Lab Work: Where to Start, How to Use it Effectively

Ok, here’s the deal…I don’t use the practice mode hardly ever. I’m not too much of a technical guy…I’m getting better, but sometimes FG lingo still confuses me. I may do the things I hear other players talk tech about all the time and not realize it because I’ve done it so often without putting a label on it. I have typically just played survival and ranked and for the most part I just kinda feel my way through.
So when it comes to using practice mode, I typically don’t. But the more I play and better I get the more I feel like maybe I should, but I’m really not sure where to start…or maybe I do and just don’t realize it. Maybe it’s because I typically go in without having a purpose. Anyway, for those of you that are labrats, why do you go into practice mode, what do you tend to look for, work on? How do you set things up to work for you?

I will say this, what sparked my inquiry is I recently had a match against BHThompxson (I was Glacius, he was Jago), and I noticed that several times when I would wake up with a light puddle punch he would beat me to the punch (pun) with a c.LK…and it kinda surprised me because it was the first time I recall ever seeing a Jago do that to me. I just remember thinking how inadequate my tech knowledge is, but aside from an occasional tweak I’m just not certain about where to start.:confused:
…it probably doesn’t help that I haven’t had a lot of free time to hit the lab since that match…

Hes probably using meaties, (with a LK, thats pretty fucking boss btw) or Glacius’ wakeup puddle doesnt have any or enough I-frames or Glacius’s puddlepunch has too much startup frames.

First turn on Frame Data in the Dojo options and start with buttons.

You are looking for “Start up frames”, how long it takes the move to come out.
–(Moves with the fastest startup tend to be Light moves.)
“Active frames” how long the move can damage someone while its out.
—(Meaties work on this principle by having a LOT of active frames, this is why a “meaty” LK which has 1-2 active frames is boss. Meaty buttons tend to be st.MK, anything with good startup/recovery and 4 active frames.)
And “Recovery frames” how long your move takes to finish after its come out.
—(Heavy moves, special moves and DPs tend to have the most recovery frames)

(Im going to be using the word “moves” in reference to specials and/or buttons. If I dont differentiate between the two, then I probably mean both when I refer to moves.

Next learn frame advantage, does this move generate frames when blocked? If it does its called “Safe on block” and means either the “Startup frames” of your moves come out X frames faster, or their “recovery frames” recover X frames faster. Moves that generate frames tend to be Light buttons, and/or light moves. And + on block lets you continue pressuring your opponent with moves before they are out of blockstun.

If it doesnt generate or subtract frames, its “Neutral on block”. Your moves dont come out sooner or recover faster.

If theres a big -X on your move’s frame data, it means this move needs X more frames after your opponent has blocked it. Basically YOUR OPPONENT’s moves come out X frames sooner, or recover X frames faster. Essentially you’re fucked.

A way around this is to “Cancel” the “recovery frames” of a button with a Special move thats Neutral or +Frames on block. The recovery frames on a button is usually cancellable with a special move.

Or use a button that’s +frames on being blocked to let you turn a move thats usually unsafe, into neutral on block. An example of this would be Shago’s Cr.LK is +1 frame on block, doing 2 Cr.LK on block in a row means his next move is +2 frames on block, making his L.Slide special which is -2 frames on block recover 2 frames faster, making it 0 frame move on block, making it safe on block.

Why youd want to do the latter is if youre trying to pressure your opponent.

Or do Shago’s Cr.LP which is +2 on block and a Cr.LK on block giving him +3 frames, making his L.Slide not only safe, but also +1 frame on recovery, meaning his LP button that has a 3frame “startup” comes out 1 frame faster than an opponents LP. This is an example of a FRAMETRAP, where the opponent has enough time to react with a fast move, but your move like LP comes out 1 frame faster, effectively counterhitting them.

3 frames in the golden number for KI’s frame data. 3 frames is how the fastest normal can come out, which should be LP for everybody in the cast except for Sabrewulf who’s buttons are 4 on startup iirc.
The only thing faster than LP is usually a 2 frame DP of some sort, or a move with I-frames(again like a DP) tend to stuff things in general.

Frame Advantage On hit isnt AS important as frame advantage on block, it helps with manuals, I guess. And you could experiment On hit frame advantage with frametraps. Maybe intentionally drop the combo to go for a mixup. Throw in a grab here and there.

Hypothetically you could cross someone up with your massive +5 frames on hit with your special moves.

Most people would just go through the combo system though.

Next is applying your knowledge of framedata to Special moves/Command moves. What is +/- on block or hit? What are your special/command moves special properties? Does your character have a Stagger move?

Rekkas for example are a string of buttons when you dial them in they just come out. Sabrewulf and Shin Hisako have Rekkas. But these Rekkas have other properties like being unsafe on block and this is where experimentation comes in.

Certain Grabs have special properties, Shago’s for example lets you juggle opponents.

After that you can turn on HIT BOXES. Each move reaches a certain amount. There are two types of Hitboxes.

The first hitbox is the range and direction of where your move deals damage. Pretty self explanatory. The hitbox of a move can also let you hit opponents from behind, this is why Cross-ups work.
Its important to remember that just because a move comes out faster than an opponent’s move can recover, it doesnt mean its hitbox is large enough to hit them. Light moves tend to have short hitboxes to compensate coming out so fast.

The second hitbox is the range where your opponent’s character “flinches” when your move comes out. This is the distance where if your opponent is walking backwards, the game automatically makes them block. This is useful for controlling space when an opponent is walking back.

Figure out the proper spacing for moves. Some characters like Kilgore, if you have the wrong spacing and you use a special, he DROPS the combo.

Lastly, you can set Shadow bar and Instinct Meter on Infinite. Your character gains different properties when shadowed or in instinct and learning certain combos or setups can be very beneficial and lead to optimized damage.

Shago for example, when he has instinct, his moves automatically come out +2 frames faster. I have seen people Manual TWICE IN A ROW when they have instinct with shago.

Now experiment with combos, cancelling, manuals, juggles and setups to find things that are ambiguous on break or ways to continue offense in alternative ways. For example, did you know Shago’s Manual Cr.LK and Manual Cr.MK are hard to differentiate with his Slide move? Or did you know you can Cancel Jago’s GRAB with a shadow move?

Thats all Ive got off the top of my head, if you got any questions and if I think I know something about it, feel free to ask and I’ll answer the best I can. But be warned, Im pretty trash. If some of the more experienced players say Im wrong about something, I probably am and listen to them instead.

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I think its called “Attack Data”

also, here’s an additional thread that may help

and here is a video on how to use practice mode

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Charbok’s video is a good place to start. For myself (also not much of a lab guy), I tend to use Practice mode only to practice particular inputs (tiger knees, DP’s, certain manuals), and to test new setups as I encounter them or they occur to me.

If I’m getting really wrecked by something I’ll generally take it into the lab to check frame data and test escapes. Offensively, I’ll test new knockdown or frame trap setups to see what options they beat and when. Once I’ve got an idea of what beats what and when, I don’t generally return to Practice mode until I have another new setup/situation to test out.


You’ll see a lot of top players meaty with a chained light normal. This is a low reward, but low risk option that covers certain wakeups. For example, if Jago does Cr.LK or Cr. LP x2, it’ll punish many backdashes. The idea is that if the opponent backdashes on wakeup, the 1st jab will whiff, but the 2nd jab will hit the backdash while it’s recovering.

Specifically for the Jago vs. Glacius situation - Glacius’ light PP isn’t invulnerable on the first frame. The heavy one is fully invulnerable throughout, but it’s very slow for a wakeup. Many light attacks (like Jago’s Cr.LK) recover fast enough that they can block the heavy PP. Therefore, if Jago places a Cr.LK that is truly meaty (as in, on the first hittable frame), he’ll stuff the light PP, and he can still block the heavy one. This is a common thing against character with slow wakeups.

When I’m trying a new character, one thing that I always look for in practice mode that might not be so obvious is that character’s optimal punish for blocked DPs or whiffed counter breakers. Little optimizations like that go a long way towards a stable playstyle.

This isn’t correct. The +/- advantage that you gain on block from one move does not carry over to the advantage of your next move. If one move is +2 on block, then it means your next move can come out two frames before your opponent’s, and nothing else. Once the 2nd attack is blocked, the remaining block stun inflicted from the 1st attack is cancelled and replaced with the block stun with the 2nd attack. If you block my attack that is +9823897 on block, then a jab that’s -1, I’m now -1. So for Shago (slide is -5, by the way), he’s always going to be -5, unless he cancels into Instinct or into a Shadow move, or if you have some crazy setup where a fireball protects you.

You might be thinking of SF here. The fastest buttons hit on the 5th frame, not 3rd. Fastest normals are 5, fastest DPs are 3, one or two characters have specials that are 4, and RAAM’s Shadow command grab is 1.

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Jago and Shago’s St.LP comes out in 3 frames.

Also I had no idea frame advantage didnt stack. So its a move per move basis?

I saw someone on stream do 2 Cr.LK to make L.Slide safe for Shago. a Cr.LK has +1 frame advantage and L.Slide is -2 on block. So if I understand correctly L.Slide wasnt neutral on block but -1 and was in fact punishable?

There is no normal in the game that is faster than 5 frames (that is, hits on the 5th frame; KI’s “attack data” will call this a startup of 4, but I (and LeoFerreis) prefer to call this 5 frame startup). So Jago and Shago’s st.LP are 5f startup.

And yes, Leo’s explanation is correct. Frame data doesn’t stack; as soon as a move hits or is blocked, the hit stun/block stun of the previous move is wiped out and replaced by the new hit stun/block stun. So Shago’s light slide is always -5 on block, no matter what moves came before it. As Leo said, the only way to make it safer is to instinct cancel it (or some other wackiness where a fireball hits after the slide).

Light slide will never be safe, no matter what moves you used before it. Light slide is -5 (not -2) in all cases, and is always punishable except via instinct cancel. But in all cases, the block stun is the same… instinct cancel makes the move safe because it cancels Shago’s recovery frames and lets him act immediately. The defender will still be stuck in the same amount of block stun no matter what.

It’s worth noting that Shago’s instinct lets him get +2 advantage on block and hit for all his moves, so light slide is -3 during instinct. But the principle is the same.


Sry I looked over the data. Hes right, LP is 4 frames. My mentality is you want 3 Frames of breathing room so you can block on the 4th Frame. Thats where that comes from.

Also thx for clearing up how Frame data doesnt stack. I wish Dojo had an AI PUNISH feature or something. Ive tried to get my buddies in RL to try the game but outside of that theres really no consistent way to test Homework.

Ive dropped Shago at this point. Holy hell, figuring out other characters is easymode in comparison.

While I agree having a feature in training mode for the AI to reversal would be excellent (I’m sad they never added this), you can still kind of practice and test punishes.

  1. Record the dummy doing the move you are trying to punish, and then hold down-back for about 3 seconds.
  2. Play the recording and try to punish it. The game will usually say “Punishment” if it’s correct, but sometimes the message is a little finicky and it won’t give it to you. However, because the recording is trying to block, if you can hit him at all, it will be a true punish.

Feel free to try this with Shago light slide (-5 on block). You’ll find that reversal DPs (3 frames) will work, as will any 5 frame normal attack (such as, say, Shago’s crouching LK). If you want to change the recording to be cr.LK, cr.LK xx light slide, you’ll find the punish still works.


oooooooohh, let the AI test the move out on ME instead of the other way around. I never thought of that.

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