A full nine seasons of Naruto are available to stream on Netflix, giving the anime’s broad fandom access to hours upon hours of animated action.
As viewers flock to the popular anime, newcomers may find themselves confused by the consistent use of hand symbols. The two primary disciplines in the series, ninjutsu and genjutsu, are based around a series of complex hand movements. These hand signs allow their user to shape the use of their chakra into a variety of powerful techniques. All of the hand signs used in Naruto are built around 12 basic symbols, each of which must be memorized and combined to create the techniques each ninja is known for.
Each of the hand signs in Naruto is based on the corresponding zodiac animal of the same name. Rat, or Ne, is fittingly associated with shadow techniques, like those used by Shikamaru’s Nara clan. This simple hand sign is a great starting point for fresh shinobi, requiring only the index and middle finger of the left hand to be raised and grasped loosely in the right hand.
It won’t take long to memorize this one. Monkey, or Saru, is one of Naruto‘s most simplistic hand signs, which is perhaps why the straightforward motion is favored by a number of popular characters. Sasuke works this symbol into a number of his techniques, leaning on its simplicity to boost his abilities. The symbol requires very little work — just place your hands out flat, palms together, and slide the thumb of your left hand between the pinky and ring finger of your right.
This hand sign steps-up the skill level, requiring far more finger dexterity from its user than Ram or Monkey. The Ox, or Ushi, hand symbol is most commonly used in fire techniques like those favored by the Uchia family, and crops up regularly during Naruto fight scenes. The sign requires the fingers of both hands to be intertwined, with the left arm held horizontally while the right remains vertical, keeping the thumbs of both hands folded out of the way. The middle two fingers of the right hand are then folded over the knuckles of the left hand, while each of the remaining six fingers remain straight.
One of the most commonly used hand signs in Naruto, Hare — or Usagi – is often used by Kakashi and Sasuke, according to Screen Rant. Pulling the movement off is simple, and shares some territory with the classic finger guns. The Hare hand sign will have you form a finger gun — thumb upright and index finger pointing straight — with your left hand, before resting the right hand overtop. The pinky finger of the right hand should be the only one that protrudes, and it should be situated between the outstretched thumb and index finger of your left hand.
Often assumed to be the strongest of the zodiac animals, dragon — or Tatsu — doesn’t have any specific elements attached to it. It can be used in conjunction with an elemental hand sign, however, to summon a terrifying elemental dragon. The hand sign is straightforward and reasonably easy to pull off — just clasp the fingers of both hands together, with the pinkies and thumbs slightly apart. Then press the tips of your pinkies together and stack your left thumb on top of your right, and you have the dragon hand sign.
Another of Naruto‘s most simplistic hand signs, even stiff-fingered shinobi should be able to pull this one off. Snake, or Mi, is affiliated with earth, along with lightning and wood release. It is commonly used by a number of the series’ most prominent ninja, thanks to its overall versatility. The hand sign required for Snake features the hands in a praying position, with hands upright, palms pressed together, and fingers intertwined.
Horse, or Uma, is one of Naruto‘s coolest-looking hand signs, particularly in practice. The sign — which is commonly featured in Sasuke’s techniques — can be used to dispel “illusory genjutsu techniques,” according to Screen Rant. To accomplish the hand sign, you’ll need to hold both hands with palms facing inward, toward your chest, before intertwining the lower three fingers at their knuckles. The thumbs should be crooked to the side, and the index fingers of both hands should touch at the tip. The resulting symbol looks complicated, and doubles as a solid stretch for your fingers.
The Ram — also known as the Goat — is also known by Histuji. This symbol is one of Naruto‘s most iconic hand signs, thanks to the frequency of its use by the main cast of characters. The movement is necessary in the summoning of shadow clones — a skill Naruto himself relies on throughout the series — which allows it to feature heavily in the series’ plot lines. The hand sign requires the index and middle fingers of both hands to be erect and pointed upward, with the palms pressed in toward each other. The ring and pinkie finger of the left hand, which should be situated slightly higher than the right, should also curl over the outside of the right hand.
An absolutely instrumental hand sign in the world of Naruto, Dog — or Inu — is commonly affiliated with water techniques. It’s most commonly used by water-loving ninja like Kisame, but is the base to a number of more complex techniques. It’s also thoroughly straightforward to pull off, simply requiring its user to place their open left palm atop the flat top of their clenched right fist.
A fan favorite among viewers, the Tiger — or Tora — hand sign is a necessary step in most fire and earth techniques. You’ll almost certainly recognize it from one of Sasuke’s many uses of fire jutsu. The movements necessary to pull off Tiger are a single step away from the exceedingly-simple Snake, altering the straightforward hand sign by just a few fingers. To achieve Tiger, start at the same clasped-hand position, but raise the index and middle finger of both hands and press them together.
Bird — also known in the Chinese zodiac as Rooster or Tori — is a particularly unique-looking hand sign. The movement, which is fittingly affiliated with wind techniques, is commonly used by Naruto, who relies on it to pull off his Rasengan technique. You might want to limber up before attempting this hand sign, which requires the tips of the thumbs, index, and pinkie fingers to touch, while the crooked knuckles of the middle and ring fingers intertwine in the middle.
The final entry on this list is also one of the most awkward of all the basic Naruto hand signs. Boar, or I, requires its users to twist their hands upside down, with the thumbs of both hands facing away from the body, and all of the fingers half-clenched. It is vital in summoning techniques, but doesn’t see overly common use by most ninja.