Airbenders have the aerokinetic ability to control currents of air...
In legend, human Airbenders first learned their bending art from the Flying Bison, ancient, sacred creatures native to the Air Nomad culture. The Bison typically use their massive beaver-like tails to create gusts of wind, and as the name suggests, are able to fly without any visible means of propulsion, utilizing their wide tails to steer through air currents. In addition, it is said that the Airbenders also took on the natural, arrow-shaped markings of the Flying Bison for their tattoos. These light blue, full body tattoos symbolize a person's mastery of the airbending discipline.
On the scroll written by Sozin in "The Avatar and the Firelord," the word airbender is written as 風脅功師 (fēng xié gōng shī) which translates as 'wind coercing master.'
Airbending is based on the Ba Gua style of martial arts with a small hint of Hsing Yi, also known as "mind heart boxing." These martial arts feature swift, evasive maneuvers that evoke the intangibility and explosive power of wind, drawing energy from the center of the abdomen. Ba Gua, which utilizes circle walking, is known for its constantly circular movement, which makes it difficult for opponents to attack directly. The body moves like the air currents in which they maneuver. They employ the entire body with smooth coiling and uncoiling movements, utilizing dynamic footwork, open-hand techniques, and throws. Ba Gua, with its soft, flowing movements and method of turning an opponent's energy against him, bears some resemblance to T'ai Chi, but tends to be more spontaneous and dynamic overall. Unlike other bending disciplines, airbending lacks fatal finishing moves, being an almost entirely defensive art.
By using circular, evasive movements, Airbenders build up massive inertia; this buildup of energy is released with massive power. It also allows for wind-based counterattacks that knock opponents off-balance, mimicking the wind itself which transforms, coalesces, or disperses when coming close to being subdued.
Attacks vary from simple gusts of wind to miniature tornadoes and cyclones. A common defensive tactic is to circle enemies, suddenly changing direction when attacked and deflecting as needed by throwing up gusts of air as a shield. Airbenders enhance their movement in battle, and can run swiftly by decreasing wind resistance, jump high and far by conjuring gusts of wind, slow falls by creating cushions of air, and even sprint across or up vertical surfaces by generating a wind current behind themselves. Master Airbenders can create vortices (vortex-plural) to entrap and disorient opponents, as well as massively destructive whirlwinds. Avatar-Level Airbenders can create massive tornadoes and hurricanes at will. Unlike other nations, who only rarely use weapons with their bending, Airbenders commonly use their signature staffs in their attacks and defenses in battle. Metal fans can also be used in combination with airbending to increase their power.
Airbending is the most passive of the four arts, as many of its techniques center around evading and eluding the opponent and is the opposing bending art to Earthbending. While the Airbenders avoid or deflect oncoming attacks, Earthbenders absorb them, or overwhelm them with superior force.
A wooden staff that can mechanically transform into a small glider. Hand-carved and crafted by Air Nomad monks, these staffs/gliders are an Airbender's signature tool.
In glider form, an Airbender is able use the tool in conjunction with bending to control air currents, resulting in the ability to hover and even sustain flight over limited distances so long as they have the strength to maintain their airbending. As a normal staff, it can be used as a weapon in battle, to aid in bending, and even as a levitation aid when spun above the head like a helicopter propeller.
The Air Scooter, a form of ground transportation invented by Aang himself, is a spherical "ball" of air that one can ride. In a flashback in the episode, The Storm, Aang tries to teach this move to his Airbending friends. They all fail at first, but eventually they master the art and develop a game that requires the air scooter to play. Aang says one must balance on it like a top. He has used the technique in many episodes, usually to overcome vertical surfaces, including in The Drill in order to run up the wall of Ba Sing Se. The Air Scooter is also shown to be capable of levitating in the air. The Air Scooter first appeared in, "The Avatar Returns", where Aang uses it to escape Zuko's ship. It was Aang's invention of this technique that subsequently earned him his tattoos and title of a master at such a young age.
Though it stands as the most dynamic of the Bending Arts, the primary weakness of Airbending is it lacks a fatal finishing move, being almost entirely a defensive art. This fact in itself is a reflection of the principles held by the Air Nomads, which instruct that all life is precious and conflict should be avoided whenever possible.
Young Airbenders are raised in one of the four Air Temples, at each corner of the globe, hidden away atop mountain ranges on remote islands. The Northern and Southern Air Temples are exclusively male, and staffed by Airbender monks, who instruct young Benders in their art. Supposedly the Eastern and
Though this ritual is probably not exclusive to Air Nomadic culture, when the Avatar reincarnation is to be an Air Nomad, the Air Monks test Airbender children to see if they are the reincarnation of the Avatar by asking them to select toys out of thousands. If the child selects the toys used in previous incarnations, the Avatar has been found.
In the real world, this same test is used by Tibetan Buddhist monks when a reincarnated Dalai Lama is expected, along with other smiliar tests done with Asian cultures. Traditionally, knowledge of his or her identity as Avatar is kept from the child until age sixteen.
Air Nomads generally espouse a philosophy of conflict avoidance and respect for all forms of life, comparable to the Jain/Buddhist/Hindu concept of Ahimsa. This accounts for Airbending's stress on defensive maneuvers and its apparent lack of fatal finishing attacks. Due to the spirituality of the Air Nomads in proportion to the size of its population, every Air Nomad retains bending abilities. The Air Nomads have the smallest population, but relatively, the most spirituality, while benders of other elements make up only a small percentage of the larger, more populous nations. Furthermore, meditation is a vital part of an Airbenders' daily routines, as it helps them to focus their energies and understand the potency of and get in touch with their element.
A century before the time when the series takes place, the Airbenders were the victims of genocide at the hands of the Fire Nation. Their temples were invaded, and all the Airbender monks were slaughtered in an effort to break the Avatar's cycle of reincarnation and ensure the Fire Nation's victory in their imperialist war.
Ironically, the only known survivor of the massacre is the very person the Fire Nation sought to kill in its quest for supremacy: the twelve-year-old Airbender and Avatar, Aang, who had run away from home shortly before the war began in earnest and became trapped in suspended animation, frozen in an iceberg near the South Pole. He has since been awoken from sleep, and begun a quest to restore balance and peace to the warring nations.
The last known vestiges of Airbender culture include one surviving Flying Bison, Appa, and one winged lemur, Momo, both of whom are Aang's pets. The abandoned