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The Technique From Both Naruto And Avatar That Exists In Real Life

In the world of animation, sometimes accuracy is key. Many animators spend their entire lives studying how to make their characters move and act in believable, realistic ways. And the only way to accomplish that goal is to study things other than art. Want to animate a bird taking off from its nest? You better become an amateur ornithologist. Want to draw a realistic medieval castle? Then it's time to become a bit of a history buff. Want to animate a wicked fight scene between two master combatants? Then it would be in your best interest to study the world of martial arts.

That's exactly what the animators behind the popular shows Naruto and Avatar: The Last Airbender did when it came time to draw each show's respective fight scenes. Both shows are majorly influenced by East Asian mythology and culture, and this shared influence extends to everything in the shows, including the fighting. One of the most prominent examples of this shared martial arts influence is present in Naruto's Gentle Fist Taijutsu and Avatar's Airbending.

The martial art that inspired both Naruto and Avatar

Both Naruto and Avatar draw from multiple martial arts for their shows, but when it comes to the Gentle Fist and Airbending, both are based on the Chinese style Baguazhang, according to CBR. This style can translate into English as "Eight Trigrams," which not-so-coincidentally happens to be the name of a Gentle Fist technique used by Naruto character Neji Hyuga (via Live About).

A behind-the-scenes feature of Avatar, Creating The Legend, describes Baguazhang (or simply Ba Gua, as they called it) as "circle walking," because of the way in which practitioners build power and evade opponents through circular movement. This can be seen in many of the forms that Aang uses throughout the series. This includes his own invention, the air scooter, which involves using circular hand movements to create a ball of air.

While Naruto's take on Baguazhang is less rooted in its trademark circular motions, instead focusing on targeting pressure points (similar to Avatar's Ty Lee), certain moves also reveal the circular influence. The aforementioned Eight Trigrams technique used by Neji attacks with 64 strikes in all directions. Not only that, but users of this technique envision the Taoist symbol for the Eight Trigrams, which forms the basis of Baguazhang's philosophy, surrounding them (via Narutopedia). This reveals the Gentle Fist's true origins as a Baguazhang-inspired art.