They say imitation is the highest form of flattery and in the case of Dragon Ball‘s Son Goku nothing could be closer from the truth. The Saiyan warrior has learned many techniques over the years, some taught to him by the greatest fighters in the universe, while others he picked up by watching his series counterparts in action.
In fact, most of Goku’s greatest and most iconic attacks are ones he learned from others, leaving the World’s Strongest with few original creations of his own. So what are some of Goku’s strongest moves and who did he steal them from? Here are ten of the super Saiyan god’s most devastating techniques (and who he stole them from).
10 Solar Flare
One maneuver Goku outright stole from fellow Z-fighter Tien Shin Han was the patented Solar Flare attack. Originally introduced as a villain in OG Dragon Ball, Tien appeared at the World Martial Arts Tournament for one purpose and one purpose alone: defeat Son Goku!
During the battle, Tien uses the Solar Flare attack to temporarily blind Goku in order to gain the upper hand. Later on in Dragon Ball Z, however, Goku utilizes the same technique on Vegeta to disorient the prince of all Saiyans who had transformed into his Ozaru form by creating artificial moonlight.
9 Kamehameha Wave
Yes, Goku was actually never taught this signature technique, but copied the attack after observing Master Roshi perform the wave on Mt. Frying Pan in season 1 of Dragon Ball. As the story goes, the Ox King’s kingdom was cursed to burn with eternal fire, engulfed day and night in an unending rage of flames. Chi-Chi, daughter of Ox King and future bride of Goku, seeks out Master Roshi for help.
Master Roshi agrees, using the Kamehameha Wave as a means to extinguish the flames and save Ox King’s home. Not only does the Turtle Hermit put out the flames, but he also completely obliterates Mt. Frying Pan too, claiming to have forgotten just how strong he really is. Nonetheless, young Goku, who observes the whole ordeal from the sidelines, attempts his own Kamehameha wave which he unleashes on Bulma’s car (much to the surprise of all).
8 Drunken Fist
The first World Martial Arts Tournament saga was a major turning point in the Dragon Ball manga-anime series, switching from a fetch-quest-based high fantasy to the kung fu epic we all know and love. Jackie Chung, who is really Master Roshi in disguise, faces off against kid Goku in the final round of the contest – a battle that seems to wage on for days with both fighters coming to an eventual stalemate. In order to dispatch the boy quickly and win the prize, Chung utilizes the real-life drunken fist technique to deal devastating damage in battle.
However, in true Dragon Ball fashion, Goku’s mimicry skills kick in to high gear as the boy emulates this very same technique, returning the violent favors dealt to him by his teacher incognito. The technique was never used again but still showcases Goku’s uncanny ability to duplicate complicated maneuvers at a mere glance.
7 King Chappa’s Eight Arm Fist
Staying with the World Martial Arts Tournament for a moment, Goku faces off against the mystical master King Chappa in a preliminary match during the Tien Shinhan Saga – a fighter known for punishing opponents with his trusty Eight Arm Fist attack. The technique itself encompasses a warrior moving one’s hands so fast that it appears as if the he or she fights with eight arms – pummeling their opponent from all directions.
Goku ultimately defeats Chappa to advance to the tournament where he utilizes the same technique on Tien Shinhan in the finals. There, Goku executes the maneuver flawlessly, bombarding the Crane School wunderkind with strikes to the face, gut, and sides.
6 After Image
Being one of Goku’s more famous defensive maneuvers, the After Image technique creates a ghostly apparition or image when a fighter moves faster than the eye can see. The end result is a perfect decoy to distract one’s opponent, opening them up for key strikes from the side or behind.
Well, this, too, was a borrowed technique — pilfered from the great Turtle Hermit himself, Master Roshi. Kid Goku copies the After Image on the fly, producing his own apparitions to throw his undercover boss for a loop during the first World Martial Arts Tournament Saga. Post World Tournament, Goku continued the technique all through adulthood before ascending to more powerful forms.
5 Kaioken Attack
One of Goku’s all-time strongest moves, the Kaioken attack, was a staple technique during the early seasons of Dragon Ball Z. After the Saiyan warrior’s death in season one, Goku travels to King Kai’s planet to learn the art of Kaioken – a deadly new martial art’s ability that heightens the user’s strength, perception, and speed.
Hoping the Kaioken attack to be the game changer Earth needs in the fight against Vegeta and Nappa, Goku learns the technique in just a few short weeks. However, when the inevitable battle with the Saiyan prince arrives, the attack proves ineffective after Vegeta transforms into the great Ozaru.
4 Spirit Bomb
Drawing from King Kai’s playbook again, the Spirit Bomb borrows energy from all living things in existence. Once complete, the technique deals devastating damage to those with hearts full of darkness and evil.
From its debut in the Saiyan Saga to the series’ current run in Dragon Ball Super, the Spirit Bomb has been a key piece of Dragon Ball lore; however, like most weapons in Goku’s arsenal, this too originated with a master other than Kakarot himself.
3 Destructo Disc
This one comes straight from Goku’s best friend and childhood rival Krillin. The Destructo Disc premiered in Dragon Ball Z’s the Saiyan Saga – a powerful energy frisbee packed with the ability to cut through any object. Even the likes of Vegeta exhibits fear of the Destructo Disc, warning Nappa to steer clear of the object entirely.
Goku utilizes a Destructo Disc of his own latter on in Dragon Ball Super during the Tournament of Power Saga. Therein, Goku executes the technique to avoid suffering a death blow from Jiren’s charged Ki fist.
2 Beerus’ Hakai
God of Destruction Beerus introduced this doozy of a technique in the opening saga of Dragon Ball Super. The Hakai attack is the ultimate be-all-end-all deus ex machina exclusive to gods of destruction throughout the multiverse. With the Hakai attack, Beerus can obliterate whole planets at the mere wave of a hand.
Enter the Goku Black Saga. Locked in an intense battle with Zamasu, Goku calls back to his earlier mimicry skills as seen in the original Dragon Ball series, stealing right from the god of destruction’s personal armory. Yes, Goku indeed performs the Hakai, flattening his palm right in Zamasu’s face.
1 Spirit Gun
In a more humorous reference to Dragon Ball‘s old school rival, Yu Yu Hakusho, Goku actually performs the Spirit Gun technique – Yusuke Urameshi’s go-o attack when the going gets tough.
The Spirit Gun is a technique involving channeling spirit energy into the tip of one’s finger, then blasting it out in a straight column similar to Frieza‘s Death Beam attack. Where does Goku perform this little maneuver? During his battle with Caulifa and Kale, that’s where. Here, Goku quick-draws a barrage of finger-gun blasts on his fellow Saiyans with lightning precision. Is this a direct homage to Yoshihiro Togashi’s high school paranormal action-fantasy? You decide. Nonetheless, it’s fun to watch.
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery and in the case of Dragon Ball's Goku nothing could be closer from the truth.