Once Ken breaks in, it's important to stay calm and stick to the fundamentals. OS tech as per normal and resist the temptation to mash cr.lp + cr.lk out of fear of Ken's kara throw. If your opponent is frequently attempting kara throws, throwing out the occasional cr.lp(s) can stuff this immediately and lead to a free knockdown (cr.lp, cr.lp, cr.hk). Plinking cr.mp after two of ken's cr.lp can often yield a free counter-hit into a sweep. Backdashing during Ken's blockstrings is also a good option as it can cause Ken's kara throws to whiff.
Ken's main offensive weapon is his step kick, which he will use not only for general harassment (stuffing your normals and fireballs during startup) but also to move himself in range for kara throwing, counter-hit srk U1 setups and other assorted shenanigans. Ryu's response should vary according to the distance at which the step kick is executed:
- If the step kick whiffs, sweep him
- If the step kick is blocked at mid-range, plink cr.mp > cr.hk (you have frame advantage on block at this range)
- If the step kick is blocked at close range, OS tech as per normal but be aware that he may attempt a counter-hit hp srk if he has two bars
Remember that the best defence against the step kick is to simply stay out of range. Dancing just outside the range of Ken's step kick can cause him to whiff, allowing Ryu to punish with cr.hk (sweep) and get a free knockdown.
Some other tips:
- Watch for airborne EX tatsus to try and break your zoning game. These can be handled with a well-timed cr.hp
- After eating cr.mk > fireball, Ken players will often try to launch a step kick counter-attack; follow up with an ex fireball straight after the regular one for an easy knockdown
- As mentioned earlier, when Ken has two bars, watch for the counter-hit srk after a close blocked step kick
- Do not go on the offensive against Ken unless you get a knockdown
Whilst Ken has the advantage, albeit a minor one, this match is perfectly winnable provided a solid defensive zoning game is present.