Airbending is a type of bending that involves controlling and manipulating air. Air Nomads utilized this type of bending in their daily lives. Air symbolizes freedom, so the Air Nomads separated themselves from worldly problems and concerns. Finding peace and freedom was their key to succeeding in life.
Airbenders are continually searching for spiritual enlightenment, and, as a result, all airbenders born into the Air Nomads are benders. They learned how to be benders from the flying bison.
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The Origin Of Air Bending
During the Raava era, the lion turtle granted inhabitants the air’s power while they left the village to stock up on food. After leaving the turtle’s care permanently, their descendants eventually learned airbending from a flying bison.
The flying bison is known for using its massive beaver tail as a drag device to create winds, and it is thought the airbenders adopted its arrow symbol as the design for their traditional tattoos.
They symbolize mastery of the airbending art and are given to a practitioner when they have reached a certain mastery level. Unlike other nations, air nomads were born as airbenders because their culture has strong spiritual ties.
Spirituality and Air Bending
Airbenders grew up in air temples at each corner of the world, hiding out atop mountain ranges on islands. They honed their airbending skills in the strong breeze.
The air temples in the north and south were exclusively male and manned by Airbender monks, who took the young benders under their wings.
Though the eastern and western temples were exclusively female, the elders’ council had determined that Aang would finish his training in the east air temple, where he and his companion, the flying buffalo, were first introduced.
Mastery of the thirty-six tiers, or creation of a new airbending technique, is what makes someone an Airbending Master.
Aang had only mastered 35 tiers, but his creation of the air scooter technique satisfied the mastery criteria.
Airbenders who have mastered the element are marked by tattoos on the forehead, backs of the hands, and tops of the feet, culminating in an arrow on their foreheads, but not for those born outside the air nomads.
The monks shave off their heads, and female airbenders shave their foreheads but leave the back of the hair long.
Airbenders usually follow a philosophy of conflict avoidance and love for all forms of life. They don’t fight or hurt each other directly. This explains the airbending’s defense-first strategy and the apparent lack of fatal finishing attacks.
Because of air nomads’ spirituality is that nearly everyone has bending abilities. This skill can deteriorate when their spiritual awareness fades.
The air nomads will always have the smallest population, but their spirituality’s the most intense. In general, benders make up a small percentage of the bigger, more populous nations.
Airbending is a form of bending that emphasizes instinct and imagination, and the air itself is considered the element of freedom. Airbenders are considered the most dynamic of the bending arts as that which flows freely whenever possible.
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The End Of Air Nomads
In 0 AG, the airbenders were oppressed, invaded, and slaughtered by the Fire Nation to break Avatar’s rebirth cycle and achieve the Fire Nation’s victory against Avatar.
Several airbenders survived the initial massacre and fled into hiding, but they were later lured to dangerous mountainous areas with relics from home, where they were later killed.
Ironically, Aang, a 12-year-old Airbender turned Avatar, was the only known survivor of the Fire Nation’s “total war“: the Fire Nation sought to eliminate him in their quest for supremacy.
Aang fled home shortly before the war began, sank into suspended animation, and became trapped in an iceberg near the South Pole.
Appa, a flying bison, and Momo, a flying lemur and appa, were the last known vestiges of the Airbender culture.
The Northern Air Temple was abandoned and colonized by Earth Kingdom citizens, led by the machinist.
The Eastern Air Temple was inhabited by Guru Pathik, who claimed to have known Monk Gyatso in his past lives. The Southern Air Temple is the only temple where many Fire Nation soldiers and Monk Gyatso’s remains are buried.
Several years later, Aang discovered a community of flying bison and ring-tailed winged lemurs, which indicated that Appa wasn’t the last flying bison.
The Aftermath Of The Air Nomads Genocide
Though airbending culture has survived even after 170 years, it is known that Aang’s youngest son, Tenzin, and Tenzin’s kids, the eldest three of whom are airbenders, were the ones that carried the air bending culture.
Aang also formed the Air Acolytes to carry on the tradition.
Tenzin’s family and some Air Acolytes reside in Republic City at Air Temple Island, while the rest live in each of the ancient Air Temples.
Tenzin’s family made up the last of the airbenders before Harmonic Convergence, which is why Amon honed in on them to effectively eradicate one of the four bending arts permanently.
After Harmonic Convergence, the air-bending ability reared its head because many non-benders acquired air-bending abilities, including Aang’s son Bumi.
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Rebuilding the Air Nation
Several people found out they had airbending ability after 171 AG Harmonic Convergence.
Korra, Tenzin, and the others set out to figure out who these people were and convinced them to train under Tenzin at the Northern Air Temple and help the Air Nation.
Their quest was mostly unsuccessful since no one wanted to give up their existing lives, except for Kai.
In Ba Sing Se, Dai Li kidnapped and trained new airbenders beneath the Earth Queen’s Temple. They eventually became Earth Queen Hou-Ting’s first airbending regiment.
After Team Avatar discovered this practice, they freed all the captives and sent them to the Northern Air Temple to learn their ways.
Tenzin struggled at first to motivate them with his teachings. But, when they banded together to save a flying bison, they found a new dynamic as masters and students.
Tenzin announced two weeks after Zaheer was defeated by Korra that the Air Nation would roam the earth and promote peace, balance, and harmony while Korra recovered from her fight with the Red Lotus.
He also declared Jinora an airbending master, so she would help them on their new path.
How Airbenders Train
Several objects can help Airbenders improve their abilities and master the art. The airball court serves as both a playing field for the sport and a training ground for the skills involved in airbending, like balance and agility.
Because the ball is mostly manipulated by airbending, airbenders can also improve their accuracy.
Spinning gates are used to demonstrate that an Airbender’s maneuvers must be evasive if he wishes to successfully pass through them.
It means being like a leaf in the wind instead of trying to force your way through the spinning gate.
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Weapons Of Airbenders
Airbenders often use their signature staffs in battle, unlike benders in other nations who rarely use weapons.
Due to the staff’s narrow profile, the currents can be better controlled and even shaped into crescents that can slice through solids.
Avatar Kyoshi and Aang demonstrated that fans can be used with airbending.
Aan proposed a wind sword for the team while browsing a weapons shop in the Fire Nation.
He said Airbenders can channel air out of a sword hilt, then cut through air like a blade.
Weaknesses Of Air Benders
Though bending is the most dynamic arts, airbending is viewed as a more defensive-oriented art because of its supposed lack of fatal moves.
This is a reflection of Air Nomad’s beliefs about protecting all life and avoiding violence wherever possible. The Air Nomads were the only ones to possess this ability before Harmonic Convergence and the Avatar.
Although this is true, there have been instances in which an Airbender has used brute force, sometimes even to the point of killing.
For example, Monk Gyatso took out a couple of Fire Nation soldiers during their attack on the Southern Air Temple before he died.
Avatar Yangchen committed acts that were a direct violation of Air Nomad teachings, but for the greater good;
Zaheer, who wasn’t like the Air Nomads, used his abilities to suffocate the Earth Queen Hou-Ting.
As opposed to other bending disciplines, airbending needs constant spiritual awareness, and those who lose this connection can see their skills deteriorate over time.
Jesa, for example, had to get metal fans to maintain her airbending after becoming a criminal and embracing a more materialistic lifestyle.