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Another Don’t Jump Article

August 18th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

If you’ve ever asked someone for Street Fighter advice before, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Don’t jump.” It might be the oldest adage coined by the fighting game community.

Jumping feels good and it can lead to big combos, so beginners love to jump whenever they need to make a comeback or find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. Naturally this becomes a lazy bad habit, which is incredibly difficult for intermediate players to unlearn.

SF4 Fei Long's EX Shienkyaku vs M.Bison's j.HKIn tactical terms, jumping is a risky gamble because you surrender the ability to block and the ability to control your movement for around 45 frames. Your opponent can predict exactly where you’re going to descend, with plenty of time to react with suitable anti-air – unless they’re in the middle of a 40-frame attack when you jump.

In other words, the direct counter to jumping is doing nothing (or blocking or doing something fast like whiffing a jab) at the same moment as an opponent jumps. Doing nothing is usually very safe and actually counters a wide range of attacks – so experts do nothing often, which means jumping at them is frequently a bad idea.

In fact as players improve, they spend less time attacking continuously and more time looking for things to punish on reaction. Since jumping mainly serves as an easy counter to heavy attacks, it works great at beginner levels and becomes progressively weaker at higher levels.

At least 90% of “advanced” Street Fighter takes place on the ground, so the only way to become an expert player is to improve your ground game. If you spend half the match in the air, then you’re basically avoiding playing real SF. You’re just doing stuff and hoping for the best, because if your opponent does nothing then you take 15% damage, lose all momentum, and have to deal with a wakeup mixup.

Unfortunately when most players take this advice to heart, they decide to never jump and try to deal with everything on the ground. Then they run into a Ryu vs Sagat match and throw fireballs at each other for 80 seconds nonstop.

SF4 Ryu's LP Hadoken vs Sagat's LP High Tiger ShotIf your friend knows that you’re refusing to jump, the whole match becomes completely flat and everyone starts overusing unsafe slow attacks on a fake assumption. I thought about this problem for a while and came up with a better training exercise.

Before each round, pick a number between 2 – 4 and that’s how many times you’ll allow yourself to jump forward during that entire round. No matter what happens, you can’t jump forward more often than that number.

This creates a much better simulation of high-level game-planning, because your opponent won’t know whether or not you can jump. It forces you to set up your jumps thoughtfully, so that you’re not overusing them or resorting to jumping for no reason. It helps you focus on preparing your opponent for a jump, so that you’re not wasting your ammo on blind guesses.

You can jump backward and jump straight up all you want, because those are completely different mechanics with totally different roles and risks. Generally they’re much safer than jumping forward, and you’re far less likely to fall into the “I’m gonna jump because I might accidentally land a huge combo and win the match!” trap by jumping backward.

The tricky part is that it’s up to you to determine what “jump forward” means, based on your character choice and play style. For example, jumping forward just because your opponent walked into your favorite jumping distance obviously counts. On the other hand, jumping over Guile’s EX Sonic Boom from full screen distance doesn’t count, because it’s fairly safe and you’re not even trying to hit Guile with an air attack in that scenario.

Attempting a crossup after a knockdown shouldn’t count, because it’s pretty much free. Sometimes instant divekicks don’t count, especially when you’re using them as hopkicks. Randomly busting out Akuma’s demon flip or Guy’s bushin flip definitely counts though.

Using air Hurricane Kick to escape the corner might not count if the opponent is in a position where they can’t do anything about it whatsoever, but it should count if they’re standing half screen away and you’re being lazy. Guy’s ghetto jump elbow gimmicks don’t count from super far away, but they should probably count when you start abusing them from close range, such that even the fakeout ones become punishable. Anyway, you get the idea.

As you learn how to utilize jumps more efficiently and find better ways to attack without jumping, keep in mind that “Do you know why you jumped?” is not a yes-or-no question. Rather, it’s a matter of degrees of certainty. Unless you’re a telepath, you can never have a clear uninterrupted view of your opponent’s mental state. What you have is a moving target, perpetually drifting in and out of focus.
SF4 Guile's HP Sonic Boom vs Chun Li's j.HK
That’s where the nuance of fighting game strategy comes from. You’re constantly building up knowledge of your opponent, then deciding when you’re sure enough of their next action to take a major risk – like jumping forward right when you expect them to throw a fireball.

It’s up to you to decide how aggressive (anticipatory) or conservative (reactionary) you want to be, by regulating how often you take chances in a given match. If you don’t take enough risks, you become predictable. If you always take risks at the same intervals, that also forms a discernable pattern. Be a little random to keep them guessing!

Sometimes you might even know without a shadow of a doubt that your opponent is about to throw a fireball, but decide to let them get away with it since you have a comfortable life lead, just to save that read for a future round when you might need to make a huge comeback.

Whenever you reveal that you know what your opponent is thinking, and they’re alert enough to realize what happened, it disrupts their flow momentarily. If it startles them badly enough, they might even rearrange certain attack patterns or stop using that move entirely.

Every time you reach into the pond to grab a fish, the ripples make it hard to see through the surface. Some players don’t mind waiting until the water calms down between reads. Some players only reach in after they’ve spotted multiple fish that are far enough apart to stay in place. And some players know how to read the ripples.

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  1. azarel_7
    August 14th, 2013 at 22:27 | #1

    I should be more accurate and say that he wasn’t the best Ryu because of other greats like Shooting D, Daigo and other Ryu players who were better at adapting and could switch up their playstyles when needed, but inspite of that, he is definitely my favorite ST Ryu…

  2. xushuren
    August 15th, 2013 at 03:37 | #2

    @azarel Did you mean Choi? And about fundamentals, everytime I see Justin’s Rufus’s sweeps I think that it’s a reminder to me that even if you have lousy normals it’s far more significant to actually know how to use them(the argument I often get from people is that “X character is ‘not meant to be played like that’).

  3. azarel_7
    August 15th, 2013 at 10:06 | #3

    Choi, where? James Chen has a show. He is one of the best FGC Hosts if not the best.

    Its funny that you mention that “X character is not meant to be played like that”

    Chen mentions that in his last video – “Reading your opponent”

    He said something to the effect of if play your character exactly the way he/she is supposed to be played and never deviate from the script, that either advanced or expert players will eat you alive. Can’t remember which category though..

    But basically you become very predictable. He said that Valle reminded him of a tip – two logical moves, one illogical move just to mix things up sometimes…and prevent yourself from playing to logically which can be an easier read for better players…

  4. August 17th, 2013 at 11:54 | #4

    SF2:WW and CE didn’t have turbo speeds, so ST runs faster in general which makes things like cancel timing slightly tighter. It’s comparable to HF though. Oldschool games definitely required more precise execution, so those players had an easier time learning SF4. But the same is true for SFA3, which forced a lot of players to become extremely precise in their inputs to avoid overlapping special moves during V-Ism custom combos.

    That second Shiro link is pretty amazing, the way T.Hawk mercilessly destroys his teammate and then Shiro proceeds to make two and a half minutes of extremely good reads. It’s pretty cool how he won with anti-air sweep at 2:44. One of the hardest skills to learn in ST is not getting too transfixed on using a super once you have it. He played CvS2 as well, but he used C-Sagat/Rolento/Yamazaki which isn’t that exciting unfortunately.

  5. azarel_7
    August 19th, 2013 at 09:54 | #5


    Do you have a favorite iteration of Street Fighter though? Including all of the Capcom crossover? As well do you have a fav. fighting game period? Marvel etc.

  6. August 20th, 2013 at 22:25 | #6

    My favorite competitive fighting game is a toss-up between Hyper Fighting and Super Turbo. All things being equal, i’d probably put my quarter in the HF machine. But ST has a bigger and more devoted following, so who am i to argue against the consensus winner?

    My favorite training mode game is Capcom vs SNK 2, but unfortunately it’s way too technical to play casually or even enjoy if you’re rusty.

  7. azarel_7
    August 23rd, 2013 at 08:43 | #7


    Yeah, i like those both as well. The main reason I would play ST over HF (besides the community) is because ST sorta ties into SF4 a little more in terms of the Supers and New Characters and I still play SF4 on and off.

    When I see the SF4 tactics like jumping straight up over a fireball and hurricane kicking on the descent to gain meter and then I see someone do it in ST I have a small “Ah ha – so that’s where that originated” moment. But HF is definitely “purer”. Eltrouble was saying that the better player almost always wins in HF, but not necessarily ST. Plus ST supers have insane damage o_0..

    When you say training mode game though, what do you mean…can you elaborate on that a little?

  8. August 25th, 2013 at 04:12 | #8

    Yup, all that stuff about ST and HF sounds about right. There’s definitely a lot of fun new stuff in ST though.

    As for CvS2, i mean it’s an awesome fighting game engine/roster to explore just by yourself in training mode without even needing to play matches. It’s still my favorite combo playground of all time, although it’s pretty difficult to find anything new at this point.

  9. azarel_7
    April 20th, 2014 at 14:59 | #9

    Back to this article…..recently I had plateaued a little bit, well actually alot and I realized that I didn’t actually have objectives that I could use by which to measure my improvement.

    So I say to myself, let’s start at the very beginning again. Let’s work on the ground game and I re-read this article and decided to really put it into practice for an extended period as opposed to a flavour of the day kind of thing.

    The game became so much more enjoyable and less stressful, because I knew exactly what I wasn’t going to do ahead of time and what my parameters were. One jump forward over a projectile to attack, and one wake up dragon punch a round. Even if I lost the match, but I successfully stayed within my parameters, it was still a win for me.

    Its so odd. I felt so much more composed and balanced, and I wondered to myself if Daigo feels like this when he plays. He hardly jumps, if ever, so he never has to worry about jumping into an anti air so the rest of his brain power is dedicated somewhere else, to reads and anti-airing people who jump in on him so his game and thought process become a little more streamlined.

    It was literally like I started playing a new character lol. Same Ryu but without the ability to recklessly jump forward and do wake up dragon punches at will.

    Its been awhile since you wrote this, but thanks…its still packing a punch.

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