Hey fighting fans! In celebration of Street Fighter V releasing this week, we are going to be breaking down some beginner and intermediate strategy for gamers eager to get their feet wet in the greatest fighting game series ever. Check out our Fighting Game Terminology Primer if you have any difficulty reading the guide. Enjoy!

Jumping in Street Fighter is not safe!

Street Fighter V Anti-air

Air blocking does not exist in Street Fighter V, IV, II, or even I. Street Fighter III has parrying which is only reliable for the most practiced of players. For this reason, once you commit to being midair with a jump, you can not reliably defend yourself. Although you may have a plethora of attack options/combinations available to you, an efficient and experienced player may be able to hit you out of the air with a single well-timed button press. The counter attack to a jumping character is known as an anti-air attack.

Knowing your character and that of your opponent will let you evaluate how safe jumping is for you, and if it’s worth the risk to try to get an attack pattern underway. Factors that come into play when determining the risk for jump attacks include the following: 1) combination potential; 2) crossover potential to confuse your opponent’s blocking or to set up a deep combo; 3) follow-up potential to throw or mix-up high and low attacks to confuse the opponent’s defense; 4) how far away should you be jumping from to arc your hits for the best effect; 5) what is the best timing to try to jump and hit a waking up opponent; 6) what your opponent’s super, v-trigger, or ultra bar allows them to do; and 7) what attacks can your opponent do to potentially anti-air attack you–and how can you time or space out your jump attack to make it the most difficult for them to hit you. Taking this knowledge of distance and timing into consideration will help you prepare your jumping strategy. I, for one, try to avoid jumping as much as possible unless I see a super safe combination or follow-up potential.

Being aggressive in Street Fighter has a lot of benefits if you can keep the attacks, including jumping ones, coming. Check out these perks for attacking all out: 1) you build super meter; 2) you can chip away life with your special and super attacks; 3) certain players will try to jump out of high pressure situations or do something else that leaves them vulnerable; 4) higher potential to dizzy your opponent or crush their guard; 5) control the flow of the battle, with the potential to break off your attack when you think your opponent will try to counter and hit them when they are vulnerable; 6) and mixing up high and low attacks with throws to break through your opponent’s defenses.

What is an anti-air attack?

Shoryuken Street Fighter I

As touched upon previously, an anti-air attack is any attack that does damage to an opponent that is airborn. There are few attacks that can be done mid-air that offer invincibility frames or evasion against a well-timed anti-air attack. It is best to know what they are so you aren’t caught offguard.

What makes a great anti-air attack?

Here is how to identify a useful anti-air attack.

1. Ease of Execution

How reliably, and often, can you perform the move?

2. Fast Start Up

The start up is the time between after you finish executing the input for the attack and when it starts hitting/grabbing the opponent.

3. Large Hit Box

A large hit box means that the attack hits over a large area. Or if it is an air throw or grab from the ground, this means it has a large area in which the throw will connect.

4. Evasion or Invulnerability

The best anti-air attacks offer either invulnerability during start up or have an evasive quality that protects you from getting hit.

5. Low Risk

Low risk means the attack is reliable and offers other traits that ensure safety like fast recovery or pushing away the opponent.

6. Damage (Potential)

The attack itself does good damage or allows for a great follow-up or combination opportunity. A prime example of combo potential is how turtling Ryu’s in Street Fighter IV will do whatever they can to land a light punch shoryuken after their ultra meter is full, which allows them to take off about half your life bar with their follow-up.

7. Usefulness in other Situations

Can your anti-air be extended with a combo? A lot of Street Fighter moves since part III have juggle qualities added to them, which improves their damage potential. Know the properties of your attacks. If you can find a reliable attack that works in multiple situations, it can act as kind of a safety attack to fall back upon.

Top 10 Street Fighter Series Anti-Air Attacks

10. Aerial Spinning Piledriver – Zangief – Street Fighter V

Zangief's Aerial Spinning Piledriver

9. Standing Light Kick – Ryu & Ken – Street Fighter IV

Ryu & Ken's Light Kick

8. Light Punch Head Butt – E. Honda – Street Fighter IV & II

E Honda headbutt

7. Lariat – Zangief – Street Fighter IV, Street Fighter II Champion Edition

Zangief Double Lariat

6. Guacamole Leg Throw – El Fuerte – Street Fighter IV

Guacamole Leg Throw

5. Adon – Rising Jaguar – Street Fighter IV

Adon Rising Jaguar

4. Flame Kick – Fei Long – Street Fighter IV & Super Street Fighter II

Fei Long's Flame Kick

3. Cannon Spike – Cammy – Street Fighter V, IV, & Super Street Fighter II

Cammy Cannon Spike

2. Flash Kick – Guile – Street Fighter IV & II

Guile Flash Kick

1. Dragon Punch – Ryu & Ken – Street Fighter II

Ryu Shoryuken

How do I trick my opponent to jump into my anti-air attack?

If you play a strong poke, ground combo, and/or projectile game that is tough for your opponent to work around, they will start jumping. The classic example is Ryu and Ken throwing ducking forward kicks canceled into fireballs and then hitting you with the dragon punch or standing fierce/heavy kick once you try to jump to get in close. While there are better ways to get in close than jumping these days (like Zangief’s V-skill in V, focus canceling to a dash in IV, or parrying from III), a good player can mix in pokes and work towards being unpredictable. Other ways to make opponents feel unsteady on the ground include attacks that push them back, attacks with long range (Dhalsim’s fierce punch and heavy kick are good examples), special attacks that chip away life when they are blocked, armored attacks (a lot of the EX moves), and focus canceling slow attacks in general. These strategies will make the opponent feel safer taking to the skies with an air attack.

Street Fighter 2 Game Play

Zoning is a type of strategy where you keep the opponent at an exact distance where you can effectively use the most suited attacks to dispatch them. The paragraph above explains a zone-trap style of play where you try to frustrate the opponent on the ground so they end up jumping in on your anti-air attacks. A complete zoning strategy will take into consideration the fear that will eventually set in when your opponent gives up on jumping and tries an alternate means of getting in close. If they can’t adapt, they will lose. But if they can, you have to tighten up your ground game, and perhaps even throw some unorthodox attacks to catch them offguard. All my main characters from every game don’t use projectiles so I have a strong evasion and poking game to make up for it.

Street Fighter V M Bison vs Ryu

What can good anti-air attacks be?

Thank you for reading BitCulture’s Street Fighter Series Anti-Air Strategy Guide! We are going to leave you with this list of qualities or traits that might help you uncover great anti-air moves for the characters you use: crouching fierce punches, field attacks (attack a specific part of the screen), focus attacks, armored attacks, special moves, EX special moves, super moves, ultra moves, v-skills, v-reversals, v-triggers, trading attacks, ground slams, teleporting attacks, jump attacks, projectiles, air throws, sweeps, standard attacks, ducking attacks, and actual traps that some characters place out on the screen.

Zangief Spinning Pile Driver on Link