Dragon Ball Z: Why Did Chi-Chi Train Goten… but Stop Gohan?

After Cell’s defeat in Dragon Ball Z, Chi Chi finally got her wish for Gohan to stop fighting and hit the books. So why did she train Goten so extensively?

When Gohan defeated Cell and saved the Earth in Dragon Ball Z, he established himself as the strongest fighter in the world and the savior should a new villain arise. Except the post-Cell world was peaceful for seven years, and Gohan instead shelved his training entirely to focus on his studies. It was always Chi Chi’s desire for Gohan to pursue an education so he wouldn’t end up jobless and fighting all the time like Goku. This is completely reasonable and, frankly, common sense parenting. But as it’s Dragon Ball Z, there are details that leave even the most common-sense decisions open for discussion.

When Gohan is pressured by Videl into competing at the upcoming World Martial Arts Tournament, he chooses Goten to be his sparring partner figuring it’ll be a nice easy workout. It’s soon revealed that not only is Goten already a Super Saiyan, but Chi-Chi is the one who’s been training him so he can “play games” with Trunks. Considering how evenly the two boys fought in the Tournament — and that Trunks was trained by the fighting-obsessed Vegeta — Goten’s training with Chi-Chi must also have been extensive and grueling. So why was Goten able to train so often while Gohan wasn’t even allowed to keep his skills sharpened in case any fat pink blobs came along?

From the very start of the series, Chi-Chi has Gohan’s nose in the books at every possible opportunity — which, on screen at least, is exceedingly rare. Gohan lives a childhood that is anything but normal, as he’s kidnapped and forced to survive on his own in the wild after watching his father die, travels to a faraway planet to fight the most feared being in the universe and even has the planet’s survival put on his shoulders because no adult is strong enough to do the job. Any of these experiences would be really scary in a normal world, especially for a kid.

This is why Chi-Chi insisted that Gohan slow down and try to focus on leading a normal human teen’s life. Her desires weren’t driven solely by the goal of seeing him get a diploma and a job. He had already sacrificed far more of himself, his time, and his life than any kid should’ve had to. She wanted her son to enjoy those peaceful years to the fullest with school, dates, and friends while having the chance to have a normal life and start a family of his own.

That still leaves the issue of Goten. If Chi Chi was always so dead set against Gohan fighting — even with the world at stake — why then did she take it upon herself to train her second son? As Goten and Trunks became best friends, it was obvious that Trunks would be a powerful fighter with Vegeta’s influence. All kids want to keep pace with their friends, so naturally Goten would want to learn as many fighting techniques as possible to keep up with Trunks. From Chi Chi’s perspective, on the off chance a new threat to the Earth appeared, it would greatly help his survival chances by tapping into his Saiyan abilities and teaching him how to defend himself.

As Gohan mused, Goku’s death was likely a factor as well. Goten is the spitting image of Goku with many personality traits to match: simple-minded, adventurous, always smiling, a natural look of innocence with a mischievous side lurking underneath, and a strong desire to help those in need. Gohan was already the world’s strongest, so what better way for Chi Chi to honor her husband’s legacy as a hero than by teaching their youngest son to be a virtuous fighter as well?

As much as Chi Chi desired for Gohan to turn out less like Goku as an adult, she also recognized his morals and values as a fighter, defender of Earth, and a father. She wanted both of their sons to be well-rounded individuals who could use their minds just as well as their fists. Just as Gohan was able to live out those crucial teenage years largely in peace and normality, Goten was able to live the early childhood that Gohan missed out on while learning how to fight in non-life-threatening situations. There would be plenty of time for studying as he grew older. For that time being, Goten could enjoy exploring the wild, learning to fight and the company of his family and friends — much like Goku.

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