Dragon Ball and Martial Arts: The Influence and Depiction of Real Fighting Styles


Dragon Ball, created by Akira Toriyama, is a globally popular manga and anime series that has captivated audiences for decades. It tells the story of Son Goku, a Saiyan warrior, and his journey to become the strongest martial artist in the universe. While Dragon Ball is known for its thrilling battles and supernatural elements, it also draws inspiration from real-world martial arts. In this article, we will explore the influence and depiction of real fighting styles in Dragon Ball, examining how the series blends fantasy and reality to create an exhilarating martial arts experience.

The Fusion of Fantasy and Realism in Dragon Ball

Dragon Ball is a unique fusion of fantasy and realism, combining elements of martial arts with fantastic powers and transformations. The series draws inspiration from various martial arts styles and incorporates them into its characters’ fighting techniques. While the battles in Dragon Ball may feature characters flying, shooting energy blasts, and transforming into powerful beings, the underlying martial arts principles are still present.

The Influence of Real Fighting Styles in Dragon Ball

Dragon Ball draws from a wide range of real-world martial arts styles, infusing them with imaginative twists and exaggerations. Here are some of the prominent influences:

Chinese Martial Arts (Kung Fu) Chinese martial arts, commonly known as Kung Fu, have a significant influence on Dragon Ball. The series incorporates various Kung Fu techniques, stances, and movements into its combat sequences. Characters like Goku and Master Roshi demonstrate Kung Fu-inspired fighting styles, emphasizing fluidity, agility, and powerful strikes.

Japanese Martial Arts (Karate, Judo, and more) Japanese martial arts also play a crucial role in Dragon Ball. Karate, Judo, and other traditional Japanese martial arts are showcased through characters like Yamcha, Tien Shinhan, and Krillin. These characters employ techniques such as throws, strikes, and joint locks, highlighting the disciplined and precise nature of Japanese martial arts.

Muay Thai Muay Thai, the martial art from Thailand, is another real-world fighting style depicted in Dragon Ball. The character of Android 18 exhibits elements of Muay Thai, showcasing powerful knee and elbow strikes along with quick footwork. This incorporation adds a unique flavor to the series and diversifies the range of fighting styles.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, known for its ground fighting and submission holds, is featured in Dragon Ball through the character of Vegeta. Vegeta utilizes grappling techniques and submission moves to overpower his opponents, showcasing the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in combat.

Depiction of Real Fighting Styles in Dragon Ball

Dragon Ball takes the influence of real fighting styles and amplifies them to match the series’ fantastical world. While the techniques portrayed in the series may not always align precisely with their real-world counterparts, they still provide a visual representation of the underlying principles. Here are some examples:

Energy-Based Attacks In Dragon Ball, characters possess the ability to generate and project energy blasts, such as the iconic Kamehameha wave. While this is not a real-world technique, it is reminiscent of the concept of harnessing and focusing one’s energy, which is present in various martial arts disciplines.

Flying and Levitation Characters in Dragon Ball often exhibit the ability to fly and levitate, defying gravity. While this is purely fictional, it adds a dynamic element to the battles and allows for more aerial combat sequences. The concept of flight draws inspiration from legends of martial artists who achieved supernatural feats through their mastery of Qi (life force) control.

Transformations One of the defining aspects of Dragon Ball is the characters’ ability to transform into more powerful states. While not directly linked to any specific martial arts style, these transformations symbolize the concept of surpassing one’s limits and tapping into hidden reservoirs of strength—a concept prevalent in martial arts philosophy.

Speed and Agility Dragon Ball showcases characters moving at incredible speeds and performing acrobatic feats during combat. While exaggerated, these movements reflect the importance of agility and quick reflexes in real-world martial arts. They emphasize the significance of speed and nimbleness in battles.

The Popularity and Cultural Impact

The fusion of real fighting styles with fantastical elements has contributed significantly to the popularity and cultural impact of Dragon Ball. The series has transcended borders and attracted a massive international fanbase. Here are some reasons behind its enduring success:

Accessibility Dragon Ball’s incorporation of martial arts allows audiences to relate to the characters and their battles. While the superhuman abilities may be beyond our reach, the underlying martial arts principles resonate with viewers, making the series accessible to a wide range of people.

Inspiring Character Journeys Dragon Ball’s emphasis on hard work, determination, and self-improvement through martial arts training resonates with viewers on an emotional level. The characters’ journeys inspire audiences to strive for personal growth and push beyond their limits in pursuit of their goals.

Exciting and Dynamic Action The dynamic action sequences in Dragon Ball, influenced by real fighting styles, keep viewers on the edge of their seats. The combination of hand-to-hand combat, energy-based attacks, and aerial battles creates an exhilarating viewing experience that leaves a lasting impact.

Cultural Exchange Dragon Ball’s depiction of real fighting styles has sparked interest in martial arts and inspired fans to explore various disciplines. It has facilitated cultural exchange by introducing viewers to the rich traditions and philosophies behind different martial arts forms.


Dragon Ball’s fusion of fantasy and real fighting styles has elevated the series to iconic status. By incorporating elements from Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Brazilian martial arts, Dragon Ball brings a diverse range of techniques and philosophies to its captivating battles. While the series may push the boundaries of reality, it still manages to pay homage to the underlying principles of martial arts. Dragon Ball’s enduring popularity and cultural impact serve as a testament to its ability to blend fantasy and reality in a way that resonates with audiences worldwide. Whether you are a martial arts enthusiast or a fan of captivating storytelling, Dragon Ball offers a unique and thrilling experience that continues to captivate generations.

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