Specialized bending technique
Bloodbending is a specialized technique within the art of waterbending that allows a waterbender to hydrokinetically take hold of the various fluids contained within a living organism's body and then manipulate them to control the movement of their intended target. It is largely seen as the darkest of all the bending arts.
The technique was discovered by the waterbender Hama in her youth whilst detained in a prison designed by the Fire Nation specifically to hold waterbenders. During her detainment, she concluded that all life contains water, and proceeded to develop the knowledge and skills of the art by practicing on elephant rats.
The forms and styles used by bloodbenders are very similar to how a puppeteer controls a marionette, in particular the hand shape and movements. Whereas waterbending uses flowing motions with the arms, bloodbending seems to require a more rigid and abrupt form of movement, further highlighting how different it is from the primary waterbending forms and its other sub-skill, healing.
Due to its extreme nature, only a handful of waterbenders have demonstrated the ability to bloodbend. Bloodbending is deemed by most waterbenders to be a dark art and is rarely used in combat. The complexity and sophistication required to perform the art usually only allows for its use during a full moon, when a waterbender's power is at its absolute peak. Yakone, Tarrlok, and Amon were the only known waterbenders capable of bloodbending without the aid of the full moon; however, Yakone and Tarrlok had their bending abilities removed which left Amon as the only known bender able to bloodbend without a full moon until his eventual death. Yakone and Amon were also the only waterbenders known to be capable of psychic bloodbending.
Bloodbending is applied to daily activities infrequently. Knowledge of the art eventually became known to the public, and the practice of bloodbending was outlawed by Katara following the formation of Republic City.
After being captured during one of the Fire Nation raids aimed at weakening the Southern Water Tribe, Hama, along with her fellow waterbenders, was sent to a maximum security prison in the Fire Nation designed specifically to hold benders of her kind. There, the guards were cautious of providing prisoners with any form of bendable substance that they could utilize in making a reprisal, going so far as to chain the limbs of the prisoners before they were allowed to drink and using "cruel retribution" at any sign of trouble.
Despite the helplessness she faced while imprisoned, Hama was able to feel the enrichment provided to her by the full moon, and she began to devise a plan that would lead to her escape. It was not long after that that she realized the elephant rats which constantly scurried around the bottom of her cage were filled with bendable water.
Upon the arrival of the next full moon, Hama attempted to take hold of the muscles within one of the creatures, and succeeded. She had performed bloodbending. In the following months, she continued to develop the technique, mastering it to a point at which she could effectively control the movement of an entire horde of rats under the full moon. It was then when she felt she could test the art on the men.
During the next full moon, Hama used bloodbending to control a passing guard, forcing him to open her cage and allowing her escape. Hama walked free for the first time in many years, and eventually settled in a village near the outskirts of the Fire Nation archipelago.
The Puppetmaster Edit
While imprisoned, Hama developed a deep hatred for the Fire Nation, and she vowed to take revenge at every instance possible. She created a makeshift prison underneath a mountain and formulated a plan where she would control unsuspecting Fire Nation villagers and lead them to the prison during a full moon. She used this technique and eventually imprisoned the owner of a quaint little inn. Hama became the inn's proprietor, and was able to repress accusations of being the one responsible for the disappearances by disguising herself as a sweet old innkeeper.
During a full moon, she planned to imprison an old man, Ding. The plan was initially successful, and Ding felt helpless as he was "possessed" by an unknown force. He was slowly led to the top of the mountain, where he looked up to the moon and what he thought would be his last glimpse of light. At that moment, however, the sun began to rise, and the power that Hama held over Ding quickly faded. Regaining control over his body, Ding sprinted away from the scene, and since then he became the only passerby to ever escape the wrath of the bloodbender.
Passing the knowledge to Katara Edit
During the summer of 100 ASC, Team Avatar decided to camp near a Fire Nation village. However, Hama overheard them telling horror stories and deducted from Katara's story about Nini that they were from the Southern Water Tribe and offered the gang a place in her inn.
Upon discovering an old whale tooth comb in Hama's attic, she revealed herself to be a waterbender from the Southern Water Tribe and proposed to teach Katara some original Southern Tribe waterbending techniques, so that she could pass on the knowledge of the Southern customs before her death, something Katara happily agreed to.
Katara spent the next day learning various techniques from Hama, such as bending moisture from the air and water from within plants when no bodies of water were present. Hama stated that she would teach Katara the ultimate technique of waterbending at night, during the full moon, when their powers were at their peak. Katara was hesitant, claiming that villagers had been disappearing during the full moon, however, Hama seemed unaffected, stating that two master waterbenders under a full moon had nothing to worry about.
That night, Hama took Katara to the forest, where she explained her imprisonment and discovery of bloodbending. Katara was horrified, and refused to learn the art when Hama urged her to. This angered Hama, who then used bloodbending to control Katara. The young waterbender pleaded for mercy, but Hama refused to release her. Feeling the power of the moon enforce her waterbending as well, Katara honed her energy and broke free, stating that her own bending was more powerful than Hama's. The two began to duel, and Katara almost immediately took the upper hand.
Having discovered the truth about Hama from the villagers she imprisoned deep within the mountain, Sokka and Aang arrived soon afterwards to aid Katara and told Hama to surrender since she was clearly outnumbered. Hama refused, and used bloodbending to control them. Like a puppetmaster, she used them to attack Katara, who was forced to fight off her own friend and brother. Seeing how her attacks did not faze young waterbender, Hama maneuvered Aang toward Sokka, who had raised his Sokka's Sword. Katara, in an attempt to save Aang, used bloodbending to stop her, effectively breaking Hama's hold on the boys. She released her following the arrival of Toph and the freed villagers, who escorted Hama away from the scene. Now apprehended, Hama congratulated Katara on becoming a bloodbender, causing the young waterbender to break down into tears.
Later, when Zuko and Katara went to search for the man who killed Katara's mother, Katara, dominated by a feeling of hatred toward him, used bloodbending to bring down the captain of the Southern Raider's ship, despite the fact that she was against using the dark art.
Yakone's trials Edit
Knowledge of bloodbending soon became widespread and, with Katara's involvement, was legally outlawed by 128 ASC. A man named Yakone had the unique ability to use bloodbending without the need of a full moon. He used his skill to rule Republic City from its "rotten underbelly", becoming the city's most notorious criminal malefactor in a matter of years. Following many acquittals in his favor, Yakone was eventually tried and arrested for multiple counts of bloodbending, for which the United Republic Council found him guilty. As he was condemned to life in prison, Yakone subdued the entire courtroom by using psychic bloodbending, rendering every individual unconscious before he escaped. Avatar Aang, who also passed out following Yakone's display of bloodbending, entered the Avatar State and gave chase to the convict before trapping him in an earth shell. He then removed Yakone's bending, ending his reign as head of Republic City's criminal empire.
Keeping the art alive Edit
Eventually, Yakone was able to flee Republic City and journey to the Northern Water Tribe, surgically altering his appearance to conceal his true identity. There, he met and fell in love with a local woman, whom he later married. The two went on to raise two sons, Noatak and Tarrlok, both of whom were waterbenders. Yakone, fueled by hatred for the Avatar for stripping him of his bending abilities, began training his sons in the art of bloodbending through frequent "hunts". With time, the two waterbenders became increasingly more proficient in the art, eventually learning to use bloodbending without the need of a full moon. Noatak exhibited prodigious skill in the art form and mastered Yakone's psychic bloodbending technique by the age of fourteen, successfully using it to control a pack of wolves.
To push their abilities to their peaks, Yakone forced both of his sons to bloodbend one another. Although Noatak willingly complied with his father's orders and bloodbent his younger brother into submission, Tarrlok refused to do the same, repulsed by the idea of controlling his brother and making him feel as helpless as he did. Yakone was infuriated, making a move to harm Tarrlok before he was stopped by Noatak, who immobilized him with bloodbending. Noatak asked Tarrlok to run away with him and begin life anew, but the younger refused, prompting Noatak to leave into the wilderness by himself.
Yakone's legacy Edit
Though Yakone no longer trained him following Noatak's presumed death, Tarrlok ended up following in his father's footsteps in taking over Republic City, doing so from a political standpoint while resorting to unsavory methods during his term as a councilman. In 170 ASC, Tarrlok revealed his bloodbending during an altercation with Avatar Korra in City Hall, using the art on Korra before she could finish him off with two fire blasts. Refusing to reveal his relation to Yakone, Tarrlok knocked Korra out and imprisoned her in a cabin outside of Republic City, covering his tracks by attributing the abduction to an Equalist attack. However, his lies about Korra's disappearance were uncovered by Team Avatar, Lin Beifong, and Tenzin, forcing him to use his abilities once again to evade arrest.
Shortly after fleeing Republic City, Tarrlok was confronted by Amon, who stated that it was time that Tarrlok was "equalized". Declaring that the Equalists had not faced a bender like him, Tarrlok proceeded to use bloodbending to immobilize his assailants, subduing all but Amon himself, much to his surprise. Only slightly affected by Tarrlok's hold, Amon made his way toward Tarrlok before removing his bending. Shortly after, Tarrlok recognized the sensation he felt as Noatak's bloodbending hold, and realized that Amon was none other than his brother.
During Korra and Mako's mission to find and confront Amon, the two ran into Tarrlok, who was locked in an attic on Air Temple Island due to his knowledge of the truth. Tarrlok proceeded to reveal Amon's true identity, and suggested that his brother somehow blocked bending through the use of bloodbending, ability that he used to become the leader of the Anti-bending Revolution, claiming that the spirits had granted him with this special power to take bending away.
Planning to expose Amon and undermine his revolution, Korra and Mako infiltrated Amon's rally at the Pro-bending Arena, where Amon announced that he would rid the world of airbending forever. Korra and Mako used firebending to free Tenzin and his family and opted to stay behind to create a diversion while Tenzin and his family escaped. Korra hid beneath a table in an abandoned gym, where she was pulled out from hiding by Amon's bloodbending. As she was suspended in midair, Mako emerged and attacked, but was quickly overpowered by Amon's bloodbending as well. Finally having defeated the Avatar, Amon removed her bending. Despite his victory, the Lieutenant had followed his leader, proclaiming him as a traitor. He then proceeded to attack but was stopped by Amon's bloodbending. Amon told the Lieutenant that he has served him well, before launching him into a pile of timber. He then walked past the now weakened Korra to approach Mako and started to bloodbend the firebender into position, but Mako managed to point his fingers toward Amon and fired a lightning attack that electrocuted the Equalist leader and hurled him away, allowing Mako to take Korra into his arms before fleeing out into the corridor.
Shortly after, Mako was forced to stop again by Amon, who caught up to them. Amon bloodbent Mako and slammed him into the ceiling, the floor and the two walls on his sides, and then proceeded to bloodbend the firebendre into position, stating that it was almost a shame to take away the bending of someone so talented. Korra's desperation for Mako to avoid suffering a same fate, in tandem with a strong desire to protect him, allowed her to break through her spiritual block and perform airbending. Korra began to attack Amon with consecutive air punches, forcing him back to the window at the end of the corridor. Amon retaliated and used bloodbending to ensnare Korra, but she was able to resist Amon's hold, using her leg to launch a powerful air-kick toward Amon, blasting him out the window and into the sea. His mask fell off in mid-air and he splashed into the water before his Equalist supporters, revealing his true identity as a waterbender.
The control and manipulation of fluids within a person's body can have many different effects; for instance, bloodbending could be used to crush a victim's internal organs. In a similar manner, it could be used to pressurize, boil, or cool the water inside the body of an opponent, killing them in the process. Lastly, the technique could even be used to completely extract water from one's body, imitating the technique used with plants.
Bloodbenders are capable of levitating their victims in the air in a similar way that waterbenders can lift water. Additionally, it can be used to knock its victims unconscious.
Psychic bloodbending Edit
Psychic bloodbending is the ability to use bloodbending without the aid of motion and movement of the hands or feet. Yakone first demonstrated this ability when he used bloodbending to control an entire courtroom while his hands were still bound by cuffs. He passed on the knowledge of this technique to his sons, Noatak and Tarrlok. Noatak mastered the ability at the age of fourteen, after controlling packs of wild animals in the North Pole.
Bending severing Edit
Bloodbending can be used to completely cut a bender off from his or her bending abilities. This technique has only been demonstrated by Amon and appears to require direct physical contact between the user's hand and the victim's forehead. The effects of this technique are long-standing, and, unlike chi blocking, it cannot be easily undone. According to Katara, the technique "severs" an individual from his or her bending, making it impervious to all methods of healing. Even so, only active chi pathways can be severed; Korra was able to use airbending because it was still dormant when her other bending abilities were removed. Despite limited information regarding the specifics of the technique, the severed bending can be restored through the use of energybending, as shown by Aang and Korra.
Despite being one of the most powerful and dangerous techniques in bending, bloodbending is limited in the sense that it is usually only performable under the full moon, when a waterbender's abilities are peaked. This is due to the fact that bloodbending requires far more sophistication and precision than conventional waterbending, thus limiting its use to only when a waterbender's capabilities are culminated. The only known exceptions to this rule are Yakone and his two sons, Tarrlok and Noatak, who were able to bloodbend in the absence of a full moon. However, bloodbending can have a dangerous effect on a user with the chance of that person becoming sociopathic in nature.
The degree in which a bloodbender can manipulate another person's body only occurs on a physical level, leaving the victim's mental faculties intact. This was seen when both Aang and Sokka were mentally aware that their bodies were being controlled by Hama, but were unable to control themselves. Consequently, a bloodbender is unable to use the bending abilities of the victims, as bending also relies on the mental state of the bender.
Yakone and his children have both used bloodbending to levitate people off the ground, as well as knock several individuals unconscious simultaneously. In particular, Yakone nearly killed Avatar Aang by forcing his neck near its breaking point.
Lastly, bloodbending seems useless when applied to a fellow waterbender of the same caliber, if not superior, to the user. This is evident when Katara managed to free herself, after an initial struggle, from Hama's hold, and in Amon's case when Tarrlok attempted to bloodbend him to submission and later by Avatar Korra breaking free from Amon's bloodbending grip. Bloodbending is also annulled when Avatars channel immense amounts of cosmic energy through the Avatar State, allowing them to break free of a bloodbender's hold instantaneously. Mako was able to somewhat resist its effects, although showed difficulty in performing his attacks due to Amon's grip.
Known users Edit
- Hama (deceased)
- Yakone (formerly, deceased)
- Tarrlok (formerly, deceased)
- Amon (deceased)
Known resisters Edit
Characters who canceled a bloodbending grip against them:
Characters who fought back bloodbending: