Liu Kang has a multitude of strings that either leave him at an advantage or can be staggered for pressure. 12 is +3 on block which allows him to go into his F4. Be careful when using 12 as both hits are high attacks.
Liu Kang’s main pressure string is his F43U3. You have a multiple ways to pressure your opponent off of this string. F4 is -7 on block which is reactable, but can be a decent stagger when used on occasion. After F43 you will want to either finish the string by doing F43U3 or cancel F43 into Fireball, or BF1. Since F43U3 has a gap before the last hit, cancelling F43 into Fireball will hit opponents for trying to interrupt the gap.
While Fireball is unsafe on block, you can mix this up by Amplifying it. If the opponent tries to punish the Fireball, they will be hit by the Amplified part. Similarly, if they are looking to punish the Amplified Fireball and you don’t Amplify it, then the Fireball will go unpunished.
In Liu Kang’s Luohan Quan variation, you can also cancel F43 into Low Fireball, or DB1. The Low Fireball can be difficult to punish depending on whether you Amplify it or not. Another option is to cancel the F43 into Dragon Parry. This will give you a full combo if you Amplify the Dragon Parry.
F43 is -7 on block, but since opponents will be looking for F43U3 and F43 Fireball, this can be staggered. After staggering F43, you can then go for a throw or another F43.
Post F43U3 Meta
F43U3 is +4 on block. This will frametrap into F4 again as it will make your next F4 come out in 5 frames instead of 9 frames. Depending on how your opponent blocks, there will be pushback allowing for some characters to avoid the F4 by walking back. To stop them from walking back, do a dash into F4. If in the corner, your opponent will not be able to escape the next F4.
Liu Kang’s strike/throw game is very strong due to his pressure and multi-hitting strings. There are many ways to set up a strike/throw. For example, you can stagger with Liu Kang’s 1, B1, 212, F4 or F43 then go for a strike/throw. You can also set up a strike/throw after Liu Kang’s 12 and F43U3 because they are advantageous on block.
Many of Liu Kang’s strings also hit multiple times making it easy to shimmy opponents. These strings include his 123, B124, 2121, F3333 and F43U3. Using these strings will make it difficult for your opponent to tech your throws. Once you’ve conditioned your opponent to block these strings, you can then start throwing the opponent.
Liu Kang also gets a Krushing Blow off of both of his throws if the opponent has failed a Throw Escape on the previous throw. This makes Liu Kang one of the best strike/throw characters in the game.
Shaolin Stance Mixups & Pressure
In Liu Kang’s Luohan Quan variation, he gains access to Shaolin Stance, or DD1. From this stance, he can go into an overhead or low. Using this stance within blockstrings will allow you to go for an overhead/low mixup. While this mixup is reactable, it can be more difficult when used in a string and if your opponent isn’t ready for it.
Another option is to cancel out of the Shaolin Stance and go for a throw. Although the cancel is punishable, your opponent will be looking for the the overhead/low mixup and it can be difficult to react to when used in a string. This is a great way to sneak in a throw.
Using the Shaolin Stance is risky because all of its options are punishable, but it can be used occasionally for mixups.
Block Confirming F3333
Liu Kang’s F3333 is -12 on block making it punishable, however this string can be made safe by block confirming it. In Liu Kang’s Luohan Quan variation, you can cancel the 3rd hit of F3333 into Shaolin Stance Sneaky Monk, or DD1 3. There is no gap when used after this string. It is also safe on block due to pushback.
Bicycle Kick Krushing Blow
You will want to Amplify Bicycle Kick any chance you get. After Amplifying Bicycle Kick 3 times, it will become a Krushing Blow and deal huge damage. Since Bicycle Kick can be Amplified twice, this makes it even easier to complete its Krushing Blow requirements.
Bicycle Kick Restand
Bicycle Kick is a +3 on hit restand. This is best used in the corner as it will leave you close enough to frametrap into F4. Once you’ve conditioned the opponent to block the F4 after the restand, you can then mix this up with throw.
In Liu Kang’s Luohan Quan variation, he gains access to Dragon Parry, or DB3. This is best used after knocking the opponent down to counter Getup Attacks. If your opponent does a Getup Attack and is parried, the Dragon Parry will become a Krushing Blow. The Dragon Parry will make your opponent afraid to use a Getup Attack, which allows you to freely pressure your opponent on knockdown.
Dragon Parry can also counter Flawless Block Attacks. This is a hard read though due to the rarity of Flawless Block Attacks and how difficult they are to perform. For example, if your opponent has a quick Flawless Block Attack such as Johnny Cage’s, they will be able to punish Liu Kang’s F4. You can counter this by cancelling the F4 into Dragon Parry, which will then become a Krushing Blow.
Flying Dragon Kick
At a distance, Flying Dragon Kick can be used to check movement. Because of how quick Flying Dragon Kick and the distance it covers, it can stop opponents from walking or jumping. This however is very risky and should only be used on a read.
Use Fireballs and Low Fireballs to keep opponents out. Fireball is a high projectile that can be used to check opponents’ movement because of how quick it is. Low Fireball should be used for chip damage because it hits low and can be difficult to avoid. To hit opponents trying to move after blocking the Low Fireball, you can Amplify it to send out an additional projectile.