Kusanagi (KoF '02 UM)

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This nigga graduated.

In a nutshell

Hallelujah brother, you've just found one of the easiest characters in the game.

Kusanagi has, for the most part, the same moveset as '95 Kyo; this means he's a well-rounded character with a variety of combo tools, great normals and a couple of strong reversals, essentially giving him all the tools he needs to win. The big thing this version of Kyo gained in 2002 is the addition of a bizarre counter move, giving him a new way to score a knockdown on defense without resorting to his much-less-safe DP. He can be played in a number of ways, but due to his glaring weakness against short hops, you'll see Kusanagi players more often play aggressive and look to convert his air d+C into big damage rather than try to zone, reserving his fireball just for pressure. As a good middle ground between Kyo and Iori, he is a great character for a beginner, but will prove difficult to use to his full potential due to the complexity of his max mode usage.

For the veterans, Kusanagi's cross-up/corner damage is still as ridiculous as it was in vanilla 2002, but the new DM in 02 UM gives him more flexibility with his meter and improves his 1-bar conversions off of lights. It doesn't patch his defensive weakness by any means, but it means he makes a better middle or even point character than he was before. He still makes for a solid filler on any team.

Move list

At a glance:

Normal Throws
Hatsugane (throw) f./b. + C
Issetsu Seoi Nage (throw) f./b. + D
Command Moves
Geshiki: Goufu You f. + B
Geshiki: Naraku Otoshi (air) d. + C
88-Shiki df. + D
Special Moves
108-Shiki: Yami Barai qcf + P
75-Shiki: Kai qcf + K, K
910-Shiki: Nue Tsumi qcb + P
100-Shiki: Oniyaki dp + P
101-Shiki: Oboro Guruma rdp + K
212-Shiki: Kototsuki You hcb + K
Desperation Moves
Ura 108-Shiki: Orochinagi qcb hcf + P (can be held)
1999-Shiki: Kiri Honoo qcf x2 + K
Max Desperation Moves
Ura 108-Shiki: Orochinagi qcb hcf + PP (can be held)
Max 2
Saishuu Kessen Ougi Mushiki qcf x2 + PP

Normal Moves

Close Standing Normals

  • Close A
cl.A – Quick jab with the elbow. It's one way of establishing pressure from close up without much committal. Upon hit from point blank, Kyo could link a Close C from Close A. Close A could hit most characters upon their crouch but has a tendency to whiff upon smaller crouching characters such as Bao and Choi. Close A is also cancelable.

  • Close B
cl.B – Fast kick to the shins. This attack hits low and is an alternative to using Crouching B. Close B can chain into other light normals and vice versa. A classic attack string is starting with Close B > Crouching B > Close C. Close B is also cancelable.

  • Close C
cl.C – Lightning fast uppercut. This is one of Kyo's strongest tools in his move set. It functions as a great anti-air and as a pressure tool. Opponents that get antsy and try to hop out from a throw situation would be caught by the Close C instead. It's common to see Kyo players running forward with confidence and pressing Close C to continue momentum or anti-air upon reaction against a misplaced hop or jump. Of course this move is cancelable. Compared to the "original" Kyo, this move has a smaller activation range so Crouch A/B doesn't link into Close C.

  • Close D:
cl.D – Weird, stanky looking kick. In terms of application, this kick is like a slower Close C with less vertical range. How this makes this move useful is as a frame trapping tool due to the slower start up speed. It combos into the same Special Moves as Close C but keep in mind that there is a tad more push back upon hit with Close D and could push the opponent out too far for a knockdown hit. Close D is cancelable.

Far Standing Normals

  • Far A
Straight Jab. It's a great anti-hop check tool. Has decent range for a standing light attack to stop opponents from hopping at Kyo. It whiffs upon most crouching characters but actually touches larger characters such as Daimon and Chang upon crouch. Within that context, it could also function as a great pressure tool within those match ups. Otherwise, Kyo could do a small attack string, run half the distance between the opponent and himself, and check the hop space with Far A to catch any hop outs. Also a good low committal follow up after spacing with an aerial normal to check opponents' hops. Far A is also cancelable.

  • Far B
Quick side kick. Effectively a longer ranged Far A that hits most crouching characters (exceptions are characters such as Bao or Choi.) So It's a nice way of checking an opponent's options and making sure the opponent is either blocking or grounded after Kyo attacks with light attacks from a close range. The frame advantage/disadvantage upon block isn't too hot that is why it doesn't see as much action as Far A as an anti-air check, but it is a good way to occasionally check opponents and set yourself up for watching the opponent's choices after Kyo's Far B.

  • Far C
Snappy back fist. It's pretty much a heavy hitting, slower Far A. Most players don't use this move as a stand alone attack and usually comes out when players mess up or fudge an attempted Close C. Within this Kyo's move set, it serves very little purpose other than balancing out the effectiveness of Close C. Unlike the "original" Kyo, this move is cancelable on contact and whiff.

  • Far D
Spinning sobat kick. Compared to Kyo Kusanagi, this move isn't quite as fast.. It's still a snappy kick that goes over low hitting attacks. It helps Kyo maintain momentum within attack strings by frame trapping from other attacks and after Far D itself. Far D is just a wonderful move for crushing low attacks in general.

Standing Blowback

st.CD – Shoulder ram. Kyo retracts for a bit then rams forward with his body. This attack is not use too often due to the lengthy start up of the attack for the range it covers but it can win in certain situations thanks to the retraction making moves whiff and the following attack. It is pretty much a standard Blowback attack.

Crouching Normals

  • Crouch(ing) A
cr.A – Small, crouching jab. It's a standard, crouching light punch that one could find in most fighting games. Low committal, doesn't hit low but is a pressure tool. It can be chained into from other light attacks but can't chain out. It's cancelable and combos into 88 Shiki and Oniyaki. The biggest plus to use this move over Crouch B is that some characters can reversal super jump or hop out from certain ranges when Crouch B is used, but Crouch A in those cases would stop those characters.

  • Crouch(ing) B
cr.B – Crouching kick. This attack has great speed, in regards to start up and recovery, for the range it reaches. It can abuse other characters by attack outside the range of their light attacks and the speed stuffs out most sweeps and slower grounded attacks. Crouch B is Kyo's main low attack for mix-ups and helps Kyo open up opponents. It chains into other light attacks.

  • Crouch(ing) C
cr.C – Uppercut while crouching. An anti-air mainly used upon reaction against jumps, but it can be used to anti-air hops depending on the range and the player's ability to react. It's a really strong anti-air but it isn't as fast as Close C by just a tad. The hit box is a bit better than normal Kyo Kusanagi's because it actually makes contact with crouching characters. Use with care, but it is a strong tool. Crouch C can cancel into other moves but not from using the hit box in the tip of the punch.

  • Crouch(ing) D
cr.D – Sweep. It's a standard sweep but isn't as fast as other sweeps in the game. Still, it is very usable and can cancel into other attacks upon whiff to cover for its vulnerability to varying degrees of effectiveness. One good instance to use it is after cl.C on block from point blank, or to be used after being pushed out of Crouch B range.

Jumping Normals

  • Jump(ing) A
j.A – Jumping elbow. It's an infrequently used air-to-air attack that is a bit underrated. The most notable range to use this move upon approaching an opponent is hopping or hyper hopping forward from the range where a Jump B would whiff; so, upon the way down it'll hit crouching opponents where Jump B would lack the horizontal range to do so while also checking the hop space, catching those that also try to move forward as Kyo hops with Jump A. It's recommended to not over-zealously use Jump A nor accidentally whiff it and get punished severely.

  • Jump(ing) B
j.B – Downward knee attack. This is Kyo's main means of jumping in on an opponent. It has a really dominant downward hit-box and has a tendency to even stuff anti-air attacks as they come out due to lengthy active frames of the attack. It has the ability to cross up although it requires a bit more precision to land compared to other cross ups in the game. The hit-stun of the attack is also pretty infamous and upon medium-height crouching characters and lower, Kyo could stick this attack out at the earliest moment that it could connect and still be able to combo into Crouching B, Close C, etc. and score a combo. Jump B is one of Kyo's quintessential parts of his move set.

  • Jump(ing) C
j.C – Jumping Punch. In overall application it could be described as Jump B that is positioned within Kyo's upper body/chest area. It doesn't have as much active frames as Jump B, and since it's positioned higher upon Kyo's body, it doesn't reach as low as Jump B and is more prone to anti-air attacks and trip anti-airs. It has an even more particular cross-up hit-box than Jump B, but adds another nuance for Kyo's jump-in choices. While it may whiff upon most crouching characters if used as an attempted cross-up, it could cross-up from ranges that Jump B would hit from the front. So, Kyo can condition the opponent to block while standing from the same jump spacing then switch it up with different option. So although not that predominantly used, Jump C adds to Kyo's cross-up ambiguity.

  • Jump(ing) D
j.D – Jumping Kick. One of Kyo's primary spacing tools. It functions as a great air-to-air attack thanks to the long range and decent speed this kick has. The tip of Kyo's kick is the sweet spot in which Kyo should make contact with opponent. It's great as an air-to-ground attack despite its lack of horizontal range as long as Kyo tips with Jump D. Since it still makes contact with the grounded opponent from a far, horizontal range, it makes it hard for the opponent to try to anti-air and counter it so most of the time the opponent is forced to either take it or block it, and this allows Kyo to keep momentum as he closes in. Some Kyo players even frame trap a Far D or Aragami after a tipped Jump D to keep momentum. Jump D upon a neutral or back hop is also a great tool to use to keep people out from running in, hopping in, and jumping in. If used appropriately, this attack is also one of Kyo's most important attacks.

  • Neutral, Full Jump(ing) B
nj.B – Another knee attack. It's similar to Jump B but with a different animation. Although the placement of the attack is comparable to Jump B upon Kyo's figure, it seems as if it's placed slightly higher although to little or no applicative change.

  • Neutral, Full Jump(ing) D
nj.D – Kyo twists his body to kick. It's similar to Jump D but seems to have a smaller upwards hit-box. So as an air-to-air attack it isn't as strong as Jump D. Still has functions as an air-to-air but most probably given to Kyo to balance out his move set.

  • Jump(ing) Blowback
j.CD – Aerial shoulder ram. A jumping attack that isn't an overhead but induces large block stun. This move shrinks Kyo's hurt box by enough to make certain attacks, particularly horizontal anti-air normals, and clip the opponent and knock the opponent down. A great pressure move that helps Kyo maintain momentum at the expense of trying to score a high/low mix-up. Compared to normal Kyo Kusanagi, it has a longer start up so the player would have to change up the timings during attack strings to make this work as similarly.

Normal Throws

  • Hatsugane - (throw) f./b. + C
A standard forward throw that the opponent can recovery roll from. What makes it great is that opponents suspecting a command throw Max 2 might try to jump out of an empty hop situation and going for a Hatsugane will end up in a whiffed Close C that would tag the opponent on the way out. This type of situation of throwing or anti-air is called a normal throw option select.

  • Issetsu Seoi Nage - (throw) f./b. + D
A good backwards throw that causes hard knockdown and causes back turn on the opponent's wake up. If Kyo throws the opponent into the corner with this, Kyo has access to devastating, strange cross-up set ups thanks to the back turn and hard knockdown. Otherwise from mid screen it still sets up for normal cross ups against larger and mid height crouching characters or just a simple safe jump set up on the whole cast.

Command Normals

  • Geshiki: Goufu You – f. + B
A good overhead. When cancel into, it just loses overhead properties It's much faster than the normal Kyo Kusanagi's and has better chances of comboing from Close C, particularly on cross-up. When canceled into, it functions well as a frame trap from Crouch A. By itself, only the second hit is overhead.

  • Geshiki: Naraku Otoshi – d. + C in midair
Untechable knockdown upon air-to-air and exhibits great hit stun upon air-to-ground. It's great for crossing up standing characters and larger crouching characters. Kyo could cancel his back dash into Naraku Otoshi to increase the speed and range of his back dash while decreasing the recovery period. This move is an essential function to Kyo's offensive options and defensive movement.

  • 88-Shiki – df. + D
Two-part low-hitting move. It recovers slowly so it's best to use this move from further ranges that tips with each kick. Whiffing the second part could mean a big punish for the opponent. The first hit is cancelable and extends Kusanagi's damage output and extends his knockdown opportunities.

Special Moves

  • 108-Shiki: Yami Barai
  • qcf + P
  • A standard grounded projectile. It functions as a poke that is an extension of Kusanagi's sweep. In that sense it's also easily hopped over and jumped over; so, this move should be used to encourage opponents to jump and for the player to use one of Kusanagi's many anti-air attacks. The C Version is faster but recovers longer than the A Version, much like other sets of projectiles in the game.

  • 75-Shiki: Kai
  • qcf + K, K
  • A two part, hop kick attack. The main one to use is the D Version for its juggle properties and ability to combo from Close Heavy Attacks. At mid-screen, this move would only combo from a Close Heavy Attack if the Close C or D is used point blank; meaning, that the second hit of Kai would whiff if Kyo starts his combo with something such as a Jump B (but there is no issue if the Jump B is used as a cross up because Kyo would then be point blank.) Unlike mid-screen, Kyo could easily combo from a jump-in with a cornered opponent. The player could use this attack on block for pressure and is safe as long as the second kick is delayed. Characters that have invulnerable reversals or can low profile against the second kick could punish the attack in between kicks, so please be wary of using this attack depending on the match up. The B Version is faster and has slightly less range than the D Version, but it can't juggle anything afterwards other than a C Version Oniyaki. B Version could also be used to juggle after a D Version Kai. The hit box and speed of the move is better than the other Kyos' so it can be more abusable from the neutral game.

  • 910-Shiki: Nue Tsumi
  • qcb + P
  • A strange counter move that works like a weird grounded uppercut on whiff that is mostly safe on block. The first section of this attack, before Kyo strikes upwards, counters low hitting attacks and most crouching attacks. With this counter it causes hard knockdown upon hit. After Kusanagi raises his hand, it counters most standing normal attacks that comes into contact with Kusanagi's arm. For this counter, it only causes soft knockdown. Since Oniyaki is usually beaten out by meaty, low attacks, more daring players use Nue Tsumi as a reversal to catch players meatying with low attacks. So, the player usually chooses between Nue Tsumi and Oniyaki as reversal attacks, other than blocking like a sane human being. This move is extremely punishable on whiff so be sure not to toss this out thinking it's a much safer option than Oniyaki that occasionally catches people with the physical hit box of this move.

  • 100-Shiki: Oniyaki
  • dp + P
  • The strong version has some invincibility frames; and in KOF '02 UM, the first hit actually knocks down now. As a reversal, this attack has the tendency to miss and be beaten out by low attacks from crouching characters. Unless the player knows that the opponent is airborne or standing, the player is better off just blocking or using other defensive options. For Kusanagi, this move also has initial guard point to blow up people trying to safe jump or have a strong, typically incontestable jump-in attack.

  • 101-Shiki: Oboro Guruma
  • rdp + K
  • Also known as the "Bird Kick." Kyo just flies through the air with a weird kick with a strange motion. As an anti-air, this move doesn't function that consistently as Oniyaki or as many of Kusanagi's many other normal moves. So for practicality, this attack is used in the corner for combos, mainly the D Version for hard knockdown and being the most damaging juggle ender without using meter. It can combo after Kai from mid-screen but requires the player to run a short bit after hitting with Kai before using Oboro Guruma. The timing is pretty strict, so Oboro Guruma is usually reserved for corner combos.

  • 212-Shiki: Kototsuki You
  • hcb + K
  • A running elbow attack that causes hard knockdown on hit. It's extremely unsafe on block and is easily punishable, leaving this move almost strictly for combos. What is odd about this move is that it has no hurt box during its active frames. So as a gimmicky "meaty" attack, it can be used to stuff practically any reversal attack due to its lack of hurt box. Since it's so obvious, most good players would just block and punish it. Although it requires a bit of timing, it's the preferred ender mid-screen after Kai for the damage and hard knockdown. It also combos from the first hit of 88-Shiki. So after hitting with a jump-in attack at mid-screen, most players combo into Close C or to "cr.B > cr.A" and cancel into 88-Shiki and finish with Kototsuki You. So, this is the knockdown to use mid-screen after scoring a non-cross-up jump-in.

Desperation Moves

  • Ura 108-Shiki: Orochinagi
  • qcb hcf + P (can be held)
  • Sends out a gigantic hit box. During the charge-up you have some invincibility (upper-body for the strong version, lower-body for the weak version). One can hold the button to delay release and the Orochinagi comes out much faster than normal. Just by slightly holding the button during the super flash, the attack comes out around the same time as the normal one would but with the faster start up property of a charged version. This desperation move is unsafe on block and should be mainly used in combos anyways.

  • 1999-Shiki: Kiri Honoo
  • qcf x2 + K
  • A flurry of punches based off of animations of Kyo Kusanagi's proto-type character, Sho Kirishima. This combos from Goufu You and 88-Shiki and is mainly used during non-juggle combos. Ideally, this is a good one meter finisher from "cr.B, cr.A xx df.D (1-hit)" but requires a lot of practice to time the buffering of inputs and the cancel.

Max Desperation Moves

  • Ura 108-Shiki: Orochinagi
  • qcb hcf + PP (can be held)
  • The MAX version of Orochinagi gives you full-body invincibility, and Kyo's entire body is clad in flame (which happens to have a projectile hit box). Does a maximum of three hits, but with only two hits you can juggle. If the player times it properly after a D Version Kai, two hits could juggle while the third one whiffs. From there, Kyo could juggle a C Version Oniyaki afterwards for better damage to finish. Somewhat safer on block since the three flames puts the opponent in large amounts of block stun. Many smarter players could guard roll the first flame and punish Kyo anyways so it's still not a smart idea just to let it rip.

Max 2

  • Saishuu Kessen Ougi Mushiki
  • qcf x2 + PP
  • Kyo's signature desperation move from previous games. This should be mainly used as a way to close out a round from "cr.B, cr.A". It's unsafe on block like most other moves of its kind so it shouldn't really be used outside of combos. On its own, it does about 10% chip of the opponent's total health bar so it can be used a chip finisher; although, a better player would guard roll on contact to avoid the rest of the chip. So if one wants to chip with it to kill, make sure the opponent doesn't have any meter.



  • cr.B > cr.A xx df.D (1-hit) xx hcb+K/qcfx2+K
  • Basic combo from low hits.
  • j.B > cl.C xx df.D (1-hit) xx hcb+K/qcfx2+K
  • Basic mid-screen combo that also works anywhere.
  • cl.C xx qcf+D,D > hcb+K/run up rdp+D/qcbhcf+P/j.d+C/j.CD/j.D
  • Basic juggle combo. Possible in the middle of the screen from point blank of the opponent.
  • (Corner) j.B > cl.C xx qcf+D,D > rdp+D
  • Chunky, meterless corner combo.
  • cl.C xx df.D (1-hit) > BC > run up cl.C xx df.D (1-hit) xx hcb+K xx dp+C (1-hit) xx qcf+D,D > hcb+K xx dp+C (1-hit) xx qcbhcf+P/qcbhcf+PP
  • A really damaging Max combo that works mid-screen and in the corner. If this combo is too hard, one could omit the df.Ds and the second dp+C but at the cost of significant damage. At most, only omit the second dp+C. In the corner, hold the qcbhcf+PP for a few hits of the initial flame then time the remaining hits to juggle. Mid-screen using qcbhcf+PP, charge for only about 1 hit of the initial flame and let go quickly or the opponent will drop out.

The Basics

Become a male model.

Advanced Strategy

Become a high school graduate.


Kusanagi vs. Mrs. Robinson is a 0-10 match up.