an attempt at a shortest possible tekken mechanics guide (WIP)

hello everyone. with tekken picking up popularity, this guide is meant to be a crash course of sorts for tekken’s general system, with just enough info for new players to pick up and get into the thick of the game rather than spending ages reading multi-page infodump tutorials and still not making sense of much of anything.

for most cases a link to a more comprehensive tutorial is provided for the reader to explore at their own pace. do note that this guide is still being worked on, so changes will happen frequently, especially once tekken 7 is released.

changelog #

03-11-2016 : published

notation #

1 : lp
2 : rp
3 : lk
4 : rk

f : towards the opponent
b : away
u : up
d : down
n : neutral
diagonals are indicated by a combination of above, e.g. df or d/f
if the above are written in capitals, you have to hold the input.

ws : while standing
wr : while running

+ : inputs are pressed together (df+1)
, : inputs are pressed one after the other (1,4)
, followed by a space : inputs are pressed one after the other, denotes separate moves instead of a canned string, (“1, 4” denotes two separate moves done one after the other, compared to the string “1,4”)
~ : inputs are pressed instantly after the other, usually as fast as possible (4~3)
< : delay, applies to strings (df+1<4)
: : just frame timing (d+4:2:1+2)


character states and movement #

if you do nothing, you’re in a standing state. this has an autoblock built in.

pressing/holding f or b will make your character walk towards or away from the opponent. this is slow, so you can do f,f or b,b to dash towards or backdash away. if you’re a certain distance away, pressing and holding f,f,F will make you run towards the character.

tapping u~n or d~n will make you sidestep one step into the screen or out of it. tapping and holding u~n~U or d~n~D will make you sidewalk into or out of the screen around the opponent until you let go.

pressing/holding d will make you crouch. any move you do here will be a full crouching move. letting go will put you back in standing state.

pressing u will make you jump. don’t do that. unless you’re akuma.

all of these movements except jumping can be cancelled into each other, e.g. you can backdash with b,b and follow up with d~n to sidestep out of backdash, then cancel that sidestep into a forward dash with f,f, then cancel that into holding B, yada yada. there’s a whole lotta “advanced” movement shenanigans you can do, one of them being chaining backdashes into itself (b,b~db~b,b~db~b…), chaining sidesteps into itself (d~n~b~n~d~n~b~n…) among other assorted character specific shit.

tekken movement guide by the main man:

attacking and defending #

pressing buttons makes your character do things, one of those things is attacking. checking the movelist to see what button presses makes your character do which thing is generally considered a good idea.

every attack, without exception, hits in one of the four hit ranges: high, mid, special mid, or low.

you can also sidestep moves to make them whiff. moves generally can either track by virtue of their hitbox, track everything, or track nothing at all. moves that are deliberately coded to track everything are called “homing”, every char has a few.

note that some moves can’t be blocked at all. these show up as a ! symbol in practice mode.

frame data and punishment #

every move has a startup time and a recovery time on block, hit and whiff. how fast you recover relative to the other defines whether something is punishable or not.

for example, almost every character’s 1 is a jab with a 10f startup, and is +1f to the attacker if blocked. what this means is if player 1 did a 1, and player 2 blocks it, the next move player 1 does will come out 1f faster than player 2, since player 1 is at +1f.

moves that are -10f or higher on block are deemed punishable. what exactly you can do as punishment depends on the character’s moveset, how far the move’s pushback on block is and other assorted variables like wall placement. for generally most of the cast, -10 on block warrants a jab string punishment (usually 1,2 or similar), -12 or -13 on block warrants a barge knockdown or a stronger standing punishment, -15/-16 on block warrants a launcher into a juggle. the general lowest common denominator for the entire cast is -19, where everyone in the cast can get a launch from standing position.

on whiff, everything is punishable if you’re quick enough. you can induce whiffs by either moving out of range, sidestepping or shenanigans like crouching under highs (this lets you do a while standing move to punish). punishment depends on what whiffed and your reaction time; if you’re fast you can launch punish a whiffed df+1.

frame data faq by noodalls:

understanding frame data by aris:

getting up from the ground #

so you have fallen, and want to get up. good, because tekken has a lot of varied ways to get up.

you can get up instantly after falling down using these methods.

once you fall on the ground and lie there for a bit, other options open up to you.

how to get off the ground by aris:

crush system #

this is where things get grimey. some moves are built to crush moves in certain hit ranges, i.e. after a certain point in its startup it cannot be interrupted by the move it crushes.

for example, certain moves have a uf+4 or uf+3 input, and the animation involves jumping. these moves completely avoid lows, because they, uh… jump… over them. similarly some moves (usually lows) crush highs because they’re lying flat on the ground trying to tie your shoelaces. it doesn’t matter if the person throwing a crush move is at a frame disadvantage, as long as the move’s “crush frames” kick in the move will crush successfully.

these are generally unsafe on block, but have some good rewards on hit or counter hit, usually either a short combo or a full juggle.

throws #

tekken also has throws. throws fall under three categories, regular, command and special.

regular throws are done using 1+3 and 2+4. you can also press f+1+3 and f+2+4 to do the throws, but they become slightly slower that way. you break 1+3 by pressing 1 and 2+4 by pressing 2 (in tekken 7 you can press either 1 or 2 to break normal throws irrespective of which one it was). tekken has a pretty liberal window to break throws, so you can basically react to throws and input the breaks on reflex/muscle memory.

command throws are throws that involve any input other than just two buttons, e.g. uf+1+2, df+2+3, etc. these can be broken with either 1, 2, or 1+2. king’s chain throws also fall under this category.

if you do a normal or command throw on the opponent’s side or back, they turn into side throws or back throws, with diff animation and more damage. side throws are broken depending on which side you were thrown from (left = 1, right = 2), and back throws can’t be broken.

special throws are everything else that don’t fall under the above. ground throws like marduk’s, air throws like king’s and armor king’s, or moves that transition into throws. with the exception of a few these can’t be broken.

strings #

strings are basically moves/sequence of hits that are unique to each character and are generally a sequence of inputs. think of em as a mix of special moves and rekkas for 2d fighters.

they’re generally sequence of hits that can go high, mid or low. for example, feng’s b+2,3,4,2 hits mid, low, mid, mid. dragunov’s df+1,4 hits mid, high. yada yada.

strings (or parts of it) can either jail or not jail. jailing strings are strings which you’re forced to block after blocking the first hit. for example, nina’s old df+1,2 used to be a jailing string; despite being mid, high if you blocked the df+1, you were forced to block the 2. jin’s b,f+2,1,2 is a non-jailing string, it goes mid, high, mid, so if you block the first hit you can crouch under the second and interrupt with a ws+4.

strings (or parts of it) can either be a natural combo, natural combo on counter hit, or neither. natural combo (NC) means if you get hit by the first hit in a string you get hit by the entire string. natural combo on counter hit (NCc) is the same thing except on a counter hit.

cawmbow #


you have two kinds of combos, short ones that basically start off with a move that puts the opponent in a situation where they cannot avoid the followup, or long ones that start off with a move that put the opponent in a juggle state, where you get a full juggle. combos are character specific, you can find em either by putting in some lab time, or scouring websites like youtube, tekken zaibatsu forums, or asking players who are willing to help.

tag combo breakdown playlist by hurtboxtv (thanks for the link, jace)
note that this playlist may not contain your main/team’s combos, but will give you a general idea of the composition of a juggle combo.

approaching the behemoth that is the tekken movelists #

alright so this is a big deterrent for most people that start the game. opening the command list and seeing 001/181 will make anyone be like “fuck this shit”. thankfully you don’t need to go through ALL of it, considering that most characters have a few moves that are actually match viable. most 10 strings for example are garbage, and not recommended to use. a lot of moves are too slow or too unsafe, or only meant for combo use, so they don’t see an actual use in footsies/ground game.

a good base to start off of is the “top 10” strategy: watch videos and take note of the moves the players of said characters use the most (or simply ask players willing to help) and try to apply the strategies/moves in your actual match. eventually you’ll learn to see moves that are good and worth using, and identify moves that are bad and not meant to be used in matches.

if all else fails, the classic “fuck around with it” lab time always helps, however it’s a bit slower, and is mostly used for characters/moves that are new.

this is a primary reason why new players are recommended characters like lili, asuka, paul, lars or similar that are considered “easy to pick up” because they do not involve messy shenanigans or tons of moves you need to keep in mind and often have a simple game plan while still maintaining the core aspect of the game. it’s recommended to start off with these characters if you’re new to tekken or fighting games in general, and eventually explore other characters as you get comfortable with the game.

again, don’t be afraid of asking experienced players for the most useful moves of a character if you’re overwhelmed by tekken’s behemoth movesets, it will make the journey easier.

conclusion #

this is all I have right now. if you have questions, corrections, or believe I missed something that should have been in this faq, please let me know on twitter @omgitsnewton. cheers!