Earthbending is one of the four elemental Bending Arts, the geokinetic ability to manipulate earth and rock, in all its various forms. It is used by people of the Earth Kingdom.
Earth is the element of substance, making Earthbenders and their people in general proud, persistent and enduring. The first Earthbenders, Oma and Shu, learned their art from the Badgermole's.
The key to Earthbending is neutral jing, which involves waiting and listening for the right moment to strike, and when that moment comes, acting decisively. In other words, Earthbenders generally endure their enemies' attacks until the right opportunity to counterattack reveals itself, then strike with unyielding force.
Video of Earthbening
Humans first learned Earthbending by observing and imitating the geokinetic powers of Badgermoles that naturally inhabit the mountains in what is now Earth Kingdom territory. According to legend, known widely as "The Legend of the Two Lovers", two star-crossed lovers named Oma and Shu, who came from separate villages that were at war against one another, learned the art to meet within the mountain that divided them. To make sure that no one could ever find them, they used their new abilities, which they learned from the Badgermoles, to create a labyrinth of tunnels inside this mountain where they knew they could only find their way to one another. One day, after many meetings in the series of passageways, the man did not come to see his lover, as he had died; a casualty of the villages' quarrel. His lover showcased a devastating assault of her powers and ultimately proclaimed the feud over. Then, the villages collaborated to construct a city, Omashu, in their honor. The pathways they made by Earthbending became known as "The Cave of Two Lovers".
'Earthbending' is written as 運土術 which in literal terms actually means 'move earth art' in Chinese.
Earthbending is generally based on the Hung Gar style of Kung Fu, which features heavily rooted stances and strong kicks and punches that evoke the mass and power of earth. The martial art is based on the movements of animals, including the tiger, which is utilized when initiating hard blows, and the crane, which is used to land gently back on the Earth. There are exceptions to this rule - the blind Earthbender, Toph's, style is based on Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu (using its precise stepping to maintain contact with the ground for her to "see"). Earthbenders, mostly Earthbending soldiers and generals, typically go barefoot to increase their connection with the earth and their power.
Earthbending is also one of the most diverse of the bending arts fighting styles, from the common and most used Earthbending, the rigid and collectively learned Earthbending of the Dai Li and the individually taught styles such as Toph's unique Earthbending technique. Earthbenders are generally muscular, tough, and direct, and like all benders their technique reflects on their individualized personalities.
Earthbending differs from the other bending arts in that it maintains a distinct balance between offensive and defensive capabilities (though Waterbending involves a more refined version by channeling defense into offense). Earthbending uses a balance of strength and defense to overwhelm opponents.
The principle of jing is the essence of battle strategy, with a total of 85 possible actions. Positive jing occurs when one chooses to fight while negative jing is when one chooses to evade. The Earthbending discipline stresses neutral jing, which involves listening, waiting, and attacking at the right moment. King Bumi stresses this in his tactics against the Fire Nation; he allows himself to be imprisoned in New Ozai for many months before liberating the city on the Day of Black Sun.
According to Iroh, earth is the element of substance.
Earth & Stone Levitation: The most common attack involves levitating nearby pieces of earth and stone of numerous sizes (more powerful benders can move larger masses), and propelling them at foes with punching or kicking motions.
Rock Shield: A levitated slab of rock can also double as a shield when positioned in front of a bender. This can also be performed with a slab or sheet of bedrock thrust out of the earth's surface. The shield can be hurled at the opponent for a quick retaliation.
Earth Smash: Earthbenders can easily destroy rocks and boulders with punches and kicks, even if they have a very small amount of muscle mass, possibly by making the earth in the rocks weaker, although the exact nature of this technique (or if it even is a technique) is never explained. This technique is useful when facing other Earthbenders, as it allows the Earthbender to destroy any earth projectiles sent at them and break out of imprisoning techniques. However, it does not seem to affect objects not made of earth.
Earth Sinking: More advanced Earthbenders, such as the Boulder, Master Yu, and General Fong, can forcibly sink their opponents into the ground, imprisoning them or even suffocating them in earth.
Earthquakes/Fissures: Striking the ground with feet, fists, or hammers, as shown by Gow, creates localized earthquakes or fissures to throw opponents off-balance. This same process can be used to sculpt a landmass or to slice large chunks of rock clean off a surface to create avalanches or rockfalls. More advanced Earthbenders can make very narrow fissures for precise attacks.
Earth Block: Earthbenders can bring up blocks of earth and launch them at their enemies.
Earth Gauntlet: A much less advanced version of Earth armor that can be used to throw back opponents with hard solid force. Aang used this technique when fighting against Azula in The Drill. The technique is useful in that it grants some level of the protection of Earth Armor but allows the rest of the body to remain flexible.
Quicksand: The Earthbender turns the ground to quicksand to immobilize an enemy, or catapults into the air and softens the earth to ensure a safe landing. Earthbenders can also do the reverse of this, compacting sand together to create harder projectiles or a firmer grip on the ground.
Rock Slide: If an Earthbender is near a cliff or mountain, he or she can cause many rocks of a multitude of sizes to fall down on his or her opponent. The Canyon Guide demonstrated that it would be possible to redirect the path of a rock slide. This is shown when he protects his "customers" from getting crushed.
Earth Column: A more powerful version of rock projectiles, involving forcing columns of rock out of the ground. Using a similar principle an Earthbender can shoot a stream of small ruts and protrusions from underground at their opponent. This can also be used to enhance the benders' jumps. It is however limited to the ground and does not have the same range as a rock projectile.
Earth Wall: Earthbenders can create walls of earth, which can be used for both defense and offense, as well as for practical things, like construction.
Earth Line: As an offensive attack, Earthbenders can create a line of twisted columns and propel it forward.
Earth Material Manipulation: Earthbending is not limited to rock or soil alone. An Earthbender can also manipulate coal, gems, crystals, and other earth-based materials, like meteorites.
Rock Hanging: Earthbenders also possess limited magnetic capabilities, allowing them to grasp vertical surfaces and cling unsupported to earthen structures. The Dai Li are the only ones that have demonstrated this ability, although it may be that they used their earth gloves to cling on the rocky surface.
Earth Launch: While Earthbenders like being rooted to the ground (some like Toph can't see in the air), they can quickly move rock beneath them and launch them several tens of feet into the air, whether to catch airborne opponents or to travel faster. Both Toph and Bumi do this in "Sozin's Comet, Part 2: The Old Masters" and "Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into The Inferno".
Earth Shelter: This can be used by Earthbenders to create a shelter or dome which can provide an instant shelter in the wilderness. Toph often created shelters like these to sleep in while the Team Avatar was traveling and also used it create a safe place for a pregnant woman to give birth in "The Serpent's Pass".
It can probably also be used to trap enemies, but only if they are not Earthbenders because skilled Earthbenders would probably be able to break out of the dome by burrowing under the ground or breaking straight through the rock.
Earth Compression: It is possible for Earthbenders to compress large chunks of rock into smaller, denser chunks, or to compress several smaller chunks into one big piece of rock. In "Imprisoned", Haru and his father Tyro used this technique, compressing several small pieces of coal into one big coal boulder. The fact that two Earthbenders were required to perform it suggests that this technique is quite difficult, possibly causing too much strain if done by a single Earthbender.
Water Filtering: When working in concert with a Waterbending, an Earthbender can purify polluted water. The Waterbender suspends the polluted water in the air while the Earthbender removes the pollutants and sets them aside.
Earthbending Master Level
Dust Cloud: By shaking the ground back and forth, Earthbenders can create dust clouds of various size to provide cover. This was first seen by Toph in The Blind Bandit and again in The Drill.
Earth Tunneling: Earthbenders can move through the earth to out-maneuver their foes either by opening tunnels or by pulling the earth past them, literally swimming through the ground.
Earth Armor: Earthbenders can bring rocks, dusts, pebbles or crystals around them and mold them to fit their body and create something similar to armor. They can also hide inside the earth by bending the rock around them as a shell. Later, it is demonstrated by Toph that metal can be used as armor as well. Aang used this technique with crystals against Azula in "The Crossroads of Destiny", and again with normal rocks against Ozai in "Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into The Inferno".
Earth Wave: Earthbenders create a wave of earth that they ride on and use as a form of transportation, as Aang and Toph have both done in "The Crossroads of Destiny" as well as Roku and Sud in "The Avatar and the Fire Lord". They can also force a wave of earth outwards, and use it as an extremely powerful offensive attack, as Aang was seen doing in "The Avatar State".
Earth Bomb: By sending a rock towards the ground, Earthbenders can cause massive damage as well as throw their opponents off their feet. Aang used it in "The Crossroads of Destiny" against Zuko, almost gaining the upper hand of the battle before the Dai Li intervened.
Remote Earthbending: If an Earthbender is suspended from the ground, but is aware that there is earth somewhere near, the Earthbender can focus his energies and bend that earth out of his physical reach out of sheer concentration. This was shown in a flashback in "Sozin's Comet, Part 2: The Old Masters", when Bumi tells Team Avatar (sans Aang) how he freed himself during the eclipse. Bumi managed to summon some roof tiles and pieces of walls to rip open the front of his metal coffin. In "Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang", Aang uses this technique to summon rocks for his Elemental Sphere while in the Avatar State.
Avatar Level Earthbending
Greater Earth & Stone Levitation: With their greater power and stronger connection to the earth (being the reincarnation of the planet's spirit itself), Avatars can move hill-sized statues at will. In "Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang", Aang moves various earth pillars in his fight against Ozai, both for offense and defense.
Tectonics: The Avatar can create crevasses so deep they even fracture landmasses as shown by Avatar Kyoshi in "Avatar Day" when she separated Kyoshi island from the mainland.
Powered Compression: This much more powerful version of the Earth Compression technique, performed only by Aang while in the Avatar State in "Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang". Instead of bending large chunks of earth into a single projectile, Aang gathered boulder-sized rocks and simultaneously compress each fragment into smaller, denser and harder rocks, essentially keeping the rocks under pressure for more volatile attacks if needed. Lastly, the rocks are directed to orbit around until they are put to use.
Compressed Rock Bullets: Shown solely by Aang in his fight with Phoenix King Ozai. Aang disintegrated one of his compressed rocks from his Elemental Sphere and shot its shrapnel like fragments with great speed, in a machine gun-like fashion. Due to the speed and density of these rocks, they made great damage to the landscape. It is similar to the Rock Gloves technique used by the Dai Li.
Sandbending: Sandbenders are Earthbenders who have adapted to live in the Si Wong Desert. They use Earthbending in a specialized style, which emphasizes the manipulation of sand. They move quickly in the desert on specialized wooden Sand-sailors that are propelled by bending miniature, localized sandstorms behind their sails. Because sand is sediment which travels in flows, their style resembles Airbending and Waterbending more than Earthbending. It is displayed that most, if not all, Earthbenders are capable of easily bending sand, but because of the loose shifty nature of sand it is not an easy transition for the average Earthbender. The Sandbenders of the Desert are especially proficient with it due to their particular habitat. After the events at Si Wong Desert, Toph practiced her Sandbending, achieving a mastery over it that allowed her to create an extremely detailed sand version of Ba Sing Se in "Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King".
Mudbending: It has been seen that Earthbenders can bend earth in mud as well. In The Drill, Katara halted the flow of the slurry on the back of the drill to prevent Ty Lee from following her. Later on with Toph's aid, they were able to push the slurry back into the drill. Also seen when Katara and Toph end up fighting when they were supposed to be training Aang in The Runaway.
Rock Gloves: The Dai Li have mastered the rock glove technique. Similar to Earth Armor, they cover their hands in small rocks then project them at a target as bullets or compacted fists to bludgeon the opponent. A more refined and favored method however is to use them as detachable hands, maintaining the hand shape and literally grabbing and restraining the opponent from a distance.
Seismic Sense: A technique originally developed by the blind Badgermoles, skilled Earthbenders are able to sense vibrations through the ground, "seeing" by sensing their surroundings and making a mental image of it. It allows for a 360 degree field of "vision", outside of normal line-of-sight. To operate, the user needs direct contact with the ground, preferably without something like shoes in between. It only works on earth-based material, including metal. Practitioners cannot use the ability on non-earth grounding like ice. Being blind, Toph constantly uses this technique to navigate the world; she describes it as "kind of like seeing with my feet". During his training with Toph, Aang also developed this ability; they are the only known humans to use this technique. Aang used this during a three-way training section with Toph and Katara, and again during his fight against Ozai. Due to Toph's extensive use of the technique, she has discovered other applications of it. Her seismic sense is so acute that she is capable of sensing even ants moving about, can identify people by the way they walk, and can almost always tell if someone is lying by sensing his or her physical reactions, such as breathing and heart rate. It is also the basis of her unique ability of Metalbending.
Opposing Bending Art
Earthbending is the opposing bending art to Airbender. When first learning to Earthbend, the pupil must first learn confrontational tactics and familiarity with the brute strength necessary to work with earth. This contrasts with the emphasis of Airbenders on mobility and evasion. Earthbenders require a firm root in the ground, while Airbenders are constantly moving. This is illustrated In the episode Bitter Work, in which Aang had great difficulty trying to learn Earthbending from Toph.
Like all of the bending arts, Earthbending is balanced so as not to be more or less powerful than the other arts. The series has repeatedly illustrated that it's the skill and prowess of the user that determines victory.
Earthbenders have been known to use hammers and fans to augment their bending, and it has been stated that the Chinese great sword dadao (heavy war sword, or literally "big knife") would also be best-suited for a strong Earthbender. Aang has also demonstrated Earthbending by wielding his glider-staff. In addition, Gow has demonstrated Earthbending with his war hammers. Theoretically, giant maces and axes could work well.
The symbol for Earth and Earthbending is a tall rough isosceles trapezoidal shape, the base of which is made up of the Bagua trigram "Kun," denoting "earth." Inside, at the top, is a spiral running left. The symbol is present on wooden "Elemental Solitaire" cards owned by the Fire Nation's General Iroh. In a way, this symbol vaguely resembles a seated Badgermoles.
Metalbending is a ferrokinetic sub-skill of Earthbending developed by Toph. Most Earthbenders are unable to affect processed metals. Usually, the trace amount of earth still present in metal is so minuscule that it goes undetected even to the best Earthbenders, lending to its use in detaining Earthbenders. However, due to her ability to "see" earth, Toph is able to locate the small fragments of earth in metal, target them, and utilize them to "bend" the metal portion, although, in the beginning, she was not able to bend metal with the same power or ease seen in normal Earthbending. Eventually, her skill with Metalbending had developed to the point where she could effectively defeat Sozin's Comet Firebending during the Battle of Wulong Forest with the technique.
Other Earthbend Picture