Sakura basics for new players

If you have thought about giving Sakura a shot, now is as good of a time as ever! Even though she received some slight nerfs in Utra Street Fighter IV, her overall game plan has not changed and this young schoolgirl still hits like a truck with high damage combos with or without meter. With the additional balance changes and system mechanics added to Ultra, her matchups have become even easier!

Overview

Sakura is an offensive, frame trap, high damage and stun output machine. She has great knockdown pressure, some solid resets and gimmicks that go along with her insanely effective offense. Despite her great mobility and good pokes like cr. MK and st. HK, she can struggle against lame play and turtling. Her overall game plan revolves around wanting to get in and stay in. Successfully landing 1-2 combos after a mixup can lead to a fully stunned character or even possibly death!

Pros:

- Great walk speed and good dashes make her a very mobile character

- Very good normal moves

- Really good focus attack

- High damage and high stun output in combos,both with and without meter

- Good mix-up game

- Good up-close pressure game

Cons:

- A strong weakness to charge characters and armored attacks, such as E. Honda and Balrog.

- Reversal options are not as strong as most other characters.

- Certain characters with a strong zoning game can make her work really hard to get in.

Sakura’s best normal moves are the following:

- Far standing heavy kick; far-reaching normal that’s used to keep people out. It’s also good for counter poking.

- Crouching medium kick; great footsies tool that can be hit-confirmed into a dragon punch.

- Standing & crouching light punch; strong pressure tool that can be used for frame traps.

- Far standing medium punch- Situational, but it’s a decent counter poke.

- Close standing medium punch; good for frame traps up close

- Stand light kick; good counter poke if buffered into shouken

- Forward jump heavy punch; Great hitbox, can stuff certain anti air attempts (if timed early) even after the nerfs

- Forward jump medium kick; primary cross-up.

Sakura’s main anti airs are:

- Crouching heavy punch; will be your primary anti air to stop jump ins on most occasions.

- Standing heavy punch; more situational, but it’s fantastic for putting cross-up attempts on blast.

- Jumping medium punch; Sakura’s main air-to-air move.

- Light and medium dragon punches; useful for the classic fireball into anti air game.

- Standing medium kick; Character-specific, useful for characters with low jumps, such as Hakan and Gen.

-Tip from TheBlackHombre: Something I'm gonna change in my game is actually doing less dp anti airs and doing more air to air normals. The dp as an anti air does terrible damage (especially in the gief match up, but it's useful for spacing) and if it trades (which it does a lot), it's usually in the opponents favor.

I will still use it for spacing of course, but I need to incorporate air to airs a lot more. Sakura has amazing buttons to air to air with.

Other notable normal moves:

- Forward medium kick; overhead and useful for blowing up charge characters’ down-charge. Use sparingly as this can be punished.

- Neutral jump heavy kick; stuffs jump-ins and has okay range.

- Forward jump heavy kick; good for jump-ins. Use sparingly as you can get blown up w/ a dragon punch.

Ultra combo choices

When choosing your ultra, it can oftentimes come down to personal preference and you may want to play around with both and find your own personal utility for both in a given matchup. However, here are some basic yet significant differences between both of her ultras.

Ultra one: (451 damage)

- Insane damage!!!

- Only combo-able after EX tatsu.

- High comeback potential.

- Occasionally useful for option selects. (I.E. Cody’s EX zonk and Dhalsim teleports)

- Hits low.

- It can beat Honda's headbutt, Adon's jaguar kicks and jaguar tooths, beat Balrog's dash punches and catch some of Makoto's tsurugis if you are able to do it on reaction.

- Not as versatile as U2.

Ultra two: (320 damage)

- Super Versatile!!!

- Not as much damage as U1.

- Combo-able after EX tatsu, kicks version (KKK) after DP in the corner, air tatsu juggle in the corner

- KKK version can be an Anti-Air.

- Useable in certain corner set-ups (some no longer work in Ultra Street Fighter IV due to delayed wake up).

- Nice priority

- Can beat out certain tracking moves, like Akuma’s demon flip.

- KKK version can beat certain vortex/pressure options on wake-up, like Cammy’s Cannon Strike and Akuma’s crossup tatsu

Combos:

>* - One Frame Link

(damage/stun)

Basic combos that every Sakura player should learn how to do. This is by no means a list of every combo she has at the basic level. In most cases with cr. HP, you can substitute it for a st. LK instead for a bit less damage but a much easier link. Note that st. LP does more damage than cr. LP and has better frame advantage, so opt for st. LP instead. You can start any of these combos with a jump in as well.

Meterless

cr. LK > st. LP > cr. MK xx HP Shouken (204/320)

cr. LK > st. LP > cr. HP xx HP Shouken (223/336)

cr. LK > st. LP > st. LP >* cr. HK (128/245)

One Bar

cr. LK > cr. LP > cr. HP xx EX Shunpukyaku/Tatsu > Otosi x2 (255/371)

st. HP xx LK Tatsu >* cr. HP xx EX Shunpukyaku/Tatsu > Otosi x2 (365/491)

Two Bars

cr. MK xx HP Shouken > FADC >* st. HP xx LK Tatsu >* cr. HP xx HP Shouken (418/548)

Three Bars

cr. MK xx EX Shouken > FADC > st. HP xx LK Tatsu >* cr. HP xx HP Shouken (428/558)

cr. HP xx HP Shouken > FADC >* st. HP xx LK Tatsu >* cr. HP xx EX Tatsu > Otosi x2 (421/537)

Four Bars

st. HP xx LK Tatsu > cr. HP xx EX Shouken > FADC > st. HP xx EX Tatsu > Otosi x2 (460/591)

st. HP xx LK Tatsu > cr. HP xx HP Souken xx Super (488/351)

Combo options in Ultra

Mid-Screen

EX Tatsu (with or without combo) > U2                 (can slightly walk forward if spacing is bad)

EX Tatsu > Dash Forward > slight delay > U1

Corner

HP/EX Shouoken (with or without combo > U2 KKK

EX Tatsu (with or without combo) > U2 KKK                 (SHOULD slightly delay the input)

EX Tatsu > backdash/whiff st.mp > LP Shouoken > U2         (Better damage)

EX Tatsu > Dash Forward > slight delay > U1

Meaty charged hadoken > FADC > U1

Block strings:

Sakura’s block strings are fortunately very easy since they’re just chained lights ending in standing light kick (if spacing allows it). Normally Sakura can chain 3 lights together, however she can chain 4 lights together (recommend ending with st.lk) in the corner or against wider hitbox characters. It is generally recommended to end block strings used as hitconfirms with cr.lp which grants the ability to combo into cr.mk xx HP dp

Examples:

cr. LK x3, (st.LK)

cr. LK, cr. LP, cr. LP, (st. LK)

Frame Traps:

Her normals are great for frame trapping

cr.lp > cr.hp                         (1 frame gap)

cr.lp > cr.mp                         (2 frame gap)

cr.lk > cl.hp                         (3 frame gap)

st.lp > cr.hp                         (4 frame gap)

st.lp > st.lp > cl.hp                 (walking a bit between the st.lps)

cr.lp > walk > cr.lp > cr.mk xx hitconfirm DP

Jump-in attack xx lk tatsu         (my personal favorite)

cr.lk xx lk tatsu                 (can be stuffed by jabs though)

Jump-in attack > delayed cl.hp

-Crouching light kick into crouching heavy punch is good, but it’s outclassed by crouching light kick into standing heavy punch in most cases since it’s one frame faster (3 frames vs. 4 frames)

- Crouching light kick into light hurricane kick is also great because it leaves you closer on block, it gives Sakura lower body invincibility, and it’s safer on block against the majority of the cast.

-Tip from TheBlackHombre: You can cr.lk, st. hp xx tatsu after an empty jump to blow people up but be warned that if you're not close enough you may get far st.hp (which doesn’t combo) on certain characters. Balrog and Guile come to mind.

Safe Jumps

Due to Ultra adding the option of delayed wakeup (DWU) from a hard knockdown, safe jumps resulting from a hard knockdown are no longer safe. It is better to opt for a safe jump after a soft knockdown from a shouken which covers both options of quick rise and non-quick rise.

Use j.HK for safe jumps against Cammy and Sagat otherwise it will whiff (they wake up a few frames slower than the rest of the cast).

(No Timing Required)

MP dp > uf > j.HP/HK, (if they late wakeup) > whiff st.LP, nj.HK

(Timing Required)

HP dp > 1mm walk forward j.HP/HK, (if they late wakeup) > whiff st.LP, nj.HK

HP dp (corner) > whiff st.LP, nj.HP (hits infront, lands behind) / j.MK (crossup), (if they late wakeup) > whiff st.LP, nj.HP/MK again

Throw > small step back > j.MK/HP (safe jump; makes dp's whiff)

Throw > whiff cr.MP > j.MK (alternative, makes shotos dp's whiff except Akuma - he can walk away due to his fast walk speed)

Throw > st.LP > j.MK (5-frame safe jump)

Throw > st.LK > j.HP (fake crossup on Sagat/Cammy)

Sweep > slight step back > j.mk/HP

Tatsu loops:

Character specific tatsu loops:

(The notations are shortened so cl.hp, cr.hp, cr.hp would look like this cl.hp xx tatsu, cr.hp xx tatsu, cr.hp into whatever.)

- cl.hp, cr.hp = dan, e.ryu, ken, ryu

- cl.hp, cr.hp, cr.hp = abel, balrog, dee jay, dhalsim, dudley, el fuerte, hugo, juri

- cl.hp, cr.hp, st.lk = e.honda, elena, guile, posion, sagat, seth, t.hawk, vega, zangief

- cl.mk, cl.hp, cr.hp = akuma, adon, cammy, chun, cody, c.viper, dee jay, fei long, gen, guy, gouken, hakan, m.bison, oni, rolento, rose, rufus, yang, yun

- cl.mk, cl.mk, cr.hp, st.lk = ibuki, makoto

- cl.mk, cr.hp, cr.hp = blanka

- cl.mk, cl.hp, st.lk = decapre, sakura

-Tip from FearTheFuhajin: Personally, I recommend keeping the tatsu loop specifics on your phone or writing it down in a notebook to cut down on having to memorize every single character’s data.

Frame Data:

-Either buy the Ultra Street Fighter IV app for $3.00 and get the frame data and hitboxes there,

-Go to http://wiki.shoryuken.com/Ultra_Street_Fighter_IV/Sakura to see the frame data. No hitboxes yet, but the frame data there is the best the internet has for free.

-Free version of Ultra SF4 Frame Data app with bonus features, available only on Android currently. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fullmeter.fat 

Top Sakura players:
- Alex Myers

- Dunhiller/Danhiru

- Humanbomb

- Juso

- NYChrisG
- Uryo

External videos for tech, matches, etc.:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eADasujkP7U Fei Long unblockable discovered by Alex Myers
http://blockstring.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=722 Another Sakura tutorial (made in AE 2012)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLITK45oukXzJ59Le3GZnTAJ5SQzrJAalm TheBlackHombre’s YT playlist (Made in AE 2012)

Overall advice:

         To any smashers, think of Sakura as the Captain Falcon of  Ultra Street Fighter IV.  She is a high-risk high-reward character and since some of her moves leave her open for punishment and since she doesn’t have the highest health (950), you can’t really afford to be making a lot of errors. Therefore, your execution must be spot-on. However, with Sakura’s amazing damage output in her combos, great normal moves, fantastic Ultras, and terrifyingly strong mix-up game, Sakura is a force to be reckoned with.

~FearTheFuhajin

Practice, practice, practice! Is all I can say for now. haha! I'm hardly a pro Sakura player. :3

~TrixDee

Learn your spacing, learn how to (whiff) punish properly, make sure you get the shouoken fadc links and tatsu loops down because that will make her much scarier.

~A-LX

Don't focus on setups and resets like lots of sakura players do when they start. Focus on taking control of the match with your fast walk speed, offensive pressure, and high damage output. Make cr. MK xx dp hitconfirm a staple in your gameplay and you'll scary at any range of the screen. Maximize your punishes with tatsu loops and learn proper times to put your opponent in different mixup scenarios after knockdown. This requires making reads based on your opponents tendencies and exploiting them.

~TheBlackHombre

Special thanks to:

http://wiki.shoryuken.com/Ultra_Street_Fighter_IV/Sakura

http://www.eventhubs.com/guides/2009/jan/18/sakura-street-fighter-4-character-guide/

http://iplaywinner.com/sakura-ssf4

http://forums.shoryuken.com/categories/sakura

http://www.option-select.com/strategy/char/?c=32 (outdated, but the concept is still good to get an entry level understanding of how Sakura works)

http://forums.shoryuken.com/discussion/77205/destin-s-sakura-advanced-play-guide/p1 (Another outdated guide, but the general idea is there.)

ssf4-sakura.jpg

SRK users:

Jawang

TrixDee

TheBlackHombre

A-LX
Alex Myers

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