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This mannequin shows the chi paths of the human body.

Chi or qi[1] refers to the metaphysical energy that flows throughout the human body. It is a concept that serves as the root of bending and an array of other skills.


During a healing session conducted by Yagoda, the elderly instructor demonstrated a technique of healing by guiding water through a network of chi paths carved into a life-size mannequin.[2] An anxious General Fong made several attempts to induce the Avatar State in Aang when the team ventured to his base. One of his methods involved Aang drinking a chi-enhancing tea designed to increase the energy of a warrior ten-fold, which only caused an energy rush to course through him.[3] During a duel in Omashu, Ty Lee first demonstrated the unique ability to block one's chi, thereby rendering the victim defenseless. By striking certain pressure points, she was able to strip Katara of her waterbending abilities temporarily.[4]

Huu, a dweller of the Foggy Swamp, informed Team Avatar on how all living organisms were interconnected and shared the same roots. With this knowledge, Aang was able to tap into his chi and locate the currently lost Appa and Momo within the swamp.[5] Guru Pathik demonstrated a similar ability to connect with his own chi paths and locate the Avatar in Ba Sing Se from his home at the Eastern Air Temple.[6] Under Iroh's tutelage, Zuko was taught lightning redirection, a technique that enabled a firebender to absorb the lightning's immense energy within their body and release it in a more desirable direction. One crucial move in the redirection process is to guide the energy through the stomach, described by Iroh as one's "sea of chi". While practicing the motions for lightning redirection, Iroh asked whether the prince could feel his chi flowing throughout his body to which the latter replied yes.[7]

Combustion Man, an assassin hired by Zuko to eliminate Aang, had the deadly ability to detonate explosions at will from a third eye tattooed on his forehead. A strike in the third eye resulted in his chi being temporarily disrupted and a failure to trigger an effective explosion, which ultimately led to his demise at the Western Air Temple.[8] While residing on the Black Cliffs, Katara attempted to calm an unsteady Aang by guiding him through exercise routines in a hot spring, which would enable one to feel their chi paths flowing smoothly.[9]

The anti-bending Equalist organization has demonstrated the ability to block one's chi. The Dragon Flats borough, located in one of Republic City's residential areas, had one particular chi-blocking training facility where nonbenders were taught the method in secrecy.[10] Their members have immobilized several victims, including Avatar Korra, with this technique.[11]

During her stay at the Foggy Swamp, Toph Beifong taught Avatar Korra how to tap into her chi and locate others.[12] When she was back in Republic City, she used this ability to track down a kidnapped Prince Wu via the city's Spirit Wilds[13] and to receive a vision about Kuvira's army hacking away the roots of the banyan-grove tree.[14]


There is a deep connection between chi and bending, as bending is merely the ability to manipulate one's chi to the point where the energy can extend beyond the body and interact with the environment.[15] Due to chi, the four bending arts are truly one and the same.

Enlightened individuals, such as Guru Pathik and Huu, further explained the concept of chi as the life energy that dwells inside every living being connecting them to each other, their surroundings, and the universe as a whole.[5] Different parts of the human body contain concentrated clusters of chi, better known as chakras, or "pools of energy" as Pathik called them. When unlocked, these chakras are crucial for the Avatar to achieve their full potential, channeling their own energy as well as the energy from the universe.[16]

Chi manipulation

Different types of benders, the Avatar, and even nonbenders have shown skill in the art of chi manipulation, proving it to be a universal skill that can be learned by anyone.[17]

Chi sensing

Aang used chi sensing in the Foggy Swamp.

Humans and higher animals have the potential to become deeply connected to one another, thus enabling people with strong spiritual connections to locate living beings out of sight, and detect their thoughts and emotions by tapping into their chi. Notable practitioners include Pathik, Huu, and Aang.[5][6]


Main article: Chi-blocking

Ty Lee used chi-blocking to disable the bending abilities of her opponents.

Having an unparalleled knowledge of the human body's chi paths and their weak points, people can use chi-blocking to a great extent in battle to incapacitate[18] or paralyze[19] their opponents. This ability can even be used to disable another's ability to bend.[17] Additionally, this art was utilized by members of an organization known as the Equalists, who employed this method as a means to counteract bending.[20]

Chi extracting

Humans who lose their physical bodies after meditating into the Spirit World can potentially regain their physical bodies or "become whole again" by extracting another person's chi from their "dan tien". Extracting the Avatar's chi can supposedly lead to immortality. Hundun is the only known practitioner, claiming to have discovered the technique from "the mystics" after countless ages of searching in the Spirit World.[21]

Chi and the modern bending arts

When Aang entered the Avatar State, chi flowed along the chi paths of his body.

As Iroh explained, chi can be felt swirling around inside one's body and its path can be changed to allow energy to flow in certain directions, which is the basic concept of lightning redirection. He invented this movement by studying waterbenders,[7] who directly use their own chi to mimic the moon's push and pull on the ocean tides.[22]

Combustion Man had the unique ability to gather chi from his stomach - the "sea of chi" - [7] and channel it to his forehead, creating localized explosions via a tattoo over his Light Chakra.[23] Toph taught her metalbending students to feel their "gut furnace" as a means to focus their chi.[24]


Main article: Healing

Korra healed Bolin by redirecting the chi in his body.

A select few waterbenders are born with the ability to heal themselves or another by using water to redirect the chi in a person's body, revitalizing healthy chi energy and speeding up their healing process. Though powerful, healing cannot cure the effects of chi-blocking[19] and other injuries where one's chi paths are blocked or disrupted, like internal wounds[25] and birth defects.[26] Even Katara, renowned for becoming the best healer in the world and being taught by Yagoda, a master in the art, was unable to counter Ty Lee's chi-blocking on the fallen Terra Team soldiers.[19]


Main article: Bloodbending

Lightning Bolt Zolt lost his bending after his chi pathways were blocked.

Bloodbending can be used to sever the connection between a bender and their bending abilities, achieving the same effect as a technique of energybending. This skill has only been demonstrated by Amon and requires direct physical contact between the user's hand and the victim's forehead. According to Katara, the technique "severs" an individual from their bending by blocking active chi pathways, making its effects far more long-standing than chi-blocking and rendering it impervious to all methods of healing. However, only active chi pathways can be severed: Korra was able to use airbending because the pathways involved with the art were still closed when her other bending abilities were removed and thus undetectable to Amon. However, the severed bending can be restored through the use of energybending, as shown by Aang and Korra.[27]


  • In real life, chi is a Chinese concept prevalent in traditional philosophy, medicine, and martial arts. The naming of "chi" comes from the term pronounced in pinyin.
  • Imbalances in one's chi can be corrected by placing several needles on each acupoint.[28]


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  2. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (November 18, 2005). "The Waterbending Master". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 18. Nickelodeon.
  3. Ehasz, Aaron, Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch, Hedrick, Tim, O'Bryan, John (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (March 17, 2006). "The Avatar State". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  4. Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (April 7, 2006). "Return to Omashu". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 3. Nickelodeon.
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  6. 6.0 6.1 Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (October 13, 2006). "Appa's Lost Days". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 16. Nickelodeon.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (June 2, 2006). "Bitter Work". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 9. Nickelodeon.
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  9. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (November 16, 2007). "Nightmares and Daydreams". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 9. Nickelodeon.
  10. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (April 28, 2012). "The Voice in the Night". The Legend of Korra. Book One: Air. Episode 4. Nickelodeon.
  11. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (April 21, 2012). "The Revelation". The Legend of Korra. Book One: Air. Episode 3. Nickelodeon.
  12. Mattila, Katie (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (October 24, 2014). "The Calling". The Legend of Korra. Book Four: Balance. Episode 4. Nick.com.
  13. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (November 14, 2014). "Reunion". The Legend of Korra. Book Four: Balance. Episode 7. Nick.com.
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  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (September 15, 2006). "The Drill". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  20. San Diego Comic-Con 2011
  21. Hedrick, Tim, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Shirahama, Eiro, Jin Ahn, Sung (directors). PlatinumGames. (October 21, 2014). The Legend of Korra. Activision.
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  23. Mattila, Katie (writer) & Dos Santos, Joaquim (director). (October 19, 2007). "The Beach". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  24. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Promise Part Two (May 30, 2012), Dark Horse Comics.
  25. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (November 6, 2006). "Lake Laogai". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 17. Nickelodeon.
  26. Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Filoni, Dave (director). (December 2, 2005). "The Siege of the North, Part 2". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 1. Episode 20. Nickelodeon.
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