Super Saiyan Science: How To Throw A Kamehameha Wave

Power Up with Dragon Ball Z


Dragon Ball Z is an awesome Japanese anime television series that first appeared in 1989.  It tells the story of Goku, who along with his companions, defends the Earth against a collection of villains ranging from intergalactic space fighters and conquerors, unnaturally powerful androids and nearly indestructible magical creatures.  Goku’s Kamehameha Wave, or Turtle Devastation Wave is his main weapon of choice against his enemies.  It is a ball of energy created within his hands, that he then shoots out at a distance, debilitating his foe.

The Kamehameha Wave


YouTube Channel, The Film Theorists, put together a short movie that illustrates the science behind the Kamehameha wave. What exactly IS this wave and can we please one day be able to shoot energy balls out of our own hands??  The narrator gives an explanation of the concept behind the wave. It is named after the Hawaiian King, Kamehameha.  It generally involves the character gathering “Ki” energy between their hands to form an energy ball. That then gets blasted out in a beam. Ki Energy is life force that exists within everyone.  It exists in the center of the body.

Chi Rules Everything Around Me

It’s similar to the Chinese word Qi, or “Chi” which is a basic principle of Chinese medicine and martial arts.  The word literally translates to “breath,” “air,” or “gas,” and is thought to be a life force or energy that exists in everything.


Chi has a real place in the world, and here is what we know about it. It’s difficult to define, its a mental or spiritual energy, can heal the wounded, or strengthen a fighter. Even go so far as to give “force” like powers.   No real science backs this concept up though.

Plasma Makes it Possible

Keep Chi in mind as we continue.  The Kamehameha wave is composed of energy, but also has mass. It is a form of matter. Matter can be broken down to “solid,” “liquid” and “gas” but there is also “plasma” which the universe is 99% composed of. Plasma is a heated gas. Plasma is found in fluorescent light bulbs, lighting, and the giant hot ball in the sky we call the sun.

energy-in-hands handsmotion


So the way plasma is created is, you take a gas, and heat it up.  The electrons and the atoms in the gas get so excited that they start to break away. You end up with a soup of negatively charged electrons floating alongside positively charged ions. The air (which is a gas) inside of Goku’s hands becomes superheated, and it creates plasma. He is harnessing his body’s “Ki” or “Chi” power and the electrical potential of that Ki.  That electricity then, will super heat the gas to create the plasma.

The Energy to Create Plasma

Plasma typically requires 33 kilovolts (of electricity) per centimeter, to form. Once its created, it can be sustained with only 1/10th of that energy.  (3 kilovolts).  A plasma arc is created next to the energy source, but once it’s generated, it can stretch to 10 times the distance.  That’s how Goku is able to shoot that plasma out to such a great distance away from him.  Plasma Globes are a great source to explore this phenomenon.  Plasma is becoming something that will be utilized more often in the near future.  Boeing recently patented the use of “plasma shields” for instance.  The future is now!


Some media may contain mature content. Discretion is advised when viewing with students.

Film Theory: What IS the Dragon Ball Z Kamehameha Wave? Plasma Globe and Fluorescent Light Bulb Trick:
How to make a Psi Ball in 5 Minutes: Learn Psychic Telekinesis Training for Beginners

Master of Chi Punches Fire

Chi Master Throwing Energy Ball / Airbending
Lesson Plan

Lesson Objective: Students will explore the creation of plasma, using a fluorescent light bulb and/or a plasma globe.  Students will gain an understanding of how different electrical sources can create it.

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Lesson tags: Animation, Anime, Cartoons, Dragon Ball Z, Eleventh, Energy, Featured, Goku, Ninth, physics, Plasma, Science, STEM, Television, Tenth

Melissa Pelletier

Melissa has a Masters in Educational Communication and Technology from NYU. She has worked in academic publishing, games, and the educational toys industries.