Like many fighting games, characters move around on a 2D playing field, meaning that they can only move forward and backward. Holding the Left or Right button will cause the character to slowly walk across the stage. Though it may seem like a simple maneuver, walking is extremely important as it enables the player to carefully position themselves so that they're in range for an attack or out of range of their opponent's attack. Each character also has different walk speed. For instance, a character such as Smoke walks very fast, whereas a character like Baraka walks slow in comparison.
By quickly double-tapping the Left or Right button, a player can perform either a forward or backward dash. This will propel the character in the given direction allowing them to cover more ground in a shorter amount of time. To cancel out of a dash, press a button other than Forward or Back during the dash animation. This is what's typically known as Dash Cancelling. Dashing and cancelling out of it with Block is common while moving around. Similar to walking, dashing varies between each character. Characters like Johnny Cage and Kenshi have notoriously fast dashes allowing them to close the gap on their opponent much quicker than other characters.
Characters can jump to facilitate movement and dodge attacks. Jumping is an easy and quick way to cover distance without having to walk or dash. It's also used to attack enemies from above with a jump attack while avoiding grounded attacks. Nitara is one example of a character who excels in the air as she can perform air dashes, making her a threat anytime she jumps.
However, characters cannot block while in the air which means jumping is inherently a risk. A mistimed jump can result in being hit out of the air by the opponent's projectiles or other attacks. If attempting to jump at the enemy and they react fast enough, they'll be able to stop the jump and punish with an anti-air attack.
An alternate way of avoiding attacks is ducking, which is done by holding the Down button without blocking. In this position, high attacks will go right over the character. Ducking can be especially useful when low on health since you'll avoid taking block damage from highs. Ducking can be risky however since if you're hit, you'll take more damage compared to blocking.