Bleach: How Yoruichi Created Her Own Fighting Style – WITHOUT a Zanpakuto

Bleach is a popular action anime with a well-defined combat system, but as some characters have proved, there's still room for creativity and improvisation. Most fighters in this series use zanpakuto, or soul-cutting swords, while the Quincy use bows and arrows. Then there's Yoruichi Shihoin, who invented her very own fighting style from the ground up.

This technique is called Shunko, and it perfectly fits Yoruichi's natural talents and extensive training in hakuda, or martial arts. Few Bleach characters can use Shunko, but those who can are sure to take their enemies by surprise and pummel them with their own signature style. Here's the full scoop on how Shunko works and how it's used throughout Bleach.

How Yoruichi Uses The Shunko Technique

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Lady Yoruichi has always been a rogue in Bleach, even when she was a Captain in the Gotei 13. Unlike most other Captains, however, Yoruichi didn't use her zanpakuto at all -- its name and shikai are still unknown. Instead, she dedicated all her time to training in Soul Reaper hakuda, advanced stealth techniques and even some limited applications of kido. Thus, Shunko was born.

Shunko combines hakuda with kido, manifesting as an aura that surrounds the user in combat. Its energy is concentrated on the fighter's arms and back, and for that reason, a Shunko user typically wears special clothing that exposes these areas. The aura can act as a shield from enemy attack, though Yoruichi relies more on her speed and agility to protect herself in combat. When in use, Shunko's aura will either have electric or wind-based properties, depending on the user. Yoruichi's is lightning-based, while her student Soi Fon independently developed a wind-based Shunko.

By greatly augmenting a fighter's speed, strength and endurance in battle, Shunko creates the ultimate unarmed combatant in Bleach. However, it's tricky to handle even for experienced users like Yoruichi -- only masters of hakuda can hope to reap these benefits. The energy emitted from Shunko can be shaped according to the user's will, as shown when Soi Fon formed swirling vortexes around herself to maintain it longer. Likewise, Yoruichi can reshape hers into the drums of the thunder god Raijin and perform ranged attacks with it. Yoruichi's younger brother Yushiro can even focus his Shunko's energy on his back and release it as a powerful explosion, damaging his enemies.

During Bleach's Thousand-Year Blood War arc, Yoruichi demonstrated another form of Shunko called Raiju Senkei: Shunryu Kokubyo Senki. When used, it coats her entire body in electrical kido energy and gives her feline traits. She gains cat claws, ears and a tail when using this form, operating almost entirely by instinct while no longer understanding human speech. In a sense, Yoruichi becomes feral in exchange for greater power.

Shunko In The Story Of Bleach

Since its three main users are side characters who don't always need it in combat, Shunko is rarely used during Bleach. An exception was the Soul Society arc, where the story's only Shunko vs Shunko battle took place. Yoruichi and her former student Soi Fon were at odds, and after the two of them broke even with conventional martial arts, the latter unveiled her wind-based Shunko, believing she was the sole user of this technique. To her shock, Yoruichi activated her own lightning-based Shunko, explaining that she invented it first and gave it its name. The two fought to a standstill with a combination of Shunko and Soi Fon's deadly shikai, and the battle ended before either fighter could get badly hurt.

Shunko saw little to no use during later arcs in the Bleach anime, but it did appear again in the Thousand-Year Blood War arc, when Yoruichi unveiled its final form during her battle with Sternritter "D" Askin Nak Le Vaar. Yoruichi became completely feral, and only Kisuke Urahara knew how to keep her happy and focused on the fight -- including a cat toy.

Most notably, while using this form of Shunko, Yoruichi's kido energy changes 48 times every second, meaning her opponent cannot develop an immunity to it. She turned the tables with this immense power, but once Askin used his Voll Stern Dich ability, it was up to Kisuke to finish the job that Yoruichi's incredible Shunko had started.

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