The symbol for water and waterbending is a circle comprised of a stylized rightward-facing ocean wave, with three spiral crests, breaking over three wavy diagonal lines representing water. It also shows how the moon and ocean spirit work together. The symbol is featured in connection with Northern Water Tribe spirituality, and on the pendant worn by Katara, originally carved by a Waterbender named Pakku for her grandmother as an engagement present.
.:The Art of Waterbending:. Supposedly the people of the Water Tribe first learned Waterbending by observing how the moon pushed and pulled the tides of the ocean. They then learned how to do it themselves.
According to the episode "The Waterbending Scroll," the word 'waterbending' is written in Chinese as 截水神功, which is best translated as "The Divine Ability to Halt Water".
Waterbending is based on the style of Tai Chi, which is a martial art that features slow movements and elegant forms that evoke the feel of flowing water. Waterbending's strength is its defensive capabilities. Unlike some other bending disciplines, Waterbending's defensive maneuvers focus on control through turning an opponent's own strength against him, rather than directly harming the opponent. There are three known styles of Waterbending that have been shown in the series to date: Northern, Southern, and Foggy Swamp style. Others may be revealed as the series progresses.
According to Iroh, water is the element of change. Waterbending provides a versatility of experience. The extent of the Waterbenders' power ranges from creating small, lashing whips and waves to massive tsunamis and walls of water. Waterbenders can freez, melt, evaporate or condense the water they manipulate at will. Changing the phase of water allows for multiple techniques in the course of a battle, from encasing an opponent in ice to hiding behind a veil of mist. Waterbenders are also able to manipulate water pressure, allowing for techniques such as grabbing things and cutting through objects. One high-level move suitable for a powerful Waterbender involves engendering and riding within a whirlpool-like pillar of water, nicknamed the "Water Snake", in accordance to the waterspout's constantly shifting and coiling movements.
So far, the only times a weapon has been used with Waterbending is when Avatar Kyoshi uses her fans to create a wave in "Avatar Day," and in "The Earth King," when Aang used his staff to freeze water. It has been stated that, given their almost "Samurai-like" cutting techniques, a katana or a cane sword would be the best weapon suited for a Waterbender.
Breath of Ice:
Although it is never named in the series, unlike the breath of fire, this technique has been seen since Book 1: Water--in “Jet”, near the end of the episode when Katara, having already soaked him with water, used this technique to pin Jet to a tree after he had admitted to have done something to her brother Sokka. This technique is achieved by taking a deep breath and exhaling the air out as a cloud of freezing mist. Katara has even used this technique in Book 3: Fire, in the “The Awakening” to stop the Fire Navy ship they had hijacked from sinking by freezing the water seeping in through a hole with ice after another warship had blasted the hole into their ship.
A member of the Foggy Swamp Tribe, Huu, has illustrated that Waterbenders can manipulate the vines and roots of plants by bending the ample amount of water within them. Going further, a skilled Waterbender is able to extract the water from plants for more effective utilization, albeit leaving behind withered, dead remains of the former plant life.
The highest skill levels of Waterbending include the most powerful technique among all four Bending Arts, Bloodbending. The technique is only possible under the power of the full moon, when a Waterbender's power is at his or her peak. At close range, an expert Waterbender literally uses an opponent's body against him or her by harnessing the ample amount of water within the human body to control his or her opponent like a puppet; without killing the victim. Bloodbending can be used on more than one opponent, as seen when a younger
Hama, an arrested member of the Southern Water Tribe was the one to discover and call it "bloodbending", after her years of observation that "where there is life there is water", followed by experimentation and practice during the nights of the full moon, perfecting her control on the prison rats in her cell during her confinement, She escaped by using bloodbending on one of the guards forcing him to unlock her cage/cell and then to knock himself unconscious. Hamma was the only known person who knows of this branch of waterbending until she forcibly passed it on to Katara in the episode, The Puppetmaster.
Each of the four bending disciplines contain a special sub-skill unique only to certain members of each element. Waterbenders in particular possess the ability to heal wounds and relieve sickness by redirecting chi paths throughout the body, using water as a catalyst. Physically, this draws on the restorative properties of water to organisms such as human beings that are primarily composed of it. Though powerful, Waterbending healing cannot heal every ailment; for example, Jet's internal wound or the complications associated with Princess Yue's birth. In the Northern Water Tribe, due to the traditionally patriarchal culture of the tribe, healing is the only aspect of Waterbending taught to female Waterbenders, with classes assigned for young girls held in huts towards the development of the ability. Some waterbenders, shown by Katara, have especially rare healing abilties.
A Waterbender's primary weakness is their need for an external source of water, for only a very skilled Waterbender can condense the natural moisture in the air on from their bodies or on the ground into a usable form. As a result, traveling Waterbenders often carry a water skin with them at all times. A second vulnerability, however, lies within the use of one's arms as a primary means of Waterbending. This leaves the Waterbender vulnerable when he or she is bound at the hands or has had the flow of chi blocked in the arms. As of yet, there have been few instances in the series where waterbending was performed with the lower body — such as when Katara anchored her feet in ice during her fight with Master Pakku, or when she created a piece of ice to use as a surfboard when fighting a giant sea serpent — but another lower body technique is outlined on the waterbending scroll stolen by Katara, from which both she and Aang learned a technique named the Water Whip. However, Katara used her feet when she fought Earthbenders in the
A Waterbender's power comes from the internal life energy chi. Due to this, a Waterbender's power is connected to his or her present emotional state. If an inexperienced Waterbender loses his or her temper, his or her waterbending power is intensified, but in turn, control is lost. This was demonstrated twice by Katara, the first occasion coincidentally serving as the start of the series. Although this has the potential to be quite dangerous, it also serves as an advantage to a bender with proper training, experience, and balance over their emotions.
Another weakness of waterbending is its dependence on the moon. Although Waterbenders gain power from the moon, the moon's absence, such as during a lunar eclipse, results in a complete loss of Waterbending ability, as firebenders lose their power when a solar eclipse occurs.
"The legends say the moon was the first Waterbender. Our ancestors saw how it pushed and pulled the tides and learned how to do it themselves... Our strength comes from the Spirit of the Moon, our life comes from the Spirit of the Ocean. They work together to keep balance.” -Princess Yue
Like the moon controlling the tides, Waterbenders move water using their qi to mimic gravitational pull by choosing how to direct their energy utilizing two jings, which in turn work to push and pull the water being controlled. Because of this lunar sympathy, a Waterbender's power is stronger at night, at its absolute zenith during a full moon, and lost during a lunar eclipse. A Waterbender's power is also enhanced during the rain. This is most likely due to the fact that rainwater is nothing more than moisture from the ocean that has condense into the clouds and precipitates back to the earth. Furthermore, Waterbenders' powers are strongest when they are situated in colder climates, during the winter, or near their native polar homelands.
Legend further elaborates that Tui (meaning "push") the Moon Spirit, and its symbiotic partner La (meaning "pull"), the Ocean Spirit, gave up their immortality to be a part of the mortal world. In fact, these spirits exist in the physical forms of two koi fish eternally circling one another in a pond, in the highly spiritual oasis, in the capital city of the Northern Water Tribe. The "push and pull" relationship between the moon's gravity and the water's inertia is represented by Yin and yang. The Moon Spirit koi is white, with a black forehead marking, and the Ocean Spirit koi is black, with a white forehead marking, mimicking the two component halves of the Taiji Fish Diagram or Taijitu, which espouses a concept in Taoism about the complement of opposites, which are inseparable and should be balanced.
The "push and pull" relationship between the moon's gravity and the water's inertia is represented by Yin and yang. The Moon Spirit koi is white, with a black forehead marking, and the Ocean Spirit koi is black, with a white forehead marking, mimicking the two component halves of the Taiji Fish Diagram or Taijitu, which espouses a concept in Taoism about the complement of opposites, which are inseparable and should be balanced.
Without the equilibrium of these two spiritual aspects, Waterbenders lose their powers. This was illustrated when Tui's mortal form was killed by Admiral Zhao during the Fire Nation's siege of the North Pole. The moon disappeared from the sky, the balance of the world was upset, and the Waterbenders defending the North Pole were rendered powerless.
The Fire Nation's invading fleet was subsequently defeated when the Avatar, Aang, acted as a literal avatar of La and combined with the Ocean Spirit to form a gigantic water creature that swept the Fire Nation forces out to sea. Balance was restored when Princess Yue, who had received a part of Tui's life force at birth to prevent her immediate death, returned that force and sacrificed herself so that Tui might live.