A Bender is a person that knows Bending, which is the ability to manipulate an element and is significant to many aspects of life in the World of Avatar. There are five known bending arts; four of them bend a specific physical element while the fifth bends the energy within the human body itself. The four elemental bending arts are based on the four classical elements, water, earth, fire, and air, and each is manipulated through certain martial art styles which are reminiscent of the qualities of the element itself. 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.While bending is traditionally performed through the motions of one's hands and feet, 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 even rarer cases, benders are able to perform their bending without the aid of any physical movement at all, by instead using sheer focus and force of will, a skill known as psychic bending.
Airbending is the bending art used by the Air Nomads; the flying bison were the original airbenders. It concentrates on speed and evasion, forgoing a strong offense for a greater defense. Though apparently lacking fatal finishing moves, it is the most dynamic of all the bending arts. As the element of freedom, airbenders use their capability to bend unencumbered by the ground or any other environmental factors and use 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. Airbenders, when resorting to physical confrontation, are able to harness the immense and intangible power of wind. Airbending's opposite is earthbending and the confrontational style that serves as its foundation. Airbenders can use a flight technique by operating a gliderand using the air to provide thrust and lift. Airbending is the element of freedom and its season is autumn.
Waterbending is practiced by some people of the Water Tribe. A versatile element, it is unique in the sense that the original bender of the element was not an animal, but rather the Moon. Similar to their element, waterbenders are extremely adaptable and versatile. Waterbending concentrates on the flow of energy and focuses 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, unlike other benders, gain a serious advantage or disadvantage depending on the amount of water around them, although highly skilled waterbenders can draw water from anywhere; they can draw humidity from the air and bend the water in living things, especially plants. 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. The opposite of waterbending is firebending, with its relatively stagnant, direct philosophy. Due to its lunar sympathy, waterbending is stronger at night and ineffective during a lunar eclipse or when the Moon Spirit dies. However, to counter waterbending's ineffectiveness during a lunar eclipse, waterbenders gain immense power during the peak of the full moon. The sub-skills for waterbending are healing and bloodbending. Waterbending is the element of change and its season is winter.
Earthbending originates in the Earth Kingdom and it demands a special connection with the earth that is achievable with neutral jing, listening, though seemingly doing nothing, and waiting for the right moment to strike. The first earthbenders were badgermoles. 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. 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.
Firebending is used by the people of the Fire Nation and is the most aggressive bending art. Dragons were the first firebenders; they subsequently taught the Sun Warriors. Unlike other benders who depend on external sources of their elements to bend, firebenders can create fire using their internal heat source in addition to controlling already existent flames. 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. Firebending's relatively simple and direct style contrasts the complex and changing style of waterbending. Due to its solar affinity, firebending is stronger during the day and at its full power at noon, but completely ineffective during a solar eclipse. When a comet passes close to the planet, the power of a firebender is greatly increased. For a long time, disciplines of firebending were taught to be fueled by hatred, as opposed to the original source. Skilled firebenders are able to fly using powerful jets of flames. A notable feature of special firebenders is an ability to create a hotter, blue fire; Azula was the only known firebender who demonstrated this extra-powerful flame. The sub-skills for firebending are combustionbending, generating and redirecting lightning. Firebending is the element of power and its season is summer.
Energybending is the art of bending the energy within one's body. It existed in the era of Raava and the four bending arts, though was considered lost. It is a highly dangerous technique; if one's own energy is impure and therefore bendable, the practitioner will be consequently destroyed. Few Avatars have learned this bending art, and even fewer have used it. Energybending allows the user to remove other people's bending abilities, such as when Avatar Aang used it to strip Ozai and Yakone of their abilities, or restore them after a bender had their abilities blocked by bloodbending, demonstrated when Aang used it to restore Avatar Korra's bending from Amon's damage, and Korra used it to restore Lin Beifong's earthbending.