Chakra; The resulting form of energy produced when Physical and Spiritual energies are mixed together within the body. Then to use it, Hand Seals are performed. This allows the user to expel it out the body in the form of an attack, and requires different Hand Seals for different attacks.
Although somewhat similar to energy forms in animes like Dragonball Z and Yu Yu Hakusho, the Chakra seen in Naruto is in no way the same. In these other animes, users can practically double their "Chakra-like energy" in what feels like 5 minutes. But in Naruto, Chakra takes time and lots of training to gradually build up. This prevents having things like a 12 year old kid with enough energy to blow up a whole planet.
So what's really the key here is not actually having chakra, but being able to sufficiently control it. Because, everyone has Chakra, but only skilled ninja can correctly manipulate it to it's fullest extent. As an in-between stage here, some ninja, can partially control their Chakra. This means they can use their Chakra, but not effectively control it, which results in poorly executed justus, and more importantly, running out of Chakra early in a fight.
Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of the Naruto manga series states the following quote in an interview with Shonen Jump about the series:
"I needed a hook to tie in those points in the story when characters would use powers that were beyond normal human capabilities. The term is Chakra, which is used as an explanation for readers to better understand the powers. It’s similar to “the Force” in Star Wars, or chi (Ki) in "Dragon Ball", or magic points in RPGs."
So from a writer's standpoint, you could see this as a tool that allows for his characters to have super human strengths, while at the same time still feeling realistic and making sense.
Out of the many different types of jutsus: Ninjutsu, Genjutsu, Doujutsu, and so on, all require the use of Chakra. However, one of the types (Taijutsu) is different. It basically requires no Chakra use whatsoever. The ninja still needs Chakra to live, Taijutsu just doesn't use it. A standard attack like a punch or kick falls into this jutsu category.
Since Chakra is the resulting form of energy when 2 other energies are mixed together, having those other 2 energies become more powerful, will in-turn make the Chakra more powerful. These other two energies are Physical energy, which is collected from the body's cells, and and Spiritual energy, which is built up through experience and meditation.
Therefore, practicing a jutsu repeaditly, will build up your expierence, thus giving you more spiritual energy, and then allowing more Chakra to be created. Which as a result then allows you to do that same attack with more and more power. This same cycle applies for Physical energy, except this time, instead of doing things like meditation, you could say, do push-ups.
The process in which you mix these two energies together is known as Chakra Molding. And is explained in the show as seen below:
"Molding Chakra means to extract energies from both the body and the spirit, then mixing them up in your body. And the amount of each energy will differ from the type of technique you wish to execute. In other words, the mixing will be different. You are not able to use your Chakra effectively. Even if you are able to mold a large amount of Chakra, If you cannot control the balance, your technique will only be half as effective or not executed at all. Wasting energy will create a weakness of not being able to fight for a long time."
The majority of this page has been copied word-for-word from Chapter 90 of the Naruto manga series using Toriyama’s World scanlations. For obvious reasons, it would be pointless to try to re-word it when such an official wording is readily available. When VIZ releases their translations for this chapter, we may re-type some (or all) of this page using those translations, since they are after all, the official English translators, and not a fan-group. All images will be posted below the text that relates to them, my comments will be put in [ ], and dialogue of characters talking to each other will be italicized.
"Kakashi: Naruto, Ebisu Sensei’s a tutor who specializes in teaching only the elite. He’s a special Jounin, you know! He’s better."
Well, Naruto, of the three students that I teach in the team #7 you’re the one with the worst basic skills, have him teach it to you thoroughly this time."
"Ebisu: Naruto-kun, after hearing about you and the other two from Kakashi sensei, I analyzed the data and could tell that you aren’t able to control your Chakra very efficiently."
This graph is a simplified chart showing how the body energy and spiritual energy or in other words, the “stamina”, flows within a ninja’s [correct spelling here would actually be ninja with no “s”] body when he uses Ninjutsu, Taijutsu or Genjutsu.
This chart shows the status of the caster before he uses any jutsu when his stamina is at its peak of 100%.
First, when the caster uses Taijutsu, the control of the stamina is very simple. There is no need for any hand poses nor is there any need for Chakra (although there are some exceptions). Only the stamina naturally needed for that particular martial art skill is consumed.
However, in the cases where you use Ninjutsu (ninja spells) or Genjutsu (Illusions). First, there is a need to build up the Chakra required to use that particular technique.
From there, it is necessary to control the Chakra, according to the amount needed for that particular jutsu, by using a series of complex hand poses.
Of course, the energy used for the Taijutsu, Ninjutsu, or Genjutsu is expelled and will disperse! In other words, think of it as a 0% stamina & 0% chakra means you die.
Well then, with the previous explanation as a basis, I will explain further using Bunshin no Jutsu as an example. We will say that the Chakra needed to create the four clones is 30%.
First in Sakura’s case, she can build up exactly 30% Chakra when she wants to activate this jutsu. And when she activates this jutsu by going through the hand motions she can control the amount of Chakra necessary very precisely so…
She can split perfectly into her four clones and still save 70% of her stamina!
He’s inept in building up his Chakra so he will create 40%, which is much more than needed, when really only 30% is needed.
But, because the control he exerts over his Chakra is perfect like Sakura-kun, there is no problem here.
And so, he can split into four but… because Sasuke-kun will not be able to reconvert the extra 10% Chakra into stamina, it results in the 10% extra Chakra being wasted…He’s only able to conserve 60% of his stamina!
"Naruto: What do ya know! Sasuke aint so great after all! HAHA!"
"Ebisu: In your case…you can’t afford to be laughing at others."
You are even more inept than Sasuke-kun in creating Chakra so when you only need 30%, you inadvertently create 50%.
Furthermore, in your case, you’re so unskilled at controlling your Chakra that you can only use 10% when really you should be using 30%.
You are only able to conserve 50% of your stamina and can create only one clone with 40% of wasted Chakra just remaining unused!...Even when you three use the same jutsu, there is this much of a difference!
"Ebisu: Well, this example might have been a little exaggerated to show the difference in you three. But you, Naruto-kun, first of all, build up too much Chakra, use too much stamina and your jutsu activation is also unstable."
"Naruto: But, even I had times when I was more terrific than Sakura-chan or Sasuke!"
"Kakashi: That’s because among the three, you just happen to have the greatest amount of stamina"
"Kakashi (to self): Well! On the other hand, it can also be said that because of the influence from Kyubi, who is at the root of that stamina the Chakra becomes more difficult to control…"
There are several different ways ninja are trained to learn to better use their Chakra. For each of these ways that have currently been revealed, we have given an explanation of what it is.
Tree Climbing: In this exercise, the user must gather Chakra at the bottoms of the feet, and then walk up a tree as if it were ground. If you have gathered too much Chakra you will break the tree and be thrown in the opposite direction. With too little Chakra, you will also fall. However, with the correct amount the user will actually stick to the tree. But, this is just the first step. Doing this for a matter of seconds is the "easy" part, sustaining it for minutes, or even hours is the true test.
Kakashi believed if his students could sustain it long enough to walk to the top of a tree they had learned this exercise and passed the test. Being able to do this successfully is a big step in learning to properly control and manipulate ones own Chakra.
Water Walking: Similar to Tree Climbing, think of this exercise as merely a more advanced version of the same thing. Like the Tree Climbing exercise, the goal is to gain better control and manipulation of one's own Chakra. Also like the Tree Climbing exercise, producing too much or too little Chakra will result in falling. The user must produce (and sustain), just the right amount of Chakra.
Unlike the Tree Climbing exercise, what you're walking on isn't a solid surface and is constantly moving! This means that exact amount of Chakra you need to produce is different then when on a solid surface, and may be different from time to time. When this is taught to Naruto, an extra part of the Kyubi seal is removed, giving Naruto much less restricted Chakra flow.
Leaf Concentration A related training exercise to Chakra Molding, Leaf Concentration will hone a Ninja's concentration ability. Therefore, only those who have worked hard at their ability to concentrate can become excellent Ninja. For generations Konoha ninja have practiced their concentration, and have used the Leaf Concentration exercise. To keep the mind from becoming distracted, a leaf is placed on the user's forehead to focus upon.
As explained by Naruto's early teacher Iruka in a flashback, the leaf emblem on the Konoha head protectors comes from this exercise. Iruka liked this exercise, and tried to show it to Naruto and three of his other students when he saw them having trouble concentrating. While trying to master the Rasengan Naruto thinks back to that lesson, and uses Iruka's advice help complete the 2nd stage in learning the Rasengan.
In the Naruto world their exists many types of Chakra. Here you can find information on the Chakra types which have currently been revealed or otherwise explained.
Normal Chakra: The regular, average type of Chakra everyone is born with, Ninja are trained very early on to learn to control it. The easiest of the Chakra types to control, It can be used in most Chakra requiring techniques. Over time, it can be built up to be more, and more powerful. Because of this, depending on the Ninja's capabilities, the power of this Chakra differs from ninja to ninja. Normal Chakra, is always shown in blue. If you see Chakra on a character in the series not in blue, it has to be a different kind of chakra.
Celestial Gates Chakra: By breaking all of the body's limits on how much strength can be used, a Ninja can access 100% of their total power. These restrictions are known as Gates, 8 gates in all. One's own muscles and Chakra are so powerful that using them to their full capacity will destroy them, literally making the muscles explode or rip into pieces. This Chakra can only be used temporarily, and kills the user after about 5 minutes if all gates have been unlocked. The fewer gates unlocked, the longer the user has until the attack kills them. Because this attack is so dangerous it is classified as a forbidden jutsu. This technique will cause some of the Chakra emitting from the user to green, but don't be fooled this technique still uses normal chakra, just in extremely high amounts.
Cursed Seal Chakra: This type of Chakra can only be used if the user has been given the cursed seal and survived the 10% chance of being killed from it. However, it can only be accessed after all of that person's normal chakra has been drained. One their normal chakra has been drained, a black pattern will come out of the seal and cover most of the user's body. The pattern looks slightly different from user to user, but has virtually no effect on their power. So far the only person who seems to be able to give this mark is Orochimaru. But, it is unlikely he actually invented it. The more this Chakra is used, the more the user depends on it, eventually consuming them, and making them become a slave to whoever it was who gave them the seal. This Chakra type has multiple levels, each level giving the user more, and more power, and making them more, and more dependent on it, and more dangerous to use.
Healing Chakra: Used by most medically specialized ninja for healing purposes, this greenish looking chakra can heal most physical injuries at astounding speeds. It's currently unknown if this type of Chakra is something all ninja are born with, or something that must be attained other ways. To use it, the ninja gathers this Chakra in the area of their body they want to use to heal someone. Highly advanced users of this Chakra are able to even use it to heal themselves, but resulting in that ninja to have a shorter life span.
Biju Chakra: In the Naruto world their exist 9 Biju (Demons/Beasts). Each demon with a certain number of tails. One tail being the weakest, nine tails being the strongest. Some of these Biju have been sealed away within a ninja, because they are simply to powerful to destroy. These ninja are called Jinchuriki. Naruto (9 tailed demon), and Gaara (one tailed demon), are good example of Jinchuriki. Highly trained Jinchuriki are able to tap into the Biju Chakra within them and use it at will. Lesser skilled Jinchuriki can only use this Chakra when in a life threatening situation. This is because if the Jinchuriki dies, the Biju within them dies. So the Biju wants to protect itself from being killed.