Firebending is one of the four elemental Bending Arts, the pyrokinetic ability to create and control fire. The people of the Fire Nation and the lesser known Sun Warrior Tribe, practice this type of bending.
Fire is the element of power, consisting of overpowering force tempered by the unflinching will to accomplish tasks and desires. However, the recently militaristic Fire Nation have twisted this into Firebending being fueled by rage, hate and anger. Firebending draws its power from the sun and the first human Firebenders learned their techniques from the Dragon.
Firebending is notable for its intensive attacking style and general lack of adequate defense moves, although some notable Firebenders utilize creative defensive moves. For example, Jeong Jeong can create fire walls, and Zuko can easily block and shoot down incoming objects.
It has been revealed that Firebenders learned Firebending from the sacred dragons that had once populated their land. Zuko and Aang discovered that Firebending represents energy and life, not rage and anger as the modern Fire Nation would have its citizens believe.
Firebenders draw their powers from the sun and other solar objects. A solar eclipse has the potential to completely negate a Firebender's power, revealing a direct connection between the sun and Firebending. Additionally, after defeating Katara at the rise of the sun, during The Siege of the North, Zuko stated that "You rise with the moon, I rise with the sun", further emphasizing and demonstrating the sun's importance to Firebending. Firebenders are also said to draw power from volcanic energy and lightning, though this has never been seen in the series.
Based on the Chinese text of Jeong Jeong's wanted poster, the word "Firebending" is written as 制火朮, roughly translated as "the method of controlling fire".
Firebending moves are based mainly on the style of Northern Shaolin kung fu, but with a few techniques from Northern Seven Star Praying Mantis. These martial arts feature quick, successive attacks that exert extreme power for just a moment (much like an explosion, called ging lik). It optimizes a strong continuous offense, sacrificing defense for greater power, the principle behind a preemptive strike, making Firebending the most aggressive of the four bending arts.
Firebenders use their internal body heat as a source of their bending to create fire. This facet of Firebending is in sharp contrast to the other bending arts, which manipulate already present representations of their element (though Firebenders can control or enhance flames nearby). Unlike other bending disciplines, Firebending has few defensive moves aside from blocking and dodging, although master Firebenders are able to create walls of fire to absorb incoming attacks or shoot down incoming projectiles.
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.
Circular motion also seems to be a crucial element to the skill as it seems to be a precession to "power up" the Firebender's flames. When creating lightning, the Firebenders often move their arms in slow, circular motions, a bit like Waterbenders but with more tension. As said before, whirling kicks or punches are used many times in the series to create arcs, or just to power their bending.
According to Iroh, fire is the element of power.
Fireballs: a basic ability; jabs and punches produce miniature fireballs and missiles of flame. These can be charged up (refer to Charged Attacks) to create larger slower bursts, or swift repetitive strikes to keep opponents off balance.
Fire Streams: another basic Firebending ability, Firebenders can shoot continuous streams of fire from their fingertips, fists, palms, or legs. These streams can be widened to create flame-thrower like techniques. Fire Nation soldiers are often seen using this technique to damage or destroy villages or towns.
Blazing Rings & Arcs: Spinning kicks or sweeping arm movements create rings and arcs to slice larger, more widely spaced, or evasive targets. Zuko uses a circular motion with his feet to create an expanding ring and successfully knocks Azula down during their Agni Kai.
Fire Bomb: A more short range attack, a Firebender can create a flame at the end of a limb, and thrust the flame down in a explosive burst. Zuko was seen doing this in "The Chase" and both Zuko and Aang are seen doing this at the beginning of their routine in "The Ember Island Players." Ozai uses an extremely powerful version of this to break through Aang's Earth Shield.
Fire Daggers: Creating blowtorch-like jets from the fist or fingertips to use as close range sword-like attacks. These lack the ability to actually block physical objects though.
Fire Whip: An extension of a fire stream, this continuous stream of flame can be used as a whip. Zuko uses a larger version of this in his fight in Ba Sing Se, creating streams of great length for continuous mid to long-range combat and using it to combat Katara's water whip technique.
Fire Blade: A more advanced version of a blazing arc, Firebenders can narrow their fire arcs to create thin blades of fire that they can launch at their opponents. Azula uses this technique in "The Chase" when she cuts apart a wall. Zuko uses this in "The Crossroads of Destiny" to free Azula from Katara's water whips.
Fire Lashes: An even further extension of the Fire Whip/Stream, Firebenders can create a long lash of Fire, and bring them down on their enemies, like Azula did to Aang in "The Chase", or create smaller, multiple lashes and envelop an area with fire, like Zuko did in "Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King".
Fire Circle: A technique demonstrated by the Sun Warriors. They create a circle of fire, and suspend it in the air for an extended period of time.
The only time they are seen, these circles were made with the Original Flame. It may be that this technique is exclusively used in the Sun Warriors' religious rituals and has no use in combat, as it's never seen anywhere else.
Shield of Fire: Creates a protective fire shield around the front of, or the whole body of, a Firebender that can deflect attacks and explosions. May be a less powerful version of the Wall of Flames.
Firebending Master Level
Fire Disks: A whirling disk of flame, used at long range. Only Azula has shown the ability to create these. Azula is only seen doing this in the episode Return to Omashu. In "The Earth Kingdom Chronicles: The Tale of Azula", she calls this her "pinwheel attack".
Charged Attacks: Certain Firebenders have been shown charging their attacks before releasing them, allowing them to create enormous blasts of fire. Zuko and Iroh used a combined charged attack against Aang, in "The Avatar Returns". Zhao may have charged some of his attacks before releasing them when he fought Aang in "The Deserter". Azula used this skill in "The Drill" against Aang. Zuko was shown using this technique in "The Crossroads of Destiny" against both Aang and Katara. Iroh also used a charged fire blast against Dai Li agents in the same episode. In "Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into The Inferno", using comet-enhanced Firebending, Fire Lord Ozai and several Imperial Firebenders unleashed charged fire blasts of enormous size from airships in attempt to carry out their scorched earth plan, and Ozai later used it again to break Aang's rock sphere during their battle. Fire Lord Sozin may have used a charged blast against Avatar Roku when he unleashed a wave of fire against him in "The Avatar and the Fire Lord".
Wall of Flames: One of Firebending's few defensive abilities, either a situated explosion or controlled inferno, this wall of concentrated flames acts as a barrier to incoming attacks. It may be a more powerful version of a Fire Shield. It not only protects against attacks, but when used right, can be used to stealthily escape from foes. Azula once used it to deflect four simultaneous attacks from all four elements to provide herself a stealthy escape. Zuko used it to stop a combustion attack (although he was still being pushed back by the force). Master Jeong Jeong also used this method to stop a group of Fire Navy patrol boats; so precise was his control he could allow the flames to burn on water. He later created another wall/shield to deflect four Firebending attacks, and escaped from Zhao. Later in "Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into The Inferno", Jeong Jeong used the technique to push back several Fire Nation tanks, which shows that it can also be an offensive move. It should be noted that at that instance, Firebending was being powered by Sozin's Comet.
Heat Redirection: Only seen performed by Fire Lord Sozin, maybe unique to him or simply an advanced technique. Heat absorption allows for the absorption of heat from one hand and passing through one's body and out the other hand. Used to cool down the lava during the eruption that destroyed Avatar Roku's town. It appears to operate on a similar principle to Iroh's redirection of lightning technique.
Fire Augmentation: Firebenders can also control the size and intensity of any nearby flames and can draw them in and manipulate them at will. Avatar Roku used this method to protect himself and counter an attack by Zhao and his soldiers while his spirit was channeled by Aang. In "The Deserter", Jeong Jeong augments the fire in his candles while he is discouraging Aang. When Azula scared Chan in The Beach, it can be seen that the torch behind Azula also fell under her Firebending, as it burned bright blue. Zuko augmented a fire in the same episode, while he was confronting his anger issues. A simpler example is when Fire Lords are in the throne room. As shown in "The Storm" and "Zuko Alone", when Ozai and Azulon got angry, the flames rose up higher and burned more rapidly. Another example was in "Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King", when Zuko is attacking Aang at the beginning in Ozai's beach house. The prime example is shown in "Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into The Inferno" when Azula is on the throne, all the flames around her, and in the room are all burning bright blue.
Jet Propulsion: Skilled Firebending masters are able to conjure huge amounts of flame to propel themselves at high speeds on the ground or through the air. It was first demonstrated by Azula during her battle with Aang in "The Crossroads of Destiny". During the fight, Azula releases the flames she used to propel herself horizontally, which blasted Aang backwards. In the "The Boiling Rock, Part 2" Azula uses this skill to propel herself through the air, as she is pursuing Zuko, Sokka, and Suki when they are escaping the prison. In "The Southern Raiders" when Azula is knocked off an airship, she uses a smaller burst of fire to propel herself on to a cliff, saving herself from falling to her death. In the series finale, Ozai and Jeong Jeong are shown to also be capable of utilizing this skill with much more proficiency than Azula has ever shown, though this is possibly due to the arrival of Sozin's Comet enhancing their abilities. Azula and Zuko both executed this technique while powered by the comet during Comet Enhanced Agni Kai.
Pressure Control: An advanced form of Heat Control; the Firebender superheats the air around him, causing a rise in air pressure in small, enclosed areas with explosive results. Zuko used this to escape Katara's Ice Dome in "The Siege of the North, Part 1".
Avatar Level Firebending
Lava/Magma Bending: Avatar-level Firebenders are able to bend lava and magma, although not with the same ease with which Waterbenders bend water, and even cause dormant volcanoes to erupt at will. This ability contrasts sharply with other types of Firebending, as lava and magma are superheated physical substances, rather than a chemical reaction. This ability has only been demonstrated by Avatar Roku, Avatar Kyoshi and an unnamed Fire Nation Avatar, suggesting that an ordinary Firebender would be incapable of performing the technique.
Some suggest that this kind of bending can be done by Avatars because it involves mastery of Earthbending (since lava/magma is molten rock) and possible a good knowledge of Waterbending (as this art would require fluid movements), on top of Firebending.
Long-Range Multiple Fire Whips: An Avatar-level Firebender can produce fire whips, the most being five at once (so far). They have very long ranges, as seen in "Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang", when Aang used the technique from hundreds of feet above Ozai. This may have been a result of his firebending being augmented by Sozin's Comet, and/or because he was in the Avatar State at the time. Each fire whip is also very wide and moves in a similar fashion to squid or octopus tentacles. They have enough destructive power to demolish large rock formations. This could be the technique Shyu was referring to when he said that, "only a fully realized Avatar can open the sanctuary doors alone."
Blue Fire: Firebenders can control the intensity of their Firebending, reflected in the colour of the flames. These blue flames are more efficient than the standard yellow and orange flames produced by lesser forms of Firebending, channeling more energy into the attack and likely traveling further without dissipating.
Only Azula has demonstrated blue Firebending (not to be confused with lightning). Blue fire also seems to possess more physical force and produce a concussive effect not seen with normal fire, likely due to the fact that it superheats the air around it as it strikes (the same process that creates thunder). During "The Firebending Masters", the two dragons unleash a vortex of fire, within which can be seen several other colors of fire beyond the yellow, orange and blue flames previously seen, including white, purple, green, pink and red fire. It is possible that these colors of flame may also have special properties.
Breath of Fire: The Breath of Fire involves the user Firebending out of his or her mouth, mixing air from the lungs with the flame creating a wider, hotter blast. This has been exhibited by multiple individuals, including Ozai, Iroh, Zuko, Azula, and Aang. It was the employment of this Firebending style in the midst of battle that earned General Iroh his nickname, "The Dragon of the West". It is alluded that it was from Iroh that Zuko learned how to create his own Breath of Fire (though his is smaller and less intense). With its wide, encompassing range of fire, the technique allows for staving off multiple opponents and is also shown to be able to instantaneously warm the body even under extremely cold temperatures. It is also useful in a stealth sense, as it requires no hand motions and can thus be impossible to predict. Tea might serve as a instant intensifier, as implied by Iroh in the "The Crossroads of Destiny".
Combustion: The unique, trademark ability of the Combustion Man. Unlike normal Firebending, this does not produce a flame directly from the body. Instead he concentrates his energy through his tattooed third eye to super-heat the air around himself or at a great distance, producing situated explosions with a great deal of precision. Extremely effective as it is destructive, capable of use at close and long-range, and can completely disintegrate hill-sized boulders and instantaneously evaporate large bodies of water with ease. This is probably due to the energy being entirely focused into creating the explosion, without wasting energy maintaining a long range jet of flame. However, the technique has the potential to be just as hazardous to the user as it can be to their surroundings, as the Combustion Man blew off his own right arm and leg due to his initial lack of control over the newly discovered ability in his youth. The sole weakness is its reliance on an uninterrupted flow of chi, as blocking the chi paths in the forehead from where the combustion beam issues forth causes potentially fatal backfires.
Due to its solar sympathy, Firebending is slightly stronger during the day, being at its most powerful during noon. With an extraterrestrial heat source much closer to the planet than the sun, in particular Sozin's Comet, Firebending is enhanced dramatically. A Firebender under the effects of the comet can produce much larger, powerful flames, which create greater destruction and can extend much further than usual. Experienced Firebenders can use the Comet's power to sustain flight and to generate exceptionally powerful lightning bolts.
Opposite Bending Art
Firebending is the opposing art to Waterbending, though it shows many similar facets of self-control, great diversity, and variation in strength due to external forcing. Firebenders use quick strong punches and kicks to shoot fire, while Waterbenders use slow 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. 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 demonstated during a duel fought between Zuko and Katara; at night, during the full moon, Katara quickly batters Zuko into submission and freezes him up against a wall, however, at sunrise, Zuko effortlessly destroys the ice holding him in place and defeats Katara with several short fire blasts.
Like all the bending arts, Firebending is balanced out as to not 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.
Firebenders sometimes incorporate weapons into Firebending, as shown by Zuko's utilization of Firebending in conjunction with his Dual Dao Swords, shaping and channeling the flames down the blade of his weapons. It is unknown if any other weapons can be used in conjunction with Firebending apart from tonfa, which utilizes quick jabs for offense, much like Firebending itself.
The art of Firebending overall draws heir from three ancient martial arts, each with their own separate moves and varying results.
- Xing Yi blends strikes from the classic "Seven Stars": hands, feet, elbows, hips, knees, shoulders and head.
- Southern Dragon Claw mirrors a dragon swooping down on it prey. The form contains close-range techniques for seizing and holding that make use of the hand.
- Northern Shaolin, which can be any number of fighting styles related to (but not encompassing) Long Fist boxing. Kicks are meant to be extended as far as possible without sacrificing balance.
Lightning: Also known as "the cold-blooded fire", certain powerful Firebenders are able to generate and manipulate lightning by separating both yin and yang energies around them. Lightning is considered the most powerful Firebending technique, and the use of lightning is available only to a select few Firebending prodigies and masters.
- Lightning generation
Lightning generation is the ability to generate and direct lightning. It requires a complete absence of emotion and peace of mind. Only three Firebenders in the series have shown the ability to use it: Azula, Iroh and Fire Lord Ozai.
- Lightning redirection
Iroh, in a technique developed after observing the energy re-directing techniques of Waterbending, is able to redirect the course of lightning strikes by absorbing it through one arm, guiding it through his stomach, and out his other arm. Only he, Aang, and Zuko have shown the ability to redirect lightning.
Iroh is the only known Firebender to perform both techniques.
The symbol for fire and Firebending is a stylized, tulip-shaped flame forked into three tongues that curve outward like flower petals, with a spiral at the base. The symbol is featured in connection with Fire Nation spirituality.
Spirituality and Firebending
Approximately 100 years before the start of the series, 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 has 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 current Avatar, Aang. Aang succeeded in his quest to defeat the Fire Lord, 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 Avatar Roku, but were eventually forced to endorse the imperial war. Fire Sage Shyu is shown as 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, as revealed in "The Library" "The Day of Black Sun, Part 1: The Invasion" and "The Day of Black Sun, Part 2: The Eclipse," 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 damned by it. However, its roots and nature are fully explored by Ran and Shao and the Sun Warriors in "The Firebending Masters"; properly controlled, fire is life and industry, comforting and creative.
Video of Firebening
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