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[Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike] Ken Guide (KE)

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This will be a developing guide to Ken in 3rd Strike. None of the information here will be made redundant as a result of your low or high skill level. This is a curated list of information, but in all honesty, these are just the basics. Solidifying these will carry you very, very far into the high level. Let's begin.


Cancellable chains, normals and specials will be in green font. Links into Super Art 3, other buttons and/or Shoryuken will be in red. More info on these buttons is available in Game Restaurant and Baston, both of which are linked in the next segment.



Your frame data and animations can be found here:


As usual, I have linked ESN first (refer to for context). It isn't in any order of value, just the chronological manner that I prefer to take when consulting frame data.




Ken has some unique buttons and chains. Let's explore:



Cr.LK x3*

Cr.LK > Cr.LP Cr.LK*

Cl.MP > Cl.HP - Best target combo in the game.


*These chains will not work on some characters, and on others it might only work if they are already crouching since crouching characters have wider hurtboxes in 3rd Strike. The universal chains that will work on everyone (if you're in range) are his target combo (Cl.MP > Cl.HP) and Cr.LK x2. You should use these to hitconfirm into super when possible.



B.MK - 1 frame link into super.





*These moves are practically useless and no Ken uses these on purpose. Stay away.




Ken is as strong as he is in large part due to his powerful and consistent hitconfirms into his powerful Super Art 3 (SA3) and/or Shoryuken, which does a lot of damage with no meter expenditure and provides the ability to enact setplay afterwards, thereby looping offence. Use these generously when available.


Cl.MP > Cl.HP > SA3/LP SRK.

Cl.MP > Cl.HP > Hadoken > SA3.

Cr.LK > Cr.LK > SA3.

Cr.LK > Cr.LK > Cr.LK > SA3.*

Cr.LK > Cr.LP > Cr.LK > SA3.*

Cr.LK > St.LP > LP DP.**

Cr.MP > SA3.

St.MP > SA3.

Cl.MP > SA3.***

Fa.MP > SA3.

B.MK > SA3.***

Meaty UOH > SA3.***

Meaty UOH > LP SRK > LP SRK.****


*Will not work on some characters. I highly suggest sticking to Cr.LK x2 > SA3 since it is universal.


**Will only work on standing opponents.


***Will only work on crouching opponents.


****Will only work in the corner.




Cr.MP > Cr.MP

Cl.MP > fa.MP

Cr.LK > Cr.MK*


*Great for gathering information on opponent habits. Not the best to try to hit confirm into super with. Very tough!


Ken has a lot of frametraps that also may double as hitconfirms sometimes. Explore and find them! These are the basic ones that you will be using. In my experience, the last one changed my entire play style quite significantly, and I'm a better player for it. I apologise if some of this may seem unclear, but you'll understand when you put into practice how effective these can be. This section is a recent addition.


Previously, I (wrongly) assumed that the concept of frametraps in 3S was redundant due to the risk of being parried. I was an idiot. I hope you don't make the same mistake. They play strongly into the conditioning surrounding Ken's gameplay and shifts the tide of the personal meta that continues to evolve in a set.




Ken has many punishes at many ranges, and it's up to you what you value most to push for whatever form of punish game you want.


Meterless Punishes:

Cr.MK > SRK.

Cl.MP > Cl. HP > LP SRK.

Cl.MP/Cr.MK > LP SRK > Kara LP SRK*


*One of the hardest things in the game. Don't just randomly attempt this. I will discuss this later.


Metered Punishes:

Cr.MK > SA3.

Cr.MK > MP SRK > SA3.

Cl.MP > Cl.HP > SA3.

Cl.MP > Cl.HP > Hadoken > SA3.

Cl.HP > MP SRK > SA3.*

*Highest damage and most optimal punish. Preferred whenever possible.



A lot of what you read above serve many purposes. His target combo goes easily into a Shoryuken or his super, and this serves a hitconfirm, a punish and also happens to be his Bread and Butter combo! Very convenient. If you're ever looking for Ken BnBs, they're listed right there. His tools are multi-faceted, making him a strong and flexible character.




This is the important part, so pay attention.


Ken thrives off of conditioning his opponent. Because the intended blocking direction in this game is low and Ken's overheads are reactable, opponents will often become comfortable on defence. Where Ken shines is after establishing a strong throw game where the opponent become scared to block and guesses incorrectly when they are supposed to be blocking. Fortunately, because Ken shines through the power of his hitconfirms, once your opponent is scared to block, it's not difficult to start comboing them. Even more fortunately, Ken can loop his offence from one interaction to the next, so if they guessed wrong once, they have the guess again. He has many tools to supplement this.


Ken's Cr.MK goes a good distance for the startup that it has. It's majorly safe on block, and almost always on hit. It can be cancelled into any of his special moves, which I will touch on shortly. His Cr.LK is one of the most powerful tools in the game for creating stagger pressure, hitconfirming and conditioning. It is impossible to whiff punish on a raw reaction and is always safe. Both variations of his MP can be converted into huge damage and setplay through a hitconfirm, making him one of the deadliest characters at mid range. His far and close HP serve as amazing anti-airs, and, when paired with his standing LP can be a real nuisance, not to mention his incredibly powerful LP SRK, which can be combod into itself for huge meterless damage and setplay. Serving as the best anti-air in the game, it keeps your opponent on their toes. His Cr.HK is a great whiff punish, and it travels far and can be made safe against some characters at max range. His St.HK is a long range poke that outprioritises most other pokes and does huge damage. Probably best equated to an alarm clock, it really wakes your opponent up.


As for his special moves, his Hadoken and grounded Tatsumaki1 serve little purpose. While they have their uses, they are mostly unsafe on both block and hit, so they are rarely used. The EX version of his fireball is tricky to punish and will knock down, but a well-timed red parry can make it unsafe. His aerial EX Tatsumaki is one of the strongest special moves in the game, creating a juggle state, outprioritising other air buttons and has the ability to be manipulated with height. Unequivocally the best air to air in the game. As mentioned before, his LP SRK is one of the strongest anti-airs in the game. It can be combod into itself on most of the cast, although this can range from tricky to incredibly difficult. It grants huge damage for no meter expenditure, builds a lot of meter and gives Ken very strong Okizeme. It starts up incredibly fast and beats out buttons even at range. His MP SRK serves as an alternative anti-air, though in situations where multihit anti-airs are wanted, HP SRK is preferred. MP SRK is mainly used as a combo tool, and is a very strong one at that. HP SRK is his most stable anti-air that demands commitment as it has long vertical and horizontal range and hits 3 times. It can also be hitconfirmed into super, though this will scale (reduce) the damage of the combo by a bit.


Using his normals to condition opponents will give you an opportunity to explore the full potential of his specials and super. Use that as your gameplan. Ken has everything short of a Kamehameha, so use your tools wisely, and you'll be alright.


1You can cancel into super from the first hit of a grounded Tatsu (refer to GR). This is bad. It's practically useless and incredibly hard to execute on purpose and will scale your damage unnecessarily. 



This section was previously cut and dry, but I realized it would be a good opportunity to make fun of SA1 and SA2.



Shoryuu Reppa sucks. Comboing into it is unnecessarily situational - that is, if you want the whole super to hit. Under normal circumstances, not all hits of the super will connect from most of Ken's hit confirms. That's right, the thing that makes Ken strong doesn't apply here since the super barely connects. However, if you are one of the fortunate few to connect the starting set of hits, be amazed at how a third of the super whiffs anyway. You read it correctly, the super doesn't even combo into itself fully in most situations. Not only that, you don't hold as much meter as SA3, so you have less of an opportunity to use EX Tatsu, one of the best special moves in the game, and so you cut off a huge threat off the ground that Ken poses.



Ken's second best super has some of the same problems that SA1 does; less meter, less meter expenditure, hard to combo into and takes away strong setplay options. It is, however, one of the better anti-air supers in the game, will vacuum the opponent in, is still easier to combo into that SA1, and can be mashed for absolutely huge damage. This also makes it hard to parry for the opponent if they decide to jump in on Ken as the multihitting aspect is combined with the possibility that they might have to parry in a different direction as they cross you up, and also introduces shifting parry timings as you choose when to mash and when not to mash. Impossible to parry, for all intents and purposes. The biggest drawback of this super is that it is only one stock, so you get even fewer EX moves than with SA1. Horrible tradeoff for burst damage that rarely grants an opportunity to loop offence.



The Big Daddy of Ken's offence is here. This super is famous for its range, startup speed, punish potential, setplay, confirm potential and stock number. Speaking of which, at 3 stocks, Jinrai grants Ken the most EX moves he can hold, giving his air and ground game a level of threat that is majorly unmatched in the cast. The damage is average to above-average, but it's what you do to get to the super that makes Ken so strong. Being the easiest confirmable super in his kit, Ken is a threat at most times in every match he plays since the stock length is so small. After he lands the super from one of his numerous - and I do mean numerous - hitconfirms, he gets incredibly ambiguous left-right mix that you have to hold. Because his options after that mix are so strong, it is one of the strongest 50/50s in the game, as he can control which side he lands on and his options (high, low, throw). Did I mention he has hitconfirms? If you guessed wrong, his target combo will enable him to confirm into yet another super to rinse and repeat his mix, creating an offence loop that few can rival. If he doesn't have meter, extremely high level Ken players will confirm a low forward into a double DP, which does super levels of damage at no meter expenditure. His super also punishes anything thats -3 or more, on both block and hit. Yes, Ken can punish a low forward on both block and hit in the mirror match (assuming the opponent doesn't cancel into anything). Because Jinrai covers a third of the screen when activated, this enables some crazy punishes and, if done consistently, can turn the tide of a match in a crazily lopsided manner.


It should be noted that recent research has led me to find out that all supers (including Jinrai) can be parried post-super freeze. This is especially amazing, as Jinrai hits on the frame after the freeze. I wouldn't be alarmed at this information at all, as it is incredibly hard to do and is not something that can be done consistently. Not only that, but there is setplay to counter any attempts at trying this. I will link below a (newer and more refined) video of a post-freeze parry, and the counter-countermeasure.




This information is on a level that no human has achieved yet, but I realize there are worrywarts out there looking to poke holes in everything. Trust me, this is hole that won't be poked for the next 100 years.




The value of SA3 isn't in it's damage (about average), it's in the utility. SA3 starts up abnormally quickly, covers 33% of the screen when activated at 2 frames of startup, punishes anything that's -3 or more as long as it's within range and provides hyper-strong setplay afterwards. The setplay - if done correctly - involves a left/right 50/50, something which you control as Ken. If the opponent guesses wrong, they eat a metric tonne of damage due to your powerful hitconfirms. Here is Nica KO's video covering this in great depth:


Mastering this is the key to looping your offence in the strongest way possible. This is the core of Ken.





This is what makes Ken so threatening at the highest level. With insane meter build, damage and setplay at the expense of no meter, Ken's Kara DP enables him to combo two SRKs in one combo leaving your opponent crying and their sister wet. With tears, of course. Of course.


Here is how to execute it:


Please don't start labbing this if you cannot do a super confirm consistently. Master those first, then come back here.




Ken's aerial EX Tatsu is one of the strongest special moves in the game. It beats out most air-to-airs clean, creates a juggle state that allows you to land your devastating double DP and can manually be controlled for both vertical and horizontal height. Pairing this with the speed of the move (both in startup and movement), and you have one of the best escape tools in the game.


For combo potential - range permitting - you can only do a double DP if 2 hits or less of the EX Tatsu connected when you were airborne. If 3 hits or more connected, you should go into MP SRK, as this does the most damage. If, however, you are out of range for both options, you must buffer a dash before you land to get up close to execute the SRKs. If it is still impossible to do that (or it is too difficult) St.MK will combo on every character - range permitting - for guaranteed meter, extraordinary corner carry and decent damage given the circumstances. If you are still learning the ins and outs of aerial EX Tatsu, use this option.


Here is the crossup EX Tatsu > SRK x2:


Aerial EX Tatsu can crossup, and will still put grounded opponents in a juggle state. This will enable the dash-in double DP I referenced earlier. You can also mix this up by jumping in to imply staying on the same side, then use the manual control of the EX Tatsu to crossup and go for a combo. This mixup can also be reverted to have EX Tatsu happen on the same side, which is hard to anti-air and parry and gives block advantage. Refer to ESN for more information. It can also supplement Ken's guard jump (which is beyond the scope of this guide), making it one of the harder guard jumps to chase and/or punish.


Ken's grounded Tatsus are all punishable on block - and sometimes even on hit - and are pretty bad chip tools as they are easy to parry. As such, Ken wants to stay away from using these as much as possible, with the exception of certain matchups, such as doing Cr.MK > LK Tatsu on Urien (safe unless red parried).


Here is a short example of its utility to chip, despite what I said. Use it sparingly:




You may want to consider reading up on the game through Shie's blog. He is a top 3rd Strike player in Japan, commonly known for his insanely good Ken. His blog is in Japanese though, so do with that what you will. It is very useful.


Here are some additional video resources:

Please watch these! They are incredibly informative.


That's about all I wanted to post for now. I think if I were to learn the basic stuff I posted here, I'd be much stronger for it. Please take the time to read and learn. I have read and watched many Ken guides and spent a considerable amount of time talking with and reviewing aspects of the game with top players in the US, who in turn have developed their opinions based on experiences and interactions with stronger Japanese players. The point I'm getting at is that I believe this to be the most efficient, concise and up-to-date guide on getting started with Ken and solidifying your gameplay. I don't intend to justify my efforts. I just want to show that this is a good collation of resources - in my opinion. Please post questions so I can attempt to answer them, both here and in


I will edit this as more suggestions come in and as I get less tired over the course of the weeks and months. Thank you for your patience.


Edited by Dayaan
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  • misterBee changed the title to [Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike] Ken Guide (KE)

I've added more to this guide. The update is a nice and important one, I think.


It's small, but as follows:


1) Added a frametraps section and explained its earlier absence. I apologise for my presumptuousness, immaturity and inexperience.

2) I updated the video regarding post-super-freeze parries. Once again, I would like to reiterate that this is NOT an important aspect of the game for ANYONE to consider, but I felt as though it required updating. It's still one of my tweets, so I would like to formally apologise to your eyes if you choose to click on my profile.


Please enjoy the new update. It's short but game changing if you felt like something was missing from your Ken game. 

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