Jesse Brauner

In the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender, waterbending is the ability to mentally manipulate water through the use of martial arts.

Avatar: The Last Airbender (known outside the United States as ‘The Legend of Aang’) is an American animated television series created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The series ran from 2005 until 2008 on the channel Nickelodeon and was later adapted into a feature film by director M. Night Shyamalan. The aesthetics of the program were heavily influenced by the style of Japanese animation (anime), but Avatar was equally notable for its well-developed plotlines and for drawing inspiration from a wide array of sources: These included artistic, cultural and historical influences from around the world, diverse species from the animal kingdom, and storytelling themes from popular movies and books.

Waterbending is one of the four primary “bending arts” found throughout the world of Avatar, and is practiced by the culture known as the Water Tribes. Through the use of a specific kind of martial art (inspired aesthetically by Tai Chi, according to the creators of the series), waterbenders can move and manipulate water into virtually any shape or form they wish. This includes changing liquid water into its solid (ice) and gaseous (steam) forms, as well as controlling rain, snow and other water-based natural phenomena. Specialized skills within this discipline include manipulating plants by bending the water within them, and even controlling the body of another creature by bending their blood. In some cases, waterbenders are blessed with the ability to heal wounds by using water as a catalyst to redirect the energy paths, or chi, that flow around the patient’s body.

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