GGACR/I-No/Structuring Useful Practice 1

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Most people who start a new character or a new fighting game focus on unimportant bullshit that is easy to repeatedly practice in training mode. They'll grind combos, then grind advanced combos and all the while they'll be losing matches. Combos are hard, but they're easy to practice because they give immediate recognizable feedback. Most guides will tell you to focus more important goals first:

  • Learn to control your character
  • Learn what every character generally does
  • Learn "neutral"

Your priority should be learning how to land a hit without getting hit ("neutral"), and that what you do after that hit is secondary. However, a task like "learn neutral" in a game as complex as this, for a character as tricky as this, can be broken down into multiple dissertations. You'll get one for each character in the matchups section.

Here, we're going to play to your "sick" obsessive mind and give you useful drills to practice. Wax on, wax off. It's like when you decide to play a sport and your coach makes you run and do pushups before talking about the sport. Some notes on how to practice:

  • Practice in small chunks when you have time for training mode,
  • Play the game against other people, or even the CPU, as much as you can to reinforce what you're learning.
  • Short, focused practice sessions of 5-10 minutes with breaks are very effective. Studies have shown that several short sets of "mindful practice" drills (a total of maybe 30 minutes of practicing) are more effective than a 4 hour unstructured slog. Read some books on it if you want to know more.
  • It's different when the training dummy fights back. You'll forget what to do, or the opener to the combo that you practiced never hits your opponent. You absolutely do need to play the game, even if it's against the CPU.
  • It's different when you're trying to transition from whatever you were doing to however you started your combo in training mode.
    • If you practice 5K > 632146K in a void, during battle you might realize that maybe you did 6K > 42146K during all those practice sessions. All of a sudden you can't actually combo 5K > HCL from a crouch blocking position.
  • "Chunkify" combos to make them easier to learn. That's what this starter guide is all about!
  • People tend not to practice drills for blockstrings, but you'll get those here. Offense is about opening up your opponent just as much as it is about making it hurt when you do.

Basic offensive drills

There is an explanation of what each string is for if you click the "Why am I learning this" button! Some are effective by themselves, and build toward something greater. Others are small chunks of something you'll need later. I-No's combos are pretty modular and fit together. When you get to the advanced stuff the "chunks" will already be automatic. Wax on.

Do each string maybe 10 times each facing one way to complete a circuit, then take a short break, then do them all again facing the other direction. Two sets of this (4 total) would probably be a good starting point. If you spend more than 20 minutes on a block of drills, take a break. Work on a group across several practice sessions, until you can do it automatically. Remember that this practice should be done alongside playing against opponents.

With blockstrings you may see some redundancy between them, such as the inclusion or lack of a special move at the end. You need them all to be second nature so that you wont spend mental energy on doing a slight variation. Slight variations also make your opponent watch for more things, wasting their mental energy.

If you have competition in your local scene, make time to practice on the characters you're going to be playing against the most. Aside from that, Testament and Slayer are good practice dummies for general practice.

Combo Group 1 - Basic Modular Stuff (Part 1)

Get started with strings that will either do their job for the majority of the time you play the character, or become the backbone of a more complex string (with greater rewards) later on.

  • 5K > HCL
    • This is one of the most common setups for HCL 6FRC6 combos. As basic as this is, if you don't practice you'll get sj.K and eat a full CH combo, which is something that happens even to the pros in Japan on occasion.
  • 2K > 2S > 2D > HCL
    • Basic combo into knockdown. Sometimes you don't have a meterless option that's better than this, such as when you hit a crouching opponent from too far away to 6P. This will always be useful.
      • Sometimes HCL wont make contact. End the combo at 2D in that case.
  • Hoverdash j.S > c.S > 5H > HCL
    • Skipping the 6P will avoid a 90% forced prorate on your damage, so you can use this with 6FRC6 for optimized damage (after you learn to 6FRC6).
  • Hoverdash j.K > 6P > 5H.
    • To be able to link the j.K to 6P you need to delay the j.K and begin to fall before you press the button. Learning to do falling j.K to 6P will force you to learn proper safe-jump timing, but it is quite difficult at first. If you hoverdash forward and use j.K as soon as possible, and time that so that it'll make contact against a waking-up opponent, you'll take too long to land and block if they use a wakeup-reversal option like a super or a DP.
    • You will generally use easier/better strings in actual matches, so this is like a "wax-on wax-off" kind of training.
  • Hoverdash j.K > c.S > 6P > 5H
    • This may not work on some characters (like Sol and Order Sol) due to unusual airborne hurtboxes causing the 5H to whiff, but it's easier than linking j.K to 6P. It will be your go-to in many cases.
  • 2K > 6P > 5H
    • Basic combo fodder. Leads to IAD combos for midscreen or diveloops in the corner, off a low. Should always work when the 2K makes contact from very close, but at longer ranges the 5H will whiff on some characters.
  • 2K > 6P > f.S
    • This is very much like the 2K > 6P > 5H route from above, but this one works on characters the other fails on (like Sol and Order Sol if you're not right up on their nuts when 2K makes contact).
  • 2S > HCL
    • This is a simple way to convert to knockdown, but later you'll learn to carry a "jump install" when landing from your hoverdash, which will allow you to 6FRC6 from here. This is one way do big damage from lows, so you should learn it.
  • 2S > 2D > HCL
    • This is a variant of the above that you can use against most crouching opponents when they're close enough for 2D to reach. It's easier to do than the 2S > HCL string since you have more time to input HCL. You'll also notice that it's nearly identical to the one above that starts with 2K. You still need to build separate muscle memory for the string without 2K in there so that you don't have to think about it during a match.
  • Blockstring Group 1 - On the ground

    Blockstrings are just as important as combos, since they work towards letting you land a hit when your opponent successfully blocked the first thing you used that made contact. Set the training dummy to guard 'all' at first and start by learning these:

    • 2P > tick-throw
      • Throws are an important part of your mixup and pressure game. You wouldn't go for a throw when your opening attack is successful, and 2P is + on block so it's good to frametrap with.
  • 2P > 2S > 5H
    • Canceling into 2S here can potentially catch people trying to jump on reaction to 2P as an attempt to beat throw, but it does not leave a gap.
  • 2P > 2H
    • This one does leave a 1-f gap, so it can catch people trying to mash (a frametrap), and will catch pre-jump frames. It also ends with a move that is very + on block, so you can frametrap a second time if you didn't successfully bait a throw escape attempt.
  • 2K > 2H
    • Learning to go into the 2H frametrap from something else, so that you're not too predictable.
  • 2K > 6P > f.S
    • Intended to be used from far enough away that you actually get f.S. f.S is + on block, so you can follow this up with one of your pokes to try to frame trap.
  • Combo Group 2 - Anti-Air starters with a moving dummy

    I-No has a lot of anti-air options and we're going to start learning some here, but you can handle a lot of jump ins with either 5P or 6P, especially if your opponent doesn't space their jump in properly. Things get much more complicated later (specific character jump ins, or opponents that space their jump ins well), but don't worry about that yet. We also want you to get used to using the starter of the combo in a situation that you're likely to be in during a real match. Where it says "set dummy to jump in at you" below, you should practice against whichever normal is giving your problems in whatever matchup you're practicing. If you don't have a situation like that, pick a character you're likely to play against and test the various anti-air methods below against all of their jump-ins, to see what works and what feels most consistent to you.

    • Set dummy to jump at you: 6P > c.S > sj.K > sj.S > VCL
      • Learning to convert from anti-air 6P.
  • Set dummy to jump in at you: 6P > c.S > j.S > j.S > VCL
    • Learning to convert from an anti-air 6P. Alternate route since a buffered superjump can be difficult at first.
  • Set dummy to jump at you: 5P > c.S > sj.S > sj.H
    • Learning to convert from anti-air 5P. Will also be used in some relaunches in the corner.
  • Set dummy to jump at you: 5K > TK Sdive
    • Learning a conversion from an anti-air 5K. This isn't optimal most of the time, but you need to learn to adapt with TK Pdive if they're up close or Instant AirDash if they're far away for meterless damage. That's too advanced for now, and the TK Sdive should work for something in both situations. From there you can most likely go into something else too, like 5K > HCL for a tad more damage or c.S into an air string. This combo requires the 5K to be a counterhit, which is typically going to happen when you're anti-airing a jump-in.
  • Set dummy to jump at you: j.P > j.H > HCL
    • Learning to air-to-air as a form of anti-air. j.P > j.H does not normally combo, but on air counterhit it does! You're typically using the 5P to score a counterhit in an air-to-air scenario, so this is a go-to combo starter. You'll eventually learn to use HCL 6FRC6 here for full conversions.
  • Set dummy to jump at you: Airthrow.
    • Airthrows are really strong because throws are instant! I-No's horizontal airthrow range is bad, but you should still learn how to do this, and we're going to practice it here.
  • Blockstring Group 2

    The first set of blockstrings were mostly to teach you to throw, or to punish attempts to escape your throws. This is to make you more well rounded on offense when your opponent blocks.

    • 2K > 2S (wait)
      • Sometimes you'll just want to wait and see what the other player does. You'll only be -5 and from far enough away you're probably safe. If the 2K hit, it's common that your opponent will burst at 2S, but if you stop attacking here you'll be able to block and punish the burst.
  • 2K > 2S > STBT
    • If your opponent expects you to stop after 2S and tries to do something, the STBT can Counter Hit them.
  • 2K > 2S > 2D
    • If your opponent attempts to do something after 2S, the 2D can hit them and score knockdown.
  • 2K > c.S > 2S > HCL
    • This is the low portion of your mixup following c.S. After c.S you can go into an overhead or a low against an opponent who is committed to blocking, and if you have both practiced you have a legitimate mixup you can use. Later you will learn to jump install the c.S so that if the 2S is successful, you can 6FRC6 and convert into big damage.
  • 2K > c.S > TK Sdive
    • This is the overhead portion of your mixup game. The TK Sdive hits overhead and causes float, which can start your combo.
  • 2K > c.S > (late gatling) 5H > STBT-H
    • This is a frametrap so you can beat opponents who want to push buttons to beat a TK Dive overhead that follows a c.S. You can gatling during the active window, and c.S is active long enough that you can hold for a few frames before starting 5H, creating a gap where there normally wouldn't be one. If the 5H successfully scores a counter hit, it will combo to STBT-H, and that leads to a great meterless combo.
  • Blockstring Group 3 - From the air for Oki

    You're going to start combos from the air, but your opponent wont always get hit by the overhead, so you'll need to learn how to enforce respect here so you can then go into mixups from here.

    • Hoverdash j.K > 6P > 5H
      • You'll frequently oki with j.K safejump, so you'll need to have a good understanding of doing things when your opponent blocks them.
  • Hoverdash j.K > c.S > late gatling to 5H > STBT-H
    • This is the same as a blockstring from earlier, but you're learning to link to the c.S from j.K instead of 2K. Just build muscle memory for these little differences right now. You're also learning to slightly delay 5H such that it wouldn't be a combo if it was on hit. c.S is even on block, is jump cancelable which puts your overheads on the table, and also leads to 2S for a low. It's a great normal on block for setting up a mixup. First though, learn to encourage your opponent to stay blocking. If they mash like an idiot you'll get a juicy counterhit that combos to STBT-H for a meterless extension.
  • Hoverdash j.S > j.K > land 6P > 5H.
    • If you hoverdash for a little extra time before starting j.S, you'll be high enough to gatling to j.K before landing due to its speed. The double overhead may trip up some players and let you combo. You can get surprisingly far by mixing in tactics like this when the opportunity presents itself, avoiding the need to take risks on using mixups that are easier to defeat or run a higher risk of execution errors.
  • Hoverdash j.K > j.D > 2363214S
    • I-No's j.D causes her to float a bit if she uses it while falling, so you can fit another overhead in here when it looks like you're going to land into a low. You should learn to combo/blockstring it into super because it's effective damage on hit, and the super is so + on block that you cover yourself. j.D would normally be unsafe, but if you jump cancel away or special cancel and FRC, or go into air super, you can become safe and in some cases run another mixup. Learn to go into air super first since it covers both situations (opponent gets hit and opponent blocks).
  • Hoverdash j.H > c.S > 6P > 5H.
    • Sometimes you have enough time to hold hoverdash long enough to safejump with j.H, which will catch attempts to go low underneath I-No's overhead j.K and j.S, which is actually a thing you have to worry about in some matchups. If the j.H hits the rest of this will combo, though on block it still enforces respect. Getting more specific than that is matchup dependent IMO, so we wont' go into that here, but this is simple enough that it's worth learning now.
  • Hoverdash > airdash (input is 66956) > j.K > j.S > j.K > j.P > land 2K.
    • We're going to get you started on learning this type of pressure string, but getting fancy with it will come later. You can set it up in situations where you have an opponent blocking the note projectile, such as on oki. We'll stop at 2K because you're hitting the point where you should know that from here, you can go into any of the other 2K starter blockstrings or combos.
  • Combo Group 3 - Conversions from more situations

    • TK Sdive (from a distance) > link 2P > 5K > HCL
      • Midscreen conversion route once you learn HCL 6FRC6.
  • TK Sdive (from a distance) > link 5K > HCL
    • Alternate midscreen conversion route that you'll use for situations where lightweight characters float higher and you have time to skip the 2P, and/or where 2P would float them too high.
  • j.D > dj.H > Sdive > c.S
    • This is very basic and wont end in KD (the c.S is essentially a relaunch), but from here you the method to keep the combo going varies depending on if you're in the corner or mid-screen.
  • TK Fortissimo > j.H > Sdive
    • Following air super with j.H > Sdive isn't very difficult, it works anywhere on the screen against every character, and can be followed up with I-No's other "modular" combo filler. I-No's air super is quite strong and you have the advantage when it's blocked, but it's difficult to input so you need to practice it.
  • Basic Defensive Drills

    Don't let the word "basic" here give you a false sense of ease. This section is going to focus on reversal actions when waking up from a knockdown, which usually require "frame perfect" timing.

    We're not going to get too deep into "defensive" actions in this section as offense is a little more universal than defense. And really, the Anti-Air starters you practiced earlier could be considered defensive even though they're a form of offense. However, more complex defensive actions (Instant Blocking and then taking an action) will be covered in another section, as application of those techniques is far more character specific.

    Reversal Backdash

    1. Set a button to record playback of the training dummy.
    2. Set a button to play it back.
    3. Record the training dummy hitting you with something that knocks you down (usually 2D works), then time an attack to be active as you wake up as part of the same recording.
    4. Test the recording for accuracy. Let it knock you down, then hold up and/or mash buttons as your character "wakes up" to make sure you're getting hit. It worked? Ok, good, now for the drill:
    5. Learn to time your backdash such that you escape from the attack. Practice until you can get 5 consecutive successes in a row. Then repeat facing the other direction (you will have to re-record step 3).
    6. Try this with a different attack while knocked down for whichever character you picked, just to see if there's a difference in how strict your window is. If there is, you possibly timed your "oki" a frame late the first time, or it's possible this second attack has more active frames and is catching the recovery of your backdash.

    Reversal Super

    1. Set a button to record playback of the training dummy.
    2. Set a button to play it back.
    3. Record the training dummy hitting you with something that knocks you down (usually 2D works), then time an attack to be active as you wake up as part of the same recording.
    4. Test the recording for accuracy. Let it knock you down, then hold up and/or mash buttons as your character "wakes up" to make sure you're getting hit. It worked? Ok, good, now for the drill:
    5. Learn to time your 632146H super such that you blast through the attack. Practice until you can get 5 consecutive successes in a row. Then repeat facing the other direction (you will have to re-record step 3).

    Reversals with a purpose

    You might practice the above and think, "Wow! I can escape from a bad situation by backdashing, or by doing my super! I'm never going to lose again!"

    I'll save you the heartache by telling you right now, both of these options can be baited and punished. Everyone has some option that'll work to punish incorrect use of reversal options. I want you to give this a try (so you can see for yourself; this isn't a drill to repeatedly practice):

    1. Select Jam to be your training dummy.
    2. Set a button to record playback of the training dummy.
    3. Set a button to play it back.
    4. Set the dummy to "Guard all"
    5. Record the training dummy hitting you with something that knocks you down (usually 2D works), then time her 2P attack to be active as you wake up as part of the same recording.
    6. Test the recording for accuracy. Let it knock you down, then hold up and/or mash buttons as your character "wakes up" to make sure you're getting hit. It worked? Ok, good, now for the drill:
    7. Time either your backdash or wakeup super such that you don't get hit by Jam's 2P.

    It's hard to see when you backdash, but Jam recovers before you. In fact, if you made a new recording where Jam waited a bit and then pushed another button, you would get hit! Your backdash has 16 total animation frames, but only 11 are invincible (which is actually pretty good, most get 8f). So Jam's 2P would recover while you're still performing your backdash, and the Jam player could push another button to punish you on reaction.

    When you wake up with the super, it has 7 startup frames, and Jam's 2P has only 4 frames of recovery, which means she has time to block the super. If she was feeling really mean, she could react to the super flash and parry all three hits, and then slam you with a massive combo. Or blast through your super with her own super.

    So be aware that these are only two of many defensive tools you will need to use. Backdash is best used to dodge moves that don't have a lot of active frames, especially if they have longer recoveries that you can punish with a knockdown. The super is good to blast through all sorts of stuff, but it costs meter and still has its own set of weaknesses. It doesn't reach all the way to the ground (Sol can Grand Viper through it), and it doesn't start until 2 frames after the superflash, so your opponent can also try to blast through it on reaction to the flash (Sol can actually Volcanic Viper through it after the flash).

    But if your opponent doesn't display the ability to bait and punish your backdash or super, I guess you get to escape all day long. Don't lose to weak opponents.

    Note Control Drill

    You actually influence the note's vertical movement more on the first frame of an up or down press than when you hold up or down. So if you repeatedly press down the note will drop much faster, and the inverse happens with up. Stronger note control is always a plus, but it's particularly useful against characters who are comfortable fighting from long range, and then also Potemkin (which sounds weird since he can flick projectiles, but trust me on this).

    • TK a note and hold down as you're firing it. Observe how long it takes to hit the ground.
    • TK a note and repeatedly press down. Notice how much faster it hits the ground.
    • Now TK a note and hold up. Then do it again repeatedly pressing up. However, when directing the note upwards try not to jump after you recover to demonstrate control. There will be times that you want to jump, but also times that you don't want to jump. Get good at the not-jumping since jumping when you want is easier.

    Ok, so far so good. I'm sure you can see how this might be useful. Now I want you to:

    1. TK Hnote and tap up quickly 3 times, then tap down rapidly. Do this about 10 times.
      • Putting a note into the air to discourage jumping and then dropping it onto your opponent if they don't move forward past it is really effective in matchups against opponents who like being at long range. In specific circumstances such as vs Venom you'll actually use Pnote more often than Hnote, but the control is roughly the same.
    2. TK Pnote and tap down quickly twice, then mash up as much as you can without jumping. Do this another 10 times. If you jump do it again. The goal isn't a specific number of taps or distance covered by the note, but to get comfortable with what works.
      • Remember to demonstrate control. Being able to rapidly drop a note is useful against characters who can low profile from long range (Sol, May, I-No), but then you need to be able to feint a low note to get them to jump or IAD, then catch them with the note. Pnote is useful here since you have more time before it moves forward, making it harder for them to avoid if they commit to IAD.
    3. TK Hnote and tap down quickly 3 times, then mash up as much as you can, even if you jump. Do this probably 10 times to get used to it.
      • So this time I don't care if you jump. The idea is that your opponent reacted to the fast note and recognized that they can jump or super jump, and they didn't go for an IAD. You've discouraged it in some way, or they're just trying to avoid the note and assess the situation. Whatever, works in our favor. So now you want to hit them with the note or force them to block it, because if you're getting 4 or 5 hits you've got time to work with. On hit you can probably link HCL 6FRC6 to convert (so it doesn't matter that you're in the air). On block you're happy to get underneath them and try to set up an air-unblockable, which will force them to burn meter on FD or give you a free combo. Or you can shoot another note if you assess positioning and realize you don't have time. This one might be the trickiest to actually implement because you're layering a large awareness on top of the execution, and it's going to change more drastically per matchup.

    As far as ForceBreak Note, control is the same. If you can get good at controlling regular notes you have the same ability to control FB note. The nuance will be matchup specific on how you want to use it in neutral.

    "Bait the DP" Drill

    Remember that j.K > 6P > 5H drill from earlier on this page? The time has come to put it to use. No point learning that if you're not going to learn the application for it.

    1. Go into training mode and set yourself as I-No against Sol.
    2. Record SVV (which is 623S) for the dummy.
    3. Set the playback mode to instant in the player's menu.
    4. Set the reversal action to memory and set the reversal type to wakeup.
      • Now if you knock Sol down, he'll wakeup with reversal VV.
    5. Knock him down and practice making sure you can do the j.K and block on landing pretty consistently as he wakes up. Got it?
    6. Now switch the recording and playback slot in the player menu to 2, and record HVV (623H).
      • This DP is faster.
    7. Now try it again. It should be a bit harder/tighter, but overall you should still be able to adjust your timing so that you can block reliably. Now comes the tricky part.
    8. Go into the enemy menu and set the Reversal Action to "random."
      • This adds reversal backdash, reversal mash 2P, reversal jump, and reversal throw.
    9. Practice safejumping the DP.
      • You'll probably notice that you sometimes get thrown, or sometimes Sol is able to jump out. You should pick one thing at a time to adapt for and try to acclimate your timing so that you can safely block the DP, but also...
      1. Convert if he tries to 2P and you hit him (I don't care if you link the 6P at this point, do whatever works).
        • Converting when they block incorrectly but punishing the DP you're looking for is pretty fundamental, so get this first.
      2. Then you can try to adapt so that you're safe against the DP as well as reversal throw, which will require timing the j.K higher (maybe even switch back to SVV).
      3. Make sure you can catch the backdash after you safejump, which requires building a different mental pathway. You have to actively look for the backdash and remember to hit a button. This is similar to training to punish the DP when you see it, but you have much less time to work with.
        • Then look for which button is reliable. Ideally you'll be able to 5K so you can convert with HCL 6FRC6, but maybe you're too slow? Or maybe you don't have that confirm yet and need to do something easier. Do whatever works for you just so that you're able to bait and punish a backdash, and then optimize later.

    You're going to need to practice this a lot until you get good at it, but more importantly, you'll also need to adjust against every character's reversal tools. For example, RoboKy's lvl2 and lvl3 DP are frame 3. That's even faster than Sol's 5f HVV, which is faster than his less risky SVV (which you also need to learn how to punish, and then you'd need to learn how to watch for his knockdown kick so he doesn't throw off your timing). But for this drill, just learn the basics of how to bait a DP, and how to use it to also teach yourself to bait a backdash, wakeup jump, etc.


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