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Bending is a form of elemental mysticism in the award-winning animated television series Wikipedia:Avatar: The Last Airbender, and its sequel series, Wikipedia:The Legend of Korra, where a "bender" is able to control and manipulate one of the Wikipedia:classical elements: water, earth, fire, and air. Each element is associated with a different type of bending: Waterbending, Earthbending, Firebending, and Airbending, respectively, all of which are based on a different real-world martial art. A person who is a Bender (not all people are Benders) can only bend one element. The only exception of this rule is the Avatar, who can bend all four elements.

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Waterbending Edit

Waterbenders originally learned Waterbending from the Moon. The ancestors of the Water Tribe noticed the push and pull effect the Moon has on the tides of the ocean. Eventually, these first Waterbenders learned how to manipulate water themselves. The spiritual animal teacher of Waterbending is the koi fish. The moon taught them how to bend and then became the spiritual koi fish, Tui and La, at the North Pole. It taught the people of the North Pole how to Waterbend and the other fish of the ocean taught the other Waterbenders of the world.[1]

Waterbending is based on Tai Chi, a Wikipedia:Chinese martial art that features slow movements and elegant forms that evoke the feel of flowing water.[2] Waterbending's strongest asset lies within its defensive capabilities. Unlike some other bending disciplines, Waterbending focuses on turning an opponent's own strength against themselves, rather than using direct strikes. Since water can exist in different physical states, Waterbenders can freeze, melt, evaporate, sublimate or condense water at will.[3] The ability to alter the physical state of water gives Waterbenders an array of defensive, evasive and offensive techniques in battle such as encasing an opponent in ice, hiding behind a wall of mist, surfing on bodies of water on a platform of ice, and battering enemies with lashing whips and waves. Waterbenders can also manipulate the molecular cohesion of water for cutting and grabbing objects or running on water. Benders are also able to encase their arms in water allowing them to blast water from their hands. They can also pull water into tentacles to block objects being thrown. While a bender's victory in battle is usually based on skill and technique, a Waterbender gains a notable advantage or disadvantage over other bending arts depending on the amount of water in their vicinity. Waterbenders have the ability to utilize water in its various forms, enabling them to freeze (or compress) water into ice, immobilizing enemies, and to evaporate it into steam, facilitating stealth capabilities. Skilled Waterbenders can freeze water using their breath.[4]

Waterbenders are more powerful at night than during the day due to their spiritual connection with the Moon. Waterbenders are at their most powerful during the Full Moon, and are powerless during a Wikipedia:lunar eclipse or when the Moon Spirit is in danger. Rain also enhances a waterbender's strength.[5] Also, during winter, a waterbender's powers are enhanced.

Specialized techniques Edit

  • Healing – Certain Waterbenders are born with the ability to heal wounds and relieve sickness by redirecting chi paths throughout the body, using water as a Wikipedia:catalyst.[3] Healers are able to heal wounds such as burns and cuts. They can also cure illness and hypnosis. The water from the spirit pool in the North Pole has special healing abilities and can save a person who is fatally injured as Katara did when Azula shot Aang. In the Northern Water Tribe, due to the traditionally patriarchal culture of the tribe, healing is the only aspect of Waterbending taught to female Waterbenders, with classes assigned for young girls held in huts towards the development of the ability.[6]
  • Plant Bending – Waterbenders can manipulate the vines and roots of plants by bending the ample amount of water within them. Members of the Foggy Swamp Tribe use this to survive in the deadly Swamp.[7] In addition, by draining all of the water, a plant can be turned into an external source of water; this ultimately kills the plant from which the water came from.
  • Bloodbending – Bloodbending is the ultimate Waterbending technique that allows Waterbenders to bend the water within living creatures, giving a Waterbender complete control over it. This can only be done during a Full Moon, when a Waterbender is at his/her full potential.[8] With the exception of Councilman Tarrlock; when Avatar Korra had the upper hand in defeating him in "When Extremes Meet", he used bloodbending as a trump card to defeat her. She questions him on how he accomplish this without the full moon present, he replies that there are a lot of things she doesn't know about him.

Earthbending Edit

Humans first learned Earthbending by observing and imitating the Badgermoles, large subterranean creatures that use Earthbending to see and interact with the world. The first people to learn Earthbending were two lovers, Oma and Shu, from warring villages who used the art to meet in secret beneath the mountain that separated their people.[9]

Earthbending is generally based on the Wikipedia:Hung Gar style of Kung Fu, which features heavily rooted stances and strong kicks and punches. The martial art is based on the movements of animals, among them the Wikipedia:Tiger and the Crane. The Tiger represents Hard Power, while the crane embodies Soft Power.[10] There are exceptions to this Wikipedia:facet, as the blind Earthbender, Wikipedia:Toph, uses a style based on Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu.[11] Unlike other bending disciplines, Earthbending stresses the aspect of neutral jing, which involves listening and waiting for the right moment to attack.[12] Toph uses this discipline having learned it directly from Badgermoles, and teaches this form to Aang.This discipline also allows Wikipedia:Toph and Wikipedia:Aang to feel minute vibrations in the earth when in direct contact and use these vibrations as a kind of radar, allowing them to detect other people's positions, movements, and even heartbeats. Toph also uses this sense for Wikipedia:lie detection.[13]

Earthbenders are known to stand their ground. More skilled Earthbenders absorb and intercept attacks before overwhelming the opponent with superior force. Some can tunnel through the earth to out-maneuver their foes.[3] Earthbenders have been shown to use objects to augment their bending.[14][15]

While a bender's victory in battle is usually based on skill and technique, an Earthbender gains a notable advantage or disadvantage over other bending arts depending on the amount of earth in their vicinity. However, Earthbending is not limited to rock or Wikipedia:soil alone. An Earthbender additionally can manipulate other earth-based substances; these include Wikipedia:mud, Wikipedia:slurry, Wikipedia:sand, Wikipedia:meteors, Wikipedia:crystals, Wikipedia:coal, and even Wikipedia:metal. Earthbenders are able to encase themselves in rock or crystals, creating a crude suit of armour covering their whole body. Not many earthbenders do this, although it makes them stronger and resistant to extreme temperatures (such as those created with firebending) and physical blows(as the suit is extremely strong). This may be due to the fact that the person encased cannot see. However, using Earthsight, one is able to 'see' when encased as Toph did.[16][17]

Specialized techniques Edit

  • Sandbending – A race of desert dwelling Earthbenders have developed a specialized form of Earthbending that focuses on sand. They use this skill in a variety of unique ways, including combat and travel.[16] They seem to be able to take the pieces of the unground up earth and put them into large amounts, which is why certain benders use this form in a wave. Their style of bending, however, is similar to Air or Water bending.
  • Seismic Sense – Badger-moles, the original Earthbenders, are completely blind; they compensate for this by using their Earthbending to "see" vibrations in the ground. Toph learned this ability from the badger-moles as a young girl, and used it to compensate for her lack of sight. The only other human shown to use Earthsight is Avatar Aang but in the Legend of Korra, Lin Beifong, the daughter of Toph Beifong also showed this ability while looking for Hiroshi Sato
  • Metalbending – Metalbending was thought to be impossible, however Toph apparently invented the technique by focusing onto and bending the fragments of unrefined earth within the metal with her unique Earthsight. She has become extremely good at this and can do it with seemingly no effort. She is able to bend metal into different shapes and pull it out of floors and walls merely by kicking her legs or touching it. In the episode "Sozin's Comet", she knocked down a metal door. She then rolled onto it and crumpled it around her. This created a sort of metal suit around her body, a crude suit of armor including shoulder plates and boots which totally covered her, including her face. Whilst encased, she was protected from firebending attacks and physical blows. She was able to metal bend, punch and kick. She was also able to jump onto the celing upside down, possibly via magnetism. Using Earthsight, she was able to 'see' when encased allowing her to defeat the firebenders. By the time of Wikipedia:The Legend of Korra, Republic City has a Metalbending Police Force, which use metallic cables to apprehend foes and quickly zoom around the city. Toph founded them with her daughter Lin Beifong now the current head of police.

Firebending Edit

While the Wikipedia:Sun is the origin and inspiration for Firebending, the Dragons were the Firebenders that taught man how to Firebend. The Wikipedia:philosophy of Firebending from when it was first created differs radically from that of the present-day Fire Nation. Originally representing warmth, energy and life, the Fire Nation's is fueled by rage and Wikipedia:anger.[18] Firebending in itself is not totally devoted to unleashing the power of fire on opponents. In actuality, the focus is placed upon balance. Firebending hinges on mental stability such as inner calm, discipline, emotional stability and physical stability such as a firm balanced form, breath control and general good health.[19] Firebenders are more powerful during the day than the night due to solar sympathy.[1] Also, during summer, a firebender's powers are enhanced. Firebenders lose their power to bend during a Wikipedia:solar eclipse.[20] But, when a Comet is near, a Firebender's power is increased unimaginably, as if they were in the presence of 100 suns. This gives them the ability to fly, produce pillars of fire, and create gigantic fire blasts. Sozin first used the comet to wipe out all the Air Nomads, and thus began the war. Ozai then attempted to use it to wipe out everyone in the Earth Kingdom, but he was stopped by Aang and his allies.[21]

Firebending moves are based mainly on the style of Wikipedia:Northern Shaolin.[22] Northern Shaolin Kung Fu features quick, successive and flamboyant attacks, making Firebending the most aggressive of the four bending arts. Firebenders tire much easier in battle than other benders due to breath control. Breath control is one of the first things taught to young Firebenders because without control of breath, they are more prone to lose control of the fire they are creating or controlling, leading to disastrous results.[23]

Specialized techniques Edit

  • Creating and Redirecting Lightning – Another type of Firebending used in the show is Wikipedia:lightning. Mentally, it involves a complete absence of emotion and peace of mind. Physically it requires separating the energies of Wikipedia:yin and yang.[24] When the forces collide, the bender only guides, rather than controls, the lightning's direction.[24] By studying the techniques of Waterbenders, Wikipedia:Iroh developed a counter to lightning attacks. When attacked, it is possible to redirect the lightning through and out of the body. However, this technique is not without risk. It is important to route the lightning through the stomach to avoid shocking the heart and dying. Azula and Ozai greatly feared this technique since they themselves don't know how to use it.[25] Creating lighting appears to be a secret technique of the Fire Nation's royal family, as only Azula, Iroh, and Ozai are shown creating lightning, and it is revealed that Zuko would also have this ability were it not for his inner emotional strain. Yet, firebenders in the time of The Legend of Korra are able to generate lightning, as seen in episode 3, The Revelation. Lightning redirection is even more rare; by the end of the series Iroh, Zuko, and Aang are the only benders to know the technique of redirection.
  • Flight – Some skilled Firebenders are able to project flames out of their feet, resulting in short boosts that enable them to jump much higher. During Sozin's Comet, when a Firebender is most powerful, this ability is greatly enhanced and they are able to sustain full flight for an unlimited amount of time.[26]
  • Combustion – Combustion Man[27] displayed a very unique form of Firebending, the ability to superheat air into a thin beam which results in large explosions. No other character has displayed this ability and it is unlikely that any other can, as the power appears to be connected to the eye-shaped tattoo on his forehead.
  • Breathing Fire – Iroh can breathe fire like a dragon with this skill, part of the reason for his nickname, "The Dragon of the West." Avatar Aang and Zuko are also shown using this technique a few days before the day of Sozin's Comet. On the day of Sozin's Comet, Azula and the Fire Lord Ozai also were able to breathe fire. Azula is also shown using this technique in the last episode, in addition to what looked like fire coming from her ears. Avatar Korra and Mako from the Legend of Korra series are shown to use this technique in episodes 7 and 8 respectively.
  • Blue FlamesWikipedia:Azula has the ability to bend blue fire, which has a much more intense heat. She is the only Firebender that has shown this ability in the Last Airbender series. Blue fire was shown to be more powerful than regular fire throughout Book 2, but seemed less powerful in Book 3. However, it still seemed necessary to do things like jet propulsion and limited flight. In the Legend of Korra series, the leader of the Triple Threat Triads, Lightling Bolt Zot, is shown to use Blue Fire in episode 3 "The Revelation", until Amon defeated him and removed his bending.
  • Lavabending – bending of lava was shown in the series very rarely. One time when Roku taught Aang about the Avatar State in The Avatar State and another when Avatar Kyoshi explained the day she separated the Kyoshi island from the mainland in the episode The Avatar Day.

Airbending Edit

Airbenders learned their bending art from the Sky Bison who Airbend using their tail and mouth.[18][28] The light blue, full body tattoos seen on Aang and other Airbenders are derived from the Sky Bison's natural markings, and symbolize a person's mastery of the Airbending discipline.[29]

Airbending is based on the Ba Gua style of martial arts.[30] Ba Gua is known for its constantly circular movements, which makes it difficult for opponents to attack directly. The practitioner uses his own momentum as a weapon, constantly building up Wikipedia:inertia for explosive counterattacks that evoke the unpredictabile nature and explosive force of the wind. While being the most dynamic of the bending arts, the style lacks fatal finishing moves, being an almost entirely defensive art.[30]

Airbenders have the ability to enhance their movements during battle. They can take giant leaps into the air, move at high speeds, run on water and vertical surfaces, glide on air currents to slow their descent and even spin around like a tornado to move quicker and confuse opponents. They can also create cushions of air to soften and blunt the falls of heavy objects. Airbenders can project powerful gusts of wind from their mouths.[31]

Master Airbenders can create vortices to disorient opponents[32] and tornadoes to attack opponents.[33] An Avatar in the Avatar State can generate the mighty winds of a hurricane that can affect entire landscapes and sustain flight by surrounding themselves in spheres of air.[34][4] Airbenders are also capable of projecting solidified constructs of air to knock an opponent off balance or to provide defense from projectile weapons.[17]

Specialized techniques Edit

  • Flight – Skilled Airbenders such as Avatar Roku could fly with a tornado-like structure below them. Most Airbenders, however, used less dramatic Airbending in conjunction with their glider-staves to fly. Unlike Firebenders (not including Firebenders under the influence of Sozin's Comet), it seems that Airbenders can sustain their flight indefinitely.
  • Levitation - Aang has been shown doing this from the very beginning and is so far the only one seen doing it. It differs from flight however because the air is bended into a ball and used to stand on it. Possibly when flight isn't needed or costs too much concentration for the bender to be helpful this technique can be used instead. It can be used to levitate above water or to run faster than normally possible. Also, in the game Wikipedia:Psychonauts more or less the same ability can be used, where it goes by the same name.

Energybending Edit

thumb|150px|Energybending as shown in the series finale. Energybending,[35] the bending of energy itself, is the oldest of the bending arts. Energybending predates the Avatar, the Four Nations, and the other bending arts. Before the era of the Avatar, people didn't bend the elements. Instead, people bent the energy within themselves. This led to the creation of the bending arts. On the day of Wikipedia:Sozin's Comet, Aang was able to Energybend, but there is no evidence that there is a connection between Sozin's Comet and Aang's ability to Energybend. On the eve of Sozin's Comet, a giant Lion Turtle revealed this truth to Aang. In order to bend another person's energy, the bender's spirit must be "unbendable." In order to have an unbendable spirit, the Energybender must be completely pure. If the bender's spirit is bendable, and they attempt to bend another's energy, they will be corrupted by the other's energy and be killed. Aang uses this technique to defeat Fire Lord Ozai without killing him, permanently removing his Firebending abilities and ending the war.[4]

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References Edit

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