Chakra (チャクラ, chakura) is essential to even the most basic technique. Through various methods, the most common of which is hand seals, chakra can be controlled and manipulated to create an effect that would not be possible otherwise, such as walking on water, exhaling fire, or creating illusions. Chakra is ordinarily not visible to the unaided eye unless it is highly concentrated or manifested in large amounts. This is rarely seen due to the restrictions of eight specific tenketsu known as the Eight Gates, which limit the amount of chakra an individual can release at a single given time.
Chakra originally belonged to God Trees. When Kaguya Ōtsutsuki ate the fruit the God Tree bore, she became the first person in Earth's history to wield chakra. With her new-found power, she ended all the wars that plagued the lands. Her sons, Hamura and Hagoromo Ōtsutsuki, were the first people to be born with chakra. Hagoromo spread chakra to others through a practice called ninshū, intending to create peace by using the chakra to connect people's spiritual energy so that they would understand one another without even talking. However, the people did not use chakra in the way Hagoromo hoped, instead using it to connect their inner spiritual and physical energies. They kneaded their inner chakra to amplify and weaponise it, creating what is now known as ninjutsu.
Since being spread by Hagoromo, better known as the Sage of Six Paths, chakra has become a form of life energy that all individuals produce to some degree; those who run out of chakra will die. Produced within 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 Pathway System", which is similar to the cardiovascular system. Certain groups, such as shinobi, have learned to generate more chakra and release it outside their bodies through pressure points called tenketsu in order to perform jutsu.
Chakra is created when two other forms of energy, known collectively as one's "stamina", are moulded together. Physical energy (身体エネルギー, shintai enerugī) is collected from each and every one of the body's cells and can be increased through training, stimulants, and exercise. Spiritual energy (精神エネルギー, seishin enerugī, English TV: Mental Energy) is derived from the mind's consciousness and can be increased through studying, meditation, and experience. These two energies becoming more powerful will in turn make the created chakra more powerful. Therefore, practising a technique repeatedly will build up experience, increasing 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 the ninja needs to increase their endurance instead. Some unique individuals have substantial potential that enable them to exponentially increase their chakra reserves in a relatively short amount of time.
At any given time, a ninja will have a "maximum" amount of chakra that they can form and use before it runs out and they need to rest to replenish it. With practice this maximum can be increased, but to a certain extent as they are limited to the quantity and strength of chakra that their genetics grants them. For instance, Kakashi Hatake has average chakra reserves, but no amount of training can grant him the same amount of chakra as Naruto Uzumaki whom he stated had more chakra than himself.
Each person's chakra is different and as such gives off a unique chakra signature, which sensor type ninja are able to detect. Chakra signatures are passed genetically, allowing a person's clan to be identified by their chakra; over time, entire populations can have perceptibly different chakra. One's chakra signature can be altered by absorbing DNA from multiple people, mixing various chakra signatures together to become a whole new one. In the anime, chakra signatures that are similar to each other (such as that of a parent and child) are suggested to resonate when near each other. Each person's chakra also has a unique "colour" that can be seen by those with dōjutsu (the anime tends to colour all normal chakra light blue). Even if they are separated, changes made in the chakra signature of the original will result in the separated chakra mimicking those changes.
While practically all types of jutsu require chakra to be performed, taijutsu does not; stamina is all that is needed. While the ninja still needs a set amount of chakra to live, 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.
Because chakra takes time and a great deal of training to gradually build up, the key to its use is not actually having large amounts of chakra but instead being able to sufficiently control and conserve it. This is called chakra control (チャクラコントロール , chakura kontorōru). In order to have good chakra control, a ninja should only mould as much chakra as they need to perform a given ability. If they mould more chakra than is needed, the excess chakra is wasted and they will tire out faster from its loss. If they don't mould enough chakra, a technique will not be performed effectively, if at all, likely creating problems in a combat situation.
General training methods for improving one's moulding and manipulation of chakra are the Leaf Concentration, Tree Climbing, and Water Surface Walking exercises. 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. Hand seals are often used to manipulate chakra more easily, allowing shinobi to execute their techniques faster and more effectively. Shinobi who are extremely skilled at chakra control often specialise in genjutsu or become medical-nin.
Chakra can also be used for general performance enhancement. By moulding the chakra into key points of the body, usually the hands or feet, it will greatly augment their physical prowess. Certain shinobi are able rely on this skill to improve natural endurance, improve general awareness, and even perform superhuman strength. As shown in the anime, it is shown that moulding one's chakra can also improve mental prowess, able to process information more efficiently.
- Shape transformation deals with controlling the form, movement, and potency of chakra.
- Nature transformation 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, though ninja who can use both simultaneously are said to be rare.
Types of Chakra
Tailed Beast Chakra
Main article: Tailed Beasts
A tailed beast's chakra is coloured red.
Main article: Senjutsu
Six Paths Chakra
Six Paths chakra (六道チャクラ, Rikudō Chakura) is the unique chakra of Hagoromo Ōtsutsuki. Six Paths chakra can be acquired from Hagoromo, by combining the chakra of Hagoromo's sons — Indra and Asura — to form the Rinnegan, or by becoming the jinchūriki of the Ten-Tails. What exactly this special chakra is or how it works is unclear, but it dramatically improves the strength of the user's jutsu.
Similarly named "powers" have been used by different characters, but it is unclear what relation, if any, they have to Six Paths chakra:
- Naruto Uzumaki imbues his Truth-Seeking Balls with Six Paths Sage Chakra (六道の仙人チャクラ, Rikudō no Sennin Chakura), allowing him to damage shadows of Madara Uchiha.
- Sasuke Uchiha uses Six Paths Power (六道の力, Rikudō no Chikara) against Madara's shadow, and Kakashi Hatake briefly receives some from Obito Uchiha's spirit. When both of them use it, their Lightning Release chakra changes colour.
- The Six Paths Yin and Yang powers can be divided between individuals so that, when combined, Six Paths — Chibaku Tensei can be performed.
Like Hagoromo's, Hamura Ōtsutsuki's chakra has special properties and is essentially the same as Six Paths Chakra, passed through the bloodlines of the Ōtsutsuki and Hyūga clans. Only those with Hamura's chakra can touch (and thus destroy) the Tenseigan and are immune to its effects. Interestingly, when using the chakra she received from Hamura, Hinata Hyūga's chakra turned a dark purple in colour.
Gift of the Hermit Group
Main article: Gift of the Hermit Group
Main article: Mysterious Peacock Method Seen in the anime, shinobi from Hoshigakure can manipulate their chakra into a wide variety of skills by using the chakra-enhancing meteorite, albeit at the cost of extreme damage to their bodies. Hoshigakure's method gets its name, Mysterious Peacock, from the chakra's raw manifestation as pinkish-purple chakra tails similar to a peacock's tail feathers.
Main article: Zero-Tails Seen in Naruto Shippūden the Movie: Bonds, Dark Chakra (闇のチャクラ, Yami no Chakura) is a special chakra formed from the negative emotions of the heart. Created by the Zero-Tails as it feeds on the negative emotions of the people around it, it is shown to be extremely powerful, being used to power the Land of the Sky's Ancor Vantian and grants Shinnō powerful techniques with seemingly no drawbacks. However, it requires proper chakra control to use, and disruption in the control can cause a damaging backlash, as Shinnō's body heavily deteriorated when his control was sabotaged.
Main article: Bell (charm) Seen in Naruto Shippūden the Movie, Priestess Chakra (巫女チャクラ, Miko Chakura) has a bright and unique aspect. It can send pink rays of severing light at the user, Shion's, opponents, create a light barrier to shield her from darkness, and transform her into an angelic form. She also used the mystical chakra of the bell to create a protective sphere around a designated target, as she did for Naruto Uzumaki, and use the chakra with Naruto to form the Super Chakra Rasengan. Miroku feared that if Shion is corrupted, her powers would be deadlier than a gigantic demon's.
Main article: Ryūmyaku Seen in Naruto Shippūden the Movie: The Lost Tower, the Ryūmyaku (龍脈, English TV: Ley Line, Literally meaning: Dragon Veins) is an ancient source of chakra that flows under Rōran, granting anyone who harnesses it infinite chakra reserves. Only the heirs of the kingdom's royal bloodline can open or close the flow, but after it's opened, anyone can use it.
- In Hinduism, chakra refers to each of seven centres of spiritual power in the human body: the tailbone, sacrum, stomach, heart, throat, forehead and crown.
- Chakra seems to reflect its owner's personality and emotions to some extent: Karin describes Naruto's chakra as bright and warm, while she says Sasuke's — while in the grips of his Curse of Hatred — is dark and cold. She also sensed the evil chakra inside Naruto and found Suigetsu's chakra to be disgusting. Ino also commented that Sasuke's chakra was much darker, when he used the Cursed Seal of Heaven the first time.
- Individuals can create imprints of their consciousness out of chakra that act separately from themselves and may outlive them, as seen with Minato Namikaze and Kushina Uzumaki's chakra's presence within their son's Eight Trigrams Sealing Style. Being pure chakra, they cannot replenish themselves, and once their chakra is spent they will disappear.
- In Naruto the Movie: Legend of the Stone of Gelel, Temujin's Continent is completely unaware of chakra or how to use it.
- Naruto chapter 646, pages 6-9
- Naruto chapter 665, pages 6-7
- Naruto chapter 671
- Naruto chapter 18, page 25
- Naruto chapter 525, page 3
- Naruto chapter 547, page 2
- Naruto chapter 667, page 2
- Naruto: Shippūden episode 70
- Naruto chapter 644
- Naruto chapter 151, page 11
- Boruto episode 16
- Naruto chapter 671, pages 17-19
- Naruto chapter 681, page 3
- Naruto chapter 680, page 12
- Boruto episode 11