The fifth bending art, energybending, is unlike the other four in that very little physical action is required to direct the bending itself. The four elemental bending arts are all dependent on the energy, or chi, within the human body, relying on its flow through the body to manipulate a specific element. Energybending, on the other hand, is concerned with the manipulation of the energy itself and is able to remove or restore one's bending abilities.
Though each nation is affiliated to a specific bending art, not all from any nation are born with the ability to bend sans the Air Nomads. It is unclear how the ability to bend is distributed amongst the population or how closely it is linked to heredity; even among identical twins it is possible for one to be a bender and the other not. In the case of mixed marriages, the children may be benders of either element if they are benders at all; for example, firebender Mako and earthbender Bolin are brothers with parents from the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom. The only case of any one person being able to bend multiple elements is the Avatar, the spirit of the world incarnate, having the ability to practice all five bending arts.
- Main article: Airbending
Airbending is the bending art used by the Air Nomads. It concentrates on speed and evasion, forgoing a strong offense for defense. Though apparently lacking fatal finishing moves, it is the most dynamic of all the bending arts. As the element of freedom, airbenders use their capability to bend unencumbered by the ground or any other environmental factors and use their own momentum as a weapon, evading attacks with astounding agility to tire their opponents out or building up massive inertia for explosive gusts of wind to make their counterattacks finishing moves. Airbenders, when resorting to physical confrontation, are able to harness the immense and intangible power of wind. Airbending's opposite is earthbending, and the confrontational style that serves as its foundation. Airbenders can use a flight technique by operating a glider and using the air to provide thrust and lift. After the art was almost wiped from existence, the only airbender left was Avatar Aang, until his son, Tenzin, and grandchildren later inherited the ability, reviving the nearly extinct bending art. The first airbenders were the sky bison. Their style of fighting is Baguazhang, a mix of Taoist energy practices and Shaolin Kung Fu. Airbending is the element of freedom and its season is autumn.
- Main article: Waterbending
Waterbending is practiced by some people of the Water Tribe. It is not only the most versatile element, but also one of the more unique bending arts, as the first benders did not learn from an animal, but from the Moon. Similar to their element, waterbenders are extremely adaptable and versatile. Waterbending concentrates on the flow of energy and focuses less on strength and more on turning the opponent's own energy against them. While a bender's victory in battle depends on their skill or ingenuity, waterbenders, unlike other benders, gain a serious advantage or disadvantage depending on the amount of water around them, although highly skilled waterbenders can draw water from anywhere; they can draw humidity from the air and bend the water in living things, especially plants. As the element of change, waterbenders can fluidly and quickly alternate from defense to offense, from a wall of ice to a jet of water, turning their opponent's strength against them. The opposite of waterbending is firebending and its relatively stagnant, direct philosophy. Due to its lunar sympathy, waterbending is stronger at night and ineffective during a lunar eclipse or when the Moon Spirit dies. However, to counter waterbending's ineffectiveness during a lunar eclipse, waterbenders gain immense power during the peak of the full moon. The Moon was the first waterbender. The sub-skill for waterbending is healing. Their style of fighting is Tai Chi. Waterbending is the element of change and its season is winter.
- Main article: Earthbending
Earthbending originates in the Earth Kingdom, and it demands a special connection with the earth that is achievable with neutral jing, listening, though seemingly doing nothing, and waiting for the right moment to strike. The first earthbenders were badgermoles. Like waterbenders, earthbenders gain an advantage or disadvantage in battle based on the amount of earth around them, though the conditions are not as extreme. Because of their element's stability and its stress on neutral jing, earthbenders stand their ground, absorbing or intercepting attacks until they completely overwhelm their opponents. Unlike the other bending arts, earthbending's strength equally lies in both offense and defense. Earthbending is in stark contrast to airbending as airbending's emphasis is on evasion and mobility while earthbending's emphasis is on fortitude and strength. The sub-skills for earthbending are seismic sense and metalbending.. Their style of fighting is Hung Gar but Toph Beifong used a different style called the Southern Praying Mantis. Earthbending is the element of substance and its season is spring.
- Main article: Firebending
Firebending is used by the people of the Fire Nation, and is the most aggressive bending art. Unlike other benders who depend on external sources of their elements to bend, firebenders can create fire using their internal heat source in addition to controlling already existent flames. As the element of power, firebenders have to be able to maintain a constant source of energy and balance in battle, unleashing a volley of direct, successive attacks. Firebending's relatively simple and direct style contrasts the complex and changing style of waterbending. Due to its solar affinity, firebending is stronger during the day and at its full power at noon, but completely ineffective during a solar eclipse. When a comet passes close to the planet, the power of a firebender is greatly increased. For a long time, disciplines of firebending were taught to be fueled by hatred, as opposed to the original source. Skilled firebenders are able to fly using powerful jets of flames. Dragons were the first firebenders; being the ones who subsequently taught the Sun Warriors. A notable feature of special firebenders is an ability to create a hotter, blue fire; Azula was the only known firebender who demonstrated this extra-powerful flame. The sub-skills for firebending are generating and redirecting lightning, and combustion. Their style of fighting is Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. Firebending is the element of power and its season is summer.
- Main article: Energybending
Energybending is the art of bending the energy within one's body. It existed in the era before the Avatar and the four bending arts, though was considered lost. It is a highly dangerous technique; if one's own energy is impure and therefore bendable, the practitioner will be consequently destroyed. Very few Avatars have learned this bending art, and even fewer have used it. Energybending allows the user to remove other people's bending abilities, such as when Avatar Aang used it to strip Ozai and Yakone of their abilities, or restore them after a bender had their abilities blocked by bloodbending, demonstrated when Aang used it to restore Avatar Korra's bending from Amon's damage, and Korra used it to restore Lin Beifong's earthbending.