Kazuya has been one of the top 3 most played characters in Tekken 7 since the beginning. It might be hard to see why since he’s a rather challenging character, and yet he’s hardly a top tier. Despite that, many find him an attractive choice due to some of the best punishment in the game, flashy execution, unique movement, sick leather coat, and a strong focus on fundamental skills. If you want a well-balanced character that will allow you to express yourself while also experiencing the core of Tekken's gameplay, you came to the right place.
Kazuya is a unique character that combines both good defense and stellar offense, but there’s a big learning curve to mastering those aspects of the character.
With some of the best punishment in the game, Kazuya thrives on the mistakes of his opponents.
Blocking any attack that is -10 or more is a chance to initiate offense and put opponents into the vortex, making them constantly guess between blocking lows or mids while forcing them to get off the ground with the hard-hitting lows.
Because of this, Kazuya’s game plan has a heavy emphasis on momentum, it’s like an invisible resource that you have to manage. Until the opponent is down, you have to play keepout, wait for their mistakes, or try to hit them with a stray poke. Once you have the frame advantage, you have momentum, and you cash that momentum in by putting your opponent into the vortex and applying mixups until they manage to get out.
If you manage to get a health lead, things get even better for Kazuya, as you can now confidently keep your distance and force opponents to make mistakes or run into one of your keepout moves.
Wavedash & Electrics
Right off the bat, it’s important to underline that while wavedash and EWGF are extremely useful and important parts of Kazuya’s toolkit, they’re not something that you should be focusing on too much as a beginner Kazuya player. As you grasp the basics and put some time in, you will naturally get better at these things without slowing down your overall growth. With that in mind, let’s talk about *why* these tools are so valuable.
Wavedash is a versatile movement option done by inputting f,n,d,df. The most obvious use for it is accessing the special wavedash attacks, but it’s the non-obvious stuff that makes it really good. You see, Kazuya doesn’t have the best tracking and is particularly vulnerable to left sidestep, but thanks to wavedash constantly realigning *and* giving him access to a homing WS option, he can someone negate this weakness against opponents who were made to respect his wavedash. It’s also simply useful for approaching opponents and extending Kazuya’s potential range, as you can rapidly execute a wavedash before doing any other attack.
The Electric Wind God Fist or the EWGF is similarly versatile in that it can be used for initiating the offense, conditioning opponents, and punishing them. To do the EWGF, you have to do the normal WGF input, but press 2 at the exact same time as the df input. This makes the attack insanely more powerful, launching opponents higher, dealing more damage, and leaving Kazuya at +5 on block instead of WGF’s -10.
Kazuya also has a special input, f,n,df+2, which allows him to skip the down input. This is what’s called a PEWGF, where P stands for perfect. Suffice to say, a fast launcher with forward momentum that leaves you at frame advantage is quite a powerful tool, making it one of the scariest attacks in Kazuya’s arsenal.
Kazuya’s poking is one of his biggest weaknesses. While he still has some decent tools, he’s not a character that can just continuously throw out pokes and keep opponents in check the same way other characters can. The major reason behind that is that many of Kazuya’s best pokes are simply too slow. For example, while most of the cast enjoy an i13 df1 that’s only slightly minus on block, for Kazuya, it’s an i15 attack that is -7.
Because of this, the generic 1 jab is one of Kazuya’s bread and butter pokes. This also includes throwing out an occasional 1,1, which can be confirmed into 2, and 1,2, a quick jab combination.
For mids, Kazuya has a bit more variety, but their application is somewhat situational. WS4 will be one of your most reliable and fastest mid-pokes. It’s essentially a better df4 with the caveat of being a while standing move. Due to this, you will often use it out of either wavedash or crouching, making it slower than the stated i11.
When you have a frame advantage or opponents are scared to press on you, you can use moves like ff3 and f4. The former is a slower attack and slightly minus but launches on both normal and CH. Meanwhile, f4 gives you a good frame advantage on block and will knockdown on CH. It’s important to learn how to do both of these moves out of a wavedash since they lack range by themselves and will be a key part of your 50/50 vortex.
From a bit further away, and as part of your keepout, you can utilize the SS3, ff4, and f3. SS3 is a slow but safe and very far-reaching mid that will knockdown opponents and grant you a small combo depending on the axis. F3 has similarly great range, and despite bad frames, good spacing will leave opponents too far away to properly punish it. Out of these, ff4 has the shortest range, but it’s another safe move that has good frames on hit that will allow you to initiate your offense.
Kazuya’s df2 is one of his more situational pokes. It’s an i14 homing mid that will launch on counter-hit, but it’s unsafe at -12, so you have to be careful with throwing it out and use it sparingly. It’s an especially valuable tool when you want to shut down sidesteps and make opponents scared of pressing buttons.
Lastly, Kazuya has a tricky move that is FC df3+4. It’s unsafe at -11, and it’s relatively slow, but it’s one of his most reliable high crush attacks and can also go under some mids. You can use it both to poke at your opponents and as a tool to approach while also threatening them with a knockdown.
At the most basic level, Kazuya’s vortex consists of knocking down your opponent with the hellsweep and then making them guess between another hellsweep and ff3. On lower levels, this is enough to rob people blind and gain insane momentum in a match, but it’s far from optimal.
The big problem with sticking to just these two moves is that both have some risks associated with them. The ff3 is extremely susceptible to being side rolled to the left, requiring a good handle on the timing. Meanwhile, the hellsweep is basically death on block.
This doesn’t mean that either move is bad or shouldn’t be used, but it does make it important to add other moves to the mix. Moves that will both provide you with safer alternatives and make it harder for opponents to predict what you’ll do next.
Covering safe mid options you have:
WS4 - Your basic mid poke. Incredibly harmless on block, but if you do get a hit, there’s a massive frame advantage to work with, opening up plenty of frame trap opportunities.
WS3 - Homing mid with an incredible range. This attack has the benefit of being both safe and giving you a knockdown on hit, which can lead to further pressure.
SS3 - Another safe mid that hits from outer space and can even grant a mini-combo on hit. This attack and WS3 have the additional benefit of catching some wake-up attacks and recovery options.
For low options, you don’t really have as much to play with. Canceling wavedash into a db4 is basically your go-to option for a safe low, which has the added benefit of hitting grounded opponents. For the same reason, you can occasionally get some use out of d1+2, which both hits grounded opponents and even gives you a CH launch if they mash.
Lastly, if you hate nothing more than being safe, you can occasionally go for WS2 as your mid option. It’s one of Kazuya’s chunkiest launchers, has considerable range, and will catch stepping opponents. You generally want to use this when you’re confident that your opponent will try to attack, step, or will crouch cause they expect either the EWGF or hellsweep.
The defense can be broken down into four major components: Range, Punishment, Keepout, and Abare.
Range - Big part of staying safe as Kazuya is about being just far enough away from your opponent that they can’t run their offense without having to approach, but staying close enough that you can potentially whiff punish or CD in their face. In Tekken terms, you want to be roughly around range 3-4.
While maintaining some distance, be mindful of the wall and remember to use sidestepping cautiously if the opponent is trying to corner you.
Punishment - Having excellent punishment is why Kazuya is often described as one of the more defensive characters. While making good use of this will require looking into the frame data, the rewards are more than worth it. Your 1,1,2 is an insanely good and confirmable string that makes any -10 move a lethal mistake. At the same time, WS1,2 is one of the strongest WS punishes in the game, allowing you to launch even low-risk lows.
Proper punishment will grant you a significant advantage since you can use it to either begin your offense or make your opponent too scared of using risky moves.
Keepout - This one is incredibly straightforward. Since Kazuya’s close-range game is rather weak, you don’t want to let people to just run into your face for free. EWGF has your back here, plus on block, launch on hit, extremely fast recovery. It might just be one of the best keepouts in the game as long as you have consistent electrics.
Outside of that, you have useful moves like WS3 and f3. Both of these attacks have considerable range, are safe, and give you a considerable reward if they happen to hit.
Abare - Abare generally refers to attacking at a frame disadvantage and challenging your opponent’s attacks. This is something that you occasionally want to do to stop the opponent’s pressure. In the Tekken community, moves that are good for abare are usually referred to as “panic moves.”
Kazuya has a distinct lack of such moves, so you will largely rely on the good old 1 and d1. Your next best options revolve around crushing and evasion. For evasion, you have b1+2, a backsway attack that will force close-range moves like many df1s to whiff. For low crush, there’s u3, and for high crush, you can either once again go with d1 or opt-in for riskier TC (tech crouch) options like d1+2 or d3.
Lastly, let’s go over one of Kazuya’s more niche tools, the devil transformation. When you play Kazuya, and you get Rage, you have 3 options available to you:
Rage Art - Almost universally used as a combo ender to increase the damage. Occasionally used to challenge opponents since Rage Arts have a power crush property.
Rage Drive - Safe version of the f,n,df+1, or Dragon Uppercut. If you hold UF as the move connects, Kazuya does an empowered version, which does more damage and transforms him into the devil.
Devil Transformation - Manual transformation done by inputting ub1+2. This allows you to transform without having to land the Rage Drive and has some power crush during start-up. Still has a terrible recovery, however.
Manual transformation is almost never the best option, so Kazuya players usually opt-in for the Rage Drive, which is safe on block. While you won’t be entering the devil form all that often, it’s important to know what advantages and caveats it has.
First of all, your hellsweep becomes downright silly. You thought 33 damage from an unseeable low is nice? Well, now you can do 50 since Devil Kazuya can do Dragon Uppercut during hellsweep to combo the two. It’s somewhat demanding on the execution but well worth the extra damage.
You will also get a safe but somewhat slow mid launcher in the form of f1+2, which is merely -9 on block. On top of that, you also get access to standing Twin Pistons. It’s 2 frames slower than the WS version but gives you a very easy -15 punish nonetheless. This is also a bit of a problem, however since now you don’t have access to df1,4, an extremely common combo filler. It’s not difficult to substitute, however, as you can even do the aforementioned hellsweep into Dragon Uppercut, among other options.
The last major benefit is that your EWGF becomes actually broken since it’s now a plus on block mid launcher. Your opponents can no longer just duck under it, so if your execution is consistent, it becomes an absurdly powerful pressure tool on top of providing amazing damage once it connects.
Format: Move - (Frames on Hit/CH/Block, Damage) - Note
1 - (+8/+8/+1 7 dmg) - The basic 1 jab is one of the most important tools for any character, but it’s especially true for Kazuya since he doesn’t have that many great pokes. You will be using jab a lot to both interrupt pressure and check your opponents.
1,1,2 - (KND/KND/-17 25 dmg) - The infamous Flash Punch Combo. The staple of Mishima punishment. Since it’s so easily hit-confirmable, you can throw out 1,1 as a poke and then confirm it on reaction.
1,2,2 - (+4/+4/-12 27 dmg) - The ugly twin of 1,1,2. It does 2 more damage, it’s safer and can set up frame traps but in almost every situation, you should be using 1,1,2 instead.
4 - (+2/Launch/-9 18 dmg) - Your typical magic 4. One of the fastest CH launchers at your disposal.
f3 - (+5/KND/-13 22 dmg) - One of your essential keepout moves. It’s somewhat vulnerable to sidesteps to the right, but your opponent will have to play around it for that to happen, which enables you to use WS3.
WS3 - (KND/KND/-5 24 dmg) - Your other essential keepout move. Has a homing property and great range.
f4 - (+7/KND/+4 20 dmg) - Great mid attack for some up close pressure. It won’t launch like ff3, but it gives a solid advantage all around.
df2 - (+5/Launch/-12 22 dmg) - Instead of traditional df2, Kazuya gets a tool for shutting down sidesteps. The CH property is immensely useful against opponents who don’t respect frame data (or think you will respect theirs).
db3 - (-1/+7/-12 14 dmg) - High crushing low attack. Not very rewarding on normal hit, but it’s very powerful on CH, thanks to frame advantage. Can be used to close out rounds from a safe-ish distance.
db4 - (+4/+17/-12 18 dmg) - Despite how it looks, db4 has about as much range as db3, but it’s 1 frame slower, much more rewarding all around, and lacks the high crush, making it a bit riskier.
b4 - (+16/Launch/-5 20 dmg) - Another option for shutting down side-stepping opponents. It’s relatively slow but can still be used to check opponents at mid-range.
ff3 - (Launch/Launch/-3 25 dmg) - One of your crucial mixup moves. The immense reward on hit demands respect from opponents, but it’s very weak to left siderolls and sidesteps.
ff4 - (+5/Launch/-9 22 dmg) - Another tool to keep opponents out and keep them in check. Even though it has great range, you want to make sure it lands since the recovery is slow.
f,n,df+2 (Launch/Launch/-10(+5) 20-23 dmg) - EWGF is a move that does everything. It keeps opponents out, it creates pressure, and it launches. Try to resist spamming too much, though, as frustrated opponents will want nothing more than to duck and punish you.
f,n,df3,1 (KND/KND/-23 33 dmg) - The other part of Kazuya’s infamous vortex. It’s very hard to react to, but getting blocked even once carries massive consequences. Wavu and sweep responsibly.
WS1,2 (Launch/Launch/-12 22 dmg) - One of the best WS punishes in the game. You can get an insane reward if you happen to block one of the common lows that are usually considered safe when playing against characters with lacking WS punishment.
WS4 - (+8/+8/-3 13 dmg) - One of your most solid mid pokes. Good for checking opponents and frame traps once it hits.
FC df3+4 (KND/KND/-11 24 dmg) - Deceptively strong mid attack. Despite how slow it is, the high crush is immensely useful, and despite granting knockdowns, it’s basically safe.
SS3 - (Launch/Launch/-7 23 dmg) - One of Kazuya’s furthest reaching moves. You can use it both as a keepout, occasional poke, and as part of your okizeme.
f2 - (KND/KND/-12 25 dmg) - As most Power Crushes, this can be a useful tool against mashy opponents if you’re desperate to stop their offense.
d1+2 - (+3/Launch/-14 20 dmg) - Very slow low, and it’s only +3 on normal hit, but if your opponent throws out highs often, this can grant you a very nice CH launch.
b1+2 - (+5/Launch/-12 21 dmg) - Closest Kazuya has to a panic move. The backsway can evade some of the attacks and then swing back on opponents with a potential CH launch.
uf3 - (KND/KND/-9 25 dmg) - Somewhat quick low crush option for opponents who try to feed you lows. The reward is really good while the risk is very low.
fff3 - (KND/KND/+9 30 dmg) - The universal Slash Kick. In some situations, it can serve as a solid approach or oki tool that grants you an advantage regardless of whether it hits or gets blocked.
i10 - 1,1,2 (KND/-17 25 dmg)
i10 - 1,2,2 (+4/-12 27 dmg)
i11 - b1,2 (KND/-14 33 dmg)
i12 - 2,2 (+6/-10 36 dmg)
i13 - f,n,df+2 (Launch/+5 23 dmg) - The infamous PEWGF punish. The execution requirement makes this not practical until you have mastered electrics. Electric is still your main punish for more minus moves.
i15 - df1,2 (KND/-13 31 dmg)
i11 - WS4,4 (-4/-15 29 dmg)
i13 - WS1,2 (Launch/-12 22 dmg)
i16 - WS2 (Launch/-18 25 dmg)
i23 - uf,n,4 (Launch/-11 25 dmg)
|f,n,df+2||f,n,df+2 > b4 s! > 1,2,4,3 > f3||64-69|
|WS1,2||3,1,4 > b2,1 s! > f,n,df+3||63|
|ff3||b2,4 > b2,1 s! > dash in > f,n,df+3,1||61|
|ff4 CH||df3 > df1,4 s! > f,n,df+3||60|
|WS2||WS1+2 > b2,1 s! > 1,2,4,3 > f3||74|
|SS3||dash in > left ss - db2 or right ss - df1,3 > oki||37/40|
|4 CH||WS1+2 > b2,1 s! > dash in > df3 > df1,3||64|
|b4 CH s!||1,2,4,3 > b2,1||58|
|d1+2 CH||WS1+2 > b2,1 s! > dash in > b3 > df1,f2||68|
|Rage Art Combo||df2 CH > f,n,df+2 > b2,1 > dash in > b3,1 > df1+2||88-90|
|Wall Combo||w! > short backdash > b3,1 > b2,4 > df1,4||Varies|
Tips against Kazuya
Sidestep left - Many of Kazuya’s moves, especially his best moves, are vulnerable to sidestepping left, even after the buffs. However, you have to time it properly and make sure you’re not just mindlessly walking left. If Kazuya sees that, he will exploit it by throwing out his strong homing moves.
Know your frames - Kazuya has the best i10, and WS i13 punishes, making him a terror to players who aren’t used to playing safe. Try to avoid using lows that are -13 and other attacks that are -10 or more. If you have to use them, do so sparingly. Similarly, Kazuya is bound to throw out df2’s now and then. If you block them, make sure to punish.
Maintain pressure - Since he doesn’t have good panic moves and fast pokes, it’s harder for Kazuya to escape pressure when the opponent is staying right in his face. However, when you’re not point blank and don’t plan to get in, it’s best to create some distance, making it harder for Kazuya to approach and initiate his mix.
Respect the mix - Making several wrong guesses will lead to Kazuya sweeping most of your life bar away. Instead of doing that, it’s best to just eat the ff4 and then get up.
Kazuya is a multifaceted character with clearly defined strengths and weaknesses. His defense is second to none, and once he puts people in the vortex, it can be extremely hard to stop his momentum. He’s also relatively easy to pick up and start playing, but taking full advantage of his toolkit will require dedication and a high level of execution.
Punishment - Only a few characters can rival Kazuya’s i10 punish, his i13 WS launcher, and the threat of PEWGF. He can make any small mistake hurt.
Mixups - Once Kazuya has momentum and puts people into the vortex, the round might as well be over. With his high damage and explosive mixups, he can both snowball matches and make sudden comebacks.
Sidestepping - At higher levels, when people are familiar with Kazuya and know how to side-step properly, it can get tough for Kazuya to utilize his key tools.
Hard to master - Kazuya is simple enough to pick up, but his skill ceiling is extremely high.
Linear - Kazuya doesn’t have too many aces up his sleeve. What you see is what you get. This means that opponents know what to expect.