There are a bevy of reasons, or excuses as I like to call them, that I’ve heard people use to defend why they “just can’t get into fighting games”. Among these, many are entirely perception, or “feel” based and not very strong arguments. One that I’ve heard frequently and completely understand is learning the sheer wealth of both general terminology used across the genre and specific terminology that is used in individual games and franchises. This is a task that I’ve struggled with myself as I delve deeper and deeper into the inner workings of both fighting games and the fighting game community. “Wake-up, oki, vortex, command grab, OS, fuzzy, footsies, jailing, wavedash, cross-up, mix-up, just frame, korean backdash, reverse aerial rush, DACUS, gatlings, FADC, etc.” The list is endless and it’s no exaggeration to say taking the time to commit this terminology to memory is akin to learning a language foreign to you. Lucky for you, I’ve suffered and still suffer through this learning process so you don’t have to. Without further adieu, let’s get into the language of fighting games.
Present in multiple games including: Super Smash Bros. Melee (SSBM), the Brawl mod Project M/+, Rivals of Aether, Mortal Kombat 9 and Mortal Kombat 11. Wavedashing is a movement technique and the focus of its utility is in making yourself harder to hit and your opponent easier to hit. Wavedashing allows much more control over your character by letting you choose how far and fast you’re going, sometimes letting you change directions completely at the drop of a hat. All of this while being able to jump, block or perform attacks and special moves during or immediately after the wavedash.
Present in every installment of the Tekken franchise, the Korean Backdash, or KBD for short, is another technique that amplifies the speed and control of your movement. Executed by backdashing, cancelling your backdash recovery frames with crouch, then immediately performing another backdash.
Reverse Aerial Rush
Present in the Super Smash Bros. series from Brawl onwards, Project M/+ and Rivals of Aether. Reverse Aerial Rush, or RAR, is a movement/attacking technique that allows you to change the direction you’re facing when dashing while maintaining momentum towards the direction you were originally going. This gives the player executing the technique ample opportunity to alter their action timings to confuse opponents.
Universally present in 2D, 3D and Platform fighters, a wake-up is an action performed by a character as they rise from the ground after being knocked down. Usually the term is used to refer to an invincible attack, such Ryu and Ken’s “Shoryuken” in the Street Fighter series, but a wake-up can be a jump, roll, non-invincible attack or even just blocking.
Universally present in all fighting games, Okizeme, or Oki for short, is the concept of confusing a knocked down opponent on their wake-up and forcing them to guess what the standing player will do next. This could be attacking on the ground or in the air, blocking, grabbing, etc. Anything to keep the grounded opponent guessing wrong and getting hit.
Option Select (OS)
A universal fighter concept, although more rampant in specific titles, option selecting is the act of first covering a single option from your opponent, usually with a jump in attack, then buffering another move to cover the next option your opponent could choose. This way you have the ability to cover multiple options from your opponent while staying safe and without making a read.
There are several different types of fuzzies but all fuzzies are a form of option selection. In fighting games it is possible to switch between high and low blocking while still in block stun. This is not represented visually on screen, but will register as occurring in game regardless. This game mechanic is what allows fuzzies to be possible.
The fuzzy guard is the technique used to combat low-overhead mixups by first blocking low, then blocking high for a few frames, then returning to low blocking.
The fuzzy jump is similar in that it involves blocking low. Instead of blocking high, you input jump before returning to blocking low. This is used to combat command grab mixups.
Fuzzy setups, or fuzzy overheads are the offensive variant of the technique. After forcing an opponent to block a jump in attack, which are overheads, and triggering the stand block animation, jump again and instantly throw another jump attack while rising (this is called an instant overhead). Typically instant overheads will miss an opponent that is crouching, but due to the initial jump attack having to be stand blocked they won’t have enough time to fully enter the crouch animation. This leads to the game thinking they are still standing while also acknowledging their crouch block, causing the instant overhead to hit.
A technique used to open up a blocking opponent and either punish them with a combo, gaining frame advantage, or continuing your pressure. Performed by jumping over your opponent with an aerial attack that hits their back as opposed to the front of their body. Since most fighters use the hold back to block mechanic, this confuses the blocking player as to which direction they need to be holding. The more ambiguous the aerial, meaning the harder to tell which side it will hit on, the more effective the cross-up will be. Cross-ups are also present in Smash games due to the shield grab, a powerful mechanic that only hits in front of the character. In this scenario, the cross-up aerial is used to bait the shield grab, then you’re able to punish the lag of the grab.
A mix-up is the one true essence of fighting games. This is where the genre’s rock, paper, scissors element comes into play. Any scenario when you have more than one option that your opponent must account for unless they want to get punished, but can only stop one at a time is a mix-up. The most common mix-up is forcing an opponent to guess between strike and throw, although other mix-ups may force a choice between a variety of attacks, grabs and jump attacks.
A 50/50 is mix-up where a blocking player is forced to guess between crouch blocking to defend against a low and stand blocking to defend an overhead. While some 50/50’s are reactable or fuzzy guardable, in a true 50/50 the low and the overhead attacks have the same amount of start-up making reacting impossible.
A vortex is a mix-up scenario that begins where if the blocker guesses wrong they are hit with a combo that loops back into the mix-up forcing them to guess again. If they continue to guess wrong they will be endlessly looped until death. Smoke from Mortal Kombat X an Akuma from Street Fighter IV are both known for their dangerous vortex loops.
A widely used term that has built up a legacy over the years. Footsies is sometimes used interchangeably with neutral and spacing, which as definitions aren’t far off from spot on. Footsies is the act of jockeying back and forth, by walking and dashing, for positioning with the opposing player in order to find the spacing where your moves are most effective and your opponents are least effective. This could mean landing a hit, forcing your opponent to block, or maintaining and gaining more ground pushing them farther towards/into the corner.
Your best, most used tools in neutral. Pokes are typically your fastest, longest range, or safest attacks and are sometimes a combination of all 3.
An attack that is perfectly timed to hit an opponent that has been knocked down just as they are waking up (rising from the ground). Meaties can be any move in a characters arsenal that has a hitbox.
The act of cancelling a poke or normal into a command throw. This mix-up can only be avoided by fuzzy jumping or backdashing after blocking the poke. This tech is usually exclusive to grappler/grab heavy characters.
A special move containing multiple segments that each require a separate command input. Typically rekkas have 3 or more segments to them and can be ended during any of them by simply not inputting the command. If the next command input isn’t entered in time the special ends and will start over with the first segment if inputted again. Rekkas are a strong mix-up tool as an opponent must guess what segment the rekka will end during.
An aerial attack that requires a motion input resulting in a a fast, diagonally downward angled kick attack. Dive kicks are typically utilized by aggressive, offense oriented characters who want to get close and force as many mix-ups as quickly as possible. Often dive kicks are quite unsafe and easily punished; a high risk, high reward maneuver. Characters with divekicks include Cammy from the Street Fighter games and Brainiac from Injustice 2.
An advanced technique unique to platform fighters such as Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Project M/+ and Rivals of Aether. DACUS is executed by cancelling the animation of a dash attack into an Up Strong/Smash, hence DACUS being an acronym that stands for: Dash Attack Cancelled Up Smash. DACUS is a burst movement option that can used to chase an opponent down or make a speedy escape while protecting your retreat with a hit box.
An attack mechanic seen in games developed by NetherRealm Studios and Bandai-Namco’s Tekken series including the Mortal Kombat and Injustice franchises, dial-ins reference the method of executing attacks in these titles. instead of using singular normal attacks or pokes (both of which can still be used) a player can press a predetermined button sequence to produce a multi hit combination attack, similar to real life boxing.
The concept of confusing your opponent while they block, this can include changing attack timings and making your opponent guess between strike or throw. Pressure utilizes frame traps, the aforementioned strike-throw mix-up, 50/50’s, rekkas, command grabs and more.
Also known as plus frames, a frame trap is an offensive technique used to trick your opponent into thinking they’re able to attack when they can’t. You can use this technique by forcing your opponent to block a normal, string or special that is frame advantageous on block, this could mean the move is anywhere from +1 to + infinity, and following up with an attack that combined with your frame advantage is faster than any attack your opponent can throw out.
To my beautiful girlfriend Kirsten, who made almost all of these gifs (and the mix-up meme) herself.