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Yugoda demonstrated the waterbending art of healing on a life-sized mannequin.

Healing is a sub-skill of waterbending which involves healing wounds by redirecting energy paths, or chi, throughout the body, using water as a catalyst. On rare occasions, waterbenders may instinctively be able to access this ability without any formal training and even be able to heal themselves.


After Avatar Aang ignored Jeong Jeong's warnings of recklessly firebending, he accidentally burned Katara due to a lack of control over his flames. Seeking to soothe the pain, Katara submerged her hands in a creek, only to see the water around her hands glow silvery-blue and heal her. Having accidentally discovered this new ability, Katara used it again later that day to heal a burn on Aang's forearm, after a fight with Zhao.[1]

In the Northern Water Tribe, this ability is the only aspect of waterbending taught to female waterbenders, due to the traditionally patriarchal culture of the tribe.[2]

Korra healing Bolin

Korra healed Bolin after his shoulder had been injured during a pro-bending match.

After the Hundred Year War, there were male healers as well.[3] As Korra's waterbending teacher, Katara had also passed the art of healing onto Korra, and she used it to heal Bolin's shoulder after it was injured in the third round of the Fire Ferrets' semifinal match in the Pro-bending Tournament.[4] She used the technique once more when she healed General Iroh's injury he sustained during his fight against the Equalists' attack on Republic City. When Korra had lost her bending due to Amon, she sought out Katara in order to be healed by her, but even she, known as the world's best healer, was unable to restore the Avatar's bending.

Healers are quite prominent in Republic City, and the best of them were visited by Tahno after his bending was taken from him by Amon.[5] After Tarrlok fabricated evidence of a fight with the Equalists in City Hall, a healer was brought in to treat his arm, which he had used an electrified glove on to strengthen his alibi.[3]

Following the Anti-bending Revolution, Kya healed her older brother, Bumi, who plunged down a waterfall while searching for Ikki. What was unique of her healing abilities was that neither she nor the water was in physical contact with Bumi.[6] When Jinora's soul was trapped in the Spirit World, Kya and Katara tried to keep her physical body alive by keeping her energies flowing.[7]


Katara revives Aang

Katara healed Aang with spirit water.

Physically, healing draws on the restorative properties of water in organisms that are primarily composed of it, such as human beings. Though unusually strong and powerful, waterbending-induced healing cannot heal every ailment, for example, Jet's internal wounds[8] or the complications associated with Princess Yue's birth.[9] It has been demonstrated that healing is ineffective on a person who has had their chi flow blocked or otherwise disrupted; Katara was unable to help a Terra Team member who had been a victim of Ty Lee's chi blocking skills,[10] and not even the best healers could restore bending lost through advanced bloodbending, as demonstrated by failed attempts by Republic City's best healers to restore Tahno's,[5] and Katara's to restore Korra's.[11]

So far, waterbending induced healing is known to work on physical injuries, such as burns (Toph's feet[12] and Katara's own hands[1]), lacerations (Hakoda's injury during the Day of Black Sun[13]), broken bones (Sokka's left arm), diseases brought on by severe pollution (Jang Hui villagers[14]), and severe tissue damage caused by lightning bolts (Aang[15] and Zuko[16]); it is even able to cure mental distress and tampering (Jet[8]). The healing abilities of a waterbender appear to be influenced by the water they use: when using spirit water from the Spirit Oasis in the North Pole, Katara was able to save Aang's life after he was mortally wounded from being struck by lightning[15] (though he remained in a coma for a few weeks and required follow-up healing sessions to cope with the pain and be restored to full health).


Purifying dark bat spirits

Korra used a variation of healing infused with spiritual knowledge to pacify a colony of dark bat spirits.

Unalaq developed a unique skill, known as spiritbending,[17] that utilizes knowledge in both healing and spirituality to alter and affect spiritual energy within spirits.

In one aspect, the technique involves changing a spirit's negative energy into positive energy, restoring its internal balance in the process.[18] It is performed by encircling a spirit in water and is completed when the spirit begins to glow bright yellow, at which point the spirit dissipates or assumes a pacified form. Although the technique has been used extensively to calm single spirits, it can also be used to calm several spirits simultaneously, as both Unalaq and Korra have demonstrated.[19][20]

Unalaq attempts to destroy Korra's spirit

Unalaq almost succeeded in destroying Korra's soul.

In another variation, the conversion process can be used to promote imbalance, by changing a spirit's positive energy into negative energy. The mechanics of the technique remain the same, although the spirit is covered by purple light instead of gold. Unalaq claims that this variation has the potential to destroy a human's soul.[21]

Known practitioners


  • By 100 AG, all known healers were female due to the dissipation of the Southern Water Tribe waterbenders and the tradition of the Northern Water Tribe to restrict female benders to hone the vitakinetic sub-skill of waterbending. Males began to practice the art shortly after the end of the Hundred Year War, however, as male healers were present in both Republic City and the Northern Water Tribe.
  • The only known instances of a healer using their abilities upon themselves is when Katara healed her own hands after they were burnt by Aang's firebending[1] and when Korra healed herself after an earthbending match.[22]
  • A technique similar to healing was used by an elderly shaman in 171 AG and involved the use of firebending to sense chi paths and detect spiritual energy within an individual. In contrast to the waterbending form of healing, this technique does not revitalize any cells to accelerate healing.[23]
  • Korra is the only person known to have used both the regular and spiritual forms of healing. She is also the only known Avatar to have been trained in healing.
  • Healing was inspired by Reiki,[24] a spiritual practice commonly known as palm- or hands-on-healing.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (October 21, 2005). "The Deserter". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 16. Nickelodeon.
  2. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (November 18, 2005). "The Waterbending Master". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 18. Nickelodeon.
  3. 3.0 3.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (June 9, 2012). "Out of the Past". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 9. Nickelodeon.
  4. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (May 5, 2012). "The Spirit of Competition". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  5. 5.0 5.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (May 19, 2012). "The Aftermath". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  6. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (September 20, 2013). "Civil Wars, Part 1". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 15. Nickelodeon.
  7. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 15, 2013). "Harmonic Convergence". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 24. Nickelodeon.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (November 6, 2006). "Lake Laogai". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 17. Nickelodeon.
  9. Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Filoni, Dave (director). (December 2, 2005). "The Siege of the North, Part 2". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 20. Nickelodeon.
  10. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (September 15, 2006). "The Drill". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  11. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (June 23, 2012). "Endgame". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 12. Nickelodeon.
  12. Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch, Hedrick, Tim (writers) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (July 14, 2008). "The Western Air Temple". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 12. Nickelodeon.
  13. 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.
  14. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (October 5, 2007). "The Painted Lady". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 3. Nickelodeon.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & DiMartino, Michael Dante (director). (December 1, 2006). "The Crossroads of Destiny". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 20. Nickelodeon.
  16. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (July 19, 2008). "Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 21. Nickelodeon.
  17. The Legend of Korra—The Art of the Animated Series, Book Two: Spirits, page 27.
  18. SDCC 2013: Legend Of Korra Team Talks Season 2. MTV (July 29, 2013). Retrieved on September 15, 2013.
  19. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (September 13, 2013). "The Southern Lights". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 14. Nickelodeon.
  20. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (November 1, 2013). "The Guide". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 21. Nickelodeon.
  21. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 8, 2013). "A New Spiritual Age". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 22. Nickelodeon.
  22. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (October 10, 2014). "Korra Alone". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 15.
  23. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (October 18, 2013). "Beginnings, Part 1". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 19. Nickelodeon.
  24. Konietzko, Bryan (October 23, 2014). Legend of Korra Live Community Q&A: Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. Avatar Wiki. Retrieved on October 23, 2014.

See also

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