The King of Fighters XIII – Mr. Karate, Micro Guide
The masked alter ego of Takuma Sakazaki. Hardcore fans will remember his debut as a boss in the first Art of Fighting, and his first playable appearance in SVC Chaos. Here we break down the basics of South Town’s “Invincible Karateka”.
Kohou (f, d, d/f+P) – The light version does one hit and comes out faster, while the heavier version deals two hits. Reminiscent of Mark of the Wolves’s Marco Rodriguez, the heavy punch version can be “braked” – by immediately pressing the command for roll during the first hit, you’ll do an evasive step. More on this later on. The EX version cannot be braked, but deals more damage.
Souran Kyaku (hcb+K) – Unfortunately, there is no way to combo into it. Furthermore, at a distance, the startup can be seen from a mile away leaving you vulnerable during the auto-dash. The EX version causes Takuma to appear as he’s teleporting, but can still be nullified. At point blank range, the startup and auto dash is bypassed thus best used in this fashion.
Hakyokujin (qcb+P) – A free dash up after a successful parry. The EX version turns the move into an actual (low damaging) knock-back counter.
Zanretsuken (f, b, f+P) – Due to its high amount of hits, damage scaling is a factor. Mr. Karate’s version knocks the opponent in the air making it possible to follow up with a light Kohou or EX super in the corner. EX Zanretsuken has some invincible startup, deals more hits, and knocks the opponent higher up for more juggle options. However, unlike Takuma’s, it doesn’t ensnare opponents during corner juggles.
Hien Senpu Kyaku (mid-air hcf+K) – The light version does a horizontal kick while the heavy version does an angled, downward kick. The EX version does an enhanced horizontal kick, dealing two hits, and can be Dream Cancelled from the light variation.
It is possible to force the kick to come out instantly – best for the LK version as it can be used in combos. This involves ‘Tiger Knee-ing’ the motion – when doing the half circle forward, continue on and stop at diagonal up and forward, then press kick.
Ko-ou Ken (qcf+P) – The infamous “invisible fireball”. Those who played SVC: Chaos will remember Serious Mr. Karate’s version – instant and fullscreen. This version is more toned down, acting as an extended poke with fixed proximity. Can snuff projectiles.
The heavy version allows you to dash after impact, great for juggles and maintaining momentum. The EX version has a sluggish startup, but automatically shatters guard when blocked. Due to its awful recovery only a Dream Cancelled super can follow. If it hits, the opponent will go into a crumple stun allowing additional hits. Against airborne opponents, it will knock them higher into the air.
Haoh Shoko Ken (f, hcf+P) – Standard issue fireball super.
Ryuuko Ranbu (qcf, hcb+P) – Has a bit of a slow startup but will instantly connect if the opponent is up close. The EX version comes out faster.
Kyokugen Kohou (qcf, qcf+K) – Another move borrowed from Marco Rodriguez. Most flexible super, however it is the weakest.
NeoMax: Kishin Sanga Geki (qcb, hcf+PP) – The first hit is a fixed distance dash punch, but has a large hitbox.
Much like Takuma, Mr. Karate can connect a f+LK from a close standing HP. Mr. Karate also has f+LP – an auto 3-hit combo that you can connect from a standing HP or even standing or crouching LK. Each of the punches can be cancelled into a special move, including an HD mode activation, however some timing is required. But being able to streamline into a custom combo from a low quick hit makes it invaluable.
Mr. Karate can also link standing HK, far standing HP, f+LK. Timing is strict but if you want a pound for pound verifiable option for HD activations, this requires your attention.
Mr. Karate can super jump immediately after a close standing HP, whether on hit or block. This creates mixup options. Instead of ending juggles with a special, you can dash up, hit them with close standing HP, then super jump after the opponent. Once you both land, your opponent will be forced into a guessing game: having to anticipate a low LK, this could lead to force-fed HD customs, or if thrown the situation resets, and the opponent will have to guess again.
As mentioned, you can cancel the first hit of HP Kohou into a step. Usually the timing is immediate. However, for some reason when you’re in HD mode, hitting the roll command at the same point causes a misfired Ko-ou Ken. This occurs even if you’re not doing a directional. In HD Mode, you actually need to wait a split second before hitting LP+LK. The timing is easy to mess up.
Additionally, Mr. Karate’s most damaging customs involve repeatedly juggling the opponent in the corner with light Ko-ou Ken, cancelled into heavy Kohou, brake, repeat. It’s also easy to mess this up as you have to hit deep – a shallow dragon punch will negate the brake. Luckily, there’s a sanctifying method to address all the above:
Try this in training mode, corner the dummy then do qcf+LP, qcf+HP, brake, repeat. Because you can’t cancel a Ko-ou Ken into another, the game will have you do an HP Kohou instead. A bit of timing is involved but you’ll discover that it’s a matter of rhythm. Once you get this down you’ll be able to pace yourself, ensuring that you stay consistent when hitting deep and braking.
Special thanks to Humbag for this detailed combo video.
In a nutshell
Between the two personas, Takuma is clearly the most accessible and versatile. Mr. Karate’s potential for aggressive play and merciless damage is without question, however his rigid mechanics may read as Sanskrit to beginners, but seen plain as day to advanced players and some intermediate ones.
Of all the DLC characters, Mr. Karate requires the most effort and practice for effective play. This may unsurprisingly have the most casual of KOF players keep their wallets shut.