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Air Nomads emblem
This article is about the equipment used by airbenders. For the gliders developed by the mechanist, see glider.
Gyatso and Roku glide

Avatar Roku and Monk Gyatso used airbender staffs for gliding during their airbending training.

An airbender staff is a wooden stave used primarily by airbenders to augment their bending. The versatile instruments were a major part of Air Nomad culture and used in the execution of several complex airbending techniques. Staffs were constructed to unfold into fan-like gliders which enabled airbenders to fly while manipulating the air currents around them.[1]

History

Prior to the Hundred Year War

Gyatso airsurfing

A young Monk Gyatso used his staff in order to airsurf during airbending training with Avatar Roku in the Southern Air Temple.

Sometime before 0 AG, airbender staffs were used by young Air Nomads during airbending training in order to take flight. Avatar Roku demonstrated several air loops to a young Gyatso, who, in turn, attempted to airsurf. However, the young nomad fell off his glider, prompting Roku to catch him. With Gyatso lying atop his glider, Roku was unable to stable his glider staff, which resulted in both of them making a crash-landing to the ground.[2]

While he was young, Aang was presented with an airbender staff handcrafted by the monks for use in his training.[3] After overhearing a discussion between the monks which culminated to Monk Pasang's decision to send Aang to complete his training in the Eastern Air Temple, Aang ran away with Appa, bringing the airbender staff among his possessions.[4]

During the Hundred Year War

Prior to the Coup of Ba Sing Se

Aang gliding merrily

Aang used his staff extensively in order to glide in the air.

Following his discovery in the Southern Water Tribe in 99 AG, Aang used his staff extensively during his travels.[5] On several occasions, the young Avatar demonstrated the instrument's capabilities as a weapon by using it to augment his bending. Aang was able to send powerful blasts of wind toward his enemies by triggering a small wing on his staff that acted similar to a miniature fan.[6] He was also able to conjure compressed air swipes to deflect projectiles and attack enemies,[7] as well as generate vortexes by using the staff as a fixed point of origin.[8] The staff's dual purpose as a functional glider also benefited Aang in many combat situations, as it provided him with an aerial advantage and a convenient means of escape.[5]

After partially recovering from an injury he sustained during the Coup of Ba Sing Se, Aang decided to take his staff to travel to the Fire Nation and defeat Fire Lord Ozai directly. Taking advantage of strong winds brought about by a fierce storm, Aang used a piece of driftwood and his staff to windsurf across the Mo Ce Sea. However, as he was still not fully recuperated, Aang was unable to finish his journey and lost the staff at sea. The young Avatar survived the storm and was eventually found by the other members of Team Avatar on Crescent Island. Shortly after, the staff washed up on shore, damaged beyond repair. Realizing that he needed to remain concealed and that the staff would reveal his identity, Aang left the wooden stave to burn in nearby river of lava.[9]

Following the Coup of Ba Sing Se

Aang's new glider

Aang was given a new staff by the mechanist, which he first used during the Invasion of the Fire Nation on the Day of Black Sun.

Aang traveled through the Fire Nation without a staff until the Day of Black Sun, when the invasion force arrived to the Black Cliffs. The mechanist created a brand new staff for Aang, which was considerably thinner compared to the staffs used by Air Nomads. The wooden instrument also came with blue wings and fins deployed through spring-loaded mechanisms, as well as a built-in snack compartment to provide the user with energy during flight. Although he originally considered the feature as trivial and frivolous, Aang eventually found it useful while flying alone to confront Fire Lord Ozai in the Fire Nation Capital.[10] Aang's new staff functioned similarly to his old staff during the invasion, although it produced slightly less powerful blasts of air. However, the new instrument was considerably more resilient, as Aang was able to bend it back to fling himself forward and blast Azula with air.[11]

After Aang disappeared shortly before the arrival of Sozin's Comet, Katara used his staff as a reference for June's shirshu, Nyla, to track.[12] The search attempt was unsuccessful, however, as the scent of the lion turtle masked Aang, making it appear as though he did not exist.

Following the Hundred Year War

During the Harmony Restoration Movement, Aang used his staff to fly with Katara over Yu Dao's walls in order to avoid Fire Nation guards, who only allowed individuals to enter with Fire Lord Zuko's permission.[13] While searching for Ursa along with the other members of Team Avatar, Aang used his staff to pursue Azula, who had jumped off Appa during flight. The staff was singed, however, when it was shot with fire by the young princess.[14]

Jinora on glider

Jinora used her airbender staff as a glider over 170 years after the Air Nomad Genocide to defend Air Temple Island against the Equalists.

After Tenzin and Pema gave birth to three airbending children, Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo, Tenzin taught them airbending, part of which involved using authentic airbender staffs to develop their gliding abilities.[15] In 170 AG, Tenzin flew to the docks of Air Temple Island in an attempt to convince Korra to abandon her plan to confront Amon. Later that year, Jinora used her staff to fend off Equalists during the invasion of Air Temple Island.[16]

Following the Harmonic Convergence of 171 AG, Korra came into possession of an airbender staff of her own, which was similar in design to the glider created by the mechanist for Aang. She used the staff to navigate through Republic City after it had become overrun by vines.[17] Jinora used her staff once more in the Earth Kingdom during an "airbending show" held to recruit new airbenders, demonstrating its use through a series of tricks meant to captivate the audience.[18]

After he was discovered by Kya on Air Temple Island, Zaheer took an airbender staff from Tenzin's study and used it to defend himself against the waterbender's attacks and to augment his airbending. He eventually managed to subdue Kya and two White Lotus sentries stationed at the island, before using the staff as a glider to flee the scene.[19]

Jinora and Kai used their gliders to observe a herd of flying bison near the Northern Air Temple. Shortly after encountering a number of calves, Jinora used her staff to fly both herself and Kai away from a protective mother bison, who charged toward Kai for getting too close to her offspring. During an altercation with bison rustlers shortly after, Kai used his glider to pursue the lead poacher and retracted the tool back into a staff to augment his airbending attacks, effectively subduing the rustler.[20]

By 174 AG, the airbender staffs had fallen out of widespread use in favor of gliding with the use of wingsuits.[21]

Construction

Glider folding

Airbender staffs are constructed to have several components which fold into the body with a singular snap.

Airbender staffs are delicate instruments that are handcrafted by monks.[3] The shaft of the staff is made of a single piece of lightweight wood, which is hollowed down the center. Two wider, diamond-shaped pieces are located at the quarters near the top and bottom, into which a pair of brass rods are inserted. These rods form the hinges for the fan-like wings which transform the staff into a glider for flight. The mechanist's variation of the staff is similar to that of its authentic counterpart, except with a rounded shaft, blue rectangular wings, handle bars, and an added snack compartment.[10]

Each wing is made of four thin shafts of the same kind of wood, fitted exactly to ascertain that they lie flush with the side when rotated back into the body of the staff. Across these shafts is a thick wax surface that gives the staff a similar appearance to a large fan. There are four wings on the staff, two of which are located in the center that provide principal lift and two at the base that are used for stabilization. All four wings fold back into the body with a snap, and fit so precisely that the staff feels like a singular piece of wood.

Usage

The staff is a small unpowered device which requires airbending to use as a glider. In order to ride it, users grasp hold of the two leading spars of the lift wings and loop their feet over the spars of the stabilizers. Airbenders use their bending to manipulate the air around the staff and provide lift, as the staff generates only minimal lift by itself. Generally, airbenders will create a small burst of wind to lift themselves off the ground in order to get the staff into the air.

Air swipe

Avatar Aang used his staff to conjure a powerful air swipe.

Despite its delicacy, an airbender staff can be used like a regular quarterstaff and employed to augment a variety of defensive and offensive airbending maneuvers. As it extends the airbender's reach, a staff can create more powerful gusts of wind due to the longer arm motion used in performing a technique. However, direct physical contact between the staff and an object is discouraged due to the instrument's aforementioned delicacy, as evidenced by Aang's discomfort when Toph used his staff to crack nuts.[3] When spun in front of the body, an airbender staff will help create an air shield capable of deflecting direct firebending attacks. If lifted over the head, the spinning staff will allow for short periods of vertical or hovering flight.[22]

Skilled airbenders can also use airbending staffs to perform variations of surfing. Gyatso demonstrated airsurfing by standing on his glider and gliding through the air. Conversely, Aang traveled across the Mo Ce Sea by windsurfing, through the use of his staff as a sail and a piece of driftwood as a board.[9] Although windsurfing requires less energy than flying, it is less efficient over longer distances.[23]

Trivia

  • An airbender's signature tool is their staff.[1]
  • The original Air Nomad staffs were the inspiration for the mechanist's gliders, which he created to allow his paraplegic son, Teo, to fly.[23]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Nick.com archive (.XML). Nickelodeon. Retrieved on June 21, 2014. Archived on January 8, 2008.
  2. Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (October 26, 2007). "The Avatar and the Fire Lord". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (June 2, 2006). "Bitter Work". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 9. Nickelodeon.
  4. Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (June 3, 2005). "The Storm". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 12. Nickelodeon.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Throughout Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  6. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Filoni, Dave (director). (February 21, 2005). "The Avatar Returns". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 2. Nickelodeon.
  7. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (September 15, 2006). "The Serpent's Pass". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 12. Nickelodeon.
  8. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Lioi, Anthony (director). (March 18, 2005). "The King of Omashu". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (September 21, 2007). "The Awakening". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  10. 10.0 10.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (November 30, 2007). "The Day of Black Sun, Part 1: The Invasion". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 10. Nickelodeon.
  11. Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (November 30, 2007). "The Day of Black Sun, Part 2: The Eclipse". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 11. Nickelodeon.
  12. Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (July 19, 2008). "Sozin's Comet, Part 2: The Old Masters". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 19. Nickelodeon.
  13. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Promise Part 1 (January 25, 2012), Dark Horse Comics.
  14. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Search Part 1 (March 20, 2013), Dark Horse Comics.
  15. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (April 14, 2012). "Welcome to Republic City". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  16. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (June 16, 2012). "Turning the Tides". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 10. Nickelodeon.
  17. Hedrick, Tim, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Heck, Colin, Zwyer, Melchior (directors). (June 27, 2014). "A Breath of Fresh Air". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  18. Hedrick, Tim, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Heck, Colin, Zwyer, Melchior (directors). (June 27, 2014). "Rebirth". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 2. Nickelodeon.
  19. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (July 11, 2014). "The Metal Clan". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  20. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Zwyer, Mel (director). (July 18, 2014). "Original Airbenders". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  21. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (October 3, 2014). "After All These Years". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 14. Nick.com.
  22. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Filoni, Dave (director). (June 17, 2005). "The Blue Spirit". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  23. 23.0 23.1 From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com (link). No longer updated.

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