How to learn from getting bodied

“Why play with people who are much stronger than you? What can you learn from getting blown up?”

It’s a good question. It sure can feel demoralizing to get 10–0ed, or 50–0ed, or 100–0ed. One of the most fun things you can do in a fighting game is play a session where both players are adapting and counter-adapting to each other, back and forth, having a good conversation. Those sessions feel so good because you’re learning on the fly, and once you get a taste of those games it becomes easy to feel like the sessions that don’t feel like that are a waste of time. I know I personally learn a lot from the times I get blown up, but I wouldn’t fault other folks who cannot deal with the frustration of losing over and over.

If you get bodied for 30 games and just pressed the same buttons for all 30 games, like you didn’t learn a damn thing in those 30 games, didn’t go home thinking about all the things you’re going to do to make those Ls worth it, you’re wasting your damn time.

That doesn’t mean you have to adapt during the course of the set; being able to do that consistently is often a product of experience and practice. You just need to make sure you come out of your asswhoopin with a list of things you can ask about or work on later. But that’s easier said than done, especially when you’re getting so overpowered that your list of things feels like it’s just “Learn how to play this game, because clearly I don’t know a goddamn thing”.

Holding your Ls makes you stronger. Specifically, grip and core strength.
The best thing DBFZ ever did was make throw techs look cool.
  • Reads are the most dangerous tool in your defensive toolkit because you’re just guessing. Use these sparingly, and find techniques to minimize the number of hard reads you have to make on defense whenever possible. If your opponent has a point in their offensive string where they can hit you with an 8F high or an 8F low, you’re going to have to guess based on their decision history (how many highs and lows have they gone for so far?) and the payoff (which one gives them a more valuable outcome?).
  • Reactions are when you have to see what’s coming and make the appropriate decision on time. Moves that force you to react to them and answer appropriately typically give you at least 16 frames to see what’s coming, and if you’re having trouble there, it’s probably not because your reaction speed is too slow, but rather that you aren’t recognizing the steps your opponent is taking to set up the reactable move, so you’re not ready to react to it. If your opponent has an offensive string that can hit you with a 20F high, you should be holding down-back and looking for that 20F high.
  • Lots of people think their defense is weak because they’re trying to use too many reads or reactions, when really what they’re up against is a Knowledge test. If your opponent has a string that can go into an 8F low or a 16F high, then you don’t need to guess or react, because you can just block low until 8F and switch high afterwards.
  • Also: If you’re getting counter hit, stop pressing buttons and block more or find ways to get out of range (backdash and jump back).
Jam 6H = neutral
  • Frame advantage exists in neutral too. If your opponent dashes in your face and presses a button, and you respond by backdashing, you may have avoided the attack but you probably recovered after they did, meaning they have a frame advantage that they can use to close the gap safely, or throw a fireball, or whatever. If you’re constantly whiffing big buttons or using high-commitment movement options in neutral, your opponent will have an easier time closing the gap and landing a hit.
  • If you’re getting jumped in on, focus on your anti-airs. If they’re dashing in your face for free, check them. You don’t get to play neutral if your opponents feel confident that they can skip it whenever they want.
  • Know the range and speed of your attacks and adjust your timing accordingly. If your pokes are getting stuffed, press your buttons earlier, stand a little farther away, or use a faster button. If your pokes are getting whiff punished, walk up a little closer and press your button later or use a bigger button. If you’re not changing up your timing in neutral to try and beat your opponent to the hit, your opponent won’t have to change anything up in neutral to match you, and you’ll just keep losing.
Matchmaker, matchmaker, catch me these hands
  • If you’re dropping your combos, you need to practice them more.
  • If you’re not dropping your combos, you should probably move on to harder combos. :P
  • If your knockdowns don’t feel that scary, you need better setups.
  • If your throws aren’t working, you need to get better at cycling options (in this case, doing the thing that beats their throw defense).
  • If your pressure strings are always getting blocked, you need to give them a reason to mash — more high/lows, more turn-stealing, more throws, etc.



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