Force Lore: Lightsaber Forms

LightsaberTechniquePainting-SWG

FORM I: SHII-CHO

As the most ancient style of lightsaber combat, Shii-Cho was developed during the transition period from swords to lightsabers. Lightsabers were wielded in a manner similar to swords, so many of the maneuvers, such as attacks or parries, remained unchanged, as the key principles of the old sword-fighting methods continued to be incorporated. The simplicity and persistent methods of the form led it to being dubbed the “Way of the Sarlacc” and the “Determination Form”. Shii-Cho swordplay was simplistic and raw. In the hands of a master, the bladework was described as “like watching water flow over the falls.” However, less adept practitioners displayed much more basic and somewhat clumsy performance. In combat, Form I encouraged deliberate tactics, calling for continuous, step-by-step advancement while cutting off the opponent’s angles. Shii-Cho was specialized towards engaging multiple opponents, the wide, sweeping motions being ideally suited towards attacking numerous adversaries. However, Form I was not as useful against single opponents, as such enemies had complete mobility and could find a weakness in Shii-Cho’s comparatively clumsy bladework.[10] Shii-Cho fostered an emotionally-heated mindset, which resulted in the considerable temptation to execute combat with lethal intent, requiring great restraint to exercise the form without going too far. Despite the pull to kill, the style was designed for the purpose of disarming without seriously injuring.

As the most simplistic form, Shii-Cho was the first form taught to initiates within the Jedi Order. Form I training provided the basic knowledge of the sword-fighting principles and blast-deflection skill that was required for practice of all the other forms. In order to teach students to draw upon the Force rather than rely on their senses, early level Shii-Cho blast-deflect training was conducted with a blindfold, forcing the initiate to rely upon his instincts. Later training was conducted through the use of sequences and velocities, the continuous repetition making the moves instinctive reflexes. These training regimens were carried over to all following lightsaber combat forms, which used similar methods. Shii-Cho philosophy emphasized victory without injury, and as such, the sun djem mark of contact was traditionally employed by Form I practitioners. Keeping with the use of sun djem, one of the attacks utilized by Form I practitioners was referred to as the “Disarming Slash”, consisting of a strike directed at the opponent’s weapon in an attempt to rip it out of their grasp.

Form Specific Maneuvers:

  • Disarming Slash: A strike directed at the opponent’s weapon in an attempt to rip it out of their grasp or destroy it.
  • Sarlacc Sweep: A wide sweeping attack in which the duelist struck against multiple enemies.

FORM II: MAKASHI

Makashi was the most dueling-centric of the seven forms, developed during an era where engagements with Darksiders and rogue Jedi became an almost routine activity. Form II’s primary purpose was to serve as a counter to the first form; Shii-Cho. Makashi relied on precision swordplay to counter the sweeping movements demonstrated by Shii-Cho, and a heavy focus on protecting one’s weapon to avoid being disarmed, the primary goal of Form I. Form II emphasized fluid motion and anticipation of a weapon being swung at its target, and so required very fluid movements of both the blade and the body. Timing, accuracy, and skill, rather than strength, were relied-upon to defeat one’s opponent. With a skilled practitioner, the results were deadly. Makashi users were often elegant, precise, calm, confident to the point of arrogance. Form II users were supremely confident in their chances for victory, and often looked so relaxed when they were fighting they even appeared to be dancing. Makashi duelists also trained themselves to avoid enslavement to form, as such enslavement opened the practitioner to be defeated by predictability and the unforeseen.

Due to Form II’s emphasis on blade manipulation, and its many fluid one-handed moves, Makashi practitioners often wielded lightsabers that were specialized for such use. The most prominent weapon for this purpose was the curved-hilted lightsaber. These weapons were used because the curved hilt fit better into the palm, granting better blade control and allowing for greater precision and strength. In addition to this, wielders often created highly decorated weapons, and occasionally included blade-guards. The other, considerably rarer, weapon type was the Lightfoil.

Form Specific Maneuvers:

  • Contentious Opportunity: A tactic based upon recognizing and exploiting an opening in the opponent’s defense before swiftly moving to strike the exposed enemy.
  • Makashi Riposte: A defensive technique where the duelist slightly alters the angle of an opponent’s attack before quickly retaliating with a counter strike.

FORM III: SORESU

The original purpose of the Soresu form was to counter blaster-wielding opponents, as the previous combat styles focused on lightsaber dueling. Becoming the most defensive of the seven forms, Soresu utilized tight moves, subtle dodges and short sweeps designed to provide maximum defensive coverage, leaving the duelist less exposed to ranged fire. Over time, Form III came to transcend this basic origin and become an expression of non-aggressive Jedi philosophy. Soresu utilized motions that occurred very close to the body, in an attempt to achieve near-total protection and expend as little energy as possible while executing moves. Form III stressed quick reflexes and fast positional transition, in order to overcome the rapidity with which a blaster could be fired. This technique minimized the body’s exposure, making a well-trained practitioner nearly invincible. Form III involved preparation for prolonged battles where the user observed and learned as much as possible about their opponent’s or opponents’ technique while engaged in combat. Also, by being more capable in lengthy battles, a Soresu user had the ability to gain control of a combat situation, creating multiple options for the Jedi employing the form. A Form III user could choose to kill, disarm, or even reason with their opponent.

Truly focused masters of Soresu were very formidable due to their strong defense technique. However, Form III merely facilitated survival rather than victory. Form III initiates were more than capable of defending themselves from attack, but they needed a large amount of experience to learn how to effectively counter-attack and entrap opponents. Masters had to maintain an incredibly strong focus on the center of the combat circle, since the defensive tactics of the form included guards and parries engaged very close to the body. Jedi who left small lapses in their otherwise strong defense left little room to avoid injury.

Form Specific Maneuvers:

  • Circle of Shelter: A technique where the duelist creates a protected area around themselves and their allies, making it difficult for enemies to penetrate.
  • Deflecting Slash: A technique where the duelist redirects the momentum generated by deflecting an enemy projectile into a slashing attack at an adjacent target.

FORM IV: ATARU

Ataru was an aggressive combat form relying on a combination of power, strength, and speed. Practitioners of Ataru were always on the offensive, attacking with wide, fast, and powerful swings, constantly calling upon the Force to aid in their movements and attacks. By allowing the Force to flow throughout their body, they could overcome their physical limitations and perform amazing feats of acrobatics, such as somersaults and backflips, not only for attack, but also to evade the attacks and strikes of their opponents.

The standard components of Form IV focused on application of and smooth transition between the three axes of rotation in a three-dimensional space; the su ma. Specifically, the jung su ma (spinning), ton su ma (somersaults), and en su ma (cartwheels). Those who used Form IV could move at high speeds and could rain strong blows, jumping and attacking through the air. Powerful and quick spinning attacks could be utilized from all angles, either from ground or air. A master in Ataru combat could appear like a blur to their opponents, attacking from all directions—from the front, the sides, overhead, or behind. The Force not only allowed them to perform athletic feats not possible otherwise, but it also helped guide their actions and movements in combat.

Form Specific Maneuvers:

  • Hawk-Bat Swoop: Was intended to allow a combatant to quickly strike their opponent without giving them a chance to react.
  • Saber Swarm: Numerous short strikes were aimed at the adversary.

FORM V: SHIEN/ DJEM SO

Form V was created by Form III masters who desired a more offensive style, since the defensive nature of Form III could lead to prolonged combat, sometimes dangerously so. It evolved into an accepted style by combining the defensive maneuvers of Form III with the more aggressive philosophy and tactics of Form II. Form V also required a higher level of physical strength than the other lightsaber forms, due to its focus on complete domination of opponents. The form was developed alongside Form IV at a time when the Jedi were increasingly called upon to actively keep the peace. Form V had two distinct variations: Shien and Djem So.

Classic Form V, Shien was developed first. Known as the “Perseverance Form”, Shien was designed to protect against enemy blaster fire and strikes without compromising one’s ability to launch powerful counterattacks. With its focus against blaster fire, Shien kept in mind that Jedi were often outnumbered by their opponents and needed to defend themselves while retaining offensive capability. However, it lacked effectiveness against single opponents.[66] Shien practitioners were known to favor, or at least regularly utilize, reversed grips.

Whereas Shien specialized in blast-deflection, the more advanced Djem So focused on lightsaber dueling. Utilizing a combination of blocks and parries, a Djem So user maintained a proper foundation in terms of defense against both ranged and melee attacks, but rather than counter only when necessary as per Soresu training regimens, Djem So actively pressed the offense. Djem So placed a heavy focus on brute strength, utilizing wide, powerful strikes and parries. Power attacks from a Djem So user could even knock an opponent back just through sheer kinetic force, throwing them off balance and leaving them vulnerable to further brute force strikes and power blows that sought not just to penetrate an opponent’s defense, but drive them back and leave them unable to counter.

Form Specific Maneuvers:

  • Barrier of Blades: Defended the user from blasterfire and redirected some of the incoming blasts.
  • Falling Avalanche: An overhand power blow that crashed down upon an opponent with incredible force.
  • Fluid Riposte: A smooth transition from parrying an attack to a counterstrike.
  • Shien Deflection: Simultaneously deflect weapons fire and leap towards an opponent.

FORM VI: NIMAN

Form VI attempted to balance all elements of lightsaber combat, combining the techniques from Forms that came before into a less intensely demanding combat style. In practice, Form VI was a combination of older forms (Forms I, III, IV, and V), and all of them in moderation. In the blending, much of the individuality was lost, but the strengths were spread evenly, and there was little weakness in it. Due to its “jack-of-all-trades” nature, the success of this form was largely dependent on the practitioner’s intuition, improvisation, and creativity in combat rather than the rote responses derived from other forms. This broad generalization made Form VI well suited for diplomats, as they could spend their time training in the areas of politics and negotiation instead of combat training.

Form Specific Maneuvers:

  • Draw Closer: It consisted of the duelist telekinetically seizing an opponent and pulling the enemy into the path of his/her blade.
  • Pushing Slash: The duelist would slash an opponent before blasting him aside with a Force push.

FORM VII: JUYO

Juyo was described as the most vicious form of lightsaber combat, and was said to be filled with both fury and “malignant grace.” The form came to be known as the most difficult and demanding in all of saber combat. Skilled combatants with Juyo were said to be able to “eviscerate a lone enemy.” The form is both chaotic and erratic, with a heavy focus on offense.

Characteristics of Juyo include bold, direct motions, qualifying them as more open and kinetic than Form V, but with a less elaborate appearance than Ataru. The tactics of Juyo are not nearly as graceful or linked as those of Ataru, instead as “seemingly unconnected staccato sequences.” One of Juyo’s largest strengths is its unpredictability. The form was said to necessitate greater energy than Form V, due to a broader wielding of a user’s focus and a deeper emotional link. Despite the challenges inherent in the use of the form, it could serve as a pathway to considerable power.

Form Specific Maneuvers:

  • Assured Strike: Trading sheer power for a near-certainty of landing a hit.
  • Vornskr’s Ferocity: Involved “ferocious” attacking of an opponent.
  • Swift Flank: The user leaped or dashed around an opponent to make a quick strike. The speed of the maneuver was intended to catch opponents off guard.
1 Like

OTHER FORMS

JAR’KAI

Dual-blade fighters, whether classical Niman duelists or individuals applying the Jar’Kai tactic, were able to maintain a strong offense, as the speed of attack that two blades allowed would overwhelm most opponents. A typical maneuver was to continually attack with one blade while relying on the other for defensive coverage, ensuring that the duelist could keep up his guard even as he attacked. However, it was common that both blades be used for offensive purposes, keeping up a continuous wave-front assault.

Another advantage of Jar’Kai was that the two blades made it easier to hold off multiple opponents, as one simply had more blades to parry with. ual blades could also be used as a defensive or compensatory measure when engaging another opponent who utilized multiple blades in combat. Though a complete fighting system in and of itself, Jar’Kai was easily adapted to other styles.

Specific Maneuvers:

  • Twin Strike: A duel-wielding strike that the character simultaneously swings both lightsabers to act as a strong-attack. Both lightsabers meet the target or object.
  • Rising Whirlwhind: A duelist swings his lightsabers about his body, creating a brilliant whirlwind.

TRAKATA

The Tràkata style was based around the unique ability of lightsabers to turn on and off, activating and deactivating the blade in the heat of combat to slip past enemy defenses, or trick them into over-extending themselves. Philosophically, Tràkata involved practical combat and deception, rather than the more traditional single-minded and determined tactics that were the hallmarks of the Jedi and Sith. Sith had difficulty applying this style, as their power came from passion and rage rather than level-headed tactical ingenuity, and the Jedi refrained from this style due to their unwillingness to rely on deception. Also, deactivating one’s lightsaber during combat offered greater control over the Force due to the removed distraction.

Specific Maneuvers:

  • Pass The Blade: The duelist deactivates his blade as he attacks, bypassing the opponent’s block before igniting it into the hapless foe.
  • Unbalancing Block: The duelist catches the opponent’s blade with his own before momentarily deactivating it, causing the opponent to stumble and leave himself open.

SOKAN

For the most part, Sokan was a principle of lightsaber combat, rather than a true form. Developed by the ancient Jedi Knights during the Great Hyperspace War, Sokan teaching revolved around using the environment itself to gain a tactical advantage in combat. Sokan was based on out-maneuvering opponents, using quick tumbling and jumping movements to close the distance and facilitate swift strokes towards the opponent’s vital areas. Terrain was heavily relied on for this purpose, and allowed for great speed and mobility, and also facilitated self-defense. Sokan practitioners integrated highly kinetic elements of Ataru with their ancient Sokan techniques to create a blend of styles that relied upon agility.

Specific Maneuvers:

  • High Ground Defense: Usually involves environment, combatants made use of large amounts of terrain, trying to maneuver their opponents into vulnerable areas during the course of battles that involved Sokan techniques.
  • Unhindered Charge: Rapid movement towards the opponent, ignoring difficult terrain and obstacles.

DUN MOCH

Dun Möch was a traditional Sith tactic based around psychological warfare. Primarily, the practitioner relied on taunts that exposed an opponents inner doubts and weaknesses, disrupting their concentration. Proper execution of Dun Möch called for great patience and control, a rare trait among the Sith, especially those of the earlier eras.

UNARMED COMBAT

As the various forms of lightsaber combat were all fully developed martial art forms, they were not limited to use with the lightsaber, and unarmed combat training was standard among many Force-based organizations.[86] Most species were known to engage in this kind of combat, and a number of sentient species and cultures also developed it into different martial arts proper; just as the various lightsaber combat forms could be applied unarmed, so too could many of these unarmed combat styles be applied with the lightsaber.

During duels, such physical attacks were applied with astonishing regularity, oftentimes with the goal of disorienting an opponent prior to a finishing attack. As disarming was a common goal in lightsaber duels, it was not unheard of for both opponents to lose their weapons, causing the fight to degenerate into a brawl. In fact, fighters have been known to draw on the Force to augment their speed and strength, allowing them to unleash powerful hits that threw opponents across the room, or literally tear them limb from limb.

2 Likes