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Super Street Fighter IV/Game Systems/Crouch Delay
In all past Street Fighter games, when you held down on the joystick to make your character crouch, the very first frame the game detected your joystick at down, your character was considered crouching that very first frame.
This is not the case in Street Fighter IV.
Trying to crouch has a strange problem of needing a "transition period" between Standing and Crouching in this game. This is what is referred to by Crouch Delay. It actually takes a few frames to officially be Crouching after hitting any of the three down positions on the joystick. And during these transition frames, you really have the worst of both worlds all at the same time.
First of all, you are still considered "tall" in the sense that moves that would normally whiff if you were fully Crouching actually connect on you. Secondly, you are considered in a Standing state, so moves like Hakan's Oil Dive, which only grabs Standing characters, will work on you. Thirdly, you are actually considered in Crouching state at the same time! Thus, any moves that must be Blocked high, like a Jumping Attack, will hit you if you are trying to Crouch Block! You really do have a huge combination of weaknesses during this transition.
Let's give some examples of each of these. If you are facing off against a Sagat and he knocks you down with a Light Punch Tiger Uppercut, he can throw a High Tiger Shot timed just right so that it'll be right above your head when you get up. Now, when you get up from off the ground, the game checks if you are holding down on the controller or not. If you are, the very first frame after you get up off the ground is one of these Crouching transition frames. So even though you can normally crouch right under a High Tiger Shot, because you are considered tall during the transition frames, you'll actually end up blocking the High Tiger Shot on the first frame you get up off the ground. But notice something odd: you'll end up Blocking it in a Crouching Block position! So, again, the game knows that you are crouching but you are still treated as tall so you still Block the High Tiger Shot!
You'll also notice this against Sagat a lot when you are just fighting him and he Throws a High Tiger Shot. You'll walk up and try to crouch under the High Tiger Shot at the last second, but you'll end up Crouch Blocking it instead. This is also caused by the Crouch Delay.
For a second example of this, if Cammy performs a Forward Throw on you and performs a Medium Punch Hooligan Roll the instant she recovers from the Throw, her Fatal Leg Twister can grab you the first frame you wake up. Normally, this move cannot grab characters who are crouching. But if you hold Down on the controller when you get up off the ground, she can still grab you anyhow. In the last example, we noted that the game knows you are Crouching, but it doesn't matter: the game apparently also registers you as still in a Standing state so you get grabbed by Cammy!
And lastly, to make matters even worse, let's look at a situation where you are facing off against Adon. Let's say you are Ryu, for example, and Crouch on the ground. If Adon walks up to you and does a Neutral Jump with an immediate Hard Kick, he cannot hit you. The Hard Kick comes out a fraction too slow to reach low enough to hit you while Crouching.
But now, let's change the scenario. Have Adon jump at you and perform a deep Jumping Medium Kick on you and make sure you Block it successfully. Right when Adon lands, have him perform that same Neutral Jump with the immediate Hard Kick. If you try to Crouch Block after Blocking the Jumping Medium Kick with Ryu, the Neutral Jump Hard Kick from Adon will actually hit you!
Let's think about how crazy this is. Like the Sagat example, you are still considered "tall" while in the Crouching transition frames which is why the move can actually reach you. But since it's a Jumping Move and the game also registers you as Crouching, you actually end up getting hit by the Hard Kick because you are Crouch Blocking. It's a method by which some characters can land "instant Overheads" with their Jump Attacks that normally wouldn't connect. Many people refer to this as a "Fuzzy Guard" but that term doesn't really make much sense, so it will not be referred to that in this guide.
There is one very odd thing about this, however, that I cannot explain. In the situation listed above, with Adon performing the Jumping Medium Kick into Neutral Jumping Hard Kick, if you, as Ryu, do not Crouch Block after the Jumping Attack and just hold straight down or Offensive Crouch, Adon will miss! I'm not really sure why this happens, but it does. Technically, while crouching, you should be "tall" enough during the transition frames so that you get hit by the Hard Kick no matter how you Crouch, but it doesn't happen here. In the example for Sagat, listed above, you'll get hit by the High Tiger Shot if you hold straight down or Offensive Crouch. The only real explanation is that, while holding Defensive Crouch, going into Block animation keeps you slightly taller than not going into Block animation and the Meaty High Tiger Shot from Sagat is just too Meaty.
Combating Crouch Delay
There actually is a way to counter this problem. In the second example listed above, where Cammy grabs you with the Hooligan Roll, you can actually escape the situation without needing a Reversal or a Back Dash or anything. The trick is that if you press a button during the transition frames between Standing and Crouching, you'll go instantly into your Crouching Attack. This will also instantly shift you to a fully Crouching state. So if you can time a Normal Move the first frame you get up off the ground, you can avoid the Fatal Leg Twister from Cammy's Hooligan Roll.
And as previously mentioned, it can be really frustrating when you are trying to squeeze past High Tiger Shots and you end up getting put into Block Stun and getting pushed back because you ended up Crouch Blocking them. You can actually avoid this by hitting Light Punch the instant you crouch, so that you end up crouching instantly. So at the last second, if you hit Defensive Crouch and Light Punch (or Light Kick, whichever move puts you in the least delay), you'll end up successfully crouching under the High Tiger Shot, even at the last second.
Facing the Wrong Way
Lastly, only in the case of getting up off the ground, the Crouch Delay transitions frames are actually bypassed if you happened to be knocked down so that, when you get up, you get up facing away from the opponent. These are the situations where, while on the ground, you are on your back with your head pointed towards the opponent or on your stomach with your feet pointed towards the opponent. The reason for this is because this causes you to get up with your back facing the opponent, and for some reason the act of turning around while holding down on the controller will also cause your character to crouch instantly.