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Chakra (チャクラ, chakura) is essential to even the most basic technique; it is the moulding of the physical energy (身体エネルギー, shintai enerugī) present in every cell of the body and the spiritual energy (精神エネルギー, seishin enerugī) gained from exercise and experience. Once moulded, it can be channelled through the chakra circulatory system, which is to chakra as the regular circulatory system is to blood, to any of the 361 chakra points (called tenketsu) in the body. Through various methods, the most common of which is hand seals, the chakra can then be manipulated to create an effect that would not be possible otherwise, such as walking on water, exhaling fire or creating illusions.
By moulding different ratios of the two energies, new types of chakra can be formed. Most ninja have a natural affinity to one type of chakra, but they have the capacity to create elemental chakra apart from their own affinity. There are five basic types, each stronger and weaker to another, but their relations, weaknesses, and strengths to each other are all explored. There is also the dealing of Yin and Yang and the balance of mental and physical energies. In addition to these five elements, certain kekkei genkai can mix elemental chakra to form new natures, for example it is possible to mix water and wind into ice. While many ninja can use more than one type of chakra, very few are able to use them simultaneously.
Normal chakra is a form of energy all living individuals naturally produce to some degree. Contained in the "chakra coils" that mainly surround and connect to each chakra-producing organ, the energy circulates throughout the body in a network called the "chakra circulatory system" (similar to the cardiovascular system). Certain groups, such as ninja, have learned to generate more chakra and release it outside their bodies through their "chakra points" (tenketsu) in order to perform special techniques (jutsu). Chakra is not normally visible to the human eye, though chakra can be seen in situations where a person releases as much of their chakra as possible. This is rarely seen due to the restrictions of certain chakra points (Eight Gates), limiting the amount of chakra an individual can release at a single given time. Chakra can also be visible when doing a specific techniques (such as the Rasengan) which take a high degree of chakra control to perform.
Of the many different types of techniques, ninjutsu, genjutsu, dōjutsu, and so on, all require the use of chakra. However, taijutsu is different, usually requiring no chakra use whatsoever; stamina is all that is needed. While the ninja still needs a set amount of chakra to live (i.e. life force energy), regular taijutsu doesn't require any active moulding or manipulation of chakra (with few exceptions). A standard attack like a punch or kick falls into this technique category.
Chakra is the resulting form of energy when two other forms of energy are mixed together. The two energies are referred to as "physical energy" and "spiritual energy". Physical energy is collected from the body's cells and can be increased through training, stimulants, and exercise. Spiritual energy is derived from the mind's consciousness (i.e. the soul) and can be increased through studying, meditation, and experience. Having these two energies become more powerful will in-turn make the created chakra more powerful. Therefore, practising a technique repeatedly will build-up experience, building up one's spiritual energy, and thus allowing more chakra to be created. As a result, the ninja is able to do that same technique with more power. This same cycle applies for physical energy, except this time, instead of doing things like meditation, the ninja could, say, do push-ups.
The general term for the source of chakra, the overall physical and spiritual energy an individual has, is called "total stamina". The maximum amount of chakra an individual can create and retain at a given time is called their "chakra level".
In Naruto, chakra takes time and a great deal of training to gradually build up. Thus, the key is not actually having chakra, but being able to sufficiently control and conserve it. Everyone has chakra, but only skilled ninja can correctly "mould" and "manipulate" it to its fullest extent.
Moulding chakra involves the extraction of energies from both the body's cells and the mind's consciousness, then mixing them together within the individual. The amount of each energy will differ based on the type of technique the ninja wishes to execute. In other words, a ninja could create too much or too little chakra for a given technique, resulting in the chakra being used inefficiently. In addition, even if a ninja is able to mould the correct amount of chakra, if they cannot manipulate the chakra properly, the desired technique will not be as effective or will not execute at all. Wasting energy will also create weaknesses like early exhaustion, which would hinder the ninja's capacity to fight long-term battles. General training methods for improving one's moulding and manipulation of chakra are the Leaf Concentration, Tree Climbing, and Water Walking exercises.
As an in-between stage, some ninja can partially manipulate their chakra. This means they can use their chakra, but not effectively control it, which results in a poorly executed technique, a prime example is Naruto trying to use the Academy Clone Technique. To manipulate their chakra more easily, hand seals can be used. With these hand seals, users can control their chakra with higher efficiency, allowing them to execute their techniques more effectively. Different techniques also require the use of different hand seals.
When creating a ninjutsu, the two methods of manipulating chakra are referred to as Shape Transformation and Nature Transformation:
- Shape Transformation deals with controlling the form, movement, and potency of chakra.
- Nature Transformation usually deals with changing the physical properties of chakra into an element. There is also the Nature Transformation of Yin and Yang, which deals with changing the ratio of spiritual and physical energies within chakra.
These two methods can be implemented separately or together in order to create a technique.
The general term for the exact moulding and proper manipulation of chakra is called "chakra control". People with skilled chakra control are usually Medical-nin or Sensor-types, both of which requires extreme control over chakra to be effective. Genjutsu apparently also requires good chakra control.
A good way to build up chakra in the body is to spin it into a tight spiral. Whether to spin the chakra left or right is dependent on the way the user's hair grows, either to the right or left. An opponent can negate a technique by absorbing it and reversing the spin of the chakra within their own body.
Shape of Chakra
Most techniques take a certain shape that is usually precisely controlled from one hand to another, through chakra. A good example of this is the Rasengan. Naruto uses one of his hands to control chakra, and moves it over the other in a circular motion, which eventually creates a sphere of pure chakra.
Based on which ninjutsu the ninja uses, the amount of chakra will be different, as would the element the ninja employs. The five main elemental types are also the names for the Five Great Shinobi Nations: Fire, Wind, Lightning, Earth and Water. Each ninja has the potential to better utilise one of these styles and potentially more. Rinnegan users somehow have the ability to more easily control all five elements.
Advanced elements such as Wood Release and Ice Release are created by combining different elemental chakra types. Doing this is only possible with a kekkei genkai or having a tailed beast with such an element in canon.
However, the first movie has shown that shinobi of the Land of Snow are able to perform Ice Release techniques without a bloodline by manipulating the ice around them. Kajika was also able to use a water technique that produces ice.
Types of Chakra
Tailed Beast Chakra
- Main article: Tailed beasts
The tailed beasts (尾獣, bijū), sometimes referred to as "Chakra Monsters" (チャクラのバケモノ, Chakura no Bakemono), are the nine titanic living forms of chakra.] They are differentiated by the number of tails they have, ranging from one to nine. A tailed beast's chakra is colored red.
Senjutsu (仙術, senjutsu chakura) is a specialized field of techniques that allows the user to sense and then gather natural energy. Senjutsu practitioners learn to draw the energy of nature inside of them, blending it with their own chakra. This adds a new dimension of power to the practitioner's chakra, resulting in the creation of Senjutsu Chakra (仙術チャクラ, senjutsu chakura).
Six Paths Chakra
Six Paths Chakra (六道チャクラ, Rikudō Chakura) is the unique chakra sometimes acquired from the successful combination of both the Uchiha Clan and Senju Clan's genetics within one body, which invariably causes the evolution of a Sharingan into the Rinnegan, even if their sight has been lost through Izanagi or Izanami. Combining the bloodlines of Hyūga Clan and Ōtsutsuki Clan's may give rise to a similar power, though with or without it the Tenseigan will not awaken lest one possesses a pair of sufficiently pure Byakugan and has access to the Tenseigan altar. This chakra may also be acquired in lesser quantities from implanting a Rinnegan, but not from a Tenseigan, seeing as the latter will regress back into a Byakugan if removed from the body and require a new evolution from scratch. The Six Paths chakra, when combined with natural energy, is theorized to bring forth the Six Paths Sage Chakra (六道の仙人チャクラ, Rikudō no Sennin Chakura), which would be necessary for the usage of Six Paths Senjutsu and the Six Paths Sage Mode, though this isn't thought to be actually possible since the chakra always manifests the Rinnegan, and possessing the eye leaves one without sufficient control over nature energy to perform Senjutsu.
Unique to individuals of the Hyūga and Ōtsutsuki clans, their equivalent of Six Paths Chakra is known for a prominent purple hue, but isn't necessarily always limited to the color.
- Although chakra is usually invisible, those with certain dōjutsu, like the Sharingan, Rinnegan or Byakugan, can see the colour of someone's chakra. Each person's chakra apparently has a different colour. It is also interesting to note the fact that sufficiently immense amounts of chakra are visible to the naked eye.
- It is said that the Sage of the Six Paths was the first to unravel the mysteries of chakra.
- People who are related share similar chakra signatures.
- Chakra signatures also vary among different populations.
- In Naruto Shippūden 4: The Lost Tower, Minato Namikaze and partially supported in the anime episode: Resonance, chakra with similar signatures resonate when they are near.