Shulk 101

Monado Art Buffer Deactivation

Monado Art Buffer Deactivation is, as the name implies, the act of deactivating a Monado Art during a specific animation (listed below). As is with all buffering mechanics (see this Beefy Smash Dood's video for more about the buffering mechanic in all of Smash 4), the input window for buffer deactivation is within 10 frames of the first actionable frame (FAF) of the move. For Monado Arts, this means that you must deactivate the art by pressing special three times (holding special for 1 second will not register as a buffer deactivation, even if the animation lasts for over a second).

Fortunately  for Shulk, only the last special input must be pressed within the last 10 frames. However, you cannot perform any directional inputs while attempting to buffer deactivate (that is, between your first input of neutral special and the FAF of the move), or you will instead buffer the directional input instead of the three special inputs. While this condition might lead to several failed buffer deactivations when first learning Shulk, it quickly becomes second nature just through practice and familiarity with the character.


While at first glance this advanced technique might not seem all that useful, Monado Art Buffer Deactivation has a variety of applications. The most basic of these is simply the fact that it allows for Shulk to quickly and more efficiently manage his arts. By buffer deactivating arts instead of deactivating them normally, Shulk saves on time and inputs that could otherwise leave him vulnerable during a match (i.e. taking the time to deactivate an art in neutral is a much larger commitment, meaning Shulk limits his potential actions). These sort of small optimizations go a long way in improving your Shulk gameplay– with proper use of MABD, movement and art management can become much more fluid, and allows for Shulk to be far more threatening to his opponent. 

The second intristinic application that the removal of Shulk's art means that he can combine MABD with another art-activation technique, such as as MALLC, for even greater offensive pressure. Again, in the vein of the first application, this can greatly improve Shulk's overal ability to play neutral, press his advantage, or even escape disadvantage (i.e. MABD out of your current art in order to MALLC airdodge and escape any possible airdodge punish).

Using MABD in conjuction with MALLC to improve combos: Speed Art Buffer Deactivation (SABD) out of a dthrow into Jump Art MALLC fair

Perhaps the most interesting property of Buffer Deactivating is how it can give Shulk a unique combination of properties otherwise unobtainable through regular art usage. These unique properties can be achieved by buffer deactivating from Jump Art, Speed Art, and Shield Art. The applications of the first two techniques are discussed more in-depth in their corresponding tabs (found at the top of this page). However, the applications of Shield Art Buffer Deactivation are yet to be found, as it results only in Shulk retaining his reduced mobility and jump height, while losing his increased resistance to taking knockback and damage. It's... not very helpful. 

"Bufferable" Actions

Actions where you cannot deactivate an art (thus, can buffer deactivate) include:

  • All attacks, including jabbing, dash attack, tilts, aerials, smashes, other specials, grabs & throws
  • Shielding, perfect shielding, shield dropping
  • Skidding, turning around, crouching
  • Rolls & spotdodge
  • Jump squat & footstool jump squat animation
  • Platform drops, shield platform drops
  • During hitlag, clanks, while buried, frozen, or sleeping
  • Item throws
  • During special fall, edge slip tumbling, footstool tumble, shield break falling
  • While ledge hanging, neutral getup, getup attack, getup roll, ledge jump
  • Neutral tech, rolling tech, wall tech, ledge tech, wall jump tech, ceiling tech
  • Taunting

Jump Art Buffer Deactivation

The buffer deactivation of Monado Jump results in Shulk retaining his aerial mobility while losing his fast fall speed and additional received damage. The loss of increased fall speed not only allows him to jump higher than Monado Jump itself, as well as reaching this height faster. The lack of fall speed coupled with the increased heihgt gives him a 'floaty' appearance, allowing him to maneuver in the air more akin to a fighter like Jigglypuff, allowing for things such as extended edgeguards, shown below.

Using JABD for extended edge guarding.

Another key application of JABD is during the second and fifth progression of Shulk's 50-50: Monado Purge. At certain percentages the buffer deactivation is required in order to make the combo a true 50-50; however, it also requires precise input timing, as Shulk cannot buffer his jump from the uthrow animation; he must use that buffer window to buffer deactivate the art instead. This means that the FH uair must instead be input only after the FAF of the throw, but input as soon as possible in order to prevent the opponent from being able to DJ out of the combo. This progression thus has a very tight timing window in which it acts as a true 50-50, and so its timing should be practiced thoroughly.

Speed Art Buffer Deactivation

As expected, the buffer deactivation of Monado Speed is best used while on the ground. It allows for Shulk to combo off of his attacks with the same speed as Speed Art alone, but without the decreased damage output that the art usually applies.

Some unique properties come out of SABD as well; the Buffer Deactivation retains Shulk's increased groundspeed, but without the increased ground traction that Monado Speed normally has. This means that his sliding distance (and thus, perfect pivot) go even further than Monado Speed's, allowing for techniques such as perfect pivot fsmash out of throws. Another added benefit of Speed Art Buffer Deactivation is the loss of Monado Speed's damage multiplier nerf– instead of doing 0.80x damage, the combos Shulk performs will do their normal, vanilla damage. 

Dthrow into SABD Perfect Pivot Fsmash


The Monadacus is a specific application of the Speed Art Buffer deactivation, named due to its similarity to the Brawl "dacus". It is performed by buffer deactivating into a run from Monado Speed, and inputting a Jump Cancelled Up Smash during Shulk's initial Dash animation. Alternatively, instead of inputting a jump cancelled up smash, it is also viable to simply input a running up smash from the dash– the lower ground friction (sometimes called "traction) allows both methods to slide similarly far distances. 

The primary utility of this technique is rather niche, but it provides Shulk with a very powerful, high risk:high reward burst option that can catch some opponents off guard. In particular, due to Shulk's up smash having a large, lingering hitbox, it can be used to bait an opponent at the ledge to neutral getup while Shulk is far away from the ledge. Many opponents do not realizing just how quickly the Monadacus can cover long distances, and think they are safe to neutral getup, which in turn is punished hard with the Monadacus.

Buster Art Buffer Deactivation

In comparison to the other two forms of Buster Deactivation, Buster art is different in that Shulk does not have any unique properties following the deactivation. Instead, it is more of a 'convenient' deactivation that can lead into kill confirms by combining Buster's low knockback and high damage with an immediate follow up with a high-knockback vanilla move. As an example, Buster nair can true combo into airslash, or an fsmash if the opponent has poor DI. More examples of such setups are provided below:

A 'convenient' deactivation of Monado Buster can lead to a KO confirm.

A similar setup out of Buster Bthrow.

Buster Art buffer deactivated uair into uair

Practice Drills

Monado Art Buffered Deactivation is one of the most important skills a Shulk main can Being 

Video Tutorials