Fighting game terms beginners need to know

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that fighting games are among the elite esports titles. They’re thrilling to play and just as thrilling to watch. But watching a major tournament like EVO can be a bit confusing if you’re new to the scene. Here are some key terms you can learn to jump into the exciting world of fighting games like a pro.

Anti-air

A standing attack that hits someone attacking from the air
Blocking an air attack like a jump-kick can put you at a serious disadvantage, so an anti-air comes in clutch. The most famous is a DP (or “Dragon Punch”) like Ryu’s Shoryuken in Street Fighter.

Bread and Butter (or BnB)

A common, reliable combo of moves your character uses often
This will likely be the first combo you master as a new player. For esports pros, it’s a dependable option when an elaborate combo is too risky.
Test your anti-air
Street Fighter IV CE
CAPCOM CO., LTD.
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Cancel

Removing the post-attack recovery to go directly into another attack
Originally a glitch from Street Fighter II, cancels are now an integral part of fighting game mechanics. Most commonly, you’ll see a cancel of a normal move into a special move, setting up a 2-in-1 attack.

Chip damage

Damage you take even after blocking an attack
Blocking an attack reduces its effectiveness, but in most fighting games, you’ll still take a percentage of the hit as chip damage.
Use cancels to form combos
Mortal Kombat
Warner Bros. International Enterprises
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Footsies

Moving around the battle space to vie for position
Almost like a dance, this is when two players hop, poke, and jab in an attempt to gain favorable position and block their opponent from attacking.

Frame advantage

Being faster to recover from a move than your opponent
Most attacks and blocks have recovery periods before you can do another move. If you’re able to attack again before your opponent recovers, then you have the frame advantage (also known as “being plus”). Understanding frame advantage is a key step in fighting game mastery.
Gain the frame advantage
Brawlhalla
Ubisoft Entertainment
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Hitstun

The state of being unable to move or attack after a hit
You don’t want to be on the receiving end of a hitstun. Some games have specific actions you can take while in a hitstun, but most require you to wait it out and hope your opponent doesn’t have a nasty combo ready.

Meaty

A perfectly timed attack when your opponent gets up after being knocked down
In most fighting games, you’re protected from getting hit after you’re knocked down. Timing an attack for that first moment you can be hit is known as a meaty and is a great way to keep the pressure up.
Meaty for a hitstun
ONE PIECE Bounty Rush
Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.
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Okizeme (or Oki)

The moment in a fight when a player is getting up from being knocked down
Formed from the Japanese words for “wake-up” and “to strike,” okizeme is a key strategic moment in a fight. You have several choices as the attacker, including a meaty (see above) or mixup. As the defender, you can block a potential attack or time a wakeup blow. Making the most of your oki helps separate the beginners from the experts.

Teching

Countering or responding to certain moves without losing advantage
Tech is a broad term in fighting games that can mean many things in different contexts. It can be used in reference to a throw tech (blocking a throw with another throw), air tech (quick rising from an aerial attack), or tech roll (escaping to either side after being knocked down), as well as other terms. Ultimately, it means playing strategically and anticipating your opponent’s next move.
Make the most of your oki
The King of Fighters ALLSTAR
Netmarble
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