Sifu upgrades explained: Best skills & upgrades to unlock

Sam Comrie
An image of Sloclap's Sifu

Sifu is an extravaganza of martial arts glory that requires precision and progression to maximize your potential in kick-assery. The game’s upgrade system can quite a load, so we’ve broken down how to use it. 

Sloclap’s Sifu will lead to a brutal beatdown within seconds if you’re unprepared. While you may be gifted with the knowledge of Kung-Fu, perfecting its intricacies is a large task. You’ll have to upgrade your character along the way, but it can be confusing knowing which paths to follow.

To help you on your way to becoming a martial arts maestro, here’s everything you need to know about Sifu’s upgrade system.


Sifu protagonist younger
The protagonist will age throughout the adventure upon each death, so be careful.

When can you buy upgrades in Sifu?

Sifu gives the player the tools to inflict jaw-dropping feats of Kung-Fu but you’ll quickly need more tricks up your sleeve to survive. Sifu’s upgrade system will let you unlock more combos and life-saving moves, but it isn’t accessible all the time.

You can purchase upgrades at Shrine’s throughout every level, but they appear in very fleeting numbers so don’t squander your chance to use them. Each Shrine can only be used until you replay the level, so don’t click away from it unless you’re happy with your upgrade. Your only other chances will be through the resurrection screen upon death or at the tree in the Wuguan.

How to use the upgrade system in Sifu

The upgrade system itself, like the combat, is layered and perhaps a bit overwhelming at first. However, it all begins to click into place once you understand how it can be used. Shrines will give the player to progress down three separate upgrade paths, using the following methods of points to do so:

  • Age
  • Level score
  • XP

Certain upgrades such as increasing your health gained on takedowns or maximum structure can be only be unlocked if you’re at a certain age. The older you get through death, the less you can upgrade these skills. Level score is earned through combat and multiples as you continue to avoid hits. It can be used to upgrade the amount of structure gained from avoids / dodges. XP is also awarded to the player through combat, based on your creativity and combo chains. This can be used to upgrade elements such as weapon damage or your amount of focus.

An image of Sifu's upgrade system.
Choose wisely on your adventure.

Best upgrades to unlock first

Sifu’s often punishing yet rewarding gameplay will make you yearn for some decent upgrades. You’ll need to grind enough XP to unlock them, but it’s worth it to utilize some of Sifu’s best upgrades. Here is what you should prioritize at the start of your journey:

  • Ground Counter
  • Environmental Mastery
  • Strong Sweep Focus
  • Pushback Cancel
  • Weapon Catch

You’re likely to be put onto the floor often in Sifu and the Ground Counter is a superb way to inflict some damage and avoid it yourself. It’ll also sweep your enemy, making them available for some quick ground hits. It won’t work on every enemy, but it can be used in the second phase of the Sean boss battle. Environmental Mastery will allow you to flick potential weapons from your surroundings into enemies. From footstools to bricks, nearly everything is an aid in your battle.

Strong Sweep Focus might not inflict a huge amount of damage, but it’s incredibly useful for creating windows of opportunity. It can be used on every boss, except Yang, and every other enemy in the game. You’ll put your enemy onto the floor and allow yourself to sneak some hits in. Pushback Cancel will allow you to regain your composure after an enemy, well, pushes you. Use it to stop yourself from hitting the environment and taking unnecessary damage.

As more foes begin to circle you in combat, having Weapon Catch unlocked can get you out of a tricky situation. If an enemy throws a weapon at you, you can instantly claim it as your own and get to work dealing damage as a result.

Are upgrades permanent in Sifu?

The path to Sifu’s completion isn’t easy and sadly, upgrades aren’t permanent from the get-go. If you die on your current run, having purchased multiple upgrades along the way, they’ll be reset when you start again.

However, you can keep upgrades if you’ve got enough XP to fork out for them. Every upgrade on the skill tree, seen in death or at Shrines, can be kept forever if you purchase them five times. Upgrades can range between 500XP or even 1000XP too, making it difficult to acquire some of the better ones if you’re low on XP. We advise putting your XP towards parrying techniques, before your more impressive-looking fleets of fury.

Now you’re ready to navigate Sifu’s upgrade system with ease.