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Kame-Sennin channeling his Ch'i.

Ch'i (気, Ki; Viz "Chi", English TV "Energy"; Literally meaning "Breath, Air and/or Strength") is an essential component to energy techniques and transformations. Every living being has the ability to manipulate it to some degree, though most aren't aware of how to utilize it. Because of this, ki can be used to determine whether a person is alive, nearing death, or has died—at which point, it vanishes. It is composed of three distinct components including "energy" (元気, genki), "courage" (勇気, yūki), and "mind" (正気, shōki).[1][2]Ki can be used for a variety of functions, including flying and the creation of energy blasts with varying degrees of power. The amount of ki a combatant possesses is generally referred to as their Combat Strength (戦闘力, Sentō Ryoku; Viz "Chi Level", English TV "Power Level").



Tenshinhan using a Ch'i attack on Son Gokū.

Little is known about Ch'i's history in the context of the series. In Earthlings, the use of Ch'i appears to be particularly rare, and is tied to, and most commonly associated with budō. All Human-type Earthlings that have shown the capacity to use Ch'i have been martial arts of astonishing levels of strength, outstripping what standard martial artists are capable of. Mutaito, the teacher of the Kame-Sennin and Tsuru Sennin, was one of the first known Earthlings to utilize his Ch'i, and taught these arts to both his students. They would go on to develop their own teachings and pass them on through the Turtle School and Crane School of martial arts.

Beyond martial arts, most Earthlings view Ch'i as a spectacle, and are unfamiliar with its inner-workings. While the concept of the Kamehameha was known during the original Dragon Ball series, after Mr. Satan's general rise to fame, Earthlings came to view ki as nothing but a trick, following in lead with the Tenkaichi Budōkai champion.

Outside of Earth, however, it would appear that Ch'i is much more commonly known and employed by other races, leaving Earthlings as the black sheep among many of the universe's races. Nameccian children are known to be able to fly from a young age,[3] utilizing their Ch'i for the Air Dance Technique, and the concept of utilizing Ch'i comes naturally to the warrior race of the Saiyans.[4]


Ch'i is the essential life force of all living things, and because of this, Ch'i can be found in any living creature to some degree.[5] As such, Ch'i can be used as a method to determine whether or not someone is alive (i.e. "dead" or "inorganic", such as is the case with the Androids, whose Ch'i cannot be sensed), or near-death. It can also be used to determine the number of individuals in a direction.[6] It is composed of three distinct components including "energy" (元気, genki), "courage" (勇気, yūki), and "mind" (正気, shōki).[1] The "mind" or "soul" of the user is shown to affect the signal of their Ch'i; when Ginyū, and later Zamasu, switched bodies with Gokū, their Ch'i was no longer recognizable as Gokū's Ch'i.[7][8]

However, despite being the life force of living things, Ch'i has found use in combat by practioners of budō on Earth, and other forms of martial artists and warriors from extraterrestrial and extradimensional worlds. Through sufficient training, it is possible for any living being to harness their Ch'i, and utilize it as a weapon. The time at which it takes an individual to learn this differs by species just as much as it does for the individual person; it took Kame-Sennin fifty years to develop the Kamehameha, despite being a trained martial artist, and extremely powerful in his own right, while Son Gokū, a young Saiyan, was able to mimic the move after having only seen it once, and having had far less training than Rōshi.[4] Earthlings by nature appear to have a more difficult time developing the ability to use ki than other species, though studying budō eases the learning curve.


Main article: Aura

Jiren's Ki

Jiren's red-colored Aura.

The "aura" of an individual is a general effect of Ch'i being expressed outside the body, usually in the form of "powering up". When a user focuses their Ch'i, it manifests outside their physical body in the form of energy that can interact with the outside world, displacing solid matter among different effects.

Other Types of Ch'i

See also: God Ch'i


God Ch'i is a unique type of Ch'i utilized by entities who are deities, such as Hakaishin and Kaiōshin, or those who can transform into deities, such as Saiyans who possess a transformation in the Super Saiyan God line of forms. It cannot be sensed by mortals — with only a few given exceptions — and is the highest tier of Ch'i.[9]


See also: Scouter See also: Ch'i Detection Ch'i has been shown being measured in multiple throughout the series. One of the most well known methods, while not the first displayed, is the infamous Scouter. Pioneered by the Tsufruians, and utilized by Freeza's Army once the Saiyans were conscripted, the Scouter is a device capable of reading a target's Ch'i, and calculating precisely how strong that target is by relaying the strength back to a user in the form of numerical value.[10] They are not infallible, as they can only sense the given Ch'i output at any given time, and can be lied to.

A similar method is the device utilized by Babidi and his minions, which measures Ch'i in Kiri. This method is different than the Scouter method, and can measure larger quantities of Ch'i.[11]

The most prominent method, and the first method displayed, is the ability to sense ki.[12] This ability allows the user to detect the battle power and presence of targets without the need for a device such as a Scouter. It is an easy ability to use, with Gokū displaying a rudimentary version as a child[13], and many fighters learning how to use the ability with ease.


  • In Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z, Gokū refers to his Ch'i as chakra when in his Sage Mode costume. This is a direct reference to the Naruto series, of which the DLC is based.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Chōzenshū 1
  2. Super Exciting Guide: The Truth About the “Dragon Ball” Manga
  3. Dragon Ball chapter 256, pp. 12
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dragon Ball chapter 15
  5. Dragon Ball chapter 428, pp. 1
  6. Dragon Ball chapter 259, pp. 1
  7. Dragon Ball chapter 287, pp. 14-15
  8. Dragon Ball Super episode 50
  9. Dragon Ball Z: God and God
  10. Dragon Ball Chapter 195, page 6
  11. V Jump 2004
  12. Dragon Ball chapter 152, page 9
  13. Dragon Ball chapter 5, pp. 1

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