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A Beginner's Guide to Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat 1

A Beginner's Guide to Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat 1

Femi Famutimi
10 min

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The fire god is all about the fire in this new game

Input Table for Mortal Kombat 1

Short Name MK Move Xbox PC Switch PC
F Forward
B Backward
U Up
D Down
1 Front Punch X Square Y J
2 Back Punch Y Triangle X I
3 Front Kick A Cross B K
4 Back Kick B Circle A L
L1 Grab LB L1 L Switch Space
R1 Amplify Move RB R1 R Switch ;


Liu Kang Introduction

Liu Kang is the most recognizable name from the Mortal Kombat franchise. He has been the protagonist of the game from the very first one way back when. Liu Kang was a monk who was chosen to be one of Earthrealm’s champions to battle against the menace of Outworld and their nefarious plan to destroy his home. 

To fulfill his potential, Liu Kang must follow the leading and teaching of Raiden who is instrumental in his growth as a warrior. In the former timeline, Liu Kang wins the Mortal Kombat tournament, but is later killed in Deadly Alliance. In the rebooted game, Liu Kang rises to become the god of fire and even becomes the Keeper of Time, a title he takes seriously, completely reversing time and creating a new reality. 

In the latest title, Liu Kang is the god of the world in essence and has fashioned things a certain way. However, things seem to refuse to stay the way Liu Kang wants them and a new threat is brooding which will see Liu Kang face his sternest test yet. 

Liu Kang’s Playstyle

As the protagonist of the game and the first character most people become familiar with, Liu Kang is a pretty decent all-rounder. He has projectiles that enable him to keep opponents away and zone them out. On the other hand, he also has very respectable damage when up close and he can execute the strike/throw game really, really well. These two allow him to be versatile in the hands of those who decide to main him. But, his mid-range game isn’t very good as many of his normals don’t have good range meaning that in neutral, he might be at a disadvantage. 

As long as you are aware of what his weak points are, Liu Kang is a great character. He has a 6f normal which considering this is Mortal Kombat, is a very, very strong tool. So, for Liu Kang, you should look to zone opponents with his high and low projectile, and if they jump, he has an anti-air. You can also use the projectiles to get into the opponent’s face then use one of his very good strings (we’ll talk about those in a bit) to hit the adversary. If they block, you can throw them, if not, they get hit. 

Best Buttons and Strings

As mentioned above, Liu Kang has several options which he can use to defeat the opponent, but here, we’ll take a look at his very best buttons and strings which enable him to bully opponents. 

1 (Bare Knuckles) - Compared to some other fighting games, Mortal Kombat is relatively slower and so the frame data might feel a little different for some. So when you discover that Liu Kang has a 6f normal, it might not seem like such a big deal till you realize that most moves in MK1 are 7f and above. So, a character with a 6f normal is busted. 

F1 (Fang Strike) - This is an advancing button that is typically used for whiff punishes. It is 7f, so ensure you use with moves that are really disadvantageous on block. It can have some weird interactions meaning it isn’t the most reliable, but it gets the job done and if you can land it, it’ll lead to some really decent meterless combo. 

2 (Yin and Yang) - A great stagger and it is +1 on its own. It has a string it leads to and is just another reason why Liu Kang’s jabs in this game are very strong.

B2 (Twisted) - This is a double hitting move that has the second hit as a high. Normally, it’s good, but it could be susceptible to a punish by a wily opponent. 

F4 (Double Strike) - This is an advancing double kick which is a staple of Liu Kang in the Mortal Kombat franchise. This normal has been made strong again in MK1 and will be your go-to combo starter. At 12f, it is relatively normal for such a move and leads to a fair bit of damage to the opponent. 

1, 2 (Dragon Scales) - A great string that capitalizes on the speed of his S1 to punish an opponent who ordinarily would have escaped after being blocked. Obviously this should only be used on standing opponents as it will whiff if the other character is ducking. 

1, 2, 1 (Punishing Palm) - A good option for forcing your opponent to guess. You can do the first two strikes of the string and then grab the opponent instead of doing the third one. On hit, it pushes the opponent back and you can then focus on keeping them away with your projectiles.

F1, 4 (Shaolin Stutter) - This was discussed earlier. It is a meterless launcher which can lead to some really good damage. Also, it is completely safe on block at -3 which no opponent can realistically challenge. 

2, 2 (Dragon Fangs) - At +3 on block it is a valuable tool to pressure the opponent and try to force your way in. 

2, 2, 1 (Pyromancer’s Gift) - This is a follow-up to the move above and it is very strong as it causes a knockdown when it hits. It enables Liu to pressure the opponent without any repercussions. 

B2, 3 (Tailwhip) - This is a situational string. We placed it as one of his good strings because it can bait the opponent and you can grab them. The second hit is a high, so on block you can be punished, but if the opponent is expecting it, you can simply stagger them and defeat them mentally. 

F4, 3 (The Creator) - A good option especially on hit, it can also be paired with F4, 3, 4 (Eternal Power) as a pressure tool and stagger option. If the opponent gets hit with F4, 3, you can go into a combo and if they are blocking, you can stop the string at F4 and still be safe.

Special Moves

Cosmic Flame (BF1) - This is Liu Kang’s regular projectile. It moves fast and it really helps him with his zoning. When enhanced, it hits really hard and can deal as much as 12% damage. Also, the enhanced projectile is a mid which means that the opponent cannot duck under it as with some other fireballs. It also has an air version which covers air options that opponents might want to employ. 

Low Dragon (DB1) - This is a low fireball that is pretty cool to use. This is because it can be employed to low profile an opponent’s high fireball. So, if someone throws a fireball at you, Liu Kang can react with a Low Dragon which will then hit the opponent.

Dragon Tail (BF3) - This Liu Kang’s flying kick. In the move, Liu Kang will first hit with a Dragon projectile before coming with his flying kick. As the name of the move implies, his kick is the tail of the Dragon that comes after the Dragon’s head and body. The disadvantage is that it is a high and therefore, if an opponent ducks, they not only escape the projectile, but since Liu Kang does not come with the flying kick until the Dragon hits, he is vulnerable to a punish. 

Dancing Dragon (BF4) - This is Liu Kang’s armor move. It is typically used as a combo ender and can be used to counter an opponent who is pressuring. That said, it only has one hit of armor which means most of the cast can break it easily enough. 

Dragon’s Breath (DB4) - This is considered Liu Kang’s best anti-air and one of the best in the game overall. It works like a teleport and is invincible against all jump-ins. In the case of a dive kick, the armored version is more than enough to counter and with it you can land a full combo punish.

Liu Kang’s Best Kameos

In this Kameo section, we’ll look at the best Kameo for Liu Kang and some other options you can make do with. 

Kung Lao (best) - Kung Lao is an amazing kameo for Liu Kang because he compliments all the things that Liu Kang wants to do. For instance, Kung Lao teleport assist enables Liu Kang combo off of his back throw. Also, with the Low Hat, Kung Lao allows Liu Kang to play keep away excellently. 

Other Kameo Options

  • Stryker

  • Scorpion

  • Cyrax

Liu Kang’s Pros and Cons

Here are the things you can expect as an advantage or disadvantage for the fire god.


  • Strong projectile/zoning game

  • High damage

  • One of the fastest normals in the game


  • Flawless block gaps for certain strings

  • Poor range on normals

  • Unsafe options on Dragon Tail special move

BnB Combos

For Liu Kang, there are a lot of combos you could try your hands at that work really well with him.

  • F43, BF3MB, B23, 333, BF3

  • F43, BF3MB, B23, 333, BF3MB, BF3

  • F14, DB4, 333, BF3

  • F14, DB4, 333, BF3MB, BF3

  • R1, B23, 333, BF3

  • F43, B23, 333, BF3MB, 333, BF3MB, 333, BF3

  • Back Throw, R1, B23, 333, EXBF3, BF3

  • B23, B23, 333, EXBF3, 333, 4, EXBF3, BF3


All in all, Liu Kang is a very good character to pick up. If you want some visual aid, we have an excellent Liu Kang guide by AVirk which can be watched below. 

Liu Kang is a strong character and while you might not want to rank him as one of the top 5 of the game, he’ll fit perfectly into the upper mid-tier. So you can give him a try.

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