Guard cancel

What it is

By using an appropriate command at the very moment one has blocked an opponent’s attack, one can cancel their blockstun, doing a particular other action.

The name comes from Japanese game lingo, where our “blocking” is their “guard”. English-speaking gamers rarely revert to “block” for this particular term, however, probably because “block cancel” sounds awkward. Guard cancel is often abbreviated “GC”.


It may have a special name depending on the game it’s in, but the principle tends to be nearly the same: you will activate a counterattack with a (semi-) invincible hitbox or a special motion like a roll.

Via this, it is possible to try escaping from an opponent’s strings and rushdowns. However, this is a serious advantage, and it will generally cost you something, like say, meter. Therefore, it is not something that can be used at all times or willy-nilly.

Particular examples

  • Alpha Counter (from the Street Fighter Alpha series)
    • There are generally two types: punch and kick (inAlpha 3, it’s divided into Z and V-ism). In Alpha, this led to excessively strong turtling playstyles, but in Alpha 2, it required the expenditure of meter, and in Alpha 3, the maximum value for the guard crush gauge was reduced, further regulating this.
  • Variable Counter (from X-Men vs. Street Fighter, found in later Marvel games)
    • Expends a stock of the meter, allowing one to swap out characters and have a post-GC counterattack at the same time. This can change characters safely, so it is most suitable for striking back in a disadvantageous situation.
  • Konjō/ Tardy Counter (from the Rival Schools series)
  • Break Shot (from the Real Bout Fatal Fury games)
    • This was actually was termed “guard cancel” in the first RBFF. When the meter has accumulated half-power or more (displaying “H-Power” above it), it becomes possible to do this GC. If you have enough meter charged, it is even possible to perform some supers and Potential Powers this way.
    • In RBFF2, there are moves that only have an invincible hitbox if performed as a Break Shot.
  • Dead Angle Attack (from Guilty Gear)
    • At a moment you are blocking, input forward and at the same time, hit two attack buttons (“Dust” not included) simultaneously; you can counterattack from the blocking state in this way. This will take 50% of the Tension Gauge.


In the early days of 2D fighting games, these began to be added in order to keep balance in many games where going on the offense is better (Capcom started with Darkstalkers, SNK started withKOF ’94). It’s not well-known, but the it was actually first introduced in the “death match mode” of the original World Heroes.

However, in those early games, the low-risk high-damage counterattacks caused a lot of turtling to go on (meaning players would actually defend more than attack, making the feature defeat its own purpose – to keep the attacks coming). Also, because the commands were complicated, it raised the learning curve too high for beginners, who should have stood to gain the most from it.

Afterwards, in every game that includes them, adjustments have been made repeatedly; modern forms of guard canceling are the result of much tweaking.


Among the preemptive blocks, there are some that you may cancel the resulting stun with a special move after they have been performed, but one could say that these have their roots in the original guard cancels (not all preemptive blocks allow you to aim for this).

Further reading

Original CSS design by
Attributed (but not necessarily endorsed) under
Creative Commons 3.0.
Based off the article on the wiki, edited on or before 5 January 2009.
Unofficial translation published by BRPXQZME / Alfie Parthum 1 February 2009. No unauthorized redistribution permitted.