• Taijutsu is a fundamental form of martial arts in Naruto that relies on physical strength and conditioning, and does not require chakra or hand seals.
  • Some characters like Might Guy, Rock Lee, and Madara Uchiha excel at taijutsu and can defeat opponents using only their raw martial arts skills.
  • The best taijutsu user in the series is debated, but Might Guy, who mastered the Eight Gates Release Formation, is considered the greatest by Madara Uchiha himself.

For most battles in Naruto, taijutsu served as a precursor to the more flashy ninjutsu contests that the series has come to be known for. Initially, the vast majority of fights in Part I were grounded in taijutsu with some flourishes of ninjutsu and genjustu, until power levels surged, and the main cast acquired more complex techniques, which resulted in the latter half of the series revolving around large scale ninjutsu exchanges.

That being said, there were quite a few characters in Naruto, whose aptitude for taijutsu allowed them to rely on it as an integral part of their fighting style, even until the very end of the series. Individuals such as Might Guy, Rock Lee, Sasuke Uchiha, Madara Uchiha, Naruto Uzumaki, Neji Hyuga, and Kakashi Hatake, excelled at taijutsu to such a degree that they were able to take down massive swarms of opponents simply through their raw martial arts skills. Considering how taijutsu is an essential skill practiced by all shinobi, is there a way to ascertain who was truly the best at it in the series?

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What Is Taijutsu?


In its most fundamental form, taijutsu is simply pure martial arts skills, which usually do not require chakra or any hand seals to perform, relying mainly on strength and physical conditioning. As opposed to ninjutsu or genjutsu, which combine a user's physical and spiritual energies to mold chakra, taijutsu optimizes physical energy in bare hand-to-hand combat. Certain shinobi also combine their taijutsu prowess with bladed weapons such as shuriken or swords, permitting them to extend the range and variety of their attacks.

At more advanced levels, taijutsu can involve the use of chakra, with fighting styles such as the targeted strikes of the Hyuga's Gentle Fist on an opponent's tenketsu, or with power ups like the Eight Gates Released Formation of the Strong Fist style and its associated abilities. A world difference exists between the two styles, where the Hyuga's approach centers on soft, strategic attacks with focused applications of chakra emission used in conjunction with the Byakugan, without too much emphasis on brute force.

On the other hand, the Strong Fist style practiced by Rock Lee and Might Guy, was developed with the sole purpose of delivering powerful strikes that deal immense damage and physically incapacitate opponents. However, there is one caveat to utilizing this fighting style, as it is extremely taxing on a shinobi's stamina, to the point where someone who has not appropriately conditioned their body for the Strong Fist style, will experience intense fatigue after attempting any of its techniques.

These styles are ideal for those who possess superb chakra control and physical prowess, as they allow them to exploit such attributes to their fullest. Other similar examples can be seen in Killer B's Disturbance Taijutsu and Acrobat techniques, which also combine kenjutsu. Some practitioners also combine ninjutsu and taijutsu in a blended style known as nintaijutsu, often utilized by Kumogakure shinobi such as the Third Raikage and Fourth Raikage, whose Lightning Release Chakra Mode techniques were feared the world over. Finally, Shikotsumyaku, the signature technique of the Kaguya clan, is said to be the pinnacle of taijutsu, channeling martial arts and body manipulation to weaponize a shinobi's skeletal structure.

The Main Contenders


There are a few obvious names that come to mind when thinking of ninja who are exceptional exponents of taijutsu. Although taijutsu is practiced by all shinobi at a basic level, most of them do not employ it as their primary strategy in combat, and only a few specialize in taijutsu above other shinobi combat skills. Naturally, some of the most well known taijutsu specialists in Naruto are Might Duy, and his son Might Guy, whose pupil Rock Lee continued the tradition by teaching his son Metal Lee, in the Strong Fist style of his mentor.

Beyond this, Neji Hyuga was regarded as a genius among his clan in the Gentle Fist style, to the point where he had mastered all the Hyuga clan's techniques as a teenager, and rose to the rank of jonin before anyone else in his age group. Other shinobi renowned for their prodigious taijutsu skills include Sasuke Uchiha, Madara Uchiha, Kakashi Hatake, Hashirama Senju, Killer B, the Third Raikage, Fourth Raikage, and Naruto Uzumaki.

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While establishing the ground rules for this debate, it is important to stress that comparisons here are based primarily on pure taijutsu ability. It can be argued that many characters in contention for the title use senjutsu and ninjutsu based power ups, such as Sage Mode, Six Paths Sage Mode, Tailed Beast Mode, and Nature Release Chakra Modes. As a result, the comparison will be focused solely on their hand-to-hand combat feats against other ninjutsu and taijutsu users, to determine who among them is truly deserving of the title of the series' best taijutsu user.

Settling The Debate


While he was a gifted shinobi who was far more powerful than the vast majority of ninja in Naruto, Neji's Gentle Fist techniques would have a difficult time competing against some of the stronger shinobi in contention. This holds true even for the likes of Kakashi Hatake, whose victories often combined ninjutsu with his exceptional taijutsu skills and tactical acumen. It might be safe to say that the Third Raikage and Fourth Raikage, as well as Killer B may also fall slightly lower on this list, as they were unable to keep up with more powerful taijutsu users such as Naruto and Sasuke at the end of the series.

Naruto often relied on shadow clones when using taijutsu or even the vast majority of his techniques, and he seldom faced off agaisnt adversaries in single combat, finding strength in numbers. In this state, he was able to compete equally with Sasuke Uchiha's taijutsu, which was often enhanced with Lightning Release. The pair could also be relatively on par with Hashirama and Madara, solely on the basis of their taijutsu prowess, with the older incarnates having a slight edge over them.

Following the end of the Fourth Shinobi World War, Rock Lee mastered the Seventh Gate in the Eight Gates Released Formation, and was even able to use the Eight Gate by the time he reached adulthood. This firmly places him on a similar level as Might Guy and Might Duy, who were among the strongest exponents of the Eight Gates Released Formation, the most powerful technique of the Strong Fist style.

Throughout the entirety of Naruto, the only people to have opened all Eight Gates were Might Guy and Might Duy. While the latter's power level in this state has not been shown in much detail, Might Guy's usage of the technique took place at the height of the Fourth Shinobi World War, against Madara Uchiha in his Ten-Tails' jinchuriki form. In spite of the severe toll it took on his body, Guy was nearly able to defeat Madara after opening the Eighth Gate, and may have even killed him if not for the latter's exceptional regeneration.

Madara himself declared that Guy was the greatest taijutsu user he had ever faced, and it may not be much of a stretch to concur with his words, considering the fearsome power of his ultimate attack, Night Guy. If Guy had been able to sustain his use of the Eighth Gate for even a little while longer, he might have even defeated Madara, which attests to his incredible mastery of taijutsu, beyond that of any shinobi in the series till date.

Naruto is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

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