That is the traditional method for combos in most fighting games. You can still move and everything with the D-pad, but the stick is much more fluid. The issue is speed with combo execution. The stick can be flicked where the D-pad would have to be pressed. It just takes a lot of practice, especially with the tutorial combo special moves. All that said, the people I know who are particularly good at fighting games have joysticks instead of traditional controllers.
Most specials require this type of directional input + a button press. If your character is fully crouching or stepping back etc, then you are not doing the input fast enough. At the proper speed you will hardly notice a change in your character. And make sure you do the tutorials in order, they all build on each other, and most of them have you go through several different combo challenges of increasing difficulty in the same tutorial.
Last edited by UPR Captain; 05-13-2012 at 06:46 PM.