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Ki Sense, also called Reading Ki,[4] is an ability that allows the user to sense ki and power levels. It is used by a vast majority of the Dragon Team, and was first introduced in the King Piccolo Saga of the Dragon Ball anime.


Ki sensing is the ability to sense the location, life force, and power level of anyone; the stronger and closer the target, the more powerful the sensation. The distance from which an individual's ki can be sensed depends on the strength of the ki and the skill of the user. Particularly powerful ki can be sensed even across the distance between the living world and divine realms such as Other World; Gohan is able to sense the increase in ki from Goku's Super Saiyan 3 transformation all the way from the Sacred World of the Kai. The technique appears to require a directional focus to find a particularly distant ki; Goku was unable to find the location of New Namek without the assistance of King Kai to give him a rough direction. Once a fighter masters the skill, they can use it even when their other five senses are incapacitated.

Mr. Popo senses Goku's energy

No outsider knows the sensations associated with ki sensing, as Mr. Popo likens explaining it to someone as being like "describing sight to the blind." However, the manga and anime usually show a minor spark on their head to signify that the Z Fighter is picking up a power.

Despite how common the technique is in later sagas, and how easy it is to learn for an adept martial artist, it actually appears to be a rare ability, as the Frieza Force was unaware of the technique until they faced the Dragon Team. Frieza and his army, who did not possess this ability, use a device called a scouter that can give numerical readings of a person's location and power level. However, scouters have been shown to be very fragile, breaking when a fighter powers up too much, making the ki sensing technique preferred for those who know how to use it. Innocent Buu was unable to sense ki, but once he was absorbed by Evil Buu and evolved into Super Buu, this new Buu instantly knew how to sense ki, having tracked the Dragon Team all the way up to the Lookout.

Androids have an artificial source of ki and cannot be found by the ki sensing ability. The Dragon Team had to find them using more practical means. Some organic beings also seem to have ki of a different kind which cannot be detected by this ability, as all three members of the Trio of Danger had ki that could not be detected even by Goku's godly ki sense.

Mr. Popo sensing Goku's energy

Several more advanced versions of the technique exist, although all are treated as higher forms of the same base ability, allowing for more information to be available to the user than simply the current battle power of their opponent.

Namekians are able to sense whether the life force is good or evil; such as when the Ginyu Force arrived on Namek: Krillin senses their presence and thinks it is Goku, but Nail says "I, too, sense the presence of evil coming." The Namekian ki sense is displayed for the first time on-screen when Raditz approaches Piccolo on Earth: Piccolo reasons that the incoming power could not be Goku because "It's too horrible." Trained fighters also have the ability to sense whether or not a presence is good or evil, as Goku says "It's a horrible power, too! I'm trembling!" as he senses Raditz approaching Kame House, and later when he says that he senses evil when Black Smoke Shenron is summoned. Trained warriors like the Gods of Destruction, can read an individuals spirit in their ki for any evil intent such as the intention to murder someone. It is also possible for a skilled user to detect strength which is being concealed by the target. Krillin was able to detect that Cell was concealing his true power after being kicked by him, and Korin was able to approximate Cell's true power from a distance.

It appears as if each organism has a distinct ki signature, much like fingerprints in the real world. This is evidenced during Cell's introduction in the series, where the Z Fighters, prior to finding out who Cell was, described his ki signature as a combination of Goku's, Vegeta's, Piccolo's, Frieza's, and King Cold's ki signatures (the main components of Cell's biological makeup). This is backed up by Beerus and Whis revealing that Goku Black shares his ki signature with Zamasu. As it is later revealed that Goku Black is Zamasu after having stolen Goku's body, it is assumed that ki is linked to the soul.

Ki sensing is an invaluable ability that allows a fighter to detect the location of an opponent that is too fast to see, or is hidden. It also acts as an early warning system for powerful foes. Many times the Dragon Team have been alerted to a new threat by picking up on their ki signature as it approaches them. It can also allow fighters to keep track of the location and status of their allies at great distances; in particular when their ki falls significantly it can indicate that they are in trouble. It can even be used to detect invisible beings, as evidenced by Piccolo using his keen ki sense to detect and knock off Gamisalas.

However, there are limitations to relying on this ability. A fighter who is skilled at manipulating their own ki signature can hide it, making them undetectable. Some beings such as Hit and Obni are able to project fake Ki which fools an opponent into thinking they are in a different place, whilst suppressing their own Ki. This effect is often accompanied by a visual illusion. Ki sense is unable to detect certain beings such as Androids, and can be misleading when the target is a tiny being such as Damom. Piccolo assumed that Damom was invisible when in fact he was too short to see. He was later detected using sound by Android 17. It is possible for a practitioner of magic to pick up when someone is focusing their ki sense around them; Moro is able to detect Goku searching for him, which caused a feedback sensation that alarmed Goku and made him aware he had been noticed.

Gods have a holy kind of ki that cannot be sensed by Earthlings nor Saiyans; such ki can also be obtained by becoming a Super Saiyan God.[5] It is possible, however, for a rapid change in the strength or nature of a person to render their ki unfamiliar even to allies. This notably happens as Gohan returns to Earth after training with Old Kai; Piccolo, Goten and Trunks are unable to determine who Gohan was until visually identifying him. This also hinders Vegeta as he attempts to learn and use Instant Transmission in order to return to Earth and aid Goku against Moro; unlike Pybara and the other Yardrats, he could sense Goku's energy whilst he was using Ultra Instinct, but the unfamiliar nature of his ki in this state meant that Vegeta was unable to successfully transport to him until he dropped out of the state.

Goku uses Instant Transmission to translocate himself using ki sense as a source

The Instant Transmission technique requires the user to home in on a ki signature before teleporting them to that ki signatures location or somewhere nearby. Meaning the ability to sense ki is a requirement (the Kai Kai technique however does not require a ki signature or the ability to sense ki).


  • Godly Ki Sense - Since godly ki cannot be sensed by regular beings, gaining the ability to sense godly ki must be learned separately. Deities like the Gods of Destruction, their attendants, and the Supreme Kais can sense godly ki thanks to possessing it, and other lesser deities such as Guardians and Kais are also able to sense it. Goku gained the ability to sense godly ki after temporarily becoming a Super Saiyan God, and Vegeta gained it after several months of training with Whis. In Dragon Ball Super, Frieza gained the ability to sense Godly Ki after his training following his first resurrection as he could sense Goku's power in Super Saiyan Blue. Hit had the ability to sense Godly Ki, as he could sense Goku's power multiplying upon using Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-ken. After acquiring Super Saiyan Rage, Future Trunks was able to sense Godly Ki as he could sense Vegito's power in Super Saiyan Blue. Jiren was able to sense Godly Ki as well, as he noticed Top powering up to his God of Destruction Mode. By the time of Dragon Ball Super: Broly, Piccolo has learned how to sense Godly ki.
  • Scout-Scopes - Non-wearable, computers used by the Saiyans until the introduction of Scouters by Frieza in Age 732.
  • Scouters - These high-tech devices originally designed by the Tuffles and later modified by Frieza Force engineer Gichamu to artificially detect ki and calculate an opponents Power level (however other sources indicate Kikono was the inventor of Scouter technology which was introduced to the Saiyan Army by Frieza in Age 732 to replace the army's outdated Scout-Scopes). Due to the ability to sense ki being an extremely rare ability among members of Frieza's army, its members and allied races such as the Saiyans often rely on Scouters as an alternative mean for them to detect ki. However, like Ki Sense, they are unable to detect godly ki due to it being different from normal ki. However, unlike Ki Sense, Scouters can be destroyed and/or damaged removing their ability to detect ki until it is either repaired or replaced.
    • 3D Scan Mode - Certain Androids, cyborgs, and robots come equipped with a built in feature that allows them to scan their opponents and even detect ki in order to determine their power level. Like Scouters, it is a way to artificially detect ki, though more advanced and serves as a way for entirely artificial beings to sense ki.
  • Energy Meter - A handheld device used by Babidi and his minions designed to calculate power levels far too high to measure even by using the best Scouters, using a different form of measurement known as Kili.

Video Game Appearances

"Hmm... I sense something shiny coming from you."
Yuto sensing Beat's power in World Mission

In Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission, the SDBH player Yuto is apparently able to see Beat's ki as he says he senses "something shiny" coming from him if spoken to at the beginning of the game after Beat completes Chapter 1, Sub Chapter 1 where Yuto acts as Beat's first SDBH opponent. This makes Yuto one of the few inhabitants of Hero Town able to utilize abilities like Ki Sense. His ability to sense Beat's power is likely due to the influence of Beat part Saiyan heritage and ability to defensively manipulate his ki subconsciously in the real world without formal training in ki manipulation. During Chapter 1, Sub Chapter 1, the game world Cooler who invades Hero Town in the real world demonstrates the ability to sense ki as he is quick to recognize Great Saiyaman 3 is stronger than the rest of the town's inhabitants though it is unclear if this is an ability he actually posseses within the official history of the game world or if it was due to the anomaly that created the tear in space that allowed Cooler to access the real world. Though Great Saiyaman 3 keeps his ki suppressed, Beat and Note are unable to do the same making power levels which had skyrocketed due to their battles within the game world detectable by the game world Organization of Babidi who were able to detect it due to Dabura's Ki Sense and/or the Organization's Energy Meters which ends up attracting the villains to Hero Town in search of the high Kili reading to steal their energy and free the game world Majin Buu from the Sealed Ball, but Great Saiyaman 3 stops then forcing them to steal his energy instead before fleeing back to the game world.

In Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Ki Sense is a first person view that can be used to sense the invisible aura of allies, enemies, and animals. It also causes certain items and other objects of interest to glow such as Fruit Trees and Mineral Deposits. D-Medals and Key Item orbs also appear larger when viewed with Ki Sense. Additionally outside of battle before certain boss fights, if the boss is viewed with Ki Sense they will emit a massive aura (Final Form Frieza's is especially large when viewed by Vegeta even larger than that produced by Vegeta and Nappa on Earth). Enemies with a blue aura are lower level than the player's character while ones with red auras are higher level than the player. Common yellow item orbs and rare red item orbs also become easier to see from far away.


  • Similar to the Frieza Force's dependence on scouters, the Dragon Team were shown to be somewhat dependent on Ki Sense in the Majin Buu Saga, as they assumed Gohan was dead simply because they couldn't feel his energy (in spite of having used the Dragon Ball to resurrect people shortly before), which made them unable to realize that he was actually on another planet. Videl even points out this by stating that they didn't even find Gohan's body.
    • This is somewhat ironic, as the Z Fighters were enemies of the Frieza Force.
  • Interestingly, despite learning how to sense ki, it doesn't appear as if Frieza has ever thought to spread this knowledge among his forces, which would allow his men to have an alternative to Scouters.
    • However this may have been influenced by the development of new Scouters with a new safety feature that causes them to give a blank reading if the Scouter's measurements exceed a certain threshold as shown by Cheelai and Lemo's Scouters when they try to read Broly's power level in Dragon Ball Super: Broly.
      • This safety feature makes these new Scouters more safer than past models as it prevents the possibility of them exploding from a sudden power increase or extremely high power level and any fighter that exceeds said threshold can be seen as exceptionally powerful provided the safety feature is triggered by at least two different Scouters as Lemo believed Cheelai's blank reading of Broly may have been a malfunction, but was quick to accept as fact it when his Scouter got the same result. Frieza later uses his ki sense to confirm Broly's power is beyond the new Scouters' ability to measure.


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