Street Fighter Footsies Handbook, Chapter 5
One of the oldest textbook guidelines in Street Fighter is “Don’t jump.” That’s been true since the beginning with SF2: World Warrior and it’s still true today. When you jump toward your opponent, you surrender control of the joystick for two whole seconds. Think about that.
Hopefully stating it in those terms reveals the massive risk inherent in jumping. You’re essentially gambling with the momentum of the match every time you try it.
However, the confusing part of accepting this advice is that jumping can be secretly good in special instances – when set up properly. The real predicament is knowing how and when to jump. And if you don’t, then you’re better off adhering to “Don’t jump.”
Element 13: Give your opponent a good reason to throw a fireball then jump over it. Do you see how this concept revolves around what they want to do as opposed to what you want to do? It’ll only work if you successfully establish, without a shadow of a doubt, that you don’t need to jump to win. Watch how Daigo waits 65 ticks of game time before jumping forward at Watson. In fact, he makes it through the set’s entire first round plus 50 seconds of the second round without ever leaving the ground. How long do you spend observing your opponent’s rhythm before taking that chance?
By the way, the critical moment of that final round occurs at the 3:32 mark. That’s when Daigo was instinctively “supposed” to jump but didn’t. Watch the whole round from his perspective and you’ll feel an urge to jump at that point. That’s what convinces Watson that Daigo has no interest in jumping, which prompts Watson to get a little reckless with his Hadokens. Credit Daigo for being able to detect and exploit that subtle psychological shift.
Element 14: Set up a crossup by baiting a sweep at close range. The main tactical advantage here is that it can be executed from within an opponent’s sweep range, which makes it a viable tool even when you’re cornered. Choi and Bas took turns demonstrating this maneuver during the B5 SFA3 winners’ bracket final. Obviously this is something to attempt sparingly. After all, it requires an irreversible committment to be based on a predictive whim. Baiting a sweep isn’t exactly easy, so save it until after you figure out your opponent’s sweeping habits.
Element 15: Analyze your jump attack ranges and leverage them to construct a mixup. For instance, Zangief’s j.HP has excellent reach. If you jump at someone from maximum j.HP distance, you can cause their uppercut to whiff by not pressing anything. However i wouldn’t recommend trying to play air-to-ground footsies too often; not even using a character equipped with divekicks and air fireballs. Whoever’s on the ground always has better options. But if you’re up against characters who force you to jump such as Sagat and Charlie, then you may as well create some measure of uncertainty for your opponent.
Here’s what everyone needs to do yet nearly nobody does: Before you jump, ask yourself what you intend to land on. If your answer is, “I don’t know, I’m just trying to land a combo” then you’re jumping onto an uppercut. Only jump if you know what your opponent is going to do and if jumping is the best counter to their action. That’s how to turn the odds in your favor.