“I want to play Tekken, but I don’t know how to/can’t do that Korean Backdash thing.” – any random person in FGC for the past 20 years
Backdash Cancelling (or BDC) defines tournament play in Tekken. For the uninitiated, it’s exactly what it sounds like: it’s a method of movement based on cutting the recovery of your backdash. A version of this technique, known as the “Korean Backdash” in Tekken Tag Tournament, is the first thing people tend to bring up when talking about competitive play. It represents the gap between novice and advanced play, and fills curious players with fear. It’s the struggle that keeps smart people in intermediate levels. It baffles scientists! Doctors hate this one weird trick!
It doesn’t have to be this way, friends. It’s not as hard as you may think it is.
The Korean Backdash has been mythologized to the point of absurdity, and not without reason. This non-intuitive spacing tool is integral to the highest levels of Tekken and exists purely because of a quirk in the way the game reads inputs. It’s difficulty, in my opinion, stems almost exclusively from misunderstanding and unfamiliarity. Both can be defeated by knowledge and patience.
Yes, it is difficult, but it’s not any more difficult than anything you have learned in Street Fighter, or Marvel. In fact, I am willing to argue that this specific BDC is not any more difficult than one frame links, or Marvel’s unfly mechanics.
Below I have prepared an explanation and set of exercises to help ease you into learning what the Korean Backdash is, and how to use it. This is not meant to be powered through in one sitting, although the brave certainly may try that. The intention is to help you, at your own pace, build a better understanding of how Tekken’s movement works, and more importantly, how you can manipulate it. At the end of the day, a BDC is just one of the many varied ways you can manipulate Tekken’s movement engine. Much like combos originally were in Street Fighter, the Korean Backdash is just a weird by-product of its code that became integrated into Tekken’s mechanics in the years that followed.
And you don’t have to wait for Tekken 7 to come out to try this. BDC, in some form, is in every Tekken game.
For all proceeding lessons, please try this from the player 1 side. I highly recommend turning on input display, particularly for the later exercises. Nearly all of these techniques you can start out doing very slowly, then work on speed as you become comfortable. BDC is about technique, not speed. Speed comes afterwards. I can’t stress that enough. Speed is a party trick for YouTube views. Practiced, thoughtful consistency wins rounds.
Also worth noting: I recommend trying this with characters that do not have sway motions. (Sway motions are quarter-circle-back inputs in Tekken. Paul and Bryan have sways, for example.) If you are dead set on playing a Sway character, do note that it is actually more difficult to do these, as if you accidentally hit down, you will get a sway instead. I will mostly be focusing on the “correct way” to Korean Backdash for the whole cast, but there is a section near the end for a Korean Backdash shortcut some people find useful. This shortcut, unfortunately, does not work for characters with Sways.
LEGEND FOR THIS ARTICLE:
- F– Forward
- B– Back
- D/B– Down-Back
- U– Up
- 1– Left Punch.
- 2– Right Punch
- SS– Sidestep
- QCB– Quarter Circle Back Motion
- BCD– Back Dash Cancel
How Does Tekken’s Backdash Work?
Before you can cancel, you must backdash! Tap back, then back again on your controller. That’s it. You have now backdashed.
This might seem pedantic, but it’s really important to know what a raw backdash looks and feels like. Do it a bunch. Just mash the hell out of back on your stick/controller, and look at what happens. Notice the huge gaps of recovery between each dash. It’s slow, right? It covers okay distance between each dash, but it’s just way too cumbersome to move backwards like this repeatedly.
There’s a practical design reason as to why backdashing is this way. During the entire backdash, if you hold back, you can block highs and mids. Go ahead, test it now. Pop in Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and just record the dummy attacking you with highs and mids. As long as your controller is pressed back, you will always block, even during the backdash animation. If you press down-back, you can block lows at any point during the dash, as well. Predictably, though, it stops your movement.
And that is a cancel. That’s BDC. With that knowledge alone you already have the building blocks to the Korean Backdash. But let’s really cement this concept in, shall we? If you want to jump ahead to the actual backdash itself, please skip to there. Otherwise, let’s go to practice mode…
Exercise 1: Input B,B, F+1
People often conflate the Korean Backdash and BDC, but really the former is a version of the latter. Since Korean Backdashing is one of the more difficult versions of BDC, let’s work our way up to it.
Like any other movement state in Tekken, you can instantly cancel the backdash with anything. Try doing F+1 to interrupt your backdash. This input tends to be easy for new players because there’s no real subtlety in the motion. Just backdash, and at any point try to do your character’s F+1. It’s incredibly loose as to when the F+1 comes out. This is an active motion that you should be able to do easily on any peripheral.
Once you can do this, this is already a powerful whiff punishing tool. Any move, realistically, can come out of a backdash. This opens up things like BDC Hopkick for whiff punishing. As you can imagine, this can be fantastically brutal in your footsies.
Movement Canceled into Movement
Now we’re dipping our toes into the real Tekken Neutral. You now understand what’s really happening with canceling the backdash, but obviously, if you just BDC Hopkick all day, you’ll get wrecked. You want to fluidly move like the pros, but the Korean Backdash is just… so… difficult.
Well, let’s learn the poor man’s Korean Backdash, then. Let’s talk about Sidestep Canceling.
Exercise 2: Input B,B,U or B,B,D. Repeat till comfortable.
Back in the early days of Tekken 5 when I was new to the series and had no idea I could look up stuff like this on the internet, I was flummoxed by the Korean Backdash. Everyone at the arcade could do it and I knew that was a big barrier for me as far as standing a chance against them. I had no idea how to do it and, if I may be so bold, no one there was particularly good at explaining it. (Or, perhaps, I was too dumb to get it. I’ll accept that, too.) But! I did figure out on the fly that I could do something that “works for now.” My fake Korean Backdash was what you are practicing now.
The problem with Sidestep Canceling is that it simply doesn’t have the speed of the real Korean Backdash. Though there’s some complex movement options that circumnavigate this that we’ll cover at the end, it’s best to just focus on this input for now. The nice thing about Sidestep Canceling is that it’s still not a particularly subtle motion, and still takes advantage of the power of Tekken’s Backdash. Even better: this is an easy way to instantly perform sidestep moves from a backdash! Did you just backdash something and want to punish with King’s SS+2? Now you can. Did you back dash and want to enter a side walk? Just add one more input to your U or D and hold it. You’re now sidewalking.
Neutral Is, Literally, the Most Important Thing
Exercise 3: (D/B)*
Neutral as in the position of your arcade stick, that is! We are now venturing into the real stuff. Buckle up. If you are comfortable with everything you’ve learned in this article thus far, you are ready to tackle the elusive Korean Backdash. The first and most important thing to understand about this particular BDC is that it takes advantage of an odd quirk of Tekken’s input reading habits. When you let go of D/B on an arcade stick, you may see something like this.
As BlackPriest1984 explains here, this is because of the way the micro-switch is being released by the arcade stick. Even though you are not pressing back, the way you’re releasing it still hits that switch and gives you a back input.
Do you see where this is going? If not now, you will soon.
Exercise 4: B,B,D/B,*
You already know how to backdash, and you know how to BDC. To do the Korean Backdash, you must cancel your backdash with a D/B input. Don’t worry about speed just yet. Just get this motion down. The important part of doing this motion is that, as you release from D/B, your stick (or pad!) touches back again so that you get this:
This is the starting motion of the Korean Backdash. You’re almost there.
Exercise 5: (D/B)*B
I’ve dropped a lot of hints by now. This is the trick of the way Tekken reads inputs coming into play. That mystery Back input from releasing the stick that we’ve been talking about allows you to count D/B as the first input of your backdash. You can start the Korean Backdash from a crouching position if you release from D/B properly. That’s what Exercise 5 is about: release D/B properly, then press B. If a backdash comes out, that means you have successfully performed the input! If not, you either didn’t release to neutral before hitting the second B, or you waited too long to hit the second B. You can do this slowly; the only important thing here is to see the backdash come out. D/B, Neutral, B. See Dash. Get comfortable with it.
Exercise 6: (D/B)*B(D/B)*…
This is Exercise 5 on steroids. Now that you know what the repetition part of the Korean Backdash looks like in slow motion, it is time to work on doing it rhythmically. This is by far the most difficult step you’ve faced thus far, so don’t be frustrated if you don’t get it at first. Everything that you’ve done up to this point is condensed here in one motion. If you can get this down, which I promise will take some amount of time and effort, you will see your destination coming into view. The later in the backdash you do the D/B, the more distance you will get out of each rep. That seems logical on paper, but you will be tempted to try and mash this out. Remember from your previous lessons: the motion is subtle! Light!
You can technically jump to the final section called “Put It All Together!” but, for those that are curious about the Korean Backdash Shortcut (and you don’t intend on playing a sway character), see the next section!
The Backdash Shortcut
I’m going to start off by saying I don’t like this input very much. I find it to be a bit more work than the “correct” method, but this has consistently been considered the easier method by the majority of Tekken players. Note that if you play a sway character, you cannot use this.
This input takes advantage of the sidestep cancel we talked about before.
Exercise 7: B,B, *, QCB, B, QCB, B, QCB….
It may help to try just doing QCB, B first. Isolate that motion before adding the BB. I personally find this easier on the 2P side, but like I said before, I’m not terribly comfortable using this method.
The down from the QCB initializes the sidestep, the D/B crouch cancels, then the second back produces your first input for your backdash. Many swear up and down by this motion. Try it out! See if it works for you. There’s still a finesse to it, but a light touch is not a requirement for it the same way the “correct” Korean Backdash is. If this works for you and you’re comfortable with it: congratulations! Now that you can do it in training mode, take it into a real match. You have covered the hardest part of this journey, now you just need to incorporate it.
Put It All Together!
THE FINAL TEST: B,B,D/B,*B(D/B)*B(D/B)*B(D/B)*…
This is it. This is the Korean Backdash: a combination of every lesson you have had previously, shoved into one rhythmic motion. Note that when you press D/B determines the distance traveled of each backdash. I cannot stress enough: consistency over speed. Let speed develop naturally later. Right now, we just want smooth execution.
This likely won’t be solvable for you in a single night, but if you incorporate each of these lessons into practice routines a few times a week for short sessions, you should see vast improvements very quickly. When I first started practicing, I would spent about 15 minutes a day practicing BDC after dinner. I can’t know your schedules, of course! But I could carve that small amount of time out of my busy day and it helped wonders. I am sure you can too! You just have to do it. And if you made it this far, I know you can.
At the conclusion of these exercises, you will have mastered the vast majority of important movement options in Tekken. You will likely not be surprised to know that there’s even more ways to manipulate Tekken’s movement engine–such as Snakedashing and Sidewalk Canceling–but what you’ve seen today is the most used in tournament play. Once the Korean Backdash is a natural, thoughtless motion for you, you will have made it. You are now playing Tekken.