Don’t get too grabby. Makoto’s Karakusa command grab is sexy because it gives you a free combo, and it’s a staple of her offense, but it’s easy to counter if you see it coming. In order to make it effective, you need to train your opponent to think you might do something else.
You can do this by… doing something else. If you can get them thinking about a variety of nasty things you might do to them, your opponent will be caught in that moment of uncertainty, and that’s when your grabs will really start to work. In some kind of exciting zen way, you make the move more effective by using it less.
Don’t forget to go low! Dudley has a ton of great pokes, but too many of the Dudleys I see are far too content to stick with the high and mid-hitting moves, which means you can stand up against them without much fear. He doesn’t have a good cross-up attack, so some of Dudley’s best pressure comes from high/low tricks. However, just as “always go rock” is not a foolproof strategy in “rocks/paper/scissors,” high/low tricks don’t work if you always go with the “high” option.
To make all of your pokes, as well as your throw attempts (and your fantastic towards+hard kick overhead attack!) more effective, you need to make sure your opponent is afraid to stand up. Go for crouching weak kick (which is fast and hits low) into standing middle kick chain—if it hits, you can cancel into a special move like an uppercut. This will stick in their memory and get them to hunker down in defensive crouch, and from there you’re in a much better position to land that overhead, keep them guessing and score some big combos.
Don’t overuse her kunai air-knives! They can be effective at annoying an opponent, but they won’t win you any matches and can leave you more vulnerable than you realize, especially to fast Ultras that can hit you from across the screen. Basically you’re gambling whenever you use them.
Your reward for hitting is pretty small, but your risk can be extremely high, so use them sparingly and don’t get predictable. Think of them more like a tool to help cover your approach and get close than as a pure keepaway tool.
It can be tempting for OG Dee Jay players to try and play keepaway from across the screen with air-slashers. This will work to a point, but to really do damage you should take full advantage of his deadly cross-up tricks. Dee Jay has a lot of ways to knock you down (crouching middle kick, his slide, almost all of his EX specials), and every time the opponent is on their back, you should be jumping in.
When you jump, mix things up between a cross-up (jumping middle kick) that they have to switch positions to block, or a fake cross-up (jumping hard punch) that looks like it will cross-up, but actually hits from the front. Once you really have them confused and trying to guess which way to block, you can even get cute by jumping in with nothing at all, and going for a surprise throw.
Don’t be too anxious about getting in. T. Hawk is very scary when he’s in your face, but a lot of Hawk players get impatient from across the screen and try and focus attack through fireballs, or just reflexively dive over them with Condor Dive. Both must be used sparingly—Hawk’s dash is so short and slow that even absorbing fireballs with a focus attack and then dashing doesn’t move you very close, and can also leave you exposed. Be patient and use his normal jump from full screen to avoid most projectiles, or just be content to block once in a while.
The Condor Dive is even more vulnerable than the focus attack, and if you do it early, your opponent can counter you for big damage, or simply block it and hit you back for free. Hold your horses and remember you’re not going to lose from blocking a few fireballs. Advance carefully, and once you get to midscreen, consider the EX Condor Spire to get in their face and set up some piledrivers—much safer!
Again, big thanks to Seth at Capcom Unity!
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