"If you let the energy in your own body flow, the lightning will follow it. You must create a pathway from your fingertips up your arm to the shoulder, then down into the stomach. The stomach is the source of energy in your body; it is called the sea of chi. From your stomach you direct it up again and out the other arm. The stomach detour is critical; you must not let the lightning pass through your heart, or the damage could be deadly."
Lightning redirection is a specialized technique within the art of firebending that allows a firebender to absorb lightning into their body as energy, and release it in a more desirable direction. The technique was developed by Iroh after he studied master waterbenders, who redirect an opponent's energy rather than oppose it head-on. Lightning redirection works well for both natural and bender-generated lightning, and for electricity conducted through metal.
When Princess Azula attempted to arrest Prince Zuko and their uncle Iroh for being traitors of the Fire Nation, Iroh used this technique again to divert Azula's blast to a nearby cliff and save Zuko.
After a fight against Azula in an abandoned village, Iroh agreed to teach this skill to Zuko, as his nephew was unable to learn lightning generation. After Zuko learned the technique to his satisfaction, he demanded that Iroh shoot lightning at him so that he could practice the move, but his uncle refused out of the sheer danger of it, as he hoped Zuko would never have to use this technique. However, several hours later, Zuko sought out a lightning storm and taunted it to strike him, but his efforts were in vain, which caused him to be furious at the world.
On the Day of Black Sun, Ozai shot lightning at Zuko once the solar eclipse ended. Zuko expertly absorbed and redirected the lightning back toward the Fire Lord; the explosion threw his father back to the wall behind him, providing Zuko with enough time to escape.
Prior to the arrival of Sozin's Comet, Zuko taught this technique to Avatar Aang, who recognized its similarities to waterbending. Aang used this technique to redirect comet-enhanced lightning from Ozai, but due to his pacifistic nature, the Avatar redirected it toward the sky as opposed to killing the Phoenix King with the blast outright.
During their duel for the title of Fire Lord, Zuko goaded Azula into using lightning, planning to redirect it at her. However, seeing Katara as a more vulnerable target, Azula fired at her instead. Zuko jumped in front of the waterbender, intercepting the bolt and attempting to redirect it. While he had been successful in redirecting it prior to this event, the ungrounded position he was in prevented him from succeeding in fully executing the technique, causing him severe injury and incapacitating him for the remainder of the duel.
Redirecting lightning deals with the flow of energy in one's body and turning an opponent's own energy against them, a philosophy seen in waterbending. The person redirecting it must create a pathway from their fingertip, up the arm to the stomach, and up and out the other arm. The stomach is referred to as "the sea of chi", as it is the source of energy in the body. It is essential that the lightning pass through the stomach, as if the lightning passes through the heart, the effects could be fatal. A physical motion can help to focus the energy flow in the path through the body.
Lightning can be successfully redirected regardless of whether the source is natural or generated.
According to Zuko, the process of redirecting lightning is an intense, exhilarating, and terrifying experience. The person redirecting lightning feels powerful containing such massive amounts of energy, but they know they will die if they make a single false move. Aang appeared to be in physical pain when he absorbed Ozai's lightning and seemed very drained afterward, collapsing to his knees once he had shot it off into the sky.
When Azula shot lightning toward Katara, Zuko blocked the lightning's path in order to protect Katara. He managed to redirect most of the lightning's energy, though some remained trapped in his body. Improperly redirecting lightning can have severe consequences, and has been known to cause significant pain around the stomach for some time after the incident.
- While helping Avatar Roku halt a volcano's flow, Fire Lord Sozin redirected heat from the lava in a similar fashion to this technique.
- When Iroh was first seen redirecting lightning, he redirected a storm-created lightning bolt and appeared shocked by it afterward; this effect was never seen again.
- The benders who used lightning redirection in either series all opposed the main antagonist: Iroh, Zuko, and Aang were the three benders to utilize lightning redirection in Avatar: The Last Airbender and they all opposed Ozai. Mako was the only one to redirect lightning in The Legend of Korra and he opposed Amon.
- Aang is the only known Avatar to have practiced lightning redirection.