Arcus1

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Arcus1

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For those following this: I've had a somewhat busy week this past week and will likely be similarly busy this coming week. Hoping to have something up by next weekend, but real life does need to take priority...

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Arcus1

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If any firebender is going to beat a combustion bender in an Agni Kai, I feel like it would be Iroh. However, I'm not sure I could justify that by feats

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Arcus1

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I don't see anyone soloing Zuko with the comet amp, but I also don't see him successfully beating all three of these benders. 2 might be enough if they approach the fight strategically, but a head on confrontation might not go their way. Their high-end moves could exceed his basic attacks under the Comet, but his scaled-up high end moves might still overwhelm them

As of the North & South comics, Zuko has pseudo-flight without even needing the comet amp, so in theory with the comet he might very well be able to fly around like Ozai could against Aang. That actually might be enough to help him avoid getting pinned down and ganged up on. Not sure it'd be enough to win a majority, but it potentially makes the fight much closer.

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Arcus1

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In theory, I would tend to think that all Avatars are relatively comparable once they reach their primes. I don't think these versions of Aang/Korra/Yangchen have quite reached their prime level yet, so I don't think they'd fully be a match for a Prime Roku. Maybe that's just my headcannon, but if I had to pick an mvp here I'd probably go with Roku.

Aang, for his part, can probably go either way against Yangchen or Korra. I don't think I'd argue for him beating either of them for a majority, but he can certainly match either of them and allow Roku to eventually take the other one down.

They're all hovering around similar levels though, so it could definitely go either way. If you posed this question to the creators, I doubt they'd pick a clear winner

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@agmine570 said:

Wait a minute, the person who goes later doesn't counter their opponent's post in their openers in a CAV?

It's up to the debaters. What you're describing is more common, but there's no rule or anything.

lol, yeah, I started writing my post without seeing Anthp's first, and I considered incorporating some counter-arguments but decided I wanted to focus on laying out my main points first. The next two posts will have plenty of counter-arguments and such, I'm sure

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Kuvira: The Great Uniter:

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Foreshadowed as a side character in Book 3, Kuvira grew to become the leader of the Earth Empire and the final rival for Avatar Korra. In this CaV, I will be arguing that Kuvira was presented as the pinnacle of metalbending combat, someone who pushed the art to new levels in her quest for strength and power. Her innovative fighting style exemplifies the core principles of earthbending combat espoused by Bumi and Toph, and in a direct confrontation she was able to prove that she had surpassed her former trainer Suyin. In the same way, Lin will ultimately come up short against this one-woman army.

Background:

When Kuvira was a child, her strong will and bending ability proved to be a challenge for her biological parents. Ultimately, her parents took her to the Metal Clan city of Zaofu, where she was placed in the care of Suyin Beifong.

Su raised Kuvira as her adopted daughter and trained her in both earth and metal bending. Kuvira proved to be a natural bender and leader, and she quickly rose through the ranks to become captain of the Zaofu Guard (an elite force of metalbenders trained to be some of the best fighters in the world).

"She was more than that. She was like a daughter to me. I took her in when she was eight years old and nourished her talents. Kuvira was smart, a natural leader, and quickly rose through the ranks. I saw myself in her."

-Suyin Beifong (Season 4, Episode 5)

After the assassination of the Earth Queen and the Red Lotus's attempt on Avatar Korra's life, the Earth Kingdom fell into chaos and disarray. When President Raiko and Tenzin asked Suyin to help take charge of the Earth Kingdom, Kuvira encouraged her mentor to fill the void. When Suyin refused, Kuvira decided to take matters into her own hands. She rallied Zaofu's forces under her leadership and set out for the Earth Kingdom capital of Ba Sing Se, where she enforced order on the city. After this success, the leaders of the other nations legitimized Kuvira's authority as the provisional leader of the Earth Kingdom until order was restored and the Earth King could return to the throne. With this support, Kuvira bolstered her army and began a campaign to bring order across the Earth Kingdom. She brought safety and resources to those who accepted her leadership, and she brought swift defeat to those who stood in her way.

In less than three years, Kuvira established control across all regions of the former Earth Kingdom (except for Zaofu, which had always been largely independent). Viewing her efforts as complete, the world leaders expected Kuvira to step down and allow the new Earth King to assume leadership. However, Kuvira refused to relinquish control, announcing her intention to turn her nation into a new Earth Empire.

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Following this announcement, Kuvira conquered her former home of Zaofu and took the Beifongs prisoner. When Korra returned, Kuvira publicly defeated the still-weak Avatar, cementing her confidence that no one could stand in her way. With the former Earth Kingdom now under her control, Kuvira then set her sights on Republic City, aiming to claim the entire continent for the new Earth Empire. After harnessing spiritual energy into a weapon of mass destruction, she led her forces the United Nations capitol, where she was finally defeated by a fully recovered Avatar Korra and her team. Following her surrender, she began her path to redemption by helping the Avatar to take down the remnants of the Earth Empire led by Commander Guan.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about Kuvira's arc in the comics, but this scene goes pretty hard

Combat Ability Overview:

Under Suyin's guidance, Kuvira became a master of both earth and metalbending, combining a dancer's grace with a soldier's ferocity. Along with the rest of Zaofu's security, Kuvira was first shown utilizing a set of metal cables as her weapon of choice (a technique developed by Toph for the Republic City Police).

However, during her campaign of conquest, Kuvira's combat abilities evolved. As she sought to impose her will on the Earth Kingdom, she developed a new signature fighting style that allowed her to impose her will on her opponents as well. By using small sheets of metal as projectile weapons, she could ensnare her opponents and control their movements, immobilizing them or battering them into submission. This technique allowed for far greater attack speed than the metal cables, and it mirrored the ruthless efficiency of Kuvira's conquest.

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In her first fight scene from Season 4, we can see the effectiveness of Kuvira's technique as she casually defeats a group of ~16 attackers. She is able to launch multiple attacks per second, all precisely aimed at moving targets, with no wasted movement or energy. This is a prime example of Kuvira's mastery of foundational earthbending principles, further discussed in the next section.

Commentary for LoK Season 4 Episode 1, further highlighting how Kuvira's fighting style was designed to reflect her efficiency in conquest
Commentary for LoK Season 4 Episode 1, further highlighting how Kuvira's fighting style was designed to reflect her efficiency in conquest

Kuvira's forces also adopted this metal band technique, sacrificing the utilitarian value of the metal cables (which allowed metalbenders to rapidly traverse urban landscapes) for greater combat efficiency.

However, while all of her forces were trained to utilize metal strips as projectile weapons, Kuvira stands alone in her ability to rapidly morph these strips into additional weapons. In her fight with Suyin, Kuvira demonstrated that she could transition these bands into a blade as well as a metal cable (mirroring the functionality of the more traditional metal cables). In the Ruins of the Empire comics, Kuvira even showed that she could turn her opponent's attacks against them when she reshaped Guan's projectile attacks into her metal whip.

In addition to being a master of metalbending who advanced the style to new levels, Kuvira is also a master of more traditional earthbending. When the situation arises, Kuvira has shown herself capable of raw power comparable to the best in LoK.

At full health, Korra has some of the strongest earthbending feats in her show. While she was not at full health in this first fight with Kuvira, her rusty condition would impact her skill and physical capacity more than her innate bending strength (I would think, at least). I am not convinced that Kuvira would be able to overpower a fully healthy Korra in this manner, but overpowering even a rusty Korra is no small feat
At full health, Korra has some of the strongest earthbending feats in her show. While she was not at full health in this first fight with Kuvira, her rusty condition would impact her skill and physical capacity more than her innate bending strength (I would think, at least). I am not convinced that Kuvira would be able to overpower a fully healthy Korra in this manner, but overpowering even a rusty Korra is no small feat
Sending Guan's mechs and troops flying alongside Toph and Su
Sending Guan's mechs and troops flying alongside Toph and Su

However, as with her metalbending, Kuvira prefers to use precision and finesse over brute force in her fights

Using precise control of the ground beneath Korra to break her stance and redirect her attack
Using precise control of the ground beneath Korra to break her stance and redirect her attack

Kuvira's pure earthbending offers strong support for her advanced metalbending techniques in combat, and we can delve more into that as relevant during this debate. Her preference for precision over power illustrates her mastery of earthbending's core principles, as explained further in the following section.

Mastery of Neutral Jing

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Early in Book 2 of ATLA, King Bumi taught Aang that neutral jing, the act of waiting and timing your strikes, was foundational to earthbending. Toph further expanded upon this, training Aang to utilize well timed, strategic combo attacks as opposed to simply relying on brute force.

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Kuvira's fighting style is a masterful example of neutral jing (perhaps one of the best in the series), and she perfectly utilizes the tactics Toph taught to Aang to overcome her opponents through precise combo attacks. This is particularly evident in Kuvira's first fight with Korra. Throughout the fight, we can see Kuvira making good use of neutral jing as she waits out Korra's relentless offense. In true earthbender fashion, she maintains her connection with the ground as she evades Korra's attacks with minimal movement, waiting for the right moment to strike. When the moment arrives, she does not put all her energy into a single attack. Rather, as Toph taught Aang, she utilizes a rapid series of precise attacks, each one strategically planned to weaken her opponent and wear them down for a final blow to conclude the combo.

The following gifs are two of the best examples of these tactics from the fight. The full fight is included here as well for reference.

In the opening moments of their fight, Kuvira waits and listens while dancing around Korra's attacks. While an airbender might dodge by retreating or through large evasive maneuvers, Kuvira employs minimal energy and remains close to Korra, ready to strike when the moment presents itself. When she is ready to atttack, she first destabilizes Korra with two separate (but virtually simultaneous) earthbending strikes. She then lands two metal bands, allowing her to conclude the combo by throwing Korra away
In the opening moments of their fight, Kuvira waits and listens while dancing around Korra's attacks. While an airbender might dodge by retreating or through large evasive maneuvers, Kuvira employs minimal energy and remains close to Korra, ready to strike when the moment presents itself. When she is ready to atttack, she first destabilizes Korra with two separate (but virtually simultaneous) earthbending strikes. She then lands two metal bands, allowing her to conclude the combo by throwing Korra away
Here, Kuvira launches three attacks in as many seconds. Her targeted earth pillar knocked Korra off balance, distracting the Avatar just long enough for Kuvira to blind her with a metal sheet. That in turn gave Kuvira the opportunity to send Korra flying with a stone attack right to the chest.
Here, Kuvira launches three attacks in as many seconds. Her targeted earth pillar knocked Korra off balance, distracting the Avatar just long enough for Kuvira to blind her with a metal sheet. That in turn gave Kuvira the opportunity to send Korra flying with a stone attack right to the chest.

Now, Korra was still not fully recovered for this fight, which did help Kuvira maintain control throughout the entire encounter. However, in her later encounter with Suyin, Kuvira used these same tactics to gain the upper hand on her former mentor.

After landing one successful hit, Kuvira follows up with three more attacks before Su can do anything to retaliate
After landing one successful hit, Kuvira follows up with three more attacks before Su can do anything to retaliate

Here, we see a perfect example of how Toph wanted Aang to fight with earthbending. After turning Su's attempted throw against her, Kuvira further broke Su's stance by throwing her with her cable and bending the floor to push her into the machine. She then dealt her final blow by launching Su off of the platform. In the video, it sounds as though Kuvira is bending metal from the machine itself to shove Su, but it's not entirely clear.

As an additional note, the metal strips that Kuvira launched at Su after kicking her would have kept Su on the defensive if she happened to recover her footing before Kuvira was able to. Those attacks were ultimately unnecessary (as Su didn't recover any faster than Kuvira), but they showcase another element of Kuvira's strategy in this attack. They also might just showcase gratuitous metal projectiles from the animators, take your pick.

More on the fight between Su and Kuvira in the following section, but the overall takeaway point is this. With her relatively few fight scenes, Kuvira demonstrated mastery of neutral jing and exemplified the style of combat espoused by Toph herself. As rough and tumble as she is, Lin simply hasn't showcased this kind of skillful and strategic combat.

Comparison with Suyin Beifong:

When Suyin Beifong was introduced into LoK, she was presented as a bender of at least equal caliber to her sister, Lin. In their Book 3 fight, Lin was explicitly weakened, so it can't be used as a fully accurate representation of a fight between them. However, that doesn't mean it can't be used to illustrate some comparisons between both Beifongs.

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While Lin is coming into this fight low on stamina, she is also high on adrenaline, and her offense is at a level similar to her other fights (that boulder storm she launches at Su is one of her best attacks in the series, imo). She is throwing everything she has at Su, and none of it is able to connect.

As we just discussed in the above section, this kind of relentless offense (or positive jing) is not actually conducive to true mastery of earthbending combat. The best earthbenders wait and listen for the right moment to strike, and they conserve their energy by using precise attacks to set up openings for powerful blows. We can see Su use this type of combo sequence quite effectively at the start of the fight when she destabilizes Lin with a grounded attack before sending her flying with a meteorite, and we can see her waiting and listening as she draws Lin closer to the metal wall before dealing the final blow of the fight.

Now, if a healthy Lin were to have a rematch with Su, I don't believe the fight would be quite so one-sided. They were portrayed as being generally comparable for the remainder of the series, and I personally view each sister as roughly interchangeable when compared to most opponents in these types of Battle debates. However, in the specific context of an earth/metal bending 1v1, I would find it hard to give Lin any sort of significant edge over Suyin. If we were to give an edge to either sister, I think it would have to go to Su.

This is relevant because, as mentioned in the neutral jing section, Kuvira has her own battle with Su. For reference, here is the full fight

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This is a competitive fight (honestly one of my favorite in the series), and one could say that it didn't reach a decisive conclusion. However, it is still undeniable that Kuvira dealt with everything Su threw at her and was landed a combo of hits to remove Su from the platform. By points (so to speak), Kuvira would be the winner of this encounter.

Now, we could get into the technicalities of how this fight would go under different circumstances (and there's certainly been plenty of debate on that over the years). Usually, there's a couple main points of contention:

  • One could argue that Su wasn't in peak condition for this fight as she had been imprisioned by Kuvira for some time prior to this. While it's true that Su and the other Beifongs were being held prisoner, I don't recall any indication that their fighting abilities were intended to be impaired when taking on Kuvira and her forces. If that was intended to have been an influence on the outcome, there would have been some indication through character statements, visible exhaustion from the Beifongs, etc. There is none of that. And if the Red Lotus can be in perfect fighting form after 13 years in prison, then there's no reason the Beifongs can't be fine as well.
  • The other common argument concerns the fact that Kuvira had her gear for the fight while Su did not. This one has more validity, imo, but I don't believe it should take away from the overall implication of the fight. While Su did not start the fight with gear initially, she was able to create armor for herself right at the beginning of the fight (shortly after she ambushed Kuvira and before the fight reached peak intensity). Su was pulling metal strips from this armor to attack in the same way Kuvira was, and she was easily pulling plenty of metal from the environment for attacks and weapons. We also know that Kuvira is perfectly capable of shaping environmental metal into useable forms for her fighting style (as shown in the fight with Guan where she reshapes his attack into a whip and turns the Sato-mobile into projectiles). While it is possible that the fight would have gone differently if Su started with her armor and cables, I do not believe this was intended to be the deciding factor of the fight.
    • As something of an aside that I only really thought of while writing this post: both Wei and Wing have cables that they were using during the fight with Kuvira's forces. In the rescue scene, it looks like Bolin was carrying some sets of cables that he presumably gave to them. You would think that Su could have had a set too if she felt like she needed them. Instead, she adopts Kuvira's metal strip style and attempts to use it against her.

Ultimately, I believe these kinds of discussions (while potentially interesting), do not change the overall significance of the scene. From a storytelling perspective, this is the inevitable clash between teacher and protégé that has been building since Kuvira took Zaofu (or even since Kuvira left to conquer Ba Sing Se). Su attempts to take Kuvira 1v1, and she's not up to the task. It's a classic case of the student surpassing the master, and it helps to confirm that Kuvira is a legitimate bending threat. Back when S4 was first airing, I remember there being a lot of discussion about whether Kuvira was truly a good fighter or just someone who got lucky by fighting fodder and a weakened Avatar. After all, in Book 3 she wasn't portrayed as someone on the same level as Lin or Suyin. This fight with Su was confirmation that Kuvira was indeed a top tier combatant, someone who had clearly grown into a threat worthy of a series finale showdown with the Avatar.

Conclusion:

So, to wrap up this first post, here are my key takeaway points:

  • Lin is a well rounded and capable earth/metalbender, with all the skills necessary to patrol the streets of Republic City, investigating crimes and enforcing laws. She has demonstrated some advantages over Kuvira when it comes to more utilitarian skills (like the seismic sense or cable swinging (cable slinging? cable grappling? Spider-Man impersonating?) However, Kuvira trained herself to become the most efficient and effective warrior she could be. She refined her skills into a brand new fighting style with the goal of being able to take on any threat, from hoards of bandits to the Avatar herself. In doing so, she evolved into the new standard for metalbending combat.
  • Kuvira's fighting style might be new, but it is rooted in the core principles of earthbending combat. The precision and control demonstrated by Kuvira in her fights showcase a mastery of neutral jing that exceeds anything I can recall from Lin. Based on the criteria laid out by Bumi and Toph, Kuvira is a superior earthbending combatant than Lin.
  • While she began as Suyin's protégé, Kuvira's continued training and experience throughout her conquest enabled her to reach or even exceed Su's bending abilities. To take a majority against Kuvira, Lin would have to also be able to outmatch Su. However, throughout the show the sisters were portrayed as comparable (with Lin perhaps being at a slight disadvantage against Su in finesse and precision, gaps that would be even greater against Kuvira).

While Lin has the grit and strength to give Kuvira a heck of a fight, she does not have what it takes to win a majority against her. Kuvira pushed her combat ability to the limit, advancing metalbending and surpassing Suyin. Lin, for all her toughness and her 4 seasons worth of appearances, has yet to win a single bending battle against a named opponent.

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Arcus1

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Giving this a bump

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Arcus1

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Any two of the members of Team 2 would be a pretty good fight against Katara/Azula. Any three members of Team 2 would be enough to beat Katara/Azula. The 4v2 is overkill, imo

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Arcus1

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Thanks for the interest, everyone! I hope we’ll be able to give you all a good show, lol

I’m aiming to have my opener up this weekend