Ki (気; pronounced "Kee"), also known as chi/qi, Yōki (妖気) or simply energy (エネルギー, enerugī), is the life force energy used by Dragon Ball characters. This energy also bears some realistic tendencies being that it is "used" in the real life martial arts, such as Kung Fu and Tai Chi.
According to Akira Toriyama, ki is made up of multiple components, including: Genki (元気; lit. "Energy"), Yūki (勇気; lit. "Courage") and Shōki (正気; lit. "Mind"). Also, ki can be "positive" or "negative", depending on the user.
Ki is also known as "latent energy" or "fighting power." Which directly translates as "life force." This force is a tangible energy inside every living being, with its major focus being in the center of the body. By drawing it out, an individual is able to manipulate it and use it outside the body. Ki can be used for many different techniques. Because there are physical limits to the strength of the body itself, it is necessary to increase one's ki to overcome this barrier and become stronger. Usually, the more concentrated the masses are, the more time the user requires to draw it out by powering up. When fighters gather ki, they are able to gain enhanced strength, speed, endurance, and can increase the power of their attacks to inflict greater damage to opponents. Normally, the more the ki is increased, the harder it is to control, so ki control is also important. Energy can be lost when the user sustains injuries, as exclaimed by Gohan when he loses over half of his maximum energy supply when hit by Super Perfect Cell's Time to Die attack.
In the English version of the anime, the term ki is rarely used, usually referred to as "Spirit Energy" or "Energy" instead. However, it is referred to by name in video games, even in the English versions. It is called W in the NES game Dragon Ball 3: Gokuden. In the English version of the manga, it is referred to as "chi", which is modeled after the Chinese pinyin reading of the term, "qi" (which is pronounced as "chi" like so).
When using Super Saiyan Goku (Naruto Sage Mode Costume) in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z, he refers to it as Chakra instead of ki or energy.
Ki is described by Toriyama as invisible, but can be visible in high concentrations or other ways. When visible, it comes in a variety of colors. The most common color in the series is white; other colors include yellow, red, purple, orange, blue, green, pink, and black. These colors vary on the race, technique being used, species that the character is, and/or the purity of the user's heart. It can also resemble electrical sparks or even sparkles of light.
The term ki was first introduced by Master Mutaito in a Dragon Ball episode where Goku travels back in time and learns about ki. The first usage of it is seen when Master Roshi performs an energy blast called the Kamehameha in order to extinguish the fire on Fire Mountain: by drawing his ki energy into the palms of his hands, Roshi is able to expel an explosive mass of visible ki energy. This was the birth of the energy attacks in Dragon Ball.
Main article: Aura Charge Items
Auras of ki radiate from the user when increasing the concentration of it inside their body. Warriors (excluding Androids) have a limit to the ki that their bodies can withstand, but the capacity for ki can be increased through mental and physical training. Some techniques (such as the Kaio-ken) rapidly increase the concentration of ki in the body, enabling the user to fight at a strength level that far exceeds their regular limits for a limited period of time. Auras can displace solid matter.
In the anime, auras are sometimes used for comical effect; for example, during the Garlic Jr. Saga, Goku's wife Chi-Chi angrily produces a red-colored (similar to the aura produced by the Kaio-ken) aura after being angered by Maron (Krillin's girlfriend); though it appeared similar to the Kaio-Ken, its red color was likely intended to comically represent Chi-Chi's anger.
In Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3, there are several Aura Charge Z-items that change the default color of a character's aura to a different one (for example, Aura Charge Red gives the character a red Kaio-ken-like aura) or grants an aura effect on characters (like Androids) who do not possess an aura. There is also the bio-electric aura produced by the Super Saiyan 2 and Super Saiyan 3 levels (and Cell as well). In the anime, lightning auras are sometimes placed randomly on various characters, regardless of their transformation or power level. Auras are even capable of being used defensively to repel attacks as demonstrated by Bojack's Power Guard and Gogeta's Vanisher Guard techniques, which their users defend themselves by generating and surrounding themselves with a powerful aura. Gohan uses a similar technique where he makes his Super Saiyan aura (while in base form) explode around him destroying objects. This is seen when Gohan is attacked by one of Bojack's henchmen who throws the hands of a huge clock.
The color of a person's ki can vary depending on the race of the said being or the kind of personality and soul the person has. As seen with Zamasu, his ki has a sort of black aura, however when he switched minds and soul with Goku, the black ki he possessed still remained, even though Goku never showed any signs of using black ki, indicating that the ki color and power of one's strength depends more on the kind of personality you have, instead of the body of a person itself.
Main article: Transformation
Depending on their genetic inheritance, some beings are able to transform. However, not all beings are able to transform at will; in some instances, there must be certain environmental conditions required for their transformation (i.e. moonlight for Great Ape transformation, or emotional upheaval for first time Super Saiyans ). By transforming, a person can change the limits of their regular body. Effects of transformations usually include alterations in strength and ki capacity. Some other effects may include differences in speed and durability. The most common transformation is the Super Saiyan transformation, which is only accessible to certain Saiyans and Saiyan/Human hybrids. The negative aspect of most transformations is that the process itself consumes energy. The effect of energy loss when dealing with Super Saiyan transformations can be limited through training.
Transformation is not always intended for increasing abilities. Some beings are known to transform in order to limit their abilities rather than increasing them. An example of this is Frieza, who was first seen in a suppressed state, being that his fourth form was his original state, and the form that he is first seen in was actually a transformed one. Cell demonstrated a similar ability when he reverted to a larval state in order to fit in Future Trunks' Time Machine and save energy during the time that he had to wait for the Androids. Then there was Super Buu, who transformed into his original Kid Buu state after his counterpart was removed from his body.
There are some beings that have the capability of replicating their ki and distributing them in different areas. So far the only fighter that is capable of doing so is Hit, as seen when he tricks Goku with his identical ki in several different areas, distracting Goku with this abundance of different energy levels.
Main article: Saiyan
Saiyans and their hybrid counterparts are naturally adept at using ki. They generally have no difficulty manipulating their energy, and have even evolved to have the ability to increase it numerous times in battle without much effort. This is much unlike Humans who usually spend themselves after the first increase. However, unlike Namekians, Saiyans don't seem to have a natural ability to detect ki by sensing ki signatures. That ability must be acquired through learning. Based on Raditz also not knowing how to increase an attack's power by focusing ki into singular points, it also seems likely that Saiyans generally don't know how to create amplified blasts, and need additional training in order to learn how to do so.
Main article: Namekian
Although Namekians are generally not considered as strong as Saiyans, their ability to use ki is seen in some ways to be better than that of Saiyans. Namekians are seen to be able to freely suppress and amplify their ki more efficiently than Saiyans. Namekians also use ki in more mystical ways than Saiyans do, but use it in the same manner when fighting. Namekians also are able to naturally detect ki energy by sensing the concentration of it. Namekians also are able to sense the "evil" in a being's ki.
Main article: Human It is very uncommon to see an Earthling who uses ki energy, though several humans have been shown to acquire full mastery of the art. Master Mutaito is one of the first humans who seem to have develop an understanding of the use and nature of ki, knowledge which he passed onto his students, Master Roshi and Master Shen, which they in turn passed on to their students such Yamcha, Tien Shinhan, Krillin, and Chiaotzu. Another, lesser adept human is Videl, who was taught basic flight from Gohan (she can fly, but she is no match for Z Fighters). Other users include Spopovich, Yamu, and Olibu (although Spopovich and Yamu were Majins and do not really count, and Olibu may have learned the art in the Other World). Master Shen's brother, Mercenary Tao, also acquire mastery of the art, becoming the Earth's top assassin.
Due to their unnatural occurrences and mainly stemming from Mr. Satan's claims, around Age 767-Age 774, Earthlings would come to believe that all ki-based techniques are just tricks. In the events leading up to the computer game Dragon Ball Online, in Age 804, Gohan wrote a book called "Groundbreaking Science" which reveals his studies on advanced martial arts and ki control. As of Age 1000, many Humans fight using ki attacks, including powering up and raising their ki, producing energy waves and spheres, discs, and self-destruction techniques. The Kikoukenjutsu Sword School, founded by Trunks and Goten to educate Earth's newer generation of warriors, focuses on the principle of channeling ki energy through swords. Tien's newly re-established New Crane School focuses on high spiritual damages; in some instances, techniques where the user must sacrifice health to produce the powerful attacks. All playable races, including Humans, can use the Kaio-ken technique, which constantly drains the user's HP (health) and EP (ki).
Main article: Android Androids generally have an unnatural source of ki, so sometimes their ki capacity is unlimited. Most of the time, because it is unnatural, it is unable to be detected by sensing. Conversely, most Androids are not able to detect other sources of ki by sensing. Instead, they must have special devices to do that. Some Androids can absorb other forms of ki, as well as energy from other life forms.
Every fighter contains an amount of latent strength, some hold more than others. This useless dormant energy can become a great power up if brought out through some special technique not known to many. This energy is depicted as clear silver.
Main article: Deities Deities use a rare form of ki, known as godly ki, which is referenced as early as the Majin Buu Saga, but fully introduced in the movie Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. It has been shown to be far above the normal usage of ki. Despite this type of energy dwelling specifically within gods and other high-level deities, god ki can be obtained by mortals via various means, including special rituals passed down through legends, highly intense training under the supervision of an angel, or simply by fighting against gods and adjusting to that level of speed and power.
Godly ki is a more powerful version of ki. As seen with Goku, Goku is unable to be on par with Beerus until he absorbs the power of God. After Goku and Vegeta train with Whis, they are able to use the god power in their base and Super Saiyan forms, making the transformations more powerful at will.
The God of Destruction Beerus, his mentor Whis, their siblings, and Saiyans who obtain the power of a god are able to use this form of ki, all of them vastly surpassing almost everyone else. The Supreme Kais also possess both normal ki and godly ki as they are "Gods of Creation", the opposite of Gods of Destruction, and both Kibito Kai and Old Kai are able to sense Beerus as well. Kibito also appears to have godly ki, as Dabura states that neither his or the Eastern Supreme Kai's energy can be used to release Majin Buu from the Sealed Ball.
Several beings who do not possess godly ki are capable of sensing it: Dende possesses the ability to sense godly ki due to the fact he is Guardian of Earth and is able to sense Beerus's ki. After greatly powering up to the level of the gods, both Goku and Vegeta also possess the ability to sense godly ki. Objects like scouters are unable to scan the power level of a user of godly ki.
Due to Goku's body being taken over by the Supreme Kai apprentice of Universe 10, Zamasu, and then engraving Goku's fighting power into his own, Goku Black possess godly ki. Every time Black transforms into his Super Saiyan Rosé form he covers himself with Godly ki.
Demon God Demigra also possesses godly ki. Those who possess godly ki are also immune to the effects of Demigra's Dark Magic. Users of the God Class-up in Dragon Ball Heroes also obtain godly ki.
Main article: Kai A Kai's energy is mostly invisible. Two Kais have been seen using invisible blasts; the first one was King Kai, who used his invisible ki to assist his pupils in his training. The second was the Supreme Kai, who thrust his hand forward and caused what appeared to be a gust of wind to blow at Majin Buu, having no effect whatsoever. Being deities, regular Kai's possess the ability to sense godly ki, and Supreme Kais possess godly ki.
Extraterrestrials, monstrous creatures, and demons are also able to use ki.
Members of Frieza's Race are able to use ki though they are unable to sense it naturally and thus rely on the use of Scouters, though they can learn how to sense it. Some members like Frieza transform into weaker forms to camouflage or suppress their ki, while others like Cooler are shown to be able to learn how to control and suppress their ki without the need of transforming into weaker forms.
Members of the Majin race are able to use ki and some members are capable of sensing it.
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