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For a long time, Goku was seen as an extraordinary kid with amazing abilities. For all intent and purposes he was human. Throughout the original Dragon Ball story, Bulma, Yamcha, Pilaf and others refer to him as kid, boy, and brat. His feats were realistic but seemed almost out of this world. We wouldn’t find out until much later that Goku was indeed from another planet and that he was among the weakest of said planet. He was sent to Earth to prove his worth and although he showed up big in most cases, he fell short on more than a few occasions. Here is a list of human fighters that unknowingly gave an alien invader a run for his Zeni.
5. Tien Shinhan
From the moment Tien made his first appearance in the Dragon Ball anime, Goku knew that he had a problem on his hands. Tien was a scam artist and not the kind Goku could punch out the frame or take to the moon to teach a lesson. This guy could fight and he had back up. There’s a reason Tien Shinhan and his diminutive friend Chiaotzu don a predominantly yellow and green wardrobe. Though their original Master is no stranger to Roshi, he in fact is NOT Roshi. Tien and Chiaotzu were trained by Master Shen at the rival Crane School. They were at the top of their class and wanted more than anything to defeat Goku and the Turtle School in the 22nd Annual World Martial Arts Tournament on their way to victory. As fate would have it, Goku and Tien would square off in the finals. The fearless immaturity of Goku held up nicely against the calm demeanor and ruthless aggression of Tien. At this time, Goku hadn’t mastered the ability to fly but the guys over at the Crane School had. Knowing this, Tien intentionally destroyed the ring so that Goku had no choice but to lose via ring out. With some quick thinking, Goku used a Kamehameha Wave to launch himself at Tien for a final attack. Goku connected and the two tired combatants begin to fall. They’re both going to land outside of the arena so cameras quickly follow. The first to land would lose. After being hit by a car, Goku would hit first and Tien would be declared the winner.
4. Master Mutaito
Master Shen and Master Roshi were without question the greatest teachers during Goku’s childhood. Just ask Krillin. He left his intense training in a faraway land with a bagful of bribes and high hopes of being trained by Master Roshi. What might this have to do with Master Roshi? Well every Master had to have had a Master of their own at some point, and Master Roshi and Master Shen were both trained by Master Mutaito.
Although this was a very brief encounter, it proved very meaningful. While training in Kami’s lookout, Goku was sent to the past in an effort to find the strongest fighter. He happens upon Mutaito and challenges him to a fight. Mutaito accepts and just as soon as the match starts, it ends. Using tremendous technique and spirit energy, Master Mutaito extends one finger and sends Goku flying. Goku crashes into a wall and in amazement asks how that was possible. Never one to miss out on a teaching moment, Mutaito takes time out of his busy schedule to teach Goku about spiritual energy, and how to control it. He demonstrates by splitting a waterfall in half using his spiritual energy alone. Goku being Goku is enamored and determined to learn how to harness his spirit energy and master this technique. Even in defeat Goku finds a way to better himself.
3. Mercenary Tao
The Red Ribbon Army was so much bigger than creating Androids and destroying Goku. Everything happens for a reason and there’s a pretty good reason that Cell and the Androids during the Cell Saga all came to be. The sole purpose of the Red Ribbon Army used to be to collect the Dragon Balls. Once they realized that it would be nearly impossible as long as Goku was around, their focused shifted solely to exterminating our fuzzy, oblivious, friend.
In the earlier years of the series, we were exposed to high ranking officers within the Red Ribbon Army all being named after a color such as Colonel Violet or Captain Yellow. In one instance, Commander Red hired the most deadly Hitman in all of the world; Mercenary Tao. Tao is the brother of the Crane School’s Master Shen and they bare a striking resemblance. He was contracted to get rid of Goku and to claim his Dragon Balls in the process. Mercenary Tao was a ruthless killer, in one instance having killed a man using only his tongue. He traveled by way of throwing a log, pole, or pillar through the air and riding it to his destination. Goku was located in no time and Mercenary Tao made very quick work of Goku’s new found friend Bora, killing him with ease. He then set his sights on Goku. Tao blasted Goku with a Dodon Ray right in the heart and it appeared that Goku was dead. It was revealed later that the hidden four star Dragon Ball acted as a barrier protecting Goku’s heart and keeping him alive. Tao put Goku down so fast that it almost wasn’t even a fight, just a beatdown.
2. Jackie Chun (Master Roshi)
When Master Roshi commits he really goes all out. When he decides to reopen his school and train Krillin and Goku, he imparts all of his knowledge and wisdom into a daily regiment in order to ready the two for the next Martial Arts Tournament. The training didn’t stop there. Of course Roshi wants his students to be successful, however he doesn’t want them to win. He sees a to of potential in his pupils and he doesn’t want them to get lazy in their training. They both have the potential to far exceed what he was able to accomplish in his career, and it would be detrimental to their future as well as the future of martial arts if the two are seen and recognized as the best in the world. He wants them to have fun and push themselves and know that there are people stronger out there. In order to make sure of this, he decides to enter himself into the tournament under the alias, Jackie Chun.
With a blue wig glued to his forehead, Jackie Chun seems to appear whenever Roshi disappears. The gang can’t quite seem to make four of the situation so they roll with it. Goku Vs. Jackie Chun is probably one of the most entertaining fights in Dragon Ball history. Filled with various techniques like the Sleepy Boy, the Drunken Fist fighting style, and the Thunder Shock Surprise, I’d recommend checking this out if you haven’t already. Goku even turns into his Oozaru form causing Jackie Chun to blow up the moon. This was a really close fight and it came down to the very last blow. Chun was able to use his reach advantage to get the better of a battle of the kicks with a young, stout Goku putting him out for the count.
I chose to save the best for last. Yamcha is the butt of so many jokes within the Dragon Ball community. He’s fallen far down the chart of respectable Z fighters and is arguably at or near the bottom. That wasn’t always the case, as the first time we see Yamcha he puts the paws on a tired and hungry Goku. Sure you can argue that Yamcha caught him at a disadvantage but a win is most definitely a win. The story goes, Goku, Bulma, and Oolong are traveling through the desert. They stopped to take a breather when they are approached by a desert bandit and his sidekick (Puar). Yamcha introduces himself and demands that Goku and company turn over any valuables the crew might have. He also notices Goku’s power pole and seems to know about its history. He draws his sword and rushes Goku. Goku dodges and dives and Yamcha declares that Goku isn’t doing anything that he’s not capable of handling. This is the first time we see the famous Wolf Fang Fist technique and it sends Goku flying.
We are only left guessing what would be because at that very moment, Yamcha sees a napping Bulma for the first time. Although he was a desert bandit he had no intention of stealing her heart, he was deathly afraid of pretty girls. With Goku out of commission,Yamcha tucked his tail between his legs and hightailed it. What if Yamcha HAD finished off Goku? That’s a story for another time….
© 2018 Earvin Allen