Kagura tends to play as the defender against characters who have less range than him. This also applies to characters that can't deal with his long ranged normals. You can throw out fireballs, 2C, and 5C to cover the ground. Keep a charge for B Fafnir, or aim for a preemptive 6C or 5A as your anti airs. If the aggressor has a projectile, use Wyvern to blow them up. Make them think about their approaches. Once you have gotten the hit, keep the pressure going. Kagura has many options, however they are all beaten by the same option. Conditioning your opponent to not jump is key when locking them down. If they are caught trying to jump out, make sure they pay for it.
Against Zoners and characters with full screen options, Kagura is suddenly the aggressor. Patience is key. Wait for your opportunity to strike. Wyvern is a common way to break through, but it's also risky if the opponent is looking out for it. You can throw out fireballs to cover your approach, or just throw out hitboxes. The opponent needs to decide to either block it, avoid it, or use a character specific option. Either way, this gives Kagura time to approach. The goal from here is to reach an effective range. Staying in range of C normals can work, but they're still slow so sometimes Kagura needs to get closer. At this range, it will be common that they will try to either move back to the corner, or jump towards you. Keep your options in mind and the matchup you're playing. Do not get impatient. Once you are in, make it count.
Alternatively, you can opt to play scrappier. Kagura has above average health that can be used to take some level of risk. Playing riskier against low damage zoners may also be effective. It only takes one hit for Kagura to even up the damage by forcing his way in. Though it is risky, the trade off can be beneficial if played correctly.
This is one of Kagura's weaker traits since a lot of his normals are negative or has gaps between them.
5BB > 3C
A true blockstring, however most follow ups after 3C are unsafe e.g a drive or a special. The only special cancel from 3C is Fafnir, which is very unsafe.
2A > 2B > 5B(whiff)
5B whiff helps you recover much quicker than 2B normally. You can also reset pressure if the opponent is conditioned or unaware.
2A > 2B > 5BB
Another true blockstring, but it's more so to check if someone is trying to jump out. If they're trying to jump out then 5BB will either hit them outright or they'll suddenly stand tech. 5BB has a long stagger window so you can catch people out.
2A > 5BB > AOrb
This is -1 on block, but a common blockstring. Good against characters who cannot contest at 6B's range.
5BB > 5C/2C
There is a gap between 5BB > 5C and 2C, however, if it is blocked, it with push back is far enough for Kagura to either stance cancel>4D or throw and A Orb. You can also throw in Wyvern or 5DA to see if they are pressing a button.
The most common midscreen ender for oki is 2DB into a slightly delayed A orb:
- Forces block on emergency tech.
- Neutral tech avoids the orb, while leaving you time to set up a meaty.
- Stuffs immediate forward roll or quick getup.
- Can forward roll or quick getup after the orb has passed them.
- Can back roll immediately, but will be forced to block the orb, leaving you time to chase down with 6B, 6DC or an IAD.
- Can do a delayed back roll a little after the orb has passed over them.
For slow DPs (Azrael, Nine, etc), you can hitstop OS with 2A > 4AB or 5B > 5AB. This is a common OS that many characters can do. On block or hit, Kagura will cancel from 2A > 5B. For 5B, it'll cancel into 5BB on hit or block. If 2A or 5B whiffs, Kagura will go into barrier.
B Fafnir > Kadamos vs C Fafnir Kadamos
In the corner, consider which of the two you want to end the combo with. They both lead into hard knockdowns, however, ending a combo with B Fafnir gives you more time to set up your next mixup. C Fafnir does more damage and pushes you further away from the opponent which can allow you to place an A Orb.
Choosing an Oki Route
Adding C Fafnir > Kadamos onto the end of midscreen combos will do more damage, but will leave them much further away, effectively resetting to neutral.
In the corner ending a combo with 2DB allows Kagura to set up a B Orb oki without worrying about getting hit by a reversal. He will recover in time before they can input it. This also includes fast DPs like Ragna or reversal supers like Izanami.
Kagura uses his j.B in order to safe jump. Another benefit of his j.B safe jump is that it can catch rolls.
Tips and Tricks
- 6DC > 5DB tick throw: In certain situations, you can get this set up if you have condition your opponent not to press a button after 6DC. To do this, you delay 5DB after Wyvern slightly.
Avoiding Drive getting thrown after 2DB: It is a common way for someone to Instant block 2DB and throw the follow up drive (2Db>5DA being the most common one). There's a few ways to avoid this.
- 1. 2Db>Wyvern - This is the risky one, because depending on the character, it may or may not work.
- 2. 2DB>4DD or 2DB>Nothing - This was cancel the drive or you do nothing. Unfortunately, these options are not safe and leave you at disadvantage.
- 3. 2DB>5DB Purple throw - Disclaimer: THIS ONLY WORKS IF THEY INSTANT BLOCK. Because Instant block reduces pushblock, Kagura is close enough to do 5DB after 2DB. This will lead to a purple throw, and this can lead to one or two things. They either tech it and you return back to neutral, or they get Throw Reject Miss because they were mashing throw. Though this is not a common answer, it can catch people unexpectedly, and additionally prevents Kagura from only losing momentum. This only works if the opponent knows to IB 2DB however and should not be used as an answer every time.
- 6B>Kadamos is one of the most common set ups, but make sure to mix it up.
- IAD > j.B> Kadamos: Another common one since it acts as a double overhead.
- IAD> j.B > whiff jA>Kadamos: If done correctly, Kagura can get a meterless confirmed, depending on the height it is done at.
- 2A/5A/5B> Kadamos: No these normals are not jump cancel, but it is more of a stagger. This is actually a decent tool since Kadamos is airborne, which crushes lows and throws. On Counter Hit, you get a confirm off of this.
Also worth noting, Kagura can Special cancel drives on block in OD. 2DA>Kadamos works in OD on block.
- Kagura has the ability to force an untechable throw with only 25 meter. It only works in the corner, but the most common off of 6B, 2C, 5C, and 6C. The reason this works is because crush triggers negate any block push back. With this 2C>CT on block> Throw becomes untechable.
- It is not commonly known that Kagura's 2D can low profile stuff. He is counted as crouching since it will avoid Naoto's Phantom Pain. It can sometimes go under jump ins as well and you can catch people with an unexpected 2DA upon landing.
One of Kagura's weakness is his neutral. Characters like Nu, Lambda, and Nine easily zone him out due to him being slow and out ranges him.
For other characters, the most common way to deal with Kagura is up back barrier when he goes into drive. The other way is to use Overdrive. All of Kagura's drives have start up, so waiting for him to commit and overdrive through his stances.
If Kagura is crouching DO NOT JUMP AT HIM. He is a charge character. However, the keep in mind that his 2C also goes very far. Having a good read on when he will wait, or press 2C will ultimately decide how well you will do against him.
Hard knockdown on Kagura is the bane of his existence. Because of how the BB system works, teching has 4 options being roll forward, neutral tech, down tech, and back roll. Rolling and down teching both can be hit off the ground, which means neutral tech is the only way to avoid this. Here is the problem. Neutral tech after a hard knockdown means you have to not be inputting any direction except up. Kagura's reversal revolves around holding down. This forces Kagura to either risk getting hit out of the other three tech option, or give up his reversal to neutral tech. He can always do normal tech > Kadamos, however this is a risk on the Kagura since it loses to meaties.
Dealing with each drive
- 5DA: This move lack low guard point. Either up back barrier because it is air unblockable, hit it low, or OD it.
- 5DB: This is his command grab. Up back it. I know people try and tech it, but you can't tech a command grab. OD is also an option
- 5DC: This is air unblockable and not commonly used in a block string. It is mostly use for anti airs.
- 6DC: Wyvern goes through projectiles, but can be low profiled easily. It also has a hurtbox on the end of the weapon but I would not recommend risking a trade with it. You can also OD it.
- 6DB: This has some invulv and crosses up. Jump out of it because it is slow or overdrive through it. It can also be delayed dp. This move also has an awful tendency to leave a lingering hurt box where he once was which leads to him getting hit from behind.
- 6DA: This move has upper body invulv (A LOT OF IT). You can try and up back it, but it will sometimes catch jump start up. OD through it.
- 2DC: You cannot up back this because attempting to cause people to get hit low. OD through the second hit because its still slow.
- 2DB: IB the second hit because he's negative afterwards. ODing through this is risky because if you block a single hit, he can always go into another stance.
- 2DA: This is the overhead. It beats lows and throws. Upback or Overdrive through it. Its really slow, but catches people because he is crouching during 2D stance.
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