Dragon Ball: Every Teacher Goku Has (& What He Learns From Them)

Goku has a variety of martial arts teachers in the Dragon Ball story, but who are they, and what does he actually learn from training with them?

Goku is the hero of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball story, but he doesn’t do it alone – here’s everything he learns from his various teachers along the way. Goku’s epic journey spans several decades and follows the character from his youth into Saiyan adulthood. During that time, Goku’s overarching goal is simply to become stronger and fight against the best the universe has to offer. This continuous drive for self-improvement has taken Goku across Earth, into the afterlife, up to space, and even to the edge of the universe, gathering new techniques and transformations along the way.

One clear sign of Goku’s progression is his various martial arts masters. At each stage of his Dragon Ball story, Goku trains with a new sensei, and this is reflected by the changing emblems on his costume. While not all Goku’s masters have been honored with their own gi symbol, each has left a lasting impression on the character’s fighting style. Even now, decades into the story, Goku still revisits some of his earliest techniques, mixing them with fresh moves for an added kick. Perhaps the most interesting aspects of Goku’s training are the wildly different styles his fighting style brings together – a stark contrast to the more self-reliant Vegeta.

In chronological order, here are the teachers Goku trains under in Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball Super, as well as the famous techniques he took away from them:

Grandpa Gohan – Goku’s adoptive parent is responsible for teaching the young boy martial arts in the first place, harnessing his biological Saiyan strength. Gohan teaches Goku his early Rock-Paper-Scissors combo and it’s likely he instructed the boy in using the Power Pole.

Master Roshi – Goku’s first real martial arts master, Roshi’s unique training greatly enhanced the Saiyan’s fighting prowess. Roshi also taught Goku his famous Kamehameha attack, albeit only because Goku was so adept at copying attacks on sight. Goku does the same with the Afterimage technique during the World Martial Arts Tournament. Roshi’s training of Goku extends even into Dragon Ball Super, where the Turtle Hermit passes on his Mafuba sealing technique. This doesn’t prove to be one of Goku’s favorites.

Korin – Goku didn’t learn any techniques from Korin the cat per se, but he did gain vast boosts in speed, movement, and instincts.

Mr. Popo/Kami – When training under Mr. Popo and Kami at the lookout, Goku learned more about ki control and attained the ability to sense the energy of others – something he still uses regularly as an adult. Although it occurs off-screen, Kami is likely also the person who taught Goku how to fly without his Nimbus, since he demonstrates the ability soon after this period of training.

King Kai – Rivaling Master Roshi for the title of Goku’s true master, Goku meets King Kai in the Other World after being killed fighting Raditz. Many of Goku’s signature techniques were learned while training under King Kai, the most notable being the Spirit Bomb that Goku has used consistently throughout the series, although usually without success. King Kai also taught Goku the Kaio-ken technique. This was essentially a precursor to the Super Saiyan trope, with Goku visually transforming and emitting an aura to gain an all-around increase in battle.

The people of Yardrat – After defeating Frieza, Goku found himself on Yardrat and trained with the natives. These people weren’t fighters in the traditional sense, and instead taught Goku a new way of using his energy. Under the sages of Yardrat, Goku learned a teleportation technique called Instant Transmission, allowing him to lock onto energy signatures and travel directly to them.

Whis – Working with Whis the angel in Dragon Ball Super, Goku and Vegeta both uncovered the Super Saiyan Blue technique – a more powerful and readily accessible version of the regular Super Saiyan God mode. Although he remained typically coy on the matter, Whis also prepared Goku for unlocking Ultra Instinct.

Merus – Goku’s most recent mentor is another angel. Ignoring the code of his kin, Merus trained Goku for a rematch with the villainous Moro and this allowed the Saiyan mastery of the Ultra Instinct transformation’s initial form, Ultra Instinct Sign. This is as powerful as fans have seen Goku in Dragon Ball.

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