Yamcha didn’t always have those mysterious scars on his face in the Dragon Ball anime. So where did they come from and exactly when did he get them?
Yamcha has sported two scars on his face for years in the Dragon Ball franchise. One is a curved line over his eye, while the other is an X-shaped cut on the opposite cheek. The character has had them through the entirety of Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super.
Yamcha is an original Z-Warrior and one of Goku’s oldest friends. Long before Goku began relying on fellow heroes like Vegeta, Gohan, and Piccolo, Yamcha was one of his staunchest allies. Back then, the character was heavily involved in Goku’s struggles against the Red Ribbon Army, tournaments, and more. Starting in Dragon Ball Z, Yamcha (along with a handful of other characters) stopped being relevant to the anime, partially because the gap between him and the stronger Z-Warriors grew too wide for him to be someone Goku could count on. But regardless of both that and the mockery he often receives, Yamcha is still a fan-favorite Z-Warrior.
A commonly asked question about the character regards his most distinguishing characteristics in the Dragon Ball franchise: his trademark scars. Neither of them was ever explained directly. However, since they weren’t part of his appearance through most of the original Dragon Ball, clues can be found by looking at when they first appeared. Yamcha first showed up with the scars after the three-year time skip when an 18-year-old Goku arrived at the Kame House to reunite with his friends in Dragon Ball’s final story arc. Yamcha never said how he got the scars, but they can be attributed to what was going at the time. This reunion was just before the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament, where Goku battled Piccolo for the first time and became engaged to Chi-Chi.
During the three years that Dragon Ball skipped over, Goku, Tien, Krillin, Yamcha, and Chiaotzu spent their time training for the next tournament. With that in mind, it seems likely that Yamcha’s training is the reason for his scars. It’s possible that while preparing for the tournament, Yamcha was cut across the face while facing an opponent carrying a sword. It could be that their purpose was to prove just how intense Yamcha’s training process was. If that was the case, Yamcha may have made some gains, but unfortunately, they didn’t have a lot of payoff in the tournament, considering that he went down to Kami in the quarter-finals.
That being said, the scars are now an important part of Yamcha’s look. They also helped to reinvent the character. In the beginning, Yamcha the Desert Bandit was a sword-wielding martial artist clad in a green and yellow outfit. He was also known for his fear of girls. Now, Yamcha – who got over his fear and earned a reputation as a playboy – has left his sword, his classic costume, and his Desert Bandit days long behind him.