Bending, the ability to manipulate an element, is very significant to all aspects of life in the Avatar world. There are five Bending Arts. Four of them are indigenous to each of the four nations, and one of them is exclusive to the Avatar, who is also capable of using all other four Bending Arts. The bending abilities are not defined genetically.
Once used by the Air Nomads, Airbending is the most defensive bending art. Almost wiped out of existence by the Fire Nation, only one Airbender remains. Though apparently lacking fatal finishing moves, it is the most dynamic and versatile of all the bending arts. As the element of freedom, Airbenders used their capability to bend unencumbered (by the ground or any other environmental factors) and their own momentum as a weapon, evading attacks with astounding speed and agility to tire their opponents out or building up massive inertia for explosive gusts of wind to make their counterattacks finishing moves. Airbending's opposite is Earthbending and the confrontational style that serves as its foundation.
Practiced by select people of the Water Tribes, Waterbending is one of the more unique bending arts as the first benders didn't learn from a animal but from the Moon. While a bender's victory in battle depends on their skill or ingenuity, Waterbenders, unlike other benders, gains a serious advantage or disadvantage depending on the amount of water around them. As the element of change, Waterbenders can fluidly and quickly alternate from defense to offense, from a wall of ice to jet of water, turning their opponent's strength against them. The opposite of Waterbending is Firebending and its relatively stagnant, direct philosophy. Due to its lunar sympathy, Waterbending is stronger at the night, ineffective during a lunar eclipse or when the Moon Spirit is in danger, and at its peak during the full moon.
Originating in the Earth Kingdom, Earthbending demands a special connection with the earth that is achievable neutral jing, doing nothing but waiting and listening until the right moment to strike. Like Waterbenders, Earthbenders also gain an advantage or disadvantage in battle based on the the amount of earth around them but it isn't as extreme. As the element of stability and its stress on neutral jing, Earthbenders stand their ground, absorbing or intercepting attacks until they completely overwhelm their opponents. Unlike the other bending arts, Earthbending's strength equally lies in both offense and defense. Earthbending is the direct opposite of Airbending as Airbending's emphasis on evasion and mobility is a stark contrast to Earthbending's fortitude and strength.
Firebending is used by the people of the Fire Nation and it is the most aggressive bending art. Unlike other benders who depend on external sources of their elements to bend, Firebenders can create fire using their internal heat source in addition to controlling already existent flames. As the element of power, Firebenders have to be able to maintain a constant source of energy and balance in battle, unleashing a volley of direct, successive attacks. Due to its solar sympathy, Firebending is stronger during the day, ineffective during a solar eclipse, and at its full power at noon but when a comet is near, its increased unimaginably.
Energybending is a Bending Art that existed before the Avatar and other bending arts did. Energybending allows the user to remove other peoples' Bending. It is a highly dangerous technique. Very few Avatars have learned this Bending Art, and even fewer have used it. Sjabloon:Avatar1