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"If you let the energy in your own body flow, the lightning will follow it. You must create a pathway from your fingertips up your arm to the shoulder, then down into the stomach. The stomach is the source of energy in your body; it is called the sea of chi. From your stomach you direct it up again and out the other arm. The stomach detour is critical; you must not let the lightning pass through your heart, or the damage could be deadly." - Iroh

Lightning redirection is a skill developed by Iroh in order to redirect lightning and electricity fired at him. He developed the technique by studying Waterbenders, who redirect an opponent's energy rather than facing it head on. The technique itself does not generate lightning, and merely redirects it as demonstrated here:

But I wonder if this is a Firebender-only technique, because it deals with lightning, or is it something that everyone can learn because it is a technique dealing with movement and chi rather than traditional bending?

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  • As always, please share why you downvote questions. Mar 21 '16 at 20:31
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Yes, only firebenders can redirect lightning

Aside from the element they can bend, benders have no elemental-manipulation abilities beyond our own. A firebender can create fire (sort of) and control it, but a waterbender or an earthbender or an airbender has no ability to manipulate fire beyond what you yourself have, in the real world.

Redirecting lightning is a skill that must be learned, but in order to do it you must be able to direct the flow of lightning in the first place, which only firebenders can do.

In other words, if you can't redirect lightning, then neither can a waterbender.

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  • 1
    .who is 'you' ?
    – BCLC
    Dec 4 '15 at 14:26
  • @BCLC The reader, or any person in the real world. My point was that if a normal human being can't redirect lightning with their body, neither can a waterbender (or earthbender or airbender). Only firebenders have a special ability to control lightning, while every other kind of bender has the same relationship to lightning that real people have in the real world: no control at all.
    – Nerrolken
    Dec 4 '15 at 18:55
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From this quote we can surmise it's firebender-only technique.

Lightning is a pure expression of firebending without aggression. It is not fueled by rage or emotion the way other firebending is. Some call lightning the cold-blooded fire.

-Iroh, Bitter Work

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  • Doesn't that apply more to the creation of lightning than to the redirection of lightning?
    – Rogue Jedi
    Aug 27 '15 at 15:30
  • @RogueJedi Possibly, but unlikely. You could make the same argument for normal firebending.
    – DavidS
    Aug 27 '15 at 15:57
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    What @RogueJedi seems to be saying is that you are answering the question 'is lighting a firebending-only skill?' but not (necessarily!) the question 'is lighting redirection a firebending-only skill?' I think technically you're not (directly) answering the question
    – BCLC
    Jan 18 at 7:17
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There doesn't seem to be anything that indicates that the technique should be limited to fire-benders.

Iroh, the man who first discovered how to redirect lightning, found that he could do it by study of the way in which water-benders manipulated chi. He then applied that knowledge to moving the chi within his own body.

From that alone, we can surmise that it's not a bending-static technique, but, again, there is nothing in the show that limits the power. And, in fact, we see examples in the show of fire-benders that can use the lightning redirection technique but cannot use lightning (see Aang and Zuko).


TL:DR

The technique is all about internal chi manipulation, and just because the only people we see use it are fire-benders does not mean they are the only ones who can use it (correlation =/= causation)

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