Welcome to the lesson of the Turtle Hermit School series on advanced movement.
This lesson focuses on approaching and applying movement options in the neutral game. Once you are comfortable with the different movement options it's important to decide on how you'll be using them. Forming a gameplan, no matter how simple, will greatly improve your neutral game. There are more elements to the neutral game but I'll cover those in another lesson.
The lesson on movement covers the multitude of movement options and I consider it a pre-requisite for this lesson.
The Neutral Game
In my experience, the subtleties of the neutral game is next to unteachable, perfecting the neutral game takes time, patience and experience. The key to a strong neutral game is how comfortable you are with your movement options, it's very difficult to react to your opponent properly if you are hesitating or struggling with your fundamental movement options.
This lesson attempts to teach a mindset that can be used to approach the neutral game and ends in a simple gameplan that you can adopt to utilise your movement options. It will cover the mindset, tools and exercises that you'll need to get started.
Defensive, Aggressive and Passive Movement
We can try to simplify this topic by splitting our movement into three categories and for each category we will develop some tools that we can use. That way instead of making moment to moment decisions we can decide between sets of tools we can use. This will become more apparent in the following sections.
Each of these categories are important but as a rule you should move passively by default and aggressively or defensively when you believe it's appropriate. In the practical section we shall develop these mindsets and how to "switch gears" and move from passive to aggressive/defensive play
Defensive movement is the easiest to teach, it is the best way to avoid your opponent's mixups and pressure game. If they manage to get you blocking, then their reward is the followup pressure. If you find yourself blocking much more than your opponent, improving your movement is the answer.
Jumping back - The safest option and so long as you hold back in the air you are safe from aggression. You are briefly vulnerable to attack at the moment you jump so be wary of using this if they are in the middle of attacking you but the window is very small and in the neutral game it is next to impossible to punish.
Neutral jumps - A neutral jump is a jump straight up, you can block during it just like a backwards jump and is a fantastic answer to people who favour slides or advancing moves.
Backwards instant air dash - A very quick defensive movement option, you are vulnerable during the dash animation and as you jump so be wary of aerial aggression. Great for re-positioning at mid-range but be careful close up.
Backdash - Both the grounded and aerial versions are vulnerable during the animation and are very quick. Backdashing to create space usually leaves you in a very good position to poke if they move forward.
None of these above answers are reliable under heavy pressure but if you believe there'll be a gap in the pressure then a backwards jump can be followed up by an air dash for counter aggression if you see your opponent is vulnerable.
Keep in mind that you get one aerial movement option in the air, a double jump or an air dash and these can be in either direction, we'll cover this more in passive movement.
Aggressive movement is usually referred to as approaching, you should switch into aggressive movement when you believe you opponent is un-prepared or as part of a setup. Your approaches should be hard to predict and fast.
For aggressive movement, we'll be focusing on the long jump and instant air dash (see the first lesson on movement), but the grounded dash is extremely useful as well.
Being able to land an attack from these 3 options is crucial. In particular, you want to have mastered poking from a forward dash and your instant air dash to be consistent enough to replicate the sequence in the example.
There's a simple exercise that will help you practice rapid Instant Air Dashes in the training section.
The new technique we will learn is using assists to either mask our approach or force our opponent to block long enough for us to approach safely. If you lack a long range assist, it's not a huge deal, by losing out on the longer range you usually get a faster assist with better lock-down for pressure or a similar trade off.
Here are some examples of approaching with assists.
These let us control 2 different areas of the screen effectively, however they aren't as effective when approaching airborne opponents.
Instant air dashes are best for close ranged rapid pressure and long jumps are best for long range approaches. You can block during your long jump so its deceptively safe. If you block a 2H on your way there you may be able to punish with a combo if they don't assist or vanish.
Passive movement is the standard form and combines both previous sections. The goal is to subtly close into range for an airdash, bait a reaction out of your opponent or find an opening to use an assist and apply pressure. There's no wrong way to do this but you want to find a balance where you don't back up too far, push too hard or miss too many openings.
For simplicity lets define passive movement is a jump followed by either another jump or an air dash. A common tactic is to jump one way and dash the opposite way, here are some examples of non-committal movement options.
You want to make frequent use of these patterns but always with purpose. Doing this too much can leave you vulnerable to super dashes.
Another helpful tool is to combine these options with aerial ki attacks and specials to poke at your opponent and apply light pressure, depending on your character these can knock your opponent down and allow for some aggressive pressure.
For most characters these options are used to pester your opponent, bait super dashes or fish for vanish conversions.
A Simple Gameplan
That's the foundation of how I think of movement options in this game but it's a lot to take in so before you lose hope let's establish a simple game-plan that should help you build up your movement options.
Your sole goal for now is to land air dash heavy attacks, that is the extent of your aggressive movement.
Use ground dashes, jumps and air dashes to keep yourself elusive and poke with air specials and ki attacks. You always want to be looking for the right time to air dash. Use a combination of instant air dashes and slower air dashes to confuse your opponent. Beginner Exercise 2 below will be perfect for training this.
Once that's perfected you can incorporate ground dashes into low attacks for surprise attacks, even if they block it, it gives you an opening to pressure (the subject of the next lesson).
Next is using assists to cover yourself when approaching.
Finally, using long jump and blocking in the air is a difficult technique to space but is a really good way to close in on defensive opponents. I would say this is best used to follow up on sliding knockdowns, attempt air-to-airs or deal with excessive zoning.