Alternate Bending Art Forms:
Avatar showed us the magic of Elemental Bending. Earth, Fire, Water, and Air – these are the fundamental bending styles. But the world of Avatar is so vast and large. We have seen so many interesting and intriguing variations of the four known basic bending styles.
1. Metal Bending
Metal Bending was first discovered by Toph Beifong. The technique allows an Earth Bender to access and manipulate the trace amounts of earthen impurities within the metals and thus use it to bend metal itself to their will. The technique is even deadlier if combined with Seismic Sense since it allows a user to perceive the number of earthen impurities within the metal they are trying to bend. Metal Bending does not work on pure metals like gold and platinum because of the same reason. After the end of the Hundred Years War, Toph founded the Beifong Metal Bending Academy to spread her knowledge of Metal Bending to the entire world. Several decades later, the City of Zaofu was founded by Toph’s descendent. Zaofu is made completely out of metal and its residents extensively practice metal bending.
2. Blood Bending
The deadliest water bending style, Blood Bending is just what it sounds like. It allows the user to manipulate the blood inside people and other living organisms. First discovered by Hama when she was imprisoned in a Jail from Water Benders, she realized that any living organism has water in it. By using Blood Bending, a Water Bender can control the bodily movements of his or her opponents with a technique called psychic Blood bending. Due to its lethal effects, Blood Bending has been declared illegal. It is also essential to note that Blood Bending requires a full moon for a Water Bender to use it. Only three known Water Benders – Amon, Yakone, and Tarlok can use it without a full moon. Amon can use Blood Bending to take away someone’s bending ability permanently by using the opponent’s blood to sever his or her Chi Pathways.
3. Sand Bending
Though a subset of Earth Bending, Sand Bending has more in common with Water Bending and Air Bending. It is a rather complex style that is practiced by the Sand Bender Tribes of Si Wong Desert, an area known to be rife with San Bending Bandits. Sand Bending is a rather versatile form that is potent enough to even defeat Toph, a seasoned Earth Bender. To date, Sand Bending is the only style Toph has never been able to fully master as well as defeat. Sand Bending allows an Earth Bender to manipulate the grains of sand and move them around in fluidic motion.
4. Lava Bending
Lava Bending was first seen being performed by the Fire Nation Avatar that preceded even Yangchen. The technique allows the user to manipulate molten rock aka lava. The lava can be used to create deadly waves of fire-spewing rock or molded into lava shuriken that can burn through literally any medium. Lava Bending can also be used to split open peninsulas by making the molten rock underneath the Earth’s Crust to move about the way the Lava Bender wants it to, shifting the tectonic plates in the process. It is also helpful in manipulating volcanoes. Roku used Lava Bending to make a Volcano Erupt that engulfed the Fire Temple on Crescent Island.
5. Combustion Bending
Combustion Bending is a specialized form of fire bending that requires immense training, discipline, and concentration. Combustion bending works on the basis of concentrating one’s chi to a singular point and then releasing it in one singular stream of energy. The beam is made out of a Fire Bender’s Chi and it can superheat the air around any object it is directed at. As a result, there is a huge explosion on the point of contact. Combustion Man and P’Li are two known users of Combustion Bending. It is said that Combustion Bending is strong enough to blast rocks and create pathways across mountains. The only downside to the technique is that it requires concentration throughout its tenure of usage. It has also proven to be a double-edged sword. Combustion Man lost his right arm and leg after losing control of his combustion bending ability.
6. Lightning Generation
Lightning Generation is a form of Fire Bending that is extremely complex. It is so complicated that only three known users in the history of the world of Avatar prior to the end of the Hundred Years War were known to practice it- Azula, General Iroh, and Ozai. Lightning Generation requires a Fire Bender to let go of all emotions. It requires a Fire Bender to conduct repetitive circular motions and enter a state of zero thought so as to separate the Yin from the Yang within the Chi of his or her body. In fire bending terms, it is separating the negative potential from the positive potential, much like in a regular electric circuit. Lightning Generation is very taxing on a Bender’s Chi reserves and requires proper Chi Control to be mastered before moving forwards. It allows for quick, decisive blows, and even the lightning generated can have its power regulated to moderate the lethality of the strikes.
7. Lightning Redirection
Lightning Redirection is a sub-set of Lightning Generation, which in turn is a sub-set of Fire Bending. It was developed by General Iroh, a master Fire Bender who was inspired to come up with this technique after studying the Water Benders of Water Tribe and realizing that Water Bending is basically redirection of their element rather than generation. Lightning Redirection requires a user to absorb lighting from one hand, channel it through his stomach, and release it from his other hand like a human lightning rod. It is extremely important that the lightning is channeled through the stomach and not the chest so as to protect the heart from fatal side effects. It works on both naturally generated and bending generated lightning.
Air-Benders are themselves rare in the world of Avatar. The power of flight is itself rare within the Air Nomads. Only two known users of the Flight ability exist in the world – Guru Laghima and Zaheer. The Power of Flight is bestowed on an Air Bender only after he or she denounces all earthly desires and becomes one with the wind, no longer letting his emotions inhibit his sense of judgment and perception. Zaheer saw his girlfriend P’Li die in front of his eyes and thus he gained true freedom, after the one thing that attached Zaheer to the Earthly Plane faded away. Flight does require total focus and the bender can still be attacked and is at the mercy of the elements.
9. Spiritual Projection
The greatest Air Bending Technique in terms of complexity, mastering Spiritual Projection means you have mastered Air Bending in its entirety. Spiritual Projection allows an Air Bender to leave his physical body and enter an intangible and incorporeal state that can pass through walls, spy on enemies, and enter the astral plane. The technique can also allow an Air Bender to enter the water and remain there submerged for extended periods of time as long as he is using the technique. It can also be used to locate people provided that there is a strong bond or emotional connection between the user and the person he or she is trying to locate. Spiritual Bending requires an environment of total silence. Even a slight disturbance can create an imbalance and the incorporeal state of the user fades away.
10. Seismic Sense
Seismic Sense is an ability that was first shown in all its glory by Toph. Seismic Sense is the ability to perceive the environment and things around the individual by virtue of vibrations. By touching the earth or an object connected to the ground via hand or feet, an Earth Bender can accurately locate the speed, weight, and location of anyone provided the opponent is connected to the ground in some way. It works on the same principle as a Bat’s echo-location or a Dolphin’s Sonar Sense. Toph used this technique most effectively. Even though she was blind, Top Beifong was talented enough to figure out the intricacies of Seismic Sense on her own and use it to create an accurate map of her surroundings. Toph can even use it to tell if a person is lying by measuring the vibrations produced by the heart-beat of a person. This technique is one of the most versatile Earth Bending techniques. It could also be used on metal surfaces and objects.