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Benimaru Nikaido


Benimaru’s been a troubling character for many players to encounter due to his offensive and defensive potency which allot Benimaru players a multitude of playstyles to cycle between at a moment’s notice.  But as with every character, he has his weaknesses that can be exploited once known, so let’s take a look at Benimaru’s most frustrating attacks:


Jumping D

  • Benimaru’s j.D is notoriously good in XIII: it crosses up, it has plenty of horizontal range, and it hits down much deeper than it would appear to.  Most normal crouching uppercuts will flat out lose or trade to it in most cases, and running underneath Benimaru can be difficult since the j.D could cross up anyway. The most consistent way to stuff this attack is to react with an invulnerable DP move (and Benimaru’s taller hop arc makes this easier), though air-to-airs can provide an additional answer.
  • Some characters like King are put in a terrible situation against a full jump j.D, and here the best answer aside from trying meet Benimaru with a fast air-to-air is to run or move forward to get underneath him, causing j.D to whiff. Although punishing this setup is very difficult for King, getting out unscathed allows King to buy more time or to avoid getting into the same situation, while encouraging Benimaru to try another approach to keep King from weaseling her way out from cross ups each time.

Standing D 

  • Benimaru’s sobat kick could perhaps be the best in the game due to it’s decent startup and exceptional horizontal reach, all while being immune to low attacks. This poke makes it difficult for opponents to sweep or otherwise hit Benimaru with a low attack, or even approach him from the ground. This move can be punished on whiff during its 16 frames of recovery, though this can be difficult to do unless a player is looking to attack with a nice horizontal special as soon as he whiffs. On block, Benimaru’s only -2 and with the combined pushback, he’s essentially at neutral. However, like nearly all the sobat kicks in the game, it’s quite possible to hop, hyper hop, or jump over Benimaru’s sobat and hit him with a jumping attack. Aside from jumping in on him and risking being anti-aired, a nice counter is to neutral hop and attack with a downward and horizontal attack such as Iori’s j.D in order to counterpoke it while being mostly safe against Benimaru’s DP. Other special pokes can be used to out-space the sobat, such as just about any projectile or Vice’s lengthy hcf+K.



Jacknife Kick: f + B

  • A sporadically useful step kick. While the startup can't be hit by low attacks, the kick is too slow to use very often in footsies and it doesn't combo when canceled into. However, it's always cancelable so it gets occasional use in frametraps moreso than flashy footsies, as Benimaru Standing D is a much better poke. Benimaru players will want to cancel a Jacknife Kick into a special on block to make it safer or to score a knockdown from it, so you can look out for it and try Guard Cancel Rolling for a punish if the opponent pilots into their blockstring.

Flying Drill: d + D (In air)

  • Benimaru's Drill is less safe than before, but if it hits then he can always combo from it. While it's listed as being +4 on block, this only refers to when the drill hits three times, meaning it'd have to be done from higher in the air where it's more susceptible to anti-airs. If his dive only hits once or twice, the advantage is worse, meaning you'll gain a nice initiative to press a button and possibly punish him from poor or risky Flying Drills.



Iai Geri: QCF + K

  • Benimaru players primarily use this Iaito kick from hitconfirms to continue into the followup for the knockdown, though it may be occasionally used as a risky poke. Either way, this move is highly negative on block and once a player proves how punishable this attack can be, a Benimaru player will be forced to use primarily normals and Raijinken for Benimaru’s main blockstrings. In most instances on block or whiff, Raijinken is a superior special for Benimaru to toss out haphazardously.
  • This special has thick recovery, and in many cases when it whiffs the opposing player will either be in the air coming towards Benimaru or be further out from him on the ground. In any case, it’s possible to hop or jump over this move to collide into Benimaru for a combo, though from further ranges a special may be the best option when a player isn’t close enough to run forward and get into close normal range. Just be aware that the Benimaru player can chance whiffing into the followup: while it isn’t invulnerable, it could catch a player moving in. If the followup gets blocked, then Benimaru will be left completely open to a punish by simply running forward into a close attack which can lead into anything.
  • Iaigeri is -15 on block, and so most characters can defend, recover, and immediately attack with a horizontally-traveling attack for a simple punish. Benimaru stands while recovering, and this even allows certain specials to work as punishes such as Kyo’s rdp+D which will usually soar over crouchers. Again, any special that travels at a decent speed at a respectable rate should work fine, so Elizabeth can follow up with dp+A while Duo Lon’s f.A could tag Benimaru. One thing to be aware of is that blocking from maximum range might might Benimaru safer due to spacing, so something like Kyo’s rdp+D can whiff from perfect spacing. However, this max range is generally only achieved from a raw Iaigeri, not so much from a blockstring.  Lastly, Guard Rolling forward on a 2-in-1 into Iaigeri allows a player to recovery and hit Benimaru with a close heavy attack, so regardless of which special a Benimaru player cancels into from a cr.B blockstring, he’ll be susceptible to Guard Rolls.

EX Iaigeri: QCF + BD

  • Benimaru’s quick 2 frame startup EX kick can be used as a raw punish, but it is -7 on block which isn’t very good, and usually the player would be better off spending the meter for an EX Raijinken for identical damage and better frame advantage, so that’s all there is to this move. If you can’t find a quick enough punish, then be glad that the Benimaru player wasted meter and sacrificed their advantage.

Handou Sandan Geri: After Iai Geri, d, u + K

  • While Iaigeri can be punished onn block by certain moves, a Benimaru player always has the option of canceling into a followup Handou Sandan Geri to beat out any non-invuln punishes. After having an Iaigeri blocked, a player could look and try reacting to any movement from the opponent with a delayed followup, which will effectively punish most attempts at punishing the raw knee. Be aware of this frametrap as it's a respectable tactic, but also know that the opponent can't truely react to your character's movement afterward, and so a player could bait the very unsafe followup and then hit Benimaru with a fierce combo.

Super Inzuna Kick: DP + K (EX)

  • Fairly standard DP fare. The B version is faster but isn’t invincible so it can trade, while the D version is invincible but slower. As with most reversal moves, all versions are unsafe on block and simple to punish on whiff; just run forward and punish with a close normal combo.

Raijinken: QCF + P

  • The electrifying hitbox on this attack counts as a projectile, meaning it can nullifying oncoming fireballs. The hitbox stays active for a while even if Benimaru gets interrupted mid-way, so even if a player DPs Benimaru out of a Raijinken blockstring the lightning orb can outlast the startup invuln and then hit the opposing player out of their reversal. Thankfully, ‘ranbu’ specials and DMs are invulnerable on hit so they can be used as an abare counter to this special. If Benimaru’s hit out of the initial startup, the attack will fail to come out and so the attacker will be safe and so Benimaru players wont be using this move whenever under being pressured.
  • Benimaru can sometimes throw this move out preventively when at a neutral advantage since it’s fast and quite lasting while having a seemingly short recovery period. This leads to Benimaru creating an electrical fence that can anti-air, stop projectiles, or push a grounded opponent out.
  • Although this special can control many fronts, it’s punishable on whiff if Benimaru mis-spaces it. One of the easiest ways to whiff punish a Raijinken is to stand just outside its reach and then attack with a long-reaching normal move. Most sweeps can tag Benimaru from outside Raijinken’s reach, and for characters such as Daimon and King that have poor sweeps there’s usually another normal or special available to punish the whiff (Daimon could perfectly time and space a st.B kick or perform a reactionary dp+A pound, while King can simply slide underneath Raijinken or punish the recovery with her hcb+D Tornado Kick). The other option is to properly time a horizontally-traveling special attack to hit Benimaru out of the recovery period. A tightly-timed EX Iori rekka (qcb+A) or Billy’s hcf+A do the job perfectly as long as the player times the attack properly.
  • The key for most punishes is to recognize the general length of the attack, and although the lengths of the A and C versions vary, it’s still possible to become familiar with both and if that proves too difficult then the easiest whiff punishes are to either sweep Benimaru or use some sort of (projectile) invulnerable attack on reaction.
  • Raijinken is Benimaru’s safest special on block, and the C version is especeially useful since it will combo from a cr.B and cause a knockdown. However, this C version is -7 frames on block and so certain, very fast specials and DMs can be used to punish Benimaru on reaction after blocking. If lacking a fast enough attack, then every character has the option of spending a meter for a Guard Cancel Roll to punish predictable blockstrings into either Raijinken. There’s the chance that a Benimaru player could use the A Raijinken in a blockstring, which is only -3, so only Guard Canceling will realistically punish the slower version on ‘block’. However, neither version creates a true blockstring, so a defending player could roll forward before the canceled-into Raijinken becomes active, and a successful roll leaves Benimaru open to a huge punish. At any rate, blocking a Raijinken always pushes Benimaru back and puts him at a frame disadvantage and so after blocking, the defending player is in a good position to start an offense or to counter Benimaru’s next action.

EX Raijinken: QCF + AC

  • Benimaru players probably wont be willing to risk whiffing this move and wasting meter, but if the situation arises then the same principles of whiff punishing apply.
  • EX Raijinken is +2 on block, so there’s no punish other than Guard Cancel Rolling before the attack comes out, and if it’s blocked then Benimaru has the advantage and so his quickest pokes will win if both players press a button afterward, so be aware that he has the advantage on block. From up close, the player could attempt a Guard Cancel Blowback Attack to push Benimaru off to avoid giving him the advantage.

Kuuchuu Raijinken: QCF + P (In air)

  • Benimaru’s aerial trajectory is altered whenever he performes this move: the A version moves him forward slightly, while the C version pushes him backwards. Benimaru can backdash or neutral hop into his air Raijinkens, but he gains no meter from whiffing the attack although the active hitbox can still anti-air or nullify projectiles. With that said, this move is susceptible to various punishes:
  • A simple way to stop a offensive aerial Raijinken is to anti-air Benimaru with an invulnerable move such as a DP. While Benimaru could use his air Raijinken to halt himself and bait a DP, all the defending player has to do is move forard a bit closer before anti-airing or simply wait and watch to see if Benimaru whiffs an aerial Raijinken, which then carries the following risks:
  • There’s 15 frames of recovery whenever Benimaru touches down from his air Raijinken on top of the cariable time spent falling to the ground. The Raijinken’s hitbox will disappear before Benimaru fully recovers, which leaves enough room for him to be hit by horizontal specials. Certain invulnerable (EX) moves, projectile DMs, and other invincible attacks can punish a whiffed Raijinken, but the most efficient way to discourage Benimaru’s airborne zap is to snipe him with a meterless special such as Hwa Jai’s dp+D or King’s hdb+D. With enough practice, a player can have react and shoot down most poorly-spaced air Raijinken attempts.
  • Benimaru’s advantage on block also varies here depending on how low to the ground he activates the special. From minimal height, he’s put at a +6 frame advantage so there’s no way to punish him or to safely do anything afterward other than blow him off with a GCCD. As nice as this theoretical advantage is, not every aerial Raijinken will realistically be timed perfectly and from higher ranges he may even be slightly negative. Still, the best course of action here is to block the attack and move onward, and should the Benimaru player begin to loop this move into itself on block all the defending player must do is stick out just about any hop anti-air since the startup of the special is much lengthier than 6 frames. Realistically, Benimaru could probably hop into j.D in the same time it takes to do an instant air Raijinken.

EX Kuuchuu Raijinken: QCF + AC (In air)

  • EX air Raijinken stays in place, pulsating six times before fading out. The only way to punish this on whiff would be to plow through it with an invulnerable move such as Shen’s qcf qcf+P as otherwise Benimaru will recover long before the current drains.
  • Benimaru gets a huge advantage after making the opponent block this move which usually sets up for a true high/low mixup or a crossup situation, so the only option out is to block correctly or spend a meter on a Guard Cancel. Either way, the Benimaru player will be down one meter as a result which is a advantage for the defender.

Benimaru Collider: (Grab range) HCBF + P (EX)

  • Benimaru’s command grab recovers at a crazy rate, so a player will really have to be looking for this move in order to punish it. Like all command grabs, it can be punished by Alternate Guarding to force a whiff and then coutnering with a cancelable normal, though it can be difficult to Alternate Guard for long against Benimaru’s barrage of cr.B and j.D. When attempting to jump out, always tro to neutral hop since a full neutral jump lasts so long that Benimaru can recover before being hit with a jumping attack, but a neutral hop read does all for a full jump-in punish. There’s also the option of performing a reversal or backdashing out when fearing the collider.
  • Do be careful as Benimaru can use this move as a reversal, and it’s a true 1 frame grab.
  • If Benimaru cancels into his command grab from any heavy attack, then he’s completely safe. In the instance where he cancels a light attack such as a cr.B, then he’s just negative enough to be punished with a fast cr.B or similar cancelable light normal, though reacting to the whiff is difficult.

Benimaru Lancer: QCB + P 

  • After a lengthy startup where Benimaru strikes a Jojo pose, a bolt of lightning soars down upon him. Due to the prolonged startup, it’s not really possible for a Benimaru player to use this move in reaction to anything and the slow startup only makes it occasionally useful when created an extensively delayed frametrap in an attempt to zap an opponent’s delayed counterpoke. Overall, this is a fairly ballsy move to use outside of combos. On one final note, the hitbox can nullify normal projectiles
  • As long as you don’t end up touching Benimaru during the moderate active period of this attack, just about anything should work. Just be careful, ot counter with an invulnerable/EX move for maximum safety until comfortable with the recovery length.
  • Both players are neutral on block, but Benimaru doesn’t have many ways to actually create a blockstring with this move so it’ll usually hit, whiff, or be counter hit during the startup.

EX Benimaru Lancer: QCB + AC

  • While slower, this version tracks the opponent’s location and it’s impossible to escape the lightning bolt other than blocking, rolling, or interrupting Benimaru before the lightning can strike. Running or jumping wont save you from the wrath of Benimaru’s lightning, but in order to avoid wasting meter most Benimaru players will save this move for combos or use it at a distance to punish projectiles on anticipation. This is -3 on block, so it’s not realistically punishable aside from stopping the startup.



Raikoken: QCFx2 + P

  • A quick horizontal attack is the safest choice to punish a whiffed Raikouken, though with proper timing it’s possible to run in for a close attack.
  • Benimaru’s beefy Raijinken DM can be a little tricky to punish on block since it pushed the opponent out sort of far, but it’s -18 on block so anything that can punish Iaigeri should also work in this instance.

EX Raikoken: QCFx2 + AC

  • The faster EX DM has more recovery than the standard version, so punishment is as simple as running forawrd after the red plasma clears.

Benimaru Rolling Thunder: QCBx2 + P

  • Like EX Raikouken, this is a 4 frame move. While fast, it’s completely baitable and safe jumpable. Punishment is very easy on block or whiff due to the lengthy recovery, just don’t accidentally run into the lightning or all 15 hits of the DM will connect.



Raiohken: QCFx2 + B + D

  • A somewhat fast fullscren NEOMAX. Benimaru can be hit out of the startup so it’s not much of a threat on wakeup or even against hops. It’s -13 on block though by spacing this can be quite safe, but the best way to punish this move is to simply roll forward after the DM flash. Once the game pauses for the super flash, just hold down A+B and the game will automatically provide reversal timing for the roll. If close enough after the roll, just run up and hit Benimaru.


Here’s the concise rundown on punishing his specials and DMs:


  • On block, A: -3,  C: -7, EX:+2.  C version is punishable by select few fast moves.
  • On whiff, sweep or time a horizontal special or invuln move.
  • Fully punishable by Guard Rolling on a 2-in-1.
  • Punishable by rolling forward during the startup, such as rolling between cr.B xx qcf+C.
  • A: moves forward, C: moves backward.
  • +6 on block from lowest height.
  • Slow startup due to initial jump, big landing recovery on whiff that can be punished by burst specials.
  • EX: +45 on block, stays active for a long length.  Punishable only by countering the startup.
  • On block, -15.
  • Punishable when uncanceled with bursting horizontal specials.
  • Poor recovery on whiff.
  • Fully punishable by Guard Rolling a 2-in-1.
  • Cancelable into the followup to beat out attempts to punish counter attempts.
  • Highly unsafe on block or whiff; go for cl.C punish ideally.
  • Startup, B: 3 frames, no invuln. D: 5 frames, invuln. EX: 3 frames, invuln.
  • Solid reversal and good anti-air choice.
  • Too slow for conventional blockstrings.
  • Punishable on startup and recovery, especially when whiffed.
  • EX: tracks opponent; can’t be avoided aside from rolling, using invuln attacks, or hitting Benimaru first.
  • Safe on block.
  • 1 frame grab.  Works as a reversal.
  • Fast recovery; punishable by neutral hop or alternate guard.
  • Safe when canceled into from cl.C, cr.D, st.CD. Technically punishable from cr.B.
  • -18 on block, so burst specials may be the easiest punish instead of risking running close for a close attack.
  • Too slow to be of much use on its own.
  • -27 on block, easily punishable by running forward.
  • 4 frame startup, plus invuln.
  • 4 frame startup, primarily used to anti-air or as a reversal.
  • -33 on block, easy to land a close attack punish on block or whiff.
  • Don’t touch the DM or all 15 hits connect.
  • 12 frame startup and no invuln.  Easy to interrupt when up close.
  • -13 on block.
  • Easily avoided and punishable with a forward roll after super flash.



  • Flying Drill has faster recovery, normal hits can connect afterwards.
  • EX Raijinken is a single hit attack. On a hit, the opponent will be stuck in the air afterwards for a limited time. They can be attacked with another move, or even get pushed by running to the edge of the screen.
  • EX Air Raijinken lasts for a longer time. The timing in between the hits are longer than the arcadeversion. It now sort of works as a special that can be “placed” on the screen.
  • EX Collider hits less times. That means less scaling for the combo to come afterwards.
  • Neomax comes out faster, MAX cancel’s timing is different. Invincibility runs out before the hit detection comes out.
  • Fierce/EX Super Lightning Kick does more damage. On a full hit, the fierce version’s damage has been raised from 70>100, EX from 135>192.
  • Collider has faster recovery on whiff, can rarely be punished if blocked from a fierce punch.
  • EX Iaigeri > Handou Sandangeki does less damage, down from 263 to 219.

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