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Post by Story Teller on Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:03 am

Firebending, one of the four elemental bending arts, is the pyrokinetic ability to control fire. It is unique among the bending arts, as it is the only one in which the performer can spontaneously generate the element. The first human firebenders lived in a city atop a lion turtle during the era of Raava and the art later spread to the Sun Warriors, the Fire Nation, and the United Republic of Nations. The Earth Kingdom also has a small firebending minority.

As described by Iroh, fire is the element of power, consisting of overpowering force tempered by the unflinching will to accomplish tasks and desires. However, during the Hundred Year War, a militaristic Fire Nation twisted this into firebending being fueled by rage, hatred, and anger. Firebending draws its power from the sun, and the first human firebenders derived their firebending techniques from the dragons.

Firebending is known for its intense and aggressive attacking style and general lack of adequate defensive moves, although firebenders can modify offensive maneuvers to function as a defense, such as creating large walls of fire or shooting down incoming attacks with fire jabs.

Firebenders use their chi as a source for their bending. This facet of firebending is a sharp contrast to the other bending arts, which manipulate already present sources of their element, though firebenders can also control or enhance flames nearby.
Firebending uses concentrated barrages of fire to overwhelm opponents before striking a fatal blow. Swift, whirling kicks and punches generate diverse shapes for offensive attacks. This strategy is probably what makes firebending arguably the most suited to pro-bending out of all the bending arts. Firebending tactics and forms have required little modification for use in pro-bending, the most noticeable difference in the restriction on the use of prolonged fire streams. Nevertheless, quick flurries of kicks and punches allow a pro-bending firebender to retain excellent mobility around the arena while simultaneously trying to push back the members of the opposing team.

Circular motion is also a crucial element to the skill as it seems to "power up" and enhance the firebender's flames. When creating lightning, the firebenders often move their arms in slow, circular motions, similar to waterbenders but with more tension. Firebenders often use whirling kicks or punches to power their bending.

Firebending is the opposing art to waterbending, though they share facets of self-control, diversity, and variation in strength due to external forces and strong emotions. Firebenders use quick strong punches and kicks to shoot fire, while waterbenders use smooth movements and elegant turns and spins to return the momentum of the opponents' attacks. Firebenders attack first, while waterbenders wait and turn their target's attacks against them. However, in 170 AG these differences are no longer as strong as in the centuries before. Many waterbenders of the United Republic of Nations, a new-founded country of the world, have adapted a fighting style which is based primarily on sheer strength and speed. For example, criminals, task force members, and even Councilman Tarrlok tried to defeat their opponents with surprising, aggressive first strikes, a tactic typical of firebenders. However, this new fighting style is restricted mainly to the waterbenders of the republic.

The two bending arts are also opposed by their celestial power source; firebending is fueled by the sun, waterbending by the moon. This is best demonstrated during a duel fought between Zuko and Katara; at night, during the full moon, Katara quickly battered Zuko into submission and froze him against a wall; however, at sunrise, Zuko effortlessly melted the ice holding him in place and defeated Katara with several short fire blasts.

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Like all bending arts, firebending is balanced out as to not be more or less powerful than the other arts. It has repeatedly been illustrated that it is the skill and prowess of the user that determines victory.


Firebenders sometimes incorporate weapons into firebending, such as Zuko's utilization of firebending in conjunction with his dual broadswords, shaping and channeling the flames down the blade of his weapons.


Equator: A firebender's power is at its maximum potential nearest to the equator. This effect increases significantly during the summer.

Warm climate: A firebender is much stronger and controlled whenever he or she can draw energy from heat. The climate conditions of a battleground can turn the tides of the fight in a firebender's favor, if the weather is hot enough.

Celestial Bodies: Not only does the sun provide firebenders with stength every day, but other celestial bodies affect them as well. Every 100 years, a comet passes by close enough to earth to give every firebender unbelievable power.


Extreme cold: Cold temperatures reduce a firebender's abilities; the prison on the Boiling Rock used insulated chambers, the coolers, and piped in cold air as a punishment for those prisoners who used firebending. While in disguise, Sokka was told by a guard that Chit Sang "won't be firebending in there". However, this can be overcome, as Zuko used his breath of fire to stay warm while he detached the cooler as part of Sokka's escape plan. The same principle was used to detain P'Li in the depths of the icy tundra of the North Pole.

Full moon: With waterbending becoming stronger with it and firebending being water's opposite element, the full moon weakens firebending to some degree.

Lack of defense: The major combat weakness behind the applied art of firebending is its confrontational nature. Due to its aggressiveness and pursuit of continuous assault, it traditionally lacks basic defensive techniques, which can leave an inexperienced bender considerably vulnerable to enemy counterattacks, though masters such as Jeong Jeong can effectively use firebending for defense. It also consumes a vast amount of energy leaving the bender at a considerable disadvantage in a prolonged battle. A common mark of a firebending master is the ability to sustain attacks for long periods.

Lack of drive: In order to firebend properly, one must have "inner fire", his or her drive, without which one's firebending becomes weak. After joining the Avatar, Zuko's firebending became noticeably weaker, because for three years, hunting the Avatar was his drive. Aang, being traumatized by his first experience with firebending, was too afraid to "give it some juice", as said by Zuko. Both overcame their problems after meeting with the masters Ran and Shaw, who taught them the true meaning of firebending, restoring their drives.

Other circumstances: A firebender's power may decrease in any situation which might extinguish their flames, such as being underwater or caught in the rain. Zuko overcame this while underwater in the North Pole by melting ice by heating it with direct contact.

Poor breath control: According to Iroh, true firebending power comes not from physical size or strength, but rather from the very control of one's breath. This was first explained and demonstrated by Iroh, an overweight, squat man with no exceptional strength or physique; however, this did not stop him from being one of the most powerful firebenders in the world. Firebender discipline stresses self-restraint and breath control as a means of directing and containing the fire manifested. Poor breath control means dangerously poor control of any fire generated. For this reason, breathing exercises are one of the most critical first steps for beginning firebenders.

Poor self-control: Though anger, rage and other intense emotions can amplify the power of firebending, it can lead to dangerous explosions or wildfires and can also cause any nearby flames to burn out of control. The enlightened firebending master Jeong Jeong repeatedly stressed this importance during his instruction of Aang, who accidentally burned Katara when he refused to listen, and a lack of self-control was demonstrated by Zhao during his fight with Aang.

Solar eclipse: Firebending's connection to the sun results in a lessening of strength during the night and a complete loss of firebending during a solar eclipse.


In 0 AG, Fire Lord Sozin launched a genocidal attack on the Air Nomads, succeeding in part due to the power granted him by a passing comet. Over the course of a century, the war continued, and under the rule of Sozin's grandson, Fire Lord Ozai, the Fire Nation saw the return of "Sozin's Comet". As prophesied, the comet's immense energy granted Ozai the power to conquer the entire world. The only threat to Ozai's campaign was the Avatar, Aang. Aang succeeded in his quest to defeat Ozai, and he satisfied his spiritual needs by not taking Ozai's life but simply by removing his ability to firebend.

The Fire Nation's religious clerics, the Fire Sages, once served the Avatar, but they were eventually forced to endorse the imperial war. Shyu was the only Fire Sage to remain true to his allegiance to the Avatar, a trait he inherited from his father and grandfather.

A firebender's powers seem to increase during the day in the presence of the sun. Because of this solar sympathy, their powers are weakened at night and a solar eclipse can temporarily negate their powers entirely, much like waterbenders' powers are negated during a lunar eclipse. Aside from their main power source, the sun, firebenders also draw their energy from other heat sources, including volcanic activity, lightning, and passing comets, if they somehow become a heat source, such as Sozin's Comet, which ignites when it brushes the atmosphere. A firebender's power is intensified in warmer climates and is at its peak when situated near their native equatorial homelands during the summer.

Firebending's distinctiveness is in its uncontrolled nature; fire, if left to itself, will consume everything it can. Firebending is thus a matter of controlling an element rather than directing it. Many firebenders are intoxicated by their power, while more prudent ones feel cursed by it, much like Jeong Jeong. However, its roots and nature are fully explored by Ran and Shaw and the Sun Warriors; properly controlled, fire is life and industry, comforting and creative.


Among firebenders, or at least those of the upper-class, disputes of honor are settled by a challenge to an Agni Kai, or "fire duel", a traditional firebender duel that is centuries old. Such a duel is conducted in an open-air arena, and it may be witnessed by spectators. The traditional time for an Agni Kai is sunset or sunrise, although it is not a requirement. While not an explicit condition, in the post-Sozin Fire Nation, Agni Kai have become almost exclusively duels to the death. The victor may spare the defeated, but it is generally looked upon as an act of weakness rather than generosity. The duel is traditionally fought bare-chested and the contestants may have one or more "seconds", i.e. people who stand around in that person's corner of the field and may attend to their champion before and after the duel, or bear them away in case they die fighting. The opening pose of an Agni Kai is squatting with back turned to the opponent. During this phase, both contestants traditionally wear a red-and-black shawl over their bare shoulders, which is dropped upon turning to face each other. It is considered dishonorable to attack from behind in an Agni Kai, especially for a defeated opponent who has been spared by the victor. Notable Agni Kais include Zuko's first public Agni Kai, against his father, the Agni Kai between Zuko and Zhao, and most notably the Comet-Enhanced Agni Kai between Zuko and Azula, which was fought for the right to the throne.


Firebending moves are based mainly on the Northern Shaolin style of kung fu. Aspects of the firebending combat style can be seen through the similar emphasis on highly technical kicking strikes, fundamentally strong movements, and the usage of swift, direct maneuvers. Northern Shaolin is an external style that uses long, aggressive techniques that explode and drive through the opponent.

The Northern Shaolin style emphasizes "kicking over hand fighting", or prioritizing one's legwork as opposed to the arms. Kicks are meant to "extend as far as possible without compromising balance. A few techniques from Northern Seven Star Praying Mantis are also prominent. These martial art variants feature quick, successive attacks that utilize momentary bursts of extreme power, much like an explosion, called ging lik. It optimizes a strong continuous offense, sacrificing defense for greater power, the principle behind a pre-emptive strike, and as such, firebending is categorized as the most aggressive of the four bending arts.

As noted in Avatar Extras bonus commentary for "The Siege of the North, Part 2", close quarters firebending and distanced firebending combat use completely different styles of firebending. Particular examples of such styles include:

  • Chaquan – A fighting style that involves acrobatics and agile, graceful movements, it emphasizes long range movements and stances combined with speed and power.

  • Northern Shaolin Kung Fu – used particularly in close-ranges, utilizing strong kicks and quick punches.

  • Southern Dragon Claw – mirrors a dragon "swooping down on its prey". The form contains close-range techniques for "seizing and holding that utilize the hand."

  • Xingyiquan – The classic "Seven Stars"; or the hands, feet, elbows, hips, knees, shoulders, and head; are incorporated into most firebending.
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