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A Guide to Shulk - This is the Monado's Power!

A Guide to Shulk - This is the Monado's Power!

Game Versions
Smash 3DS, Smash Wii U
:4shulk: is a tricky little character mainly because he's one of the most unique characters in Super Smash Bros. due to his Monado blade. Some would say to use the Monado Arts as many times as possible, some say Vanilla Shulk is best Shulk and some only change modes when needed. Shulk is a character with such variety to his attribute that it's near impossible to say what mode you should be at during a given time. Let's try to alleviate that by giving a semi-detailed analysis of the Monado Arts, what moves best to use and when.

Shulk has a Sweet spot at the base of the Monado blade that will do more damage and have a stronger knockback. Keep that fact in mind when using any of his moves to get the most out of Shulk.

Up Taunt – “Now it's Shulk time!”

Side Taunts - “I'm really feeling it!”

Down Taunt - “This is the Monado's power!”

The five Monado Arts are
Jump 翔
Speed 疾
Shield 盾
Buster 斬
Smash 撃

Each Art has their own pros and con's. Once again, some of these are highly situational and character based. For example, you wouldn't want to use Buster against Mario or Marth, due to their fast attacks and combo potential, you might take more damage than deal more damage. Keep in mind the arts can change while jumping in the air or being knocked in the air BUT Shulk cannot recover if in the air off the ledge or attack till the animation finishes and he announces what mode you/he chose. Be careful not fall to your death while Shulk is screaming “Speed!”
For better knowledge on how to maneuver the Monado Arts, each Art lasts for 16 Seconds. The time for the Art to return for use again is 10 seconds. Use this to the best of your ability for management.
Monado Arts can be cancelled by pressing B thrice. Pressing it more than thrice begins the roulette of the Art's. So make sure if you need to cancel an Art or need to cancel an Art to select a different one, know how many times you press the button.

Jump 翔 – Jump as it's name implies, grants you immense Jump height, yet the con to this is that there is lower defense to Shulk. This mode can be quite useful against floaty types like Lucario, Kirby or Jigglypuff, but you have to be careful not to use Jump to jump onto someone who's on the ground, as they can charge an up-Smash or an U-tilt.

Speed – Speed will probably be one of the most useful Arts you will be using, as most of Shulks moves will use his aerials and tilts. Speed grants Shulk an immense speed most, rivaling Sonic's ground speed, the downside is lower jumps and weaker attacks BUT you can actually use this to your advantage. Having lower jumps makes short hoping into f-air's and n-airs really effective while the weaker attack damage is not so good, it does lead well to comboing from those aerials into tilts like U-tilt, F-tilt, D-tilt and his Neutral Jab.

Speed can also be useful for keeping up with Captain Falcon, Little Mac, Greninja and other faster acting characters, yet be careful for those weaker attacks due to it.

Shield – Shield grants Shulk the ability to be the HEAVIEST character in the entire game. Yes, the heaviest. This grants him an IMMENSE defense boost and launch resistance. Yet, this comes with extremely low jumps, weaker attacks and the slowest moving speed in the game. I will go on record saying, Shield has ABSOLUTELY no absolutes, it's a purely situational Art. Some use it when they have no damage to resist attacks at start and deal some, others use it when they have 60-90% damage to live longer and deal more damage. I personally use Shield the rarest of all his Arts. If you get launched far off, it's GG because more than likely you'll still be in Shield mode and too heavy to recover to the stage.
Note: Cancelling the Monado Art from Shield to Vanilla Shulk MAY let you be able to reach the ledge again. (Depends on distance).

Buster – This mode is probably the biggest risk/reward Art Shulk can master. It grants a huge damage buff but it creates a weaker launch to the opponent and a lowered defense. So while you can deal more damage to them, it's possible they can deal more damage to you in retaliation. Buster can be useful against heavier types of characters IF you know how to dodge and shield well. If not, then you're just putting yourself at risk. Learn when Buster will be most useful and when it won't be useful. You could even risk Buster at high percentages to deal as much damage to the opponent as possible before they inevitably KO you. As for who to use Buster against, speedy characters would not be recommended to use Buster with. You'll just take more damage than you can deal to them. If you're a brave guy, try Buster against the speedy types and see how well you do. If you can't handle it, then I recommend not using it much towards those types.

Smash – Smash is probably one of the most useful abilities and also the most predictable. Smash grants you a huge boost in launching power, but grants weaker attacking damage and it also lowers your own defense to launches making you easier to launch as well. Another risk/reward mode, but it tends to lean more towards reward. Smash is mostly used to seal the deal on that clean KO. If done correct, a measly charged Side Smash could even KO while using Smash Art even at around only 75% or above (Varies by character). Smash could also be used to knock those heavy hitters away and keep them at bay. It will still knock them far back enough for spacing even at low percentages, so use Smash accordingly. Once again, Smash will be used mostly for that Final KO and opponents know this. They will stall and avoid you till the timer runs out on the Art. Use that to your advantage by baiting them. Wait for their roll, or run with them if they're getting jumpy. Use that fear against them and SMAAAAAAASSSSHH!!!! them out of the ring!

Now that we've got Shulk's Monado Arts covered, it's time to tackle every other move, starting from Specials to Standard moves, to Grabs/Throws, then Aerials and finally Smash Attacks. Let's go everyone!

Side Special – Backslash

This move is HAZARDOUS, not to opponents but to YOU. This move, if used in the air or near the ledge will send you to the pits of hell unable to do anything to move until you see a tear fly from Shulk's eye knowing death is by his own hands. Seriously, be careful with Backslash. Other than that, Backslash is great for throwing the enemy off, since he jumps forward. If timed right Backslash can even jump over flat flying projectiles (Link's Arrow's, Samus' missles, Greninja's Small to Medium Watershuriken's). Backslash, since it lunges you forward is decent for spacing as well, timing it well with an enemy roll or used as a measure of hitting them off guard, will at least do damage and throw them off for a second.

Regularly Backslash will do around 7%-9% damage, if used on an opponents back, where the move actually becomes useful as a KO move and a damage dealer it can do from 11%-16% and has a larger knockback distance. So if you can sense an opponent turning around, coming back from the air or rolling, get that Backslash timed for maximum output!

Up Special – Air Slash

As with most Up Specials, Air Slash is Shulk's recovery move. This move in particular is something akin to Link, Mario or many others, leaving him highly vulnerable to punishment, so make sure to grab the ledge and not land on the ground. Air Slash has a vertical movement that's ever so slightly diagonal, so it's best to used closest to the stage as possible as Shulk will be unable to move his body after the move for 1-2 seconds to direction his landing.

Air Slash has a unique property of being a second move for attacking and distance. If one presses B again Shulk will do another slash, a horizontal one that has a decent amount of knockback and increases the distance gained via his Up Special. While this move can be a KO move, it's not really recommended under most situations due to Shulk's horrible lag time after recovery and the possibility of an air dodge from the opponent. While Air Slash can pick up an opponent from the ground in front of him, it's still not recommended for use as a damage or KO move.

Down Special – Vision Counter

Vision Counter is an amazing move for multiple reasons. It can be used as a KO move, it can be used as a safe counter (If timed right) and it could also be used as a means of creating distance between you and your opponent. First off as a KO move, Vision takes the power of the opponents move and reflects it back to them. So for example, if someone uses Bowser's Side Smash and you Vision it, it will deal the damage and knockback back to them. It's really useful but also risky as it IS a counter yet it can KO at 80% or more depending on the move being countered.
The counter part of the move lasts for a really long time compared to other counters, use that to throw your opponents off when they think it's finished!

As for a means of creating distance, Shulk's counter is unique in that instead of immediately turning around and hitting the opponent Shulk will bend around his opponents move and then slash them. If Vision goes off but misses the opponent Shulk will fly forward and then retract the Monado. It might leave him with a 2-3 second delay but you at least created distance between you and your opponent due to him flying forward. This use of excessive Vision isn't exactly recommended but just keep in mind it is an option.

Combining Shulk with Smash Art and Vision will lead to devastating results on the opponents part because that's basically double the knockback sent to the opponent.

Shulk's Vision counter is much like Marth's in that it's instant but if he wiffs BOY DOES HE WIFF, wiffing Vision will leave Shulk with a good 2-4 second delay leaving the opponent with an EASY punish to you. So be sure when you use Vision it's for a good cause.

Advanced Vision (Tech)
Shulk has a tech called Advanced Vision which is when his Vision activates hold the direction in which you were attacked on the control stick and he'll move forward further. This can also lead in the creation of distance and lead to KO's with it's increased knockback ability. Note that Advanced Vision is a Ground-Only tech that does less damage but sports that much higher knockback.

While the numbers are still 100% unclear, uses AngeloHollow claims by using Advanced Vision the Knockback is multiplied by 2.5.

Standard Moves

Neutral Standard – 3 Hit Jab

This 3 hit jab (Punch, Kick, Sword) is probably one of Shulk's SAFEST move. Almost all of Shulk's moves that involve activating the Monado require a 2-3 millisecond delay to pull it out. This one, since it's just Shulk's body and an unactivated Monado slash, has no delay to use.

An opponent at higher percentage can roll or dodge out of his jab so be sure to not just be spamming the A button as Shulk cannot tilt or Smash out of this attack it will just register to another A jab to either continue or finish the 3 hits. So know how many times you're pressing the button.

As Shulk's safest move, you'll probably be using this one a lot at earlier percentages as it leaves you the least open if you manage the Jabs.

Up Tilt – Arced Slash

This move is incredible simply for it's huge upward vertical range. This move will hit people in the air way before they even reach you and if they air dodge and hit the ground it leaves them vulnerable to a quick tilt or if you're gutsy a Smash attack. His U-tilt will also pick people up standing directly in front of him but it does not hit anyone directly behind him. So if you want to use it as a means for comboing make sure they'll stay in front of you and not roll away.

The U-tilt can be used for potential combo's as if the opponent is to heavy or doesn't try to dodge out of it, it will juggle them left and right stuck in the slashes, so use that to your advantage.

Forward Tilt – A horizontal slash

This is one of the moves you'll be using the most as it's probably Shulk's fourth safe move (The other two being aerials). This move like his others, has an activation delay but if you can get down the timing for these moves, it almost feels as smooth as butter. This move is great for combo's with certain Monado Arts like Smash, Speed, Shield and Buster. The combo potential and spacing for this, are admittedly limited, but it IS there. Use in combination with those Arts or even Vanilla Shulk. Again, the move is great for spacing due to it's crazy range for just a forward tilt.

Down Tilt – A slash at the knee's

This move is a bit strange with it's delay but I'll get to that near the end. This move is also another great combo move to be used with the other tilts and neutral standard. Shulk will bend down and slash at the opponents legs stunning them for a bit...Yet it feels like it doesn't because of Shulk's strange delay. When holding down to use this move Shulk will take a good 2 seconds to stand back up. I've tested other characters D-Tilt and it seems Shulk is the only one with such a huge delay between the move and him standing up to use other moves. That doesn't change the fact this move is great for combo's using the Monado arts like Buster. Ex. D-Tilt, U-Tilt, F-Tilt, Neutral Standard or other combo's are also possible using this move and the other Arts. It's all about figuring out what works best, what does what amount of knockback and using that accordingly. The tilts are your best friend as Shulk.


Shulk, like all the other characters have standard grabs. Forward, upward, downward and backward.

Forward Grab - A grab then a slash with the Monado sends them forward
This is just a basic slash to throw grab. It does 10% regardless of character and is easy to setup for multiple things. It can be followed by a dash attack, it can be followed by a aerial for combo set up, it can even be used to send a character off the ledge for either air game or that tricky meteor smash.
Probably better for use at lower percentages or spacing maneuvers.

Upward Grab - A vertical strike upward
This move is quite peculiar for a grab as it has a hitstun to it that leaves the opponent vertically right above you. The move does 6% damage. It can be followed with a short hop N-air, a jab or even an U-tilt. This grab is also really good for it's juggling, air and combo potential.

Backward Grab - A strike to the behind
A grab that throws/slashes the opponent behind Shulk. It does 11% damage and actually knocks them back quite a bit. This move is easy to follow up with a dash attack much like the Forward Grab or a B-air (Depends on character weight).
You'll probably be using this grab a lot to get knock an opponent off the ledge for a nicely timed D-air or any other aerial for that matter.

Downward Grab - A strike to the stomach that sends them forward
This grab sends them forward, much like the forward grab, although it's a downward one. It does 6% damage and frankly is probably the grab you'll use the least. It does the same amount of damage as the Upward Grab and while it does have more hitstun, following up from a Forward Grab is much more recommended.


There are two Aerials of Shulk's you will be using A LOT. They are great of distance gaining, spacing and combo potential.

Neutral Aerial – An arc that starts from Shulk's feet and curves in an arc hitting all the way behind him

This move is awesome. People don't realize just how useful and safe Shulk's N-air is when you can time it well against the activation delay. This move will hit anything and everything. The curve on his blade is long and can be used from any position if used right. From below an enemy, from the front of an enemy, from even jumping above and hitting them with the end of the move. This move will be useful for combo's and just an overall good move to keep an opponent in the air and not let them reach the ground. Learn the timing and be annoying.

Forward Aerial – Hit's in a forward slash with a slight arc from above his head to below his feet

This move. THIS MOVE. Is Shulk's most USEFUL aerial and move in general. This move can lead into tilt combo's, it can knock people back, it can send them off the stage farther and farther to prevent recovery. LEARN the timing of this move. You will be using it a lot. As said above you can use this to go from a F-Air to a D-Tilt to any other combination of moves whether it's more tilts or a Smash attack. It's possible since you might be using this move a lot, that the opponent may start to notice a pattern. Mix it up with a N-air or a B-air to throw them off to going back to using this fantastic aerial.

Back Aerial – A good 1 second delay to activate the move but boy does it REACH

Shulk's B-air has ridiculous range to it. It will at least hit a good character length away. While not 100% useful as an actual move to chase an opponent as compared to the F-air, it can be used really well from a short hop to a B-air and WILL activate in time if the short hop is done correctly. If not, the wiff or landing lag might hurt you. This move, although I wouldn't recommend it, can be used for combo potential or at least a mix up move. Just don't try to do it constantly as it will become highly predictable. As a move with that much range it's almost a sin not to make use of it, use it at a safe distance (at least a character length apart) as it will most likely hit.

A cool little attribute to this move is that it will actually hit the opponent even if they're “inside” Shulk. Which means you can be a bit daring with this move and get right in the opponents face too or if they roll they might roll right into Shulk's body and still get hit. Keep in mind hitting with the base of the Monado will do more damage and knockback.

Up Aerial – A common vertical slash upward

This move is probably not recommended and by far the move I tend to use the least. While it does hit twice if done right on the enemy, it's still safer and better to either charge an Up Smash or an U-tilt due to it's activation time. There's honestly not much to say about this move except, it does have a decent knockback at least.

Down Aerial – A tricky meteor attack but otherwise a basic downward slash

Like the rest of his moves and the activation delay, it's just a basic downward slash that like the U-air hit's twice if done right in the center. This move actually has a minor (Not very strong) meteor affect to it if the second hit goes through, so learn that timing to KO opponents quicker. Used in conjuction with Jump, Speed or Smash would probably be best but if not, don't really bother as other Arts or Vanilla Shulk.

Smash Attacks

Shulk is one of the characters that have extremely long in disance Smash attacks. While he's no Palutena, he can definitely make use of this distance for safer KO's or even end with after a combo.

Forward Smash – A forward stab that hit's twice with good distance

Shulk's forward Smash let's him activate the Monado for a strong forward stab. It does have some distance to it, so make use of it or use it when right in front of the enemy in attempt to hit with the sweetspot. This is probably the Smash you'll use the least as a Safe attach, but it makes for a GREAT Smash attack. Not only does it hit twice but it can even get people stuck in it with the first hit. Be careful though as bad positioning between you and the enemy will let them get out from the stronger second hit of the Smash attack. Use this with Smash and Buster if you can.

Up Smash – A vertical attack that can pick up enemies

One of the few Up Smashes that can pick up opponents in front of him, Shulk's Up Smash does just that. If used directly in front of an enemy, it will pick them up and even place them right into the blade of the stronger second hit. Extremely useful for punishing or those who are recovering from the air. Use the fact that it picks up enemies to your advantage. It CAN pick up enemies from behind but the positioning is really strict and I haven't figured out what exactly determines if it will pick them up from behind him or not. This is the Smash attack you will be using most, while not the safest, it can be if used in the ways I explained.

Down Smash – A HUGE distance and multiple hits make this move quite deadly

So Shulk's Down Smash hit's the most times out of any characters Down Smash. It will hit 3 times in front of him and twice behind him. It's the most useful Smash to use if an opponent is roll happy or likes to run right into your face. The fact it hits two-three times is countered by his delay after using it which can leave you wide open if the opponent is smart enough to block through all the hits.

This move is a fantastic KO move and in conjuction with Smash Art, makes it highly deadly and very viable. Learn to use the Down Smash sparingly but not too little because of how good it is. The move has extreme distance, so use that distance to your advantage once again because remember it is a Smash attack it WILL hurt.

Some tips for this will be to charge it on a ledge if a character is falling from the sky to knock them further back, using the distance of the blade and it's multiple hits. Do NOT use it when they're coming from below, they will just grab the ledge, get invincibility frames and knock you away.

Those are all of Shulk's moves and when best to use them and not to use them. A lot of people don't know how to really use Shulk effectively in combat, I won't say I'm good either. It's really all your personal use of him and how to make him work best. So get out there and get ready to really feel it! Don't forget to rate and tell me what you think about this guide, any other tips are highly appreciated!
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4.63 star(s) 41 ratings

Latest updates

  1. More info for Advanced Vision & It's own Title

    Since more information has pooled in, courtesy of AngeloHollo, more information about Advanced...
  2. New techs and information added

    Added Advanced Vision tech under Vision Counter and added how to cancel a Monado Art under...
  3. Grabs and some grammatical checks

    I've added an in depth description of the grabs and also fixed some grammatical errors. I had no...

Latest reviews

Really good guide! Just a suggestion, on some characters Dthrow-Backslash will lock them
Seems to be fastfallers mostly
This guide is really feeling it. It's got a good rhythm going because of how it shows the monado's power. Jokes aside, it's very good guide showing how viable the Incredible Shulk can be.
Good guide, if it went ov be r MALLC it would be better, but nice job.
After reading this you know it's Shulk time!
Pretty good but three things that didn't make it as good.
1. You spelled "whiff" as "wiff" in the Vision Counter section
2. You should have said that the more times you use Vision in a row the shorter the period of time where the move will counter gets. Such as if you use it ten times in a row it won't be able to counter as long as it could the first time you used it, you have to wait for it to cool down to get the longest length of time.
3. You said Shulk's up air has decent knockback, it actually has amazing knockback.
Good, all points are explain
it goes over some good points, and gives Shulk players more use. In the hands of pros, Shulk=God
Any gifs for a more detail reference?
Very, very in depth. Maining Shulk myself, some of these tips can help me learn a bit more. Thanks.
Very good in depth guide as Shulk is my main ever since 3DS came out and I've stayed true as when I play smash 4 I'm really feeling it. Small tip to anyone playing shulk that I didn't see while skimming through the guide: If you're fighting someone with a very long dash attack like ZSS, Bowser Jr, Dedede, etc. if someone is heavily reliant on approaching you with dash attack you can jump over them (probably works better with the jump monado art active) and use your back slash as it is your side special and can be used left or right regardless to your current direction to get nab an unpredictable KO or stack up damage with Buster on as it does MASSIVE damage from the back. Good Luck everyone and never stop feeling it.
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