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In Aang's time, only a few benders knew about lightning bending and even fewer could perform it, with it being highly dangerous.

Mako, in episode three, gets a job at a factory with at least 5 other firebenders who seem to have mastered the art of bending lightning...does this mean that lightning bending is common in Korra's time? Is it no longer a dangerous, unknown art?

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I would not call it common. I would call it more available due to the needs of a city the size and technical sophistication of Republic City.

Republic City is the New York city of the Avatar's world, a place of sophistication, where knowledge is driving back the darkness of superstition. Before Republic City, knowledge of skills such as lightning-bending were reserved for the people whose knowledge could be more advanced because they had opportunities to learn, i.e. nobility or the priesthood.

Most less educated folks would not know lightning bending or for that matter any subset abilities because it took time, training and an environment that promoted the subtle interactions with those arts. Priests, shamen and nobility were most likely to possess skills with the specialized forms.

  • During Avatar Aang's time there were no or very few metal-benders.

  • Toph (a prodigy) created or rediscovered metal-bending herself and made sure to pass on the art making it an integral part of the Republic City Police force.

  • Electricity making its way into the nomenclature of Republic City through more conventional means, would almost ensure those capable of learning how to generate electricity through lightning-bending would definitely be sought out, trained and promoted.

  • Though we don't see it, I am certain, water-bending and earth-bending were similarly revered and sought out.

  • Earth-bending would make short work of creating foundations for buildings and creating blocks to build with.

  • Water-bending would be crucial in determining the best ways to create water systems, sewage systems and drainage systems for a city the size of Republic City.

  • Water-bending healers would make for great first-aid triage crews and hospital emergency rooms, hopefully alongside growing medical knowledge.

  • Ice benders would be great at removing snow or piling up snow (assuming Republic City gets snow).

I would not be surprised to find many other uses of the speciality bending arts in a city of the size and sophistication of Republic City.

Republic City, The Legend of Korra

Republic City, The Legend of Korra

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