When Dragon Ball Z finished Gohan was the strongest fighter on Earth. Through his latent natural ability and the ritual performed on him by Elder Kai, he had his ultimate form. He was stronger than Goku, Vegeta and Majin Buu.
But when we returned to him in Dragon Ball Super, even Krillin would have given him a run for his money.
Gohan even had trouble getting into Super Saiyan. But happened between Z and Super to Gohan, and why is Gohan so weak?
Gohan is weak because he stopped training. He put his focus into book learning rather than martial arts. As a result, he lost his high power level and his ability to easily transform into Super Saiyan and his ultimate form. His mother Chi-Chi never encouraged fighting, and Gohan only trained when in danger, never for fun.
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Use it or lose it
Any athlete or bodybuilder will tell you this. If you don’t exercise regularly and work those muscles, they quickly deteriorate.
The same seems to apply to Ki in the Dragon Ball universe. Up until this point, the audience wasn’t sure how Ki fully worked.
We knew that Frieza never trained a day in his life and had massive Ki, but he was a freak of nature and regularly used his powers. But for regular fighters not training your Ki makes it harder to use it.
And if you don’t transform into Super Saiyan, you soon forget how to do it. But this begs the question of why did Gohan stop training.
Gohan lacks Will of Warrior.
Throughout Dragon Ball Z, we got the impression that Gohan didn’t like training. He only trained seriously when his life was in danger, and only when a mentor pushed him.
Piccolo was only able to get Gohan training by putting him in the middle of nowhere with no supplies.
Goku was only able to get him training seriously in the hyperbolic time chamber by always sparing with him, and continually provoking him.
Gohan then got the OP of Oped power-ups with his Ultimate Form which he did nothing to earn.
So it’s no surprise with no one pushing him Gohan stopped training.
Are we Human, or are we Saiyan?
There’s something magical about Half-Saiyan-Half-Human hybrids.
They kick some serious ass.
Gohan was once the strongest fighter alive, both Goten and Baby Trunks achieved Super Saiyan as children, and Future Trunks invented his own Super Saiyan Rage transformation. But although they have the ability, they also lack the discipline.
Vegeta and Goku are frequently the strongest fighters as they train the hardest.
The only reason Future Trunks worked so hard because his world was repeatedly being attacked.
So maybe Gohan just genetically wasn’t meant to be a great fighter, as he has the lazy human gene.
Chi-Chi’s influence – Mother knows best.
Norman Bates famously said a boy’s best friend is his mother.
Gohan lived with his Mum Chi-Chi, and his absent father Goku in the middle of nowhere surrounded by giant Dinosaurs.
So in Gohan’s case, it is definitely true. Despite Chi-Chi being a formidable fighter herself, she never wanted that life for Gohan.
With no father figure around for most of his life, Gohan was there to be sculped by his mother.
So after years and years of being told he’s not allowed to fight and must be an academic, it’s no wonder Gohan naturally doesn’t want to fight.