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Kung Lao Beginner's Guide

Kung Lao Beginner's Guide

Femi Famutimi
8 min

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The Monk is a powerful force and this hasn't changed in the newest iteration of Mortal Kombat

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 ;


Kung Lao Introduction

Kung Lao is a character that has been in Mortal Kombat since the 2nd iteration where he was introduced as a descendant of the great Kung Lao and a rival against Liu Kang. He died, became a revenant, and was brought back to life. 

In Mortal Kombat 1, Kung Lao lives a quiet life in the village of Fengjian where he toils in the fields, hangs out with his friend, Raiden, and enjoys sumptuous meals at Madam Bo’s eatery. He does habour a secret fear that his life will remain painfully dull with no notable achievement to his name. He wants nothing more than to be remembered as a warrior. 

His wish is granted when Liu Kang selects him as one of the warriors to represent Earthrealm, and now his life of adventure and fame can finally begin.


For Kung Lao, he excels at hitting the opponent really hard with little to no resistance. This is because Kung Lao has a lot of armored moves which allow him to hit hard without the opponent being able to do much about it. 

Armored moves are moves that can take a hit from the opponent without deterring the attacking player. Some moves have one hit of armor while others might have two, or  even three hits. 

Kung Lao might not have the best normals as they don’t reach very far, but when he does hit, he can mix the opponent very effectively and force them to guess and if they guess wrong, he can melt their life bar and get the win. 

Kung Lao’s move of note is his Shaolin Shimmy in which he can hit the opponent from a decent distance and then go into a combo and launcher to deal with them. Lao is meter dependent, so while he has his ways of getting into the opponent’s  face, he will need as much bar as he can get. So it is best not to deplete his resources wastefully. 

Best Buttons and Strings

Kung Lao has a plethora of options when it comes to his buttons and strings and in this section we will go over them all. 

2 (Open Palm) - This is a great button for Kung Lao. It’s fast and is a great move to punish opponents with which can lead to some decent combos. At 8 frames, it is able to hit quickly and stagger opponents which could lead to all kinds of scenarios. 

1 (Bruised Knuckle) - This is his fastest button at 7f and is a good combo ender.

B4 (Shaolin Spin) - This is his sweep button which gets a lot of mileage, not only due to its range, but because it is +3 on block meaning it can be abused a bit. It’s a go-to option for mixes, because once the opponent gets tired of getting hit with the sweep, they block low and then you can…

F2 (Downward Slice) - Hit with this overhead if the opponent is blocking low and if you have meter, you can launch into some devastating combos.

D4 (Step Kick) - D4 is an effective poking tool as it reaching far and can do some damage

2,1,2 (Madam El-Bo) - This is a very good combo starter and leads to some pretty good damage especially if you make use of Goro while at it. 

1,2,1 (Swollen Throat) - This is also a really good combo ender and is a good string to get to work with. 

B3, 3 (Focused Footsies) - A good mix-up string which can get you some good damage even without using any bar. 

Special Moves

BF1 (Buzzsaw) - This is a projectile in which Kung Lao throws his hat to hit the opponent. It recovers well on block and on hit pushes the opponent back allowing Kung Lao to move in and use a move like his dive kick. 

DB4 (Soaring Monk) - This is a kick that goes upward, like a DP. It’s a good move to get started, and it has an opposite which is a dive kick that is done wit DB4 in the air. It’s a good move as its fast and deadly. Also, the enhanced version is a launcher, so if used to punish an errant fireball, it can lead to some impressive combos. 

DB1 (Hat Toss) - This is a projectile like the Buzzsaw, but unlike the Buzzsaw which is high, this hits mid, moves fast, and does 9% damage. 

BF2 (Shaolin Shimmy) - This is his preferred special as it does a lot. First off, it has armor, so it not easy to counter. It causes a knockdown which is great for pressure, and it has some corner carry when can help you corner and suffocate your opponent. 

DB2 (Kung-Kussion) - This is a move that sees Kung Lao hit the opponent in the head several times. It is a good combo extender especially the OD version. Furthermore, it allows you to switch sides, so, if you can land it, you can use it to escape a potential corner situation. 

Kung Lao’s Best Kameos

So, for Kameos, Kung Lao does not have too many options as there is a clear best when it comes to this character. 

Goro: This character brings out the best in Kung Lao and with him on the team, Kung Lao is able to get value out of his combos as Goro will launch the opponent allowing Kung Lao to extend his combo. So, once Kung Lao does his Shaolin Shimmy, he adds a kick, Goro comes out and does his assist which launches the opponent and Kung Lao can then deal more damage. 

Kung Lao: You can go with the mirror team. What Kung Lao offers as a kameo is that he strengthens the neutral game with his assists and can also enable you to pile more pressure on the opponent safely. While not as efficient as Goro, Kung Lao is a strong hipster choice. 

Kung Lao Pros and Cons

Kung Lao is a pretty good character all things considered, but there are some places in which he struggles. 


  • He has some really good close up damage

  • His movement options are decent and he can flit around the screen

  • Strong wakeup options

  • Great synergy with Goro


  • The biggest problem Kung Lao has is his stubby normals. This means he can be outspaced and always needs to look for a way to get in to have any real shot at winning a fight. 

  • Bad jump-in options

BnB Combos

So, what are some of the common combos you can do with Kung Lao? We have them right here.

  • 121, ex DB4, delayed J2, dash 121, BF2

  • 121, ex DB4, delayed J1/J2, J1 DB4, 121, BF2

Goro Combos

  • F2, mid Goro, dash B24, dash 121, BF2

  • B33, close/mid Goro, dash B24, dash 121, BF2

  • Goro, B4, dash B24, dash 121, BF2

  • EX BF2, Goro, dash J1/J2, Air DB4, 121, BF2

  • EX BF2, Mid Goro, dash B24 (let B2 while while 4 connects), dash 121, BF2

  • F2, EX DB4, delayed J2, dash 121, BF2

Corner Combos

  • 212, EX DB4, delayed J2, 4, B24, dash 121, BF2

  • EX BF2, Goro, dash 4, 121, BF2

  • B33, Goro, 4, B24, 121, BF2

  • 212, EX DB4, delayed J2, dash B24, dash 121, EX DB2, BF2


Kung Lao is a strong  character who specializes in being close to the opponent. He has great synergy with Goro but could work with a few other kameos. He is a viable option if you are someone who enjoys rushdown characters who look to get in and keep the opponent blocking. 

We do have an amazing video guide with Splash on the DashFight YouTube channel. You can watch his explanation on how to use Kung Lao below. 

If you want more guides, check out our dedicated section.

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