Street Fighter V’s Dashing Ken

In Street Fighter V, the mark of a great Ken player is anticipation, impatience, and variability. With Ken, there is no great mix up strategy built in to his attack patterns, no overpowered grab move, and no passing through projectiles. Ryu tends to take a more methodical and effective approach. Ken is more about mind games and mobility. He needs to be an instant strategist that keeps his opponents guessing where the next attack is going to come from. In this Street Fighter V Strategy Guide for Ken, we will discuss tactics and how to maximize the weapons that Ken possesses.


I. Street Fighter Buttons 101 / Legend

II. Critical Arts, Specials, and EX Moves

III. Ken’s Best Street Fighter V Normal Attacks

IV. Ken’s Street Fighter V Anti-Air Attacks

V. Street Fighter V‘s V-Gauge System

VI. Ken Combos

VII. Basic Strategy

a. Throwing / Tick Throwing / Frame Trapping / Aerial EX Hurricane Kick

b. Fireball / Midrange Zone Strategy

c. Footsies / Poking Game

d. V-Trigger

VIII. Guide of How to Interpret Frame Data

IX. Link to Complete Frame Data for Street Fighter V Google Document

X. Character Specific Strategy (Under Construction)

Ken Street Fighter V Strategy Guide

SFV Ken Strategy Guide | Street Fighter Buttons 101

Here is a legend of how to read the commands in this guide.
LP = Light Punch
MP = Medium Punch
HP = Heavy Punch
LK = Light Kick
MK = Medium Kick
HK = Heavy Kick
U = Tap in the upward direction on the directional pad
D = Tap in the downward direction on the directional pad
F = Tap the horizontal direction on the directional pad in the forward direction towards the horizontal position of your enemy in comparison to you (ie tapping to the right is forward when the enemy is on your right)
B = Tap the horizontal direction on the directional pad in the backward direction that aims away from the horizontal position of your enemy in comparison to you (ie tapping to the left is backward when the enemy is on your right)
+ = Press things on both sides of the plus sign at the same time.
, = The comma says to perform all actions before the comma so you can progress to the next action after the comma.
UF, UB, DF, DB = Tap in the diagonal position that combines the two directions denoted (Example: UF means to tap the diagonal direction of up and forward).
CR = crouching. You must be holding D, DB, or DF to crouch.
Jump In = jump towards opponent by tapping UF
Jump Away = jump away from opponent by tapping UB
Neutral Jump = Jump straight up by tapping U.
Standing Block = holding B as your opponent throws middle and high level attacks at you.
Crouching Block = holding DB as your opponent throws low or middle level attacks at you.
Forward/Neutral & Backward Throws = Tap LP + LK in close proximity of your opponent. Also holding back will initiate the back throw which has great distance with Ken, and sets up zoning with a fireball. Normal throws cannot be blocked, but your opponent can prevent a throw by tapping LP + LK during the initial grab of the throw (ie tech out of the throw).
Performing EX Moves = Tap two of the corresponding buttons to complete a special move. An example would be to press two punch buttons at the same time when performing the Shoryuken to execute the EX Shoryuken. This uses one unit of the EX bar which charges as you perform and connect attacks.
V-Skill = tap MK + MP and quickly release the buttons to perform a forward dash. Continue to hold the two buttons to execute a thrusting type kick at the end of the dash. You can execute this move during most of your normal attacks as they are making contact with the enemy to cancel its ending animation to go directly to a forward dash. Dashes can be linked together to create a run type dash, and you can dash repeatedly after colliding normal attacks on your enemy.
V-Reversal = While blocking and having at least one segment of your V-gauge filled, tap forward + all 3 kick buttons to do a counter attack. This move cannot put down an enemy, so you will want to time it so you can string together a hit afterwards. Also, if performed during a barrage of incoming attacks, you have a chance of being hit during the execution of your v-reversal.
V-Trigger = While your V-Gauge is full, tap HP + HK. This will cancel almost any move that’s from the ground and then make ken dash forward, enabling him to extend a combo. It also makes him vulnerable to running into an attack. For a limited amount of time, Ken’s special and EX moves will be altered to add more hits. Since the game is new and we don’t have the frame data available to us, we believe the v-trigger is meant to have frame advantage at the cost of some damage. Your special moves will seem to start up and finish faster, allowing you to chain attacks easier.

Ken SFV Strategy Guide | Critical Arts, Specials, and EX Moves

Shoryuken or Dragon Punch = F, D, DF + (any) Punch.

This is the dragon punch we all remember. It’s still a decent anti-air with some invulnerability on start up. The EX version offers more invincibility on start up and hits a ton more times and for more damage. The V-trigger version of the dragon punch does more hits but doesn’t necessarily do more damage. The EX Dragon Punch while V-trigger is active isn’t that different.

Light or Medium Hurricane Kick = D, DB, B + LK/MK.

The light and medium hurricane kicks for Ken can juggle and cause the opponent to be knocked down afterwards with the potential of a Critical Art or Dragon Punch follow-up. It is much safer than the old hurricane kick we are used to with Ken. The V-trigger variations of the light and medium hurricane kick allow you to be harder to catch after being blocked and add some more hits which can increase juggle potential. The EX version of the hurricane kick resembles the one Ken had in Marvel Super Heroes Vs Street Fighter where he flies up at a 45 degree angle. It has extremely high air superiority against jumping opponents.

Heavy Hurricane Kick = D, DB, B + HK.

This version of the hurricane kick launches the opponent with the initial knee and arcs across the screen possibly avoiding projectiles and standing attacks. It has a very slow start up but does offer significant safety against opponents you suspect are about to jump in from a long distance. It can be easily punished if the opponent knows how to counter it, but also can be easily linked if your opponent is ducking when it hits them.

V-Trigger Version of Heavy Hurricane Kick = D, DB, B + HK (While V-Trigger is active).

The V-Trigger version starts the same, but the hit boxes for each kick are much larger because of the flames that come out of Ken’s legs. If you connect with the kicking portion of this move, and not the initial knee, you will knock the opponent into the air, all set-up for a Fierce Dragon Punch.

Hadoken = D, DF, F + (any) punch button.

The EX version throws the fireball two frames earlier, and recovers a little faster. The Hadoken is a great zoning tool. Be careful to avoid becoming predictable at throwing it. From nearly full screen distance it is possible to hit someone with the v-skill at the same time, or right after, a LP Hadoken travels and hits them. This makes Hadoken on a waking up opponent tons of fun.

Aerial Hurricane Kick = D, DB, B + (any) kick while jumping in.

Can be used to change the trajectory of your jump to avoid an imminent attack, to cross up your opponent, or just to score a knockdown with juggle potential. The EX version descends quickly, but stretches out the arc of your jump. This makes the EX version useful against half/full screen opponents that try to anti-air you with low angle attacks like standing normal attacks or projectiles. The EX version also launches a standing/crouching opponent.

Aerial EX Hurricane Kick = D, DB, B + any two kick buttons while jumping in.

This high priority hurricane kick knocks the opponent into the air on hit at the very best. If blocked, you can score a combo off a crouching jab if your opponent is trying to throw you. When this move connects, the Fierce Dragon Punch is a guaranteed great follow-up. There is a complete strategy section on this maneuver below.

Aerial EX Hurricane Kick during V-Trigger = D, DB, B + any two kick buttons while jumping in while V-Trigger is active.

This even-higher priority hurricane kick stuns the opponent very briefly. I would go for my bread and butter punish combo at this point.

Critical Art = D, DF, F, D, DF, F + (any) Kick.

Once this move connects with the opponent, you don’t have to worry about it dropping out on an opponent due to the stun meter. The critical art is effective as an anti-air attack and can be easily added after a hit confirmed combo. It can be used after a light or medium hurricane kick if you catch the opponent high enough in their fall to the ground.

Ken SFV Strategy Guide | Ken’s Best Street Fighter V Normal Attacks

Crouching Medium Punch = MP while CR.

This move is deceptively powerful and effective with its fast attack and recovery. You can shut down an opponent with this move. See the frame data guide near the bottom of this page to understand how great this attack is. It is also good as a combo linker after a crossover medium kick, or to initiate a combo by itself.

Standing Medium Kick then Heavy Kick = MK, HK

The standing medium kick by itself is a nice anti-air. This combo is great because it gives you tons of time to confirm you are hitting the opponent before canceling the second hit to a fierce dragon punch or critical art. Being that both hits are high, this one-two combo is good as a follow up after a jump attack, a punisher, or as a follow-up attack to extend a ground combo by using your v-trigger.

Standing body punch, uppercut = B + MP, HP.

This combo puts the opponent into a juggle-able state. The trade off is that the first punch has very short range. This can be combo’d from a very close crouching medium punch. A great follow-up would include a fierce or EX dragon punch which can be canceled to a v-trigger or critical art if desired. A more advanced follow up is a medium hurricane kick for a longer juggle.

Axe Kick = B + MK.

This overhead attack is good to use against a crouching opponent that wants to engage in a poking/turtle game.

Step In Ax Kick = F + Hold HK.

This advancing overhead attack is great against crouching opponents. While not particularly effective by itself, it does figure in against opponents that do not expect it.

Step In Feint = F + Tap HK.

This feint is good to use against a turtling opponent that blocks a lot to get in close for a throw, or purely for its mobility.

Crouching Uppercut = HP during CR.

This is an excellent anti-air that attacks almost straight up.

Couching Medium Kick = MK during CR.

This classic move has lost a little range from previous incarnations. Using this move as a punisher in a poking game canceled into a fireball to chip away at your opponent is a staple to keep in mind. It sets up a mid-range zoning game and is relatively safe. Fast fingers can hit confirm this crouching attack to the critical art.

Foot Sweep = HK during CR.

This sweep is great to use as a punisher against someone trying to poke you from midscreen with normal attacks. Be careful when using this against crouching opponents you suspect might block. Canceling the sweep to rush in for a throw by using Ken’s V-skill is a pretty good alternative to getting blocked and staying in a punishable long range state.

Standing Fierce Punch = HP

Ken’s standing fierce punch has significant range and can be canceled into any special move.

Ken’s Crossover Kick = Jump in then MK

The timing is weird on landing the crossover kick on a standing opponent because the start up is kind of slow, so you would need to press the button a little early in that one circumstance. This is an amazing kick in comparison to crossover kicks of Street Fighters past. Effective on a waking up opponent, turtling opponents, or opponents that whiff on moves at a distance–there are tons of situations where you can jump over your opponent to land this to set up a great combo.

Attacking from a Neutral jump = U and then (any) attack button.

This is particularly effective against opponents who jump in from far distances. Experiment with this as a different way of countering jump attackers, characters that seem to be harder to anti-air from the ground, characters that tend to jump in from a distance to avoid a fireball, opponents that charge in on the ground from using a special move, and other possible scenarios.

Ken SFV Strategy Guide | Ken’s Street Fighter V Anti-Air Attacks

Ken SFV Guide Anti-Air Attacks

Here are some great anti-air attacks that Ken can use.

Ducking Uppercut = HP while CR.

Effective against opponents that try to crossover you from up close or jump in from medium distance.

Standing Medium Kick = MK

Effective against distant jumpers.

Dragon Punch

Effective against high up attackers. Can be timed to get more hits but at the cost of being a lot more likely to trade hits with the opponent

Critical Art

This attack is great against an opponent that is jumping in from medium or far distance.

Jumping Away then aerial Medium Punch = UB then MP midair.

This attack is useful early during your opponent’s attempt to crossover you from midrange. This is good to prevent the confusion of trying to figure out whether their attack will cross you up or not.

Heavy Hurricane Kick = D, DB, B + HK.

Due to its slow start up, you have to perform this very early in your opponent’s jump for it to be effective. This move is good when you can anticipate your opponent’s jump from far away or midrange.

Neutral Jump Medium Kick or Heavy Kick = U then MK/HK.

This attack is good at defending against predictable opponents that jump in from half the screen away. Using this tactic by jumping forward and attacking people early in their jump can be harder to time but more effective at taking an opponent out of the air without getting harmed.

Ken SFV Strategy Guide | Street Fighter V’s V-Gauge System

V-skill = tap MK + MP (to cancel the normal cancelable move you are performing to start a slightly extended version of the forward dash) or hold MP + MK (to follow the dash with a thrusting kick that knocks the opponent down).

This move operates independently from the V-gauge. Canceling a move then getting in close to combo or throw will keep your opponent guessing what your motives are. A good Ken player will use this early in a match to make the opponent overthink what you are going to do and then mix it up with other strategies to take advantage of their confusion. An example would be to start throwing fireballs and then anticipate your opponent jumping over them by hitting them with the v-skill as they are about to land.

V-trigger = HP + HK when the V-gauge is full.

When initiated, it cancels the move being performed with a forward dash, allowing a combo to be extended. The durational damage buff and extra hits it adds seem to be negligible.

V-reversal = tap F + LK + MK + HK while actively blocking an attack.

Ken will leave block stun and perform a fiery attack. Be careful when using V-reversals against multi-hit attacks, or when your opponent is very low at the end of their jump attack. I have seen people attempt to perform their V-reversals only to be thrown before their counter can start. Distancing and timing are key elements. I have had some V-reversals set me up to finish off my opponent by linking it to a combo. A v-reversal will do chip damage but will not knock out an opponent, so setting up those potential links are important. Try to avoid anticipating blocking to perform a v-reversal, as you might find yourself accidentally taking hits or being thrown once you realize your timing was off. Try to use the v-reversal naturally once you already are blocking an attack.

Street Fighter V Strategy Guide | Some Ken Combos

LP & LK Combos

A CR LP can be a great poke to catch an opponent launching an attack, or recovering from their last one. In the video above, we show some basic combos that you can spring into when an opponent is caught off guard with the fastest of attacks. There are tons of custom combos you can come up with on your own. From this video: 1) CR LP, Light Hurricane Kick (D, DB, B + LK), EX Shoryuken (F, D, DF + two punch buttons0; 2) LP, B + MP, HP, Heavy Hurricane Kick (D, DB, B + HK); 3) CR LK, Light Hurricane Kick (D, DB, B + LK), Critical Art (D, DF, F, D, DF, F + any kick).

Bread ‘n Butter Combo (bnb): CR MP, B+ MP, HP, Medium Hurricane Kick (D, DB, B + MK), EX Shoryuken (F, D, DF + two punch buttons) or Critical Art (D, DF, F, D, DF, F + any kick button)

This combo is adjustable for different situations. You could start with the crouching medium punch as a punisher, or use the v-skill to dash in to go into the crouching medium punch.

MK, HK, EX Dragon Punch (F, D, DF + any two punch buttons) or any special move or critical art.

This combo is a great follow up to a jump attack. It also serves as a great punisher combo. Be careful to not whiff against ducking or blocking opponents.

CR MK, Hadoken (D, DF, F + any punch).

Can be used to follow up a jump attack. This 1-2 cancel combo is a good way to chip life from your opponent and promote a zone game, especially against grapplers or against an opponent that blocks the jump in attack. This combo is also a great follow-up to a V-skill dash.

CR MP, Light Hurricane Kick (D, DB, B + LK), Fierce Dragon Punch (F, D, DF + HP) or EX Dragon Punch (F, D, DF + any two punch buttons).

The timing on this is pretty tight. This is a great punisher, or jump attack follow up, combo if you don’t think you’re close enough to do the BNB combo from above.

B + MP, HP, Hard Hurricane Kick (D, DB, B + HK)

This is an acceptable punisher combo when you have no EX meter, or you are saving it for the next round.

CR MK, Critical Art (D, DF, F, D, DF, F + any kick)

This is the ultimately satisfying two move combo you can do with Ken. From nearly full screen you can throw a LP Hadoken, chase after it with the CR MK, and confirm the hit on the MK before you press the button for the critical art. It is also extremely effective as a punisher combo.

HP as a crush counter, v-skill dash (tap MK + MP), Light Hurricane Kick (D, DB, B + LK), Fierce Dragon Punch (F, D, DF + HP) or EX Dragon Punch (F, D, DF + any two punch buttons) or Critical Art (D, DF, F, D, DF, F + any kick).

Works nearly the same with a CR HP crush counter.

MK, HK, Hadoken, v-trigger (HP + HK), Hadoken, critical art.

Unfortunately, you can not make the first move after the v-trigger a shoryuken as the critical art will whiff.

Ken SFV Strategy Guide | Basic Strategy

Throwing / Tick-Throwing / Frame Trapping / EX Aerial Hurricane Kick Game

These set of exchanges here will show you how technically and strategically sound you will need to be to have success with Ken at higher levels of competition. Tick Throwing is adding a fast attack against a blocking opponent to keep them blocking as we set ourselves up for a throw. This is an old school technique and is subject to being punished by special moves that are inputted during the block command like Zangief’s spinning piledriver or a Shoryuken, and can be teched out of if the opponent senses the throw coming, which seasoned players will do. Frame Trapping is pacing your techniques just enough time away from each other that your opponent leaves block stun; but if they try to throw you they will not be fast enough and get punished with a hit. Check out this group of exchanges. In this first video, we see Ken use the EX Aerial Hurricane Kick to set-up a cross under to land a high damaging combo.

In the next video, we expect the opponent to learn to block or try to throw us in retaliation, so we switch out the follow-up combo with a throw.

The next video, we do the same set-up and expect them to try to tech our throw, so we do a tick throw is disrupt them.

In the next video, we anticipate the opponent will try to throw us once they see the set-up (and on wake-up). The AI in training mode here is set to block then throw us. So we frame trap them into a combo. Ken’s B + MP is really fast and great for frame trapping after crossing up an opponent.

If at any point the opponent blocks the EX Aerial Hurricane Kick, we have almost even frame advantage, so we might want to frame trap them to being hit.

Fireball / Midrange Zone Strategy

At nearly full screen, throw fireballs at your opponent when you know you are safe (while they are jumping away/waking up after falling down. Vary the fireball’s speed to make them hard for your opponent to time jumping in or away at you. Be wary of your opponent having a full EX meter and being able to counter your fireball. Also know your opponent’s move set so you know better how to space and time your attacks.

Here are some sample follow ups to the fireball set-up: a) dragon punch as an anti-air when your opponent jumps in to hit you; b) use the v-skill dash to get in close and follow up a with mix-up combo; c) punish a distant jump in or neutral jump with the v-skill’s attack; d) dash under an opponent as the try to cross you up with an attack, then throw them.

Footsies / Poking Game

A fast CR LP or CR LK can counter a few moves and set up a light hurricane kick, which then can lead to juggling with an EX shoryuken.

A CR MP can counter or punish quite a lot of your opponent’s attacks and start combos. You can confirm the hit before pressing the attack button for the follow-up to stay relatively safe.

A CR MK is very similar to the CR MP. It has longer range but can’t be as reliably comboed off of.

Using the V-Skill to punish someone who keeps walking in and out of midrange can also lead to an easy and helpful activation of the V-Trigger.

V-Trigger Strategy

Pressing the V-Trigger is a very dash forward by itself, so using it when an opponent is stuck in a recovering state from doing a move might be good for setting up a counter attack or throw.

LK & MK Hurricane Kicks fare better against projectiles.

Your Hard Hurricane Kick gains the biggest benefit from V-Trigger as the hit boxes for the kicks get huge and can lead to a pop-up for a Fierce Dragon Punch.

Fireballs cause knockdowns. If you see an opponent about to get hit, plan your zoning strategy ahead of time appropriately so you can dash or jump into position quickly.

Remember, the Aerial EX Hurricane Kick during V-Trigger causes stun, not a pop-up so be ready to follow up with a combo immediately.

Check the frame data to see where Ken gets faster with his hurricane kicks and dragon punches so you can punish an opponent that thinks they will be punishing you.

Street Fighter V Frame Data Guide | Ken

How do I read frame data?

“Frame data” refers to the number of frames different aspects of an attack takes to complete. SFV runs at 60 frames per second. So if a move takes 20 frames to complete in its entirety, it would take .33 seconds to perform. Knowing frame data allows you to study the moves that Ken has available to him and know which ones are best for different situations. Moves are broken into three phases: 1) Start Up: the number of frames after you press the button before the move starts hitting the opponent, 2) Active: the number of frames a move can actually connect and make a hit, and 3) Recovery: the time period after the active phase before you return to a neutral position and regain control of your character.

A more advanced aspect of frame data is “frame advantage”. Frame advantage is how long it takes to recover from using an attack against an opponent. The two basic types of frame advantage are frame advantage on block, and frame advantage on hit. Frame advantage on hit is how many frames it takes to return to a neutral position after hitting an opponent. If your frame advantage on hit is 5, that would mean you would recover 5 frames before your opponent after hitting them. If your frame advantage on hit is -5, that would mean if you hit an opponent they would return to a neutral position 5 frames before you. Frame advantage on block refers to how many frames it takes you and your opponent to return to a neutral position after he blocks your attack. If your frame advantage on block is 2, that would mean that if your opponent blocks your attack, you would recover and be able to do a move 2 frames before him. Frame advantage on block is of more importance in Street Fighter V because normal moves can cause damage on block but cannot knock out the opponent. This means your opponent can block your attacks but have their life bar get drained. This chip damage can be of major importance to how you might choose to pick your attack patterns in SFV.

Ken’s Frame Data

Check out this Street Fighter V Frame Data Google Document for the current frame data on all characters. We will have our own onsite listing very soon.

Character Specific Strategies

SFV Ken vs M Bison

Check back soon!

Meanwhile, check out this video!