JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is famous for many things throughout its lengthy runtime, but the combat style through the usage of Stands is one of its most well-known aspects. Since Part Three, titled Stardust Crusaders, the characters of JoJo have wielded a variety of different Stands with unimaginable and terrifying powers. Jotaro Kujo’s Star Platinum, DIO’s The World and Jolyne Kujoh’s Stone Free are just a taste of the 174 different types of Stands, each unique in their appearance, strength and power.
However, before the introduction of Stands, the heroes of the JoJo universe wielded a far different and rudimentary power: Hamon. In Part One, Phantom Blood, Joseph Joestar mastered the mysterious martial art of Hamon, which allowed him to harness his breathing and transfer his life force into sunlight energy and perform tremendous physical attacks. However, as Stardust Crusaders rolled around, the idea of Hamon was replaced by Stands; even the returning Dio Brando from Part One had acquired his own Stand. The reason for this change lies in both the narrative benefits observed by the author, Hirohiko Araki, and the desire for the manga to break out from the cluster of martial arts manga of the late '80s.
JoJo's Had a Similar Combat Style to Other Martial Arts Manga of the Late 1980s
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure was not the only fist-throwing martial arts manga of the late 1980s. Titles such as Dragon Ball Z and Fist on the North Star followed the fighting manga trope of power levels through their martial arts and power-ups through their chi-like techniques. The energy harnessed and blasted with Hamon was awfully similar to the chi of DBZ, and this meant that the series was just one of many in terms of visual conflicts, directly competing with the heavy-hitters of martial arts manga.
The issue with this style of combat has been observed in more recent anime such as Naruto, where the author needs to keep increasing the power levels of their characters to raise the stakes of the story. The initial skills of the characters at the beginning become redundant, and more and more explosive martial arts must be introduced to show the progression of the characters to the point where they're able to throw world-destroying punches, such as in DBZ. While this can work for some titles and their popularity, it meant JJBA would not have been the glorious series it is today had it continued to follow this trend.
JoJo's Stands Offered a New Direction of Fighting Styles and Power-Ups
The introduction of Stands changed the landscape of the entire series. It allowed Araki to completely shift the direction of power levels and conflict into a far more intense, thoughtful and intricate style of combat. The only limiter to Araki’s creation of Stands was his own imagination, and it even allowed for powerful characters to be thwarted by weaker ones with more lethal Stands. By redirecting the intentions of the series, Araki not only created one of the most unique manga series of all time but managed to increase the popularity of the series tremendously. As Stardust Crusaders was released in the early '90s, a new style of manga was born.
If Araki had continued down the pathway of Hamon and simply focused on making characters more powerful through the martial arts format, JJBA would surely never have hit the level of popularity that it did, dwarfed by the likes of Dragon Ball Z. Discarding Hamon for Stands ensured its longevity and popularity, to the point where it's now known as one of the longest-running manga series ever produced -- a feat that may not have been possible had Araki not made the decision to spice up his characters' combat style.