mako [bending style analysis]
because everyone is praising him for being far better than bolin and just… no. mako’s bending style, while more technically skilled than his younger brother, still has a long way to go until it’s at the level of zuko or iroh or even korra. the fighting style he uses seems to be a mix between karate and boxing- your hands protect your face, you use quick jabs to fight, and you try to be as focused and technical as possible.
mako’s style focuses largely on being evasive and watching his opponents like a hawk for any weak spots. his style is literally referred to as “cool under fire” , which kind of seems like an oxymoron to me, but somehow fits mako’s personality and bending perfectly. mako doesn’t really have much of a temper, even if he’s constantly a bit irritated with the people around him. his bending is technically good in the arena but lacks the passion that firebending is supposed to have.
fire is the element of destruction, but it’s also the element of warmth and life. most firebenders- and zuko is a prime example of this- lack the ability to be impartial about most things, and lack the ability to be calm. once that calm is mastered, however, it gives the firebender great control. mako has control but lacks power whereas zuko had power but lacked control.
that’s my favorite move mako does because he breaks out of his mainly hands on technique to throw a kick and then do a very powerful move. he has that ability in him- the ability to sacrifice a bit of control and make himself vulnerable for the sake of power- but he only uses it where it’s absolutely necessary. and he knows when it’s necessary.
mako is very closed off emotionally- he doesn’t like to share a lot of detail and he doesn’t really have that much rage (that we’ve seen) because of his protectiveness towards his brother or because of the loss of his parents. he probably ignores that because it’s easier to not think about his past while he still has his future ahead of him- winning probending, whatever korra means to him, protecting bolin. it translates to his firebending, which is determined, but lacks the power, life, and possibility of destruction that firebending in the original series was shown to be all about.
there’s also this real level of determination to mako because he, unlike bolin, can take a hit and keep on coming, barrage attack after attack whereas his brothers attacks are quite sparse. mako is someone who has worked very hard to protect someone he loves, and who has worked very hard to get to the position that he is now in. probending is something that represents hope for mako, but he knows better than naive bolin that success is a struggle and not something that you can- or should- cajole out of other people. i think that’s one of the reasons he’s so solitary- he’s not used to relying on other people and he thinks that he’ll be worth less if he does.
outside of the ring, his bending style is similar to inside, but he has a bit more power- perhaps because emotion fuels mako? while mako does get taken down, he gets back up more than bolin does and keeps fighting- and if that determination can translate into some power instead of accuracy- if mako can learn the more traditional style of firebending and gain more passion for the art- he could be one of the most powerful benders that’s ever been on the show. he knows how to hit, and all he needs to learn is how to hit hard and harness his passion instead of locking it away for the sake of control.
bolin [bending style analysis]
re: bolin’s bending style
okay so a lot of people are saying that everyone who thinks bolin is a bad bender are picking on him and he’s only bent in two episodes to which i say
yeah OKAY look at that shit
that’s totally probending style. small bricks of earth, keeping flexible, mainly on the defensive. he follows through waaaay too much and he’s too light on his feet. being an earthbender [traditionally] is about being stubborn, holding your ground- which instills a sense of pride which is a BIG EARTHBENDER THING that he’s… not really doing.
i seriously doubt bolin ever got the chance to train properly as anything other than a probender because he never had to, whereas mako is incredibly focused and stubborn no matter what he chooses to do and could probably master traditional firebending reasonably quickly.
when he’s backed into a corner and panicking he constructs a wall but it takes a great deal of force, because (as i’m assuming) using pure power is not something he’s used to. he takes his feet off the ground almost every time he moves which is a big no no in earthbending- rooted stances is the entire basis of the art. it’s worth noting that as they run away, this wall crumbles easily.
earthbending is about listening and waiting- a perfect mix of offensive and defensive, hard power and soft power- and bolin seems far too flighty for that. earthbending is about being decisive and stubborn and that is not a bolin quality. he tries to cajole and evade his way around his problems (getting korra into the ring, not working with the gang, getting away from amon) instead of being tough enough to hold his ground. he’s flighty and fun-loving and quick on his feet for such a big guy and he’s got the qualities of an airbender more than anything else (which is why i love bolin and korra, because they can learn from each other so much, but that’s beside the point).
he follows through with his whole arm and back in more of a firebending movement. earthbending involves straight striking.
earthbending is the element of substance and pride and bolin doesn’t seem to have much of either, being the easy-going, fun-loving and naive goofball that we’ve seen so far. learning how to bend outside the ring is probably going to be something that’s difficult for bolin, both mentally and physically, because he’s had someone taking care of him his whole life and never had to rely on his own bending abilities. it’s also going to be difficult for him to realize that because of his association with korra people will be coming at him outside the bending ring, and that in real life, you can’t always just lose and come back and fight another day.
bolin has to learn to protect his brother and be as stubborn as the element he was born into.