Tekken Notation | Fighting Games 101

Tekken Notation | Fighting Games 101
Date Published: 22 September, 2020

I find that Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has a lot in common with the Fighting Game Community (FGC), be it the way in which the community came about, the mindset of the athlete or player, the way the audience and the fans perceive the sport or game, but the other interesting similarity is the ruleset.

Tekken is a fighting game that perhaps is most similar to real life fighting, however, it also abides by completely different terminology and ruleset in comparison to other fighting games, therefore, why not take a look at how Tekken has separated itself from the norm with regards to notations in fighting games.


Lili performing a combo vs Bryan Fury in Tekken 7.

Without a universal way of reading combinations in every single fighting game, if you play a game like Tekken, and write down a combo, or are reading a combo instruction, it will be completely different compared to when reading a combo for a game like Street Fighter.

So Tekken is pretty unique in the fact that it doesn’t only have directional notations, but also notations of certain states your character is in. However to start, we’ll focus on its directional commands.

Tekken uses five basic directional notations of Up (U), Down (D), Forward (F), Back (B), and lastly Neutral (N or ★).

Then within those basic notations, you branch out to directional combinations, like adding D+F and getting down-forward, adding U+B and getting up-back. Obviously Natural is excluded in this instance.

So here are all of the combinations of directions you can get, and how they are notated:
UP, Down, Forward, Back, UF, UB, DF, and DB.

Now unlike a game like Street Fighter, Tekken doesn’t account for different strengths of the characters’ limbs, but rather the horizontal position of the character.

In order to avoid confusion, instead of using LP which depending on the game, can be read as either Light Punch, or Left Punch. Tekken simply uses a numeric system to signify each of its characters limbs.

Therefore (1) would be your left arm, (2) would be your right arm, (3) would be your left leg, and (4) would be your right leg. So when you combine those two ways of notating directions and inputs, what we would get is something like this: DF+2, 4,1,1+2.

So with regards how you notate a simple combo like that, it varies depending on who is doing it. I have not found there to be a universal way of notating Tekken, even among the Tekken community, some use U/F for motion directions, Some Omit the / and would just go with UF.

Some use UF2 for directions plus inputs, some add a + in between direction and input (UF+2). It all means the same thing, its just how you decide to write it down.


Bryan Fury landing a running 3 on Lili in Tekken 7.

Neutral is an interesting concept in Tekken as neutral seems to be more so of a factor when talking about the state your character is in rather than the direction it is going.

So like I said previously, Tekken is unique in the way that it has command moves which are only available out of physical states the characters are in.

The universal states are these:
While Standing, While Running, While Crouching, which is often only referred to as Full Crouch position, and back turned.

There are also other states such as the knocked-down states, but those are a little more advanced for beginner level Tekken learners.

The character states are best explained as such:

While Standing is the position and moment in which a character is rising from a crouched position. Its notation is (WS). While running is the position and moment in which a character is steadily running. Its notation is (WR).

Back turned is the position in which a character is facing away from the opponent. Its notation is (BT). And lastly, the Full Crouch position is the moment in which a character is fully committed to the crouch position. Its notation is (FC).

So notations incorporating character states would look something like this:
WS+2, UF+4, 1+2

There are also character specific states and stances, such as Sway, Hitman, Dew Glide, Wavedash, etc. But again, that’s just getting a little too much into the nuance of Tekken, something beginners should not focus on right away. 

In conclusion, Tekken is quite an intricate game, and it requires a long time and consistent effort to learn. It is a challenge, but one I believe is well worth the effort in the world of fighting games.

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