A gym battle is a battle in which a trainer challenges a gym leader for their badge. It also lets you get traded Pokémon and higher leveled Pokémon to listen to you. You can also use HM's (Hidden Machines) outside of battle.
In the Anime
Ash had traveled through many Gyms and overcame tough challenges to earn badges.
In Generations I to III Obtaining 1, 3, 5, and 7 badges raised your Pokémon's Attack, Speed, Defense and Sp. ATK and Sp Def (Special in Gen I) Stats respectively.
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