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Sokka's sword

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Sokka's sword

Sokka first used his sword in a duel against Piandao.

During the time Sokka spent training with Piandao, he crafted his sword using ore from a recently fallen meteorite.[1] The weapon is able to cut through various metals with little to moderate effort, and it has a distinctive dark hue that can be attributed to the material from which it was forged. Sokka seemed to have bonded with it in a similar fashion as had taken place with his boomerang, having given it the nickname "space sword".[2]

History

Sokka shoveling

Sokka forged his sword from a meteorite.

In the beginning of Sokka's training under Piandao, he hardly knew how to hold a sword properly. However, he had a great natural talent and progressed quickly, being able to beat the butler, Fat, after a single day. Three days into his apprenticeship, Sokka and Piandao began working on making his sword. Sokka decided to make it out of a meteorite he and his friends had encountered earlier, and spent days forging the sword. After receiving this, he blew his Fire Nation cover deliberately, prompting Piandao to instigate a duel to the death, albeit fake, as a final test to make sure that Sokka had learned what he needed to. Sokka performed exceptionally, being able to hold off the swordmaster, Piandao, for an extended period. During this fight, he showed just how much he had learned about the way of the sword in just a few days, showing great resourcefulness and the ability to recognize and exploit every advantage. Piandao eventually beat him, but was greatly impressed by his progress and said that Sokka had the potential to one day be an even greater master than him.[1]

Sokka left Piandao's tutelage to help Aang on his quest to save the world from Ozai, and started putting his new skills to use shortly thereafter. It should be noted that Sokka had no qualms about using his sword in untraditional ways, such as to haul supplies on the end of it,[3] or poke people with the scabbard.[4] However, he prized the sword very much, second probably only to his boomerang, his oldest weapon, given to him by his father Hakoda. He grew fearful when Toph used it as collateral in one of her scams without his permission.[5] The warrior later used the sword in combat during the invasion of the Fire Nation,[6][7] as well as in a friendly "swordbending" duel against Prince Zuko, which he lost.[8]

When the comet arrived, Sokka, along with Toph and Suki, went to stop the airship fleet from burning the Earth Kingdom to the ground. They eventually managed to ground all of the airships by commandeering one and crashing it into the others, before jumping ship and damaging the rudder of another to collide with the remaining ships while Aang destroyed Ozai's personal flagship. Sokka and Toph got separated from Suki and were forced on the run by a crew of the vessel they were piggybacking at the time. They almost fell to their death, but Sokka managed to halt their fall by burying his sword into the airship's outer hull as a grapple hook, breaking a leg in the process. Sokka and Toph were stranded on a platform outside the airship, about to be attacked by firebenders, when Sokka sacrificed both his boomerang and his sword, throwing them at the planks supporting their opponents. This prevented their deaths just long enough for Suki to rescue them with the last airship, but neither the sword nor the boomerang came back, plummeting to the ground of the Wulong Forest.[9]

Design

Piandao and Sokka

Piandao agreed to forge a unique sword from meteorite ore.

Sokka's sword is a jian, or a Chinese straight sword. The blade is approximately seventy centimeters long and four centimeters wide, with the grip measuring about twenty centimeters long. If it is anything like a real-world jian, the sword is light and flexible, weighing less than one kilogram. The black blade of the weapon originated with the sword's composition of meteoric iron. The sheath is simple, dark brown and straight, adorned with a gold-plate inlay about midway down its length. The sheath's tip is rectangular, a typical trait in its Chinese real-world counterpart, but uncommon in European swordmaking tradition. A stylized white lotus symbol made of gold filigree adorns the sheath-tip, another is etched into the end of the grip, which identified the sword as the work of a member of the Order of the White Lotus.

The sword seems to be like any other jian in terms of general physical properties. Since it was made specifically for Sokka, who also took part in its construction, the sword is "attuned" to him. No mystical connection is made by this, rather it means the sword is just the perfect sword for Sokka. Finally, the unusual material, according to Piandao, gives the sword unique properties, namely exceptional durability and keenness. The sword is seen to be able to cut through thick layers of steel and other materials.

Use

Jian fencing, or "the Way of the Sword", is an ancient martial art, probably the oldest true swordfighting art in the world. Chinese swordfighting focuses on the harmony of the sword and the fighter (or as Piandao says, "[think of the sword] more like an extra long, really sharp arm"[1]), favoring light and supple swords strong enough to withstand combat, but wieldy enough not to hinder the fighter. While Eastern and Western swords never really met in combat, a lot of Western historic fiction romanticizes Chinese swordfighting as an elegant, deadly, and superior art. However, it is true that in the Eastern tradition, being a master of the sword entailed much more than just fighting. Just as the unarmed martial arts, the way of the sword was seen as more of a world-view than just a fancy way to swing a weapon. Essentially, what Piandao teaches Sokka about a warrior's skills and abilities is very much true of the real-world way of the sword.

Real life connections

Swords forged from meteorite iron have a long history, both in the real world and in fiction. It is believed that meteorite iron was the first iron ore used by civilization, before the development of mining to retrieve terrestrial iron. King Tutankhamun was entombed with a meteorite-iron dagger on his breast.[10]

Trivia

Sokka and Piandao's sword concept art

The concept art of Sokka's jian (left) and Master Piandao's blade (right) highlights several aspects of both swords.

  • The Heaven's Sword and Dragon Sabre from "The Heaven's Sword and Dragon Sabre" by Jin Yong were both made from a meteorite sword that debuted in its prequel, "The Condor Heroes Return".
  • Sokka's sword and sheath, as well as Piandao's sword and sheath, are designed based upon real swords owned by Sifu Kisu. Kisu is the martial arts consultant for the show's creators, and he was the reference for Piandao.
  • Sokka's sword is made of the same material as Toph's bracelet.
  • Sokka's sword was seen cutting through over a foot of solid steel.
  • The concept of a sword being made out of a meteorite was derived from the ancient Mongolian legend of Timur.
  • Although Sokka lost his sword during the series, an autographable poster of the aged gang published during SDCC 2012 portrays him with either it or an identical sword.
  • A real life replica of Sokka's sword, made from real meteorite, was created by Tony Swatton of Man At Arms on the AWE Me YouTube channel.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (October 12, 2007). "Sokka's Master". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 4. Nickelodeon.
  2. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com (link). No longer updated.
  3. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (November 9, 2007). "The Puppetmaster". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 8. Nickelodeon.
  4. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (July 15, 2008). "The Firebending Masters". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  5. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (November 2, 2007). "The Runaway". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Wilgus, Alison (w), Ridge, Justin (a), Dzioba, Wes (col), Comicraft (let). "Swordbending" (2009), Nickelodeon Comics Club.
  9. 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.
  10. A Brief History of Steel. tf.uni-kiel.com.

See also

External links

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