Specialized bending technique
Metalbending is a specialized sub-skill of earthbending that allows an earthbender to ferrokinetically bend processed metal in a similar fashion to bending regular earth. The technique was invented by Toph Beifong after Xin Fu and Master Yu captured and transported her in a metal cage, which she metalbent and subsequently escaped. During a lecture about chakras, Guru Pathik explained to Aang that metal is merely earth that has been purified and refined. Utilizing her unique ability to "see" using earthbending, Toph was able to perceive the trace amount of "unpurified" crude earth still present in the metal, target it, and use it to bend the purified metal itself.
No earthbenders were able to manipulate processed metal with their bending for almost the entire Hundred Year War. This inability was demonstrated by many earthbender prisoners who were taken captive by the Fire Nation and forced to work on a prison rig made entirely out of metal. Their incapacity to bend metal was also emphasized when Xin Fu and the Earth Rumble VI fighters captured Toph and Aang in cages fabricated with the material and suspended them in the air, a situation impossible to escape from through the use of conventional earthbending.
Toph was incarcerated in a metal cage during the spring of 100 ASC by Xin Fu and her former teacher, Master Yu, when they lured her away from Team Avatar using a fake letter supposedly from her mother. While she was transported back to Gaoling by her two captors, Toph desperately attempted to break the cage. However, Xin Fu commented that even if she was the best earthbender alive, it was impossible to bend metal. At this point, Toph decided to test whether this was truly the case, subsequently realizing that metal was only a form of processed earth. She began to meditate in her prison until she was able to feel the vibrations of the trace amounts of earth in the metal. By utilizing these remaining fragments, Toph metalbent for the first time, tearing a hole in her cage, consequently allowing her escape.
After the Hundred Year War, Toph established a metalbending academy and, by 170 ASC, metalbending had become the primary form of earthbending used by Republic City's police force. The police use metal cables stored in cylindrical spool devices on their backs for various tasks, such as subduing criminals or for extra mobility around the city.
Toph's learning curveEdit
Toph's metalbending seems to be restricted to close-range manipulation; in almost all cases, she was standing close to or in direct contact with the metal she intended to bend. She had "scrunched" and otherwise deformed sheets of metal, but had never caused it to freely reshape itself the way she had with earth. Toph was never seen being able to bend metal when it was located distantly. However, when making direct contact with a metal door, she was able to blast it off its hinges with such force that it ricocheted four times around the inside of the prison corridor before coming to a rest.
Toph later developed the ability to greatly increase the range of her metalbending, as she was able to knock several Fire Nation guards off the group's ship from several meters away, and developed the ability to "see" through metal just the same as she could with regular earth.
Other moments when Toph utilized metalbending include an instance in which she blasted another door off its hinges to free Hama's prisoners, opening a hole in the Fire Lord's secret underground bunker to grant Aang, Sokka, and herself passage, and trapping a Dai Li agent in a metal column.
Toph seemed to have furthered her ability to control metal by the time she, Sokka, and Suki set out to destroy Ozai's airship fleet, now controlling it more fluidly. She used the metal of the door she knocked out of its hinges to make a suit of armor in the same manner as the more traditional earth armor technique. She also was able to manipulate the metal plating in the command bay of the airship from a short distance to pin her opponents to the walls. Furthermore, she also was able to metalbend the ship's floor upward to block a comet-charged fire blast just as a traditional earthbender would block attacks through earthbending using a rock barrier. She then climbed upside-down across a pipe in the airship.
Toph later bent the rudder of an airship, causing it to spiral and collide with the other ships. When doing so, she took noticeably more time and concentration than if she had been required to do so with orthodox forms of earthbending.
Teaching the disciplineEdit
While teaching her first students the earthbending sub-skill, Toph forced them to remotely metalbend small coins rather than manipulating the metal via direct contact. This seems to be a result of her simplification of metalbending to its fundamentals after its long creative gestation period during the final months of the War, in order to teach the art to other earthbenders who lacked Toph's extensive talent with seismic sense. Remote metalbending seems to have been favored over direct contact to break down the illusion of complete separation between bendable earth and purified metal at the beginning of the student's training.
Metalbending instruction requires the learner to gather up all of their chi into their gut, heating up their center with their fighting energy. This intensive focusing of their energy is used to refine their senses so that they may feel the earthen impurities residing within the metal, and thus potentially bend them.
Metalbending in Republic CityEdit
In contemporary forms of metalbending, the Metalbending Police Force can bend metals without direct contact. An example of this advancement was shown when Lin Beifong unlocked Korra's handcuffs from across the room with just a flick of her hand. In another instance, Lin was fighting Equalist chi blockers on the roof of the Pro-bending Arena. She knocked two chi blockers off the roof by metalbending parts of the support rods. Also, she zipped up Bolin's zipper from halfway across the room, causing him to blush.
During the events of the Anti-bending Revolution, it is revealed that metalbending is ineffective against highly purified metal. An example of such a material is platinum, a metal that was used by Hiroshi Sato to create the mecha tanks to counter any effective resistance from the Metalbending Police Force. However, metalbenders can still use other bendable metals to restrain and attack the mecha tanks.
Another disadvantage of the sub-skill is its susceptibility to magnets, as evidenced when the aforementioned mecha tanks were equipped with these unorthodox weapons to subdue the metal-clad police force.
- Toph Beifong (inventor)
- Ho Tun
- The Dark One
- Lin Beifong
- Metalbending Police Force
- Song (officer)
- Metalbender officer (formerly)