So far, my articles about how to and when to defend only touched the standard share of techniques that you can use for a consistency in defense. I covered ETE and ETEG, Fuzzy Guard and Crouch Fuzzy Guard. But what other option do especially Goh players have?
Sabaki Throw Escapes open up a new defensive strategy that I haven’t talked about here yet. You could call it a passively aggressive technique where a passive situation (you are disadvantaged and, thus, usually forced to defend) can net the defender some serious damage – and turn the tables in a match. It’s also a riskier technique than the standard share of classic defensive methods, such as ETEG, because your immunity to attacks depends on the limitations of the sabaki move’s properties.
The idea to use sabakis in combination with throw escapes is actually not too far fetched. In previous installments, the technique of Reversal Throw Escaping (RTE) was already well known and efficiently used by some Akira players. Thus, VFers who played characters with reversals could use those to 1. directly reverse a strike attack depending on the hit level of the incoming, and 2. avoid getting thrown. We get a similar effect with sabakis instead of reversals. Sabakis – and I’m especially referring to Goh’s Kumite Harai here – doesn’t depend on guessing the correct hit level so much, as it parries high- and mid-hitting single-handed attacks. With a reversal, you’d have to guess between high, mid, or low.
Goh’s Kumite Harai is a sabaki that parries the following attack types: high punch (HP), high elbow (HE), mid punch (MP), and elbow (EL).
Are Sabaki Throw Escapes (STE) a win/win situation then? Hardly. Everything’s comes at a price in VF5. And the price for using sabakis instead of reversal is that you have to mind-guess the correct attack type. Apart from that, the opponent also has several other options to punish you, including delayed attacks, catch throws, full circulars. Neither RTE nor STE could counter that. But seen in the limitations of the sabakis – and especially Goh’s Kumite Harai here, which will serve us as prime example throughout the article – the technique comes to a justifiable price with a nicely compensating reward.
What is the difference between inashi and sabaki?
Both are moves with deflection properties. But, whereas the inashi only completes its motion when it successfully connects, the sabaki does always animate wholly whether or not the parry is successful.
Before we go into the input details of STE, let me describe an example situation for better illustration.
Here is an exemplary rundown on STE in a nutshell. So simply imagine the following or a similar situation. In hope of netting a counter-hit leading to an easy-damage combo, you’ve pulled off Goh’s powerful knee, but it got blocked. Now, you’re eventually standing there at -9 frames of disadvantage thoroughly sheepishly, knowing that you’re disadvantaged enough for your opponent to start an offense. What you’d be usually doing at that point is to ETEG to at least avoid the heftier damage options your opponent has.
With Sabaki Throw Escapes, though, you can directly interfere with the punishment plans of your opponent. By entering the reversal immediately followed by one or more throw escapes, you 1. retaliate any single-handed high and mid strike attempts (from punches to elbows, so to speak) and 2. avoid getting thrown.
This requires you to correctly mind-guess (Japanese: yomi) the opponent’s punishment actions. Most opponents will probably go for fast hand attacks or throws. There, you’ll be fine. But if they go for a heavy-hitting knee or anything that doesn’t fit into the deflection properties of the sabaki, you’ll be totally wide open to that attack.
Let’s get into the input mechanics now.
Advise: Before you read on, make sure that you’re at least somewhat familiar with the basic concept of defense – like throw escapes and the more advanced ETEG. Also, your execution of those, especially Double Throw Escapes, should be more or less rock solid.
If you lack some knowledge or execution skill there, don’t read on yet, as this more advanced article would only be confusing to you. Rather come back here if you’ve looked into the following guides first: 1. Guide: Evading Throw Escape, 2. Guide: Throw Escaping the Quick Way, 3. Guide: On the Secret Power of Frames.
How to STE with Goh
The VF franchise – especially VF5, but more so VF5:R now – doesn’t emphasize so much on execution skill or theory-book precise inputs anymore. Hence, to the game, it doesn’t matter whether you enter and , or , or any other throw direction to get into the Tsukami Grab follow-up. Using that to our advantage, we can easily combine the Kumite Harai into Tsukami Grab with various throw escapes. Against Akira such a STE sequence could look like this:
- Akira blocks your Shoulder Ram leaving you at a disadvantage of –9.
- After a short delay, just in the moment when you would usually initiate the evade for an ETEG, you enter for parrying strikes immediately followed by and to avoid Akira’s most damaging throw options.
- The result: If Akira throws you, you will escape those throws that you’ve entered the TE for. If he goes for any single-handed high or mid attack instead, the Kumite Harai will parry it and automatically link into the Tsukami Grab, from where you can start with the usual Tsukami follow-ups.
The timing – the when-to – is crucial. The more disadvantaged you are, the harder it is to squeeze in the throw escapes in the small window of frames that is left, and the later you have to enter the STE sequence. Timing wise, it is very similar – if not equal – to performing ETEGs.
What use is the Tsukami Grab if you don’t know your follow-up options and its potential damage outcome? Little to no use!
Usually it goes that if you make use of the Tsukami Grab throw follow-ups you net way more damage than with releasing the Tsukami Grab (up to 65 dmg!) followed by combo. But let’s start with the latter first.
Once in the Tsukami Grab you can release the opponent with either hitting , , or . Your follow-up options then, that will work against any opposing character, are:
- > > [43 dmg]: The classic combo that is a bit harder to pull off due to the buffered shoulder ram.
- [40 dmg]: An easier but slightly less damaging alternative. Connect with / (anti-tech roll trap) if the opponent likes to tech-roll for even more damage (follow-up with a ground throw, down punch, or pounce then).
If you decide to go into the Tsukami Grab instead (and stay there), the following throw directions are the most damaging options:
The throw directions that net you the biggest damage are also the ones that are escaped most easily. Opponents usually spam left or right so that you should vary your Tsukami Grabs. Using is more often so a real alternative, for the opponent would have to escape it with entering , which is rarely ever used or thought of in escape situations; and most people simply don’t know that if they don’t possess deeper Goh-specific knowledge.
You can use (45 dmg), too, for a potential ring-out thread as Goh throws the opponent quite far away (for his throw arsenal). If you decide to just go for up and down single-direction Tsukamis ( / 30 damage each), try a ground throw attempt immediately afterwards. If the opponent is a ground throw escape specialist, use a down punch or, even better, a full pounce attack ().
How do we train STEs efficiently? First of all, we should train it after moves which leave you so considerably disadvantaged that your opponent is more likely to counter with a fast hand attack. Consider moves that leave you at least at –6 frames.
In Dojo Mode set the CPU to Counterattack 5 and the preferred throw directions of the character you are facing. You should train that against all the three throw types characters. For example, at first train against Goh (TE: and ), then Akira ( and ), and finally Kage (, and ).
Also switch sides as well. Being able to perfectly deliver the TE input on the 1P side doesn’t mean that it goes for the 2P one, too.
Oftentimes, my first throw escape input depends on the last move I’ve entered. If it’s Goh’s launcher, for example, my first TE will always be , and then (if I’m up against Goh, Aoi, etc.). For a complete list of similar TE patterns for all VF characters read to this article, that also provides you with graphics charts: Guide: Throw Escapes the Quick Way.
Here’s a small list after which moves it is useful to have a steady STE input ready (ordered by priority; the most important ones [to me] first):
- (opponent has guaranteed standing P punishment here)
- (opponent has guaranteed standing P punishment here)