Kagura can start his ideal offense when he gets within 2A or 5B range. Keep in mind when doing anything into a C normal as you can easily be reversaled out of the startup. They also have a lot of pushback on block so avoid doing C normals in general but if they are blocked you can go into some rewarding mixups, or cover yourself with an A orb, to help yourself get back in, or force the opponent into the air, where you can continue to pressure them with a j.B>j.AxN blockstring, or bring them right back down with a well spaced 6C.
- 2A 2B 5BB 46A - basic blockstring that gives you enough time to charge an orb. Frame advantage on block, vacuums them in a bit so you can go for another rep or a mixup. If you get a hit, go into 3C 2D~C 46B oki instead of ending in 46A. Try not to be too predictable with this, as there is gaps between 5BB>6A and the opponent can jump out of the 2A after blocking 6A. Be aware of this and shutdown their attempt to jump out with a dash 5A, or 6C if they get too predictable themselves.
- 5B delayed B 46A - Alternate blockstring that starts with 5B. Even if they block this, they're still in 5B range so you can do another rep of this without the delay because you have more time to charge. If they block a jB jump in, it puts you at the perfect distance to start this blockstring without the delay if you start charging while you're jumping in.
- 5C 2D~B - A very risky blockstring that can potentially lead into some drive mixup once you have conditioned your opponent enough, safe on block but negative. If they instant block the 2DB, you can be punished by any 8 frame normal, but there is a counter for this. If they If they block a 2D~B you have a couple options to keep pressure up, however they all lose most reversals so just doing nothing after a 2D~B and blocking is a pretty good option too.
- 5D~A will armor through everything but lows and will catch mashing with a fatal. Also catches jumping allowing you to continue pressure if they barrier blocked it.
- 6D~C counter hits low attempts, leads to big damage. Unsafe on block unless you cancel into 5D~A or 5D~C. 6D~C into 5D~C is a frame trap.
- 6D~B/A is a bad option because you can easily be hit out of the start up, they can jump or they can reversal. 6DA will go through mids however, but will lose to 2A's.
- 5D~B is the counter to the opponent instant blocking your 2D~B, as doing so will put you in the range to command throw them. It is however a pink grab, meaning at best they don't tech, but more often than not, you prevent yourself from being punished by going back to neutral. Do take note however, that if they Barrier Instant Block your 2DB, you WILL NOT be in range for 5D~B
- 2D~B RC 5BB 46A - An expensive option but lets you start your 46A pressure easily. 2D~B RC 5B is frame tight. If 2D~B hits, cancel into 46A for oki or RC 6C into combo.
- 2D~B(1) RC 5DB - Another expensive option, but RC'ing the first hit of 2D~B, microdash 5D~B will catch a lot of people expecting to block all of 2DB. If your opponent expects this, they can jump out to escape, in which case you can tag them with a 5DC.
- 5C 5D~A - A risky blockstring that isnt frame tight and only works at close ranges. 5C has enough blockstun that forces them to block the 5D~A which allows you to go into other drive moves for mixup. Even if they jump back barrier guard after blocking 5C, they still have to block the 5D~A and because they blocked it in the air, you get enough frame advantage to dash cancel forward and catch them landing with a 5B for more pressure. If they block 5D~A on the ground you can go into any of the 2D moves or dash cancel it. If they catch on to you doing 5D~A after 5C and interrupt you with a low, you can go into 2D~A which crushes lows for a big combo.
- 5C 6A/B - A great way to annoy your opponent by safely poking at them with 5C, and canceling it into an A or B orb. Doing so will most likely force your opponent into the air, or in some cases simply block the orb, giving you frame advantage. How the opponent acts in the air gives you a few options to catch them. Those being a rising j.A if they attempt to airdash into you, 5D~C if they also attempt to airdash into you and you're confident in your posistioning,airthrow if they attempt to double jump to keep themselves away from you and the orb, or 6C if they simply airdash away from you and the orb. How you deal with this simple depends on your opponent, so react accordingly!
Kagura's oki revolves around getting a knockdown and then throwing either 46A or 46B and having them wake up into it. Depending on the move you used to end your combo, or how the opponent techs, you want to switch up which orb you use on oki. If the opponent delay techs, your options are to either throw your A orb a bit later than usual, or do an immediate B orb instead. In general, a delayed A orb is the better option, as if they choose to emergency tech when you use a B orb, you can be DP'd or hit by a wakeup 5A. There's no real difference to 6A and B at the ranges you will be using them for oki in terms of frame advantage. Kagura has a lot of options with his oki, despite it being weaker then previous itterations, so dont get predictable.
Here are some options you have following a knockdown into 46A/B IF they tech or are in the corner.
- 5B/2B - Low attacks. Leads into good damage.
- 5BB>IAD j.B>j.A - A quick way to reset pressure, and keep your opponent ready for some highs. If you begin charging immediately after you do the IAD, you can land and instantly throw an A orb after the j.A, or do a quick 5B>A orb, to keep your pressure going.
- 5B 5D~B - Command grab, great corner carry midscreen and leads into big damage in the corner.
- 5B Throw - Simple 5B tick throw setup, nothing amazing but never count the option out!
- 5B 6A - While 6A does not gatling from 5B, thanks to 5B's quick recovery, this can be difficult to see coming. Only use this if you've condiditoned you opponent to block after your oki.
- 6A - Ambiguous overhead that can be chained into from 2A. Against the vast majority of the cast, you can't combo off of this overhead without meter (Tager and Hakumen being the exception), but it doesn't hurt to throw it out regardless, to keep the opponent on tilt.
- forward jump jC RC jC - double overhead at the cost of meter. jC works as instant overhead versus some of the bigger characters. Mix this up with empty jump 5B/2B.
- 5D~A - Forcing them to block 5D~A gives you a lot of good options. 5D~A 2D~A 6A for an overhead combo midscreen, 5D~A 2D~A 6D~C etcin the corner. 5D~A 2D~C to catch people trying to upback after the 5DA or 2D~B for a low.
- 6D~B/A - Kind of a weak mixup because its easy to see coming. Leads to good damage just don't overuse because its honestly not that difficult to block and unsafe. If they do block it though, you can go into 5D~B to make it safe. Stick a 2D~A or a 5D~A at the end to punish them pushing buttons.
- j2D/5D/6D - Using stances in the air lead into some crazy mixup and damage. 2D~A, 5D~C and 2D~C all lead into good damage but 2D~C is the fastest. 5D~B is also a really good option here but it leads into bad damage if they aren't in the corner.
2DC Corner Okizeme
In general, Kagura's 2DC is used very early in his combos but is best saved for the ender to his combos rather than 2DB. While this oki does suffer from the same problems 2DB oki does, it does however help you cover some options that 2DB oki wouldn't. There are two different ending routes for this oki:
- 2C>6DC>2DC>delay 6B
- 2C>2DC>(optional delay) 6B
2C>6DC>2DC Oki, allows you to setup a slightly delayed B orb against the opponent safely, while also allowing you to catch people looking to delay tech the orb all together. After you set the B orb, inputting 4B>4AB>4BC will catch people either rolling, or delay teching for too long, and pick them up for an airborne 5BB>5C combo, leading to huge damage. If they emergency tech, you whiff a 5B, but as soon as they can input moves again, you get a very brief barrier, protecting you from wakeup DP. A proper delay tech from the opponent will put you into the same situation as a delayed tech from 2DB oki, which is the downfall to this oki.
2C>2DC Oki again lets you setup a B orb, but this time, depending on if you do or don't delay the orb, it will effect whether or not the orb goes straight past the opponent, or if they are again forced to block the B orb. An immediate B orb will see the orb just go past the opponent, letting you do an immediate grab or 5DB on their wakeup, if they're expecting to block the orb. A slightly delayed B orb will put you into a similar spot to the 2C>6DC>2DC oki, which is a good way to stop DP happy players on wakeup.
This oki is unfortunately useless on the larger characters such as Tager or Hakumen, as the B orb will hit them while grounded if they choose to not tech, resulting in a blue beat combo, with already very heavy proration.
Your primary tools to use when put on the defensive are going to be 8B/C, 1236C, and counter assault. 8B is safe on air block and has an amazing hitbox. They'll be looking for this move so don't rely on it to get out of every situation. It's also good to keep in mind characters that can approach with air projectiles or characters with body property air moves (Hakumens Agito), as these can be very effective at beating the B version of 8B, as it doesn't have projectile invulnerability.1236C has a short charge time, is only -3 on block and comes out extremely fast at 2 frames of startup. It covers a lot of distance in front of Kagura but wont really hit air opponents unless theyre descending from their jump. Some players may think that it isn't possible for Kagura to instant block and still get 8B/C, but this isn't the case. By sliding from 1 to 2 and back, you can instant block while retaining your charge for a reversal, which is something very important to practice and keep in mind, to punish opponents being a bit too greedy on offense.
Your fastest pokes have poor range but combined with your other defensive options, they get the job done. Use 2A/5B to poke out of pressure. 2A is 1 frame faster but 5B has a better hitbox and a better reward on hit. 5A is your fastest normal with 5 frames of startup and is good for stuffing standing normals or jump ins with good positioning.
As Kagura is pretty effective at building meter, counter assault is usually a viable option and is well worth using your meter on. In some very rare cases, characters can actually pass through it's hitbox, but this is a very very rare occurance, and usually will only happen against characters that are point blank against you.
Your go to normals in neutral are going to be 2A, 5B, 6B, jB, and 5/2C. 2A and 5B are your primary starters for 46A pressure while your C normals are great when spaced well, use them to hit people trying to run or IAD at you or punish whiffed normals. 6B has nice range and is jump cancelable, its rather slow and has bad recovery on whiff, so be careful where you throw it out. jB is a good jump in attack that has a good hitbox and can also be used in crossups.
46A and 46B projectiles are nice to throw out at a distance or combined with a well spaced 5C/2C. 46A is fast but doesnt go full screen and trades with most other projectiles, very useful in blockstrings. 46B has slow startup and is kinda slow when it comes out but speeds up as it travels, gaining more hits too (From 2 min to 5 max). Eats through a lot of projectiles and causes a lot of blockstun. Most people will just jump over it so be ready to anti air them with something like 6C, jA or 5D~C.
5A, 6C and 28B are going to be your anti airs. 5A is fast and should be used when you dont have a charge for 28B. Otherwise, just use 28B as its safe if they barrier block it in the air. 6C is difficult to hit with as its very slow but it does have a nice hitbox for controlling space if they're trying to avoid an orb and can lead into huge damage meterless if hitconfirmed.
Drive moves are terrible on whiff so try to use them in neutral sparingly. 6D~C has projectile armor so its nice for getting through predictable zoning. 5D~C can be used as a preemptive anti-air as it has a lot of active frames. 5D~A can be used to armor through midrange pokes if you use it early enough as well as for anti-air. 6D~A can be used to go through mid normals at mid range, but is used as more of a read than anything and isn't something that should be relied on too much.