"It's so nice to meet you!"
Kokoro is a character with varying playstyles. She can be a neutral, defensive character that controls the pace through mid range and exploits via Heichu and sabakis. Or, she could be a very CQC heavy character who keeps the opponent guessing with strong mix-ups and tick-throws.
Transition from 5U to LR
Once again, Kokoro hasn’t changed that much. A few very slight damage changes here and there. A “new” move that, personally, I didn’t even know existed since it was never in the command training. A few block frames have been changed slightly. Lastly, the big thing, P+K properties have been changed heavily.
+Opens people up easily
+High damage output
+Easy to pick up
+Good string mixups
+Good mid range tools
+Great at baiting holds
+Great for more aggressive players
-Doesn’t know what tracking means
-Semi-poor defensive options
-Heichu stance weak outside of stun
-Crushes lack variety (only crush being a high)
-Slow standalone launchers
-Can be too sexy at times
5 – neutral
BT – Back Turned
Full Threshold – Level 3 Critical Stun
Threshold – Level 2 Critical Stun
Mid Threshold – Level 1 Critical Stun
SE – Slow Escape/Stagger Escape
66P+K Combo Ender – 66P+K > P+K > P+K in juggles.
T – (throw)
Kokoro is pretty scary in close range combat if an opponent does not know how to handle her offense. She can use her plethora of string grabs to easily open people up. Her ability to delay strings is no joke either. As a Kokoro player in close range, your goal is to overwhelm your opponent with her fantastic string mix-ups, grabs and delays with free cancels here and there.
– This is a universal poke for all characters. It is fast at 10 frames and is to be respected due to the fact that it leads into strings and can be used as a tick throw (punch grab) setup.
- Nothing special about this other than it being “safe” at -5.
– This is a 12 frame mid that causes a good stun on counter hit. It’s also nice for tick throw setups. One of its string contains tracking and a safe ender. Use it.
– This is a really good tool for Kokoro. It is quick at 13 frames, crushes highs and is NEUTRAL on hit. This basically means that you can chose to either continue pressing your offense or perform whatever defensive action you see fit. Against characters with faster jabs or mids you may want to do something defensive when it connects.
– A 15 frame mid that has the ability to evade highs and high-mids if you chose to do the throw follow-up. Of course that is assuming the opposing player is poking and not using strings. 3P also goes into a high punch. In my opinion this should only be used as a counter poke or an stun extender, since it can’t be slow escaped. On block the mix-up is weak because 3PT and 3PP both lose to high crushes. Consider yourself lucky if you don’t see a 2P or a crouching opponent every time you attempt to do this move on block.
– This 15 frame high punch offers a good stun and is safe. The string follow-ups are not that great however. Use this move as a relauncher in juggles and to set the threshold, since it can’t be slow escaped. It is also a nice threshold break launcher.
- A high that has slightly longer reach than her 6P. There’s no reason to poke with this however because the first 3 hits of its string are a natural combo, meaning they cannot be held or sidestepped when 4P hits or is blocked.
– Not really a poke, but I had to put it somewhere. This is another new move with a 3 frame sabaki for mid punches. Not very viable as a stun extender/starter, since it’s pretty slow and the stun isn’t deep unless you successfully land the sabaki. When you do land the sabaki, it puts the opponent at a 50/50 at threshold. There are so many options from that alone. Learn a bit of defensive yomi to add this to your arsenal. It’s going to be very useful.
– This is a tracking high kick. -9 on block. All there is to it.
– This is a high crush that transitions into Heichu and has a follow-up low kick and mid punch that should never be used unless you connect with this move. The move by itself should mostly be used at r1f to crush highs and to avoide tick throws.
– This is a nice counter poke. It’s good way to setup throws or you can extend the stun by finishing the string (6KP). Not the best move to use on block because 3K is a better mid kick but it is an option if you feel like using it.
When utilizing Kokoro’s strings what you want to do is learn how to mix in string grabs, delays, free cancels, and the limited amount of built in tracking she has. This string based pressure is what makes Kokoro strong. Although she lacks tracking, free canceling into throws and well timed delays can still clip steppers. For those that need an explanation:
Free canceling – This is the term used for when one taps the guard button in order to cut a string short. The reason why this is done is to ensure that accidental moves are not inputted. For example let’s say I want to do something like 6PP then a P. If I do not tap guard to free cancel, I might actually end up delaying the last hit of Kokoro’s 6PPP string and get that instead of a jab.
Free canceling has both offensive and defensive uses. If you have conditioned your opponent to respect your strings you can get away with things like P FC T (aka punch grab or tick throw) or stopping a string and going into a new one. On the defensive end you can free cancel into a hold, sidestep, a crush, or just guard.
Delays – This is just slowing down the speed at which you input a string. It’s a good tactic because it baits players into believing that you have stopped your string or free cancelled when you actually have not. Utilizing these with free cancel mix-ups is a fantastic technique because it forces players to guess whether you are free canceling or delaying allowing you to get counterblow stuns.
Now for her strings:
– This is a great pressure tool. It goes into enders that offer tracking (PKK) safety (PK4K) and frame advantage (PK2P). You can free cancel at PK since all the follow-ups are to be respected, or you can delay the 4K follow-up into oblivion. BnB pressure string right here.
*– There are a few tactics you can utilize after this string since it puts Kokoro in her back turned stance. One option is to back dash away and create some distance to punish any whiffs from your opponent. The other is to use her BT P+K which is a powerful high crush that will cause a sit-down stun. Same instance with BT 4K, only without the high crush.
– When you do PP with Kokoro your goal is to either free cancel or go for one of three things when it comes to strings:
– This is there to keep players who are trying to strike their way out of Kokoro’s PPT in check. Since it provides a small stun as well, it can also be used to keep the stun game going.
– This is what you want.They are forced into a situation where they have to guess between your Heichu P+K, 2P, or P, both of which cause a stun that you can use to setup launchers and CB.
– Never finish this string. If you are going to do anything after PP2K it should be a free cancel into an offensive or defensive action. This is because the enders are unsafe and stepable. If you have to finish this string do it very sparingly and only after you see that your opponent feels like it is ok for them to disrespect PP2K.
Here are the less desirable options after PP:
– You are never going to use this outside of stun. There is very little benefit in using this string outside of stun. It’s unsafe and both enders are unsafe on block. There isn’t even any mix-up; all the opponent has to do is duck. You should laugh if you ever catch somebody with PPKP. Roll on the floor laughing if you actually launch somebody with PPK outside of stun.
– It is safe. But it’s also interruptible and only results in a knockdown. You have better things you could be doing with her punch strings. Like PPT. In stun though this is a nice string to use for a wall splat and a mix-ups to PP6P which will also wall splat.
– You use this to get some quick chip damage in as the K is an unseeable low. You have two options after this. Use P2KT, or P2KP. If the opponent is crouching, it will also cause a sitdown stun. It woudn’t be a smart idea to free cancel this, as the K is now -15. You must force your opponent to respect the followups.
– This should be one of your go to moves with Kokoro. 6PP will clip sidestep and allows for free cancel mix-ups because people who are knowledgeable about the string know that there is a linear mid punch at the end so they will probably try to hold or SS it at times. You can beat both options by free canceling into a throw. Like most of her other strings this can also be delayed into oblivion. The options this move allows for on block and hit are really good so make use of it.
– This string is unsafe against grapplers and you must fuzzy guard and buffer a throw escape against strikers if they go for an i7 throw. The point of this string is to keep people who disrespect 6PP with high crushes in check. If you can do that you will have a great time pressuring with 6PP tactics. This also has some ability to catch steppers even though it doesn’t track.
– This string is good. Not only is this a natural combo; it is NEUTRAL on block! This means you can apply the same offensive tactics you use when 2p hits with this move; The difference being that the opponent is less likely to hit buttons due to the follow-ups:
– This move is unsafe against grapplers and the usual tactics for safety apply against strikers. The reason you would use this despite 4PP being neutral on block is for delay mix-ups and to avoid trading hits with someone after 4PP is blocked. (Example if you free cancel 4PP, and decide to 6P, the opponent can beat you if they jab or have a faster mid. 4PP6P will counterblow people that think its ok to press buttons after 4PP since it is part of a string.) Mix-up free canceling 4PP with this move for good results.
- This is a natural combo and is safe on block at -3. Really nice move to free cancel because 4PPPP is a threat to people who want to press buttons since the last hit of 4PPPP is a sit-down stun and a bound. 4PPP forces a hold in stun because the opponent cannot slow escape it. All of Kokoro’s launchers will connect. So unless your opponent likes the idea of giving you free damage they will hold. Use 4PP/4PPP on block and during stun; you won’t regret it. You can also use this for the same purposes as 4PP6P if you delay it. I recommend against that though because delaying the last hit of 4PPP will not make it a NC, so the opponent can high crush, sidestep, or hold it.
– This is a great move to use in stun. The first 3 hits are a natural combo so your opponent is forced to deal with a 50 / 50 scenario of “Is she going to do the sitdown stun or not!?” Use it from time to time.
– This string is gorgeous. It has r1f range, Heichu followup, gives a nice stun, and is -5 on block. This means the move is only unsafe against grapplers. This move also has a ton of delay, being able to add 11 frames to the P and 13 frames to the Heichu. Put this to use.
Anyone who thinks Kokoro isn’t a threat at mid range is sadly mistaken. Despite the fact that most of her mid range tools lack tracking they are excellent when Kokoro is seeking to come in on an opponent or punish whiffs.
– This is the move to use. A 2.13m reach, 14 frames, good stun, and 36 damage close hit. All of this and it’s safe at -4. The only flaw this move has is that people will default to mid hold at range expecting this move. Use it.
– A 22-frame high that’s -8 on block. This move is primarily going to be used within the stun game. In stun, P+K will cause a faint stun and guarantees 6P and 2P. It also gives 50/50 ground setups. It shouldn’t be used too often, but if you feel you can squeeze it in, do it.
– This move isn’t as good as it used to be, but it’s still pretty good, though -8 on NH, the opponent HAS to respect that P follow-up, unless they want to get counterblown. It’s also still a pretty good stun extender. You won’t be using this on NH much anymore, mostly in stun now.
– This is a great whiff punisher. It has good range and is a NEUTRAL GUARD BREAK on block. Kokoro isn’t in range for her close range pokes to connect but if they opponent decides to press a button they will. You can use the space created on block to apply some whiff punishment tactics or play footsies.
– This functions exactly like PK only it doesn’t require you to be in jab range. Use it as a mid range poke or during free cancel mix-ups.
– This has decent range and goes into 3K mix-ups. If you free cancel Kokoro will be in BT and can apply some BT pressure.
– This move is a good way to get in because it has great range. It’s also a good stun extender. The sad thing about this move though is that its string is terrible just like 3P. There is no mix-up after 1P. All the opponent has to do is 2p to blow up 1PP and 1PT. If you somehow manage to get them to block 1PP they only need to sidestep the last hit. The string just has too many holes for it to be effective on block. In stun it serves as useful hold bait if you cancel it at different points to aid your mix-up.
– This is a good mid range move at 16 frames. Since it doesn't feint stun anymore, it allows for a +21 mix-up If you don't follow with Heichu. If you do you are at +32. Either way it's a mix-up at all three hit levels, mid providing a knockdown. If they SE, you are at +13 if you don't follow with Heichu. +24 if you do, which guarantees all three hits will connect. This forces your opponent to deal with a mix-up where they're forced to hold to avoid a launch or critical burst, which Kokoro can take advantage of.
– This move has a string grab and elbow follow-up that is -7. It is the same as her SSP. Mix-up what you do after it to make the most of it. This is meant to be used as a whiff punisher. No longer stuns on NH, but SSP does.
– This punch has long range and has decent speed at 17 frames. It’s a pretty deceptive whiff punisher at that because it’s unseeable. Hover around mid range and make your opponent think its ok to come at you then throw this out. You’ll probably get a stun or a counter hit launch. 46P has a tracking mid P follow-up that is -11. If they block 46P you just have to hope you can get something out of the follow-up mid. Otherwise you are getting punished.
– This comes out in 16 frames and is a high. It’s -6 on block and has Heichu follow-ups as well as a sit-down stun follow-up in 8P6P. 8P6P is a decent block string, since its -1. However, there are quite of things to do to avoid anything it would provide since the move is 30 frames. Also, 8PP is a sexist move. It can be interrupted by jabs from females but not males. I’m serious. Going into Heichu is a risk. It’s explained later on in the guide.
– A quick low poke. It goes into her string grab and a mid punch that causes a sit-down stun on crouchers.
– This is her CB and a 2 frame sabaki that defends against highs. It has a 2K follow-up with the same enders.
- A great move to use in the defensive neutral game. Since she steps back, when people run in she causes them to whiff. With the released charged attack, she punishes. If they do react and block, then it also provides a neutral guard break. The only big downside is that it can easily be held.
At any point Kokoro is in BT stance you should go for one of three things depending on the situation: back dash away, P+K to crush highs and P / 4P strings to apply pressure. I wouldn’t recommend free with some of her BT strings because it can be quite easy to spot.
– safe but linear. Not surprising and nothing special.
– The second punch is the same as her 8P, only safe at -4. The same things I said about 8P apply to P6PP.
– One of the better BT attacks. 4P by itself is a launcher so you can use that during stun. 4PK strings functions similarly to PK strings and 4PT is her string grab. Useful as a relauncher in 7K juggles also.
– A high crush that causes a sit-down stun or bound at the threshold. Use this if you expect jab retaliation when you are in BT stance. It’s also safe on block.
- Causes a sit-down stun like P+K, but is slower and unsafe at -8. Better to use P+K for a sit-down stun.
– Same deal as 2H+K.
Kokoro’s BnB combos for raw damage certainly will make opponents ice themselves after the match. Kokoro is still hitting the 90-100 range every time she launches you at level 2 or level 3 stun. Also, the bnbs haven’t even changed for the most part.
Off of 4P+K
Full Threshold: K > 9P > 66P+K combo ender
Threshold: K > 66P+K combo ender
Full Threshold: K > 9P > 9P > 6PPP
Threshold: 9P > 9P > 9P > 6PPP
Off of 7k
Full Threshold & Threshold: BT 4P > 9P > 66P+K combo ender.
Nearing the Wall
Full Threshold & Threshold: BT 4P > 9P > 9P > P2K
Off of PKP:
Full Threshold: K > 66P+K combo ender
Threshold: 9P > 66P+K combo ender
Lightweight – Heavyweight
Off of 4P+K:
Full Threshold: K > 66P+K combo ender
Threshold: 9P > 66P+K combo ender
Wall: 9P > 9P > 9P > 6PPP
Off of 7K:
Full Threshold: 4P > 66P+K combo ender
Threshold: ***4P > 66P+K combo ender
***From Cruiser to Heavy, the bnb is P6P > P2KP
Nearing Wall/Environmentally Friendly: P6P > P2KP
Off of PKP:
Full Threshold & Threshold: 9P > 66P+K combo ender
Off of 4P+K
Full Threshold & Threshold: 9P > 66P+K combo ender
At the wall
Full Threshold: 9P > 9P > 6PPP
Threshold: 9P > 6PPP
Off of 7k
Midscreen AND At the Wall
Full Threshold: P6P > P2KP
Threshold: P6P > 2KP
Off of PKP
Full Threshold: 9P > 66P+K combo ender
Threshold: 66P+K combo ender
Even though Kokoro clearly doesn’t need CBs to get her damage, it’s not always bad to have setups you can’t slow escape. They’re also great baits to catch people with the 214T. So, here’s a few.
All setups tested on Fastest
Stun > 3PP > 7P
Stun > 3K > 9P > 7P
Stun > 6P6P > 9P > 7P
236T > P+K > 7P
6PPP > 9P > 7P
– Her neutral throw. Only 5 frames but of course is escapable. Gives 45 on neutral, 56 on counter, and 67 on hi counter. This will be one of your throw punishers
– Second throw punisher. 7 frames and isn’t escapable. Gives 50 on neutral, 62 on counter, and 75 on hi counter. It won’t be able to punish all unsafe moves, so 5T would be your safest option to not risk a hi counter strike
– Just a regular throw option, 10 frames. 56 on neutral, 70 on counter, 84 on hi counter
– The heichu throw. This will open people up if you’re pressuring and they’re blocking. Only 9 frames to execute, 11 frame advantage and has 3 follow-ups: A great high P to continue the stun, a powerful P+K mid that gives a CB that’s not slow escapable and can give a high launch height since it’s puts them in the threshold, and a low P that just keeps them in check and continues the stun. She can also go to the heichu mid string from 33PT, 66P+KT, PPT, P2KT, 4P2KT, 9PPT, and 2KT.
– The unbreakable throw. This is a must to master. This is the throw that will catch people that take the bait. Gives 62 dmg on neutral, 77 dmg on counter, and 93 dmg on hi counter (the one you’ll be getting on most people). All of that damage plus 5 if you wall slam.
– Your crouching throw/low hold punisher. It’s 5 frames and not escapable. 50 dmg on normal, 62 dmg on counter, 75 dmg on hi counter.
– If you're ever going to punish low, you should try to use this throw. Only 7 frames and gives a +20 advantage. Most of the moves Kokoro has are guaranteed at that point.
Guarantees and Bounds
Kokoro has actually lost a few guaranteed setups for bounds. Her bounds don’t offer as much damage as her guaranteed setups did, but it’s still solid
Kokoro puts opponent into bound states with the same moves that caused a sitdown stun in 5. In order for a bound to happen, the opponent must be at level 2 or level 3 threshold. Usually, the setup the bounds allow are either 66 > 66P+K combo ender or P+K > 66P+K combo ender, depending on the weight class.
The bounds are as followed:
4PPPP, starting the string Mid Threshold
8P6P, starting the string at Threshold
BT P+K, at Full Threshold
BT 4K, at Full Threshold
236P at Threshold
From Featherweight to Super Lightweight, the followup would be:
P+K > 66P+K combo ender
From Midweight to Super Heavyweight, the followup would be:
Dash in > 66P+K
Now for her guarantees. Sadly, they no longer work since the opponent can stagger out of them, the only setup that still does is:
H+K > 46P launch > juggle
Even so, its stance dependent. She can still get guaranteed moves in, but not a fully fledged juggle. For example, all of her sitdowns guarantee a 66P.
The Heichu stance is almost like the Heichu throw. Besides the obvious difference it’s not a throw, it isn’t as safe as an option outside of stun. You can get into the stance mid string with 3PP > P+K, PP2K > P+K, and 9PP2K > P+K, or you can throw out the raw moves into the stance which are 2H+K >P+K, 66P+K > P+K, and 8P > P+K. Outside of stun; the stance can be interrupted by any strike or even a throw. So it’s best to use the stance while in stun
.Free Cancelling 9P
The only thing really difficult about Kokoro is Free Canceling the 9P for juggles. Free canceling is basically pressing the hold button immediately so the rest of the string doesn't come out. The trick I use to free cancel quickly is rolling my thumb from P to H. You could just wait and press P again without canceling, but you run the risk of continuing the string and you will waste damage. If you want to practice, go to training mode. Pick Alpha-152, and a flat surfaced stage. You should be able to do 7 9Ps in a row before dropping it, if you're doing it correctly.
Once again I'd like to thank everyone who helped made this core guide 2 years ago, especially Tenryuga. He's a beast.