Naruto: Gaara’s Real Strength Isn’t How He Fights – It’s WHY He Fights

With a stacked cast of talented shinobi, the Naruto franchise is packed with exciting and memorable shonen fight scenes. This story has unforgettable clashes with battle sequences that involve creative uses of ninjutsu and martial arts. However, the best fights have emotion and personal stakes on the line.

While Naruto and Sasuke's eventual clash at the Valley of the End is undoubtedly a pivotal example, it's Gaara, a standout character from the Chunin Exams, who had some of the series' most transformative battles. As a jinchuriki possessing unparalleled sand-based jutsu, it's impossible to forget Gaara's progression from a selfish killer to a true leader. His real strength comes not from that sand gourd, but his heart.

What Gaara Learned From Battle

The Chunin Exams featured some of Naruto's most iconic clashes, including Gaara's two major battles. During his fight with Rock Lee, Gaara's character was that of a stone-cold killer, finding validation only through killing other people. The frightening extent of his anger set the stage for his rampage in the arc's final phase, establishing him as a monster.

Gaara enjoyed crushing Rock Lee's arm and leg, and this bloodlust reached a boiling point during his fight with Sasuke during the exam's final phase. It seemed Gaara was an unstoppable powerhouse, but he was really crying on the inside -- no rampage could ever soothe his wounded heart. He was running on a hamster wheel, killing one person after another without getting any closer to true happiness.

However, when Gaara went up against Naruto Uzumaki, a fellow jinchuriki, he saw a more positive reflection of himself. Naruto could have gone down the same path Gaara had, but he had friends and allies to push him to new heights. Naruto fought for others as well as himself, and that shonen-style motivation unlocked his true power. Even Sakura Haruno, who couldn't possibly match Naruto's or Gaara's strength, stood bravely before Gaara, determined to protect her friends at the risk of her own life. Sakura didn't finish the fight, but she and Naruto both showed him the real reason a splendid ninja fights.

Naruto proved to Gaara that he wasn't alone, and such pain could inspire heroic acts instead of senseless killing. Gaara was moved as he left the battlefield, and his redemption had begun. He just needed some tough love and sense beaten into him first.

Gaara Of The Sand, The New Kazekage

Gaara's purpose for battle completely changed in Naruto, very much for the better. He tried to prove his existence by killing others but never got anywhere, and he risked losing himself to hate. Since many of his fights were so easy, he also had no real reason to get stronger or smarter. Near the end of the Sasuke Retrieval arc, however, Gaara re-entered the scene as a hero, now fighting for a new cause.

He wielded his ultimate defense to shield not only himself but his trusted allies and friends too. Gaara fought with everything he had to resist Kimimaro's incredible curse mark strength and bone-based kekkei genkai. Notably, Gaara would have ended up giving his life for his friends if it weren't for Kimimaro's disease. The villain froze in place at the last second, unable to deal the final blow because his illness had caught up to him.

Gaara didn't outright win this fight, but he didn't have to. This memorable battle is vital for his personal growth because it was his first time meeting another jinchuriki, and the emotional impact was one of Naruto's most poignant. Gaara and Naruto were two of a kind -- they at least had each other to begin with, but they soon had a whole lot more. The entire Sand Village needed Gaara's strength and leadership during Naruto Shippuden, and his battle against the explosive Deidara only reinforced his position as a noble and selfless fighter.

His new purpose -- to defend every life in the Sand Village -- helped push his sand jutsu to a whole new level. It hardly even mattered that he lost this fight. Naruto and his other friends rescued and revived him, which never would've happened had Gaara continued down his original path.

Gaara also became the shinobi coalition's overall commander, a position only a true leader could obtain. Even if he and his fellow Kage lacked the strength to finish off Madara Uchiha and Princess Kaguya, Gaara's transformation was complete all the same. In a way, his redemption arc was even better than Naruto's, since he started off from a lower point and didn't have the benefit of being a "chosen one" like Naruto was. Gaara reached this point all on his own merits.

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