Kenshi is a character that requires some patience to play. He has a few overhead/low mix-ups depending on the variation you’re using, but he relies heavily on keeping his opponents at a distance and only closing in when necessary. Many of his attacks are not safe unless used at their maximum range, and he’s not a very fast character which can make attacking difficult against some opponents. If you’re patient, you keep an opponent out and punish them for every move they make.
1 – Square/X
2 – Triangle/Y
3 – X/A
4 – Circle/B
Notation: Down, Back+2
Enhanced: Yes, but no armor.
The only special move that is present in more than on variation is the Blade Reflect. This special move reflects projectile attacks back at your opponent. The enhanced version (Blade Absorb) stops the projectile attack and gives Kenshi five percent of his health back. There are very few instances in which it will be worth the meter to use the Blade Absorb to give yourself a bit of health. If you have virtually no health remaining and the opponent mistakenly tries to finish you off with a projectile attack, use the Blade Absorb to get yourself out of chip damage range. Beyond that, you should save your meter for other special moves or Kenshi’s X-Ray.
Way of the Blade (X-Ray)
Kenshi’s X-Ray covers about half the length of the screen and can be used in a combo like most other X-Ray attacks in Mortal Kombat X. It has armor, which means it can go through other attacks and even works well as an anti-air attack. One important fact to note is that Kenshi’s X-Ray is not safe if the opponent blocks it. Most X-Ray attacks in the game are safe or even advantage if the opponent blocks, but Kenshi can actually be punished if you use an X-Ray and the opponent blocks it. From max range it’s harder to punish, but some characters will still be able to do it.
Most of Kenshi’s special moves are not safe if the opponent blocks, which means you need to rely on his basic attacks and combos to mount your offense. Once you land a hit, then you can mix in your special moves, or you can stay back and use the range of Kenshi’s special moves to your advantage. The special moves available in each variation vary quite a bit, but he has a decent number of safe combos he can use that cover most of his variations.
The Shin Kick (Back+3) and Stun Strike (Down+4) are low attacks that are safe if the opponent blocks. The Shin Kick leads into the Spinning Sin combo (Back+3,2), which is safe if the opponent blocks and can be followed with a special move for additional damage.
If you’re good at reacting to a combo connecting before you continue the combo, the Gray Matter combo (3,2) should be put to good use. It leads into the Blind Swordsman combo (3,2,2,3) which knocks the opponent back and can be followed with certain special moves depending on the variation (Tele-Flurry in the Balanced variant for example). However, while Gray Matter is safe if the opponent blocks, Blind Swordsman is not. You can mix this up with the Farsighted combo (3,2,2,4) which ends with an overhead attack, but it’s also not safe. You should only finish these combos if the first two attacks connect, but you need to react quickly or you won’t have time to finish the combos.
The Stolen Soul (2,1,1), Shortsighted (2,1,2), Soul Blade (Forward+3,2), Split Ends (4,2,1), Heighten Senses (4,D own+4) and See No Evil (4,4,1) combos are all safe if the opponent blocks. Heighten Senses ends in an overhead attack that can catch an opponent off-guard if you don’t use it too much. If See No Evil hits, you can end it with a special move. If it’s blocked you can continue into the Inner Darkness combo (4,4,1,2). This is safe if the opponent blocks, but ending with a special move instead inflicts more damage if the combo hits.
The Forgotten Warrior combo (4,4) is decent when you need to punish an unsafe attack. The second hit bounces the opponent off the ground so you can follow with a special move or Run Cancel into a juggle combo. If it’s blocked Kenshi is not safe, which is why this should be limited to punishment opportunities or even mid-combo after knocking an opponent into the air.
Kenshi gains four special moves in the Balanced variation. Spirit Push (Back, Forward+2) covers about half the screen and works well to end combos. It’s not safe if the opponent blocks, but from maximum range it’s difficult for many characters to punish it. The enhanced version (Spirit Charge) has armor and adds an extra hit for more damage.
Telekinetic Slice (Down, Back+4) is an overhead attack that is safe if the opponent blocks (despite what the in-game frame data reads). You can cancel blocked combos into this attack to keep Kenshi safe. However, in some cases it is possible for a skilled opponent to interrupt between the end of the combo and the Telekinetic Slice. You won’t see it happen often, and if it does happen you can simply end your combo with a different special move that cannot be interrupted to punish your opponent’s attempt to interrupt. The enhanced version does not have any armor, but it adds a second hit for more damage.
Kenshi can perform the Telekinetic Slice in three different locations. The normal notation places the attack one jump distance in front of Kenshi. If you hold Forward immediately after the notation (Down, Back+4, Forward) the attack will land on the far side of the screen. If you hold Back after the notation the attack lands directly in front of Kenshi. Watch your opponent’s location to determine which attack you should be using.
Tele-Flurry (Back, Forward+3) appears directly in front of the opponent and attacks with a single sword swipe that hits high (and can be ducked under). If it hits the attack continues with several more sword swipes, but if it’s blocked it stops at just one. This is essentially Kenshi’s projectile equivalent. It’s not safe if the opponent blocks it at close range, but from a distance it’s difficult for most characters to punish Kenshi unless they have a teleport or some other attack that quickly covers the length of the screen. The enhanced version (Tele-Beatdown) does not have armor, but it adds extra hits for more damage.
Rising Karma (Down, Back+1) is an uppercut-like attack that appears directly in front of Kenshi. It launches the opponent into the air allowing Kenshi to follow with a juggle combo. While it’s not safe if the opponent blocks, from maximum range (about two character lengths away) it’s difficult for many characters to punish. The enhanced version (Karma Eruption) has armor and adds an additional attack for more damage, but it’s also more unsafe which makes it easier to punish.
In the Possessed variation, Kenshi summons a demon to help him instead of using his telekinetic powers. He gains six special moves and one basic attack that utilize the demon in various ways. Sickle Lift (Down, Back+1) covers a little less than half the screen and knocks the opponent into the air. You can’t follow with a juggle and the attack is not safe if the opponent blocks at close range. However, from the maximum range of the attack most characters will not be able to punish Kenshi if they block the attack. It works fairly well to punish attacks that would normally be too far away to properly punish. The enhanced version (Sickle Strike) has armor, and Kenshi can combo after it when performed with an opponent trapped in the corner.
Soul Push (Back, Forward+2) covers about half the screen and knocks your opponent back when it hits. It doesn’t inflict that much damage, but it’s good if you’re trying to push an opponent away from Kenshi or toward the corner. The enhanced version (Soul Charge) has armor and ends with an overhead attack. While neither version is safe if the opponent blocks, Soul Charge pushes far enough back that most characters can’t punish Kenshi. This should be your primary attack once Kenshi has been knocked to the ground, if your opponent is trying to pressure you.
Demon Assault (Back, Forward+3) appears directly in front of your opponent. It’s Kenshi’s most damaging special move, which means you should be ending most of your combos with the attack. The enhanced version knocks the opponent to the opposite side of the screen and inflicts additional damage. If it’s blocked Kenshi can be punished, so don’t use this at close range or against an opponent with a teleport unless you know it will hit. This works well to punish zoning characters that like to attack with projectiles from across the screen.
Demon Slam (Down, Back+4) hits low and can be placed in three different positions on-screen. The default notation places the attack one jump distance in front of Kenshi. Press Forward or Back immediately following the notation to place the attack across the screen or directly in front of Kenshi respectively. The enhanced version (Demon Drop) launches your opponent into the air so Kenshi can follow with a juggle combo. Both versions can be punished if the opponent blocks so be careful when using this attack.
Demonic Strike (Down, Forward+4) is an overhead attack that should be used as a way to mix-up with the Demon Slam (overhead). While the attack is not safe if the opponent blocks, it pushes back far enough to make it difficult for most characters to punish Kenshi. The enhanced version (Demonic Slice) gives Kenshi a slight advantage if it’s blocked. This allows him to continue pressuring the opponent.
The overhead Demonic Strike and low Demon Slam can be used as an overhead/low mix-up anytime an opponent blocks one of Kenshi’s combos. It’s risky because only the Demon Drop (enhanced Demon Slam) leads to a full combo, so even if the opponent blocks incorrectly you won’t be getting a lot of damage without meter. But if the opponent does block right, Kenshi can be punished. It is possible to use the Demon Slam or Demon Drop in place of the overhead hit at the end of the Farsighted combo (3,2,2,4) as a mix-up, but once again, if the opponent blocks correctly Kenshi can be punished if you don’t use meter.
Demon Beam (Down, Back+2) teleports Kenshi above and directly in front of the opponent. This can be used to end Kenshi’s combos safely as it’s very difficult to interrupt the teleport. However, if an opponent anticipates you will teleport, Kenshi can be attacked when he appears above the opponent. While in the air Kenshi can use the same attacks he has available during a neutral jump straight up. This works well to punish an opponent using a projectile attack from across the screen, and the enhanced version (Demon Port) has armor, which makes it a decent choice if Kenshi is being pressured after an opponent knocks him to the ground.
Rounding out the Possessed variation is Spinning Hell (Forward+4), which is a low attack that has a decent amount of range. When used from the maximum range it’s difficult for most characters to punish it, but this should not be used at close range at all. It’s a slow attack that will be blocked by most skilled players, and it doesn’t lead to anything of significance. Use it occasionally to catch your opponent off-guard, but otherwise it’s not particularly useful.
The Kenjutsu variation replaces several of Kenshi basic attacks and combos with new sword-based attacks, and gives him five new special moves. He gains two overhead basic attacks with Leaping Sword (Back+2) and Head Splitter (Forward+2). Neither attack is safe if the opponent blocks, but Leaping Sword can jump over low attacks with precise (difficult) timing, and Head Splitter can be canceling into a special move. Mix these up with the Spinning Sin combo (Back+3,2) as an overhead/low mix-up. It’s a bit risky, but the damage will add up if the opponent continues to block incorrectly.
He gains a few other combos, but they’re not particularly useful as they’re all unsafe if the opponent blocks. However, the Spinning Slash combo (3,1,1) ends with a low attack which you can mix-up with the Spinning Blade special move (Down, Forward+1) which is an overhead attack. The enhanced version (Blade-Nado) has armor and bounces the opponent off the ground allowing Kenshi to follow with a juggle combo.
The Rising Sword (Down, Back+1) is an anti-air attack that can be used when an opponent jumps toward Kenshi. If the opponent is too close the attack will go under them so make sure you’re at about jump distance when you use this. The enhanced version (Sword Dance) has armor making it an even better anti-air attack. If either version hits an aerial opponent you can follow with a juggle combo for additional damage.
Tele-Slam (Down, Back+4) hits opponents within one jump distance from Kenshi and slams them to the ground. It’s very unsafe if the attack is blocked so don’t use it unless you know it will connect. The enhanced version (Tele-Suspend) has armor and stuns an opponent long enough for Kenshi to run up and start a combo. This works very well to extend combos and even as an anti-air attack that allows you to start a combo from the ground if an opponent attempts to jump toward you.
Tele-Push (Back, Forward+2) hits an opponent within a single jump distance from Kenshi and knocks them back. At close range it can be punished if the opponent blocks, but from maximum range it’s difficult for most characters to punish Kenshi. The enhanced version has armor and inflicts a bit more damage. Use the Tele-Push to punish opponents from a slight distance that would others be too far way to hit. This works especially well to stop an opponent from running toward Kenshi.
The Tele-Toss (Back, Forward+3) can reach an opponent just inside of a full screen length away from Kenshi. It’s quick and can easily punish projectiles and other full-screen attacks that would normally be safe against other characters. The enhanced version has armor and inflicts more damage.
Tele-Copter – Back, Forward, Back, Back (Full Screen)
My Puppet – Forward, Down, Back, Up (Mid-Screen)
Used Up – Win the first round of the match with a throw, then kill the opponent with a throw.
Leg Up – In the Balanced variation, score the first hit of the match (for the meter bonus), then kill the opponent with a Tele-Flurry (Back, Forward+3).
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Mortal Kombat X