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SF Terminology Encyclopedia v1.3

By Maj

The main purpose of this reference is to assist beginners in understanding the common vocabulary of the Street Fighter community. There's a great deal of information available on popular gaming forums such as if one can get past the language barrier. The secondary goal of this project is to define all conventional fighting game terms in a concrete manner to prevent confusion caused by frequent incorrect usage. Words are organized into several categories and listed alphabetically in the index. Since the whole document is presented as a single web page, the Find function on all standard web browsers is a good way to search through it. Continuous upgrades and revisions will be made to expand this guide, enhance it, and keep it current. Special thanks to omni, Sirlin, T7, Richard, jchensor, Viscant, and MiloDC for thoughtful comments and suggestions.


Technical Terms - precise terms for actions and events in the game
Gameplay Terms - general terms describing play styles and strategy
Tournament Terms - terms commonly used in organized competitions
Common Slang - offbeat words and phrases ingrained in SF culture
Common Acronyms - widely used abbreviations for common terms

Full Index

air combo
alpha counter
block damage
block stun
charge partition
command grab
corner trap
counter character
counter hit
crouch cancel
double blind
double elimination
frame advantage
guard break
guard crush
hit box
hit stun
just defend
kara cancel
kattobi cancel
magic series
negative edge
neutral state
option select
out in two
parry (technical)
parry (slang)
point character
psychic dp
roll cancel
safe jump
single elimination
target combo
tech roll
throw loop
throw setup
tiger knee
touch of death
triangle jump
Valle CC
volleyball effect

Technical Terms

air combo - combo performed by one airborne character against another, traditionally containing airborne chains; introduced to Capcom fighting games through the Marvel series

alpha counter - attack initiated by the defender during block stun, typically costing the smallest unit of usable super meter; introduced in the SFA series

block damage - damage inflicted against a blocking opponent; typically reduced to a fraction of the attack's potential; usually caused by special or super moves and not by normal moves

block stun - the period of time following a blocked attack during which the defending character is stuck in block animation; usually measured in frames

buffer - to use one move's duration to input commands for another special or super move

bug - clearly unintentional consequence stemming from a mistake in developer programming

cancel - to interrupt one action with another action by buffering the latter midway into the former

chain - to interrupt one normal attack with another normal attack

charge - to hold a joystick position and/or button combination for an arbitrary period of time as required by certain special and super move commands

charge partition - to separate charge requirements into multiple fragments, conjoined by precisely timed intermediary actions such as attacking and dashing; confined primarily to the SF3 series

combo - series of attacks that can neither be blocked nor escaped once the initial attack connects

connect - to score a successful hit with an attack, inflicting damage as intended

counter hit - attack intercepting an opponent's attack, typically inflicting increased damage, additional dizzy points, and/or extended hit stun

crossup - any moving attack that swaps sides with the opponent causing confusion and ambiguity, forcing the opponent to guess which way to block

crouch cancel - method for avoiding neutral state following a jump whereby landing animation is interrupted by ducking, which is in turn interrupted by another directional action such as walking or jumping again; used to extend juggle combos by prohibiting opponent breakfalls, often resulting in infinites; developed in Japan for SFA3

dizzy - utterly vulnerable state in which a character can neither attack nor defend for a limited period of time or until the opponent lands one hit, which may lead to a full combo; caused by taking too many consecutive hits within a short span of time; usually depicted by stars or birds rotating above the victim; also referred to as stun in the SF3 series

frame - the smallest increment of time recognized by the game engine; convenient unit for measuring durations of actions and events in the game; usually equivalent to 1/60th of a second, since most fighting games operate at roughly sixty frames per second

frame advantage - the discrepancy in recovery time between the aggressor's attack and the defender's hit stun or block stun; usually measured in frames

glitch - clearly unintentional consequence stemming from a mistake in developer programming

guard break - circumventing the opponent's ability to block through undocumented means, usually by exploiting game engine weaknesses or oversights

guard crush - circumventing the opponent's ability to block through documented means, usually by depleting the opponent's guard meter

hit box - the screen area occupied by the active portion of an attack

hit stun - the period of time following a successful attack during which the reeling character is rendered defenseless; usually measured in frames

infinite - endless combo, usually utilizing some looping attack sequence

just defend - special form of blocking that reduces block stun, negates pushback, and replenishes a small amount of vitality to the life bar; performed by blocking an attack at the last possible moment before it connects; introduced in Garou:MotW

kara cancel - to interrupt the startup of one action with another action; typically performed with the intent of transferring properties of a normal move, such as invincibility or sudden forward movement, onto a special or super move

kattobi cancel - to interrupt the startup of a normal move possessing an unusual trajectory with a Custom Combo, Variable Combo, or Original Combo in order to inherit the trajectory of the normal move performed; specialized instance of kara canceling

knockdown - any attack with the ability to floor the opponent if successful

launcher - jump-cancelable attack which sends the opponent reeling into the air, creating a combo opportunity; typically used to set up an air combo

link - to follow the natural end of one attack with another attack so that the two register as a combo

magic series - ordered sequence of normal attack buttons defining the basic chain capabilities of a character and/or game engine; any attack listed within a magic series may be chained into any attack found later in the same series

mash - to move the joystick and press buttons erratically in an attempt to flood the game with inputs; usually done to amplify or reduce the damage done by an attack

meaty - causing an attack to hit midway into its attack duration in order to decrease the period of time between impact and the natural end of the attack, giving the opponent less time to recover before following up with another attack; most commonly performed after a knockdown

negative edge - use of button release in place of button press within a command sequence; most Capcom fighting games allow special and super moves to be performed by this method

neutral state - inactive standing or crouching animation, indicating complete freedom to perform any action immediately; defined as any condition that must be avoided in order for a sequence of actions to be considered continuous and unbroken by the game engine

option select - joystick and button input that simultaneously functions as multiple possible actions, automatically choosing the best possible counter to several of the opponent's options

overhead - any attack that can not be blocked low but may be blocked high

parry - special form of blocking that eliminates block stun and negates pushback; performed by tapping the joystick forward against high and mid attacks or down against low attacks at the last possible moment before an attack connects; introduced in the SF3 series

piano - to press and release several buttons in quick succession while attempting single-button special or super moves; especially useful for boosting the likelihood of success in reversal situations

recovery - the period of time following the active portion of an attack needed for the move to finish animating so that the attacking character may return to neutral state; usually measured in frames

redizzy - any combo that has the potential to dizzy an already dizzy opponent

reversal - special or super move performed by the defending player on the first free frame following hit stun, block stun, knockdown, air reel, or throw tech

roll cancel - method for imbuing special moves with temporary invincibility inherited from rolling, achieved by kara canceling C/A/N-Groove roll into any special move; developed in Japan for CvS2

safe jump - any option select jump attack setup designed to circumvent all counterattack possibilities; usually performed after a knockdown, wherein the last airborne frame of a deep jump attack is timed optimally to coincide with the opponent's first tangible frame following wakeup animation; opponents whose quickest invincible attack is slower than the landing recovery time of the jumping character can never punish the jump-in attempt while the attacker is holding a defensive joystick position

startup - the period of time from input execution to the first instant the attack can potentially impact the opponent; usually measured in frames

stuff - to hit an opponent during the startup of an attempted attack, interrupting the opponent's move

triangle jump - superjump followed immediately by a downward air dash, typically used to initiate a quick overhead combo starter; introduced in the Marvel series

wakeup - any attack performed by a character immediately after getting up from a knockdown

whiff - any attack that makes no contact of any sort with the opponent

Gameplay Terms

anchor - final character on a team roster

assist - inactive team member under the player's limited and indirect control; helper character

battery - having the primary purpose of building up as much super meter as possible; usually referring to specific characters in team-based fighting games

corner trap - use of positioning, safe offense, and long block strings to keep an opponent pinned to the corner, making it easier to wear down the guard meter, cause nervousness, force big risks, and use the opponent's inability to walk back as an advantage in footsies

footsies - subset of zoning focusing primarily on close range normals, where the most common goals are to knock the opponent down and set up crossup opportunities

gameplan - general outline of strategy and tactics for achieving victory, typically stemming from knowledge of character matchups and player capabilities

helper - inactive team member under the player's limited and indirect control; assist character

mixup - any offensive setup where the opponent is forced to guess to avoid taking damage

point character - active team member under the player's full and direct control

poke - safe mid or long range attack

runaway - use of superior mobility to keep a safe distance from the opponent at all times; usually aimed at frustrating the opponent, running down the clock, or escaping a temporary immediate threat

rushdown - offensive play style utilizing calculated risks, mindgames, character advantages and increased game pace to cut through the opponent's defense and force punishable mistakes; widely recognized as the signature style of west coast players

target combo - standard, all-purpose attack string used whenever an opening presents itself; usually referring to players or characters with insufficient versatility to warrant constant damage optimization

throw loop - any immediately repeatable throw setup

throw setup - any situation created by a player to leave the opponent vulnerable for a throw

tick - any attack, hit or blocked, used to set up spacing and timing for a throw

tier - one of several distinct ranks used to classify characters in order of dominance; the playable cast of any fighting game is usually divided into top, middle, and bottom tiers, with character placement determined by tournament performance over an extended span of time

trap - any repeatable pattern of attack that limits the opponent's options, leaving the defending player at a strategic disadvantage by rewarding the attacking player with sustained initiative

turtle - defensive play style utilizing positioning, patience, and safe moves to slow down the pace of the game and minimize punishable mistakes; widely recognized as the signature style of east coast players

zone - to acquire and maintain certain positions on the screen favorable to one character's arsenal but disadvantageous and limiting to the opponent's character

Tournament Terms

bracket - the predetermined arrangement of matchups dictating how each entrant must progress through the entire tournament

bye - the position of one who draws no opponent for a round in a tournament and so advances to the next round without having to play a match

double blind - method of character selection where both players must choose characters with no knowledge of the opponent's choice, so neither is forced to pick first

double elimination - tournament arrangement where each entrant must lose two matchups in order to be removed entirely from the competition

out in two - having lost the first two matches played; usually synonymous with attaining last place

re-entry - rare and unorthodox option of repaying the tournament fee when eliminated from competition for another chance to play

seed - to arrange the drawing for positions in a tournament so that the more skilled contestants meet in the later rounds; usually determined by placing in previous tournaments

single elimination - tournament arrangement where each entrant is removed entirely from the competition upon losing only one matchup

Common Slang

2-in-1 - outdated initial label for cancel, coined upon the concept's introduction in SF2

autocombo - overly easy combo requiring little precision or skill

broken - extremely overpowered, giving one player an unfair advantage over another

budget - oversimplified imitation of a complex and demanding technique or play style

cheap - extremely overpowered, giving one player an unfair advantage over another

cheese - to use an extremely overpowered and unfair tactic or technique

chip - to inflict block damage on an opponent

Choiversal - intentionally delayed method of buffering a normal attack into special move so that the special executes only if the normal is Alpha Countered; also referred to in technical terms as automatic Alpha Counter reversal; developed by John Choi for SFA2

clutch - composure under pressure; in particular, during the final seconds of a critical match

command grab - any throw formally regarded as a special move by the game engine

counter character - having several significant natural advantages over another fighter; deliberately choosing such a character in response to an opponent's selection is called counter-picking

divekick - any sharply downward angled air attack which accelerates its performer's descent time

easymode - overly basic combo, play style, technique, or character requiring little precision or skill

deep - referring to an air attack, performed at the end of a jump arc while near a grounded opponent

ghetto - unrefined, unconventional, makeshift, bootleg

grappler - exceptionally powerful character heavily reliant on throws and holds; usually having excellent range, high endurance, and at least one command throw, but lacking in speed and versatility

hold - any throw comprised of repeated strikes in variable quantity, the damage and duration of which is controlled by mashing

juggle - to hit the opponent following an attack that has left the opponent reeling in the air

parry - to dodge, nullify, or counter a physical or verbal attack

pixie - exceptionally fast, rushdown oriented character; usually having excellent mixups and pressure tactics, but lacking in range and endurance

priority - the relative likelihood that a particular attack will win out against any other attack if both collide during their respective active frames

psychic dp - Shoryuken-class special move set up and timed in anticipation of an opponent's poke

scrub - inexperienced player with relatively little skill and excessive arrogance

shoto - character sharing several striking similarities in design and play style with Ryu, the main character of the Street Fighter series; versatile fighter with a fireball and a high priority uppercut special move; stemming from Shotokan Karate, the official basis for the fighting styles of Capcom's Ryu and Ken

tech - throw escape; derived from congratulatory "Tech Bonus" message following successful throw escape in most Capcom fighting games

tech roll - knockdown prevention, varying slightly in execution, effect, and purpose from game to game; derived from congratulatory "Tech Bonus" message following successful knockdown prevention in most Capcom fighting games

tiger knee - joystick motion resembling Sagat's original Tiger Knee command (D, DF, F, UF)

touch of death - any 100% damage combo, often commencing with a guaranteed dizzy combo

Valle CC - Custom Combo technique in SFA2 starting with a low attack, performed against a standing opponent; unblockable, for reasons not yet completely understood, unless the opponent is already in low block animation when the screen freezes; developed by Alex Valle for SFA2

volleyball effect - outdated initial label for juggle, coined upon the concept's introduction in SSF2T

xcopy - to imitate another player's usage of a specific character with regard to combos, setups, and/or general gameplan; derived from Twelve's X.C.O.P.Y. SA in 3S

Common Acronyms

AA - anti-air

AAA - anti-air assist (from MvC2)

AC - Alpha Counter (from SFA series)

AHVB - Air Hyper Viper Beam (from MvC2)

CC - Custom Combo (from SFA2 and CvS2)

DHC - Delayed Hyper Cancel (from MvC2)

DP - Dragon Punch (American official translation of Shoryuken)

FAB - Final Atomic Buster (American official name for Zangief's super grab)

FB - Fireball (American official translation of Hadoken)

FS - flying screen

FSD - flying screen deterioration

GGPO - good game, peace out

JD - Just Defend (from Garou:MotW and CvS2)

OC - Original Combo (from Japanese SFA2, SFA3, and CvS2)

OCV - one character victory

OTG - off the ground

RC - roll cancel

RH - roundhouse (American official name for HK)

RTSD - rush that shit down

SA - Super Art (from SF3 series)

SPD - Spinning Pile Driver (American official name for Zangief's command grab)

STSFN - save that shit for nationals

TOD - touch of death

VC - Variable Combo (from SFA3)