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.
Chakra originally belonged to the Shinju. When Kaguya Ōtsutsuki ate the fruit that Shinju bore, she became the first person in 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 the 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 not normally visible to the human eye, though it 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 eight specific tenketsu known as the Eight Gates, which limit the amount of chakra an individual can release at a single given time.
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.
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 they are limited to the quantity and strength of chakra that their genetics grants them; Kakashi Hatake has large chakra reserves, but no amount of training can grant him the same amount of chakra as Naruto Uzumaki was born with.
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. Each person's chakra also has a unique "color" that can be seen by those with dōjutsu (the anime tends to colour all normal chakra light blue).
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 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.
- 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 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 created by the Sage of the Six Paths. They are differentiated by the number of tails they have, ranging from one to nine. A tailed beast's chakra is coloured red.
Main article: Senjutsu Senjutsu (仙術, English TV: Sage Jutsu, Literally meaning: Sage Techniques) is a specialised 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 of Hagoromo Ōtsutsuki. Six Paths chakra can be acquired from Hagoromo directly or by combining the chakra of his sons - Indra and Asura - to form the Rinnegan. What exactly the special chakra is or how it works is unclear, but it dramatically improves the strength of the user's jutsu, enough to be a match for the jinchūriki of the Ten-Tails.
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 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, 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 The Gift of the Hermit Group (仙族の才, Senzoku no Sai, English TV: Gift of the Sages) is a special kind of chakra used by the ninja monks of the Fire Temple. It requires daily, unrelenting training to master. This chakra is required to unseal the Sealed Iron Wall granting access to the Fire Temple. It is also required for the technique Welcoming Approach: Thousand-Armed Murder.
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.
- 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.
- Individuals can create imprints of their consciences 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.
- In Naruto Shippūden the Movie: The Lost Tower, as stated by Minato Namikaze and partially supported in Shippūden episode 70, chakra with similar signatures resonate when they are near.