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Through constant training, Goku has achieved many extraordinary abilities, like extreme strength and incredible durability. He also possesses super speed, reflexes and can perform energy blastswhich are formed from chi. As a child, Goku wields the Nyoi-bo (如意棒 lit. "Mind Stick"?, renamed "Power Pole" in Funimation's anime dub), a magic staff that extends and retracts on command, which is given to him by his adoptive grandfather. Goku's first main means of conveyance is a magic cloud called Kinto-un (筋斗雲 lit. "Somersault Cloud"?, renamed "Nimbus" in Funimation's dub), which is given to him as a child by Master Roshi in return for saving Roshi's pet sea turtle. After training with Kami, he learns to fly through the technique Bukū-jutsu (舞空術 lit. "Air Dance Technique"?) and uses the cloud less frequently as the series progresses.

Goku's signature move is the Kamehameha (かめはめ波 lit. "Kamehame Wave"?), an energy blast technique, which he learned from Master Roshi. Another technique of Goku's, taught to him by King Kai, is the Kaiō-ken (界王拳 lit. "World King Fist"?), an attack that multiplies his chi and strength for an instant, but can strain his body afterwards. Goku's most powerful attack is the Genki Dama(元気玉 lit. "Good Spirit Ball"?, renamed "Spirit Bomb" in Funimation's dub), an energy sphere created by gathering chi from surrounding life forms, which he also learned from King Kai. Goku learns ateleportation skill called Shunkan Idō (瞬間移動 lit. "Instant Teleport"?, renamed "Instant Transmission" in Funimation's dub), which he learned from the inhabitants of the planet Yardrat.

Goku is the only Saiyan in the series to achieve all the Saiyan transformations. In Dragon Ball, he can transform into a gigantic ape-like creature called an Ōzaru (大猿 lit. "Great Monkey"?, renamed "Great Ape" or "Giant Ape" in Funimation's dub) when he stares at a full moon while possessing a Saiyan tail. Goku loses the ability to make this transformation when his friends cut off his tail. Although it grows back, Goku's tail is later permanently removed by Kami. However, inDragon Ball GT, Goku can again use this transformation after regrowing his tail with the Elder Kai's help. In Dragon Ball Z, Goku becomes the first Super Saiyan in a millennium after being overcome with rage when Frieza kills Krillin during their battle on the planet Namek. As the series progresses, Goku achieves every advanced form of Super Saiyan. Each transformation changes Goku's appearance and enormously enhances his abilities.

Goku can fuse with Vegeta, creating a warrior with the combined powers and skills of both Saiyans. He can achieve this using two methods. The first method involves using the Potara Earrings presented to Goku by the Elder Kai, which results in a 'perfect fusion', creating Vegito ("Vegerot" in Viz Media's manga translation). The other method is by performing the Metamorese Fusion Dance, which creates Gogeta. If the dance is performed incorrectly, it forms the obese Veku.