If you're Ken, you've got a dragon punch, a fireball, a hurricane kick, and maybe a few flashy kick moves depending on which game you're playing.
If you're Iori, you've got a dashing throw, a dragon punch, a ground based fireball, and a three hit combo which starts mid and ends high. So on and so forth...
With your foe given that much information, you've got to be able to use your strengths while exploiting your foes weaknesses. How does one achieve this? Well, faking them out with feints? Maybe, but are you ready for that yet? I doubt it. No, this section is all about using what you've got and adding... a little oomph.
Stage 4: Combos and the asskickery therein!
Ken's Dragon Punch in Street Fighter 2 Turbo was a mean little diddy. It was seriously something of near legend. Why? Because many players who landed it up close usually started with a standing fierce punch into it. If you jumped and kicked REALLY REALLY close to thier heads, and it connects, you could perform the standing fierce punch into his Dragon Punch and practically kill anyone. Seriously, it did like 75% damage in a single string of moves. DEADLY.
Kyo in Capcom Vs. SNK 2 has a long combination, that if performed successfully, will not only dazzle your foe and likely make him never want to play you again, but also did a CONSIDERABLE amount of damage. (*Qcf + FK -> FK -> dp + MK -> Qcb,Hcf + FP) For those of you who've seen me do it, I refer to it as my "Bouncy Bouncy Burn," and while I can't claim to be the originator of that little ditty, I can say I respect the fuck out of whoever wrote that up.
Why are combos important? Certainly you can get by without NEEDING them, and many special moves have multi-hit components anyway, who cares? Well, what if you could make that multi-hit move do twice it's damage? What if you were able to set it up so that your favorite move would be unblocked by a foe expecting something else? If the lure of extra damage doesn't get you maybe this next bit will.
When fighting anyone, there's an aggressor and a defender. The aggressor sets the pace of an entire match. Are they employing Hit and Run tactics? Are they playing a game of footsies? Are they just standing across the screen shooting projectiles? The aggressor can only BE the aggressor so long as they keep on the attack though. You can't deal damage blocking, but you CAN leave yourself wide open if you attack too much. What's a good balance? That depends on the game you're playing and how comfortable you are with your chosen warrior. The roles of attack and defence will be switched many times during the course of a good battle. Sometimes you'll come out ahead, sometimes not.
It's important to know the difference between reckless and accurate. Too much of either can spell doom. Swinging wildly means you're bait for any number of moves that capitalize on that. Waiting for your chance to strike with the one "Perfect Move" will often leave you frustrated as you're steadily chipped to death by someone who knows what you're hoping to land. (In that respect, please, when you're at an arcade, don't practice Instant Hell Murder if you're playing Akuma. You're setting yourself up for failure. They hear those button taps and jump.)
So, what is this about anyway? I've gone over like, 6 different things here. How are you supposed to learn anything from it? Easy. Here's your homework.
I want you to play with someone you would NEVER willingly play with (Or Random select if it's available). For many of you, this might be a grappler. Some of you will pick charge characters.... Either way, the best way to defeat any foe is to know what they can do. Play with them for longer than one stupid game. Make this character your new character. When you go back to your first one, you'll see things you didn't notice in youself, and from that, you can make changes to better suit your style.