Kata #31 v1.0
Difficulty Advanced Kata
Focus Two-Player Game and Whiff Punishes
The intention of this kata is to help train a complex part of the mindset required to play fighting games at a higher level, related to your sequential thinking. The character for this Kata is Zangief, the understanding you gain from it will need to be adapted for each character individually depending on their dash lengths, dash speeds, and normal attacks. "V-Trigger 2" ZangiefBot is very good at intimidating the opponent while not moving too much himself and can deliver a lot of damage on players who do not get close to him in the correct ways, making him an excellent choice for ensuring that a large percentage of your 'auto-piloting' will be punished in each Situation.
This Kata uses ZangiefBot 1.0 with all actions turned on. The V-Trigger used should be V-Trigger 2 (Cossack Muscle.) Inputs can be either Perfect or Acceptable with some leniency involved in the bot with the 'SPD' input (Action #2).
Some of the options on dash-in will vary by character. Such variations will be noted in one of the situation descriptions below.
Settings for 1P side, Health - "Auto-Recover" (when not in 'Full Focus Test' mode), V-Gauge - "Auto Recover", CA Gauge - "Normal".
Settings for 2P side, Health - "Auto-Recover" (when not in 'Full Focus Test' mode), V-Gauge - "Max Start", CA Gauge - "Max Start".
Katas do not specifically have a point system, as they are intended to be a test of focus and endurance. Instead, this section will explain the why and how of the kata. Aims are still given below in a similar way to Bots and will be referred to as Aim A, Aim B, and so on when explaining.
- A - Dash in on Zangief and hit your standing Medium Punch button (variations noted below) and dash back out without taking damage other than from his various LP
- B - Whiff punish and Anti-Air things that Zangief does after your backdash, while evading or stopping his Running Bear Grab.
- C - After the backdash, sometimes dash back in or use one of your character's other approach options (also varies by character)
- D - Learn to hit confirm on both the first dash and potential second dash (or throw depending on character and spacing) on top of maintaining all other Aims
Situation One - Watching Opponent's Rhythm
Keep track of ZangiefBot's rhythm so that you can dash in and do your standing or crouching medium punch (Variations include any mid-striking normal that is 'plus' in frame data, if you are not familiar with Frame Data and are not playing FANG, Menat or Dhalsim, assume either 5MP or 2MP is fine and choose what is comfortable, or see suggestions below). Due to it being a bot ZangiefBot will not always be completely predictable in his rhythm, but he has various patterns that can come up interchangably depending what actions play into each other. Learning to keep your mind watchful and your response flexible is the first step to mastering this kata and the key to practicing this situation. Keep track of how far back Zangief gets pushed back on hit and block from your attack and at what range the backdash places you. Do not break your focus from the main goal of watching ZangiefBot's rhythm for dash in openings, if watching spacing is too distracting, do this part later and focus on your main goal first. Once tracking ZangiefBot's rhythm becomes second nature to you, you will begin to have more room for planning in anticipation of ZangiefBot's actions and watching spacings.
As noted, dashing in and using Standing medium punch (5MP) may not be optimal for all characters. Here are a few alternatives specifically listed by character groups.
- Crouching MP: Vega (Claw off), Akuma, Ken, Necalli, Nash
- Standing LK: Birdie, FANG, Menat
- Crouching LP: M.Bison (Dictator),
- Standing LP: Dhalsim
Situation Two - Whiff Punishing and Anti-Airs
Now that you understand ZangiefBot's rhythm down and an understanding of where your dash, strike, and back dash put you at various ranges it's time to put that knowledge to use. After your backdash, keep an eye on ZangiefBot relative to your own position. Is he about to jump? Is he going for a running bear grab? Being able to plan for and respond to whatever ZangiefBot does next is the main goal of this situation. The steps for this situation are therefore this: Dash in and strike Zangief at the right timing, then backdash while trying not to think about mentally confirming that you backdashed correctly, allowing you to keep your eyes on your opponent instead. Note what you can possibly do depending on ZangiefBot's actions, then whiff punish or anti-air whatever comes next while still evading the bear grab. Repeat this situation, adding one new whiff punish every time (most characters cannot whiff punish his LP) until you feel you are comfortable planning what to do after the backdash as well as being comfortable with all the different ranges your backdash after strike leaves you at. Some characters can punish running bear grab and should learn their options against it, but learning to evade it while still whiff punishing his other options is a sure way to learn respect for ZangiefBot's options and keeps you focused on not letting your plan turn into auto-piloting.
Situation Three - Second Opportunities
Now that you have a sufficent understanding of how to whiff punish and plans relative to ZangiefBot's rhythm, the last 'action' of the kata is added in. This situation is almost exactly like Situation Two and is practicing the same things, except now you must also learn to dash back in after the back dash if ZangiefBot's 'reaction' is 'nothing' or doing a LP (or for some characters, if he whiffs his command grab). This is the stage you want to finalize all of your understanding about what your ranges mean. Where does your second dash place you after a blocked strike? After a successful strike? Additionally this is the stage you want to finalize your understanding of Zangief's rhythm and how to plan your response. Keeping your mind on the next thing and your eyes on Zangief is the key to success here.
Situation Four - Hit Confirms and Armor Responses
The main focuses of this kata are complete. Situation Four is all about stress testing and building up your endurance. Now do all steps from Situation Three, but now try hit confirming both the first dash strike as well as the second dash strike, though not both at the same time. The goal is to work on your hit confirms, or in some characters' cases command throws, while maintaining your focus on ZangiefBot's rhythm and planning based on your spacing and ZangiefBot's possible reactions. Pay attention to places where you find yourself dropping your planning, or incorrectly dashing in, or performing the wrong whiff punish. Part of the purpose of this situation is to make sure your other pieces from previous steps are second nature such to you such that you can hold all of them in mind at once while still having mental room to perform other steps. Mental stamina is just as important in playing the Two Player Game as any other.
Full Focus Test Mode
When you feel as if you have a good handle on each situation and all the ways you could deal with the opponent, change 1P V-Gauge to "Normal". Both Health Gauges would then also be set to "Normal", but make sure that you go to the regular 'dummy' version of the Training Mode options and set Stun to 'Off' (this setting carries over to bots and CPU). The goal is now to defeat Zangief using the Kata as normal, paying attention to when you are coming out ahead in terms of damage even in situations where he armors through your attacks. Your secondary aim is to respond correctly when you end up striking Zangief's armor, noting how far he was into his animation. Can you block? Can you cancel quickly into a special move instead of blocking? Should you have just blocked instead of going for any strike at all? If you manage this before he defeats you, consisently, pay attention to how it is happening, and consider if you could recreate most of the situations in other matchups, against opponents that use attacks that you can backdash away from when your own attacks leave you spaced correctly, or opponents who use moves at similar spacings that you could whiff punish if you were watching them. If so, then your focus is probably enough to handle this sort of situation in real matches. Repeat with familiar characters until you are satisfied with your performance.
This bot uses an unaltered ZangiefBot 1.0, found here. Since no variations are needed, and the Acceptable version inputs for the bot are also sufficient, the only thing you need to check is if Zangief jumps forward or backward when he is 'trying and failing' to do his regular command grab (SPD) in Action #2. If he jumps backward often, you may need to re-enter that input so that he jumps forward often, or, optimally, does not jump at all most of the time.
Still in progress.