Fighting Game Directional Input Notations

Learn How to Read and Understand Fighting Game Direction and Motion Input Notations

Directional Input

Usually, we think of controller directions as Up, Down, Left, and Right. In fighting games, however, we have to think of direction relative to our character. Up and Down are still the same, but Left and Right no longer work because we can face either direction. So, the four directions turn into this:

  Up or Jump = U or J

  Down or Crouch = D or C or Cr

  Back = B

  Forward = F

We use this because the input for our moves flips when we turn from facing right to left, or player 1 side to player 2 side. For example, the most common input for a projectile or fireball in most fighting games, like Ryu’s Hadoken in Street Fighter, is “Down, Down-Forward, Forward, and Punch” or Quarter Circle Forward Punch. The symbol in the game usually looks like this.


We can’t just say “Down, Down-Right, Right, and Punch” or “Quarter Circle Right Punch” because that only works if the character is facing to the right. Likewise when the character is facing left, so we use “forward” instead of right and left to indicate the direction the character is facing.

Another notation for directions is using the numpad numbers 1 - 9. For example, Up is 8 and Down is 2. This notation still uses Forward and Back instead of Right and Left, and it assumes the Player 1 side meaning the character is facing to the right. So, 6 is considered Forward and 4 is considered Back rather than Right and Left. And if you’re wondering what the middle 5 is, it just means neutral as in you’re not pressing any direction. Here are what each number means:

1 =  Down-Back

2 =  Down

3 =  Down-Forward

4 =  Back

5 =  Neutral

6 =  Forward

7 =  Up-Back

8 =  Up

9 =  Up-Forward

Motion Input

Now let’s look at common motion inputs. Let’s use the projectile input again which is “Down, Down-Forward, and Forward” or more commonly “Quarter Circle Forward” (QC). This can also be described as 236 with our numpad notation. Here is a list of common motions with their common notations.

Quarter Circle Forward: QCF or 236

Quarter Circle Back: QCB or 214

Half Circle Forward: HCF or 41236

Half Circle Back: HCB or 63214

Dragon Punch: DP or 623

The term Dragon Punch is famously named after the move Shoryuken, which translates to Rising Dragon Fist used by Ryu in Street Fighter.


Reverse Dragon Punch: RDP or 421


Full Circle: SPD, 360, or 6248

SPD stands for Spinning Pile Driver, made famous by Zangief in Street Fighter.

(hold) or 

Charge-Back Forward: BF or [B]F or [4]6

Charge means you must hold something for about a second. This one, you must hold Back for a second before inputting Forward. It’s common to display the charge with square brackets.

(hold) or 

Charge-Down Up: DU or [D]U or [2]8

Similar to the above motion.


Down, Down: DD or 22

Understanding these common motions can help identify uncommon and complex motions. They are usually either repeated motions for mechanics like Supers or a combination of motion and direction for a powerful move like a command grab. Here are a few examples:


Half Circle Back, Forward: HCBF or 632146

Commonly known from the character Potemkin in Guilty Gear. Used for the move Potemkin Buster, a powerful command grab.


Double Quarter Circle Forward: 2QFC or DQFC or 236236

These are typically used for Super moves, in which case people may just say Super. Or if there are different levels of Supers they might describe it as Level 1 or Level 2.

Hopefully, this guide will help you understand commentators, chats, and instructions better and get you involved with all the epic moments the FGC has to offer! If you want to get even more hype about fighting game tournaments, check out this guide about Common Fighting Game Terms.