Jutsu are divided into three categories: ninjutsu, genjutsu, and taijutsu. Ninjutsu also has two sub-categories: sealing jutsu and cursed seal jutsu, both of which are used to create seals for various purposes.[14] Senjutsu, a concept introduced in Part II of the series, uses three types of energy: the mental and physical energies of the shinobi and the energy of nature. By channeling the energy of nature, the senjutsu user can greatly increase the power of his or her other jutsu.[15] Kekkei genkai abilities are genetically inherited traits that allow the user to perform unique techniques.[14]

Jutsu are ranked in terms of how difficult they are to perform, an E-rank denoting basic techniques and an S-rank indicating jutsu that require years of practice to master. An S-rank jutsu is not necessarily more effective than an E-rank ability, as a jutsu's effectiveness is largely based on individual skill. In addition to the six letter ranks, jutsu can also receive one of two informal ranks. "Secret" (秘伝 ,hiden?) jutsu are passed down from generation to generation within a clan. These jutsu are not ranked because no one outside the clan knows how to perform them. "Forbidden techniques" (禁術 ,kinjutsu?), on the other hand, fall into one of the six main ranks, but are an exception because they are forbidden to learn or perform. A technique can be categorized as forbidden if it either causes great harm to the user, such as opening the Eight Gates, or if the techniques are dark or sinister in nature, such as those used by Orochimaru.[14]

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