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I've been trained in your Jedi arts by Count Dooku.
Lightsaber combat was the preferred method of fighting used by the Jedi and Sith, which was initially based on ancient sword-fighting techniques. Throughout the millennia since its creation it developed into seven "classic" forms and numerous other styles. It was difficult to master for a number of reasons, one of them being that all of the weight a lightsaber had was in its hilt. It had been said that only a Force-sensitive individual could completely master lightsaber combat. All seven traditional lightsaber forms included the same basic techniques as ancient sword-fighting styles, such as defensive postures, overhand strikes, parries, and counterstrikes.
The lightsaber was a very versatile weapon, owing to its unique lightness and omni-directional cutting ability. It could be wielded one-handed or with both hands. Early in the weapon's history, when the Sith were numerous, the art of lightsaber dueling flourished. In later periods though, only rarely would Jedi face an adversary with a weapon capable of repelling a lightsaber.
Although the blade was weightless, two-handed slashes were the most common movement. This was because inertia was still needed to cut through solid objects. Solid objects were repelled by the blade arc until they were changed to gas or plasma. Therefore, inertia was required to counteract the initial repelling force. The stronger the swing, the faster and easier the blade would cut. If little force was applied to the swing, the repelling force of the blade arc would leave shallow cuts. When two lightsaber blades came in contact with each other, the two repelling forces made the blade appear to be solid. If the lightsaber is dropped, the blade will retract automatically, so the user will not be injured.
Also, the field that caused the energy to arc back into the blade caused some gyroscopic effects. While technically weightless, the blade still had some resistance to changes in motion. The slight gyroscopic effects were easily controlled by a trained force user, but could become problematic for lay person.
The Jedi were trained to use the Force as a conduit between the wielder and the weapon. Through this bond in the Force, the blade became an extension of their being; it moved with instinct as though it were a part of the body. The Jedi's attunement to the Force accounted for the almost superhuman agility and reflex illustrated in the use of the lightsaber.
The Seven FormsEdit
Six there were for generations of Jedi. The seventh, is not well-known.—Yoda, Shatterpoint (novel)
Each Jedi chose the style of lightsaber combat that best suited him or her. For example, Grand Master Yoda used the Ataru form to compensate for his lack of reach and height; Mace Windu used Vaapad to turn his inner darkness into a weapon of the light; Count Dooku's practice of the Makashi form fit first of all his intention to frequently engage in lightsaber-to-lightsaber combat, and second his emphasis on class and elegance as well as precision. Jedi learned elements of each form, though few ever mastered all of them.
Form I is the most basic of the seven forms and is learned by every Jedi Youngling. Shii-Cho includes the fundamental elements of all the lightasber forms including the basic attack, parry, body target zones, and practice drills called velocities.
Form II represents the ultimate refinement of lightsaber-to-lightsaber combat. Masters of Makashi develop unique offenses and defenses and train studiously against having their sabers taken or damaged.
Form III was first developed in response to the advancement of blaster technology in the galaxy. Soresu's emphasis on tight, efficient movements that expose very minimal target areas, make it the most defensive and passive of the seven forms.
Form IV is the most acrobatic of all the forms and requires a Jedi to first master the Force Run, Jump, and Spin abilities. By incorporating all the Force powers that allow a Jedi to exceed standard norms of physical abilities, Jedi may resemble nothing less than a blur when using this style.
Form V was also created in response to the advancement and frequency of blaster use in the galaxy. Unlike the strictly defensive style Soresu, Shien exploits the ability of a lightsaber to block blaster bolts and deflect them back at an opponent in a counter-attack maneuver.
Form VI seeks to balance the emphases of forms I through V. Niman allows a Jedi to fight with harmony and justice without having to resort to powerful, aggressive movements or overt emotion.
Form VII seeks also to incorporate a type of balance between forms I through V, but unlike Form VI it's purpose is not to blend them in harmony. Juyo instead employs bold, direct movements, more open and kinetic than form V, but not so elaborate as the acrobatic form Ataru. Juyo requires greater energy and intensity out of the practitioner because his focus is wielded more broadly and draw upon from a deeper well of emotion; while the outward bearing of a Form VII practitioner is one of calm, the inner pressure verges on explosive.
The seven forms were not merely swordplay moves, they represented seven different kinds of philosophy. In addition, a lightsaber was not necessary to execute the seven forms: each form could be applied in unarmed combat. Jedi Masters Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Kit Fisto had demonstrated such talent during the Battle of Haruun Kal and the Bio-Droid Threat respectively.
Other forms of lightsaber combatEdit
These forms were not considered a part of the seven main or "classic" forms. Some were systematized methods of lightsaber combat, while others were merely techniques or principles of combat applied to lightsaber combat. They were mostly based on other forms, with the exception of Form "Zero", which emphasized avoiding conflict whenever possible.
- Sokan - using terrain to one's advantage
- Shien - attacking many foes at once with wide, sweeping strokes and an underhand grip
- Jar'Kai - two-handed lightsaber combat, using one blade for attack, another for defense
- Lus-ma - only once mentioned, used by Grievous' MagnaGuards
- Form "Zero" - avoiding combat when not necessary
- Dun Möch - distracting and taunting an opponent, a Sith technique
- Telekinetic lightsaber combat
- Trispzest - a type of aerial dueling
- Mounted lightsaber combat
- Double-bladed lightsaber combat
- Lightwhip combat
- Tràkata - taking advantage of a lightsaber's ability to be turned quickly on and off
Stop using the standard attacks, use the unorthodox!
Several techniques fell outside the traditional and practiced forms of the Jedi. General Grievous could employ more varied movements. His attacks were intended to misdirect and confuse traditionally trained sword fighters. Grievous was exceptionally capable of this due to the flexibility of his joints, robotic reflexes, and his many limbs. Only the most experienced and talented Jedi could withstand his attacks. For example, Grievous could hold one lightsaber in each of his four hands, spinning two of them very rapidly in front of him as a shield. Grievous used this against Obi-Wan Kenobi on Utapau, though his capabilities may have been inhibited after injuries sustained on Coruscant from Mace Windu.
Another unique lightsaber style was that of Adi Gallia who held her saber with a one-handed reverse grip resulting in wide, long swings. This was a personal variation of Shien, much as Vaapad was Mace Windu's personal variation of Juyo. Anakin Skywalker's first Padawan Ahsoka Tano and later his secret apprentice Galen Marek also seemed to prefer this style.
Dark Jedi Boc's combat style was an unorthodox mixture of the dual saber based Niman & Jar'Kai and highly aggressive jumping attacks directed straight at his opponent. He used this against Kyle Katarn in a duel on Ruusan, but—with some help from his friend Jan Ors and the Force—Katarn was able to defeat Boc.
The three styles of the New Jedi OrderEdit
In addition to the above-mentioned forms, there were three pace-based styles, probably applicable to all of the conventional and less conventional forms, though each style was more compatible with some forms than with others.
These three styles were taught to the students at Luke Skywalker's Jedi Praxeum around the time of the crises of Desann's Reborn and the Disciples of Ragnos. One member of the New Jedi Order who mastered all three styles was Kyle Katarn. Katarn lectured students Jaden Korr and Rosh Penin on them already at their first training session.
The three styles, along with most lightsaber combat skill taught in the New Jedi Order, were based on the principle of the Three Rings of Defense which were introduced very early on in the history of the Order by one of the first students, Kam Solusar.
Marks of contact, maneuvers and ThrustEdit
All seven forms of lightsaber combat utilized these ancient terms used by the Jedi for describing the objectives, maneuvers to use, and the various outcomes that could arise out of a fight involving lightsabers as weapons. They could help focus a Jedi’s attacks and defenses on a few clearer categories, rather than diffusing awareness across an infinite number of possibilities in a duel.
Marks of contactEdit
A cho mai was the act of cutting off an opponent's weapon-using hand. This move showed that the Jedi using it had the honor to cause the opponent minimal physical damage; it also showed the skill and mastery of the Jedi performing the move to the opponent. Darth Vader demonstrated this on Luke in Cloud City.
A cho sun was the act of cutting off an opponent's weapon arm. This was demonstrated by Obi-Wan Kenobi cutting off the arm Ponda Baba held his blaster in during a scuffle in the Mos Eisley Cantina. It was also demonstrated by Count Dooku cutting of the lower half of Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber arm.
A sai cha was the instance when a Jedi beheaded his or her opponent. Sai Cha comes from ancient words meaning "separate" and "head" This was often reserved for the most dangerous of enemies—the ones a Jedi could not afford to keep alive. It could also be used on a being that was lethal but not sentient, such as an assassin droid. The form was used by Mace Windu to kill Jango Fett, as well by Anakin above Coruscant on Count Dooku, at the persuasion of Chancellor Palpatine.
A sai tok, frowned upon by the Jedi because of its Sith-like nature, was the act of cutting an opponent in half, usually separating his or her legs from the torso at the waist. This was demonstrated by Obi-Wan at the ending phase of his duel with Darth Maul.
A shiak was the act of stabbing an opponent. Jedi usually stabbed in the leg or arm, but a Sith variation of this is to stab through the chest, therefore assuring almost certain death to the unlucky victim. This was demonstrated by Darth Maul when he killed Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Sidious when he killed Agen Kolar.
A shiim was a more minute wound to an opponent by the edge of a lightsaber's blade. Depending on circumstance, this could be seen as either a desperation attack or to immobilize an opponent through pain. Jedi used this to stop opponents whom they wanted alive. Count Dooku demonstrated this on Geonosis against Obi-Wan; Dooku made minor cuts on Kenobi's arm and leg in order to immobilize him so that Anakin would be forced to duel Count one-on-one.
A sun djem was an attack used by Jedi that deprived the opponent of his/her weapon, the objective usually being not to physically harm the opponent. Sun djem was a very diverse sub-form; moves ranged from spinning a lightsaber to dislodging an opponent's weapon to kicking or punching the opponent.
A mou kei was an attack used by the Sith and some Jedi that dismembered an opponent through a circular motion of the lightsaber, aimed at the major limbs. The objective was to finish a dangerous opponent. This was the attack used by Obi-Wan Kenobi to end his duel with Darth Vader on Mustafar.
A jung in lightsaber combat was a 180-degree turn.
A jung ma was a maneuver used by Jedi to perform a 360-degree spin in which power was gained for an imminent attack on the opponent. Darth Vader and Obi-Wan can be seen using jung ma during their battle on Mustafar. Obi-Wan performed the maneuver again years later moments before he disappeared and became one with the Force during a battle with Darth Vader on the Death Star.
Not a maneuver per se, the kai-kan was a re-enactment of a famous, usually ancient, very dangerous, lightsaber or even sword battle, which only very well trained Jedi attempted to perform.
A sai was a jump used by Jedi to evade an attack directed at the legs. The Force was the main backbone of the strength, height, and speed at which the jump was executed. The Jedi could then strike downwards, using the fall as a fulcrum for more power. Known uses of it include by Luke Skywalker against Darth Vader during the Battle of Endor, by Anakin Skywalker against Count Dooku at the Battle of Geonosis, Obi-Wan against Darth Vader in their lightsaber fight on Mustafar on the connecting end of the collection arm and by Mace Windu against Darth Sidious. However, this maneuver was used many times by Jedi Knights all over the galaxy.
A shun was a 360-degree turn performed with just a one-handed grip, thus gaining speed for an attack. Darth Vader uses this technique when he spins during the second part of his ill-fated fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar.
The Flowing Water cut was a lightsaber combat technique designed for going blade-to-blade with one's opponent, based on the principle of using the space created when the opponent withdrew their lightsaber offensively to one's own advantage. As the opponent pulled their lightsaber back from a bind, the user would follow it with their blade, in effect causing the opponent to pull the user's blade into themselves.
The Falling Leaf cut was an ancient lightsaber combat technique that involved spinning on one's feet to "slash from the sky". It might be related to the jung ma and shun techniques. The basic maneuver involved the user spinning and making a fast slash at an opponent standing behind them and then return to face the way they were before the maneuver.
Alter Damage was not a combat maneuver, but rather a rare Force power by which the Jedi could inflict minimal damage with an otherwise lethal cut or stab. This was used to pacify enemies without killing them or injuring them lethally.
Saber barrier was a defensive telekinetic lightsaber combat technique. Designed for dual saber combat, it created a barrier of lightsaber blades by having the lightsabers spin around the saber-wielding Jedi. Kreia used this power against the Jedi Exile in the Trayus Academy on Malachor V, and the Dark Jedi Alora may have used it years later against Jaden Korr. Mace Windu also mastered this technique.
Saber throw was an offensive usage of the lightsaber, combining Force Push and Force Pull allowing the Jedi to throw their lightsaber at targets in a boomerang-like fashion. It was a common Force power, as it was a good long range alternative to the typical short range lightsaber attacks. Darth Vader used the saber throw against Luke Skywalker in their fight on the second Death Star. Since lightsabers switch off when they leave their owner's hand, the thrown lightsaber needed to be telekinetically kept on, however, some lightsabers had a special "blade lock" feature.
The spinning attack technique was a trispzest-based technique, mastered by Maw. It consisted in the trispzest-user spinning wildly in the air while lashing out to all sides with the lightsaber, and was highly effective against multiple opponents. Jedi Grandmaster Yoda used it against Darth Tyranus during their duel on Geonosis. Yoda once again used this technique to battle Darth Sidious in the Senate chamber on Coruscant, though the skills of the Emperor as a duelist were great enough to counter this magnificent move.
For a style and method of fighting as focused on grace and precision as lightsaber combat, duelists resorted to physical contact with astonishing regularity.
- Darth Maul kicked Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn several times during their two-on-one duel in the Theed reactor core on Naboo.
- During the Battle of Geonosis, several Jedi were seen kicking down battle droids.
- In their duel onboard the Invisible Hand, Count Dooku kicked Anakin Skywalker back just before Force-gripping and hurling Obi-Wan Kenobi across the room. Skywalker returned the favor seconds later by kicking Dooku off the balcony they were dueling on.
- Obi-Wan Kenobi kicked General Grievous in the shin during the last stage of their fight on Utapau (with disastrous results, since he kicked the metal armor on Grievous's body). Grievous also resorted to brawling, denting the landing platform-and his own ship-with missed blows and kicks. However, he still managed to score some hits on Kenobi, sending him flying.
- At the Battle of Dantooine, upon losing his lightsaber, Mace Windu battles a group of B2 Super Battle Droids via a fierce onslaught of melee attacks and the force until he recovered his lightsaber.
- Kit Fisto was considered a martial arts hurricane when it came to fighting opponents in the Clone Wars.
- Mace Windu kicked Palpatine in the face during the duel in Palpatine's office, causing Palpatine to fall backwards and drop his lightsaber.
- During their Duel on Mustafar, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader both lost their lightsabers, causing the duel to briefly degenerate into a brawl, before Kenobi managed to reclaim his lightsaber. Later, as they approached the door from the control room or the facility to a balcony outside, Kenobi kicked Vader in the hip to give himself a moment to regain his composure. The Sith Lord returned the favor a moment later, kicking Kenobi hard in the face as he drove him back to the edge of the balcony. Also Vader choked Obi-Wan while squeezing his wrist.
- Luke Skywalker kicked Darth Vader down a staircase in the Emperor's throne room during their final lightsaber duel.
- The duel between Mara Jade Skywalker and Jacen Solo reverted into a vicious bout of strength between the two, as their location prevented both from adequately using their lightsabers.
- The duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Caedus onboard the Anakin Solo also degenerated into a violent brawl.
- Mace Windu engaged in a completely hand-to-hand duel with his enemy and relative Kar Vastor on Haruun Kal, in an attempt to determine the "pack leader." Windu employed his custom-made Vaapad form in the duel, at several times punching so fast his fists were all but invisible.
- Anakin Skywalker used his metal hand to crush the hand of Asajj Ventress, causing her to drop one of her lightsabers.
- The duel between Darth Kruhl and Emperor Roan Fel both lost their lightsabers, causing the duel to degenerate into a brawl.
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- Assured Strike
- Barrier of Blades
- Circle of Shelter
- Contentious Opportunity
- Deflecting Slash
- Disarming Slash
- Draw Closer
- Falling Avalanche
- Fluid Riposte
- Hawk-Bat Swoop
- High Ground Defense
- Makashi Riposte
- Pass The Blade
- Pushing Slash
- Rising Whirlwhind
- Saber Swarm
- Sarlacc Sweep
- Shien Deflection
- Swift Flank
- Tempered Aggression
- Twin Strike
- Unbalancing Block
- Unhindered Charge
- Vornskr's Ferocity
Trial of skillEdit
Lightsaber combat was the base point for a Jedi in the traditional Trial of Skill. To pass as a Jedi Knight, a Padawan must show the following:
- They must know all the forms, all the maneuvers, marks of contact (and perform these) of basic lightsaber combat.
- They must show they can use the Force to aid their combat
- They must go through a series of obstacles, often devised by the master for a personal course designed to test the Jedi's weaknesses and skills using the Force, their skills and prowess, and their lightsaber.
- They must prove themselves worthy by proving in combat that they know at least one main form to a very advanced degree and tested to a Jedi standard in a variety of ways and show that they have the skill.
- Must be able to use the saber throw efficiently and effectively.
Behind the scenesEdit
- Peter Diamond created the original trilogy lightsaber choreographies. It was based by a bit of Kendo and fencing. It was Peter who thought about how to hold the lightsaber by two hands.
- In the documentary about lightsabers in the Bonus features DVD of the original trilogy DVD set, George Lucas is noted stating that the period of time during the prequel trilogy, the Jedi (and Sith) had reached the peak of power and skill in lightsaber combat in the history of the galaxy.
- During the prequel trilogy, Nick Gillard was the swordmaster and instructed Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen and the other on-screen duelists through their battle scenes. This in turn would lead to the creation of the Jedi blademaster Cin Drallig, named after Gillard.
- In behind the scenes of TPM - "Prime of the Jedi", Nick Gillard says, "I wrote them very much like a game of chess played at a thousand miles an hour. And every single move is check."
- Nick Gillard developed a ranking system for the level of skill and power of each major lightsaber fighter in the Prequel Trilogy to choreograph action-packed sequences in Revenge of the Sith. The fighting prowess of each of the characters were ranked against other Jedi on a scale of 1 to 10. "Obi-Wan is at a level 8, which is where Anakin starts. But Anakin jumps to level 9 -- and the difference between 8 and 9 is enormous. A Jedi can get to level 9, but that's the difference between light and dark. The duel actually gives you quite an idea about these characters, because Anakin has learned the fighting, he's enormously talented -- but he hasn't learned the mental side of it. Knowing all of that from a story standpoint was enormously helpful in choreographing the sequence," Gillard says. The specifics of this ranking system remains unknown. 
- Due to his age and consequent lack of mobility, Christopher Lee was replaced by stunt double Kyle Rowling for Count Dooku's more complex dueling shots. However, Lee was able to perform some of the moves, particularly during the close-up shots. This explains Dooku's characteristic use of Makashi in the lightsaber duels.
- In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas had Ian McDiarmid do most of the close-up shots during his fight between Mace Windu, but doubles were called in for some of the faster wide shots. The same was done for Samuel L. Jackson as well. However when McDiarmid and Jackson came in later in the day to film the close up shots, they chose to do the scenes themselves, and had to learn all the choreography in an afternoon.
- The Fast, Medium, and Strong styles were introduced as different lightsaber fighting modes in the computer game Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. The player, in the form of Kyle Katarn, acquires the styles as the game progresses. They also appear in the sequel Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. In the training mission of the sequel game, Katarn tells Korr and Rosh about the advantages of being able to switch between multiple fighting styles. In both games, the styles are described in an encyclopedic fashion upon acquisition. However these may simply be game mechanics.
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