Katara’s bloodbending is one of the scariest and most fearful phases we saw Katara in the entire series. Katara was always housing anger for the death of her mother against the Fire Nation. This is shown in how she treated Zuko when he decided that he wanted to be part of the team.
After going on a journey with the Avatar, Katara came across a water bender that taught her how to blood bend.
What is Blood Bending?
Bloodbending is a specialized sub-skill and a rare variation of waterbending that allows an extremely advanced water bender to take hold of and manipulate fluids within an organism’s body. This allows the bender to move the person’s muscles.
This technique is referred to as the highest level of waterbending that there is and is also known as the darkest, most powerful, and most feared of all bending techniques. Blood bending in itself is the only artist known to endanger the user’s mental state. It puts the user in a state that is beyond reasoning, giving them a sense of power.
The technique was discovered by a water bender named Hama while she was detained in prison designed by the Fire Nation specifically to hold waterbenders. During her detainment, she realized that all life contains water. She proceeded to develop the knowledge and skills of the art by practicing on elephant rats, later employing the technique on her guards to escape.
The forms and styles used by blood benders are similar to how a puppeteer would gesture and move to control their marionette. However, waterbending uses flowing motions with the arms. Thus, there is a more fluid feel to the art of waterbending. Bloodbending, however, seems to require and male use of a more rigid and abrupt form of movement. This further highlights how fundamentally different it is from the primary waterbending forms and its other sub-skill, healing.
Due to its extreme nature, only a handful of waterbenders have demonstrated the ability to blood bend. As a result, the technique is deemed a dark art and is rarely used in combat by most waterbenders.
The complexity and sophistication required to perform the art usually only allows for its use during a full moon when a water bender’s power is at its absolute peak. Only Yakone, Tarrlok, and Amon have shown the ability to perform the art without the aid of the full moon.
Being naturally talented and having trained vigorously, Yakone and Amon were capable of bloodbending without using their arms, also known as psychic bloodbending.
Bloodbending is infrequently applied to daily activities. However, knowledge of the art eventually became known to the public, and the practice of bloodbending was outlawed due to the efforts of Katara following the formation of Republic City.
Hama teaching Katara Bloodbending
After being captured during one of the Fire Nation raids aimed at weakening the Southern Water Tribe, Hama and her fellow waterbenders were sent to a maximum-security prison in the Fire Nation designed specifically to hold benders of her kind.
There, the guards were cautious of providing prisoners with any form of bendable substance that they could utilize in making a reprisal, going so far as to chain the prisoners’ limbs before they were allowed to drink and using “cruel retribution” at any sign of resistance.
Despite the helplessness she faced while imprisoned, Hama was able to feel the enrichment provided to her by the full moon. So she began to devise a plan that would lead to her escape and eventually realized that the elephant rats constantly scurrying around the bottom of her cage were filled with bendable water.
When the next full moon came, she was able to bend the blood in the rats.
She continued to practice until she was ready for the guards. Then, she successfully freed herself from the metal cage that had confined her for so many years.
Unable to go home, she stayed in the fire nation, ultimately developing a measure of hatred for them while she stayed hidden in their midst.
During the summer of 100 AG, Team Avatar decided to camp near a Fire Nation village. This was when they were in the fire nation. Unbeknownst to them, Hama overheard them telling horror stories and deduced from Katara’s story about Nini. She concluded that they were from the Southern Water Tribe and offered the group a place in her inn.
Due to curiosity, they snooped around the old Lady’s room. Upon discovering an old whale tooth comb in Hama’s attic, she revealed herself to be a water bender from the Southern Water Tribe and proposed to teach Katara some original Southern Tribe waterbending techniques so that she could pass on the knowledge of the Southern customs before her death, to which Katara happily agreed.
Katara Bloodbending Ability
An excited Katara was happy to learn from a Southern Water Tribe water bender. Katara spent the next day learning several new techniques from Hama. First, she learned that water could be pulled out of random places.
She picked up techniques such as bending moisture from the air and water from within plants, including fire lilies. This was going to prove invaluable knowledge when no bodies of water were present.
Hama told Katara that she would teach her the ultimate waterbending technique at night when their powers were at their peak during the full moon. Katara was hesitant, claiming that villagers had been disappearing during the full moon. However, Hama seemed unaffected, stated that two master waterbenders under a full moon had nothing to worry about.
That night, Hama took Katara to the forest, where she explained her imprisonment and discovery of bloodbending. Katara was horrified and refused to learn the art when Hama urged her. This angered Hama, who used bloodbending to control Katara.
The young water bender pleaded for mercy, but Hama refused to release her. Then, feeling the moon’s power enforce her waterbending as well, Katara honed her energy and broke free, stating that her own bending was more powerful than Hama’s. The two began to duel, and Katara almost immediately took the upper hand.
Having discovered the truth about Hama from the villagers she imprisoned deep within the mountain, Sokka and Aang arrived soon afterward to aid Katara and told Hama to surrender since she was clearly outnumbered.
Hama refused and used bloodbending to control them. Then, like a puppet master, she used them to attack Katara, though the young water bender managed to avoid being hit. Then, adopting a different approach, Hama maneuvered Aang toward Sokka, who had raised his sword. In an attempt to save Aang, Katara used bloodbending to stop her, effectively breaking Hama’s hold on the boys.
A sobbing Katara, still feeling like she had tapped into something she shouldn’t have.
Hama has led away, the villagers commenting that she was going to rot. Hama snickered, satisfied as she replied that her work was done. She told Katara with a satisfactory grin that she was a blood bender now.