Kung Jin is one of the few characters who has three variants that are all viable in competitive play. While most will likely favor his Bojutsu or Ancestral variations, even the Shaolin variant works well against most characters. He can be played as a zoning character or aggressively, with his universal attacks and combos offering a very good overhead/low mix-up. At this early point in the game, Kung Jin is one of the best characters available.

Notation Key

PlayStation/Xbox
1 - Square/X
2 - Triangle/Y
3 - X/A
4 - Circle/B

Air Dive Kick
Notation: Down +4 (in the air)
Enhanced: Yes, but no armor.

Kung Jin's Air Dive Kick is very similar to his cousin Kung Lao's Dive Kick, but Jin's starts a juggle combo every time it hits. The attack is not safe so don't just toss it out there. If you're in the air and your opponent uses a projectile or does anything that would allow you to punish with an Air Dive Kick, that's when you should use it. The Air Dive Kick also works well after a combo that knocks the opponent into the air. The enhanced version (Air Shaolin Strike) is a safer than the normal version if it's blocked, but t can still be punished by a skilled opponent.

Straight Arrow
Notation: Down, Forward+2
Enhanced: Yes, but no armor.

Kung Jin's standard projectile attack is the Straight Arrow. Like most projectile attacks, it covers the length of the screen, but your opponent can duck under it. The enhanced version, (Split Shot) fires two arrows at the same time and hits mid so your opponent can't duck under them. Split Shot also gives Kung Jin advantage if it's blocked, meaning you can use it to end blocked combos to maintain offensive pressure. This should generally only be done to end a match as Kung Jin's meter is better spent elsewhere, but it's an option if you need the additional offensive pressure.

Up Arrow
Notation: Down, Back+2
Enhanced: Yes, but no armor.

The Up Arrow is Kung Jin's projectile anti-air attack. If you have good reactions you can use this to knock an opponent out of the air right after they jump. The enhanced version (Up Split Shot) fires two arrows and gives Jin advantage if the opponent blocks, but it is easy to duck under. It's not recommended to use this at close range unless you're trying to knock the opponent out of the air.

Lunge Kick
Notation: Back, Forward+3
Enhanced: Yes, with armor.

The Lunge Kick is very similar to Liu Kang's Flying Kick. Kung Jin covers the length of the screen with a moderately fast flying kick. If you're close enough, Kung Jin's staff will hit the opponent just before the flying kick. The flying kick portion of the attack is high and can be ducked under, but the staff portion if mid and cannot be avoided by ducking. The enhanced version of the attack (Fly Kick) inflicts more damage and has armor. You can use either version to end combos or punish attacks that would normally be too far away to punish with a basic attack or combo.

Cartwheel Drop
Notation: Down, Back+4
Enhanced: Yes, with armor.

Kung Jin's Cartwheel Drop is an overhead attack that can be used to end combos or occasionally jump over low attacks with proper timing. The enhanced version (Cartwheel Smash) is Kung Jin's best wakeup option. If an opponent is pressuring you after knocking Kung Jin to the ground, use the armor of the Cartwheel Smash to go through their pressure. If the opponent anticipates this and blocks the attack, Kung Jin is not only safe from punished, but has a slight advantage that allows him to continue offensive pressure.

Staff Infection (X-Ray)

Kung Jin's X-Ray is one of the few X-Rays in the game that is considered an overhead attack. This gives Kung Jin a very deadly mix-up game thanks to his already strong overhead/low mix-up options. While you can just toss this out and hope your opponent guesses wrong when blocking, it's best to combo into it or save your meter for Kung Jin's enhanced special moves. You can end most of Kung Jin's combos with the Staff Infection X-Ray, but he has good enhanced special moves which should take priority unless the X-Ray will finish off an opponent.

Basic Strategy

Kung Jin has a long reach and a very good overhead/low mix-up game that will keep opponents guessing for days. You will have to take some risks, especially when using the Air Dive Kick to punish opponents, but overall you can remain pretty safe and still force overhead/low mix-ups all day long.

Your primary overhead/low mix-up comes in the form of the Low Poke (Back+1) as your low option, and the Head Breaker (Forward+2) as your overhead option. The Low Poke leads into the Heel Smash (Back+1,4) and Slide Kick (Back+1,4,3) combos. Both are safe if the opponent blocks, but you can end the Heel Smash combo with a special move to extend the combo or increase the damage out (depending on the special move used).

The Head Breaker leads into the Leg Pass combo (Forward+2,4) which is also safe if the opponent blocks. You can end this combo with a special move for additional damage or to extend the combo. With quick reactions you have enough time to confirm the combo hit before you continue with a special move.

Both the Head Breaker and Low Poke options will hit from about 2-3 character lengths away, which is enough to force a mix-up at the start of a game. Kung Jin has more range on his physical attacks than most other characters, which gives him a distinct advantage when it comes to this mix-up. You can stay out of your opponent's attack range and still force a safe overhead/low mix-up.

Use the Cross Back combo (Back+2,1) to extend combos after knocking an opponent into the air, and the full Stabilizer combo (Back+2,1,2+4) ends with an overhead attack that is safe from punishment if the opponent blocks. This can be mixed up with the Low Force combo (Back+2,1,4) which ends with a low attack, but it's not safe from punishment. Luckily you can cancel the low into a special move to keep it safe (depending on the special move used).

The Honorable Kata combo (Forward+2, Down+1) starts with an overhead that's followed by a low attack. While the low is not safe if the opponent blocks, it can also be canceled into a special move to keep Kung Jin safe.

Kung Jin has other decent poking combos such as the Bo Lunge (2,2,1) and Traditional Ways (3,4,3) that are safe if the opponent blocks and can be used to keep things from getting repetitive. However, you should be focused on the Low Poke and Head Breaker mix-ups as that is where Kung Jin truly shines throughout all variations.

Ancestral Variant

The Ancestral variation gives Kung Jin a multitude of projectile options with an array of arrows to choose from. He gets three aerial projectiles with the Air Straight Arrow (Down, Forward+2 in the air), Air Angle Arrow (Down, Back+2 in the air) and Air Down Arrow (Down, Down+2 in the air). The Air Straight Arrow shoots straight head, the Air Angle Arrow shoots at a slight downward angle toward the far corner of the screen, and the Air Down Arrow shoots down, but only slightly ahead of Kung Jin. You can enhance all of these to fire two arrows instead of one.

In addition to the aerial arrows, Kung Jin also gains use of the Low Shot (Down, Down+2). Kung Jin shoots an arrow from a crouching position that much be blocked low. Many normal projectiles will also go over Kung Jin's head while he's crouching for the Low Shot. This is a great zoning tool, especially against characters to must use meter to make their projectiles hit low enough to knock Kung Jin out of his crouching position.

While the aerial and crouching options are nice, the biggest advantage Kung Jin has in the Ancestral variation are his three quiver transitions. He can switch the type of arrow he shoots with the Fire Quiver (Down, Down+1), Stun Quiver (Down, Back+1) and Vampiric Quiver (Down, Forward+1). All of the arrows last for a short time before reverting back to the default arrow.

The Fire Quiver gives Kung Jin more powerful arrows that inflict considerably more damage than the normal arrows and knock down the opponent. Stun Quiver holds the opponent in place, like Sub-Zero's Ice Ball, and allows Kung Jin to follow with a combo. Vampiric Quiver shoots arrows that deplete the opponent's super meter.

While all of the arrows last the same amount of time when not used, the Stun Quiver arrows can only be shot once before Kung Jin reverts back to his default arrows. You can switch right back to the Stun Quiver, but you won't be able to shoot more than on Stun Quiver arrow without equipping the Stun Quiver again. You can end most combos with a quiver change and remain safe from punishment, so think about how you want to attack after each combo so you can make sure you have the appropriate quiver stocked.

You generally want to end combos with the Stun Quiver, then go for an overhead/low mix-up into an arrow to extend your combo with the stun. However, if your opponent doesn't have much health left, it may be beneficial to switch to the Fire Quiver for the additional damage. When playing against a character who is very dependent on meter, the Vampiric Quiver can be very helpful. Even if you just want to stop the opponent from using an X-Ray attack or breaker, the Vampiric Quiver can really help in these situations.

Kung Jin loses a bit of damage in the Ancestral variant, but he gains a lot of versatility with multiple arrow quivers. This should be your first Kung Jin variant as it works well against almost any matchup.

Bojutsu Variant

Kung Jin's Bojutsu variant adds several bo-related attacks to his arsenal. He gains the Bo Flame (Down, Back+1), Bo Swat (Back, Forward+4), Bo Swing (Down, Back+3) and Low Bo Swing (Back, Down+3). The enhanced versions of the Bo Swat, Bo Swing and Low Bo Swing have armor.

The Bo Flame shoots a flame from Kung Jin's staff that travels across the top of the screen. This should be used as an anti-air attack and to extend combos (especially in the corner). It works well after a neutral jump punch and other similar scenarios when the opponent is high in the air during a combo.

The Bo Swat launches your opponent into the air for a juggle combo. Use it to extend combos once you have confirmed the first part of the combo connected. It's not safe if the opponent blocks, so you want to make sure the combo hit before you cancel into the Bo Swat. The enhanced version inflicts more damage and has armor, but otherwise should be used in the same manner.

Kung Jin's Bo Swing and Low Bo Swing both work well to end combos. The enhanced versions (Bo Spin and Low Bo Spin) can extend combos, but none of the attacks are safe if the opponent blocks. Make sure you combo connects, then cancel into the enhanced version of either attack to extend your combos for considerably more damage. It's easier to combo after the Bo Spin than the Low Bo Spin unless you're in the corner, plus the Bo Spin inflicts more damage, so it should be your go-to combo extender.

The Bojutsu variant is more about maximizing damage than anything else. However, you need to be able to hit-confirm your combos to use this variant well. What that means is you need to be able to confirm that your combo hit the opponent with enough time to cancel into on the bo attacks to maximize your damage. None of the attacks are safe if the opponent blocks, so you can't just toss them out there and hope they hit. Any skilled player will punish you severely for that, so practice hit-confirming your combos if you want to use this variant.

Shaolin Variant

Kung Jin is the cousin of Kung Lao and that shows in the Shaolin variant. He gains the use of a Chakram blade that gives him a new basic attack, several new combos and a few new special moves. The new basic attack is the Blade Stab (2), which is fast, but hits high and can be ducked. It leads into the Side Slice (2,2), Sharp Teeth (2,2,1) and Rising Monk (2,4) combos. Only the Sharp Teeth combo is safe if the opponent blocks, but the Rising Monk combo works well to end combos.

In addition to the combos that start with the Blade Stab, Kung Jin also gains the Double Strike (1,1,2), Silent Thief (Back+1,2) and Inner Peace (Back+1,2,3) combos. Inner Peace is the only combo that's safe if the opponent blocks, but Double Strike ends in a low attack that may catch an opponent off-guard.

The special moves Kung Jin gains in this variant are what really separate it from the other two. The Up Kick (Down, Back+3) is a good way to end Kung Jin's combos in this variant. After the upward kick Kung Jin can transition into the Shaolin Drop by pressing Down+4 in the air. This is an overhead attack that combo after the Up Kick when used to end Kung Jin's combos. The enhanced version of the Shaolin Drop (Shaolin Slam) inflicts more damage, and the enhanced version of the Up Kick (Rising Strike) has armor. They're all difficult to punish if the opponent blocks, but it is possible.

Kung Jin can also throw his Chakram (Back, Forward+1) and angle it by pressing Up or Down after the notation. He can also throw it low with the Low Chakram (Down, Back+1). The normal Chakram is a mid-hitting attack which means that your opponent won't be able to duck under it. However, the enhanced version (Chak-A-Rang) is high.

The Chak-A-Rang and Low Chak-A-Rang act like boomerangs and return to Kung Jin for a second hit. Both enhanced projectiles are safe if the opponent blocks and can be used to extend combos for additional damage. While the enhanced versions are safe, it's still best to confirm that your combo hit before canceling into the Chak-A-Rang or Low Chak-A-Rang. You don't want to waste meter without getting the potential damage that goes along with it.

The Shaolin variant allows Kung Jin to be a bit more offensive, pressuring and even zoning with his Chakram projectile attacks. You can extend combos similar to the Stun Quiver ability in the Ancestral variant, but it requires super meter to do so. The difference is that you can get more damage by using that meter. This isn't quite as versatile as Ancestral, but you get more damage while still having more versatility than the Bojutsu variant (which is the most damaging variant for Kung Jin).

Sample Combos

Ancestral
34 percent - Air Dive Kick, Run Cancel, 3,4,3, Low Shot (with Stun Quiver), Walk Forward, Neutral Jump Punch, 2,2,1, Lunge Kick

Bojutsu
32 percent - Back+1, 4, Neutral Jump Punch, Jump, Air Dive Kick, Back+2,1, Bo Swing

Shaolin
33 percent - 2,2,1, Chak-A-Rang, Neutral Jump Punch, Jump Forward, 4, Air Dive Kick, Run Cancel, 3,4, Up Kick, Shaolin Drop

Fatalities

Target Practice - Down, Forward, Down, Back, 2 (Close)
Pinned Down - Forward, Back, Down, Down, 1 (Mid-Screen)

Brutalities

A Little Heart - Go at least seven seconds without being hit during the final round of the match, then stand at sweep distance (one character length away) and kill the opponent with a Straight Arrow (Down, Forward+2).

For more on Mortal Kombat ,X head over to Prima's free guide or check out our tips for Liu Kang and Sub-Zero!