The Tao of fighting games: Okizeme
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You might've heard it a lot while watching your favorite fighting game tournaments, but for one reason or another, you never got around to finding out what it means. So here's your chance to learn something new and show your friends you know a thing or two about fighting games they don't.
Okizeme (起き攻め), more commonly called oki in the FGC, is the term used when a player attacks (applies pressure on) their opponent upon wake up. The word comes from the combination of two Japanese verbs, okiru (起きる) and semeru (攻める), which mean wakeup and strike, respectively.
Contrary to what non-fans may think, playing fighting games require thought, planning, and anticipation, especially at a high-level. Or, in other words, mind games. Oki is just one of the many tools that emphasize this, forcing both the downed player and their opponent to predict what the other will do and act accordingly.
As dangerous and demoralizing oki can be for the player on the ground, it's not invincible. Launching an attack only to get blocked will leave the player open and free to punish. Think of it as a rock-paper-scissors situation in which to attack is rock, paper is to block and scissors the equivalent of grabbing. The perfect oki comes from correctly guessing what your opponent will do, or in other words, yomi (読み), which means "reading." Since they're on the ground and you're not, you have the advantage because you have access to most of your toolset.
Oki exists in some form in virtually every fighting game there is, just that the options can be more varied. In 3D fighters like Tekken, there's also the option of rolling to the side, which is called ukemi (受身). It is implemented in the same manner as you would side-step when standing, but of course, it still leaves you vulnerable to any attacks that connect. Another strategy is to try and get them to miss, (whiff), whether its a strike or grab.
One of the first lessons we learn in life is that things won't always go our way, and the only options we're left with are to either pick ourselves up or just lay there and take it. I'd like to think most of us would choose to do the former, so if it's your turn to wakeup, put a little thought in before you push any buttons. In the Tao of fighting games, oki sits right up there with frame data, mixups, and meaties, so try not to waste the opportunity.
Unless your name is Frane Selak (arguably the luckiest man in the world) or you're psychic, you've undoubtedly been knocked down more times than you'd care to remember. What happens next could determine the rest of the match, so be careful, especially in games like Dragon Ball FighterZ or Marvel vs. Capcom, where a failed oki could lead to a touch of death combo.
Always remember that mind games never really end in fighting games until somebody's life bar is empty. All you have to do is make sure it isn't yours.