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Firebending, one of the four elemental bending arts, is the pyrokinetic ability to control and produce fire. It is unique among the bending arts, as it is the only one in which the performer can generate the element. The first human firebenders lived in a city atop a lion turtle during the era of Raava and the art later spread to the Sun Warriors,[3] the Fire Nation, and the United Republic of Nations.[5][6] The Earth Kingdom also has a small firebending minority.[7][8]

As described by Iroh,[1] fire is the element of power, consisting of overpowering force tempered by the unflinching will to accomplish tasks and desires. However, during the Hundred Year War, a militaristic Fire Nation twisted this into firebending being fueled by rage, hatred, and anger. Firebending draws its power from the sun, and the first human firebenders derived their firebending techniques from the dragons.[3]

Firebending is known for its intense and aggressive attacking style and general lack of adequate defensive moves, although firebenders can modify offensive maneuvers to function as a defense, such as creating large walls of fire[2] or shooting down incoming attacks with fire jabs.


Origin of firebending mural

A mural displaying the origin of firebending.

During the era of Raava, people received the element of fire from the fire lion turtle that was the guardian of their city, who would grant them the power with energybending. They could request it whenever they ventured into the Spirit Wilds and were to return it when they came back. However, Wan stole the power to better his life and that of his impoverished friends, but was captured and banished. He was allowed to keep the power of fire to protect himself and eventually befriended the spirits. As such, he managed to hone his skills by learning the proper way of bending from the dragons that lived in the Spirit Wilds. He developed his style in such a manner that his fire became an extension of his body, rather than a mere tool for protection as the others perceived it. Others learned of his survival and also set out into the Spirit Wilds with the power of fire, no longer wanting to live under the poor conditions they had in the city.[9]

In the years following, people learned firebending from the dragons that had once populated the land. The first people in the era of the Avatar to learn from the dragons were the Sun Warriors, who understood the connection between the fire of their souls, the fire of the dragons, and the sun. In the remains of their once great civilization, Zuko and Aang discovered that firebending represents energy and life, a concept that had been lost to nearly all firebenders in the Hundred Year War. The true meaning of firebending was forgotten as anger, rage and a desire to dominate began to replace the ideals of life and energy, and how they connect to the sun. The Fire Nation Royal Family encouraged this to aid in the propaganda that fire could be used as a tool to destroy and that the Hundred Year War justified.[3]

Firebenders draw their power from the sun and other solar objects, such as comets, as well as the fiery core of the planet.[10] A solar eclipse has the potential to completely negate a firebender's power, which is the result of a direct connection between the sun and firebending.[11] Additionally, after defeating Katara at sunrise during the Siege of the North, Zuko stated that she rose with the moon, but he rose with the sun, further referencing the sun's importance to firebending.[12] Firebenders are also said to draw power from volcanic energy and lightning.[13]


Though firebending children exhibit an instinct to not burn themselves, they can still be a significant danger to those around them as long as they cannot control their powers. To enable parents to take precautions, Fire Nation citizens traditionally subject newborns to a test to determine whether they are firebenders. For this test, the parents (or someone else) acquire a ball of shredded birch bark and cotton seeped in special oils; the ball is fluffed with the fingers until it is "wispy and cloudlike". Finally, the ball is held under the child's nose. Normally, a firebending child's simple breathing and innate ability will cause the ball to catch fire after a few seconds. According to Hei-Ran, a highly experienced firebending teacher, this test almost always works.[14]

However, some newborns are not conclusively identified as firebenders; for example Zuko was almost cast from the Fire Nation Royal Palace as he lacked "spark in [his] eyes" that is typical for most firebenders.[15] For children whose bending is unclear, a challenging, competitive, and aggressive environment is believed to be helpful in drawing out firebending abilities.[16][17]

Fighting style[]

Young Sozin firebends

Prince Sozin firebending.

Firebenders use their chi as a source for their bending. This facet of firebending is a sharp contrast to the other bending arts, which manipulate already present sources of their element, though firebenders can also control or enhance flames nearby.

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. This strategy is probably what makes firebending arguably the most suited to pro-bending out of all the bending arts. Firebending tactics and forms have required little modification for use in pro-bending; the most noticeable difference is the restriction on the use of prolonged fire streams. Nevertheless, quick flurries of kicks and punches allow a pro-bending firebender to retain excellent mobility around the arena while simultaneously trying to push back the members of the opposing team.

Korra defending herself

Korra blocking attacks by circular motion.

Circular motion is also a crucial element to the skill as it seems to "power up" and enhance the firebender's flames. When creating lightning, the firebenders often move their arms in slow, circular motions, similar to waterbenders but with more tension.

Firebending abilities[]

A single spark: A firebender can unleash their emotions into the flames around them.[18]

Zuko blocks Azula's fire

Zuko blocking Azula's fire attack.

Blazing rings and arcs: Spinning kicks or sweeping arm movements create rings and arcs to slice larger, more widely spaced, or evasive targets. Zuko used a circular motion with his feet to create an expanding ring and successfully knocked Azula down during their Comet-Enhanced Agni Kai.[19]

Blocking fire: A skilled firebender can defuse and extinguish an oncoming fire blast from another firebender by using a swift kick, jab, or any other defensive maneuver, allowing them to stop attacks.[20]

Fan the flame: A firebender can focus on growing the flames around themselves.[21] Zuko was the first one to show mastery over this technique, when he augmented the flame of the candles before him when his uncle brought him bad news.[22] Jeong Jeong augmented the fire in his candles while he was discouraging Aang.[2] When Azula scared Chan, the torch behind Azula also fell under her firebending, as it burned bright blue. Zuko later augmented a campfire while confronting his anger.[23] Another example is the fire in the Fire Lord's throne room. When Ozai and Azulon got angry, the flames rose up higher and burned more rapidly. It was also evident when Azula was on the throne and the flames around her turned a dark blue.[24][25]

Zuko augmenting fire

Zuko augmenting fire.

Fire manipulation: Firebenders can also control the size and intensity of any nearby flames and can draw them in to manipulate them at will. Avatar Roku used this method to protect himself and counter an attack by Zhao and his soldiers while Aang channeled his spirit.[26] Another example was when Zuko was attacking Aang in the beach house, as he disintegrated flames Aang used to counter-attack.[27]

Fire blade: A more advanced version of a blazing arc. By narrowing and condensing their flame projections, firebenders can create thin blades of fire to slice through objects without completely destroying them. Azula used this technique to cut open a wall,[28] and Zuko used it to free Azula from Katara's water whips.[29]

Fire circle

Sun Warriors creating fire circles for use in a ritual.

Fire circle: A technique demonstrated by the Sun Warriors. They created a circle of fire and suspended it in the air for an extended period of time.[3] The Tribesmen made these circles with the Eternal Flame just before Zuko and Aang were to be judged by Ran and Shaw.[3]

Hunters firebending

A group of hunters shooting fireballs at Wan.

Fire fists:[30] Another basic ability, but with an emphasis on strict form,[31] jabs and punches produce miniature fireballs and missiles of flame. These can be charged up (refer to "charged attacks" entry) to create larger, slower bursts, or swiftly and repetitively fired to keep opponents off balance.[20]

Fire knives: Blowtorch-like jets which are created from the fist or fingertips to use as close range melee attacks.[18] However, they lack the ability to actually block physical objects. Both Zuko[4][32] and Azula have used this technique, the former to attack Azula, and the latter to hold Kuei hostage during the Coup of Ba Sing Se.[29] Korra used a variant of this technique, creating a blowtorch as opposed to a knife to cut through the chains that were binding Tenzin and his family during the Equalist victory rally.[33] Mako used this technique to threaten Two Toed Ping for information regarding the theft of Future Industries' entire stockpile of technology.[34] Korra also used this technique when getting ready to fight Macao and Lily at the Misty Palms Inn.[35]

Fire lashes: An even further extension of the fire whip/stream, firebenders can create a long lash of fire and bring it down on their enemies, like Azula did to Aang,[28] or create smaller, multiple lashes and envelop an area with fire, like Zuko did.[27]

Jet-stepping: A more precise form of jet propulsion and variation of the dust-stepping and mist-stepping techniques used by earthbenders and waterbenders, respectively, by using small bursts of flames beneath their feet, a firebender can quickly scale buildings. The technique was created by Rangi after she observed Lek using dust-stepping.[36]

Fire stream

Aang and Zuko creating large streams of fire.

Fire streams: A 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 often used this technique to damage or destroy villages and towns.[20]

Fire whip: An extension of a fire stream, this continuous stream of flame has a semi-tactile quality and can be utilized as a whip. The prison guards at the Boiling Rock used this technique to round up the prisoners during a lockdown, and a trainer of the Fire Nation circus employed it to intimidate Appa. Zuko used a larger version of the fire whip in his fight in Ba Sing Se, creating streams of great length for continuous mid-to-long range combat, which he used to counter Katara's water whip technique.[29]

Flame charge: Firebenders can hurtle at their foe with enormous speed and force.[21]

Flame redirection: In a similar fashion to waterbending, firebenders are capable of changing the course of an incoming fire blast and redirecting it back at the attacker using fluid motion. This move exemplifies the use of firebending as an extension of the body and is used infrequently in modern combat in favor of more offensive maneuvers. Wan used this to defend spirits from firebending hunters.[9]

Shield of fire: One of firebending's few defensive techniques, this technique creates a protective shield of fire in front of, or around, a firebender that can deflect attacks and explosions.[20] Jeong Jeong used this technique to shroud himself in flames and take advantage of the resulting distraction to escape from Zhao's men into the woods.[2] Azula has also demonstrated a mastery over this technique by using it to deflect four simultaneous attacks from all four elements and provide herself with a stealthy escape,[28] while Zuko used the technique to stop a combustion attack, although he was still pushed back by the force of the attack.[37] A more advanced version of this technique is the Wall of Flames.

Dancing Dragon step 10

The Dancing Dragon.

The Dancing Dragon: This firebending form was learned from the sacred statues that were hidden atop the ancient civilization of the Sun Warriors. It involves a more fluid and natural form of firebending. It is a simple, yet possibly very powerful firebending form, as it also brings advantages for more skilled firebenders; upon integrating it into his own style, Zuko's abilities improved to the point that he was able to duel evenly with Azula, successfully dispelling her attacks instead of overcoming them or trying to endure them. It is also one of the few firebending techniques with defensive capabilities. There is a circular nature to the technique, which is unusual in firebending; the only other known techniques to incorporate smooth, circular movements are the fire circle and lightning generation.[3]

Firebending master level[]

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 prior to their first encounter. Zhao may have charged some of his attacks before releasing them when he fought Aang. Azula used this skill against Aang while they were battling atop the drill.[38] During the Battle in the Crystal Catacombs, Zuko used this technique against both Aang and Katara, and Iroh used a charged fire blast to defend himself against several Dai Li agents.[29] During the battle at Wulong Forest, using comet-enhanced firebending, Phoenix King Ozai and several Imperial Firebenders unleashed charged fire blasts of enormous size from airships in an attempt to carry out their scorched earth plan,[19] and Ozai later used it again to break Aang's rock sphere during their battle.[39] Iroh used a charged attack to destroy Ba Sing Se's thick Inner Wall during the liberation of the city.[19]

Fire bomb: Used as a short-range attack, a firebender can create a flame at the end of a limb and thrust the flame down in an explosive burst. Zuko used this technique once,[28] and both Zuko and Aang performed it at the beginning of their routine on Ember Island.[40] Enhanced by the power of Sozin's Comet, Phoenix King Ozai used an extremely powerful variant of a fire bomb to break through Aang's earth shield.[39]

Fire comet: An advanced form of the fire stream in which the user pressurizes the fire into a ball and shoots it toward the enemy. Iroh employed this technique to break through the Inner Wall during the liberation of Ba Sing Se.[19]

Fire missiles: A more advanced form of the fire stream, powerful firebenders can shoot long streams of fire that follow the target as they move. This technique was used by both Ozai and Aang during the battle at Wulong Forest.[19][39]

Fire pinwheel: A whirling disk of flame, capable of being used at long range. Azula performed this technique while pursuing Aang in Omashu,[41] as did Korra to save Mako from a provoked spirit vine.[42]

Intertwined fire stream: An advanced move based on the basic fire stream. The performer directs two powerful fire streams at their opponent, though by intertwining the two streams, a massive, comet-shaped fire stream is formed that has more power than the single stream. Zuko used this technique in the Crystal Catacombs,[29] and later again in his Agni Kai with Azula.[19]

Azula's blue fire jets

Azula propelling herself.

Jet propulsion: Skilled firebending masters are able to conjure huge flames to propel themselves at high speeds on the ground or through the air. This technique can normally only be used for short periods of time, but when augmented by Sozin's Comet or the Avatar State it can be used for sustained levitation and flight. It was first demonstrated by Azula during her battle with Aang in the Crystal Catacombs. During the fight, Azula released the flames she used to propel herself horizontally, which blasted Aang backward.[29] Azula later used this skill to propel herself through the air over the lake surrounding the Boiling Rock prison as she was pursuing Zuko, Sokka, and Suki during their escape.[43] When Azula was knocked off an airship, she used a smaller burst of fire to propel herself on to a cliff, saving herself from falling to her death.[44] Azula and Zuko both executed this technique while powered by Sozin's Comet during their Agni Kai, and Phoenix King Ozai and Jeong Jeong also utilized this skill and with much greater proficiency, the former during the battle at Wulong Forest with Aang and the latter in the liberation of Ba Sing Se.[19] In the course of a derailed diplomatic mission relating to the Southern Reconstruction Project, Zuko used jet propulsion to save Kuei from falling to death at the Bridge of No Return,[45] and it was also used by General Iroh of the United Forces as he flew through the air above Republic City while defending against Equalist planes. This technique can also be used to briefly run across a vertical surface as Mako and Korra did during an Equalist rally.[33] Korra also used it to propel herself through the air during her fight with Zaheer.[46]

Pressurized fire stream: A more powerful form of the fire stream, achieved by pressurizing the fire before it is released. It covers more area than a regular fire stream. Phoenix King Ozai and the Imperial Firebenders used this during their assault on Wulong Forest.[19]

Battle for Ba Sing Se

Jeong Jeong creating a wall of flames.

Wall of flames or pyre wall: One of firebending's few defensive techniques, either a situated explosion or controlled inferno, this wall of concentrated flames acts as a barrier to incoming attacks.[47] It is a more powerful version of a fire shield. Providing a literal wall of flames, it protects against attacks. Jeong Jeong used this technique to stop a group of Fire Navy patrol boats, his control precise enough that his flames burned on water,[2] while Azula used this technique in her duel with Katara.[29] Apart from its passive defensive capabilities by prohibiting the advance of one's opponent, the wall of flames can also be used to push the aggressors back, such as demonstrated by Jeong Jeong who used this technique during the passing of Sozin's Comet to push back several Fire Nation tanks.[19]

Avatar level firebending[]

Enhanced heat control: Only an Avatar using the Avatar State has demonstrated the ability to alter the temperature of solid matter from afar without hurting anyone touching it. Avatar Roku used this technique at the Crescent Island Fire Temple while possessing Aang's body in the Avatar State to discharge a blast of fire so intense and precise that it knocked Zhao and his troops off their feet while simultaneously disintegrating the chains that bound Sokka, Katara, Shyu, and Zuko to vertical columns in the room without causing any observable damage to their skin or clothes.[26]

Long-range multiple fire whips: An Avatar-level firebender can produce fire whips, the most being five at once. They are capable of reaching across long distances, displayed when Aang used the technique hundreds of feet above Ozai.[39] This may have been a result of his firebending being augmented by Sozin's Comet or because he was in the Avatar State at the time, or possibly a combination of both. 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."[26]

Special techniques[]

Azula's blue flames

Blue fire.

Blue fire: Only Azula has demonstrated the ability to bend completely blue flames,[20] which are hotter than the orange flames produced by most other firebenders.[48] The production of blue fire is attributed to prodigious skill in firebending.[49]

Breath of fire: A special technique that allows the user to warm their body with firebending and breathing control, similar to an airbender's heat regulation ability. Although this technique has limits, as it could not entirely protect Zuko from the freezing cold of the far north pole, it is shown to be effective against other cold environments, such as the coolers of the Boiling Rock.[50][30]

Combustion Man's attack


Combustionbending: Combustionbending is an ability employed by a select few skilled benders, most notably; Thapa, Yingsu, Xiaoyun, P'Li, and Combustion Man, which allows the bender to ignite objects with their mind instead of traditional firebending methods. Combustionbenders concentrate the energy through a tattooed third eye to project a ray of heat which detonates with great force, producing situated explosions with a great deal of precision. This technique is extremely effective and very destructive, capable of use at close and long-range; it can completely disintegrate hill-sized boulders and instantaneously evaporate large bodies of water with ease.[23] It can also be employed to burn things without setting an explosion, similar to a lens focusing sunlight. The beam can also be curved, as demonstrated by P'Li.[8] However, the technique has the potential to be just as hazardous to the user as it can be to their surroundings, as 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.[51] The sole known weakness of the combustion ray is that it is heavily reliant 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.[52]

Colorful fire

Ran and Shaw's dragon fire represents the true meaning of firebending.

Dragon fire: When the dragons, Ran and Shaw, unleashed a vortex of fire, several other colors of fire beyond the usual yellow, orange, and blue flames were present, including white, purple, green, pink, and red fire.[3] While defending his family during an ambush, Zuko also showed himself capable of creating a fire vortex with hints of green and purple flames.[53]

Energy reading: Similar to healing, firebenders are capable of sensing and guiding heat along energy pathways within a person's body.[54] A Bhanti shaman used this technique to ascertain the cause of Avatar Korra's memory loss, concluding it to be the result of a dark spirit infecting her.[9] Nyahitha was also familiar with this technique, and used it to partially repair the spiritual damage done to Avatar Kuruk.[54]

Fire breathing: Fire breathing involves the user firebending out of their mouth, mixing air from the lungs with the flame, creating a wider, hotter blast.[29] Although it can occur spontaneously and without prior training in moments of great emotional turmoil for a firebender,[39][55] the conscious and controlled use of fire breathing does requires training. The Sun Warriors were knowledgeable about breathing exercises that allowed particularly powerful fire breathing; these techniques were eventually mastered by Iroh after much training.[56] It was the employment of this firebending style in the heat of battle that earned General Iroh the nickname, "The Dragon of the West",[29] even though the knowledge and use of this technique is quite widespread.[29][57] It is also useful for stealth, as it requires no hand motions and can thus be impossible to predict. Tea can also serve as a catalyst for this technique, as shown by Iroh.[29]

Wall of fiery breath: Similar to the "wall of flames" technique while using the "breath of fire", a firebender can breathe a gout of flame that keeps foes back, allowing the firebender to maneuver away from foes.[18] With its wide, encompassing range, the technique allows for staving off multiple opponents.[30]

Heat redirection

Sozin redirecting heat.

Heat control: Many firebenders have demonstrated the ability to control heat in various forms and alter the temperature of solids,[58] liquids,[58] and gases.[59] This can occur involuntarily, as when Hei-Ran's effort to suppress her emotions caused the air temperature of the room she inhabited to increase,[60] or intentionally, as when Fire Lord Sozin cooled down volcanic lava by absorbing the emanating heat into his body and redirecting it out through his fingertips.[61] The generation of heat without producing flame has also made it possible for firebenders to create steam,[62] smoke,[63][64] concussive force,[65] and combustion.[52][8] For example, Rangi and Koulin were able to trade blows that released pressurized shockwaves and blasts of heat rather than fire.[65] Firebenders can even heat physical objects while touching them without burning their skin,[66] such as when Iroh blew steam onto one of his metal shackles until it glowed red without damaging his wrist[58] or when Zuko melted ice with his bare hands while underwater without injuring his fingertips.[12]

Enhanced firebending[]

Ozai's enhanced firebending

Ozai creating fire enhanced by Sozin's Comet.

Due to its solar augmentation, firebending is slightly stronger during the day, being at its most powerful around 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, generate exceptionally powerful lightning bolts, and perform other feats of firebending which they would usually be incapable of executing.[19]

Opposing bending art[]

Firebending is the opposing art to waterbending, though they share facets of self-control, diversity, and variation in strength due to external forces and strong emotions. Firebenders use quick strong punches and kicks to shoot fire, while waterbenders use smooth 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.[20] However, in 170 AG these differences are no longer as strong as in the centuries before. Many waterbenders of the United Republic of Nations, a new-founded country of the world, have adapted a fighting style which is based primarily on sheer strength and speed. For example, criminals, task force members, and even Councilman Tarrlok tried to defeat their opponents with surprising, aggressive first strikes, a tactic typical of firebenders. However, this new fighting style is restricted mainly to the waterbenders of the republic.

Katara and Zuko fight

Zuko fighting Katara.

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 demonstrated during a duel fought between Zuko and Katara; at night, during the full moon, Katara quickly battered Zuko into submission and froze him against a wall; however, at sunrise, Zuko effortlessly melted the ice holding him in place and defeated Katara with one short fire blast.[12]

Like all bending arts, firebending is balanced out as to not be more or less powerful than the other arts. It has repeatedly been illustrated that it is the skill and prowess of the user that determines victory.


Firebenders sometimes incorporate weapons into firebending, such as Zuko's utilization of firebending in conjunction with his dual broadswords, shaping and channeling the flames down the blade of his weapons.[25]


Certain firebenders are able to generate and manipulate lightning by separating the yin and yang energies. Lightning, also known as "the cold-blooded fire", is considered the purest form of firebending and the most powerful and dangerous technique.[67] Its use was initially available only to a select few firebending prodigies and masters. However, by the time of Avatar Korra, the art, while not widespread, is known by enough people to make lightning generation a decently-paid job at a power plant in Republic City.

Some experienced firebenders are unable to generate lightning because they do not possess inner peace. If a firebender who harbors inner turmoil tries to generate lightning, it would only cause a miniature explosion. Zuko, for example, was unable to generate lightning because of his inner conflict with both his father, Fire Lord Ozai, and his sister, Azula.[1]

Iroh generates lightning

Iroh generating lightning.

Lightning generation: Lightning generation is the ability to generate and direct lightning. It requires peace of mind and a complete absence of emotion.[1] So far, only seven named firebenders have demonstrated themselves as capable of this art: Xu Ping An, Iroh, Ozai, Azula, Mako, Lightning Bolt Zolt, and Zuko's grandson, General Iroh. During Korra's lifetime, many other firebenders demonstrated the ability to generate lightning, particularly in creating energy for Republic City's power plant.

Lightning redirection: After observing the redirecting techniques of waterbending, Iroh developed a technique to redirect the course of lightning strikes by absorbing it through one arm, guiding it through the stomach, and out the other arm.[1] Only Iroh, Zuko, Aang, Azula, and Mako have demonstrated the ability to redirect lightning. Lightning Bolt Zolt is known to have been capable of redirecting lightning.[68]


Equator: A firebender's power is at its maximum potential nearest to the equator. This effect increases significantly during the summer.[13]

Warm climate: A firebender is much stronger and controlled whenever they can draw energy from heat. The climate conditions of a battleground can turn the tides of the fight in a firebender's favor, if the weather is hot enough.[13]

Generation of element: Firebenders are the only benders capable of generating their own element. In addition to this, they can manipulate an external source of fire in the more traditional sense as other benders.[20]


Extreme cold: Cold temperatures reduce or even completely negate a firebender's abilities. The Boiling Rock prison used insulated chambers, the coolers, and piped in cold air as a punishment for those prisoners who used firebending, as the freezers prevented them from bending.[30] The same principle was used to detain P'Li in the depths of the icy tundra of the North Pole.[69] However, skilled firebenders in control of breath of fire can use this technique to stay warm and keep using their firebending.[30]

Full moon: With waterbending becoming stronger with it and firebending being water's opposite element, the full moon weakens firebending to some degree.[13]

Lack of defense: The major combat weakness behind the applied art of firebending is its confrontational nature. Due to its aggressiveness and pursuit of continuous assault, it traditionally lacks basic defensive techniques, which can leave an inexperienced bender considerably vulnerable to enemy counterattacks, though masters such as Jeong Jeong can effectively use firebending for defense.[2] It also consumes a vast amount of energy leaving the bender at a considerable disadvantage in a prolonged battle. A common mark of a firebending master is the ability to sustain attacks for long periods.

Zuko's weak firebending

Zuko's firebending was briefly weakened due to losing his drive to capture Aang.

Lack of drive: In order to firebend properly, one must have "inner fire", their drive, without which one's firebending becomes weak.[14] After joining the Avatar, Zuko's firebending became noticeably weaker, because for three years, hunting the Avatar was his drive. Aang, being traumatized by his first experience with firebending, was too afraid to "give it some juice", as said by Zuko. Both overcame their problems after meeting with the masters Ran and Shaw, who taught them the true meaning of firebending, restoring their drives.[3]

Other circumstances: A firebender's power may decrease in any situation which might extinguish their flames, such as being underwater or caught in the rain. Zuko overcame this while underwater in the North Pole by melting ice by heating it with direct contact.[12]

Poor breath control: According to Iroh, true firebending power comes not from physical size or strength, but rather from the very control of one's breath. This was first explained and demonstrated by Iroh, an overweight, squat man with no exceptional strength or physique; however, this did not stop him from being one of the most powerful firebenders in the world.[20] Firebender discipline stresses self-restraint and breath control as a means of directing and containing the fire manifested. Poor breath control means dangerously poor control of any fire generated. For this reason, breathing exercises are one of the most critical first steps for beginning firebenders.[2]

Poor self-control: Though anger, rage, and other intense emotions can amplify the power of firebending, it can lead to dangerous explosions or wildfires and can also cause any nearby flames to burn out of control. The enlightened firebending master Jeong Jeong repeatedly stressed this importance during his instruction of Aang, who accidentally burned Katara when he refused to listen,[2] and a lack of self-control was demonstrated by Zhao during his fight with Aang.[2]

Solar eclipse: Firebending's connection to the sun results in a lessening of strength during the night and a complete loss of firebending during a solar eclipse.[11]

Elemental symbol[]

Firebending emblem

The firebending symbol.

The symbol for fire and firebending is a stylized, tulip-shaped flame forked into three tongues that curve outward like flower petals, with a counter-clockwise spiral at the base. The symbol is featured in connection with Fire Nation spirituality.

Spirituality and firebending[]

In 0 AG, 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 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 Avatar, Aang. Aang succeeded in his quest to defeat Ozai, and he satisfied his spiritual needs by not taking Ozai's life but simply by removing his ability to firebend.[39]

Dragons firebending

Ran and Shaw demonstrating the beauty and true essence of firebending.

The Fire Nation's religious clerics, the Fire Sages, once served the Avatar, but they were eventually forced to endorse the imperial war. Shyu was the only Fire Sage to remain true to his allegiance to the Avatar,[26] 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 a solar eclipse can temporarily negate their powers entirely,[11] much like waterbenders' powers are negated during a lunar eclipse.[50] 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.[70] Eating chili may also help firebenders bring out their bending talents.[71]

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 cursed by it, much like Jeong Jeong.[2] However, its roots and nature are fully explored by Ran, Shaw, and the Sun Warriors; properly controlled, fire is life and industry, comforting and creative.[3]

Agni Kai[]

Main article: Agni Kai
Agni Kai between Zhao and Zuko

Zuko fought an Agni Kai against Zhao.

Among firebenders, or at least those of the upper-class, disputes of honor are settled by a challenge to an Agni Kai, or "fire duel", a traditional firebender duel that is centuries old. Such a duel is conducted in an open-air arena, and it may be witnessed by spectators. The traditional time for an Agni Kai is sunset or sunrise, although it is not a requirement. While not an explicit condition, in the post-Sozin Fire Nation, Agni Kai have become almost exclusively duels to the death. The victor may spare the defeated, but it is generally looked upon as an act of weakness rather than generosity. The duel is traditionally fought bare-chested and the contestants may have one or more "seconds", i.e. people who stand around in that person's corner of the field and may attend to their champion before and after the duel, or bear them away in case they die fighting. The opening pose of an Agni Kai is squatting with back turned to the opponent. During this phase, both contestants traditionally wear a red-and-black shawl over their bare shoulders, which is dropped upon turning to face each other. It is considered dishonorable to attack from behind in an Agni Kai, especially for a defeated opponent who has been spared by the victor.[72] Notable Agni Kais include Zuko's first public Agni Kai, against his father,[24] the Agni Kai between Zuko and Zhao,[72] and most notably the Comet-Enhanced Agni Kai between Zuko and Azula, which was fought for the right to the throne.[19]

The Last Airbender[]

When giving his input on firebenders in the film, M. Night Shyamalan said that he made the choice to have the firebenders in the film only be able to control pre-existing fire to avoid them being "overpowered". However, this puts firebenders at a great disadvantage when in the Northern Water Tribe. It would also make an Agni Kai quite difficult.

It was stated at the end of the film that the power of Sozin's Comet is required for all firebenders to be able to generate fire "from their own chi", just like the "Highest of firebenders", like Iroh was in the movie. Thus, when the Fire Nation begins invading a city or town, they bombard it with fire balls so as to set fires and give their firebenders a source. Only the most skilled firebenders have the ability to create fire from nothing but their own chi; they also show the ability to be unharmed by fire.


Firebending moves are based mainly on the Northern Shaolin style, also known as shaolinquan.[73] Aspects of the firebending combat style can be seen through a similar emphasis on highly technical kicking strikes, fundamentally strong movements, and the usage of swift, direct maneuvers. Northern Shaolin is an external style that uses long, aggressive techniques that explode and drive through the opponent.

The Northern Shaolin style emphasizes "kicking over hand fighting", or prioritizing one's legwork as opposed to the arms. Kicks are meant to "extend as far as possible without compromising balance.[74] A few techniques from Northern Seven Star Praying Mantis are also prominent.[74] These martial art variants feature quick, successive attacks that utilize momentary bursts of extreme power, much like an explosion, called ging lik. It optimizes a strong continuous offense, sacrificing defense for greater power, the principle behind a pre-emptive strike, and as such, firebending is categorized as the most aggressive of the four bending arts.

Close quarters firebending and distanced firebending combat use completely different styles of the bending art.[75] Particular examples of such styles include:

  • Changquan – Also known as "long fist". A fighting style that involves acrobatics and agile, graceful movements, it emphasizes long range movements and stances combined with speed and power.[76] It has many derivatives:
    • Northern Shaolin Kung Fu – used particularly in close-ranges, utilizing strong kicks and quick punches.
  • Southern Dragon Claw – mirrors a dragon "swooping down on its prey". The form contains close-range techniques for "seizing and holding that utilize the hand."[74]
  • Xingyiquan – The classic "Seven Stars"; or the hands, feet, elbows, hips, knees, shoulders, and head; are incorporated into most firebending.[74]

Notable firebenders[]

G indicates known ability to generate lightning.
R indicates known ability to redirect lightning.
C indicates known ability to use combustionbending.

Avatar: The Last Airbender and related comics[]

The Legend of Korra and related comics[]

Chronicles of the Avatar[]

Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game[]


  • Based on the Chinese text of Jeong Jeong's wanted poster, the word "firebending" is written as 制火術, which is directly translated as "the technique of creating fire".[2]
  • Firebenders have naturally warm bodies, can project heat, and increase the temperature around them.[78][62]
  • Firebenders' inner fire can help them resist poisoning.[79]
  • Firebenders are not immune to their own flames but have an instinctual level of control to prevent harming themselves.[66]
  • Iroh, Azula, and Mako are the only known characters with the ability to both generate and redirect lightning.
    • Lightning Bolt Zolt also had this ability, teaching Mako how to do both acts,[68] before he lost his bending to Amon.[80]
  • The firebending salute is meant to look like a flame.[81]
  • Even after the Hundred Year War, firebenders have a reputation of violence, as Bolin, Mako, Hiroshi, and Asami Sato have lost a family member at the hands of a firebender. Amon was able to use this fact as a way of gaining trust from Republic City's nonbenders, claiming that a firebender had killed his family.
  • Zuko's fire daggers are inspired by the Bak Sil Lum double dagger form.[76]
  • Firebending was the first bending art mastered by the first Avatar, Wan.
  • Lavabending was initially stated to be a combination of firebending and earthbending that only Avatars could perform.[83] However, in The Legend of Korra, it was shown to solely be a subskill of earthbending.[84]
  • The firebending capabilities of newborns are tested by holding a ball of tinder underneath their nose and seeing if it alights.[14]
  • The comet-enhanced fire blast used by Ozai to set fire to the Earth Kingdom was referred to as "the seed of fire" by supervising animation director Oh Seung Hyun.[85]
  • Most of the sound effects for firebending were created by processing noises Benjamin Wynn and Jeremy Zuckerman made simulating explosions.[86]


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See also[]

External links[]

There are a variety of real-world influences on firebending, including: