No events

Tekken 8 Beginner Series: Attacking and Defending

Patrick Bonifacio

Welcome back to our Tekken 8 Beginner Series. In this article, we’ll be discussing how to attack and defend in Tekken 8. We’ll be considering several different offensive and defensive situations, as well as the three main attack properties and how to defend against them.

Tekken 8 Key Art

via Bandai Namco

This guide is aimed mainly at complete newbies to the Tekken franchise, as well as those coming from 2D franchises like Street Fighter or Guilty Gear. Many of the concepts regarding attacking and defending from those games do carry over, but Tekken does set itself apart in certain ways which we’ll get to in this article.

As with the rest of this guide series, we recommend you at least read the first two entries — both of which talk about Tekken’s universal notation system and how to read and apply it during the learning process. We’ll be using plenty of that notation for this guide and pretty much every Tekken 8 guide on Hotspawn thereafter, so you’ll want to get to grips with that before continuing.

Tekken 8 Attack Properties

There are three main attack properties in Tekken 8: high, mid, and low. These three terms appear in other fighting games like the ones mentioned in the introduction to this guide — but in the context of Tekken 8 mean slightly different things relative to other franchises. Let’s discuss what those finer details are:

High Attacks

High attacks connect with standing opponents, and can be blocked in the same manner. Highs tend to be fast and relatively noncommittal; jabs are the perfect example of this. Most generic 1 or 2 jabs in Tekken 8 come out very quickly, and represent a conservative way to start your offense or to keep your opponent in check.

Conversely, they miss entirely on crouching opponents, thus creating an opportunity for the defender to retaliate with a while standing move. Thus, it can be said that in exchange for their speed and relative safety, highs take on the fact that they whiff against crouching opponents as their biggest weakness.

But even with such a big weakness included, highs are still a very important aspect of every Tekken 8 character’s gameplan. Chances are whatever character it is you choose to play as, they’ll have at least three key high attacks that serve as pressure tools. Don’t sleep on highs just because they can be ducked.

Mid Attacks

Mid attacks connect with both standing and crouching opponents — although only the former can block mids. This is because mids must be blocked standing upright, as they are guaranteed to land on crouching opponents.

When it comes to speed and safety, mids tend to be all over the place. Some mids are slow but deal more damage than, say, a generic d/f+1. Meanwhile, most generic d/f+1 attacks come out just slightly slower than a standing jab, but don’t do as much damage or reward you with a knockdown like a slower “power” mid.

On the most extreme end of the spectrum when it comes to mid attacks exist the mid launchers. Most characters in the game come equipped with a generic d/f+2, which serves as an easy, go-to launcher after blocking heavily unsafe moves. They are also useful at punishing players who carelessly throw out moves from medium range — an act that we call “whiff punishing”.

Mids exist to discourage players from crouch blocking all the time. In fact, this is what sets Tekken’s offense and defense apart from games like Street Fighter: crouch blocking should never be your “default” state in Tekken 8 when defending against your opponent’s attacks. Whereas games like Street Fighter allow you to block highs and lows at the same time while crouching, it’s not quite the same for Tekken.

Low Attacks

Low attacks connect with both standing and crouching opponents — but in contrast to mids, only crouching characters can block lows. Standing characters will get hit by lows, and because every character in the game has at least a few useful low attacks, this means that players will have to crouch block every now and again.

Lows tend to be either slow to come out, punishable when blocked, or a combination of the two. The reason for this is because forcing your opponent to crouch from time to time will open them up to mids, many of which are straight up launchers that lead into juggle combos. Thus, lows are essentially “conditioning” tools which you can use to make your opponent uncomfortable enough to not just block standing the whole round.

But relying too much on lows will definitely get you punished. In order to balance the usefulness of lows, they tend to almost universally be unsafe when blocked. They should therefore be used sparingly, and only to keep your opponent honest about their defense.


The Tekken franchise features unblockable attacks, which cannot be guarded against whatsoever. They will always connect and deal damage if they land — but are typically very, very slow to come out or have some other glaring weakness to compensate. A classic example of an unblockable is Devil Jin’s Lightning Screw Uppercut (b+1+4), which deals a ton of damage but takes forever to execute.

Unblockables don’t really have much of a use outside of catching not-so-knowledgeable opponents off guard. Every character in the game is completely vulnerable during the wind-up, so interrupting an unblockable on reaction is one of the first things that you should learn when playing against human opponents in Tekken 8.

However, there are a select few useful unblockables out there. Yoshimitsu’s Samurai Cutter (FC d/f+1) launches the opponent, and comes out reasonably fast as well.

Unblockables can come in all forms, whether high, mid, or low.

Determining What’s What

In order to find out what your character’s highs, mids, and lows are, simply go into Practice Mode and try out the moves in their move list.

The game itself will tell you what properties are attached to each move with a visual indicator that says “High”, “Middle”, “Low”, or “!” (unblockable). You can also check the attack information box in Practice Mode to get the same information.

How to Block in Tekken 8

Now, let’s get into how to even defend yourself in Tekken 8. There are three distinct ways of blocking in this game: neutral blocking, stand blocking, and crouch blocking.

Neutral Blocking (a.k.a. Auto Block)

Neutral blocking involves leaving your joystick or d-pad in a neutral position, without pressing any other buttons. By default, your character is set to block highs and mids even without any input, but neutral blocking this way will not protect you against lows.

Neutral blocking is only really useful when you want to block highs and mids without walking backwards in the process, so its practicality is somewhat limited.

Stand Blocking

Stand blocking is the act of defending yourself by holding back (b). This protects you against highs and mids just like neutral blocking, but also has the side effect of making your character walk backwards slowly.

In addition, actively stand blocking (as in holding b) cancels some recovery frames of most attacks, which means you can get into a blocking state faster this way than if you just let go of the joystick or d-pad. So, when in doubt, hold back to block.

Crouch Blocking

Crouch blocking is the act of defending yourself by holding down-back (d/b). This protects you against lows and makes highs and most throws whiff (some throws hit crouching opponents), but leaves you vulnerable to mids.

As discussed previously, we do not recommend having this as your default defensive state, as there are just too many strong mids in Tekken 8 that will either knock you down or launch you entirely. Crouch blocking should only be done sparingly against fast low attacks, or if your opponent likes to commit to unsafe lows often.


Throws are an essential part of Tekken 8, and fighting games in general. In a nutshell, a throw is an attack wherein your character attempts to grapple the opponent — and if they do not escape the throw in time, they will be locked into an animation and take guaranteed damage.

Throws are very effective against highly defensive opponents that keep their guard up a lot. Because throws can’t be blocked, players must either break them or evade them by crouching (most throws are highs). This in turn creates a mind game scenario wherein the attacking player can mix their opponent up with throws and mids, in order to force them to stand up and break throws properly.

How to Break Throws in Tekken 8

To break a throw, you must input either 1, 2, or 1+2 — depending on the throw being attempted by your opponent — during the throw break window. There are two main types of throws: generic throws and command throws.

Generic throws are done by pressing either 1+3 or 2+4. All characters in the game have two generic throws, which you can break by pressing either 1 or 2 during the throw break window. Either one will work in this case, since generic throws aren’t strict with which button you break them with.

Command throws, on the other hand, require specific inputs to execute. Jin’s Complicated Wire for example has an input of qcf+1+3. His Tidal Wave throw meanwhile is executed as u/f+1+2. Command throws differentiate themselves by having strict break requirements, which means you must press the correct button in order to escape. No exceptions.

To that end, you can determine which button is appropriate for the throw you’re trying to break by looking at the arm your opponent’s character is extending in order to execute the throw. If it’s the left arm, then the throw is broken with 1. If it’s the right arm, then the throw is broken with 2. If it’s both arms at the same time, it’s a 1+2 break.

If you break a throw successfully, you won’t take any damage, and the situation is reset to the neutral state. In some cases, breaking a throw will cause both characters to switch positions onscreen, which can be useful if you need to escape from the wall.

Other Throws

There are other throw types in Tekken 8 that you won’t see very often except in certain situations. The first and arguably most infamous when it comes to throws is the chain throw. Exclusive to certain characters like King and Nina, chain throws are a sequence of throws that lead to huge damage if not broken.

Most links in a chain throw offer players a chance to escape with a specific input. However, the input tends to change depending on how far along the chain throw has already gone. In some cases, chain throws become completely inescapable past a certain point, which means you must input the proper throw break before the point of no return. Damage is guaranteed thereafter.

And speaking of inescapable throws, throws that connect from behind an opponent are completely guaranteed. There is no way to escape them at all. They also deal more damage than both generic throws and command throws that are done from in front. So if you manage to get behind your opponent while they’re locked in an attack animation, you can throw them as a punish.

That’s it for the basics of offense and defense in Tekken 8! To accompany this guide, our next entry in the Beginner Series will discuss frame data — which determines how fast and how safe all attacks in the game are when thrown out. Frame data is very important to knowing when you can attack or when you need to defend in fighting games, so it’s definitely worth discussing in this series.

Patrick Bonifacio

Patrick Bonifacio

Patrick has been playing Dota since the dawn of time, having started with the original custom game for WarCraft III. He primarily plays safe lane and solo mid, preferring to leave the glorious task of playing support to others.

More from author

Want more Hotspawn delivered right to your Inbox?

Sign up for the Hotspawn newsletter to receive the latest esports and tech news, exclusive offers, giveaways, and more!