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Toph metalbends

Toph used metalbending to manipulate the plating on a Fire Nation cruiser.

Metalbending is a specialized sub-skill of earthbending that allows an earthbender to ferrokinetically bend processed metal in a similar fashion to bending regular earth. The technique was invented by Toph Beifong after Xin Fu and Master Yu captured and transported her in a metal cage, from which she escaped through the use of the skill.[1]

During a lecture about chakras, Guru Pathik explained to Avatar Aang that metal is merely earth that has been purified and refined. Utilizing her unique ability to "see" using earthbending, Toph was able to perceive the trace amount of "unpurified" crude earth still present in the metal, target it, and use it to bend the purified metal itself.[1]

History

Discovering metalbending

Toph discovered metalbending by sensing the impurities within the metal of the cage in which she was imprisoned.

No earthbenders were able to manipulate processed metal with their bending for thousands of years. This inability was demonstrated by many earthbender prisoners who were taken captive by the Fire Nation and forced to work on a prison rig made entirely out of metal, and also when King Bumi was suspended in a metal cage in the city of Omashu.[2] Their incapacity to bend metal was also emphasized when Xin Fu and the Earth Rumble VI fighters captured Toph and Aang in cages fabricated with the material and suspended them in the air, a situation impossible to escape from through the use of conventional earthbending.[3]

Toph was incarcerated in a metal cage during the spring of 100 AG by Xin Fu and her former teacher, Master Yu, when they lured her away from the rest of Team Avatar using a fake letter supposedly sent by her mother.[4] While she was being transported back to Gaoling by her two captors, Toph desperately attempted to break the cage. However, Xin Fu commented that even if she was the best earthbender alive, it was still impossible to bend metal. At this point, Toph decided to test whether this was truly the case and, realizing that metal was only a form of processed earth, she began to meditate in her prison until she was able to feel the vibrations of the trace amounts of earth in the metal. By utilizing these remaining fragments, Toph metalbent for the first time, tearing a hole in her cage and allowing her escape while also imprisoning her captors inside the cage.[1]

Lin Beifong metalbending

Lin Beifong used metalbending to control the spools of metal cable on her back during her fight with Equalists atop the Pro-bending Arena.

After the Hundred Year War, Toph established the Beifong Metalbending Academy and, by 170 AG, metalbending had become the primary form of earthbending used by Republic City's police force. The police use metal cables stored in cylindrical spool devices on their backs for various tasks, such as subduing criminals or for extra mobility around the city.[5] The art also spread to earthbenders beyond the United Republic's borders, as some members of the Order of the White Lotus became proficient in the art.[6] In addition, the city of Zaofu was constructed entirely by metalbending, an effort led by Suyin Beifong.[7]

Toph's learning curve

Toph's metalbending seemed to be restricted to close-range manipulation. In almost all cases, she was standing close to or in direct contact with the metal she intended to bend. She had "scrunched" or otherwise deformed sheets of metal, but had never caused it to freely reshape itself the way she had with earth, and was not known to have ever bent metal at a distance. However, when making direct contact with a prison's metal door, she was able to blast it off its hinges with such force that it ricocheted four times around the corridor beyond before coming to a rest.[8]

Toph in metal armor

Toph surrounded herself in metal armor.

Toph later developed the ability to greatly increase the range of her metalbending, as she was able to knock several Fire Nation guards off the group's ship from several meters away, and developed the ability to "see" through metal just the same as she could with regular earth.[9]

Other moments when Toph utilized metalbending include an instance in which she blasted another door off its hinges to free Hama's prisoners,[10] opening a hole in the Fire Lord's secret underground bunker to grant Aang, Sokka, and herself passage, and trapping a Dai Li agent in a metal column.[11]

Toph seemed to have furthered her ability to control metal by the time she, Sokka, and Suki set out to destroy Ozai's airship fleet, now controlling it more fluidly. She knocked off the hinges of the door to make a suit of armor in the same manner as the more traditional earth armor technique. She was able to manipulate the metal plating in the command bay of the airship from a short distance to pin her opponents to the walls. Toph was also able to metalbend the ship's floor upward to block a comet-charged fire blast just as a traditional earthbender would block attacks through earthbending using a rock barrier. She was additionally able to climb upside down across a pipe in the airship.[12]

Toph metalbending

Toph metalbent the rudder of a Fire Nation airship.

Toph later bent the rudder of an airship, causing it to spiral and collide with the other ships. When doing so, she took noticeably more time and concentration than if she had been required to do so with orthodox forms of earthbending.[13]

A full year later, Toph was fully capable of bending metal she was not in contact with. For example, when a firebending teacher invaded her academy, she demonstrated her ability by effortlessly bending a metal weapon around his head that was a few feet away from her.[14] She stated that as long as someone was close enough to see the metal, she could bend it. She demonstrated this by metalbending screws and bolts from a distance to unscrew the wheels of Fire Nation tanks.[15] In her later life, she came to possess abilities such as being able to control cables from her armor, and being able to put on her armor, which appears to only be put on through metalbending.[16]

Teaching methods

Toph's students metalbend

Toph's students metalbent coins as part of their training.

Toph mentioned to Sokka while explaining how she found her students, that every time she was near each of them, her meteorite bracelet rumbled ever so slightly due to the intense emotional state those particular people were in. She realized that they were subconsciously metalbending the jewelry and thus figured that they had an aptitude for the art.

While teaching her first students the earthbending sub-skill, Toph forced them to remotely metalbend small coins rather than manipulate the metal via direct contact. Remote metalbending was favored over direct contact to break down the illusion of complete separation between bendable earth and purified metal at the beginning of the student's training.[14]

Despite how widespread metalbending would become over the next 70 years, it is noted that only one out of a hundred earthbenders ever master the art, though master metalbender Suyin Beifong notes the only real limitation in learning the ability are the ones a person places on themselves.

Metalbending in Republic City

Metalbending Police Force

Metalbending police officers use their abilities to enforce law and order in Republic City.

In contemporary forms of metalbending, the Metalbending Police Force can bend metals without direct contact. An example of this advancement was shown when Lin Beifong unlocked Korra's handcuffs from across the interrogation room with just a flick of her hand.[5] In another instance, Lin was fighting Equalist chi blockers on the roof of the Pro-bending Arena. She knocked two chi blockers off the roof by metalbending parts of the support rods.[17]

Metalbending in Zaofu

The Metal Clan in Zaofu incorporates metalbending in numerous aspects of life, having found a way to use the art form in the areas of fine arts, recreation, and architecture. In addition, the citizens of Zaofu employ a fluid variation of metalbending, as opposed to the more rigid and limited nature used in other parts of the Earth Kingdom.[7]

Weaknesses

During the events of the Anti-bending Revolution, it was revealed that metalbending is ineffective against highly purified metal. An example of such a material is platinum, a metal that was used by Hiroshi Sato to create the mecha tanks to counter any effective resistance from the Metalbending Police Force.[18] However, metalbenders can still use other bendable metals to restrain and attack the mecha tanks.

Other disadvantages of the sub-skill are its susceptibility to magnets, as evidenced when the aforementioned mecha tanks were equipped with these unorthodox weapons to subdue and electrocute the metal-clad police force.[19]

Lastly, since the cables are also made of metal, they conduct electricity well. Therefore, if the opponent of a metalbender is equipped with electrified weapons, like the Lieutenant, he could send the shock through the cables, stunning the bender. [19]

Known users

Trivia

  • Metalbending was alluded to by Aang when he offhandedly stated, "What I'd give to be a metalbender," as he tried to carve a notch in the hull of the Fire Nation drill with waterbending.[20]
  • Avatar Korra is the first Avatar to use metalbending.
  • Metalbending is prohibited during pro-bending matches.
  • Metalbending forms are based on Chu Gar with modern military techniques mixed in.[21]
  • The limitations of metalbending are portrayed differently in the Avatar comics. In The Bridge, Toph can clearly be seen using metalbending without direct contact in order to tie up the firebenders opposing her, whereas in the series, she does not manage to do this until the finale. In The Promise, Toph also tries to teach her students metalbending remotely first rather than with direct contact, though this may be because of inherent differences between developing the talent and teaching it to others.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (December 1, 2006). "The Guru". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 19. Nickelodeon.
  2. Hubbard, Matthew (writer) & Filoni, Dave (director). (March 25, 2005). "Imprisoned". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
  3. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (May 5, 2006). "The Blind Bandit". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
  4. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (November 17, 2006). "The Earth King". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 18. Nickelodeon.
  5. 5.0 5.1 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 7.0 7.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (July 11, 2014). "The Metal Clan". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  8. Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & DiMartino, Michael Dante (director). (December 1, 2006). "The Crossroads of Destiny". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 20. Nickelodeon.
  9. Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (September 21, 2007). "The Awakening". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  10. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (November 9, 2007). "The Puppetmaster". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 8. 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. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (July 19, 2008). "Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into the Inferno". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 20. Nickelodeon.
  13. 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.
  14. 14.0 14.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (w), Sasaki of Gurihiru (p, i), Kawano of Gurihiru (col), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (let). The Promise Part 2 (May 30, 2012), Dark Horse Comics.
  15. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene (w), Sasaki of Gurihiru (p, i), Kawano of Gurihiru (col), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (let). The Promise Part 3 (September 26, 2012), Dark Horse Comics.
  16. 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.
  17. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (May 12, 2012). "And the Winner Is...". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
  18. 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.
  19. 19.0 19.1 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.
  20. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (September 15, 2006). "The Drill". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  21. Kisu on The Legend of Korra. Retrieved on June 3, 2012.

See also

Start a Discussion Discussions about Metalbending

  • Bolin learning metalbending.

    85 messages
    • I suppose lava bending, or some variant, could be used to function as glass bending with sand. We are going to be near a desert in the next ...
    • Could it be like how Zuko had a termoil and he couldn't lightingbend? Could Bolin have one that provents him from metalbending?
  • Do all earth benders have the potential to metalbend?

    8 messages
    • It seems it required precise focus rather than simple "telepathic grab element" as metalbending is trying to bend the earth within the met...
    • I get why Toph didn't teach Aang. First of all, she was busy teaching it to her students and he was busy making Republic City. Plus, they both ...

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