Hand seals, called hand signs in the English dubbed version, are used to create many Ninjutsu, Genjutsu, and other secret arts other than Taijutsu. There are different sequences of hand signs for every technique, requiring memorization. While techniques may require a number of hand signs to work, a skilled ninja can use less or even one to perform the same technique. An example of this is the Water Release: Water Dragon Blast Technique, which requires a total of 44 hand signs to activate. The Second Hokage however just needed to use one hand sign to complete the technique, a testament to his skill.
Besides the 12 traditional hand seals, each named after an animal of the Chinese zodiac, there are unique hand seals used for few techniques. These hand seals are rarely seen, and can be considered unique to specific jutsu. An example of such is Haku's Demonic Ice Crystal Mirrors.
Fanon Hand Seals
By Kogone Uchiha:
- Owl (Tiger without the long fingers)
- Turtle (Boar, only more bended)
- Wolf (Monkey with pinkie and pointer fingers crossed with thumbs pointing out.)
- Shark (Ox with all left hand fingers down and right hand fingers up.)
- Lion (Boar with one hand open.)
- Triceratops (Hare but reversed and inverted.)
- Bear (Dragon but horizantal.)
- Rhino (Snake but with right pointer finger out.)
- Beetle (Dog but with top hand grabing bottom hand.)
- Salamander (Snake with pinkie fingers up like in bird)
- Falcon (Horse but with top fingers down like others and thumbs pointed up.)
- Crane (Palms together fingers pointing up.)
- Hikari (Unique to M.E.W. 2; puts one finger under the two other ones, all three fingertips touching)
- Kanki (Unique to M.E.W. 2; two fingertips touching together, the third staying idle)
- Dolphin (Tiger but without the long fingers)
- Jin/Yang Water (Clap hands but with right hand facing down, fingers bent)
It is possible to use jutsus without the need for handsigns. As stated by Kakashi in the anime and manga, hand seals are used to focus chakra in a special way in order to use genjutsu and ninjutsu. However, if someone were to master focus through meditation, then it is possible to use jutsu without hand seals.
While the sage of the six paths founded ninjutsu, the legendary shinobi Kurisu Henley took the sage's ideas to fully perfect hand seals. He is also the creator of the one handed seals, albiet he never mastered it himself.