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Goku's Ultra Instinct Technique From Dragon Ball Super Explained

The concept of transformation has always meant a great deal in the world of "Dragon Ball." Even before the concept of the Super Saiyan appeared during the Frieza Saga of "Dragon Ball Z" and established loud, emotional transformations as a common method of powering up a character in shonen manga and anime, transformations were pervasive within the universe. From the beginning, Goku's character was defined by his ability to turn into a Great Ape upon seeing the full moon. Now, decades after Toriyama established the transformation trope, "Dragon Ball" is still introducing new transformations that remain at the cutting edge of the genre.

"Dragon Ball's" latest pet transformation is called Ultra Instinct, and (like Super Saiyan God and Super Saiyan Blue) marks a further step away from the blond hair and blue eyes of the various types of traditional Super Saiyan. Since Ultra Instinct's first on-screen appearance in Episode 110 of "Dragon Ball Super," the form has captured the imaginations of the fanbase. From its unique new look, to its awesome theme song, it has been a resounding success for the franchise. However, the exact mechanics of Ultra Instinct can be confusing, and might need some explaining.

What is Ultra Instinct?

Put simply, Ultra Instinct is when a fighter can move without consciously thinking about it beforehand. When the conscious mind is detached from the body, the fighter's subconscious takes control and allows them to take full advantage of their body's peak reactions, speed, and strength without wasting the time it takes to think about doing something before actually doing it (via Dragon Ball Universe). Angels, such as Whis, have already fully mastered this technique, allowing them to take on the Universe's strongest fighters without much effort. For instance, in Episode 18 of "Dragon Ball Super," Whis was able to withstand both Goku and Vegeta (albeit in their base forms) without so much as losing his breath.

However, Angels never transform in the same way that other beings do when they achieve Ultra Instinct. In fact, a mortal creature's journey towards full mastery of the technique is dotted by different benchmark transformations that eventually lead up to the real deal. In Goku's case, he achieved an incomplete version of Ultra Instinct, known as Ultra Instinct Sign, before elevating the transformation to its utmost level. This is because the technique can take lifetimes to master. Even gods such as Beerus have spent millennia training to achieve it, with only marginally successful results. As "Dragon Ball" fans are already keenly aware, Goku is simply built different.

How does Goku use it?

Ultra Instinct Sign is exactly what it sounds like, a sign of something to come. Like all transformations, it involves Goku breaking past his current limits. In this form, Goku's body is able to avoid almost any attack thrown at it, allowing Goku to focus more on his counterattack. However, as fans already know, it is an incomplete version. It neither draws out Goku's full untapped potential, nor does it allow him to fight completely without thought. It is not until Goku faces his final fight against Jiren in the last stages of the Tournament of Power, that he is able to achieve true Ultra Instinct.

Once he does, however, it is an entirely new game. Where Ultra Instinct Sign only tinted Goku's eyes with a touch of silver, true Ultra Instinct turns everything, from his eyes to his hair, a brilliant silver color. Goku's maximum power level is drastically increased, so much that upon release it resembled an entire galaxy, and allowed Goku to go to surpass Jiren (the strongest opponent he had faced until that point) for a short period of time.

The only downside to Goku's Ultra Instinct, however, is that Goku cannot maintain it forever. In order to use Ultra Instinct, a fighter must keep a completely calm mind. The more Goku's emotions come into play, the less he is able to keep this calm state and the more his Ultra Instinct falters.