Welcome to the lesson of the Turtle Hermit School series on defence.
Defence is the most important part of your play. It's also a difficult concept to practice with training mode. Basic defence comes down to being patient and building good habits for blocking high and low attacks. When you start having to defend against pressure strings then you want to also try to interrupt your opponents attacks and force them to end their pressure. I'll be covering this in another lesson as it is more difficult to do.
In this lesson I'll share some important rules to improve your defence and exercises to help you practice, over time you will learn how to break theses rules but for now, I'd recommend following them as closely as you can.
When defending, the strongest option is almost always blocking. It can feel sluggish, frustrating and doesn't feel like it helps you but it's the safest way to defend. If you can keep blocking until your opponent makes a mistake or leaves you an opening then you can escape almost any pressure in the game.
Blocking Low vs Blocking High
Most grounded attacks can be blocked any way you like except for low attacks which must be blocked crouching. Overhead attacks need to be blocked standing but are slower and reactable. Attacks from the air need to be blocked high and there are no attacks that hit low from the air. Keeping these facts in mind we can formulate a basic rule. If your opponent is on the ground, block low. If your opponent is in the air, block high. This will protect you from the vast majority of attacks.
Prioritising your defence
Overhead attacks are the exception to the above rule. They are slow but they can also be surprising or masked with assists, however, the majority of overheads lead to very little damage. If you struggle to block them, focus on correctly blocking low and air attacks as they lead to significantly more damage. When hit by an overhead, always block low, overheads are at their most dangerous when they cause someone to panic and hit buttons or block standing.
Proper incorporation of movement (see the lessons on movement & advanced movement) can be an excellent way of avoiding damage, be careful when dashing too much as it stops you from blocking during the dash but a well placed backdash makes it easier to escape your opponent and can put you in a great position to poke.
Recovering from a combo
When you are being combo'd you have a range of different recovery options, I've be covering these in much more detail in future but for the time being, hold down an attack button until the combo ends so that you recover as soon as possible. Neglecting this can lead to being hit by combos that were actually not correctly timed.
You can't defend everything
When focusing so much on defence, every time you get hit it can feel like a loss, you've got a lot of health to work with and plenty of room to make mistakes. When under pressure or being hit by a combo, keep calm and watch carefully.
As I said above, defence is difficult to deliberately practice but there are 2 important exercises that can build the fundamentals I mentioned above.