Waterbending, one of the four elemental bending arts, is the hydrokinetic ability to control water, as well as its many forms. This type of bending is utilized by the people of the Water Tribe, who are divided into the Southern, Northern, and lesser known Foggy Swamp tribes, as well as those of Imperial City, each with their own unique bending style.
Water is the element of change. The moon is the source of power in waterbending, and the original waterbenders learned to bend by observing how the moon pushed and pulled the tides. The Water Tribes are the only people who did not learn bending from an animal, though the Moon and Ocean Spirits took the form of koi fish in the mortal world near the beginning of the Avatar World.
The fighting style of waterbending is mostly fluid and graceful, acting in concert with the environment. Foggy Swamp style waterbending, however, is more rigid and straight. Waterbenders deal with the flow of energy; they let their defense become their offense, turning their opponents' own forces against them. Even when waterbenders do take an attack stance, their moves always appear to flow from one to the other.
During the era of Raava, the power of waterbending was first granted by the water lion turtle, who would temporarily provide it to those venturing into the Spirit Wilds. However, after the lion turtles renounced their roles as protectors of mankind during the era of the Avatar, the turtles refused to give people bending anymore. The descendants of the people living atop the water lion turtle eventually learned to waterbend again by observing how the moon pushed and pulled the tides of the ocean; they learned how to simulate the effect themselves. As such, they have a strong spiritual connection to the Moon and its counterpart, the Ocean. In fact, waterbending is the only bending art to originate from spirits instead of animals, and any adverse effect on these spirits detrimentally affects waterbenders too.
Waterbending's strength is its great versatility. Rather than supporting a separate set of offensive methods, waterbending employs defensive techniques that can be transformed into attacks and counters - defense into offense. Instead of simply deflecting an attack, waterbending's defensive maneuvers focus on control, achieved through turning an opponent's own strength against them, rather than directly harming the opponent.
Water manipulation: Almost all forms of waterbending involve moving and shaping a body of water to the waterbender's desire. By simply levitating a large mass of water, waterbenders can move water anywhere they wish, even parting it under the surface of a lake or sea, allowing them to walk along the bottom of a basin without the need to swim. These large bodies of water can also be used as weapons, either by shaping them into gigantic whips, swung repeatedly at a target as a snake-like body, formed momentarily into a razor-sharp edge that can cut through even metal, or simply dropped onto an opponent to smother them or put out a fire. On the sea or ocean, waterbending can be used to create giant maelstroms.
Streaming the water: A move that draws water from a source that waterbenders move around their bodies. A more advanced version apparently involves "sinking and floating". This move is thought to be used for basic training so that beginning waterbenders can get a "feel" for water, but it is in reality a very useful move performed by waterbenders of every skill level.
Water whip: The water whip is a commonly used move that involves creating a lashing tendril of water to swipe at an opponent. The shape, size, and length are all determined by a waterbender's control, and more powerful benders can create larger whips, or ones of greater finesse. The whip can be sharpened into a blade that can slice through metal with relative ease. Water Whips can also be created through the feet.
Water jet: High pressure jets can be used to force opponents back or even blast clean through a target if focused enough. Water jets are primarily used if the user has the intent of severely hurting their opponents.
Wave: By moving a large mass of water without separating it from its original source, waterbenders can create waves of nearly any size. They do this by using an upward movement that raises the source, which they subsequently send away in their desired direction. This can be used to sweep opponents away or even as a form of transport, with the bender surfing on the crest of the wave. This same process can be used to propel waterborne crafts.
Water bullet: The water bullet is a move where a waterbender bends a large amount of water and sends it in a forceful blow toward their target. It is similar to a water jet, but it is more for a quick use since the jet takes more concentration. It is basic yet useful because it takes little time to perform and has a significant effect on the target.
Water wall/water shield: Water can be molded into a variety of shapes and can be used to deflect an attack, trap opponents in a viscous body, reshaped and propelled at attackers before they can recover, or solidified into a shield of ice. This diversity and ability to swiftly change to suit the situation is what makes the waterbender's defense so adaptable. Although usually protective, the shield needs some type of compression or else it will not be effective.
Water temperature manipulation: Waterbenders also possess the ability to alter the physical state of the water they manipulate, between liquid, solid and gas, at will. Changing the phase of water allows for multiple techniques in the course of a battle, from encasing an opponent in ice to hiding behind a wall of mist. Ice and steam/fog can also be molded in a diverse range of shapes. Ice provides a degree of hard lethality since it can be molded into spikes or blades to pin down or impale opponents. Steam or mist can obscure a battlefield and mask movement. A waterbender can easily superheat and boil water and other liquids to scalding temperatures. Waterbenders also possess the ability to breathe an icy mist that freezes water and other substances.
Water pressure manipulation: Waterbenders are also able to manipulate water pressure, allowing them to use water to grasp other objects or cut through without simply parting around them. Water can be used as a semi-solid while being able to move and flow like a liquid. Water can be pressurized to such a level where it can slice through metal. Waterbenders can also use this to avoid sinking in water, effectively allowing them to walk on water.
Iceberg spike: Waterbenders can shoot small shards of ice at their opponent, or cause a giant spike to protrude from a body of water. The Northern Water Tribe employs these as a primary defense of their homeland when enemy ships are sighted.
Ice claws: Ice claws involves the bender drawing water around their fingers and freezing it. They can also be sent forward, shooting them at an opponent. A waterbender can also use this as an advantage; being small and unnoticeable, they can hide them in their sleeves. Additionally, this technique uses very little water and thus can be performed quickly using the Condensation technique.
Ice spear: The ice spear is a waterbending move shown to have been used by Southern waterbenders. It involves freezing a stream of water and sending the frozen result flying at the target.
Ice creeper: A waterbender can send a ray of ice on the ground, speeding at an opponent to freeze them. This technique freezes a trail of water beginning with the waterbender performing the move and ending with their targets freezing.
Ice shield: A waterbender can freeze an amount of water in front of them, creating a shield of ice.
Ice disc: A waterbender can create a cylindrical column of ice and proceed to slice razor-sharp sections of it off and send them at an opponent. They are sharp around the edges but also very thin.
Breath of ice: A waterbender can use their breath to rapidly freeze objects, such as metallic chains, or an opponent. For a more advanced version of the technique, the user takes a deep breath and exhales the air as a cloud of freezing mist.
Water knife: The ability to shape water into a super-sharp edge or point for a split-second, enabling a waterbender to cut through metal, wood and stone.
Water cloak: A waterbender can use their water as a form of armor with tentacle-like arms. The bender can use these arms to grab objects, whip enemies, blast enemies with water and freeze them. If a waterbender has less water available, he or she can simply form the arms instead of the entire cloak.
Master Level TechniquesEdit
Water pinwheel: This move involves the user moving a large mass of water and spinning it vertically around him/her.
Water boxing: To perform the technique, a waterbender surrounds their fist with a small amount of water and punches their opponent.
Bubble: When in need to cross large bodies of water, capable waterbenders are able to create a bubble around themselves, keeping an air supply for them and for others.
Water drill: A high-pressure, rotating column of water. Capable of exerting a significant amount of pressure upon a solid surface, that allows the action of a drill. The move takes mastery of waterbending since the motions to create a constantly twisting body of water requires bending skill.
Multiple water whips: An advanced waterbending move similar to the single water whip, except it deals with more than one whip, usually four or five. This technique seems to be able to inflict a large amount of damage.
Waterspout or "water vortex": This high-level technique involves controlling a whirlpool-like pillar of water as a weapon, rotating it and directing its movements at the same time. Another form exists, which is nicknamed the "water snake", in accordance to the waterspout's constantly shifting and coiling movements. It forms a giant snake of water around the lower body, elevating them from the ground.
Octopus form: A body of water formed around the user into eight or so whip-like limbs which can be used to grasp or strike an opponent or to intercept and seize incoming attacks.
Ice dome: A highly advanced technique, a waterbender may surround a foe in a sphere of water and freeze it, trapping their opponent inside.
Ice floor: With a sufficient amount of water a master can cover a large area of the ground with ice, trapping enemies' feet in ice and allowing the waterbender to slide around.
Ice prison: This technique covers an opponent in a prison made of ice. By finely controlling the position of the person within, this technique can restrict the motions of an opponent's hands, thus rendering them powerless.
Ice tunneling: Waterbenders are able to swim through thick ice with the same ease as through water, allowing them to surprise their foes
Maelstrom: In a large body of water, a waterbender can create a gigantic whirlpool.
Mass freeze: A waterbender can freeze multiple targets at once, making them slow down or even surrounding them with ice.
Water dome: A master waterbender can collect water from the rain, forming a dome which can be used for both offense and defense.
Ice ramp: Waterbenders can manipulate ice as a means of short transportation.
Razor rings: An experienced waterbender can create multiple simultaneous water rings capable of cutting.
Ice dagger: Much like ice claws, ice daggers form on a waterbender's fingers and shoot at high speeds away from him or her.
Ice drill: By turning the tip into ice, waterbenders control massive amounts of water into a spiraled frozen drill.
Partial ice whip: By grabbing hold of the end of a water whip and freeze the opposite end, a waterbender can trap their opponent, and pull them down with their own attack.
Avatar Level TechniquesEdit
Tsunami: Since they can control larger amounts of water, Avatars are capable of creating and controlling water bodies of far greater size and scale, including causing massive tsunamis, at will.
Remote waterbending: Avatars can use waterbending from distances which a waterbender would not normally be able to access.
Water compression: An Avatar in the Avatar State has enough power over water to compress its volume, compacting several thousands of gallons into a small volume.
Ice fissure: Avatars are able to use waterbending to split frozen ground, by bending the water mixed with the earth.
Water filtering: When working in concert with an earthbender, a waterbender can purify polluted water. The waterbender suspends the polluted water in the air while the earthbender removes the pollutants.
Cloud manipulation: By working together, a waterbender and airbender can easily manipulate clouds, which are made of air and water, to create various shapes.
Condensation: Not only can skilled waterbenders condense clouds into a usable source of water when they are within close range of one, but they also can condense invisible water vapor right out of the air. Although, due to the limited quantities of water present in the air, as a mere 1% at most of the earth's atmosphere is water vapor, the amount of water extracted from the air is quite minimal. Favorable environment and climatic conditions increase the amount of water one can remove from the air.
Plantbending: Talented waterbenders can manipulate plant life. Plantbending has enabled members of the swamp to control and manipulate every form of plant life from the highly water-saturated vines and roots found within the swamp lands to seaweed from the ocean floor – they can even rapidly compress and replace the plant mass of the plants they bend, since the cell tissues of a plant are more versatile than the cell tissues of an animal. Going further, a skilled waterbender is able to separate and completely extract the water from plants for more effective utilization just as they are able to separate the water from mud, sand, and even polluted river systems, etc. In the case of plant life, this process will leave behind the withered remains of all the affected plant life or even making them collapse in the case of large trees.
Solutions: It has been shown that waterbenders can manipulate any mass of liquid consisting of some water.
Water run: This is a technique in which waterbenders use all four limbs to run on water at very high speeds, in addition to riding on foreign objects with the same purpose, such as surfboards created from ice.
Steam manipulation: A technique that allows waterbenders to manipulate steam, and can also be used to manipulate fog. It can be used to freeze people or objects or to create cover.
Since the human body is roughly 70% water, bloodbending does not necessarily bend blood itself, but the fluids in someone's body, allowing the user to manipulate a body's muscles to move as they wish or to stop movement completely. This technique is very similar to plantbending, but instead it controls animals and humans instead of plants. Potentially, a bloodbender could do a number of other things by bending the water in a person's body, such as stop a victim's heart or crush his/her internal organs; pressurize, boil, or cool the water to kill their opponent; or even completely extract the water from one's body, imitating the technique used with plants. The technique is so highly advanced that only a handful of master waterbenders have ever been capable of using it.
Bloodbending is considered to be quite a sinister art since it forces the bender's will over the victim's will. Those who practice the technique open themselves up to homicidal madness, and has therefore been declared and illegal practice.
Powerful bloodbenders also known as bloodbending masters can also use the technique psychically, or without the use of their hands.
Furthermore, an extremely advanced waterbending master and bloodbending master can use bloodbending to "sever" the connection that a bender has with their bending, rendering them unable to bend. This technique requires direct physical contact with the bender's hand and the victim's forehead. No amount of healing can reverse the effects; the only known cure is energybending.
Waterbending is greatly strengthened and enhanced during the night, due to its lunar affinity. During a full moon in particular, waterbending is greatly enhanced, to the point where a single waterbender can overpower multiple opponents with relative ease. As an additional note, waterbending abilities are not enhanced during a solar eclipse. During a solar eclipse, the moon is directly in front of the sun. While the moon blocks the sunlight, all of the light from the sun shines on the far side of the moon. The side of the moon is completely dark, meaning that the moon's phase is in the new moon phase. During a solar eclipse, the moon is always in the new moon stage. Since a full moon strengthens and amplifies a waterbender's waterbending abilities to numerous levels, a solar eclipse does not enhance a waterbender's abilities. Finally, waterbenders will become stronger when they are near their homelands.
Opposing Bending ArtEdit
Waterbending is the antithetical bending art to firebending, though it is similar in its need for inner discipline, breath control, and strong connection to external forces. Firebenders use quick strong punches and kicks to shoot fire, while waterbenders use slow movements and elegant turns and spins to return the momentum of the opponents' attacks with blasts of water. Firebenders attack first, while waterbenders wait and turn their target's attacks against them.
Like all the bending arts, waterbending is balanced out as to not be more or less powerful than the other arts. It is the skill and prowess of the user that determines victory. In the case of waterbending however, a waterbender's ability to perform all of the waterbending they are capable of is significantly dependent on the amount of water available.
Firebender Avatars consider learning waterbending, their opposing native element, as especially challenging.
The skill of redirecting lightning is a firebending skill based on a waterbending philosophy, especially of freeflowing movements.
Although they oppose each other as bending arts, both waterbending and firebending can manipulate external thermal energy.
Both waterbending and firebending can have an effect on the environment if the bender loses their temper, as waterbenders have been known to crack ice when in a foul mood and shouting/screaming at someone.
It has been stated that, given their almost "Samurai-like" cutting techniques, a katana, jian sword, or a cane sword would be the best weapon suited for a waterbender. However, many waterbenders do carry water in water skins when they are in places where there is little water, such as the desert. These skins carry various amounts of water, depending on their size.
There are four waterbending styles known to exist in the Avatar universe, namely Northern style, Southern style, Foggy Swamp style, and pro-bending style.
As the Foggy Swamp Tribe is an offshoot of the Southern Water Tribe, Foggy Swamp style may have first developed from the Southern style, but throughout the intervening generations it has evolved into its own distinct style.
Northern and Southern StyleEdit
The Northern Water Tribe developed the first style of waterbending for use in their home at the North Pole. When the Southern Water Tribe formed in the South Pole, they developed a slightly different style that nonetheless is very similar to the Northern style.
The traditional waterbending styles of the Northern and Southern Water Tribes focus on graceful, fluid movements for their attacks. These styles frequently make use of switching the state of water from liquid to ice and snow. It is with this technique that the waterbenders built their large polar cities. The Northern waterbending style seems to traditionally perform more defensive, strategic, and architectural techniques in waterbending, while the Southern waterbending style seems to be more aggressive and offensive than the Northern style.
Foggy Swamp StyleEdit
Foggy Swamp style is the waterbending style used by the Foggy Swamp Tribe of the Earth Kingdom.
Instead of the fluid, graceful movements of the other two waterbending styles, they keep a rigid and straight stance, possibly reflecting the usually stagnant nature of water in their swamp homelands, and use stiff and circular arm movements to move water like a propeller. This style seems to be very effective in moving the tribe's boats.
They do not appear to use ice or snow attacks as often as their polar cousins, possibly due to the lack of ice in their environment.
The battle capabilities of this style seem to be very accurate, since Swamp waterbenders use noticeable foot movements in addition to moving their arms in the desired direction to shield themselves from harm before stepping and performing an elegant punching motion to attack.
Because of the hindering rules of this game, waterbenders' styles adapted to match. For instance, waterbenders are restricted from using continuous streams of water. To compensate, they have modernized waterbending to mainly include short blasts and blocks.
One noticeable change in the art is a more frequent use of the lower body in bending. Originally, the lower body was not significantly used in waterbending. However, pro-bending has enabled some waterbenders to use high arching kicks to direct streams of water.
Another new technique of waterbending is that it has also somewhat moved away from traditional grace and more into the quickness of the attack. Reminiscent of firebending, the waterbenders often use sharp, quick, boxer-like punches when bending, allowing the players to stay light on their feet and able to dodge incoming attacks on the field.
The battle capabilities of this technique are far more diverse than that of the other techniques. This is mainly due to fighting being the main purpose of pro-bending.
Waterbenders can sometimes use a unique sub-skill: the ability to heal injuries by redirecting energy paths, or chi, throughout the body, using water as a catalyst. Waterbenders can use their abilities to heal by surrounding a sick or injured person with water, which glows during the process. When infused with spiritual knowledge, a variation of this technique can be used to calm angry spirits. The use of healing was generally taught to female waterbenders of the Northern and Southern Water Tribes, but could be taught to males rarely if they showed great aptitude for it.
External water source: A waterbender gains a significant advantage or disadvantage over other benders depending on the amount of water in the vicinity. Enemies are able to take advantage of this by driving them away from water sources. As a result, traveling waterbenders often carry a water skin with them at all times. Master waterbenders are able to extract water from plants, ultimately killing the plants, and even condense water vapor out of thin air.
Binding: Waterbending is almost entirely dependent on the movement of the bender's arms, quite the opposite of earthbending which mostly uses the lower body. This leaves the waterbender vulnerable when he or she is bound at the hands or has had the flow of chi blocked in the arms. Waterbending can be performed with the lower body, yet it is far less common than other forms of bending, and waterbenders are generally taught to only use their arms.
Lunar eclipse: Another waterbending weakness is its dependence on the moon. Although waterbenders gain power from the moon (with waterbending at its zenith during full moons), the moon's absence during a lunar eclipse results in a complete loss of waterbending ability.
Emotional state: A waterbender's power comes from the internal life energy, chi. Due to this, a waterbender's power is connected to his or her present emotional state. If an inexperienced waterbender were to lose his or her temper, their waterbending force is intensified, but in turn, control is lost. Although this has the potential to be quite dangerous in a waterbender with little to no training, it also serves as a boon to a bender with proper training and experience, as well as balance over his or her emotions.
Spirituality and WaterbendingEdit
Like the moon controlling the tides, waterbenders move water using their chi to mimic gravitational pull by choosing how to direct their energy utilizing two jings, which in turn work to push and pull the water being controlled. Because of this lunar sympathy, a waterbender's power is stronger at night, at its absolute zenith during a full moon, and lost during a lunar eclipse. A waterbender's power is also enhanced during the rain, for obvious reasons. Furthermore, a waterbender's power is strongest when he or she is situated in colder climates, during the winter, or near their native polar homelands.
Legend further elaborates that Tui, meaning "push", the Moon Spirit, and its symbiotic partner La, meaning "pull", the Ocean Spirit, gave up their immortality to be a part of the mortal world. In fact, these spirits exist in the physical forms of two koi fish eternally circling one another in a pond, in the highly spiritual oasis, in the capital city of the Northern Water Tribe.
The "push and pull" relationship between the moon's gravity and the water's inertia is represented by Yin and Yang. The Moon Spirit koi is white, with a black forehead marking, and the Ocean Spirit koi is black, with a white forehead marking, mimicking the two primal forces. Without the equilibrium of these two spiritual aspects, waterbenders lose their powers.
Waterbending emphasizes symbiosis: acting in concert with one's environment and guiding it, rather than avoiding, controlling, or working against it. In the Foggy Swamp Tribe, waterbenders were shown to be especially attuned to the environment, able to achieve enlightenment by meditating under a tree in the heart of the swamp and connecting with it the same way it is connected with the rest of the swamp, as it is a superior organism.