The #1 move you aren't using (part 1)
Blogged by Ryan Hunter on Sunday, October 3rd, 2010 (09:28 PM)

Originally, I had planned to do some In the Lab videos showing off specific moves for characters that I thought went unloved, yet every player should be using. Seth's Tanden Engine was going to be the first, because I think it's an amazing move, and it has some ridiculous applications. That video will still come, eventually, but I started realizing that almost every character I watch, there are moves that I think have value, that are going underused, or unused altogether.

With that in mind, I present to you: The #1 move you aren't using (part 1). I had to split this list up into two entries, because it's incredibly long, since I go over every single character. For some characters, the move I list is less valuable then others, but I think all of them are worth mentioning, and worth considering if you play the character.

Please understand, the idea of this is not that if you start using X move, you will immediately start winning more. The idea is to show how certain moves that you might not be using can still have value, and should be considered, even if it's only in very specific situations.

Abel Normal Throw: As a former Abel main, this is something I've explained to people time and time again. People seem to overlook normal Throws with grappler characters, simply because they have command throws. The truth is, their normal throws are still extremely useful, if not more so, because people generally don't try to tech against grapplers. Abel's normal throw is less risky then his Tornado Throw, and is an amazing way to go for a throw while having the ability to punishing an opponent holding up, in fear of a Tornado Throw.

I actually posted about this concept in a thread on the Abel forums on SRK, with a video reference to a match I played in vanilla, so if you want to read more about it, check that out.

Adon s.MP and s.MK: These are amazing pokes that seem to go ignored because they live in the shadow of s.HK. s.HK is an amazing poke and all, but s.MP and s.MK have their uses, and in my opinion, are required to give s.HK the most value possible. The big downside to s.HK is that it is slow. If Adon is doing nothing but poke with s.HK, it gives the opponent a good reason to jump, because Adon will not recover in time to defend himself.

s.MP and s.MK don't have this problem. If an opponent jumps as Adon performs either of these normals, he recovers in time to Rising Jaguar as anti-air. So while they might not be as strong as s.HK in terms of raw poking power, in return, they offer Adon a nearly zero-risk poking solution that will quickly teach they opponent they can't jump to avoid Adon's footsies.

Akuma d.MK (in air) Dive Kick: When it comes to the Akuma vortex, very few people seem to make use of my personal favorite mixup option: the Dive Kick. In fact, the only Akuma player I see use this as one of his main vortex options is Tokido. Basically, the idea behind utilizing the Dive Kick is that after a knockdown, Akuma jumps from a position that would be a crossup, normally. Instead, by performing the Dive Kick, Akuma comes down on the same side, instead.

Additionally, my favorite aspect of this tool is that sharp opponents will be watching closely for a cross up air Hurricane Kick. The way Akuma stalls in the air when performing a Dive Kick can make the opponent think he's seeing a Hurricane Kick, and trick him into blocking the wrong way.

Balrog c.MK: Since the cornerstone of Balrog's pressure is his c.LP, Having a low-hitting move is extremely important for him. c.MK fills in this gap nicely, as a low-hitting move Balrog can use from close ranges where he would not want to use c.HK. However, what puts c.MK over the top is it's amazing frame advantage on both hit and block, which allows it to be an incredibly strong pressure tool alongside c.LP.

On block, c.MK is +4 frames the same advantage as c.LP on block. This means Balrog can use the exact same strategies after a blocked c.MK that he would after a blocked c.LP. The usual options include throw, a staggered second c.LP, or a cl.HK when looking for a counter hit. Additionally, on hit, c.MK is a huge +7 frames, which means linking a c.LP afterwards is incredibly easy, and allows Balrog to hit confirm into a full combo off a low.

Blanka nj.HP as anti-air: Blanka has a nice set of anti-airs to work with, and most Blanka players are familiar with the staples: EX Upball, c.MP, and s.HK. However, nj.HP (and to a lesser extent j.HP) is an anti-air not many Blanka players make use of.

In CvS2, EX Up Ball didn't exist, and nj.HP was the anti-air of choice for Blanka. In SF4, nj.HP is still extremely strong, and in situations where the Blanka player does not want to spend EX meter on an Up Ball, nj.HP is a very strong choice. Although c.MP is easier to do from an execution standpoint, nj.HP does 30 more damage and 100(!) more stun.

It might seem difficult to react by using a jumping normal as anti-air, but that's a mental barrier, because nj.HP starts up in 4 frames! Adding that to Blanka's jump startup which also happens to be 4 frames means nj.HP can be executed in as little as 8 frames, which is only 1 frame slower then c.MP!

Cammy c.MK: Cammy players don't usually focus too much on the poking and footsies game, since Cannon Strike (being a dive kick) has so much priority and versatility, they can get inside on their opponent fairly easily. When I see these Cammy players unable to get in and forced to slow down and try to poke, it's usually just a lot of s.HK. s.HK is a great poke, but again, it's a move that's vulnerable to being jumped or focused, which means it cannot be abused.

A better option is to use c.MK at a range where it will whiff, while option selecting a Spiral Arrow. Cammy's c.MK is a very effective poke, and turning into a knockdown every time it hits is just what Cammy needs to get her offense started in a safer way. Additionally, since c.MK is significantly faster then s.HK, if the opponent tries to jump during footsies, Cammy can easily reply with a Cannon Spike for a knockdown as well.

Chun Li c.HP: c.HP by itself is a subpar normal. For a character with a set of amazing normals like Chun, c.HP appears useless on the surface. Although it can beat a focus, since it is two hits, that is it's only redeeming quality really, since it starts up in 7 frames, is -2 on block, and only +2 on hit, meaning nothing can be linked from it (besides Super). The value in c.HP is the fact that it moves Chun forwards and that the first hit is cancelable.

This enables Chun to do c.HP (1 hit) xx Lightning Legs from a slight distance, yet have her move back towards the opponent and have the Lightning Legs be point blank in the opponent's face. If this hits, the player has forever to hit confirm it and combo out of the Lightning Legs, and on block, Chun is at a large frame advantage, and can continue pressure. This is Chun's strongest pressure tool, and can easily look down opponents for an extended period of time.

Cody s.HK as a poke: People already know s.HK is a great anti-air for jumps out of range of HK Ruffian Kick or b.MP. The problem is that since it is such a strong anti-air, a lot of players don't think about using it in any other way. The truth is, it's a very solid poke. It extends significantly farther then any other poke Cody has, while allows it to be used to surprise the opponent who has gotten comfortable with the ranges of Cody's main pokes.

The idea is to use s.HK from just outside it's max range. From this range (which is far), most characters will only be able to punish it by hitting the extended leg from underneath, because Cody's back leg will be so far away. Additionally, a major draw back of s.HK is that it will whiff against crouching characters. By using it out of range, it ensures that the opponent will not be able to duck underneath it, because they would have to walk forward first to do so, which would get them hit.

Using it outside of max range like this, it is surprisingly effective. It has 5 active frames, and the opponent will frequently accidentally walk into it after the move is already fully extended. Furthermore, due to the angle of the attack, it is not as vulnerable to being jumped over, like a lot of other slow normals are. If the opponent tries to jump, they will likely get hit out of the air immediately.

C. Viper c.HK: Again, a normal that when used sparingly fills in a gap for the character that strengthens her game. Though slow, and vulnerable to both jumps and focuses, c.HK pokes significantly farther then any other poke Viper has. When the opponent gets comfortable standing outside c.MK range, this can surprise him and score an untechable knockdown, which allows Viper to start her mixup.

As with countless other moves in this list, this move comes with the warning that it cannot be abused. As mentioned, it's very slow (12f startup, 33f total), and is extremely vulnerable to jumps and focuses. If the opponent is doing either of these things fairly regularly, it is not the time to use Viper's c.HK.

Dan s.MK: Although Dan is a joke character, he does have some serious moves. Most people are already familiar with his LK Dankyaku pressure, which is annoyingly effective. What people are not as familiar with is Dan's unusually effective s.MK, which is easily his strongest poke.

Somehow Dan wound up with a better version of Ryu and Akuma's s.MK. It starts up a little faster then either of theirs, recovers 4f faster then Ryu's, and only 1f slower then Akuma's, yet has significantly more range then either of theirs. Like M. Bison's s.MK (though Dan's is much slower), this normal is amazing for fighting low pokes because it will reach over them to hit the opponent. It can be used to increase Dan's annoyance, because a lot of characters will actually have a hard time poking against this move.

Deejay c.LK: I don't understand why I see so many Dee Jay players not using c.LK to start their combos. At first, I thought it was laziness, because I thought c.LK into c.LP was a link. When I found out it was a chain cancel, I was completely confused. Not only is a low, but it also does 10 points more damage then c.LP, with the only drawback being that it's a single frame slower.

Of course, a single frame is significant when talking a move with 4f startup vs 5f startup, but it's not as significant in the Dee Jay's context. The time the speed of a Jab or Short matters is mostly in two places. The first is when pressuring with gaps, because you usually want the fastest move possible. The second is on defense, when you need to push someone off you that is gaping too much. These cases do not apply when Dee Jay gets a knockdown and is mixing up his opponent.

After connecting with a c.MK (which gives an untechable knockdown), Dee Jay gets a nice vortex-like mixup where can choose the side he wants to his with his jump in. Having the ability to do empty jumps into lows with c.LK adds an entire extra dimension to this mixup which seems to go unused by most Dee Jay players.

Dhalsim c.MP: Dhalsim's c.MP is a move I really like, and I feel like it would be one of my staple moves if I played Dhalsim. Everyone already knows Dhalsim's s.HP is one of, if not his most important move, but then why is c.MP so underused? c.MP comes out only 2f slower, yet the total duration of the move is 1f less. Besides those minor timing differences, c.MP does 25 less points of damage, but in return, c.MP is a low. Therefore, if the opponent is constantly blocking s.HPs high, using more c.MP will make a huge difference.

One other difference between s.HP and c.MP that needs to be noted is the difference in push back. This might be part of the reason Dhalsim players tend to use s.HP over c.MP, because s.HP, even when blocked, pushes the opponent noticably farther, while c.MP has very very little push back. This should be kept in mind because often, for Dhalsim, getting the hit isn't as important as creating the proper spacing.

Dudley s.HK as a poke: Dudley's s.HP and t.HP are so good, most Dudley players don't both to poke with s.HK. This is a huge mistake in my opinion, and the decision to poke with s.HP or s.HK should be made depending on the matchup. s.HK has the benefit of being Special cancelable, which means Dudley can whiff it out of range and option select an EX Machine Gun Blow. If the opponent walks forward or sticks out a poke and gets hit, Dudley gets a huge combo and a knockdown, yet he takes very little risk.

In a case where s.HP and s.HK are equally likely to hit, this potential for damage makes s.HK a much better option then s.HP. The trick is to figure out when s.HK is a strong poke. In certain matchups, s.HK is fairly weak as a poke, but in others, it is exceptional. The general rule is if the other character's main poke is a low, s.HP is better, because it has a great hitbox for going over (and therefore beating) lows. On the other hand, against mid and high pokes, s.HK is amazing due to it's priority and hitbox.

E. Honda cl.MP: By design, Honda is a very simple and straightforward character. Therefore, he doesn't have many moves that are essential to playing him. Most players are familiar with his strong (but slow) pokes, s.HP and s.HK, and then of course, his signature nj.HP that transforms Honda into a literal wall in his opponent's eyes. Throw in a few c.LKs and c.LPs up close, and some liberal use of his specials sums up the essentials of Honda's game play.

The problem with having such a simple set of moves is that Honda risks becoming very predictable, which can be abused. If the Honda player feels the need to mix things up, using cl.MP during pressure can help to keep the opponent on his toes. For one, it's a two-hit move, which can surprise the opponent all by itself.

On block, cl.MP sets up a nice little mixup for Honda, because it leaves the opponent in LP Oicho range with Honda at +4 frames. On hit, because it's a two-hit move, the player has plenty of time to confirm the hit, and then perform an easy link 4-frame link into a c.LP afterwards, which can be canceled into a HP Hundred Hand Slap, for very nice damage.

El Fuerte s.MK: Fuerte's s.MK is a very interesting move. Although Fuerte does not typically spend time playing a traditional poking game, his s.MK is a surprisingly good poke. At first glance, the range might look underwhelming, but the hitbox on his foot is actually extended well beyond his boot. This combined with the direction of the kick allows it to beat good low pokes like Ryu's c.MK every single time, with ease.

So although Fuerte might not want to get into a poking war with a lot of characters, having the ability to switch it up, even if only for a few seconds, and beat the opponent on the ground, can give a Fuerte player a nice touch of versatility. This can potentially throw the opponent off if they're expecting a certain pacing from Fuerte.

Furthermore, s.MK is special and super cancelable. This blew my mind. So not only can it be used as a strict poke, but it can also be used for Run pressure to get back inside. Besides that, it can be canceled into the MK, MK target combo even on whiff! Little tricks like this make the move very versatile, which is nothing but a strength.

Fei Long cl.MP: cl.MP is an amazing pressure tool for Fei Long. First of all, it starts up in only 5f, which is extremely fast when you consider some characters' Jabs and Shorts are 5f. Second, it should be noted that his c.LP starts up in 3f. The reason these numbers are significant is because Fei's cl.MP is +3 frames on block. Since he has two very fast moves with c.LP and cl.MP, it's very risky for the opponent to stick out a move after blocking cl.MP.

To make this even worse for the opponent, cl.MP's block stun is deceptively long. The move has a lengthy recovery period, even though it ends with Fei at +3 frames. If the opponent is not extremely familiar with this, they will commonly try to perform an action before they have actually recovered, resulting in them doing nothing, not even blocking.

The last great thing about cl.MP is that the recovery period is so long, it acts as a hit confirm by itself. After hitting the opponent, the player has plenty of time to confirm the hit and then link a c.LP. cl.MP leaves Fei at +7 frames, which is an extremely easy link into c.LP xx Rekka Ken series, for nice damage, positioning, and a knockdown.

So that's the first half of the list. Look for the second half either some time tomorrow or Tuesday. As always, please tell me what you think in the comments below. Whether you agree or disagree with something, or have an entirely different suggestion for a character, not only would I love to hear it, but I'm sure some other readers will find your input helpful.

See you in part 2!

Posted by RaionXK1 on Sunday, October 3rd, 2010 (09:54 PM)
I agree with the CODY and AKUMA moves, akumas's mix up is so good people usually forget about the "other" dive kick lol and also I AM A HUMAN
Posted by 8ighty6ix on Sunday, October 3rd, 2010 (10:04 PM)
Well done again Hunter, as an Akuma player, I can testify to the usefulness of his mk. Dive kick. Also, a lot of people don't use his far s.hp as an anti air, which I would encourage Akuma players to do.
Posted by Ryan Hunter on Sunday, October 3rd, 2010 (10:12 PM)
@RaionXK1: Haha, sure you're not a robot?

@8ighty6ix: I agree 100%. I've suggested that move to other Akuma players as well. When the opponent jumps at a range where if they do nothing, a Dragon Punch will whiff, Akuma's s.HP makes an excellent alternative. I used to abuse that jump in range with Abel, since his j.MK extends far enough, and after landing, he can simply t.MK xx Dash to close the distance. Akuma's s.HP anti-airs the j.MK clean every time from that distance, so Abel can't abuse it.
Posted by juniormints on Sunday, October 3rd, 2010 (10:51 PM)
I agree with Chun li's underrated c.HP, ive seen flashm shut opponents down in the corner with it (c.HP > l. hasanzhu)
Posted by Fight Club on Sunday, October 3rd, 2010 (11:42 PM)
As far as underused moves OS tandem engine into ultra with no damage scaling is gdlk
Posted by asmall on Monday, October 4th, 2010 (01:12 AM)
good work ryan. when is 2nd part comming? all my players are there guile, ryu, t hawk
Posted by Dutty 2zero1 on Monday, October 4th, 2010 (03:18 AM)
As a ken mainer, kens crouching mp is under rated it stuffs or trades with a lot of specials and could be a fairly resourceful anti air move. And if it counter hits cr mk to Fb, 3 hit combo with the right set up and frame traps.
Posted by Jonno on Monday, October 4th, 2010 (03:58 AM)
What's the input for the Cammy option select with cr.mk and spiral arrow? I had no idea that existed
Posted by Jsian on Monday, October 4th, 2010 (04:10 AM)
I play Honda and I have to say there are almost no instances where I'd use close MP simply because his jab hands is just so good. Close MP is more for mix-ups from my perspective because it can cancel into hands, d/f HK overhead (which can further be canceled into Oicho) or you can combo into s.HK (1 frame and opponent might not expect it). You do point out that it leaves Honda at Oicho range and +4, which is nice.
Posted by Ewickifighter on Monday, October 4th, 2010 (05:42 AM)
Haha. I'm a Deejay main, and no lie, yesterday when I was working out combo's I basically came to the same realization you did. c.lk is great in his vortex, and general combos. Besides the reasons you listed, it's also useful because when applying the vortex a lot of people block on auto-pilot. Assuming the bnb I'll use will have a jab that hits mid, so they block standing up. I played my friends Rose and just using j.mk c.lk c.lp c.mk instead of doing all punches into sweep tripped him up.
Posted by ronaldo on Monday, October 4th, 2010 (06:43 AM)
good call on abel's normal throw. a lot of times juicebox will f+mk and dash in, to normal throw. if the opponent jumps you still have time to AA with cr.mk or st. fp. and the situation is still in your favor.
Posted by Junko on Monday, October 4th, 2010 (08:17 AM)
I have been playing for months and I still haven't been able to settle on a main but I played a match with Akuma today and the Dive Kick won me the final round. Thanks xD
Posted by Jamrawk on Monday, October 4th, 2010 (01:38 PM)
Nice post, Ryan. After getting obliterated by a Vega player recent, I learned the hard way that I need to start applying s.HK into my footsie game. There's no way I can out poke a solid Vega player without learning how to swat his kicks/punches out of the air with a counter s.HK, lol.
Posted by Vince on Monday, October 4th, 2010 (02:17 PM)
Very insightful write-up Mr. Hart! I'd like to add that for Chun's cr. HP is an excellent anti-air, especially against Shotos.
Posted by Ryan Hunter on Monday, October 4th, 2010 (03:51 PM)
Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Glad that everyone seems to be liking this write up.

@Jonno: You simply do c.MK xx Spiral Arrow normally, but you do it at a range where the c.MK should whiff. If it does whiff, the Spiral Arrow will not come out, but if they walk forward or stick out their own poke (which your c.MK can beat), the c.MK will hit, and then cancel into the Spiral Arrow. If done correctly, there's no way your Spiral Arrow should be blocked, it either hits or doesn't come out.
Posted by Kikuichimonji on Monday, October 4th, 2010 (04:28 PM)
Yeah Seth's Tanden Engine is very good. I love using it against players who backdash on wakeup because I get a full combo and if they block I get a very strong mixup. Backdashes are extremely strong in SF4 and I feel like a huge number of players either don't know how to punish them or they don't understand why they need to.

Tanden Engine is very nice in blockstrings. If blocked the reward is similar to a jump in but harder to punish.

It has other uses but I don't have space to post them. :/
Posted by Duds on Monday, October 4th, 2010 (05:22 PM)
Posted by KiNKa on Monday, October 4th, 2010 (06:28 PM)
Nice post!, as a Balrog main it's very useful, I've using that c.MK lately to try new mixups strategies, and yes, its a nice move, also the frame advantage it has is veeery good, you can easily link c.LP on hit, and also you can link a c.MP(but more hard! :p).
Good Job Ryan!
Posted by Murd3ringQu33nX on Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 (12:16 AM)
So if I use goukens demon flip more, will I be able to beat ryu?
Posted by Terecho on Wednesday, October 6th, 2010 (06:22 AM)
Nice done, Ryan hunter, I learned how to use Coday from you. u rock!
Posted by Tim Allen on Thursday, October 7th, 2010 (11:19 PM)
Betcha Seth's move will be S.MK. Such a decent poke.
Posted by IronMcHardSteel on Thursday, October 7th, 2010 (11:30 PM)
It's way past tomorrow. Where's part 2?
Posted by koopatroopa4 on Friday, October 8th, 2010 (07:12 AM)
Im guessing mk (close, crouch, or far) will be Rose's move...a lot of cool properties on those.
Posted by HeXxM@jin on Monday, October 11th, 2010 (11:55 AM)
dude, ive been doing most of these move all my life and i still lose. i always perfer normals more than sp attacks. oh yea, dont forget juri's sMK and sHK
Posted by Mayu9999 on Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 (10:06 AM)
I hope you keep doing these Ryan. As a person who knows frame data and hitboxes, a lot of these aren't too much of a surprise but you show how they can be used in ways I haven't thought of, such as Gouken's sf.hk.

Good reads Ryan (the second one too!)
Posted by pattybenpatty on Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 (11:34 AM)
Great article, as is part 2. I'm using it in reverse, as a way to learn what to expect of other characters. Very very useful.

All of us Dan users are aware of far standing mk, we have to be as it is his only(obviously)solid poke really. I've recently started experimenting with his far s.HK as a counter poke/feint against sweeps and other low attacks. Not yet sure if I'm wasting my time but that bizarre step back Dan does seems to serve to get him out of harms way and still tag his opponent.
Posted by Green Ace on Thursday, October 14th, 2010 (01:21 PM)
MK dive kick sounds intresting. I'll try to make some use of it next time I play.
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