The four bending arts and several other specific bending styles in the world of Avatar can be heavily compared to real life fighting styles.
- Tai chi forms the basis of waterbending. Inspiration was taken from the style's fluidity, connectivity and adaptability, all of which became fundamental concepts for all three waterbending styles.
- Hung Gar forms the basis of earthbending. Inspiration was taken from the style's low stances, rooted power and strength.
- The Northern Shaolin system forms the basis of firebending. In particular, Northern Shaolin highlighted fire in the sense that the element has many manifestations. When controlled, it is one way and when out of control, the art becomes something completely different. Firebending features very powerful and dynamic footwork, arrow-like forward attacking techniques, feather-like retreating techniques and employs the "light as a leaf, heavy as iron" concept of fighting.
- Ba Gua forms the basis of airbending. It utilizes light circle walking techniques and the "Eight Trigram Palm". The fundamental concept of airbending is similar to Ba Gua in that a bender shifts and rotates their center in order to counteract resistance and attack.
- Pro-bending is heavily influenced by aerial acrobatic martial arts in concurrence with MMA and UFC styles of fighting.
Aside from the inspirations, other styles may be used to give you character a certain uniquness about them. Several examples include:
- Punching Styles: Boxing (Western), Wing Chun
- Kicking Styles: Capoeira, Kickboxing, Savate, Taekwondo
- Other styles using strikes: Karate, Muay Thai, Sanshou
Hundreds of different styles can be used an researched to make your character stand out, although we suggest you do not use styles such as Judo and Jujutsu, which focus mainly on grappling and not striking, although if your character is a Pro-Bender, grappling styles would be used in tiebreaker rounds. Also, styles that work for one bending style may not work for another. For example, the Keysi style would work well for eartbenders, as it focuses on powerful strikes with the joints, especially the knees and elbows, but in contrast it would not work so well for airbenders.
As well bending, unarmed combat is heavily featured in the world, and often taught alongside bending, especially to the nobility and military as a means of not solely relying on their bending skills. It is also very popular amongst non-benders. As with the above, any style can be practiced.
Chi blocking is an ancient technique that has been practiced in secret for centuries. It is an incredibly rare and special ability that only a few combatants utilize in combat against their enemies. Blocking someone's chi renders the victim's muscles useless and temporarily disables a bender's abilities. Chi blocking is mainly used by nonbenders as a way of self-defense or even an attack form, although it can be learned by benders. It can be used to completely paralyze a foe or just to render their bending temporarily useless.
Chi blocking is utilized by hitting pressure points with quick jabs and punches and must be done rapidly, often giving little time for the recipient to react. Even people wearing strong, but not necessarily heavy, armor are not spared from its effects. Any finger, thumb or even knuckle can be used.
Although a very useful method of fighting, chi blocking is most effective against an opponent not expecting such a light blow to be so devastating. It is less effective against someone who either knows chi blocking or who has battled a chi blocker in the past. Additionally, chi blocking cannot work against an opponent wearing specialized armor.
Chi blocking stops a bender's chi flow, reduces their muscular strength and disables their bending abilities temporarily; this would be particularly devastating for people who rely solely on their bending to fight.
Though nonbenders can also have their chi flow blocked, there are some differences in effect. Whereas chi blocking would temporarily stop a bender from bending, performing the act upon a nonbender in certain spots results in the loss of movement in that part of their body.