The Avatar Symbols represent the Four Bending Nations and the elements they bend. They are fire, air, water and earth.
Bending is the ability to manipulate an element. It is essential to many aspects in the regular lives of the people of the world. There are five bending forms, although four of them are major; as they bend a specific to a particular physical element; while the fifth bending form manipulates the energy within the human body. Also, the only time where anyone has been able to bend more than one element at a time has been with the Avatar; as he or she has the ability to practice all the five bending forms.
The four bending forms, as depicted in the Avatar symbols, are based on four classic elements. There is water, earth, fire, and air. Each element is manipulated through certain martial art styles that are similar to the qualities of the element itself.
Bending is traditionally performed through the motions of one’s hands and feet, but certain benders are able to effectively manipulate their element with only minimal movement of their body, such as by using just their head or torso. In some cases, benders are able to perform their bending without the aid of any physical movement at all. Instead they use sheer focus and force of will. This skill is known as psychic bending.
The Four Nations
Each element is associated with a particular nation in the world. That is why there are Four Nations. The Water Tribe corresponds with waterbending and is split into two; the Northern and Southern Water Tribes residing at the two Poles. The Earth Kingdom is associated with earthbending. The Fire Nation associates with firebending. The Air Nomads are synonymous with airbending. There are other bending groups however, such as the Sun Warriors with firebending, and the Foggy Swamp Tribe for waterbending.
The Energybending symbol is a combination of all the Avatar symbols; a depiction of how energybending focuses on the inner energy of the human body. It does not focus on elements like the other bending forms.
The fifth bending art, energybending, is unlike the other four in that little physical action is required to direct the bending itself. The four elemental bending arts are all dependent on the energy, or chi, within the human body, relying on its flow through the body to manipulate a specific element. A person is able to bend when they extend the influence of their chi beyond the body to interact with the environment. Energybending, on the other hand, is concerned with the manipulation of the energy itself and is able to remove or grant bending abilities
Avatar Symbols: Airbending
This is one of the Avatar Symbols, and it represents the bending form that is airbending.
Airbending is the bending art used by the Air Nomads. The sky bison or the flying bison were the original airbenders, and after the Lion Turtles stopped giving people bending; humans learnt from them. As seen in the depiction of the Avatar symbols, airbending is a free bending form. It concentrates on speed and evasion, forgoing a strong offense for a greater defense.
Though it apparently looks to be lacking fatal finishing moves, airbending is the most dynamic of all the bending arts. As air is the element of freedom, airbenders use their capability to bend unrestricted by the ground or any other factors in the environment, using their own momentum as a weapon; evading attacks with astounding agility to tire their opponents out or building up massive inertia for explosive gusts of wind to make their counterattacks finishing moves.
When they do resort to physical confrontation, airbenders can harness the immense, intangible power of wind. Airbenders also use a flight technique by operating a glider and using the air to provide thrust and lift. Every element that is a part of the Avatar symbols has a direct bending opposite. Airbending’s direct opposite is earthbending and the confrontational style that serves as the bending form’s foundation.
Airbending also has subskills, which are flight and spiritual projection. However, flight has only been achieved by two people in the entire history of airbending, namely Zaheer and Guru Laghima. Airbending is the element of freedom, and its season is fall; as depicted in the diagram of the Avatar Symbols and their colors.
Avatar Symbol: Waterbending
Waterbending, as seen in the Avatar Symbols
Waterbending is practiced by some people of the Water Tribe. It is a versatile element; and it is unique in the sense that the original bender of the element was not an animal. buInstead, humans learnt how to bend water from the Moon and its control of the oceans. Quite similar to the element represented in the Avatar symbols, waterbenders are extremely adaptable and versatile.
Waterbending concentrates on the flow of energy, focusing less on strength and more on turning the opponent’s own energy against them. While a bender’s victory in battle depends on their skill or ingenuity, waterbenders gain a serious advantage or disadvantage depending on the amount of water around them, although highly skilled waterbenders can draw water from anywhere, such as draw humidity from the air and bend the water in living things, especially plants.
Some benders are can bend water from blood or their own sweat, and this shows their skill level. As the element of change, waterbenders can fluidly and quickly alternate from defense to offense, from a wall of ice to a jet of water, turning their opponent’s strength against them. Due to its lunar acclimatization, waterbending is stronger at night and ineffective during a lunar eclipse or when the Moon Spirit dies.
However, to counter their ineffectiveness during a lunar eclipse, waterbenders gain immense power during the peak of the full moon. The opposite of waterbending is firebending, with its relatively stagnant, direct philosophy. The sub-skills for waterbending are healing and bloodbending. Waterbending is the element of change, and its season is winter.
Avatar Symbols: Earthbending
The earthbending symbol. The Avatar Symbols depict the earthbending form as the most rigid of all bending forms and of all the other symbols. This is in line with the element it represents – Earth.
Earthbending originated in the Earth Kingdom with the first earthbenders ever being badgermoles. As we see with the form in the Avatar Symbols, earthbending requires a special connection with the earth that can be achieved through neutral jing, listening and even seemingly doing nothing and waiting for the right moment to strike.
Much like waterbenders, earthbenders gain an advantage or disadvantage in battle based on the amount of earth around them, though the conditions are not as extreme with them as they are with the waterbenders. Because of their element’s stability and its stress on neutral jing, earthbenders stand their ground, absorbing or intercepting attacks until they completely overwhelm their opponents.
Unlike the other bending arts, earthbending’s strength equally lies in both offense and defense. Earthbending is in stark contrast to airbending as airbending’s emphasis is on evasion and mobility while earthbending’s emphasis is on fortitude and strength. The sub-skills for earthbending are seismic sense, metalbending, and lavabending. Earthbending is the element of substance, and its season is spring, as we see in the Avatar Symbols depiction.
Avatar Symbols: Firebending
The firebending symbol as it appears with the other Avatar symbols.
The people of the Fire Nation use Firebending. It is one of the most aggressive bending arts in the history of the four nations. Dragons were the first firebenders and they subsequently taught the Sun Warriors; who then passed down the form to the people who eventually became the Fire Nation.
However, these people eventually deviated from the main source or bending form of firebending; instead of using hatred as the fuel for their bending. They even began hunting down dragons as a rite of passage and to show their bending skills.
As the element of power, firebenders have to be able to maintain a constant source of energy and balance in battle, unleashing a volley of direct, successive attacks. Unlike other benders who depend on external sources of their elements to bend, firebenders do not need to.
They can create fire using their internal heat source in addition to controlling already existent flames. Skilled firebenders are able to fly using powerful jets of flames. Due to its solar affinity, firebending is stronger during the day and at its full power at noon. However, just like the lunar eclipse renders waterbending ineffective, firebendending is rendered completely ineffective during a solar eclipse.
When a comet passes close to the planet, the power of a firebender is greatly increased. Firebending is relatively simple and has a direct style; which contrasts greatly with the changing and fluid style of waterbending. A notable feature of special firebenders is the ability to create a hotter, blue fire; and the only known Firebender to use or demonstrate this extra powerful flame is the Fire Princess and eventual Fire Lord Azula.
The sub-skills for firebending are combustion bending, as well as the generation and the redirection of lightning. Firebending is the element of power, and its season is summer.