This is an adaptation of the Hakumen beginner guide by the_undercover_beret. The original document can be found here
This guide uses common fighting game terminology (Neutral, mix-up, tiger Knee…). If you do not understand one of them, you can check their definitions on Dustloop in the Glossary Section.
The neutral is at the core of Hakumen’s playstyle. He benefits from strong long range pokes: 4C on the ground and J.C in the air. One of your top priorities with Hakumen should be to learn the exact range of those pokes to use them properly. Video: 4C’s range Video: 4C's combos Video: J.C’s range Those pokes define Hakumen’s neutral. They both are amazing tools thanks to their range and high raw damage, and as such, only a few characters can contest them at max distance. Moreover, landing several of them will deal significant damage without consuming meter. This is particularly useful at the start and the end of a round to respectively gain the life lead and keep your opponent at bay while stocking up on magatamas. On the negative side, 4C requires a CH to get a combo and a max range 4C doesn’t lead to much. Be careful when using 4C, as it has quite a lot of recovery and a large hurtbox before the active frames. Moreover, both 4C and J.C are susceptible to moves that can low profile and 4C can be punished with a well-spaced IAD. Video: 4C vs. low profile moves
At close range, Hakumen also has a few neat tools. 2B has deceptively long range for its animation and is very fast for a 2B (8 frames of start-up). His 2A’s reach is one of the best in the game as well. Video: 2A's range and a combo Video: 2B's range and a combo
A very common mistake while starting Hakumen is the overuse of Hakumen’s subpar C-normals (3C, 6C, J.2C) at the expense of his other more solid normals, like 2A and 2B. Those C-normals are slow and easily punishable. Autopiloting 3C in neutral and blockstrings is especially bad, as it’s -12, non cancellable and leaves Hakumen crouched. The earlier the players get rid of that bad habit, the better. Autopiloting 3C and getting punished for that can cost games. Getting rid of such habits may be hard, but are worth it in the long run. Ironically, 2A and 2B are also often more rewarding since 3C and 6C most of the time require a CH to combo, whereas 2A and 2B are special cancellable and lead to solid combos at a low cost.
Hakumen gains meter passively, as such, turtling from fullscreen to get meter and waiting for your opponent to approach and intercept with his superior pokes or OD into a powerful combo is a very effective playstyle.
- Mix in 623AA and 214D.
- Hop jump cancel to move forward safely.
- Cut projectiles with a well timed j.2A
- J.2C has great range, but is slow and can be called out hard.
Hakumen cannot run. Instead, he does a short hop forward. This makes adjusting distance tricky at times. While his forward hop and backdash are fast and his walking speed is decent, these options are't great for approaching. Thankfully, he has several tools at his disposal.
Hakumen holds two excellent specials to approach: 623AA and 214D. If used wisely, those moves turn into remarkable weapons that can turn the tide of a match. 214A is also a niche approach tool, but not as strong in that context.
623AA is invulnerable to body and head attribute moves. It does a formidable job at dealing with pokes, jumps and air dashes. It's -4 on block but Hakumen can special cancel it to frame trap or make it safe. On the flip side, It’s weak against projectiles, throws and lows. Characters with strong low normals, like Jin and his 3C can deal with it without much trouble. Video Example: 623AA’s range and combos.
To compensate 623AA’s weaknesses, you can rely on 214D, it’s more costly than 623AA but is invulnerable to everything but grabs. If it catches a move, Hakumen will be fully invincible until he recovers, making it very useful to approach zoners. However, It has a long start-up before the attack and is punishable (-7), if it doesn’t catch any attack or if you don’t have any meter left to cancel it into another special. Video Example : Punishing 214D
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t solely count on them. No matter how strong they are, they have their weaknesses and over-relying will leave you vulnerable to strong punishes.
Hakumen's air dash covers a lot of distance, however it has a long animation, which makes it easy to anti-air. To circumvent that, you can rely on J.D and J.214A. Check the Defense section for more details on j.D
J.214A is a unique air tool, it has every attack property which means it can bypass anti-airs and moves that are also body invincible, like Valkenhayn’s 6A for instance. It also cancels the momentum in the air and has a large hitbox, which can be used after a high jump to make anti-air whiffs and punish them. The attack will only lose to fully invulnerable moves like DPs or moves with full armor.
- Video Example: Using J.214A to bypass anti-airs’ invulnerabilities
- Video Example: Using J.214A to make anti-airs whiff
Other Air Normals
Another approach is to IAD and then using J.A. This can be used to preemptively defeat air-to-air and protect Hakumen against air grabs. This also helps timing an air move as close to the ground as possible and correcting the direction after an IAD cross-up. Video Example: IAD J.A J.C sideswitch
J.2C has a great downward and forward hitbox. Combined with Hakumen’s long air dash, it’s possible to hit an opponent from nearly fullscreen with an IAD J.2C. However as stated above, this is predictable and J.2C is slow. Therefore, it’s easily anti-aired. Video Example: Using IAD J.2C to approach
Tips Against Zoners
Nonetheless, approaching zoners with fullscreen anti-airs remains an arduous task. Fortunately, Hakumen can cut projectiles in the air with any sword normal with J.2A being the most commonly used. It benefits from having a large hitbox in front of Hakumen as well as a lot of active frames. As such, IAD J.2A is efficient way to approach zoners while cutting their projectiles. But be careful, you can still get CH if you input J.2A too late. Video Example: Using J.2A to cut projectiles
Additionally, Hakumen can dash jump like other characters with stepdashes. This preserves dash momentum while jumping forward, allowing you to approach much more safely. To execute this, input the jump very quickly after the forward hop. Done properly, Hakumen will slide forward slightly and then jump. This is especially useful with a forward jump to get a lot of momentum and travel long distances. Video Example
Even though Hakumen has a lot of anti-air options, they are all situational and require a proper read of the game.
2C is officially Hakumen's anti-air and it boasts a huge vertical hitbox and lead to extremely rewarding combos on CH. Sadly, it's a little slow and the invulnerability comes late. This means that you have to anticipate your opponent's movements to use it. Its biggest drawback, however, is its 33 frames recovery, making easily punishable if it whiffs and to add salt to the injury it leaves Hakumen crouched, which tends to lead to even more punishing combos. On block, it’s special cancellable into 214A and 623A to make it safe. Video: Example using AA 2C
5A can act like an anti-air since it has a meager 5-frame of start-up and has a surprisingly decent vertical and horizontal hitbox. 5A is the kind of anti-air that you use when your opponent is attempting something right next to you, but not if they are too high or too far. It's usability also suffers from the understandable lack of invulnerability, which hinders its usefulness against mix-up/pressure using jumps. Video: Example using AA 5A
Sometimes, both of them are hard to use, in particular against ambiguous cross-ups, since they may come out in the wrong direction. In that case, 5D, 6D and 236236D can work as alternatives to catch jump-ins. However, they are easily defeated by empty jumps and safe jumps. Video: Example using 5D
623AA has invincibility to head and body attributes move, per se, it can be considered an anti-air. It’s hard to use it at such, since it moves Hakumen forward a lot and most of the time, both 623AA and your opponent’s jump-in will whiff. However, since it moves Hakumen forward it makes it very effective at dealing with air backdashes. Video: Using 623AA air backdashes Video: Using 623AA against Izayoi's GA backdash
Overall, 5A is the anti-air that is the most practical, 2C and counters require a greater a understanding of the match's flow, but they shouldn't be ignored regardless. While his anti-airs options aren't that great, they somewhat cover each other weaknesses. Therefore, you are not the only one who has to make the right choice, but your opponent will have to do it as well.
As stated in the neutral section, J.C is one of Hakumen's strongest tool, as it's one of the air-to-air with the longest reach in the game. A properly spaced J.C can shut down all of your opponent's air-to-air options. So learning how to use it properly is mandatory.
His other air-to air options are nothing to scoff at either.
J.A is a very fast air-to-air. It possesses a generous hitbox for a J.A as well as little recovery, it can be used to preemptively beat air approaches or to apply pressure on the opponent after an air dash. Video: Using airdash J.A to apply pressure Video: Using rising J.A to beat jump-ins
J.B is a bit slower but has a bigger hitbox and leads to higher rewards on CH. On block, it can be cancelled into J.A or J.2A to keep the pressure going until landing. It also has an excellent hitbox especially in the back. As such, it’s a strong move after a cross-up. Video: Using rising J.B to beat jump-ins Video: Maintaining pressure with air gatlings.
J.2A benefits from having a lot of active frame and a large hitbox. It can be used if you anticipate that your opponent will airdash and to hit them in the middle of their airdash. And as stated in the mobility section, it also cuts projectiles making it an excellent defensive air-to-air. Video: Using rising J.2A to beat jump-ins
When to use which then? J.A is more effective at close range since it has a smaller hitbox and and is faster, whereas J.2A is more adequate from further (about roundstart distance plus one backdash). J.B is an in-between, and can be useful after an IAD to get a strong combo on CH.
J.2C and J.214A can be used as air-to-air as well by exploiting their big hitboxes below them. After an high jump, it’s possible to hit an opponent below you to gain the advantage or to punish an air move that whiffed.
Hakumen’s offense, coupled with drive, gets the job done. It's not the best offense. He has very threatening damage, okay high/low, and a potential pressure reset in the form 214A. The main problem is that his gatlings are very limited, so he requires specials to extend pressure. Using specials consumes precious meter, so Hakumen can leave himself very weak if he can't open someone up.
In short, his options are limited and his overheads are easy to read. As such, Hakumen relies more on frame-traps and throw reject miss setups. His okizeme options are also fairly limited, but are good at discouraging the opponent not to roll on wake up and can be surprisingly rewarding if your opponent doesn't know how to deal with them.
Now let’s take a look at the most common mix-up options.
2A > 2A > 2B or 6B: Basic meterless high/low mixup. On instant block, there is a gap between 2A > 2A and 2A > 2B and it’s therefore weak against reversals, but this hardly ever happens. By delaying the 2B this mix-up act as a frame-trap and will prevent fuzzy blocking.
2A > (Delay) Throw: Basic throw mix-up. Keep in mind that if 2A is barriered the throw will whiff. Delay the throw to beat the Barrier/Tech throw OS.
2A/5B/2B/5C/2C > 236B/41236C: A high-low mixup that uses meter, be wary since Zantetsu has a rather obvious animation and is easily reactable with a bit of practice, so don’t get predictable with it. Delaying the 236B prevents fuzzy blocking.
2A/2B/5B/5C/2C > 623A > Throw: The other throw mix-up, reacting to 623A is difficult and it narrows the gap between both players, making it less vulnerable to barrier.
2B/5B/5C/2C > 214A > 2A: Pressure extender, like 623A it brings you closer to the opponent. 214A is only +1 on block, so if it's instant blocked, 2A can be interrupted.
2A > 5B: Basic frame trap. There is a 2-frame gap between 2A and 5B. Be careful when using it, because 5B can whiff if you are too far or if 2A is barriered.
5B > 2B/6B: Meterless high/low mix-up. There is a 2-frame gap between 5B and 2B, making it also a useful frame-trap. 5B > 2B/6B is harder to use as 2B and 6B often if 5B is barriered. 2A > 5B > 2B works at close range even if both 2A and 5B are barriered, but not 2A > 2A > 5B > 2B. With 2A > 5B > 6B, 6B will whiff if either 2A or 5B is barriered.
2A > Slight delay 6A: Basic frame-trap. which helps narrowing the distance between the 2 players. It’s a little trickier to use as it comes with a few drawbacks.
6A is -1 on block and only gatling into 6B and drives, so no matter what you are doing after 6A, you’ll have to take a risk. 6A > 6B is gapless, but 6B is -4 and easy to IB after a 6A. 6A and 6B can both be cancelled by drives, however, it’s an even riskier gamble as it leaves you open to even greater punishes.
If an opponent respects you, you can use 6A > 2A/2B to continue the pressure or beat someone expecting a 6B and blocking high respectively. But there is a wide gap between 6A and 2A/2B due to the lack of gatlings.
Those are the most useful ones, he can extend his pressure by using additional specials, but it’s not recommended since meter is precious and the reward won’t be worthwhile.
Hakumen possess some of the highest damage output of the roster. In fact, he can defeat an opponent very quickly before they get their burst stock back off of a good combo starter. Combined with his Overdrive, punishes can be the best way for Hakumen to turn a match in his favor. It’s important to know when to punish the opponent and what moves to use.
The cornerstone of Haku's punishing game is his overdrive, it's one of the best one in the game. It increases his meter gain meter through the roof allowing us to fully use his high-damage special in combos for a short period. Haku is also the character who exploits EA at the end of combos the best, since it knockdowns and still deal a high amount of damage with AF.
Optimizing OD combos is tricky, as a wide range of routes are available and they heavily depends on the length of your overdrive and the amount of magatama available at the start the combo. However, most of the basic routes deal similar damage under the same circumstances. If you want to know more OD combos, here is a link to Hakumen’s combo guide.
Now let's cover Haku's moves which are used for punishing:
5C is Hakumen's trademark move. As seen in the example above, it boasts an amazing proration and hitbox, it's very easy to combo after it. It can be immediately canceled into overdrive as well, but there is a small window to burst between 5C and OD. On CH, it's possible to block the burst and punish it with another 5C. Video: 5C CH OD burst bait
3C, or to be more accurate 3C CH, is a very effective punish option that leads to high damage combo at a low cost, 3C is faster and has a bit more reach than 5C. However, unlike 5C, 3C can't be cancelled into OD. The main drawbacks of 3C is that it requires a CH to combo and it's easily punishable if it whiffs or if it's blocked. Video: 3C CH combo Video: Why 3C on block is bad
6C fatal counters and is Hakumen's move with the best proration, but it's more situational since it's fairly slow, requires a CH and doesn't lead to combos if it hits an airborne opponent midscreen. It's main usefulness is to punish an opponent's reversal. Video: 6C FC combo
As a last resort, OD + 214214B can be used to turn the tables. Mugen combos are extremely powerful, so any stray hit could win you the game, but this comes at a great cost, if it fails, this will empty your meter and burst. Video: Punishing Kagura’s EA with OD and Mugen
For a more detailed explanation about Mugen, here is the Hakumen combo guide’s Mugen’s section.
This section will only cover the basic okizeme options, for more details check the BBCF2 okizeme guide
His 3 main okizeme are 6B, Agito (J.214A), and 3C. Arguably, 6B is the best one and 3C the worst one.
3C is the easiest to get, it can be done after a grounded hit 2A and therefore a common ender for 0 and 1 magatama combos. 3C isn't that great, since it has a lot of recovery and you don't get much frame advantage out of it.
- 2A > 2A > 3C
- 2B > 2A > 3C
- 2A > 2B > 214A > 2A > 3C.
3C > Hop 2A/2B: 2A can be used as a meaty, but it loses to rolls. 2B has a lot of active frames, so will catch a lot of opponents if they try to roll forward or backward and you can pick them up for an additional combo. This will lose to most reversals and delayed neutral tech.
Agito (J.214A) Oki
J.214A is one of the main air combo ender Hakumen has: J.B2A > jc > J.2AC and J.B2A > jc > J.B2A > J.214A. The former is meterless ender that sends the opponent flying across the screen and therefore a return to neutral. The latter provides a knockdown at the cost of a magatama. In the corner, it gets strengthened a little with J.B2A > jc > J.2AC > J.214A.
- 2A > 2B > 623AA > 5B > J.B2A > jc > J.B2A > J.214A
J.214A > Falling J.2C: The standard J.214A okizeme ender after J.214A, J.2C prevents rolls if done low enough and acts as a safe-jump. The options after J.214A are very telegraphed and won't be effective against players with match-up knowledge. Regardless, it remains a decent ender, since there is very little thing that can be done against it.
6B has more hitstun than 3C and often leaves you close to the opponent, as such more options are available. 6B is a little trickier to get midscreen. It requires hitting with 6A. This is mainly done with 2A > 6A, which is only possible at close range. In the corner, however, it is widely accessible. Routes featuring 236B and J.214B can end with ... J.C > 5C > 6A > 6B.
- 2B > 214A > 2A > 6A > 6B
- 2B > 236B > IAD J.2A > J.C > 5C > 6A > 6B.
6B > 6A(whiff) > 2A: A very solid okizeme, 6A prevents rolls and 2A hits meaty. 6B > 9jc > J.A (whiff) > J.2C: Another safe-jump, but it loses to rolls.
- Drives can act as solid defensive options but have to be used cautiously.
- Drives can be cancelled into specials to help deal with projectiles and some oki.
- TK Tsubaki and OD can be used to deal with people who over rely on throws.
- Yukikaze is Haku's best defensive option and can be followed with 623A.
Always remember: A solid defense and a sound mindset are important. Defense is arguably one of the most important aspects of learning Hakumen. His movement is limited and some of his better neutral pokes have a lot recovery, so sometimes the best solution is to just block and wait for a chance to counterattack. Fortunately, Hakumen has the defensive tools to do just that.
Each of Hakumen’s counters have different properties and catch different types of moves. However, they all lose to throws and the attack will only trigger on strike moves. If a move is caught, it’s possible to perform a special move instead of the followup. That special will be fully invincible for 9 frames. This also works with projectiles, which is very useful against projectiles. Video: Using a Special Cancel from a Drive
5D has 6f startup and can be held to increase its active frames, at the cost of having more recovery. It's a good move to catch most air approaches. You can also use it to play mind games with your opponent due to it’s longer than average active frame window when held. Video Example
2D is active on the first frame, but this comes at the cost of high recovery if it isn't triggered. Newer players will probably struggle using 2D at first. It can be extremely hard to time and doesn’t have as large an active frame window as 5D. However, when mastered it becomes one of Hakumen’s best tools for disrupting an opponent’s pressure due to its speed, especially when catching an opponent’s meaty attempts. Video Example
Just like 2D, 6D is active on the first frame but catches high instead of lows. Unlike 5D and 2D it blows the opponent away instead of knocking them down. 6D leads to combos in the corner and to safe-jumps midscreen. It's usefulness is further strengthened by the fact that it can be used on reaction to counters overheads. Arguably Hakumen's best drive. Video Example
J.D is an airborne counter and catches lows, highs and mids. This move is used to counter characters with strong air-to-airs and anti-airs. If this move whiffs, Hakumen will not be actionable until he lands. If used too low to the ground, Hakumen will go into Forced Landing Recovery for additional time. For this reason, it's usually best to use this move while you're falling, but not too close to the ground. Be. As of CF2, it doesn’t cancel the momentum in mid-air anymore making it much harder to punish. Video Example
Yukikaze (236236D) is the distortion-drive counterpart to Zanshin and his Hakumen's strongest defensive option. It's active on the 1st frame and catches highs, mids and lows and lands a strong, 1-hit slash (3200) and you can continue to combo by spending additional meter. On successful catch of a physical move, Yukikaze will freeze the opponent and prevent all actions. With enough meter, you can also cancel the slash and followup by using Kishuu. Video Example
If it catches a projectile, the opponent is not locked in place and can escape it by double-jumping or using a move with a lot of invulnerability or armor. However, Yukikaze is unblockable and safe as long it activates, since Hakumen is invulnerable for the entire animation of the move. As such, this can be used to hard callout certain projectiles in neutral, and projectile okizeme. Video Example: Using Yukikaze
Other Defensive Tools
6B can also be used to crush moves with foot attributes, which includes lows and other moves like 2A/3C. On CH, 6B leads to strong combos with little resources. The invulnerability doesn’t start until the 4th frame, so it'll lose against meaty lows. It can be useful with IB and in some neutral situations. Video Example: Using 6B's Low Invuln Property
Hakumen also has other options to help stack the deck in his favor. Let's take another look at the command grab example. If someone frequently uses command grabs, Hakumen can opt to use TK Hotaru (J.214B) or TK Tsubaki (J.214C) as they put Hakumen airborne. Hotaru and Tsubaki cost 2/3 magatama respectively. Hotaru is also invincible because it can also beats air approaches and pokes if timed correctly. However, Hotaru whiffs on crouchers and therefore doesn’t work against meaty 2A and 2B, but you can use 2D to make them not want to 2A or 2B as much. Tsubaki will hit crouchers and punishes people crouching and trying to bait a Drive attack, because it breaks guard and Fatal Counters. However, it's not invincible. Video Example: Beating grabs with TK J.214B
Hakumen has several moves which can be punished if block.
- 6B is -4, -7 on IB, but be wary about punishing it as it can be cancelled into a drive.
- 2C is -17 if Haku doesn't have any magatama left, this is an easy punish. With meter, 2C > 214A is gapless.
- 3C is -12 and can't be cancelled into anything. It can be punished by most 5B.
- 214D is -7 on block. It can be punished with most 5A/2A.
- Drives are heavily punishable on whiff. To play a around them in pressure, a good strategy is to stop pressure after certain normals where is there is usually a gap and bait the drive. This can lead to powerful CH combos. Dash grab is also a solid and easy option to punish drives.
Grabs, if use efficiently, are very strong against Hakumen as it will deter the use of drive. However, don't overuse them as it can be OD through and lead to a strong punish with 5B or even 5C if timed correctly.
Dealing with Haku's pressure
Haku's pressure is very weak against barrier.
Dealing with Haku's okizeme
Dealing with Haku's neutral
In neutral, the tools you have to look for in most match-ups are usually 4C and 623AA. To beat 4C, either beat before it's active or use a move to go under it. To beat 623AA, use a low move with a long reach (Ie: Jin's 3C, Izanami's 2B...)
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