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How to use Focus Attacks in Ultra Street Fighter 4.

Updated on October 10, 2014

Gouken focuses on Ryu


What is a focus attack?

That's an easy one to answer! A focus attack is performed by holding down the medium punch and medium kick button on your controller, fight-stick or fight-pad. Depending on how long you hold it down for is the equivalent to how much damage the attack does. There are multiple levels to this attack and each one has different properties, depending on how long you hold the attack for.

  • Level one does minimal damage, like maybe a tiny sliver of health.
  • Level two does slightly more damage and will cause them to crumple, meaning they'll fall over on the ground.
  • Level three does maximum damage and causes them to be stunned longer. You'll flash white after level 2 so you know this is the max level that you'll reach. This gives you an opportunity to do combos you otherwise wouldn't be able to do if they were blocking.


Using Focus Attacks to absorb attacks and projectiles

Ever have one of those moments when you're playing a fighting game and someone just has to be THAT player who sits on one side of the screen and throws projectiles at you while you block, with nowhere to run except either to try to get through them and lose? Ultra Street Fighter 4 took care of that problem by using the Focus Attack system to absorb attacks. It works pretty much the same way as you would do a normal attack, with an added bonus of not sustaining damage from the attack. You won't take damage from the hit because your life-bar at the top will turn white and start to fill back up. As soon as you input medium punch and medium kick together, tap forward twice or back twice on the control pad or arcade stick to dash back or forward. It'll keep you safe from your opponent, or when you want to follow up another attack, but we'll cover that later.

Keep in mind that if you're hit again while your health is being refilled you will retain the damage from the first attack and any other one after that. This can also happen if you're blocking any attack that does chip damage while you're blocking. Also be wary that you can be thrown out of your Focus Attack if you take too long to unleash it. These can really turn the tide of battle in your favor, with the right technique. Focus attacks do not absorb hits from Ultras or Supers, especially if they are command grab ultras and supers that cannot be blocked.

Armor Breaking through focus attacks

While focus attacks are useful, they don't come without their risks and their weaknesses. Armor Breaking refers to attacks that can go through even focus attacks. For example, Poison's Love Me Tender move can break through any focus attack. Chun-li's lightning legs can break through focus as well. You'll know the focus attack was broken if you hear a broken glass sound effect and see your character in a "broken effect"so to speak. Each character's move has a lightning bolt next to moves that can break through focus in their command list. Suffice it to say you might want to be careful the next time you try to focus someone's move that you thought was safe. The armor breaking principle also applies to breaking through ultras and even supers. But this only applies to select few moves and characters that this can happen to.

Red Focus

Introduced in Ultra Street Fighter 4, Red Focus is like a regular Focus Attack, except you turn red while holding the attack and can absorb more than one hit. By holding the medium punch, medium kick and light punch button, you go into the animation for a Red Focus.It uses about 3 bars of your meter, but it's well worth the effort.

You're able to absorb multiple hits and unleash a powerful attack, doing more damage than a regular attack. it can even absorb Ultras, depending on the character and the type of attack. Command grab Ultras can still go through Red Focus. In addition, you can Red Focus cancel into attacks that you normally wouldn't be able to. For example, normally Zangief would not be able to combo into a throw, but if you use a regular light punch, green palm then Red Focus cancel, you'll be able to combo into spinning pile-driver immediately.

This isn't limited to regular attacks though. Another good example is if you're playing as Poison and use her Jumping heavy kick, Whip of Love, then Red Focus cancel into Poison Kiss, her command grab ultra 2. It'll do a ton of damage.

Focus and Red Focus attacks.

How often do you use either Focus or Red Focus attacks?

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The right and wrong kind of Focus Attacks.

There's two types of playing styles when it comes to focus attacks;, the right way and the wrong way. What I mean is that someone who can read your move and focus at the right time to counter them is doing it the right way. Whereas if there's a random player you run into online or off that focuses at the wrong time, they're going to get wrecked hard. It's important to know when to use focus and when not to.

If you're dealing with a character, let's say Poison for example, who's projectile heavy then absorbing fireballs is going to be important so you can get in close to them. That's not to say that you can't simply use other tactics and means to escape fireball traps, but it'll give you a better peace of mind knowing you won't be chipped out.

Some characters can't be focus attacked that easily though. Cammy is a hard character to focus attack because she's really quick, and her special moves, such as Cannon Spike and Backspin Knuckle can break through focus attacks.

Hopefully this primer will help you develop your strategy a little bit better, and gives you a better understanding of the Focus Attack system. Now get out there and fight!


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