The world of Avatar: The Last Airbender was different from that of Legend of Korra, not just technologically. There was also a considerable difference in the bending styles as it evolved considerably from Aang’s time. As engineers understood the need to push boundaries to adapt to the needs of a different time, so did benders who realized the importance of evolving their craft.
Like any other bending style, airbending too underwent a paradigm shift after their nation was reborn after the Harmonic Convergence. In Avatar: The Last Airbender, we see the only Airbender around was Aang, for three entire seasons. There were only a few references made of Airbenders and Avatars of the past, which gave brief glimpses into the past users’ techniques and traditions. But with quite a few Airbenders in The Legend of Korra, the fans finally had the opportunity to understand various variations of the art form.
An excellent example of this was Zaheer’s bending, who took a vicious approach while Aang’s style was much different. Zaheer used previously unheard-of techniques such as unaided flight and breathbending, which were truly groundbreaking. Still, others were just as innovative—like Jinora, who evolved the unthinkable tornado technique, which was never before done by only one Airbender. The wingsuits too assisted Airbenders to fly much better without needing a sky bison or a glider.
Although most bending art forms had been practiced for centuries, metal bending was reasonably recent, invented in the Avatar: The Last Airbender by Toph Beifong. It took Toph a long time to evolve and practice the new bending style, and he later started the Metalbending Academy to teach others the new art form that she had developed. With time metalbending grew in popularity, and Toph’s daughter Suyin went on to make a city of the Metalbenders, which was called Zaofu.
Like pro-bending, metalbending was also more efficient and accurate than any other style prominent in Aang’s day. Metalbenders used their freedom to go with their favored element instead of sticking to the surrounding environment. The efficiency of Metalbending was displayed by Kuvaira, who used earthbending in combination with metalbending to catch her opponents off-guard.
Although most of the bending has somewhat evolved since Aang’s day what really stands out is the new set of sub-skills that granted benders unimaginable application of their elements that was never seen before Korra’s time. An excellent example of this is Ghazan’s lava bending, which was spontaneously developed by Bolin. The origins of lava bending were peculiar and vague. Before Korra’s time, only Avatars could lava bend, but the ability to phase-change solid rock by Ghazan was never done before.
But such innovations were not only limited to lava bending as other elements had their variations as well, like waterbending, which was used by Unnlaq to dispel evil spirits in a completely new art, which was called spiritbending. In the Shadow of Kyoshi, it was even verified that spiritbending never existed before Aang’s time. Korra’s chakras were also manipulated by the Fire Sages through spiritbending, although little is known about how other elements can accomplish it.
The Avatar State
With the new Avatar era and a new Avatar came, with a completely different form of bending that was never witnessed before. Avatars have always been different from the benders of their own time, so it would be unfair to compare them with their generation’s benders. The right thing to do is compare them with other Avatars, but even if we do so, Korra has proved herself to be unique even by Avatar’s standards. She developed her offensive style by manipulating three different elements that were never done by any other Avatar before her at a younger age.
The most noticeable difference was how Korra had taught herself to use the Avatar State. She could amplify her abilities briefly instead of entering the Avatar State for long periods like his predecessors Aang, Kyoshi, and Roku. The earlier Avatars did use the Avatar State for brief pulses that allowed them to do mind-boggling feats, but Korra was able to do so quite often, especially when she was fighting Kuvira’s mech. Her use of such unique and innovative techniques was proof of how comfortable she was with her unique fighting style.
Since change is the only constant, it’s natural that bending evolved with time depending on the need of the hour.
Ava Williams is a self-professed security expert; she has been making the people aware of the security threats. Her passion is to write about Cyber security, cryptography, malware, social engineering, internet and new media. She writes for mcafee security products at mcafee.com/activate.