The basic concept of taking turns is that when you do an attack and it is blocked, then it will be your opponent’s turn to attack, and if you block your opponent’s attack, then it will be your turn to attack again. Both players continue taking turns attacking, while simultaneously finding ways to break through their opponent’s defense, until one player has lost all their health.
When is it Your Turn?
Determining when you should take your turn is important when trying to defeat your opponent. This is where understanding frame data comes into play. After you do an attack and it’s blocked, this usually means your turn is over and it’s your opponent’s turn to attack. For example, when Johnny Cage does B34, it is -7 on block. This puts you at a disadvantage, so the safest thing to do is to go on the defensive and block. In this situation, it is your opponent’s turn to attack.
This also applies to your opponent. If your opponent does Sub-Zero’s B143, it is -7 on block. This puts you at an advantage, so now you can go on the offensive. This time, it is your turn to attack.
Keeping Your Turn
Not all moves leave you at a disadvantage. Some moves are advantageous on block, allowing you to keep your turn. Typically these moves have some sort of drawback, but are very strong when used. For example, when Johnny Cage does 124, it is +6 on block. The downside to this is that it starts with a high attack, so opponents can duck underneath it. If the opponent blocks though, you get to keep your turn and can continue attacking.
After your turn is over, sometimes you’re able to steal your opponent’s turn so that it can be your turn again to attack. For example, when Johnny Cage does F44, it is -5 on block. This isn’t a huge a disadvantage, so Johnny Cage can use his 7 frame D1 to try and attack afterwards. Because you are -5, the D1 will hit in 12 frames instead of 7. If your opponent uses a move that is slower than 12 frames, then you will hit them, thus stealing their turn. In this example, Sub-Zero tries to use his 14 frame B1, but gets beaten out by Johnny Cage’s D1.
In certain situations, both you and your opponent will be at neither an advantage or disadvantage. This can happen after blocking a move with 0 block advantage. The most common situation for this is after teching a throw. Successfully teching a throw leaves you and your opponent in a neutral state, meaning it is both players’ turn. Here, you can either take your turn and attack, or let your opponent take their turn and defend.