I'm not denying that bending is a martial art, however there's a difference between bending focused fighting and physical/hand-to-hand combat. We probably agree on this in theory, just not my terminology. I'm also not saying it's bad thing either, however I think being a jack-of-all trades in tactics will reveal certain weaknesses. Some characters don't have a huge problem with this integration (Azula being one of the few), but for others it is. Going back to our previous discussion, I believe this is Korra's shortcoming as a fighter. Why she doesn't dominate her fights as much as she should, given her understanding as a toddler, her agressive personality, and extra time to prepare. She's mixing too many, possibly conflicting, disciplines. Aang also seemed more dominant when he was just an Air-bender in my opinion, don't think I'm just attacking Korra.
I wouldn't put Aang up as a "martial artist", as he doesn't tend to fight as physically, but he is a master bender. Aang, especially in book one, seems to be adept in combat pragmatism (using the environment and other unorthodox (or cheap) tactics). Tenzin, on the other hand, is way too "honorable" and serious to engage in combat pragmatism. He fights like an adult and a national leader, not simply to survive.
I don't think Azula needs a cheap shot, she can take care of herself. However, she knows to back off and wait before jumping into action. Korra, even when she's more restrained, tends to jump into action.
@soduh2: Zaheer had also been preparing to train Korra in airbending when he was imprisioned. He wasn't just some random guy, he was a master fighter and well prepared to be an airbender. And he still got wrecked by Tenzin
Aang only has airbending, no other elements.
Aang can avoid, sure, but if he wants to actually occupy both Tenzin and Korra he'll have to be largely offensive, otherwise there's no reason one of them wouldn't engage Azula
I think Air is an element suited towards being an arena hazard. Aang's book one feats alone puts him up in this discussion.
Zaheer was a master fighter, but his best feats in his fight against Tenzin came from avoiding him (as opposed to getting closer). Maybe being a "master fighter" helped his agility. That's basically my interpretation of Tonraq's (and Korra by possible association) bending style.
Korra is a martial artist first, and a bender second.
Azula is a bender first, and a martial artist second (and maybe a combat pragmatist third).
Tenzin is a bender.
Aang is a bender first, and a combat pragmatist second.
@arcus: Zaheer, even qualifying that he was a prodigy/air-nomad-culture fan boy, did really well keeping away from Tenzin who is a Master. Now Tenzin was better offensively, but Zaheer was able to evade him. Based on Aang's airbending feats alone (which you posted) he should be able to hold his own against Tenzin offensively. All Aang has to do is avoid and distract the other team. That's not even considering his other elements. I think that's within his characterization and capability to participate this way.
Korra > Fire (though Aang was trained by the Dragons, and can redirect lightening)
Judging by Tenzin's fight against Zaheer, I don't think Aang will have too much trouble with his adult son. He doesn't have to stop Tenzin and Korra, just distract them (Azula takes them out with a lightening attack, Korra gets priority). Aang's main tactics are evasive, Azula using Aang as a distraction would be improvised fairly quickly. I don't see Korra and Tenzin making/improvising a strategy like that. Korra would go "Leroy Jenkins" in the fight, and Tenzin would provide back up to her.
I believe Korra is well-suited to stop Azula without much effort.
Azula needs to keep her distance from Korra, but isn't a slouch in close combat herself.
Ah ok, I think I understand what you're saying better.
While Korra was trained for a long time, she was also incredible sheltered. She didn't have any experience outside her compound until her late teens, which means less experience fighting real opponents. When she fought low to mid tier benders she dominated them casually, look at her fight with the Triad, or the Southern Water Tribe rebels who she beat without even bending. Tarrlok gave her a brief fight, but Korra would have won decisively without bloodbending (which beats just about anyone). Yeah, guys like Unalaq fought evenly with her, but the guy's also a crazy good waterbender
However, what you neglected to mention was Korra's learning curve. She demonstrated skill with two of the elements as a toddler, and should have built on top of that. Technically Korra can be compared to Azula who was also sheltered in her training (trained in the Fire Nation, trained with the White Lotus). While Azula dominated most of her fights, Korra does not.