever video you’re watching, I bet you’ll see some portions of these combos being repeated into other combos. Kind of like how we can start with crouching medium kick, but go into fireball or tatsu.

ALL of this can last you until the very end of Street Fighter 6 when we’re gearing up for Street Fighter 7. Seriously, learning combinations and practicing them over and over is what will help you build up the most crucial element, muscle memory.

You want the idea of hitting those button sequences to be automatic. You want to memorize the attack sequence and motions needed.

Remember that player hitting buttons on his fightstick that wasn’t even plugged in? This is what he was practicing…muscle memory. He already had it, but now he was refining and waking up his execution.

Okay, enough here, the rest is up to you to lab and lab some more. Remember, when you go into an actual match, it may be a bit more intimidating or even difficult to pull off these same combinations. After all, your opponent doesn’t want you to hit them.

Here’s where many can get discouraged, but not pulling off a combo is not a negative event. It’s just learning more about the opportunity of you successfully executing it. Because once you do, man oh man does it feel great!

We could go on about combinations all day, so let me just talk about what’s in store for part four.

We covered our three main points for practice mode. Part four gets a little bit more advanced because now we’ll not only consider what we can do, but what other characters can do to us.

The best part is… we’ll also figure out what to do to counter our opponent.

Next up! The finale, Part 4: Unlock Your Potential in Training Mode: Dissecting Your Opponent.