Jing is a term that describes the myriad of options toward which one can direct his or her energy, both internally and externally. Different types of Jing correspond to tactics and strategies in battle. It should also be noted that while certain types of Jing correspond to a certain bending, it does not always have to be so. For example, and earthbender typically uses Neutral Jing, but it would be possible for certain earthbenders to be rather aggresive, and focus more on Positive Jing.
In the world, there are, at least technically, eighty-five distinct types or "degrees" of jing, although only the main three have been mentioned and focused on:
- Positive jing, corresponding to advancing or attacking.
- Negative jing, corresponding to retreating or evading.
- Neutral jing, corresponding to waiting and listening, or, as Bumi described it in the series, "doing nothing".
Positive jing is an aggressive expression of chi. As such, it complements the more aggressive tactics of firebenders during combat. Firebenders typically prefer action to inaction or conflict avoidance, relying heavily on preemptive strikes to overwhelm their opponents with sheer power. These positive jing attributes are also found in the attitudes and personalities that are common among the people of the Fire Nation.
Negative jing is mostly exercised in airbending, reflecting the Air Nomads' pacifistic lifestyle and their philosophy that all life is sacred; they assert that fighting is only to be used as a last resort when conflict cannot be avoided. Airbenders are more mobile fighters compared to earthbenders and possess a highly dynamic fighting style; to "avoid and evade" is recognized as a typical airbender tactic.
In the case of waterbending, common maneuvers involve following the moon and the ocean's example of "push and pull". As such, waterbenders will alternate between and maintain a balance of both positive and negative jing in combat, allowing them to turn defense into offense as they use their opponent's force against them while conserving their own.
Neutral jing is stated to be the key to earthbending. Fundamentally, neutral jing involves listening, though seemingly doing nothing, and waiting for the right moment to strike. When in combat, earthbenders are more stationary combatants, usually waiting for their opponent to come to them, while standing their ground and meeting their opponents' attacks head-on, before delivering a deadly strike of their own. Neutral jing forms the basis of true earthbending, and is the concept used by the first earthbenders, the badgermoles. The idea is also fundamental in seismic sense, a perceptive fighting style used by select benders.