When the special button is held, the user will emanate a black aura and begin charging up a powerful attack. After about one second, or when the button is released, the user throws out a concentrated black ink-trailed punch (Ryu) or kick (Ken) that deals 12% damage uncharged and 17% fully charged (Smash 4); a fully charged hit is unblockable and causes opponents to crumple to the ground slowly, leaving them open for a followup attack. A fully-charged Focus Attack connecting with an opponent in the air will simply paralyze them for a few moments, although the duration is still moderately long. A semi-charged Focus Attack can still crumple opponents (albeit for a shorter time), while an uncharged Focus Attack only deals low damage and knockback, and will not stun.
The direction of this attack can be changed by holding left or right after the special button is pressed, although the amount of damage done is not increased if the direction is changed, unlike moves such as the Falcon Punch. Ryu and Ken gain super armor when charging this move that can resist a single hit before they affect them as normal, which can let the user resist attacks that would usually be devastating (such as shrugging off Ganondorf's Warlock Punch in Ryu's intro video for Smash 4). As such, multi-hit attacks and grabs are an effective counter to this move. The move's super armor also cannot withstand immensely powerful attacks such as Final Smashes or the Dragoon, making it useless for negating them; however, Ryu and Ken gain a high amount of knockback resistance to attacks while charging, which can let them survive at low percents if hit by them. Ken also says "There you go!" when using the move unlike Ryu who simply grunts. In Ultimate, the attack can no longer withstand especially powerful blows when beginning the charge, such as the Warlock Punch and certain smash attacks. However, if hit with these attacks as a fully charged punch is released, it will be absorbed - providing the user has not been hit yet.
Focus Attack Dash Cancel
Focus Attack can be cancelled by tapping left or right twice, making Ryu move a short distance in the direction pressed. This is known as a Focus Attack Dash Cancel (セービングキャンセル, Saving Cancel), often abbreviated as FADC. When the move is cancelled, it will be noted by a flashing star similar to those made by fast falling fighters. As such, a player can use the move's starting armor to plow through attacks or projectiles, then cancel it immediately for a follow-up; this is especially useful on laggy attacks.
The dash cancel can be used before the strike occurs or when the attack hits (including if it is blocked). If the strike is released, but fails to connect, the dash cancel cannot be used. Dash cancelling the Focus Attack even works in mid-air, giving Ryu a unique air dashing ability that improves his aerial maneuverability and adds to his recovery options.
Cancelling the Focus Attack right as the opponent gets hit is one of Ryu's most reliable KO combos in his arsenal. For example, at full charge if the player cancels backwards, it guarantees a sweetspotted forward smash that can be charged a small bit. If the player cancels forward, an inputted Shoryuken can be performed instead. However, a forward smash deals more damage than a Shoryuken, making it much more effective when racking up damage.
During the crumple after a cancel upon hitting an opponent, another Focus Attack can be used. This is normally not possible without the dash cancel. The move, instead of crumpling the opponent as normal, takes some knockback instead. The knockback is overall mediocre, but it can be used for very interesting combos.
Special Move customization was added in Super Smash Bros. 4. These are the variations:
Like the other DLC characters in Smash 4, Ryu has no custom move variations.
This attack originates from the Street Fighter IV series. Every fighter has access to a move called Focus Attack that can absorb one hit during its charging animation, but has slow startup otherwise. It is performed by pressing both medium punch and medium kick at the same time. The Focus Attack can be charged, and there are three stages to the move, each dealing more damage than the last; the level 1 (or uncharged) Focus Attack has the fastest startup, but causes little hitstun or blockstun, the level 2 Focus Attack can crumple the opponent for nearly 2 seconds if it hits and has decent blockstun, and the level 3 (or fully charged) Focus Attack is unblockable, possesses the super armor property until the hitbox becomes active, and crumples the opponent for a slightly longer period of time. The super armor can be disrupted by grabs, multi-hitting moves, and attacks that are classified as armor breakers, such as Tatsumaki Senpukyaku. Characters may dash out in either direction during the charging animation and when the attack hits. The Focus Attack, at the cost of two EX bars of the super meter, can also cancel the recovery frames of most moves on hit or block (or sometimes regardless of hit or whiff, particularly on projectile moves), which, in conjunction with a dash immediately after, can allow for extra combo opportunities or add an extra layer of safety when using a laggy move; this is known as an FADC (Focus Attack Dash Cancel).
Ryu and Ken use the exact same attack animation from the SFIV series in Smash Bros., complete with the black "aura" and ink effect around Ryu's fist and Ken's leg when they release the attack. However, in SSB4, Ryu cannot use the Focus Attack to cancel his other special moves or his smash attacks, and must wait a fraction of a second before he can dash out of the Focus Attack's charging animation, as opposed to being capable of dashing out almost immediately; however, he can turn around right after the charge animation to attack in the other direction, which is unique to Smash Bros.