Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball franchise is, without a doubt, one of the most popular manga and anime franchises in history. The story of young Son Goku, a brilliant and kind-hearted fighter who evolves to become the mightiest fighter in the universe and the protector of the world, has attracted millions of fans ever since the manga debuted in 1984. In this article, we are going to explain Goku’s fighting stance in the series, as well as the martial arts he uses in the series.
In Dragon Ball, Son Goku uses a hybrid martial arts fighting style that combines karate, Wing Chun, and Kung Fu, as the most prominent martial arts he uses in the series. As for his fighting stance, Goku utilizes a loose mǎbù (马步, “horse stance”) with his torso turned sideways. It is called a “square stance” among martial arts experts.
This article will focus on Goku’s fighting stance and the martial arts he uses. We are going to explain how Toriyama developed this style and what the martial arts in question are; we know that anime fans don’t necessarily know a lot about exotic martial arts, which is why we will explain everything to you in this article.
How was Goku’s fighting style created?
Akira Toriyama, a manga artist who created Dragon Ball, became a major fan of Jackie Chan films. Toriyama chose to incorporate Chan’s fighting techniques into his own martial arts manga after seeing his movie hero battle, which is how Goku’s fighting style came to be. Toriyama’s affection for Chan is not merely hearsay; it is widely recognized. He got to know him, Chan gave him a quick interview, and Chan was even mentioned in the anime. In particular, Master Roshi, Goku’s teacher, signs up for the first Tenkaichi Budōkai under the name Jackie Chun, a clear allusion to Jackie Chan, although using a fictitious name.
In one of the episodes, Master Roshi, played by Jackie Chun, engaged in a “drunken style” fight as a nod to Chan’s movie Drunken Master. However, Chan is not the only martial artist that has influenced Goku’s fighting technique. Akira Toriyama is known as a big fan of kung fu, so it makes sense that he decided to give his main character a fighting style and stance similar to the one used by the greatest kung fu master of all time, the one and only – Bruce Lee.
What martial arts does Goku use?
As we have said, Goku’s fighting style is a combination of karate, Wushu, and Wing Chun, with the latter two being specific subtypes of kung fu. We are now going to go over each of these three styles:
Karate-dō, usually known simply as karate, is a martial art originating from the island of Okinawa, in the Kingdom of Ryūkyū, whose islands were acquired by Japan in 1879 under the name of “Okinawa Prefecture.” Following frequent cultural and commercial interactions between the archipelago residents and Chinese navigators, it was created by combining indigenous fighting techniques, known as te, and Chinese quanfa.
After World War II, Okinawa became a significant US military base, and karate was popular among the troops stationed there. While the practice of Okinawan kobudo, which involves the use of traditional weapons, is closely tied to karate practice, and some schools incorporate karate practice with weapons, this martial art primarily entails fighting with bare hands and without the help of weapons. Both the athletic form and the traditional version, which is more closely related to the original precepts and self-defense, are today used worldwide. Only men learned and performed it in the past, but with time, women have started to engage in this discipline.
As far as Goku is concerned in this aspect, karate is best observed in his kicks. Son Goku is great with kicks and is known for being exceptionally strong in this aspect. Such kicks, as seen used by Son Goku, are mostly employed in taekwondo and karate, two martial arts originating in Korea and Japan, respectively. We can confidently say that Goku’s kicking is more influenced by karate and/or taekwondo than Chinese or Thai martial arts because head kicks are highly essential in them because they provide the highest points, and chest kicks are typically allowed.
Kung fu (wushu)
Wushu, often known as contemporary wushu, is a modern, competitive form of traditional Chinese martial art. In order to standardize the use of Chinese martial arts, modern wushu was crafted in the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Committees designated by the Chinese government specified the bulk of the martial arts (taolu) displayed in competition in accordance with traditional forms. Nowadays, wushu is an international sport launched and run by the International Wushu Federation (IWUF), which organizes world championship tournaments on a two-year basis.
After the proclamation of the Republic of China in 1912 by Sun Yat-sen, the country opened up to Western influence in various fields: scientific, technical, and also sporting. This openness is also at the origin of the initiative to overhaul traditional Chinese martial arts aimed at modernizing them and is based on the following axes: physical preparation, specificity of warm-ups, athlete hygiene, design of movements, etc. It is then for the Chinese government to set up the bases of a “physical education” of the martial arts.
His fighting stance and punches are the best representations of this style, as far as Goku is concerned. Although his moves are not the purest examples of wushu, they are more or less true to the originals, and that is how wushu is embodied in Goku’s styles and techniques.
A priestess named Ng Mui who escaped from the Shaolin temple founded the self-defense-focused martial art known as wing chun, which is a classic Chinese martial art. She employs open-handed punches instead of blocks because “defense is always a sort of offense,” which means she can counterattack by neutralizing the opponent’s attacks. Employ non-traditional weapons such as deflections, grabs, locks, and throws as well. This places a focus on close-quarters combat.
Sticky hands and feet “Chi Sao,” “chi gerk,” and six forms and other solo contemplative exercises make up the style. These exercises develop various notions connected to methods, strategies, balance, fluidity, relaxation, speed, sensitivity, and a certain type of physical conditioning. The other two are manufactured with typical weapons, while the other three are made with no weapons at all. Siu Nim Tao, Chumkiu, Biu Tze, Muk Yan Jong, Luk Dim Boon Gwun, and Baat Jaam Do are the six forms.
Goku’s defense is the best representation of this style. Goku blocks with his forearms, which is natural and rational, but he does so in a very unique way that makes it simple to rule out a comparison to boxing. Goku uses his wide, noticeably lowered gong bu stance in conjunction with his blocks rather than holding his hands up like a boxer. He can now use his forearms more effectively, as they are employed in Wing Chun. Goku possesses rapid reflexes, which are ideal for Wing Chun’s blocking technique.