Now it's time we looked at how you can attack your opponent. This section will just provide you with the explanations of what types of attacks are available ot each and every character in Tekken.
I. Attack Strings
Attack strings are simply a flurry of attacks that come out your character following a prescribed combination of button inputs. These don't require any timing per se and can be "mashed" out. For example, you hit 1,2,1 from Dragunov. He'll do a left, right, left punch combination which is simple enough. However, the properties of these attack strings are definitely something that should be considered as seen in the gif below.
As you see, these are different from target combo's in Street Fighter in the sense that they don't necessarily mean every hit following the first attack will be guaranteed if landed cleanly. As you saw with Dragunov's 1,2,1; getting the first hit only guaranteed the second and the 3rd was blocked. However, if the first hit was done with a counter hit, then all of the next 2 punches were guaranteed. Therefore the 1,2 is an NC or a "Natural Combo" and the 1,2,1 is a NCc or a "Natural Combo only on counter hit". There are lots of strings out there in everyone's movelist that have these sort of properties and can be useful like in Dragunov's case, the 1 is a 10frame jab so it is highly likely you will be capable of getting the first hit as a counter hit.
Some strings might not have a first move that has such a fast startup BUT they can still be used for deadly mixups where the strings can branch into different attacks as seen in the gif below:
Characters like Nina, Asuka, Anna, and others have attack strings that can branch into different moves where your opponent will be forced to guess between high and low attacks which can be really useful in closing rounds. Other strings can also be delayed, and hence baits your opponent to punish your attack when you have the last followup ready to catch him/her like Law's b+1,2,1:
Every character also has at least one 10 hit string in their arsenal. It is like the title, a series of 10 attacks all alternating between high, mid, and low attacks allways ending with a devastating strike. These are usually the weapons that are done to eliminate mashers or torment people that are new to the game since they wouldn't know when to anticipate a low or a high to evade or low parry (covered later). These things aren't used in competitive play which is why I couldn't find any footage of it used in a match, but here are Ling Xiaoyu and Kazuya Mishima's from the TTT2 Prologue's model viewer:
Lastly, the attack strings are usually very punishable and that's why you won't see people throw them out in the open during matches all that much. If they aren't punishable, then they would usually be able to be evaded with a sidestep or a duck or even a low parry to counter them as seen in the gif below:
Running is an important tactic in Tekken because it is a very quick way to cover ground from an enemy far away for you to keep pressure and when you are in a running state, you have access to a core set of attacks:
- Cross Chop - 1+2 after two or more steps: Your character does a double fisted head-first dive into your opponent.
- Slide - 4 after 2 or more steps: Your character does a baseball slide doing a quick low attack that knocks down your opponent.
- Shoulder Tackle - Automatic after 3 steps: Your character automatically shoulder charges into the other character carrying the momentum of running those 3 steps.
- Slash Kick - 3 anytime during the run: A Bruce Lee style leaping dragon kick on your opponent that leaves you at a lot of (+) frames if they block it and knocks them down if they get hit, but it's easily sidesteppable
- Floor Stomp - Automatic after 2 or more steps on grounded enemy: If your opponent decides to stay lying on the floor, you will step on them as you run past him/her
But if you run into your opponent after 2 or more steps, you get an unblockable tackle where you pin your opponent on the ground and you can unleash any combination of up to 4 punches using either limb. There are 3 windows of breaking the unblockable tackle as seen in the gif below:
Many characters get access to specific attacks while they are in a running state, for example Julia:
Grapples are a very fundamental part of Tekken, especially because it is quite challenging to break. Every character has 2 generic commands for grapples. The first is 2+4 grab where you reach with your right hand; the second is 1+3 grab where you reach with your left hand. Both of these generic grabs have the unique feature of holding forward with the grab to extend the reach i.e. F+1+3 extends the reach of your left hand grab but you give your opponent a greater throw break window and the grab itself takes a few frames longer to come out. One positive attribute to a F+grab is that this causes your throw attempt to track both directions as well And lastly there are command grabs specific to each character that can be either left handed, right handed, or even both. To break the grabs you have to strictly input the correct limb corresponding to the incoming grab within 22 frames of the start of the grapple animation. For example, if a left handed throw is coming, you have to break with 1 or if a double handed throw is coming, you have to break with 1+2 as seen below:
The other important thing about grapples is the orientation where the throw takes place. You can grab opponents on their sides and even their backside and you can get a unique animation from them. However, regardless if you do a left hand, right hand, or command grab from these back or side orientations, the same animation will come out and the same break command. So if you grabbed the opponent from the left side, you break with 1; if they were grabbed from the right side, you break with a 2; grapples from the back are unbreakable and that damage has to be taken.
The backs and sides aren't the only orientations you can grab your opponent from. A select few characters can grab a crouching opponent or even a grounded opponent. The reaching animation is the same for whichever notation they use (d/b+2+4_d/b+1+3 for grounded d+2+4_d+1+3 for crouching) and it's a 50/50 guess to break them.
5 of the characters including Nina, Armor King, Anna, Dragunov, and King have access to multi-throws in which you begin a throw animation and within the animation of throw, you can input another set of commands to continue the throw into another throw. There is no way of telling which follow up multithrow the grappler will choose and to break it, you basically have to guess:
There are throws that can be done during combo's which are always unbreakable and have to taken if landed. The first is an air throw which always end in a combo-ender except for Lars who can combo off it if there is a wall.
The last type of throw capable during combo's is wall combo's and it's only limited to Marduk, King, and Lili. These usually do quite a grip of damage since they have to sacrifice a juicy wall combo(described later) for a throw, so they overall balance themselves out.
This was covered earlier in the running section but a lot of characters are capable of tackles from a neutral position. An example is Dragunov or Marduk; and a lot of their outputs during the tackle are different than regular tackle attacks. An example is right here:
Something that a lot of grappler esque characters have is the armbar after a tackle with characters such as King, Paul, Jin, and Devil Jin. Those have their own unique escapes as well:
Everyone can escape them the same way you saw Wang escape. BUT, another grappler class character can reverse the armbar completely by mashing more 2's during the armbar. Characters like Nina and King also have a leg-lock, those must be reversed by mashing 1+2,1,1,1,1,1,1 instead of the 2's.
IV. Throw Transitions
Throw Transitions are a move property that happens when a certain attack connects and initiates a throw like animation. A lot of times certain requirements need to be done such as the hit has to be on counter hit among others. Here are various examples:
A lot throw transitions can be done mid juggle as well, making very high damaging juggle enders
V. Counters & Parries
Counters in Tekken work just like how you'd expect in any other fighting game. Counters work on physical strikes coming from your opponent and reverse them into a throw like move which does a bit of damage. Usually the more powerful the attack attempted the more damage the counter inflicts on your opponent. However, this isn't like DOA3 where the counters take priority over everything, in fact it's possible for you to counter their counter. This is called a "chicken". This works where if you used your right limb to strike the opponent and they countered, you can "chicken" their counter by pressing f+2+4 right after it was initiated breaking out of their counter. If your left limb was used or a double handed strike, you use f+1+3. However, there are a lot of moves that can't be countered, the main ones are elbows and knees, so you have to be careful of them if you play a turtle character and those situations arise. And Likewise some characters have counters which can't be chickened like Marduk or Raven.
Another defensive maneuver available to many characters are parries. Parries can't be reversed like counters, but they don't automatically unleash a throw like the others described above. Parries require you to manually do a counter attack after parrying their attack which usually leaves you at a frame advantage. However, usually things aren't guaranteed after parries, but if the move done by your opponent has a really large recovery, you can consider it guaranteed damage.
And Lastly, there are certain attacks by various characters that automatically parry or neutralize attacks done by your opponent. The only classified one is called the Sabaki Parry where the attack that comes out auto-parries their move allowing you to continue your own.
Unblockable attacks would probably be the equivalent of a super or an ultra because the usually entail the most damaging move a character has. Like the name of it, it's an unblockable attack so if the move will connect the damage will be done completely, but they are always the slowest moves the character has and hence very easy to counter hit them out of it. The few character that have projectiles like True Ogre's fire breath and Alisa's rockets are also considered unblockables.
That should cover the various attack types out there which you can use to dish out damage to your opponent. They all have uses in the game, some more so than others. With so many tools available it's impossible to find any 2 players that use the identical set of tools for their game. With this many options the limit to creativity is nearly infinite. The next section will go over the various properties your attacks have and how you can use them to maximize your damage.