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Martial arts,[1][2][3] alternatively described as martial training,[4] are a collective term for systems and traditions of combat.[5] There are many different styles, moves, and techniques used by all kinds of individuals for various purposes such as self-defense. Practiced across the world, the four nations have developed many distinct styles of martial arts.[5][6] Several of these integrate bending and the use of weaponry or technology.[4][6]

Martial arts have gradually changed over centuries.[4] By the time the United Republic of Nations was founded, new martial arts had evolved and old ones had been adapted into new forms. Despite this, ancient forms are still respected and used.

History[]

It is unknown when the first forms of martial arts emerged and who invented them. The first Avatar, Wan, learned the Dancing Dragon firebending style from a spirit dragon.[7] Later, other firebenders, such as the Sun Warriors, also based their bending styles on the teachings of the dragons.[8] The fighting styles of earthbending and airbending were also believed to be based on the forms practiced by badgermoles and flying bisons, respectively.[9] Over time, martial arts traditions arose and were greatly valued and closely guarded by certain groups.[10]

In the era of Avatar Roku, a spread of previously rare martial arts took place. Chi-blocking was taught in the Fire Nation by Air Nun Rioshon.[11] Talented masters such as the legendary archer Uzuku Yuyan faced pressure to share their techniques with others.[12][13]

Terra Team defeated

In the Hundred Year War, martial arts masters like Ty Lee were valued due to their ability to decimate entire enemy units.

In the Hundred Year War, martial arts became a matter of survival for many people. In some cases, villages hired martial arts masters to learn how to defend themselves from roving armies.[14] Martial arts masters, both benders and nonbenders, found employment in the armies of the different war factions.[15][16][17] Elite martial artists like the Yuyan Archers or Ty Lee could give their side a great advantage in battle, even against experienced benders.[18][19] Accordingly, the various war factions tried to enlist as many martial artists as possible while targeting and killing those of their opponents. One martial artist, Master Tidao, was hunted by both the Fire Nation as well as the Earth Kingdom.[20]

After the end of the Hundred Year War, various different martial arts continued to develop and adapt. Cranefish Town (which later became Republic City) quickly became a center for martial artists and other fighters.[21][3] Institutes like the Uwir family's "Raven Eagle Hall for Martial Arts" in Republic City gained a high reputation.[3][22]

In modern times, nonbenders in the United Republic of Nations learn hand-to-hand combat to defend themselves from bending criminals; for example, Asami Sato learned unarmed combat from the best self-defense teachers in Republic City.[21] Some of the city's martial artists like the Cranefish Irregulars have also abused their power.[23] On a worldwide scale, new developments in technology gave rise to new martial arts, some of which greatly empowered nonbenders.[24]

Types of martial arts[]

Armed combat[]

Armed combat encompasses a wide range of tools and strategies, including elemental manipulation, technological development, and weapons usage.[25]

Bending[]

Main article: Bending arts
See also: Airbending training, Firebending training, Earthbending training, and Waterbending training

Combat benders generally learn martial arts to unlock their abilities' full potential. Bending without proper martial training is generally much weaker in a battle.[7][26]

Technology[]

Lieutenant electroshocking Bolin

In modern times, technology-based martial arts grew in importance, as exemplified by the Equalists' techniques.

Technology-based combat has also a long tradition, though its importance greatly grew in modern times.[4] The use of electrified devices became especially prominent during the Anti-bending Revolution. Various kinds of devices could electrocute opponents and render them unconscious. Gaseous devices could also be wielded to release non-lethal or deadly fumes in combat.[24]

The creation of mecha tanks and suits was a major step forward in technological combat. These were initially created by the Equalists, their use later spread to other groups and nations. These armored machines give their pilots major advantages in a fight; increasing their speed, strength, durability, and providing them with various weapons. Over time, their designs were upgraded to further improve their combat capabilities.[27][28]

Weaponry[]

See also: Swordsmanship training

Many different martial arts using weapons exist,[5][4] including the expert use of bows, swords, boomerangs, and staffs.[4] Weapons experts such as the leader of the Patola Mountain Range dojo and the swordmaster Piandao commanded great respect throughout the ages.[14][29] There exist so-called "martial orders" that pass down their techniques. Over time, however, the use of weapons adapted to the conditions of the world, with some styles rising and falling in prominence.[4]

The Kyoshi Warriors are famous for specializing in using war fans, though they also use various other weapons and fighting techniques.[30][31]

Unarmed combat[]

Unarmed martial arts have a long tradition in the world, especially for nonbenders.[32][33][9] Some ancient martial arts techniques were closely guarded secrets and were known to only a select few people.[9][32] It is known that the Air Nomads possessed documents which enabled potent fighting techniques, but closely guarded them to avoid their misuse.[32]

Chi-blocking[]

Main article: Chi-blocking

One of the most famous hand-to-hand combat styles is chi-blocking, a powerful martial arts technique capable of incapacitating bending or completely blocking a person's ability to move at all.[34]

Tai chi[]

Tai chi is a martial art based on waterbending. It is often practiced for health benefits and meditation, and is particularly common among the older generation in Republic City.[35][36]

Hybrid styles[]

Numerous techniques have been developed throughout the centuries that not only took inspiration from other styles, as when Kuruk let his waterbending forms influence his earthbending or when Iroh studied waterbenders to invent a new firebending skill,[37][38] but also sought to blend existing practices together. Jesa and Kyoshi, for example, used a pair of war fans to augment their respective bending abilities, Jesa compensating for a spiritual taint and Kyoshi gaining a level of dexterity she previously lacked.[39][40] Zuko and Gow later used dual broadswords and twin hammers to similarly complement their bending with weaponry,[41] as did Combustion Man by replacing his lost limbs with metal prosthetics.[42] Kuvira, meanwhile, used her metalbending to maneuver her giant mecha suit.[43]

Teaching and traditions[]

Suki trains the Fire Nation villagers

Suki taught Giya and her friends the martial arts of the Kyoshi Warriors.

The kind of instruction on martial arts greatly varies between different styles and teachers. Many martial traditions are passed down in schools,[3] dojos,[14] orders,[4] and monastic communities.[44] In other cases, individual martial artists are extremely selective regarding their students, teaching only very few at a time.[29] Some martial arts instructors wander the lands, teaching those who request it.[11]

Famous martial arts teachers[]

Trivia[]

  • During the creation of the Avatar franchise, real-world martial arts were extensively researched and integrated into the drafts. Martial arts master Kisu worked as the main fighting instructor and consultant. Sifu Kisu related the four bending arts to actual styles of fighting in real life, in order to give bending in the series authenticity.[47][48]
    • Tai chi formed the basis of waterbending.
    • Hung Gar formed the basis of earthbending. Toph Beifong's seismic sense and unique method of earthbending was based on the Chu Gar Southern Praying Mantis style.
    • The Northern Shaolin system formed the basis of firebending.
    • Baguazhang formed the basis of airbending.[48]
  • Pro-bending is heavily influenced by aerial acrobatic martial arts in concurrence with MMA and UFC styles of fighting.[48]

References[]

  1. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Quickstart, Version 1.0, 2021, p. 10.
  2. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 6.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Republic City, Version 1.0, 2023, p. 32.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 117.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Descriptions, Avatar: Generations. Navigator Games & Square Enix Mobile London (August 11, 2022). Square Enix.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 122.
  7. 7.0 7.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (October 18, 2013). "Beginnings, Part 1". The Legend of Korra. Book Two: Spirits. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  8. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (July 15, 2008). "The Firebending Masters". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Transcript:San Diego Comic-Con 2011
  10. Yee, F. C. (author). (July 19, 2022). Chapter Thirty-Six, "Exposure". The Dawn of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 50.
  12. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 44.
  13. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Core Book, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 49.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 "Mountain Passage", Avatar: Generations. Navigator Games & Square Enix Mobile London (August 11, 2022). Square Enix.
  15. Throughout Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  16. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Wan Shi Tong's Adventure Guide, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 126.
  17. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Character: Piandao.
  18. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Character: The Yuyan Archers.
  19. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (September 15, 2006). "The Drill". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  20. "Razor Reef", Avatar: Generations. Navigator Games & Square Enix Mobile London (December 14, 2022). Square Enix.
  21. 21.0 21.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (May 19, 2012). "The Aftermath". The Legend of Korra. Book One: Air. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  22. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Republic City, Version 1.0, 2023, p. 33.
  23. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Republic City, Version 1.0, 2023, p. 35.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Throughout The Legend of Korra.
  25. Throughout Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.
  26. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). North and South Part Three (April 26, 2017), Dark Horse Comics.
  27. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Republic City, Version 1.0, 2023, p. 94.
  28. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Republic City, Version 1.0, 2023, p. 97.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (October 12, 2007). "Sokka's Master". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 4. Nickelodeon.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Wan Shi Tong's Adventure Guide, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 32.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Hicks, Faith Erin (artist), Peter, Cris (colorist), Heisler, Michael (letterer). "Shells" (May 3, 2014), Dark Horse Comics.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 Yee, F. C. (author). (July 18, 2023). Chapter Twenty-Three, "Circumstantial Evidence". The Legacy of Yangchen. Amulet Books.
  33. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 16, 2019). Chapter Twenty-Four, "The Face of Tradition". The Rise of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  34. Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (April 7, 2006). "Return to Omashu". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 3. Nickelodeon.
  35. The Legend of Korra: An Avatar's Chronicle, p. 28.
  36. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Republic City, Version 1.0, 2023, p. 40.
  37. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Fourteen, "The Message". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  38. Ehasz, Aaron (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (June 2, 2006). "Bitter Work". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 9. Nickelodeon.
  39. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 16, 2019). Chapter Sixteen, "The Agreement". The Rise of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  40. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 16, 2019). Chapter Twenty, "The Avatar's Masters". The Rise of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  41. Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (May 12, 2006). "Zuko Alone". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  42. Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch, Hedrick, Tim (writers) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (July 14, 2008). "The Western Air Temple". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 12. Nickelodeon.
  43. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (December 12, 2014). "Kuvira's Gambit". The Legend of Korra. Book Four: Balance. Episode 11. Nick.com.
  44. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Wan Shi Tong's Adventure Guide, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 139.
  45. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Wan Shi Tong's Adventure Guide, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 33.
  46. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Wan Shi Tong's Adventure Guide, Version 1.0, 2022, p. 35.
  47. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan & Sifu Kisu (October 30, 2007). "Sokka's Master" commentary. Book 3: Fire, Volume 1 DVD.
  48. 48.0 48.1 48.2 Kisu on The Legend of Korra. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved on April 11, 2012.
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