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Specialized bending techniques

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Lin Beifong metalbending
Lin Beifong demonstrating her metalbending in order to apprehend Equalists.
Lady LostrisAdded by Lady Lostris

Specialized bending techniques are sub-skills that exist within three of the four bending arts, of which only skilled benders can take advantage. Each sub-skill requires a different level of mastery over the root element from which it is derived, as its practice often deviates from conventional bending. In some cases, the execution of a technique also necessitates an understanding of fundamental principles in other bending arts.



Main article: Healing
Katara heals her hands
Katara discovering her healing abilities.
Lady LostrisAdded by Lady Lostris

Healing is a special ability held by some waterbenders that enables them to heal those who have been wounded, including themselves. It is accomplished by drawing upon the life-giving properties of water, which are used to heal numerous types of physical wounds and illnesses, as well as alleviate certain types of stress caused by mental strain. Though the technique is effective in many contexts, it is limited in scope. For example, healing is ineffective in treating birth defects, such as Toph Beifong's blindness or the complications associated with Princess Yue's birth.[1] In most instances, healing is also ineffectual when treating scars or fatal injuries, as seen when Katara's healing could not heal the internal injuries sustained by Jet in his duel with Long Feng.[2]

Healing can also be used to detect areas in the body where chi flow is blocked, as displayed by Katara when she sensed the energy locked within Aang's chakra during a healing session.[3] That said, healing cannot undo a blockage to a bender's chi.[4] Moreover, it cannot restore bending after it has been severed through bloodbending, even if the healer is proficient in the technique's practice.[5]

The healing abilities of a waterbender can be affected by the water they use, as water from the Spirit Oasis has special properties that can heal wounds otherwise unaffected by regular water, such as the fatal wounds Aang sustained during a duel against Azula.[6]

Unalaq has displayed a variation of this ability, which allows him to instill a balance or an imbalance within spirits.


Main article: Bloodbending
Hama bloodbends an elephant rat
Hama discovering bloodbending in her prison cell.
Lady LostrisAdded by Lady Lostris

Bloodbending is a sub-skill within waterbending, recognized as being the darkest and deadliest of all special techniques. It was discovered by Hama during her imprisonment at a facility designed to detain waterbenders, who realized that all living organisms contain water.[7] The practice of bloodbending essentially allows the user to manipulate another individual's muscles to move as they wish, or to stop movement completely.

Due to its extreme nature, only a handful of waterbenders have demonstrated the ability to bloodbend. The complexity and sophistication required to perform the art usually only allows for its use during a full moon, when a waterbender's power is at its absolute peak.

Yakone, Tarrlok, and Amon were the only known waterbenders capable of bloodbending without the aid of the full moon; however, they are also the only ones known to have extensively and rigorously trained in the art.[8] Yakone and Amon were also the only waterbenders known to be capable of psychic bloodbending, which allows a bloodbender to telepathically control their victim with limited movement. As an extremely powerful and gifted waterbender, Amon also discovered how to use bloodbending to take bending away by severing a bender's active chi paths.[5]


Seismic sense

Main article: Seismic sense
Toph's vision
Toph using seismic sense to detect vibrations through the ground.
Lady LostrisAdded by Lady Lostris

Seismic sense is the unique ability to perceive an environment by feeling acute vibrations through the ground. Similar in application to sonar and echolocation, seismic sense enables the practitioner to visualize earth-based objects and objects in contact with earth-based objects when out of sight. The technique provides a specific map of the user's surrounding, detailed enough so a blind person, such as Toph Beifong, can navigate effortlessly.[9]

Badgermoles, the primal earthbenders, use seismic sense as an innate substitute for eyesight. Toph developed her own variation of the technique after observing badgermoles in the mountains surrounding Gaoling.[10]


Main article: Metalbending
Discovering metalbending
Toph discovering metalbending.
ThailogAdded by Thailog

Metalbending is a special set of techniques within earthbending which allows an earthbender to indirectly bend processed metals by bending the trace amounts of regular earth in them, much as they would bend regular earth. The ability was discovered and later perfected by Toph Beifong.[11]

Through the use of seismic sense, Toph was able to perceive, target, and eventually utilize the trace amounts of earth present in refined metal in order to bend the metal itself.[11] As the technique involves the manipulation of impurities within metal, pure metals such as platinum cannot be bent.[12]

After the Hundred Year War, Toph opened a metalbending academy to share the knowledge of the technique with the rest of the world. Her efforts eventually led to the establishment of Republic City's Metalbending Police Force.



Combustion Man's attack
Combustion Man was able to firebend with his mind.
RuenAdded by Ruen

Combustion Man had the unique ability to channel his chi through an extremely overdeveloped third-eye tattoo, superheating the surrounding air and producing a beam of explosive energy capable of immense damage, both in short and long range. Unlike conventional firebending which produces a flame from the body, combustion creates a powerful beam that explodes upon contact with a solid surface.[13] Combustion can instantaneously evaporate large bodies of water and counter fire attacks, as demonstrated by Combustion Man when he stopped Zuko's fire shield during a brief altercation at the Western Air Temple.[14]

Combustion requires good chi flow and a properly calibrated focus in order to be effective, as disrupting it can have fatal consequences, as shown when Sokka hit Combustion Man's third eye mark with a boomerang. Despite superheating the air directly around the practitioner, the technique does not appear to harm the user unless the explosion occurs in the immediate vicinity.

Lightning generation

Main article: Lightning generation
Azula fires lightning
Azula generating lightning.
ThailogAdded by Thailog

Lightning generation is a sub-skill of firebending that allows a firebender to produce and guide a bolt of lightning from their fingertips. Physically, generating lightning involves a circular motion with the arms. Mentally, it involves a complete absence of emotion as well as peace of mind, thus allowing an individual to separate the energies of yin and yang, also interpreted as positive and negative electrical potential, respectively. When the forces collide, the bender guides rather than controls the lightning's direction.[15] This process is taxing on a bender's chi reserves, due to its complexity.

Lightning attacks usually take much longer time to initiate than standard fire attacks. That said, certain firebenders, including Ozai, Lightning Bolt Zolt, and Mako, are able to generate lightning at extremely high speeds. The electric arc produced by this technique can be maintained for several seconds, during which time the lightning can be swept about to produce widespread damage.[16] The charge, and thus the damage, of a lightning strike can be regulated, as Mako was capable of firing a blast strong enough to incapacitate Amon, but otherwise leave him unharmed.[17]

Prior to the end of the Hundred Year War, only three firebenders were known to be capable of generating lighting: Azula, Ozai, and Iroh.[18] However, the use of the technique had become more common by 170 AG, particularly in Republic City, where it is used to generate power for the industrial sector, though still not widespread.[19]

Lightning redirection

Main article: Lightning redirection
Iroh redirects lightning
Iroh redirecting lightning.
Lady LostrisAdded by Lady Lostris

Lightning redirection is a sub-skill 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 redirecting force rather than oppose it head-on.[15] Lightning redirection works equally well for both natural and generated lightning.

Prior the end of the Hundred Year War, only three individuals were known to be capable of redirecting lightning: Iroh, Zuko, and Aang. However, knowledge of the skill had become more widespread throughout Republic City by 170 AG. Mako used lightning redirection while battling a mecha tank during the battle for Republic City, using the technique to redirect an electric charge released by an electric grapple it had fired.

Other techniques


Unnamed fire Avatar
The unnamed fire Avatar was able to lavabend.
Lady LostrisAdded by Lady Lostris

Lavabending is a combination of earthbending and firebending,[20] and its only known instances of use have been by the Avatar. The first known user of this technique was the Fire Nation Avatar who preceded Yangchen, who used it to make four volcanoes erupt simultaneously.[21] Centuries later, this technique was utilized by Kyoshi to split her peninsula from the mainland,[22] and was used also by Roku on three different occasions. Once in 55 BG at the Fire Temple on Crescent Island, where he caused the nearby volcano to erupt.[23] In 12 BG, Roku again employed this technique while working with Sozin to save his home island,[24] and lastly in 99 AG to destroy the Fire Temple during the winter solstice.[25] Aang also demonstrated this skill while training with Katara.[26]


  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, airbending is the only bending art that does not feature a specialized bending technique.[nb 1]
  • All of Team Avatar's benders have displayed the ability to use at least one specialized bending technique: healing, bloodbending, seismic sense, metalbending, and lightning redirection.


  1. Sifu Kisu has confirmed at Momocon that an airbending technique will be exhibited in the upcoming season of The Legend of Korra.


  1. 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.
  2. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (November 6, 2006). "Lake Laogai". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 17. Nickelodeon.
  3. Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (September 21, 2007). "The Awakening". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  4. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (September 15, 2006). "The Drill". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  5. 5.0 5.1 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.
  6. Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & DiMartino, Michael Dante (director). (December 1, 2006). "The Crossroads of Destiny". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 20. Nickelodeon.
  7. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (November 9, 2007). "The Puppetmaster". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 8. Nickelodeon.
  8. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (June 23, 2012). "Skeletons in the Closet". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 11. Nickelodeon.
  9. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (May 5, 2006). "The Blind Bandit". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
  10. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (July 15, 2008). "The Firebending Masters". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  11. 11.0 11.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (December 1, 2006). "The Guru". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 19. Nickelodeon.
  12. 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.
  13. Mattila, Katie (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (October 19, 2007). "The Beach". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  14. 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.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (June 2, 2006). "Bitter Work". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 9. Nickelodeon.
  16. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (April 21, 2012). "The Revelation". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 3. Nickelodeon.
  17. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (June 2, 2012). "When Extremes Meet". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 8. Nickelodeon.
  18. 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.
  19. The Legend of Korra — The Art of the Animated Series, Book One: Air, page 70.
  20. Avatar Extras for "The Avatar State" on Nicktoons Network.
  21. Ehasz, Aaron, Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch, Hedrick, Tim, O'Bryan, John (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (March 17, 2006). "The Avatar State". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  22. O'Bryan, John (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (April 28, 2006). "Avatar Day". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  23. Escape from the Spirit World: Avatar Roku Online Comic Book.
  24. Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (October 26, 2007). "The Avatar and the Fire Lord". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
  25. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (April 15, 2005). "Winter Solstice, Part 2: Avatar Roku". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 8. Nickelodeon.
  26. Nick Magazine presents, "Love Is a Battlefield".

See also

Start a Discussion Discussions about Specialized bending techniques

  • Creative Firebending Moves

    13 messages
    • What about further expounding on heat manipulation?  From the series, in the flashback with Sozin and Roku, Sozin redirected heat from the l...
    • It definitely would be interesting to see what a firebender could do with heat manipulation. I can see something along the lines of one of ...
  • Airbending

    10 messages
    • i don't think it could get that wierd - matter conversion/shapeshifting doesn't seem to be a thing in atlalokverse.
    • Just sayin. A lot of people seem to be subscribed to the spirituality = special powers theory of bending, no matter how out of place it would...
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