Will we ever see a Subset to Air Bending in The Legend of Korra?

Out of the four elements in the Avatar World, we have seen the Subsets of Earth, Water and Fire Bending. Earth Benders have the ability to bend metal, Water Benders have the ability to blood bend and heal, and Fire Benders have the ability to produce and re-direct lightning.

All of these Subsets have proved to be extremely valuable assets for the bender who possesses them. Toph was able to bend metal and escape captivity, Katara was able to heal Aang with the water from the Spirit Oasis, and Zuko was able to redirect the lightening Fire Lord Ozai directed at him once the Eclipse ended on The Day of Black Sun.

Unfortunately, Aang never had the luxury of utilizing a Subset from his natural form of bending: Air Bending. He was constrained to utilizing what Air Bending could accomplish itself rather than utilizing a possible Subset.

But despite the fact that we still have yet to see a Subset to Air Bending after all these years, it’s still valid to question its existence. Just because we haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. In fact, I’m fairly confident that a Subset to Air Bending does indeed exist, but I don’t think we’ll ever see it or learn what it is.

In fact, I don’t think it would be possible for Mike and Bryan to introduce a Subset into the show even if they wanted to. They technically could, since it’s their show, but it wouldn’t make much sense.

Let’s role the clock back about 170 years ago in the Avatar World: Aang has just learned that he is the Avatar. After learning that his lifestyle would change for the worse, Aang runs away and ends up frozen in a block of ice for around 100 years. In that span of time, all the remaining Air Benders are wiped from the face of the planet.

So what does that mean?

If an apparent Subset to Air Bending was ever discovered in the first place, the evidence of its presence was lost when the Fire Nation killed off every Air Bender in existence. Sure, Aang stayed alive, but he obviously wasn’t taught the Subset to Air Bending since he never utilized it during his journey. The knowledge of a Subset to Air Bending most likely died off with Monk Gyatso and the rest of the Air Benders when the Fire Nation wiped them out.

But Toph was able to discover the Subset to Earth Bending, why can’t Korra discover the Subset to Air Bending by herself?

If this was a possibility, Aang would have done it a long time ago. By birth, Korra is a Water Bender. Sure, she might have mastered Air Bending during the course of Book 1, but that doesn’t necessarily give her the ability to invent a Subset to Air Bending. If she was a naturally born Air Bender, then I wouldn’t count her out. But because she’s a Water Bender at heart, I don’t think she’d possess the ability to discover the Subset to Air Bending. Aang would have had a shot at that when he was a live, but I don’t think he discovered anything.

But let’s be optimistic. Let’s say Aang actually did learn the Subset to Air Bending after the 100 Year War. In that case, we could only hope that he taught it to Tenzin. If he did teach it to Tenzin, then I actually expect Korra to learn the Subset to Air Bending in Book 2 of The Legend of Korra. But the chances of that are slim to none mostly because you’d think that would have been taken care of in a Book titled ‘Air’.

So what do you think: Will we learn about or see a Subset to Air Bending during the course of The Legend of Korra?

  • Ashes

    My opinion is that Air the book was indeed supposed to be a single stander of the series and the original whole series. I think that since Bryke has more power now that they have a full three other seasons left, Aang might tell Korra of another ability subset for air because some crisis occurring and everyone is in panick because the main new villain is impossible to kill. ( kinda like that one lady in Madagascar 3) so desperate measures will be taken. Book two seems pretty desperate because well you can't kill a spirit but this could also occur in book three or four. That is only my speculation. Excellent post as always.

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorra.wordpress.com AdminAvatar

      Good theory, Ashes!

      As always, thank you for commenting!

  • Felix

    First off, excellent post as always. :)
    But you missed that a Airbender Subset already excists:
    Meelo is the Master of Fartbending!
    Just kidding, but I would love to see a subset because the other elemental subsets are sweet.

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorra.wordpress.com AdminAvatar

      Thank you!

      Yeah most of the subsets are really cool and unique. But one could argue that Fart-Bending is indeed the subset :)

      • Felix

        I couldn´t stop thinking about the subset of Airbending, but it might be possible, that the control of soundwaves (whichs sound enchances through the air) is a subset of Airbending. Otherwise, it´s hard to tell if Air got a subset, because Airbending is more-likely a passive or defensive fighting style of the monks.

        I might add, that I think in some Episode(s), Aang used to scream real loud, so maybe it´s possible to control the sounds to create some kind of attacks, but then again, why should Airbenders try to enchance their fighting skills, when their life attitude is all about peace and freedom?

        Now I am really excited about that in the future LoK seasons. :)

        (Can´t wait till march ;)) )

      • http://avatarthelegendofkorra.wordpress.com AdminAvatar

        Yes, Sound Waves is PERFECT! That actually sounds like a potential subset too. I'll try to write about it in the near future. That's some good speculation, thanks for sharing!

  • SpiritMonkey

    I think that there probably is a subset to airbending, and that Tenzin does indeed know it. Even though Aang didn't know it in ATLA, he either would have figured it out himself or learned it via a past Avatar or from literature stored in one of the four temples. I doubt that it will show up in LoK though, because though Tenzin would have mastered it it would be a very advanced form of airbending which I doubt Korra will reach in the show.
    On an unrelated note you spelled Gyatso incorrectly in your excellent post.

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorra.wordpress.com AdminAvatar

      Yeah, there are numerous ways Aang could have figured it out. I guess its just a matter of whether or not he passed down the knowledge to Tenzin.

      And thanks for letting me know about the spelling, I'll fix that ASAP. I was unsure about that one from the start :)

  • David

    Aang was able to "run faster than the wind", remember in The Blue Spirit? Isn't that some kind of Subset to airbending?

    I love your posts, keep it up!

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorra.wordpress.com AdminAvatar

      Hey David,

      I wouldn't really call Aang's ability to run fast a Subset mostly because that's just Air Bending enhancing Aang's ability to run.

      A subset is more or less a secondary skill. It's a bit hard to explain, but running fast is more of a type of air bending rather than a secondary skill.

      I hope I'm explaining it alright, let me know if you're confused.

      Thanks for commenting and reading!

  • Fire lord Sa

    Great post as always, I look forward to reading the next post.
    In my opinion I think it would be great to see a subset, (My theory) I'd like to see a subset of airbending Something you can do with oxygen, Such as if your in a room you can take out all the oxygen In the room? something like that.

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorra.wordpress.com AdminAvatar

      Now that would be an interesting Subset. But something to do with oxygen would be a really good idea to base a possible subset off of.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • AvatarSam!

        Any idea when the next post is? i always check this website Every day, Maybe a dark form of airbending Where you can stop them from breathing,By taking out the oxygen in their lungs maybe? Something like that.

        • http://avatarthelegendofkorra.wordpress.com AdminAvatar

          I'll try to post again by Friday. It's hard coming up with stuff to write about, but I'll do my best because a lot of people really seem to enjoy it.

          Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • X

    i was thinking sinse we were going to go way in the past and discover the creation of the avatar we would also meet an airbending villain that one of the first avatars has to fight who has the subset that is really dangerous. there could actually be a lot of them, here's a few me and my thought of: controlling sound waves, controlling the weather, and making the air toxic. and slightly unrelated question… does anyone think there is going to be a limitation to korra and other benders getting there bending back? i hope there is

    • X

      sorry i was trying to say me and my friends :P

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorra.wordpress.com AdminAvatar

      Not sure about the limitation. I don't think so, but it could be possible.

  • MoonMan

    Sound: it's similar to air and its like vibrations that distort and break things like extreme bass. The way it pumps like air shock waves. Just a thought.

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorra.wordpress.com AdminAvatar

      There it is. Sound Waves. Perfect. That genuinely sounds like a possible subset for Air Bending. Air Benders have to ability to control sound waves around them. Thanks for sharing, I might write about this later!

  • tim

    it doesn't have to be sound. like waterbending has healing…as long as they make it interesting :)

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorra.wordpress.com AdminAvatar

      True, but it makes more sense than anything I've heard so far

      • tim

        that been floating around forever, and it make no sense, what can you use soundbending for anyway :) just make something unique and call it a subset of airbending

  • Catherine

    The part of this article about the subset of airbending dying along with the air nomads…is genius. I never thought of it that way! But what I always thought the subset to airbending was…was whatever the heck Monk Gyatso did to kill those Fire Nation soldiers who were surrounding his skeleton. Maybe it could be an advanced technique that allows the airbender to literally knock the wind out of someone – like bending the breath out of them! Now THERE'S an idea. And even back then maybe it could've been a technique only taught to the high monks, the members of the council, because the air nomads were so against violence? What do you think? Seem possible?

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorra.wordpress.com AdminAvatar

      Definitely possible. In fact, anything is possible at this point. But this does seem like it could work.

      Thanks for commenting and offering your input!

  • vgbhb

    maybe soundbending?? Since sound waves travel through air?

    • vgbhb

      oh, someone already guessed that

  • http://gravatar.com/connor69 Connor

    Hey! I'm pretty sure I asked you about the extension to the elements, Air Bending in particular months ago, I had been thinking about it for a long time! You said that you thought gliding was the extension. Just wondering if my comment was the cause to this post???

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorra.wordpress.com AdminAvatar

      A combination of your comment and some Twitter followers influenced me to write this post. Thanks for the idea :)

  • Alex

    Why limit it to sound. Why not air pressure in general. Why not tornados, hurricanes,

  • Alex

    How about vacuums

  • Alex

    No not Hoover or Dyson

  • Mehraj

    Doesn't the fart-bending shown in "Turning the Tides" count as a subset?

  • mulesa

    well i guess its possible. maybe the monks did know a subset part of skill in airbending but strictly forbade due it being highly destructive. it was probably a forbidden technique or something like that of blood bending. as you can see there is a correlation between earth and fire as so is to water and air.

    Earth : Metal Bending
    Fire : Lightning Bending

    Both destructive but doesnt seem "improper" to one's view and moral.

    Water : Blood Bending

    Just feels plain wrong and "evil" like.

    Then Air should be : Barotrauma Bending (lol sounds weird but it would be cool to see a defensive element like air to have a really negative subset effect Blood Bending since they both seem to represent a peaceful like affinity in nature.

  • Zuell

    I just discovered your blog and I love it :D
    About this post, most of the subsets where developed by isolated people or tribes. And also, not all the airbenders where killed, remember the desertbenders. They created tornados, and that can be a subset.
    As I recall, Korra needs to find some airbender partners, Tenzin is to old, and his kids to young.

  • Jack

    Iv been thinking about this ever since LOA. It may not necessarily have to be in direct link with the element itself (i.e Healing for water bending). I think sound isnt really a good off set for Airbending because it has been done already. If you think of the use Airbending was used when Aang uses the Bison whistle in Ba sing Se, air was used to manipulate sound to carry the signal throughout the entire city. I always imagined that (although it isn't directly the use of air bending) invisibility could be a option? Compressing the air around the host in a way that refracts the light, or even using air bending to manipulate direct light in some way? Invisibility is defensive and light is a free element of life I suppose. That way it has its disadvantages, such as air benders wouldn't be able to do it in the dark much like lightning is needed to be present to redirect it and a full moon in needed to blood bend and finally metal is needed to metal bend.
    What do you think of my theory?

  • Avatar Fan at heart

    Remember Wan-Shi Tongs Library? It could be likely that they discovered Wan-Shi Tongs Library again after the 100-year war and learned from the knowledge it posesses. There should be anything about the subset of air bending…

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorra.wordpress.com AdminAvatar

      That's possible, especially if they find the Library again in the Spirit World.

  • Pablone

    I'm not sure about this but in the first book of TLA Aang goes to find a cure for Katara and Sokka's illness and he runs really fast. I cant remember if he runs or uses an air ball to move.

  • Cordero

    I think bending the air in such a way around the body to make a person invisible would be a good subset. It could definitely be used in negative ways.

  • chinaboytag

    let's face it, air just sucks as an element. All it helps you do is dodge and run away. It's not really that good at blowing someone over. Earth benders laugh at air benders, even if they can't beat them either…

    • andrew

      it doesnt completely suck, its the element of the air, your capable of fighting in the air.. if any other bender maybe except fire was to fight air benders at their temple, it would be a massive advantage, blowing them off the temple… also, the ability to run extremely fast ?

  • Oneboot

    Wouldn't it be cool if airbenders could control solar winds (even though that sounds like firebender material) and create magnetic fields? They could make glowy glowy light shows and they could create illusions and stuff.

  • iceequeenie263

    Don't forget sand-bending for Earth benders too :p

  • Feanor Kun

    Actually the point remains that the Subset of Airbending is found in looking at another element.

    Despite the appearances, Korra can be creative and develop this ability. And there are 3 Reasons!

    1) Subsets are used for the element but inspiration can come from other elements.

    (I.E. Blood Bending using water like its earth. And Re-directing-lightning using fire energy like its water)

    2) I agree with a previous post talking about the development of crisis playing a crucial role in coming up with these subset abilities (Toph, the imprisoned southern waterbender)

    3) Because with the expanding technology of the world around them. Korra may actually may not literally come up with it herself. That is, environment may cause ideas to form in the minds of others. (Tenzin's kids could figure it out before Korra)

  • Emily

    what if the subset is control over ch'i?

  • http://www.facebook.com/soulbolt WindBolt

    Ok, I read most of these posts. Interesting, but no one covered the possibility that Aang may have not taught Tenzin or his children the art because he in fact did NOT know the subset, but instead, one of this children found scrolls, just like Katara did when she got that one scroll from the pirates.

    My speculation is that Airbending was used primarily in defense by Aang, with seldom offensive usage, its subset would be similar.

    Most importantly, to that extent, I believe that Airbendings subset could be shield-like, and even Aura-related (after all, the monks possess the ability) so the subset would consist of the bender being able to "see" or sense ones aura like sonar or radar, and thus detect if they are within the vicinity; because of that the bender may have the ability to become invisible or control what others see by manipulating the aura through displacement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/soulbolt WindBolt

    Also, let's not rule out teleportation. There is a Soulcaliber character that can teleport via wind currents – Talim. http://powerlisting.wikia.com/wiki/Aeroportation

  • Avatar_Aki

    Didnt an air bender fly once ? perhaps that is one not sure.

    Perhaps Atmokinesis (Weather control) Although that would mean using water and lightning also.

    Gas could be one, perhaps they could generate toxic fumes and such :S

  • Jack

    Need I remind everyone that in Avatar: The Last Air Bender it was constantly mentioned how Air Nomads were THE most spiritual nation/race out of the 4 elements? This and the trailer where we see Tenzin’s daughter enter the spirit world could suggest that some of the Air Benders were able to connect directly to the spirits because of there ‘free spirits’. Just throwing that our there.

  • Freedom Fighter

    lets see what is natrully related to air… sound is the only thing thats kind of tied to air, maybe a sub set for airbending could be controlling sound???? idk air is really more of a defensive art. maybe some kind of wind tunnel that redericts projectile attacks, but thats a long shot

  • Stridercab

    You can’t be afraid to think scientifically; air, or the lack thereof, can create powerful vacuums like that of a black hole. It can create separations in matter that allow things to pass through without resistence, which suggests teleportation, it can even trap or bend light, similar to water which suggests invisibility or illusion. Guys, if I keep going, I’ll cross into the realm of Naruto, and THAT makes the possibilities literally endless.

    • MrSpleen

      yeah baby!

  • FDF

    i think gravity-bending can be a very good subset for air-bending

  • MrSpleen

    Water benders can ice bend. In the real world it takes a lot of thermal energy to transition water to and from a solid state yet benders can do it.
    In this Industrial Age, air benders could cash in on capturing compressed gasses.
    Hmmmm, an Avatar with the ability to bend liquid oxygen?
    Houston, we have liftoff!

  • MrSpleen

    To follow up on my previous post, imagine the look on a metal benders face if Korra cut through their metaliations ( my own word thank you very much ) with a stream of LOX. Heck, pour some LOX around a firebender and dare them to light up.

    To follow up on Stridercab’s post, we lift huge Boeings into the air by creating a relatively slight vacuum on the top surface of the wing.