Freshman Series: Basic Offense Guide

The following tutorial is part of our “Freshman Series” tutorials and is made to help people learn the basics of applying offense in fighting games, most specifically, Street Fighter V. The beginning will cover some of the simplest concepts and then then expand into more creative ways of applying offensive pressure to a defending opponent, in order to bypass their guard.

If you have not read our Freshman Series: Execution Tutorial, that is a spiritual prerequisite to this, and it is wholeheartedly recommended you read that first. You can find it on our guides page, which you can find by clicking the bar at the top of this page.

Also at the bottom of this tutorial you’ll find information about how to download it for your personal use.

Frame Traps

Street Fighter can be divided into 2 distinct kinds of phases [People coming from Pokken will really click with this idea]. The first is footsies, where players battle it out fighting for space. There, space control and hitting extended limbs determine the better players. The second phases, we’ll call the “pressure phase.” Here, offensive and defensive capability rule the day. This guide will discuss the first half, detailing all of the basic skills for offense.

The basic premise of this “pressure phase” is that the person on offense gets the chance to press buttons and attack, and the other person, on defense, isn’t allowed to press buttons. Let’s examine what happens when the person on defense tries to break this rule. When on offense, you often leave little gaps between your attacks, so that if someone tries to break the rule of “no pressing buttons on defense,” you hit them. You are letting them hang themselves. The fastest attacks are generally jabs, so leaving small gaps to catch jabs are best. The sequences are known as “frame traps,” because they are traps in your offense; If an opponent presses a button, they get hit.

Thought  Exercises

Choose Chun-Li and set the dummy to Rashid in training mode. Record the dummy Rashid doing the following inputs:

forward dash, forward dash, standing medium punch, standing medium punch. [Combo Notation: f.dash f.dash, s.MP, s.MP]

Make sure the s.MP’s are done as soon as possible one after another. Set the computer to playback, and as Chun-Li, block the first hit and try to do a crouching light punch between the two attacks.

Success Lv. 1 = Answer the question: What happens? Why? Is this effective?


Choose Chun-Li and set the dummy to FANG in training mode. Record the dummy FANG doing the following inputs:

dash forward, dash forward, standing heavy kick, crouching medium punch. [Combo Notation: f.dash, f.dash, s.HK, c.MP]

Make sure the is done as soon as possible. Set the dummy to playback and as Chun-Li, block the s.HK and try to do a crouching light punch before the

Success Lv. 1 = Answer the question: What happens? Why? Is this effective?

SFV has a special “priority system”, where if you and your opponent do attacks which hit each other at the same time, the stronger attack always wins. If a light punch and a medium punch hit at the same time, the person who did the medium punch will win, and the person who did the light punch will be damaged.

In order to have the capability to start your own offense successfully, you must first make sure that your frame traps have enough of a gap to successfully trap your opponent who tries to get a quick attack in through your offense. Having frame traps in which the opponent can hit you and interrupt your offense is detrimental and inhibits you from pressuring and damaging your opponent.

Practice Exercise

Choose the character that you main, and set the dummy to the following characters below in the order they appear. Under the dummy settings, chose block recovery recording and record the character doing a crouching light punch attack [make sure the phrase “reversal” appears when you record the crouching light punch]. Turn on the block recovery playback and set the computer to “guard all” for the block setting.

As the character you main, try to find a frame trap that will hit the opponent when they block your attack and do a c.LP afterward. For the sake of this exercise, try not to make all of your attacks light attacks. One light attack in your frame trap is okay, but avoid making every attack in your frame trap a light attack.

Success Lv. 1 = 5 Successful frame trap attempts against Birdie
Success Lv. 2 = 5 Successful frame trap attempts against Zangief
Success Lv. 3 = 5 Successful frame trap attempts against Necalli
Success Lv. 4 = 5 Successful frame trap attempts against Chun-Li

Not all characters c.LP hit at the same speed. Generally, bigger and bulkier characters have slower jabs than smaller and more nimble characters. Frametraps that you can’t get to work against Necalli or Chun-Li, might work against Birdie or Zangief, because their light punch attack is slower.


Before, you just practiced making your own frame-traps, and you probably noticed, that when the dummy got hit, the “counter-hit” icon appeared on the screen. Counter-hits award you more damage, and also allow you to do combos that aren’t normally possible, while, not all characters can get longer combos from frame trap counter-hits, it’s important to test out your character’s and find out for yourself.

Thought Exercise

Pick Necalli, and set the training dummy to Karin. Go to block recovery recording and record Karin doing a c.LP. Turn on the block recovery playback and set the computer to “none” for the block setting. As Necalli, do the following frame trap:

Standing medium punch, standing medium kick, into crouching medium kick. [Combo Notation: s.MP, s.MK, c.MK]

Success Lv. 1 = Answer the question: What happens? Do any of the hits combo?

Change the guard setting to “guard all” and try to combo the combo again.

Success Lv. 2 = Answer the question: Do any attacks combo? If so, which ones? Is this possible outside of counter-hit?

Each character has at least one attack that, when it counter-hits, grants you a “Crush Counter.” Crush counters allow you much stronger and damaging combos, and also give your a lot of V-gauge for your V-trigger. Try them out and see what combos you can find!

High & Low Guard

Now that you can use frame traps to stop your opponent from interrupting your offense with jabs and other quick attacks, they will now need to rely on their defense, in layman’s terms, how well they can block. Now you must transition your mindset from frame trapping your opponent to tricking them and getting past their defenses. It was Sun-Tzu who said, “All war is based on deception.” This statement is what determines and separates players who have strong offense versus those whose pressure is sub-par.

Weak players expect the opponent to make a mistake, strong players trick their adversaries.

Going forward you should be trying to deceive your opponents in order to defeat them. Frame trapping forms a basis for your offense by forcing your opponents to block. With their mindset focused on blocking, you should do all that you can to overcome their guard.

Highs and Lows

All guards are not created equal. There are at least two ways through every type of guard. The first, in which we’ll talk about is the concept of an overhead attack. Overhead attacks must be guarded while standing. Overhead attacks will crush and blow through low guard and should be used to hit enemies who incessantly block while crouching. Hitting them with an overhead will make them second-guess their choice to guard.

Practice Exercises

Go and try to find out what attacks or special moves hit overhead. Try different characters. Not all characters have overhead attacks, so familiarize yourself with the ones that do. When you do find them, write down the characters who do have overheads and write what attacks are their overheads. Jumping attacks don’t count for this exercise!

Success Lv. 1 = Find 1 overhead attack
Success Lv. 2 = Find 3 overhead attacks
Success Lv. 3 = Find 5 overhead attacks
Success Lv. 4 = Find 7 overhead attacks

Because many overheads can be punished if they’re blocked, it’s best to use your overhead at it’s maximum distance. Using it next to the opponent makes it more likely they will retaliate. With a bit of distance, their punish might not reach you.

Jumps and Empty Jumps

Aside from overhead attacks, jumping attacks must also be blocked while standing. This is a commonly known fact, so when a person jumps to attack, the other player will likely stand and block [though anti-airing would be better!]. You can take advantage of this, and do a jump without an attack. Your opponent, assuming a jumping attack is coming, will block high. Instead, don’t do an air attack, but land from the jump and do a crouching light kick instead. This is a low attack, and must be blocked while crouching. If they are stand-blocking, expecting to block your jump attack, they’re in for a rude awakening!

Thought Exercise

In training mode, choose the character you main and set the dummy to Rashid. Record the dummy doing the following inputs:

“Recording Slot 1”: f.dash, f.dash, s.MP, s.MP, f.HP.  [Note: This does not need to combo]
“Recording Slot 2”: f.dash, f.dash, s.MP, s.MP, c.HK.  [Note: This does not need to combo]

Turn on the playback for Slot 1 and slot 2. As your character, try and correctly block all of the attacks.

Success Lv. 1 = Try it a total of 10 times and then stop. Remember, this is offense training. We’re just aiming to show you how effective overhead attacks can be. That being said, how well did you block? I’m going to guess not 100%.

Thought Exercise

Pick M.Bison [Dictator] as the training mode dummy and record him doing the following inputs:

“Recording Slot 1”: f.dash, f.dash, qcb.MP, nj.HP
“Recording Slot 2”: f.dash, f.dash, qcb.MP, nj, c.LK

Turn on the playback for slot 1 and slot 2. Move yourself into the corner, and get hit by M.Bison’s Psycho Inferno attack and normal rise.

Success Lv. 1 = Try to block the high or low attack from the jump afterward correctly 10 times. How many times could you do it? Tricky, eh?

This strategy is more effective against characters without a “Shoryuken”-like attack. Against the likes of of Ryu or Ken, be careful of using empty jumps! Remember that you’re vulnerable during the entire length of the jump.

The ‘Cross-Up’

The next pressure tool you can add to your offense utility belt is the cross-up. When blocking jumping attacks, like we talked about before, normally we hold the control stick back away from our opponent, however, there is a scenario in which the opponent jump’s over you, and hits you with the back of their knee or foot. This makes it so that holding back or away from your opponent on the joystick causes you to get hit. Be careful as not all jumping attacks are cross-ups. Each character has only one or two, so you should familiarize yourself with them.

Cross-Up Graphic

Practice Exercises

Go into training mode and try to find which characters have cross-up moves and which characters do not. Find each character’s cross-up moves. Set the training dummy to Ryu and standing and guard to none. Jump over the dummy and try to hit the back of his head with a jumping attack. You’ll know if you’re successful because the phrase “Cross-Up” will appear on the side of the screen.

Success Lv. 1 = Find 3 cross-up attacks.
Success Lv. 2 = Find 5 cross-up attacks.
Success Lv. 3 = Find 7 cross-up attacks.
Success Lv. 4 = Find 12 cross-up attacks.

We’re not going to cover blocking strategies here, we’ll save that for the tutorial on defense. Just know, the opponent has to change their guard to block a cross-up successfully. For this reason, it’s an effective tool for offense. There are two main ways to use the cross-up- Either in pressure, or when the opponent is standing up after being knocked down.

In Pressure

While doing frame traps, each successive attack you do, whether blocked or hit, pushes you away from your opponent. You can use this distance to set up the perfect range to do a cross-up on your opponent. This does come with some risk though. you can be hit during the jump before your cross-up attack lands. That being said, it’s not good to abuse this often, but occasionally peppered into your game, it can be scary.

Practice Exercises

Test out some frame traps into cross-ups during pressure. Set the training mode dummy to Ryu, stand, guard all. Try the following set-ups against the dummy. [Note: Because the training dummy is set to guard all, the following attacks are not meant to combo. They are presented in combo notation as just a flow of attacks that you should be doing. They do not actually combo]

Success Lv. 1 = Choose Ken and do the following: c.MP, s.LP, j.MK
Success Lv. 2 = Choose Rashid and do the following: s.MP, s.MP, j.MK
Success Lv. 3 = Choose R.Mika and do the following: c.LP, s.LP, j.MK

The added benefit of a cross-ups in pressure, is that even if you’re cross-up is blocked, you can still apply frame traps or other means of offense because you’re right next to the opponent! With grappling-focused characters, like Zangief, this is really good for scaring your opponent with a command grab.

On Wake-Up

Cross-Ups, though we just covered using them in pressure, can also be used on knockdowns as well. You need to be careful however that your cross-up will be effective given the opponents wake-up timing. Cross ups are particularly useful on knockdowns because they really limit your opponents defensive options. If they try to use an invincible reversal, there is a highly likely chance, it will go in the wrong direction. The opponent is, for that reason, almost forced to block or face taking damage. it’s in your best interest to find your most common knockdown situations and see if you can find a feasible cross-up scenario.

Practice Exercises

Go into training mode and set the dummy to Ryu, set the guard setting to “After first hit”, and the recovery setting to normal recovery, and try the following set-ups

Success Lv. 1 = As Ryu, try the following: s.MP, s.MP xx qcb.LK, jump forward, j.MK
Success Lv. 2 = As Ken, try the following: c.MP, s.MK xx qcb. LK, jump forward, j.MK
Success Lv. 3 = As Nash, try the following: c.MP, s.MP xx qcf.LP [V-Trigger] c.HK, jump forward, j.MK

Cross-Ups on wake-up are vulnerable to back and no-recovery. Before you try a cross-up, it’s recommended that you first knock your opponent down and observe how they recover to see if your cross-up on wake-up will be effective or not.


Before, I mentioned that there are at least 2 ways to beat any kind of guard. The first, was high attacks and low attacks. The second is throws. Throws cannot be guarded against by just blocking. A blocking opponent can always be thrown. When an opponent’s blocking seems to be relentless, and their patience seems overpowering, perhaps its time to try and throw them. Just like guards, throws come in 2 distinct flavors- Normal throws and command throws.

Normal Throws

Normal throws are throws that every character has access to. Each as a forward/neutral throw and a back throw, both with different uses, because of their different properties. The difficulty of normal throws are their abysmal range. You must be very close to the opponent in order to throw them, and will have to stop your frame trap to walk forward and throw an opponent. There is a way around this however. Some attacks have so little push-back, that you can do the attack, and the opponent can still be grabbed afterward, without moving.

Practice Exercises

In training mode, select Cammy as your character, and anyone for the training dummy. Set the dummy to “Guard All.” As Cammy, dash close to the dummy and try the following inputs. In which of these cases did the throw connect after your blocked attack? Check the box(es) where the throw connects.

[ ] s.LP, throw
[ ] c.MK, throw
[ ] s.LK, throw
[ ] c.LK, throw

Thought Exercises

Turn attack data on and try the following:

Success Lv. 1 = Answer the question: Do a forward normal throw. How much damage does it do? How much stun does it do? Right down the numbers.
Success Lv. 2 = Answer the question: Do a back normal throw. How much damage does it do? How much stun does it do? Right down the numbers.
Success Lv. 3 = Answer the question: Based on the information from above, what cases would you use each throw? Do they have different purposes?

Before we talked about attack priority. Well throws also factor into this system. If a throw and any attack overlap at the same time, the throw will always win. Normal throws have the highest priority of any non-special attacks.

Command Throws

Command throws are the scarier of the 2 types of throws. They are more difficult to guard against (more on that later), can have significantly more range, and often do much more damage than regular throws. luckily, their application is similar. you can use these whenever your opponent isn’t trying to press buttons through your frame-trap, and are just blocking too much. What makes command throws scarier and more powerful is that, unlike regular throws, command grabs cannot be teched. The opponent must backdash or jump to escape. The user of the command throw also needs to be careful here because if the command throw doesn’t hit, or “whiffs” as it’s more commonly called, they can be hit during the ending animation.

Practice Exercises

Go into training mode and try to find which character’s have command throws and which characters do not. Set the training dummy to Ryu and standing and guard to “guard all”. Try all of the character’s special attacks and see which ones grab the training dummy.

Success Lv. 1 = Find 3 characters with command throws
Success Lv. 2 = Find 5 characters with command throws
Success Lv. 3 = Find 7 characters with command throws

Learn the difference between hit-throws and command throws. Command throws will grab you, even if you’re blocking. There are some moves that look like throws, but aren’t classified as such because, they won’t hurt you if you’re blocking. One example is Birdie’s “Hanging Chain” attack. Make sure you know the difference!

If you’d like to keep a copy of this note for your personal collection, you can download the Evernote version below, which comes equipped with check-boxes on the challenges so you can easily remember where you left off.

Download Link:

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If you don’t have Evernote, and you’re serious about learning fighting games,  I wholeheartedly recommend you get it to make notes for match-ups, combos, set-ups, etc. It’s an incredibly handy tool to have on your computer, your phone, or tablet. If you’re feeling kind, when you sign up for Evernote, please use the referral link below. It helps me get more storage so I can make more of these guides and distribute them to the public without paying for Evernote’s fees. By referring me, you will also get a free month of Evernote Premium. Talk about a win-win!

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