Goku is the most powerful fighter in the Dragon Ball series. Though trained in fictional martial arts, his fighting stance borrows quite heavily from several real-world martial art styles. So, what martial art does Goku use?

Goku uses various martial arts including elements of kung fu, Wing Chun, and karate. Goku’s fighting is also heavily inspired by Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. These fighting styles use a mix of Wing Chun, Muay Thai, boxing, and street fighting.

This article will explore the different martial arts and techniques that influence Goku’s fighting style in the Dragon Ball series. Keep reading to learn more about this captivating fighting style.

The Influence of Kung Fu on Goku’s Martial Art

There are several different fighting styles that have influenced DragonBall and DragonBall Z. However, the different types of Kung Fu have been the most significant source of inspiration for the animated series. 

Kung Fu, also known as Wushu, comprises several schools and styles. The techniques utilize various traditional weaponry. One of these traditional weapons is the staff that Goku trains with in the earlier part of the series. 

The acrobatic nature of kung fu lends itself well to the visual nature of animation. The fighting choreography in the DragonBall series is mainly for entertainment and draws heavily from Hong Kong’s martial art movies. 

Apart from training, the influence of kung fu on Goku’s fighting style is evident in his fighting style and stances. Two major stances used throughout the series are from Bajiquan and Hung Gar. Watch the video below to see how kung fu influences Goku’s fighting stance.

Bajiquan uses several explosive techniques, including direct and powerful strikes. The technique’s name literally translates to ‘Eight Extremes Boxing.’ This description characterizes Goku’s fighting style well.

The stances used in Bajiquan are all based on the wide set horse stance, with the gifts held loose and slightly open. Goku is frequently seen using this stance in his fights. 

Hung Gar is a Shaolin-style Kung Fu. The influence of Shaolin in Dragon Ball is evident from Goku’s orange robes to the fighting stances and techniques used.  

Another discipline that focuses on high-intensity strikes, Hung Gar, is famous for its footwork, blocking, strikes, and kicking drills. These techniques are evident in how Goku moves and fights, especially in the earlier episodes. 

Hung Gar also uses a wide horse stance. However, it also uses several low stances that Goku utilizes throughout the fighting scenes in the series. 

Yet another kung fu style observed in the DragonBall series is Wing Chun. This style is commonly seen across the majority of the Hong Kong martial art films that inspire the series. 

Infact, Goku uses Wing Chun when he blocks attacks using his forearms. 

Is Goku Based on Bruce Lee?

Goku’s fighting style draws its inspiration from the major stars of the Hong Kong martial arts films, including Bruce Lee. The film Enter the Dragon influenced creator Akira Toriyama greatly. Notably, Goku uses Bruce Lee’s one-inch punch on Freiza in Dragon Ball Z.

The fighting in Dragon Ball and associated media borrows heavily from Hong Kong’s martial art films of the 1970s -1980s. The video below shows a comparison between Bruce Lee’s punch and Goku’s punch:

Apart from Bruce Lee, Dragon Ball also takes inspiration from Jackie Chan’s performances in martial art films of the 1980s. Jackie Chan’s film Drunken Master greatly influenced Toriyama, who incorporated the fighting style into Master Roshi’s techniques. 

Goku is also seen fighting Master Roshi’s alter ego ‘Jackie Chun’ in the Tournament Arc, where he loses to Chun. Since Master Roshi was his teacher, Goku uses many of his fighting styles throughout the series. 

Other Martial Arts that Influence Goku

As already mentioned, Goku uses a combination of different martial art styles. While his training was primarily based on kung fu styles, Goku incorporates other martial art styles as the series progresses. 

Here are some of Goku’s additional martial arts in the series:

Karate

Like the two martial artists that inspire Goku – Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee – Goku uses a lot of karate too. Keeran Obaray, a Shotokan karate practitioner, observes that many punches and kicks used are like those in full-contact Kyokushin karate.

In the series, Master Roshi instills the philosophy of “Never stop training,”. This echoes the focus on hard training and self-improvement found in Kyokushin karate. 

This style of karate allows knee strikes, kicks to the head and torso, and full contact sparring. All these are noticeable in the way Goku fights his opponents throughout the series.

The majority of martial arts influence wears off as the series progresses and becomes more focused on power-ups. However, Kyokushin karate’s influence is still visible in the attacks Goku chooses despite his increasing reliance on brute force. 

Boxing

Goku’s stance is undeniably based on Wushu, and he uses his forearms to block like Wing Chu practitioners. However, the influence of boxing is evident in the way Goku punches. 

A lot of the boxing techniques observed in the series get their inspiration from Bruce Lee’s fighting style. The style incorporated Western boxing with kung fu, tai chi, and muay Thai. The most direct use of boxing techniques is when Goku uses Bruce Lee’s One Inch Punch on the antagonist Freiza. 

Rather than using momentum, the punch relies on the power in the individual’s core. The technique suits Goku well, as he naturally possesses a powerful core by virtue of being a Super Saiyan. 

Street Fighting

Goku is well known for giving his all in his fights. He fights with real intent behind his punches and kicks rather than fighting for show. The close contact nature and intensity of Goku’s fights suggest that the unpredictability of street fighting also influences his style. 

Goku fights like an MMA fighter. He uses the flexibility and acrobatics of kung fu in conjunction with elements from kickboxing, capoeira, and wrestling. When fighting brute force brawlers like Frieza, he relies on the combination of power and techniques characteristic of street fighting. 

Qigong

Goku learnt how to control his ki under Master Roshi. He managed to produce a weak Kamehameha ball even at a young age, which intrigued Master Roshi. While there’s no real-world equivalent of the Kamehameha, Goku’s training also borrows from Qigong. This is an ancient Chinese technique used for healing and exercise.

The technique uses a series of coordinated movements and meditation to improve health and spirituality. Many practitioners saw it as the ideal method to cultivate and balance life energy – the ‘qi’ of Qigong. 

Qigong is popularly used for martial art training as well, just as Master Roshi uses it in Dragon Ball. Martial Qigong is also an essential element for many kung fu styles, which significantly influence Goku’s fights, as discussed earlier. 

Is It Possible To Fight Like Goku?

Goku’s fighting style draws extensively from martial art action films and real people such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Since Goku fights like these fighting stars, fighting like Goku is not out of reach for the average martial arts practitioner.

It is quite possible to fight like Goku. Apart from the superpowers ascribed to Goku by virtue of his alien nature, a regular person can learn Goku’s methods. If Goku were a real person today, he would most likely be an MMA fighter. 

Bruce Lee’s fighting style influenced the development of Goku’s fighting style. Also, he was among the first people to use a mix of martial arts in his fighting. He is still a major influence on martial arts like judo and karate todate. 

More importantly, Bruce Lee is known for creating space for mixed martial arts to develop. Among all the fighting styles, MMA is the style most ascribed to Goku throughout the Dragon Ball series and movies. 

Today, one fighter who is pretty similar to Goku is the UFC fighter, Stephen Thompson. Like Goku, he also comes from a traditional martial arts background. Thompson’s father owned a karate school. Likewise, Goku learnt the style based on kung fu and karate in the series from his adopted father, Gohan. 

Stephen Thompson fights with a wide stance similar to the one Goku uses. The stance draws from the horse stance of traditional Asian martial arts. Thompson is also known for his head kicks based on karate techniques like the ones Goku uses in his fights.

Final Thoughts

Son Goku got his training in the fictional ‘Turtle Style’ of martial arts. While the Dragon Ball series is an animation created for tv entertainment, it bases its techniques on real-world martial arts. The primary influence of martial arts on Goku’s fighting style is the many different kung fu styles. They all have an impact on how Goku stands, blocks, and moves acrobatically. 

Other influences include karate as observed in Goku’s kicks, the boxing that influences his punches, and Qigong his ki training. 

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