Lightsaber Fighting Styles

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Owning a ligthsaber is one thing, but if the wielder doesn’t have sufficient skills, that will do little good. Every Jedi and Sith are trained to use these weapons to striking effect. Even those whose focus is on diplomacy and peaceful negotiations knew the importance of being able to handle a ligthsaber. There is a body called the Sabre Legion that teaches every form of ligthsaber combat, even those that have become outdated over time.

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Forms of Lightsaber Combat

Form I: Shii-Cho

Each Jedi or Sith can recognise all seven forms of ligthsaber combat. Form I, named Shii-Cho, is the oldest and most basic form of ligthsaber combat. It was developed so early on that it does not focus on ligthsaber-against-ligthsaber combat, but rather on using the ligthsaber in a defensive mode. It is taught to the younglings as an introduction to combat. When all other forms of combat are exhausted, combatants often fall back on Shii-Cho.

Form II: Makashi

Form II, named Makashi and also known as the Contention Form, took prominence over Form I after the emergence of the Dark Jedi and Sith Lords. The new proliferation of ligthsabers meant that Form I became outdated, and combatants needed new techniques. Form II is graceful and balanced, using complicated footwork and elegant techniques to outmatch opponents. This form uses only one hand, and practitioners are usually able to disarm their opponent without resorting to a killing blow.

Form III: Soresu

With the upsurge in blaster use, and intergalactic combat bringing more diverse types of weapons against which Jedi and Sith needed to defend themselves, the Makashi fighting form (Form II) also fell into obsolescence. Though Shii-Cho is still used by Jedi, Form III, named Soresu and also called the Way of the Mynock, replaced Makashi. Soresu is perhaps the most resilient form of ligthsaber combat as it is more defensive than aggressive. Obi-Wan Kenobi was a master of this form, and was able to block twenty hits per second, of any type. This style was also exhibited by Luke Skywalker on Endor, where he defended himself against multiple Scout Troopers.

Form IV: Ataru

With an increase in the ability of both the Jedi and the Sith to connect with the Force, Form IV developed. This form, called Ataru and also called the Aggression Form, emerged during the Mandalorian Wars, increased through the time of the Old Republic, and became the most common style of ligthsaber combat. Ataru is very aggressive, and quickly became the favourite of the Sith. Other than Form VII (discussed below), Ataru is the most kinetically active form, and relies on the fighter’s connection to the Force for assistance in acrobatic manoeuvres. This form is most useful in one-on-one ligthsaber combat, and focusses on speed, agility, strength, and the combination of acrobatics and offensive and defensive moves. Yoda displays this style in Revenge of the Sith, while fighting Darth Sidious. Both Yoda and Qui-Gon were very skilled in Ataru, especially before the fall of the Old Republic.

This style should not be used by novices, as a strong grasp of the force must be applied to it, allowing the Force to flow through the practitioner.

Form V: Shien & Djem So

The next form is Form V, named Djem So, which evolved from Form III. It is a method that allows the practitioner to defend him or herself, while also providing opportunities for offensive moves. Shien, the classical variant of Form V, is a method of deflecting distance attacks, such as those from blasters and other ranged weapons. Djem So, its complement, was developed specially for ligthsaber-to-ligthsaber combat. Practitioners often preferred Form V to some other styles because it uses fewer acrobatics.

Despite the apparent differences in the purpose of the two parts of Form V, the two have one underlying principle in common: using the opponent’s attacks against them as a counterstrike. Deflecting ranged strikes back at enemies (the attacker or another enemy), or using the enemy’s momentum to redirect blocks into strikes, make this style very efficient and effective. It was a favourite of both Jedi and Sith, though some Jedi questioned its use, as they saw the high level of aggression as antithetical to the principles of the Jedi Way.

Form VI: Niman

Form VI, named Niman and also called the Way of Rancour, developed as a hybrid of several of the other forms. Form VI did not have a signature fighting form as such, but rather combined other tactics together in an effective set. That adaptability meant that it also did not have a predictable trait weakness. Students of this form normally learn it by accompanying it with Force-based combat.

Form VII: Juyo (or Vaapad)

The seventh and final form of ligthsaber combat, Form VII, named either Juyo or Vaapad, is the last known formal style of ligthsaber combat. Jedi Master Mace Windu is the most well-known user of this style. It was this form that gave him the upper hand when he fought Darth Sidious. Once Sidious was disarmed, Windu spared his life, rather than kill and unarmed foe. It was this mercy that allowed the villain to escape. Windu did not die due to lack of fighting skill, but due to his devotion to the Jedi Way, to the point of sacrificing his life, rather than risk deviation from the Way.

Combining Fighting Styles

Though the descriptions above, for the most part, imply that these forms are clearly separated from each other, there is overlap between them. Seen as a whole, each style is easily identified by a skilled observer, but a given technique may be employed by more than one of the styles. A given practitioner may also employ more than one style in a given battle, switching between one and another to best suit the terrain, the opponent, or other factors surrounding the given engagement. Many Jedi are trained to take a defensive stance as a priority, as opposed to the Sith who favour aggression from the onset. Therefore, Jedi will consider which style will result in the least loss of life, while their Dark Side counterparts might consider just the opposite.

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