Thursday, September 7, 2017


Being Articulate
How to structure a more productive discussion re: SSBM ruleset dev

Games are an assessment of skills.

Rulesets are artificial limitations that are specifically designed to
    a) preserve fairness (“anything you can do I can do too”) or
    b) better measure subjectively-valued skill (coin-battle tournaments would also be competitive, but we as a community subjectively value stock-battles more).

Usually this is very straight-forward. Banned stages are easy examples. Icicle Mountain’s atypical design includes ice, walkoffs, way too many platforms, and phases of rapid movement that disrupt player vs player engagement. While it is fair—anything one player can do the other can as well— it centralizes gameplay around atypical strats that have more to do with fighting the stage than fighting the player. We value player vs player more than player vs stage. Because this is an easy assessment, it’s easy to justify banning Icicle Mountain because it is clearly, objectively detracts from the measurement of subjectively-valued skills.

Sometimes though, issues arise that are ambiguous or complex. These decisions are harder because it is harder to define exactly what is unfair, exactly what is desirable vs undesirable, or exactly what matters. In some cases these decisions are even harder because the change in question has multiple sub-issues or multiple effects. Some of those effects could be desirable while others are undesirable, requiring judgement calls that some people will like and others will dislike based on their priorities. In such an Accidentally Good game, more messy issues like these are inevitable. But that doesn’t mean that they are unsolvable.

In all of these cases, the best solution is to work it out by being articulate. In this context, arguments should NOT be centered around support of or disagreement with a proposed change. Rather, they should be centered around a collaborative ARTICULATION of what a change does for fairness or subjective-values.

Box-type controllers are a great example here. Box-type controllers have spawned extremely ugly conduct because they’re a bundle of ambiguous and complex sub-problems. If you’re more invested in supporting a position than delineating the problems then it’s easy to jump from one sub-issue to another on impulse, resulting in an incoherent if not toxic mess of an argument. At its heart, the box-controller discussion is one of weighing costs against benefits, and some of these are fringe value-judgements. Is left-thumb-techskill something that we as a community should value to a significant degree? Is a box-controller work-around a meaningful departure from a valued skill? Or is it just a workaround that isn’t practically significant? Do they offer a practical unfair advantage? How much do we relatively value accessibility? How much do we value consistency? Has this position changed over time or with the addition of other recent rules? Can the ruleset be altered to curb in-game or out-of-game negative effects? All of these questions can be discussed and worked out productively, but certainly not all at once and certainly not without a collaborative commitment to delineation and articulation over argument for argument’s sake.

Additional Notes:
• for example, non-comprehensive example of delineation of subjective value areas in context:
• Just because something is in the game does not mean that it has to remain legal. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for Nintendo to do our thinking for us with patches. Thus, something that is unfair, non-competitive, or undesirable can be justifiably banned.
• Tradition is important. It gives players consistency. It contextualizes wins in a continuum. If we switched to coin-battles tomorrow then new results would have little to do with old results, and this would be a huge loss. That being said, tradition is not infallible. It’s just one thing that we value. Whether tradition gets priority over another value is situational.
• You should frequently check your thinking and those around you for logical fallacies and/or cognitive biases. They are cancer.
Remember, the presence of a fallacy or bias does NOT make someone wrong, it just makes their argument misleading. Pointing out a fallacy doesn’t make you right, but it does make it much much easier for everyone to stay on the same page.
• The human brain is terrible at changing beliefs, even when presented with a rational argument supported by facts. Consider the hypothetical: could someone, if they had evidence to support it that trumped previous evidence, convince you that white people are a superior race? That would be difficult for me because the premise is so contrary to my beliefs. The point here isn’t whether or not that’s true, but that if it was true I’d have a harder time accepting the truth than I want to admit. When you enter into a rational argument, you have a responsibility to be mindful of and to do your absolute best to overcome any personal biases.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Initiation and Counterplay

Note: Neutral/Positioning is a bit of a prerequisite. This article is a second tier.

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Initiation and Counterplay

A discussion on and vocabulary for Player vs Player neutral interactions in SSBM.

The usefulness of an Initiation/Counterplay model is best illustrated by delineating the weakness in more generalized vocabulary. Consider the worn dichotomy of aggro and campy playstyles. When you get down to it, descriptions of aggro/campy provide very little usable information and is often little more than misleading. Is dash dancing campy if done for 5 seconds but aggressive if it’s only done for 2 seconds? If Falco repeatedly AC bairs in front of your dash dance is that aggro or is it campy? Is a SH dair in place at the edge of your DD range aggro or campy? Is an approaching laser followed by a dash back aggro or campy? The more specific you get the less meaning the words have.

The FGC footsies model of Poke<Whiff Punish<Movement is far more specific than aggro/campy and is a great starting point to understanding fighting game mechanics. But the Poke<Whiff Punish<Movement model also runs into ambiguity and its usefulness runs out when looking at more complicated situations, particularly those in which frame advantage or situational move-mechanics make their use multi-layered. It’s not so much that you can’t consider a CC grab or a shielddrop bair or even a preemptive FH dair a whiff punish, rather, “whiff punish” isn’t the best descriptor. Because their game is relatively simple at its core, Street Fighter players can make due by introducing additional vocabulary like counter-pokes, anti-airs, command-grabs, etc, terms that correspond exactly the the conscious design and use of the move— a luxury that Melee simply doesn’t enjoy.

At the heart of it, Melee is too speedy and complex for either of these models to suffice. Sooner than later, specifics outgrow their usefulness and you start trying to fit an organic process to a foreign model at the cost rather than at the service of understanding. For this reason I propose an alternate vernacular built specifically to handle a greater depth of learning and description. This vernacular is organized around the interplay between Initiation and Counterplay.

Initiation can be understood as intending to land a hit or otherwise act preemptively.
Counterplay can be understood as looking to punish something.

This model is derived from two principles by which it overcomes the weaknesses of Aggro/Campy and Poke<Whiff Punish<Movement while profiting from their respective utility.
1) Specifics are more powerful than trends. This is the strength of Poke<Whiff Punish<Movement and the weakness of Aggro/Campy.
2) Understanding why moves are being used is more important than the identity of the moves themselves. This is the strength of Aggro/Campy and the weakness of Poke<Whiff Punish<Movement

The form that these intentions take will vary and there is some gray area between the two, but nothing destructive or distracting. It is a clean, effective, and flexible structure.

Let’s look at these concepts a bit closer.

Initiation can range from SHHFFL attacks to defensive zoning tools. Its defining characteristic is that it is preemptive and its intention is to, well, initiate. Counterplay can include deep to shallow dash dances, run up shields/CCs/FHs, run away lasers, etc. Counterplay is defined by what it intends to punish, usually on reaction. Initiation can lose to counterplay in the same way that pokes generally lose to whiff punishes, but not uniformly. Some initiation is safe vs some counterplay. For example, a shallow, zoning aerial is technically a poke, but it’s primary purpose is to initiate in order to gain or keep space, not to start a combo. Thus, a deep dash dance or crouch cancel intended to counter a deep aerial does not directly win against a shallow aerial. Similarly, a close dash dance will counter shallow attacks but lose to—or at least drop the opportunity to counter—deep ones. A player can take center stage with an attack, an empty wavedash, or even with a run up shield, all of which would require different punishes. In this way, a player has to prepare for not just what the opponent will do but how they intend to do it. For this reason much counterplay is as specific as initiation. An opponent that is committed to counterplay is waiting to react to something. But they aren’t robots, they’re humans with human reaction times. They can’t keep track of every option at once. If you do something unexpected then they can’t punish you immediately.

That being said, there are two main ways to color these interactions and avoid having to guess as frequently. Remember, maximizing reward while minimizing risk wins tournaments. Both of these methods are more fully understood as a development of the initiation/counterplay context.

1) Option Coverage

In order to cover multiple options, players have to develop tactics or use a sequence of moves designed specifically to do so. This is why sheik players will initiate with a zoning ftilt but hold down during its endlag or falco players will laser then jab and dash back. These sequences are favorable against multiple options. Specifically designed option coverage is the only way around tunnel-vision and reaction times in neutral. It’s obviously strong but has its limits. It’s very rare for a tactic to cover every option. Additionally, any given player will have only internalized so many tactics.

2) Staggered Punishes
Initiation and Counterplay are most useful in neutral situations when both players have access to many unreactable options. When one character has significant frame advantage then it is more consistent and advantageous to use what I call staggered punishes. In a staggered punish, you recognize frame advantage and make an immediate, gut judgement whether your next punish is solid or not. At that point you either take the punish or DD and wait to reactively punish what they do next. Let’s say for example that Fox nairs in front of Puff. A mediocre Puff will try to grab every time, but a better Puff will recognize when the grab punish isn’t guaranteed and will instead use the nair's landing lag as a sort of buffer in order to react to (or read) and punish what fox does after the nair. However, if you passively DD too often then you can drop this opportunity to dash aways or immediate attacks.

By frequently introducing a 50/50 between attacking or reacting, staggered punishes are obviously related to the initiation/counterplay model. The significant distinction is that while in a purer neutral you may have to interpret your opponent's behavior and guess their intention, a staggered punish allows you to make those decisions based on frame advantage and character states. That being said, I don’t think that you should worry too much about the mixup part of it, at least not initially. You should just prioritize keeping up on it until such time as you’re sufficiently practiced to develop that decision-making.

Internalizing staggered punishes is extremely gratifying. Getting into the flow of them is identifiable with NEO! mode. Neutral and punish game blend together and you start to see and feel the logic of the game.

Case Study:

Leffen vs Hbox at GOML (Game 1)

Using It:

A solid matchup gameplan should have tools to initiate successfully against common counterplay strats (at least a positive expected value if not winning), tools to initiate vs common initiations, tools to counterplay common initiations, and tools to counterplay common counterplay strats. These tools may or may not be foundational, but they are vital to both avoiding and engaging in exploitation. Once they are established variations will be easy to recognize as well as solve even in the moment!

What does this look like?

• Initiation vs Initiation: (most often identified as scuffles)
    You mean to initiate and win despite the other player also initiating. This requires better spacing, move selection, or situational awareness.
    Examples: In close range falco SH laser vs puff SH bair, whoever jumps first wins. Puff can also space so that the bair will beat laser and uptilt. Spacies using uptilt to try to trade with or beat Captain Falcon's aerials.

• Initiation vs Counterplay (most often identified as tactics)

    You mean to initiate and win despite counterplay. This requires you to either identify and subvert the counterplay method OR to have a tactic that beats multiple options.
    Examples: A deep aerial that starts as Captain Falcon dashes away. Captain Falcon can’t turn around and whiff punish. He has to keep running, get hit, or shield. Holding down during the a move so that if it's punished lightly you can immediately ASDI down and grab.

• Counterplay vs Initiation (most often identified as DDing or whiff punishing)
    You mean to scout out and punish an attack. This requires you to space outside of the threat but close enough to punish an overextension.
    Examples: Dashing outside of an attack's range then grabbing it. FHing on platforms then falling though with an attack on a whiffed aerial.

• Counterplay vs Counterplay (most often identified as a bait or disrespect)
    You mean to scout out and punish a failed attempt to punish.
    Examples: Spacing outside of a shieldgrab and punishing. Walking forward and downsmashing.

Note how all of these ideas are very familiar and are very complimentary. All top players frequently and deliberately commit to all of these in order to punish tendencies and cut the right corners at the right times. Note too how they are complicated but not overwhelmed by the addition of option coverage, staggered punishes, and even positioning. They’re still adequate descriptors/mental signposts even at high specificity/complexity.


The usefulness of this vocabulary, as demonstrated in the case study linked above, isn’t to put arbitrary labels on things. Rather, it’s to provide a succinct and more relevant vocabulary that better identifies how and why we make decisions so that we can recognize patterns faster and improve that decision-making. If these patterns are recognized correctly, then you can quickly, effectively and safely(!) adapt your gameplan to harshly exploit any imbalance. It’s a methodology for attacking a player’s understanding and I’d be hard pressed to locate a more core fighting games priciple than that.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

AC Dair Rest

AC dair rest

It is possible to autocancel puff’s dair and combo to rest at low %s.

Dair’s last hit is on frame 26 and it autocancels as early as frame 39. This means that if you hit with the last hit of dair and can land on or very soon after frame 39 and the opponent is still in hitstun after your 4f of landing lag (for a total of at least 17f of hitstun) then you can combo AC dair to rest. You need 23f of hitstun for grab. You can look up what % that is per character here.

The frame advantage of AC dair happens to be effectively identical to L-canceled dair HOWEVER with an AC dair you maintain enough control to steer puff over the opponent regardless of their hitstun animation, allowing you to combo dair to rest at low %s. AC dair will combo to rest on spacies from as low as 20% after the dair. Remember, spikestun is useful because it allows us to hit-confirm based on the predictable animation but with AC dair's low profile and extra drift control that is not necessary.

Similar to the spikestun setup, the last hit of dair is the only one that’s important and any hits before the last one increase the likelihood that your opponent will SDI out of the combo. The biggest drawback to AC dair is that it is much more difficult to execute than an L-canceled dair. It’s difficult to set up and it’s difficult even to see how close/far you are from perfect without using frame counter. For the time being, AC dair rest is not worth practicing for tournament use. But it is sick AF.


* SH DJ dair FF

* FH dair FF

* shield drop DJ dair FF

* from a late double jump

* from the ledge

* SH ff dair off top plat
(you also can reach this height with SH DJ from side plat or a FH DJ DJ)

* fall through slight delay no ff off top plat
(you also can reach this height with FH from side plat or a FH DJ)

Obviously other intermediary/stage specific setups are possible and will require different variations on timing/ff. The setups listed above are only the most obvious reference points.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

MAC Approach

MAC Approach (Mindfulness Acceptance Commitment Approach)

I personally used to have a very very difficult time performing in tournament to the point that I developed a strong dislike for singles and rarely if even entered anything but doubles. Soft recommended TMGoP to me and it helped my conceptualization significantly but I still had lingering issues. I decided to research more and eventually came across the MAC model. I read the book, took notes, and completed a course through Since integrating the MAC Approach my mental-game is my strongest asset. I use the principles every day and haven’t found anything else that approaches its usefulness or efficacy. It is, to my knowledge, the superior mental tool.

Following, I will present a summary of MAC principles. It’s necessary to stress that knowing the principles is completely different from internalizing them, but reading and seeing just how cohesive the system was very exciting for me, so an illustration of the model is merited.

The Psychology Context

In sports psychology it is generally accepted that personal superior performances are a product of total concentration marked by a “peak” or “flow” state. For this reason, it has been more and more common for athletes to undergo psychological skills training designed specifically to best achieve a peak performance state. Traditional psychological skills training in sports uses methodology including goal setting, imagery, mental rehearsal, arousal control, self-talk, and pre-competitive routines to enhance performance by attempting to reign in peak states to a replicable routine as well as reduce anxiety and negativity, psychological roadblocks. However, these approaches carry subtexts implying a) that negative internal states must be controlled or reduced before a positive internal state can take their place and set the stage for flow and b) that flow is a fickle mistress impossible to achieve without perfect preconditions. Neither of these hold up to recent research and these traditional methods have been demonstrated to have no or even negative empirical support (i.e. they don’t actually work lmaooo).

The MAC Approach, a development of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for sports, is a program of psychological skills training designed to remove this subtext and teach relevant, empirically-supported skills. Rather than remove or control internal states, MAC aims to enable our control over focus and behavior despite internal states, that it is not the avoidance of negative states but the degree of experiential acceptance that enables peak performance states.

MAC has seen increasing use and study over the past decade, including in olympic athletes, tennis players, and professional basketball, volleyball, and even esports teams.

Mindfulness and Acceptance

It is tempting to identify our thoughts as our selves or our emotions as pervasive. But in reality, these are small events in a much broader landscape. Thoughts and emotions are just flashes of chemical/electrical activity not so different from other sensations such as sounds, touches, gravity, temperature, balance, vision, etc. All of these can be understood as Internal States. Internal States (including thoughts and emotions) are like water-bugs skirting over a much greater depth. They come and they go. They are inherently temporal.

Fixation on internal states can be disastrous for performance. Imagine that there’s a parade of internal states in front of you. If you fixate on one thought/emotion/etc even after it passes, you can’t respond to those that follow. You’ve created a mental traffic-jam between your focus and the new present. This is why it’s so easy to fall into a downward mental spiral.

If the goal for sports psychology is to maintain a high-focus present-moment/task orientation (i.e. peak/flowstate) then the foil is a self/future/past orientation. The emphasis of traditional sports psychology is to censor or to remove potentially harmful internal states so that they can’t interfere with your focus. But remember, the emphasis of MAC is to engender the skill of maintaining your focus despite internal states.

There is no reason to censor your feeling angry any more than there is reason to censor feeling cold or hearing someone talk. You’ve already experienced those things, they’re already there in your mind. This relates to my post on Tilting. It’s a bit ridiculous and small-minded to worry about censoring every little bump in the road. It's also mentally-taxing and actively turns our attention from the task to the self. If instead we see and accept temporal internal states for what they are then they have no power and there’s no need to censor them. This work is done primarily by dispelling cognitive fusion.

Cognitive Fusion

Cognitive fusion is the habitual act of treating thoughts as though they are what they say as opposed to treating them as the simple internal states that they are. Reacting to feelings as if reality is what you feel. Reacting to thoughts as if reality is what you think. When put this way it’s easy to recognize how inherently irrational cognitive fusion is. Thoughts aren’t reality, they’re just thoughts. Feelings aren’t reality, they’re just feelings. Now it’s just a matter of making it a habit to by way of mindfulness consistently recognize the onset of cognitive fusion and to instead perceive reality as it is. This is simply a less reactive and more accurate way to engage with the present-moment. Within MAC, you accept that emotions occur naturally and for the most part uncontrollably. Instead of wresting with your emotions in order to set the stage for your mental state in order to set the stage for correct behavior you simply commit to correct behavior.

It’s not “I feel/think __ SO I act.” It's “I feel/think __ AND I act.”

Ex: Thinking “I can’t work with this person” isn’t necessarily reflective of reality. Thinking instead “I am thinking that I can’t work with this person” is un-fused. It doesn’t buy in to habitual schema and instead allows you the opportunity to divorces your focus and behavior from mindless reactivity. The capacity to make mindful, reality/value-based choices rather than mindless ones is mental toughness or Poise.

“We define mental toughness as the ability to act in a purposeful manner, systematically and consistently, in the pursuit of the values that underlie performance activities, even (and especially) when faced with strong emotions that we as humans naturally want to control, eliminate, or reduce.”

Imagine yourself in a last stock last hit scenario. You feel psychological arousal, fear, excitement, anxiety. Now you’re going to make a choice between correct behavior (clutch) or letting your emotions dictate your focus and behavior (choke).

Commitment/Value Driven Behavior

If you aren’t basing behavior reactively on internal states or schema then what are you basing it on? In the MAC model, you base your behavior on a system of values. Values are distinct from goals as values are principles used to enhance experience and behavior whereas goals are end-points that direct experience and behavior in a direction but diminish the present-moment experience (This is basically a Destination vs Journey orientation).

In sports, the method is the body and the end. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.
Similarly, how you use your time or effort determines the value of that time spent. Consider:
1) What do you want to get out of this time-spent? Why? (Why?)
2) What would you want someone to say in your obituary if you died tonight?
3) How do you want your effort to be remembered?
4) What matters to you about your sport/occupation?

The answers to these questions identify our individual values (what the Inner Game of Tennis identifies as the Inner Game). Engagement with these values not only makes our time and effort spent more gratifying, but also provides direction for behavior independent from internal states (including motivation!). Success in the inner and outer game is a measure of our commitment to our performance values.


The alternative to Commitment is Avoidance. When the going gets tough or confusing, it’s natural for humans to avoid difficulty. It's an evolutionary necessity. Just like I avoided entering tournaments to avoid feeling disappointed in myself, it is extremely easy for us to shy away from trying or painful situations and we often engage in avoidance without even realizing it. Every time we do we are coloring if not determining our behavior with avoidance.

But it is important to recognize that the cost of avoidance is growth.

It’s impossible for humans to learn without stretching their limits. We have to brush up against what we can’t do and extend into the impossible in order to grow. The mentally-tough athlete leans in to difficulty and embraces it— accepts it— not as problematic but as an opportunity. That’s exciting! It’s best conceptualized as akin to weight-lifting. The value of lifting weights isn’t in having hoisted something heavy, it’s in overcoming the difficulty in order to grow. By recalling our values, persevering through pain and difficulty and managing to do something at the edge of our capability our muscles get stronger. That’s the worth.

In MAC, difficulty takes an identical role. The bulk of MAC-training is done through open monitoring meditation. In this meditation you develop awareness and practice your capacity to direct your focus despite internal states without succumbing to the temptation to avoid them AND to recover that focus readily and with forgiveness when it wanders. You accept the states as they come and go and commit to the attention-training. Every time we overcome a bad mental habit, every time we redirect our focus and behavior from reactive to valued, it’s a rep and we get stronger.


By rooting itself in open monitoring meditation, the MAC Approach develops a lasting and pervasive utility not only for sports but also for life-goals and day-to-day experience. It takes and instructs the perspective that success is not a matter of what you are, rather, that what you are is a reflection of how you do, as informed and motivated (i.e. cultivated) by your commitment to value-driven behavior. This kind of approach is both liberating and empowering. It provides tools to make meaningful progress in the pursuit of excellence as well as fulfillment and does so with a model that is elegant, comprehensive, cogent, and enjoys empirical support. I for one have a fuller competitive and otherwise life for it.

As mentioned, initially I got The Psychology Of Enhancing Human Performance: The MAC Approach from the library. It has since been uploaded as a pdf here.
I started to do things by myself based on the material contained but eventually shelled out $25 for Weldon Green’s arrangement of the program at It was well worth it.
Additionally, is built from the same model. The first 10 sessions are free. Afterward content is $5 a month. I haven’t used more than the 10, personally, but there’s a lot of content there and apparently it covers a wide range of focuses and it’s all very high-quality and similarly well-grounded in research.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

TIGoT Thoughts/Notes

I had a free afternoon, so I re-read The Inner Game of Tennis and took notes.

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I did not enjoy TIGoT. It seems like a transition out of a worse sports psyche but nonetheless I thought it was clumsily written and frequently misleading to the extent that any nuggets came across as accidental.

I have three primary gripes and two primary likes.


1) The entire Self1/Self2 dichotomy is a super shitty model.
It’s an attempt to personify anything good or bad for mental game into one of two selves that you can then more readily accept or reject while maintaining a superficial surrender of control. But because this doesn’t hold up to any amount of scrutiny it’s simply a bad model. Sufficient maybe, until you actually think about it at all. Any attempt to reconcile with science or self-awareness requires tedious and stupid translation that reveals how ham-fisted this artificial and oh so convenient self-fissure is.

The better alternative is to identify a present-moment/task/experience-orientation as superior to a past/future/self-orientation for performance/learning/experience . This is a direct, demonstratable truth rather than a messy illustration. It would solve all of the same problems better.

2) TIGoT is not honest about what it’s actually about.
The structure of the book is pretty straight-forward. It decries a necessarily strawman traditional learning/performance approach but not because it’s ineffective, rather because it’s unsatisfying. Then it describes a more satisfying approach to learning with anecdotes. But because there is no evidence of efficacy, Gallwey is forced to move the goal-posts from peak performance to satisfying experience, implying that they are sufficiently the same. In support, he throws in a chapter about how the goal of tennis doesn’t have to be to actually win the game of tennis but to discover a new internal game to prioritize. That is problematic for a book that says “The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance” right on the cover.

The book actually describes an attitude for maximizing satisfaction. It does not necessarily involve (and thus doesn’t necessitate) the pursuit of excellence.

While it is possible for IGoT to lead to some improvement, its paltry methodology reveals that its primary goal is actually to change the subject from how good/bad you are to your direct experience. This is supported by the surprising number of scrubs that recommend it—the number of recommendations from people that are advanced remaining proportionate to the number that would have been without the book. Disproportionate are those that have a new-found satisfaction in learning and performing period (not at an escalated rate). That is valuable, but not in the way that it is portrayed.

3) TIGoT is inarticulate.

TIGoT is pocketed with powerful and valuable ideas that I recognize from my reading about CBT and cognitive science in education; Little truisms that started to reappear in writing and research in the 70s. But much like in The Art of Learning, none of these ideas are sufficiently expanded on. These writers have clearly experienced what they’re talking about but aren’t able (or aren’t willing) to organize that experience verbally. The lack of a clear context or expansion on these ideas comes across at best as vague and at worst as inarticulate. You could say that Gallwey’s coaching method of expanding as little as possible with words has evidently seeped into his writing.

MAC is a mind-bogglingly better organization.


1) Gallwey’s coaching model is very good.
He’s constructed a methodology that readily matches the intensity of the student’s motivation and is instructive without being overwhelming. By reconfiguring instruction to bolster experience rather than the other way around, he teaches a more total game of tennis at a clean and individualized level.

2) Gallwey’s description of the Inner Game as intrinsic motivation (chapter 8) is great.
It's completely different than the Inner Game described elsewhere in the book, but is a wonderful description of why games are worth playing. Obviously by better understanding our intrinsic motivations we can better fulfill them. Not everyone wants to be the best in the world and sometimes they need some direction or introspection to discover exactly what it is that they do want and how best to go about it.

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Raw Notes

Self1 = Teller, Self2 = Doer
In a bad relationship Self1 doesn’t trust Self2 and uses up all the resources, preventing Self2 from doing its job. Improving the relationship between the selves is synonymous with translating instruction to action, but Gallwey finds it easier to emphasize dumping instruction as much as possible. Maybe that’s appropriate, I don’t know. Well, definitely for performance. For learning that seems a stretch. Or you could, you know, use a better model lol.
A cheat is to distract Self1 by focusing on breath, noise, looking at the seams on the ball, etc.

Self2 is like, “the real you,” a you that is disconnected from unrealistic standards.
Shifting focus to self 2 allows for real expansion/evolution of the real self (as opposed to an unreal self)

Is the reader really so unaware that the idea of unconscious competence is radical? I guess presumably he did teach a lot of people with different levels of competence/experience…

Identifying the body or the unconscious etc as a second self is in effect alienating. It isn’t a second self at all, it’s a part of a total self. That isn’t emphasized at all in this book. Misleading.

Anything outside of the model gets lumped in as the pseudo-mystical ability of Self2…..

It’s mostly to do with complexity. Simple tasks don’t get so convoluted because they’re simple. Something like a forehand, with 50 parts, is too much to manage consciously, so Gallwey identifies a way to instruct AND to accept the notion of intuitive learning and mastery.
Good form is incredibly complex. It’s /necessary/ that self2 be allowed to learn and to execute because self1 simply can’t handle it.
Self1 interferes with the complex intuitive wisdom of the body.
Instruction -> Action -> Result. If bad result and good instruction then we believe bad action and then place the blame on ourselves for bad performance.
But the error was in not trusting Self2 enough and relying on Self1’s control.
wtf kind of conclusion is this? Sure, micromanaging experience rather than accepting and experiencing it is to your detriment but how does it follow that it requires a revamping of learning itself? Sure, maybe learning needs revamped but this is just fallacious.

Rather than as opportunities, Self1 considers mistakes as signs of identity.
Lousy serve->I’m serving badly->I have a bad serve->I’m no good.
This is just cognitive bias! Not some methodological weakness! Not inherent to anything, it’s literally a bad mental habit that’s totally solvable!
“Then self2 lives up to it” But I thought self2 was supposed to be shut out.
How helpful is it to identify conscious thought/effort with cognitive biases and any/everything bad for mentality? That’s disingenuous.
Bad understanding or at least bad representation of psychological principle.

Explicitly identifying instruction with fear and doubt. Wow. Wtf kind of anti-intellectualism is this?
Over Control, Thinking/Trying too hard. Sounds like being back in public school….
Instead harmonize with your “natural learning process.” But there's minimal description of. Very bullshitty.
Ask why someone's forehand is good today and it apparently stops. Maybe if they aren’t self-aware. I guess that’s not unusual. But then the problem is their lack of awareness, not their awareness. Disagree with this assertion.

Should statements and expectation as distracting from current moment.

Compliments are the negatives of insults, they too imply judgement/expectation. Expectations are food for Self1.

Traditional Learning Structure
(total strawman, but whatever)
1. Criticism
2. Instruction
3. Effort
4. Judgement

IGoT Learning Structure
1. Observe Existing Behavior
2. Picture Desired Outcome/Process
3. Let it Happen
4. Observe Results

Instead of identifying what is wrong and giving instruction, Gallwey asks you to put your attention on where the racket head is and when the ball hits the net.
So: If the goal is to train the unconscious then train the unconscious. Rather than instruct the body, simply ask it to do what is necessary.
The obvious utility of “observe->let learn” is taking the attention from a goal or result and focusing it on process and experience.

Rather than “Hit the ball with your arm fully extended,” his instruction is “Notice the degree of bend in your elbow at the moment of impact.” No suggestion, just awareness. Any correction that will happen (is motivated) will happen. This is obv a more total method of teaching/learning. Won’t work without effort being matched/exceeded by the student, as it doesn’t teach anything directly but instead offers the opportunity to problem solve under direction (guided ground-up learning. Pretty powerful).
A good teacher, then, guides experiential discovery.
Instruction should not limit or define action, it should guide experiential learning. Marrying an intuitive level “why” and “how” rather than simply providing a “what.”
Rather than break habits, make new ones. But this is followed by a posit: to unlearn, identifying bad habits is irrelevant compared to awareness of process.
Clumsily written. Should be: prioritize process-engagement over correction-engagement.

Mirror. You need to see yourself. Need for experiential bottom-up learning.
Dwelling. The mind need not dwell. Move forward on pace with the present.
In this book “feeling” is sometimes a (bad) word for a more total, experiential or procedural knowledge. Introduces ambiguity.
Present moment orientation (Return to Breath)

! ! !
Removing Self1 to get to total Self2 immersion is identified with flowstate. TIGoT says that its goal is to approach flowstate, but it then says that flowstate comes when it will and is actually prevented by intention and thus can’t be intended… so the book can help you not help yourself which can but won’t necessarily help you. Nice.
This is just an untrue premise. Not sufficient understanding of flow, maybe because the book is dated. ! ! !

Relaxation of control, what’s the point? To avoid tightness. Judgement produces tightness. Tightening = choking. But this is better said as choking = diverting attention from the task and onto self or onto expectation and that tightening is a symptom. Don’t treat the freakin symptom, cure the disease.

Blegh. Visualize the result and let it happen. Then an anecdote (x_x )
There needs to be a distinction between visualizing process and visualizing results. Obviously imagery/visualization is amazing for learning. It’s more total and literally more real than words. But there’s a big difference between visualizing the process as a learning tool and visualizing a trophy. The first is task-orientation, the second is expectation.

1) clearest picture of a desired outcome
2) learn how to trust self 2
3) learn to see non-judgementally, “what” rather than “how well/badly.”
all subsidiary to relaxed concentration, a state of being and of doing in the moment.
Yes. This is Centering.

“thought intervenes with original unconsciousness.” No. This is Stupid Zen.
There’s a difference between not thinking and non-verbal thought.

stupid note about the expanded self by adopting the opposite “style”
there are a lot of strats here that seem best NOT for improving performance or even learning but to increase the perception of, the amp up the FEELING of improvement/enjoyment NOT the results. This necessitates the inclusion of the chapter at the end about NOT playing Tennis, but an Inner Game.

someone that needs IGoT and actually improves is the exception. What improves is their self-preception. Even without improved results people often feel improved with the IGoT method because it is forgiving and experience-oriented so it’s more/differently satisfying. It cuts out tying results to self-worth, which is liberating.

the impulse that a loss “doesn’t count” if you didn’t try etc. This implies that something matters more than the result itself.

Games People Play on the Court. Fantastic Chapter.
Winning the Inner Game (intrinsic motivation)
but funnily at odds with the rest of the book
Gallwey identifies the value of winning as largely vitalism. Means he’s a vitalist? lol

actually he describes two Inner Games
the first is a palty and weird mentality guide
the second is an examination of intrinsic motivation

That is, that when you enter into a game of tennis or melee etc you have a certain intrinsic motivation. The mental game is subservient to the game of tennis which is in turn subservient to but independent of the intrinsic motivator. Thus, you can lose the game of tennis while still satisfying your intrinsic motivator. Naturally, this makes playing tennis more fulfilling by virtue of engaging the real underlying why.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

FAQ: Falco

FAQ: Falco

Thus far I’ve all but refused to make matchup guides in short because I think it’s a fool’s errand and resent the format. Because the web of knowledge contained in a MU is complex and often situational, any summary guide is doomed from the start to be insufficient and misleading. Answers without the right context/questions are just exploitable limits. That being said, there are common scenarios that get asked a lot about and it’d be totally appropriate and helpful to expand on them in order to point the questions in a more productive direction.

1) Dealing with lasers

In order to mitigate laser effectiveness you need to identify what their goal is and how he’s setting them up. A FH double laser =/= close range SH laser =/= full screen SH laser etc.
Falco’s lasers are used primarily to
a) momentarily interrupt your movement so that falco can safely assume a better position
b) build damage slowly/incentivize you to approach
c) lock you in place/hit confirm into an approach of his own
Highest SHL
Lasers are out on frame 13, every laser is at least a 26f commitment including jumpsquat and landing lag.

Some key anti-laser points:
• if you aren’t moving as soon as possible out of hit/shieldstun then you’re making lasers better than they really are. Practice.
• Falco can’t reliably laser the first 20f or so of puff’s crouch. This also makes powershields much easier IF you let go of crouch just before shielding (by raising the center of the shield).
• A high SH laser will hit a jumping puff but not a standing/running/crouching one. A lower laser will hit a standing/running puff but not a jumping one.
• As puff, it’s easier to deal with lasers from the ground by waiting to jump until you have enough frame advantage to get over the laser before it comes out, that way you don’t have to guess if it’s high or low.
• Much like how peach can float above SH lasers to avoid them, Puff can use the side platforms. This is the primary anti-lasers strat and tends to make neutral extremely simple/tedious.
• Lasers do very little damage. It’s much better to take laser damage or get shined than to get uptilted/baired/etc.
• Because their frame data on aerials/laser is similar, generally, if both characters jumped at close range at about the same time then whichever character jumped first wins the exchange.

2) Getting comboed

Usually wank DI away or SDI away is best, but not always. The goal is to make it as hard as possible for him to follow up and that can vary depending on what move he uses. Very labbable, though.

3) Being shieldpressured

means that you’ve already soft-lost the situation. Usually hitting you or hitting your shield is a win for falco. However, there are some outs. Because falco’s shine is relatively small you can use shield DI to make it whiff. A whiffed shine is a free grab for puff. You can also use a lightshield to the same effect, though it will of course has a visual tell. A high aerial on shield (or a rising one) is a rest OoS. You can also often trade aerials with upsmash, WD out of the way, or roll away, but all of these are relatively high risk.
Keep in mind that getting hit by shine is preferable to getting hit with anything else that might happen in the pressure. Likewise, falco dairing Puff is his best case scenario because it easily combos into more dairs/massive damage

4) Getting downthrown
GTO: 50/50 DI up and in (loses to uptilt/upsmash) OR tech behind (loses to preemptive SH dair)
(you can can DI up and in and if you miss tech then that’s what you get)
If falco is late to do his fsmashes then you can exploit by neutral tech shield but that’s a hefty risk.

5) Getting upthrown
Wank DI the lasers up
depending on % falco may still be able to follow up but this makes it the most difficult.

6) Punish game on falco
It’s almost always exactly like vs fox (+1%)
refer to
You can easily lab out the best followups vs different DI in the most common situations. The biggest distinction is pre/post-36% (bair knockdown)
. The better your punish game the more impact winning neutral has.

7) Edgeguarding Falco

The biggest deal here is Falco’s double jump. Because Falco goes so high so quickly it is not usually possible to cover a double jump side/upB with other options on reaction. For this reason edgeguarding falco is usually a 50/50 in which you either cover the ledge with a fair/dair right away or you jump above the ledge empty and then react should he have done something tricky like a shinestall or an early double jump. That being said, there are some situations (including from a backthrow) that can be labbed to cover everything (except shorten lol) on reaction. Keep in mind that falco’s sideB is too fast (5f faster than fox) to reliably bair on reaction but other aerials are possible.

8) Approaching Falco/Hbox Strats
Hbox’s strat for approaching falco is almost based largely around descending with frame advantage on top of a him to draw out a a) shield b) dash away (and lose stage) or c) uptilt. All of these lose to well-spaced bairs. After poking at about head-height, Hbox will drift away outside of counter-attack range. He then whiff punishes any counter-attacks and re-initiates pressure with a rising FH bair. To avoid being predictable with his timing he will occasionally delay the FH or WD away first. This isn’t foolproof, but it is foundational.

9) Falco AC bair/uptilt/laser/dair
bair is active 4-19 (after 5f jump squat), ACs at 24
uptilt is active 5-11, IASA 23
dair is active 5-24 (after 5f jump squat)
earliest laser/ff is active on 13 (after 5f jump squat), ACs at 19

Falco's bair and uptilt are used similarly (to wall out an approaching puff). Uptilt is easier to punish because it can't be faded back but it has a higher reward (can combo to a kill). Both of these are beaten most reliably by spacing just outside and then whiff punishing with a bair. That is, if you are losing to AC bairs and uptilt that means that you need to space your bairs better.

Falcos will mix up bair/uptilt with retreating lasers or advancing dairs specifically to punish you for zoning to punish bairs. The primary answer to dair/laser is to give up the opportunity to punish a potential bair/uptilt and back a little further away.

10 )Falco on ledge with inv
I don’t like this situation lol. His options are very good and cover each other well. I think that the best practice in lieu of a read is to jump outside of ledgedash nair range and then try to punish whatever he does /after/ his ledge option on reaction. But this gets more flexible if his inv runs out.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

10 Different Bairs

10 Different Bairs

Puff’s bair has decent frame data (hits 9-12, IASA at 31, AC at 25, 10f Lcancel lag) and good range (I know I know, it looks ridiculous when isolated but honestly that’s pretty standard for a good move in melee). But when you combine the raw frame data with Melee’s 1f of hitbox drag and Puff’s aerial mobility you end up with a move with great utility/flexibility.

In years past, Hungrybox would usually answer questions on smashboards with “Bair more.” The phrase wasn’t exactly wrong, but it was definitely unhelpful and contributed to a bad culture for learning. In order to bair better (or as Puff’s opponent, to punish bairs better), it’s important to recognize the different tasks that bair is used for.

To that end I’ve compiled a list of 10 fundamental uses for bair in neutral and attached a brief description to each.

1) retreating AC bair
This is basically a quick retreat that drags a huge hitbox behind you. Puff can choose mid-jump how much stage to give up based on risk-assessment. It is difficult to punish on reaction, but carries a stage cost. It can be punishable with a read. Note that with practice Puff can SH bair DJ bair. This makes it a little bit better on defense and offense.

2) advancing AC bair
This is a quick and flexible poke. Because Puff can be active as soon as f18 after hit (or SH bair DJ bair), it is particularly great for combos past a certain %. Puff can choose whether to continue to fade forward or begin to retreat as the hitbox comes out. Advancing AC bair is easily punished with FHs, CC, some OoS options, etc.

3) neutral rising FH bair
This is a flexible, relatively noncommittal poke. It’s generally used as a method to protect the ascent to FH height from an immediate attack from the opponent, at which point puff has more mobility (can immediately choose to go up, down, left, or right). It is difficult to punish, but can be blown up with by preemptive FH dair/nair or by running forward after the bair and pressuring Puff to retreat.

4) retreating rising FH bair
This is a quick retreat that is safer than an AC bair with a bit higher stage-cost and a different end position (puff at FH height rather than grounded). It is very difficult to punish directly but very easy to punish indirectly (just walk forward and take the free stage).

5) descending low bair
A spaced, low-as-possible, L-canceled bair is a great poke because it is almost never directly punishable except out of CC. It carries low reward until the % at which bair forces tech, at which point it earns at least hefty stage on hit. On some characters a low bair is safe on shield even when non-spaced provided that puff buffers a crouch. A descending bair is punishable with a preemptive attack/FH (think: dtilts), CC (difficult), or an indirect threat (example: Puff tipper low bairs Fox’s shield. He can’t get anything immediately OoS, but he can WD or SH and force her to shield/jump away/etc).

6) descending high bair fadeback
If puff chooses to bair at head-level as opposed to feet-level then she has time to mix up her drift pattern before landing. This kind of bair is especially strong against many character’s shields and can often shieldpoke, but because of the extra endlag from falling farther it is very bad against CC or on whiff.

7) descending high bair crossup
This bair is identical to the above but instead of fading back puff does a crossup. It is universally less safe and you normally don’t see it unless the puff player is a) bad or b) cutting corners because they’ve conditioned a level of respect. It’s worth noting here that a descending upair works in a similar way.

8) in place aerial DJ bair
When Puff is in the air, she can use a DJ bair to protect her air-space from attack. This is whiff punishable and can often be traded with.

9) fadeback aerial DJ bair
When Puff is in the air, she can use a fadeback DJ bair to protect her air-space from an attack more safely at the cost of a little bit more stage. The fadeback makes it effectively immune to trades and very difficult to whiff punish without a read on the drift.

10) low DJ bair
If Puff is descending (from any position, be it a FH, SH, or otherwise), she can DJ and bair at the last moment. This creates a situation very similar to a rising FH bair, with a couple notable differences. First, the bair does not hit as low. It won’t hit many crouching characters and will whiff completely vs shorter characters. Second, it comes out faster by virtue of not having any jumpsquat. This bair is often used to the FH effect and/or as a read on an opponent's FH, especially in the corner.

The next time you play or watch Puff, keep an eye out for these techniques and watch how they accent puff’s other options. Additionally, watch for any opportunities that her opponent takes or loses to punish any obvious bairs via option coverage or reads.