In the series, several hundred different jutsu have been revealed, which have slightly different names depending on the media in which they appear. The English versions of the Naruto manga and anime both use different names for the jutsu, which usually do not match the literal translation of the Japanese name for the jutsu. The English dub of the anime tends to leave the word "jutsu" untranslated, whereas the English manga translates it to "[jutsu name] Technique" or "Art of [jutsu name]".
Although the concept of chakra is found in Indian mythology, Buddhism and other belief systems, in an interview, Kishimoto claimed that none of these influences were the basis for his use of chakra in Naruto. He further asserted that it was a term to apply a concrete definition to ninjas' ability to use jutsu in Naruto, and was comparable to the Force in Star Wars or magic points in role-playing games.
Once created, chakra moves about the body to any of its release (Chakra) points, utilizing a network of passages not unlike the circulatory system. By various means -- handseals being the most common -- it can then be manipulated to the end materializing effects otherwise impossible under the laws of nature, such as walking on water. The quality of chakra can be altered with what is called . There are six kinds of nature manipulation. Five basic kinds, more commonly known as the elements.
The five basic kinds of nature manipulations are Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Lightning. Each element is stronger than the next, but weaker than the previous, with Lightning looping back into Earth. For example, a lightning-based attack would be very effective against an earth-based defense, but easily countered by a wind user. Additionally, elemental techniques can be countered by techniques of the same element, provided the technique being countered is of equal or lesser power. Generally, everyone has a natural affinity to one of these elements, and thus can learn jutsu relying on that element with greater ease. However, having an affinity for one element does not mean that one cannot learn how to use other elements. Most Jōnin are able to use two different elements, while Kakashi Hatake has been shown to use at least four (the only one he hasn't shown is wind).
Certain shinobi have the ability to mix two different elements into a new element. Examples are Haku's Hyōton jutsu, mixing Water and Wind into Ice, and the First Hokage's and Yamato's Mokuton jutsu, mixing Earth and Water into Wood. The host of the four-tailed beast was capable of using Yōton jutsu, a mix of Fire and Earth.
The most common way to manipulate chakra to perform jutsu is through the use of hand seals. While there are numerous specialized hand seals throughout the series, there are twelve basic seals used. When put into specific sequences, these seals are used to perform various jutsu. The origin lies in traditional Iengei or mundra, which are part of Taoist and Buddhist religious, and mystical practices. These hand seals consist of a combination of twelve-animal symbols that derive from the Chinese zodiac.
Depending on the difficulty or skill necessary to perform a jutsu, they will be ranked differently. There are a total of six ranks (from E to S), plus two informal ranks for special circumstances. The rank of a jutsu does not necessarily mean it will be more effective than a lower-ranked jutsu, just more difficult to perform properly. The overall effectiveness of any given jutsu is largely based on individual skill. The two informal ranks are and . Secret jutsu are passed down from generation to generation within a clan. These jutsu are not ranked since no one outside the clan knows how to perform them. Forbidden jutsu, on the other hand, often do fall into one of the six main ranks, but are an exception because they are forbidden to learn or perform. A technique can be categorized as forbidden if it either causes great harm to the user, such as opening the Eight Gates, or if the techniques are dark or sinister in nature, such as those used by Orochimaru.
There are several ways to counter genjutsu. Because it uses the victim's own chakra against them, the target can cancel the genjutsu by disrupting their own chakra flow. This is called . Alternatively, should they fail to cancel the genjutsu, intense pain (though not that caused by the genjutsu) can snap them out of it. Someone else can disrupt their chakra flow for them through forcing their own chakra into the recipients body, breaking the chakra flow and thus the genjutsu. Finally, if the victim's ally attacks the caster of the genjutsu, the jutsu will end and the victim freed.
A person with the Byakugan has a nearly 360 degree field of vision, except for a small blind spot at the back of the neck above the third thoracic vertebra. Byakugan users can detect anything around them within a small radius, the greater the user's skill with the Byakugan, the larger the radius is, which makes them close-range combat experts. The Byakugan also gives the user the ability to see through almost any matter over extremely long distances. A small degree of telescopic vision is also present, as a Byakugan user can focus on a single object at any point within their range of vision. Possessors of the Byakugan are also capable of using the Gentle Fist style of combat, because the Byakugan can detect one's chakra network
IGN ranked Byakugan in the 3rd spot of the Top Ten Naruto Techniques, mentioning the applications for this kind of technique in everyday use are infinite in number.
Chidori (千鳥, literally "One Thousand Birds") is an example of nature manipulation created by Kakashi Hatake. The Chidori requires the user to channel a great deal of lightning-based chakra to their hand, so much so that the ordinarily invisible chakra becomes visible to the naked eye. Due to the high concentration of electricity the attack creates, it emits a sound that is reminiscent of chirping birds (hence the name). Once the attack is formed the user rushes at their opponent and thrusts their arm into a certain part of the body, such as the heart. While the technique is usually fatal to its target, the speed at which the user moves causes them to experience tunnel vision, leaving them open for attack. If the user possesses a Sharingan, however, they are able to take in more detail while moving, allowing them to avoid counterattacks.
The Chidori requires a great deal of control in order to be properly utilized; Kakashi, being the creator of the technique, has reached the peak of control over the ability. Because of this, Kakashi's version is referred to as the , a higher ranked form of the ability with which he once split a bolt of lightning. Due to the high levels of chakra required to form the technique, those able to perform it are limited to very few usages a day. Sasuke Uchiha, has used the fundamentals behind the Chidori to create a number of lightning-based attacks.
Chidori took the 2nd place spot in the IGN Top Ten Naruto Techniques article. The Chidori has ranked 2nd in every official Shonen Jump jutsu popularity poll and came 1st in polls of the first Databook , while the Lightning Blade has ranked 3rd once.
Orochimaru's cursed seals were first developed through his experimentations on Jugo. Jugo's body naturally produces an enzyme that transforms the user into any number of different forms, drastically increasing their chakra supply in the process. By extracting this enzyme from Jugo's body and refining it, Orochimaru is able to apply it to whichever of his followers he wishes.
Once the cursed seal is applied, the applicant stands a 10% chance of survival and they lose consciousness as their body accepts or rejects the seal. Should they survive, receivers of the cursed seal are given access to the seal's first level. When activated the seal's unique pattern spreads across their body from the point of application; the more body coverage there is, the more the user is drawing upon the seal's effects. The seal forcibly draws chakra from the user's body and grants them with increased physical abilities, though consequently leaves them exhausted once the seal is deactivated. Their mind slowly corrodes while the seal is active, opening them to Orochimaru's influence and simultaneously advancing the seal to its second state.
Advancement to the second level of the cursed seal mark is a long process, so long in fact that Orochimaru developed a special drug to speed up the process. Once the second level is achieved, the user can enter the state by fully covering their body with the cursed seal. This is followed by an unnatural alteration of the user's body, with the only common features being yellow eyes with a black sclera. Aside from the first and second levels of the seal, skilled users of the seal are able to perform partial transformations in which level two state can be accessed without completely altering the entire body. The power of the cursed seal can even synchronize with the user's regular body with extended use, increasing the power of his/her natural state.
The art of puppetry varies in usage from person to person, as puppets can be equipped with an array of different weapons and tools to make a battle easier. Puppeteers can also combine the abilities of their puppets to increase their effectiveness; Kankuro, for example, can use one of his puppets to capture an enemy while a second bombards them with weapons, killing them. Standard puppets, however, are limited to attacks not dependent on chakra, as soulless beings cannot utilize it. Sasori has created a workaround for this shortcoming by converting the body of a still-living person into a puppet. Because they were once human, these puppets are able to perform jutsu, giving them a drastic advantage over ordinary puppets.
The Rasengan (螺旋丸, literally "Spiraling Sphere", Viz "Spiral Chakra Sphere", Uzumaki Chronicles "Power Strike") is a technique invented by Minato Namikaze after three years of development. It requires no hand signs to perform, instead relying entirely on the chakra control of the user. The Rasengan grinds into whatever it touches, causing major damage as well as significant internal injury. If need be, the potency of the attack can be lessened to keep from harming the target.
The level of chakra control required is very high, and because of this the teaching of this jutsu is split into steps in which the user learns to form their chakra into a spherical shape. Minato taught the Rasengan to his student, Kakashi Hatake, and his former teacher Jiraiya who in turn teaches it to Naruto Uzumaki. While most users of this jutsu are skilled enough to perform it with one hand, Naruto uses three or more hands with the aid of a shadow clone – one hand to supply chakra and the others to spin and shape it. Though he continues to use this workaround to make the Rasengan simpler to form, Naruto has been able to create it single-handedly when covered in a Nine-Tailed Demon Fox shroud.
The Rasengan was created as the ultimate example of chakra form manipulation. However, Minato had intended to combine it with nature manipulation, which proved to be as impossible as "looking left and right at the same time". Minato and Kakashi have both been unsuccessful in the attempt. In Part II, Naruto finally accomplishes the feat by using two shadow clones – one to manipulate form and one to infuse the Rasengan with his own wind-based chakra.
IGN calls the Rasengan the best jutsu in the series. The Rasengan has ranked 1st in every official Shonen Jump jutsu popularity poll.
Any experience the shadow clones gain during their existence is transferred to the user once they are dispersed (occurs at the clones discretion or after it receives a fatal or direct blow). This makes the technique ideal for spying, since the user can simply send a clone to spy on a target and then have the clone disperse itself to quickly pass the information back to the user. It's also useful for training purposes, since the total amount of experience the user gains is multiplied by the total number of clones being used to train. This is especially seen in Part II as Naruto creates hundreds, possibly thousands, of shadow clones to accelerate his training.
In an interview, Maile Flanagan, the voice actress for Naruto in the English anime, states that the cloning scenes are her favorite scenes to make dialogues. IGN, a popular multimedia and reviews website, although ranking this jutsu at 9th in the Top Ten Naruto Techniques, refer to it as a very useful jutsu.
The Sharingan's first and most well-known ability is to memorize any technique that it witnesses. It can memorize any standard form of jutsu with perfect accuracy, allowing the user to use the techniques as his own. In order to reproduce copied jutsu, however, one must have the necessary skill or ability to perform them. Its second ability grants the user incredible clarity of perception, allowing them to track fast-moving objects with ease and even predict the subsequent movements of those objects. This perception is great enough to see through genjutsu and to observe the movement and flow of chakra, but not to the same extent or clarity as the Byakugan. The Sharingan's third capability is a unique brand of hypnosis that involves suggesting actions and thoughts to the opponent. When used in conjunction with the aforementioned aspects of the Sharingan, this allows the user to perfectly mimic every move their opponent makes, even before they do, making it appear as if the user can see the future. It also allows for other forms of hypnotism, such as putting an opponent to sleep, replaying memories to someone else, creating various illusions to fool an opponent, or even controlling them.
It is possible to transplant Sharingan eyes from one person to another, as occurred with Kakashi and his deceased teammate Obito Uchiha. However, transplanted eyes do not work as well in a non-Uchiha body; Kakashi's eye is always active, causing him great strain when he uses it and forcing him to recuperate for extended periods of time after a battle. Uchiha clan members are not burdened with this weakness; while activation of the Sharingan does consume chakra, the drain is so small as to be almost insignificant. Itachi in particular seems to have no trouble keeping his Sharingan activated near-constantly.
IGN has described the Sharingan as one of the best abilities that a ninja could have but, due to its main power being imitation, has also said it is not particularly original.
When the Mangekyo Sharingan is first introduced, Itachi tells Sasuke it can only be gained by killing one's closest friend. Though Itachi and many other Uchiha have done this to obtain their versions, at least one other method exists: after Itachi himself dies, as a person with whom Sasuke shared a close relationship, Sasuke's Mangekyo Sharingan is awakened. Which, if either of these methods, Kakashi used to gain his own Mangekyo Sharingan remains unknown.