Kara Canceling is an advanced technique introduced in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It is exclusive to Ryu, Ken, and Terry. In the case of Ryu and Ken, it allows the user to cancel the start-up frames of down smash or any aerial attack into a special move or command attack. In Terry's case, he has Kara Cancelling in a more limited form, only capable of cancelling his neutral, up, and down aerials.
How To Perform
To perform a Kara Cancel, first activate any aerial move - or in Ryu and Ken's case, down smash - making sure the opponent gets hit. Then, immediately activate a special move. If done correctly, the rest of the first move's animation is "canceled" and the fighter will do the special move instead. This technique is useful for chaining attacks together for extra damage that the opponent cannot challenge, allowing for long combo strings, shield break combos, and kill confirms.
A variant of this technique with its own activation method was introduced in version 7.0.0, exclusively for Ryu and Ken. Known as the Late Kara Cancel, it can be performed by first activating down smash, then, in the first 5 frames of the animation, performing an input special move. If done correctly, the down smash animation will be canceled into the special move even if the move does not hit anything. This can be used as a mixup option for adding range to attacks to surprise the opponent. It occurs due to the charge hold frames of down smash interacting oddly with the kara cancel frames.
The Kara Cancel can be traced to the 1997 arcade fighting game Street Fighter III: New Generation, which contained a glitch where players can cancel specific moves into special moves when they were not supposed to. The glitch was well received by fans and became an integral part of competitive play. Capcom decided to keep the glitch for future Street Fighter installments by making it an official game mechanic, and even made balance changes with Kara Cancelling in mind.