Fighting Game Terminologies

A Guide to Understand Common Slangs used by the FGC

With the recent success of Street Fighter 6, the fighting game community (FGC) is getting more and more hype about upcoming tournaments. To help you join in on the hype, by understanding commentators and chats better, we compiled some common fighting game terminologies that are used in most modern fighting games.

Before we start, if you want to understand the notations for fighting game input directions and motions, head over to our guide on “Fighting Game Directions and Motions”. While directions and motions in various fighting games have a commonality, the buttons do not. Most fighting games have their own unique mechanics which use their own button layout and labeling. Fortunately, most buttons are self-explanatory like light, medium, heavy, and special, or light punch, light kick, medium punch… and so on.

Here, we will learn about common terms or slangs the FGC uses regarding game mechanics, situations, and more. These are mainly terms that may not have an obvious definition.



Which is short for Gamepad. These are things like Xbox controllers, PlayStation controllers, or GameCube controllers.


Which is short for Arcade Stick or Fight Stick. These resemble the old arcade cabinet button layout that includes a stick to control directions and 8 buttons.

HitBox and SmashBox

These are the latest controller type being accepted in fighting game tournaments. Their design combines the excellent button layout of the arcade stick and the accurate directional buttons of a gamepad/keyboard. After dealing with many controversies, the hitbox has become more accepted and popular in recent times. They are now tournament legal in major events.

Unique Button Names:
Jab = Light Punch
Strong = Medium Punch
Fierce = Heavy Punch
Short = Light Kick
Forward = Medium Kick
Roundhouse = Heavy Kick
These are old names for attack buttons that use light, medium, and heavy for punches and kicks. Originating from Street Fighter 2 arcade cabinets in the 1990s, the buttons seemed to be labelled with the names of Ryu’s attack moves. These were translated from the Japanese version of the game, which may not have been accurate at the time. Since then, they are still used by older players and are widely understood by the FGC.

Unique Input names:
Dragon Punch (DP)
A special move that uses the motion input 623 or forward, down, down-forward. The move is typically an attack that rises high in the air very fast like a jumping uppercut, which is perfect for anti-air. This term is famously named after the move Shoryuken, which translates to Rising Dragon Fist used by Ryu in Street Fighter.


General Mechanics

Cross Cut

A cross cut is a Dragon Punch execution that auto-corrects the direction of the attack when an opponent jumps over the player. Using the numpad notation a DP input is 623. The ending input, 3 (down forward), is the most important in this situation. As the opponent jumps over to the other side, 'forward' will flip to the other side and the input 3 changes to 1. The final input will be 621, which looks like this: 6 as the opponent jumps starting in front of you, 2 as the opponent is right above your head, and 1 as the opponent is in the air behind you. The DP will come out in the correct direction and the anti-air is successful.

Cross Up

A Cross Up is an attack that lands behind the opponent which made them block the wrong way due to the ambiguity of the character positions. This is usually in the form of jump-ins and makes the trajectory of the character difficult to see if they will land an attack from the front or from behind. So, this concerns guessing or reacting to the left and right direction.


An install is a powered-up state that is usually limited in time. The character may become faster, stronger, or have new/improved special moves in this state. This can come from super moves like Juri's level 2 super in Street Fighter 6, or game mechanics like Street Fighter 5's V-trigger.

Mix Up (or 50/50)

A Mix Up or 50/50 is a situation where a player makes an attack that is difficult to predict or react to due to things like the speed of the attack or distractions, causing the opponent to guess their defensive option by either blocking high, blocking low, or escaping a throw.


Rekka is a special move that can be repeated multiple times to produce a combo. This was made famous by the character Fei Long starting in Street Fighter 2 with his move Rekkaken. The special move with the input QCF punch can be repeated 3 times in a row to produce a combo.


A Reversal is a counter to the opponent's offensive pressure. Usually done with a move that has invincibility frames on startup. This usually happens when an opponent performs a reset or drops a combo resulting in a window of opportunity to quickly counter with your own quick attack. It can also happen during knockdowns while the opponent pressures with a suffocating offence, so you would perform a wake-up reversal, usually a type of super move or a special move that consumes a special meter.

Tech (Throw Tech)

Teching is when you break an opponent’s attempt to throw you by inputting your own throw. This is a common mechanic in fighting games as a defensive method to escape throws


Block Stun

When a player has blocked an attack, the player cannot move or perform any actions until fully recovering. This is called a Block Stun.

Hit Box

A Hit Box is an area on a character that can deal damage to an opponent. For example, when a character throws a punch, a rectangle (invisible to the players) covering their hand and arm activates. This rectangle is the Hit Box. If this rectangle touches the opponent, the damage is applied to them. This is a common method for collision detection in game development.

Hit Stun 

When a player has been hit by an attack, they are now in a state where they cannot move until they recover. This is called a Hit Stun. The opponent now has an opportunity to continue the attack by using a move that is faster than the player’s recovery time resulting in a combo.

Hurt Box

A Hurt Box is an area on a character that can be hit by an attack move. They are usually represented in rectangles of varying sizes and are invisible to the players. This is a common method for collision detection in game development.

Low Profile

Low Profile is a move, like a normal attack, that shortens the player’s Hurt Box vertically to be able to evade an attack that is aimed either Mid to High. For example, many fighting games have characters that can slide in a crouched state to be able to move underneath projectiles and get closer to the opponent easier.

Frame Data

Block String

A Block String is a series of attacks that keeps the opponent in a blocking state with no openings for a counterattack between each attack moves.


Frames in fighting games measure the speed of movements and attacks. In general, frames are the individual images that are displayed on a screen in succession that combines into media like film and video games. Most modern fighting games run at a framerate of 60 frames per second. Every move in fighting games will have startup frames, active frames, and recovery frames. The startup frames are usually what players emphasize when describing an attacking move, like “That’s a 7-frame medium punch”. Another frame value important to players would be the difference in recovery between the players after an attacking move is blocked. Typically, someone would say “That medium punch is +1 on block”. This means that the attacking player still has an advantage of 1 frame against the defending player. On the flip side, “That leaping kick is -12 on block”. This describes a huge disadvantage for the attacking player as the defending player can now counter with a move that is faster than 12 frames. When a move is 0 on block it means that both players have no advantage over each other as both characters recover at the same time.

Frame Trap

A Frame Trap is when a player performs a second attack after the first one was blocked, but leaving a small gap in between that is shorter than the opponent’s fastest move. This is to bait the opponent into throwing out a move that will be countered by the second move.

Reset (Combo Reset)

A Combo Reset or a Reset is when a player stops their combo abruptly to catch the opponent off-guard and immediately starts another combo, usually by using an overhead so that it won’t be blocked, or a devastating command grab to try to deal much more damage than the original combo.



Footsies is when a player is fighting to control the neutral space. They do this by using things like pokes with normal moves or punishing a mistimed attack. The goal of footsies is for the player to enter an attacking phase and not allow the opponent to execute their preferred strategies. Footsies is considered a complex concept. This is because each fighting game has its own unique mechanics that make the footsies game look different than in others. For example, footsies in Street Fighter, Guilty Gear, and UMVC3 (Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3) look very different from each other. The tempo and neutral space are very different due to the mechanics of each game. Street Fighter tends to be more grounded and has a medium neutral space, while UMVC3, with its assist mechanic and variety of projectiles, tends to have more verticality and larger neutral space.


Neutral or Neutral Game, in terms of spacing, is when both players have no advantage over each other and neither player is attacking nor defending.

Whiff Punish

When the opponent whiffs a move, it means they completely miss their attack leaving them vulnerable during the recovery state. Whiff Punish is when a player successfully attacks the opponent during this recovery state on reaction. This requires a great amount of skill since normal moves recover very fast.


Zoning is when a player controls a large amount of space using long-range moves, like projectiles, to keep the opponent away at a distance.

Wake Up/Knockdown


A Meaty attack or just Meaty is an attack that a player performs so that the active frame happens during the first frame when the opponent has just recovered from a knockdown. If the opponent does anything aside from blocking or parrying, they will get hit. Usually, risky moves with invincibility start-ups can counter this.

Okizeme (or Oki)

Okizeme is a play on two Japanese words, “okiru” which means to get up and “semeru” which means to attack. In fighting games, Oki is a player’s offensive game for when the opponent is waking up from a knockdown. When a player or character has great Oki, they are able to knock down an opponent close enough to them so that they can continue an offensive pressure during the opponent’s wake-up recovery with attacks that are hard to defend. A bad Oki would be knocking down an opponent too far away that they can recover safely, or attacking with basic and predictable moves during the opponent’s wake-up recovery.

Safe Jump

A Safe Jump is an aerial attack performed during the opponent’s recovery from a knockdown and it is timed so that the player will be safe upon landing. Any attacks by the opponent during their wakeup can be blocked by the player and leads to punishable situations.


A Shimmy is a baiting move, usually for when an opponent is waking up from a knockdown. The player moves into and away from the opponent as they are waking up. This tends to look like the player is about to throw them and results in the opponent inputting their own throw, as an attempt to throw tech, causing them to whiff and allowing the player to punish them.

Advanced Concepts

Hit Confirm

Hit Confirm is when you successfully react to your attack landing and continuing the attack into a combo.

Option Select (or OS)

An Option Select or OS is when you input multiple moves either at the same time or in quick succession, and the outcome will differ depending on the situation. It is a very powerful and complex concept, so here is an example. In Street Fighter 4 there was the crouch tech OS. The game doesn’t allow throwing while crouching, so when you crouch and press the throw button (light punch + light kick), a crouching light kick would appear (light kick has priority over light punch). However, the throw tech is still applied in this situation if the player is being thrown by the opponent. So, when an opponent is pressuring with offence and you perform the crouch tech OS, three positive outcomes can happen for you. One is if the opponent decides to throw you, you’ll escape with the throw tech. Two is if the opponent mistimes their attack, a crouching light kick will come out and if it lands you can perform a combo for big damage. Lastly, rather than whiffing a throw, which is very easily punishable, you whiff a light kick instead, which is very fast and unlikely to be punished. This one input turning into multiple advantageous outcomes for the player is why Option Selects are very strong.


A Vortex is a situation where a player can pressure an opponent with a variety of attacks continuously, causing the opponent to guess their defensive options again and again. This can be done by performing a reset or a knockdown, and the opponent must guess to block high, low, escape a throw, or perform a reversal upon recovery.



Respecting someone during a match in a fighting game is when a player plays with great care and patience because they know the opponent is very strong or very erratic and can flip the offensive pressure at any moment resulting in big damage. Disrespecting is the opposite, where a player would take many risks and go wild on the offence.


Describing something as Free means that the player or situation is very easy to deal with resulting in a quick and easy win. For example, if a player wins a tournament set quickly with a score of 3-0, one would say that the match was free.