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Perhaps you would like to learn something before you die. The use of two blades, one to support the other, can be traced back thousands of years and was common to both of our species. The invention of lightsabers has done nothing to lessen the effectiveness of this strategy—as you are about to learn.—Boc Aseca to Kyle Katarn, Dark Forces: Jedi Knight
Jar'Kai was a subform of lightsaber forms Ataru and Niman, and was one of the oldest forms of lightsaber combat, a dual blade wielding technique. The usage of the Jar'Kai form predated the invention of the lightsaber.
Jar'Kai was originally the name of a city on Atrisia. Here were crafted the original Jar'Kai dueling sabers, which were wielded by the Yovshin Swordsmen. The Swordsmen, wielding one saber in each hand, invented the Jar'Kai style. Similar was the style developed by the Royale Macheteros of the Kashi Mer monarchy. The latter technique was used by the Legions of Lettow, during the First Great Schism, who called it Niman after a dual triumvirate of the Kashi deities. Ancient Niman relied on steel blades, as lightsabers had not yet been invented, but the style could be used with a great variety of weapons.
A combatant could maintain a strong offense using the Jar'Kai tactic, since two blades could keep an opponent wondering which one to defend against. One of the blades in the wielder's hands was used for attacking while the other one was used for defense, such as parrying. The other blade could also be used for more offensive purposes. The tactic is also useful against more than one opponent as one blade could only be in one place at one time. However, the Jar'Kai tactic was not without its weaknesses. A user of Jar'Kai who lost the offensive was at a disadvantage to a single hilt user, especially a powerful one. The use of two blades prevented the user from putting all his weight behind a defensive block, thus weakening one's defense considerably. A physically stronger opponent could simply batter a Jar'Kai user until their guard finally gave way. With two single blades, it was harder to control as the non-dominant and dominant hands had to be used in unison. The use of two blades would hinder a user's performance if they did not take care or were not trained.
Many Jedi Knights and Sith Lords trained to use Form VI in the hopes of gaining a basic knowledge of the dual-bladed attack, but very few ever achieved complete mastery of Niman. The application of Jar'Kai also existed as a tactic instead of a completely independent style; one example included Sora Bulq, who utilized Jar'Kai in conjunction with Form VII: Vaapad. Also, Anakin Skywalker's Jar'Kai application against Count Dooku on Geonosis was actually based on Ataru swordplay. Unfortunately, as Skywalker had not received advanced training in either the Jar'Kai tactic or Ataru, Dooku was easily able to break through Skywalker's array of weapons.
During the Great Schism, Awdrysta Pina employed Jar'Kai with Jedi katanas. Before becoming a Sith Lord, Exar Kun utilized Jar'Kai against his Master Vodo-Siosk Baas in a training session. During the Jedi Civil War, many of the Dark Jedi that pledged their allegiance to Darths Revan and Malak's Sith Empire used Jar'Kai against their former Jedi brethren. Jedi Knight Bastila Shan was also known to have used Jar'Kai during the Jedi Civil War. During the Dark Wars, various Sith in Darth Traya's Sith Triumvirate used the Jar'Kai form in their campaign to destory the Jedi Order. Jedi Master Vandar Tokare practiced Jar'Kai during the Dark Wars, as did Tokare's contemporary and fellow Jedi Council member Kavar, who utilized the style with a standard lightsaber and a shoto. Three hundred years later, during the events of the Great Galactic War, the Jedi Knight Fortis Gall was a practitioner of Jar'Kai, using this to kill an unidentified Sith guard on the planet Balmorra.
During the New Sith Wars, the Sith known as the Dark Underlord used Jar'Kai with two Sith swords. In the final year of those wars, before the events of the Seventh Battle of Ruusan, the Sith Lord and Blademaster Kas'im used Jar'Kai in conjunction with Ataru against Darth Bane in the Temple of the Ancients on Lehon. Kas'im, who had mastered all of the seven classic forms and normally used a double-bladed lightsaber, always discouraged his students at the Korriban Sith Academy against using this variation of the fourth form, saying it was inherently flawed. However, Kas'im's expertise with Jar'Kai was such that he was able to confuse Bane and nearly defeat him. During this time, the style also had its share of Jedi practitioners, including the Echani Jedi Master Raskta Lsu, who used Jar'Kai both during and after the New Sith Wars. The Twi'lek Jedi Newar Forrth was also a user of Jar'Kai. Over a millennium later, the Twi'lek Dark Jedi Bocas'eca attempted to imitate Forrth, resulting in a clumsy, though effective, style.
Prior to the rise of the Galactic Empire, Jar'Kai practitioners included Jedi Master Micah Giiett and Sith Lord Darth Maul, who learned Jar'Kai during his years of intense training under Darth Sidious. The Dark Jedi Sora Bulq utilized Jar'Kai in conjunction with his practice of Form VII, wielding a shoto. During the Summertime War on Haruun Kal, Mace Windu and Depa Billaba both used two blades occasionally. Other Jedi of of that era who utilized Jar'Kai include Joclad Danva, Aayla Secura, and Dark Jedi Komari Vosa, who utilized Jar'Kai with a pair of curved lightsabers. After Vosa's death, her lightsabers were given to Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress, who utilized them in her dual-blade practice of Makashi, and had beforehand utilized Jar'Kai with her late Master's weapon along with her original lightsaber.
The cyborg General Grievous included elements of Jar'Kai in his style of combat. He commonly utilized two lightsabers in battle during the Clone Wars, and demonstrated the ability to wield four lightsabers, achieving this by splitting his mechanical arms and hands along their lengths, resulting in four arms. Grievous utilized this ability against Jedi such as Kit Fisto and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Fisto responded to this by taking up his former Padawan, Nahdar Vebb's lightsaber, unleashing his own skill with Jar'Kai, whereas Kenobi fell back on his mastery of Form III to defend against and evade the cyborg's attacks while removing his limbs with subtle parries.
Fourteen years after the destruction of the second Death Star, many of Tavion Axmis' New Reborn were trained to use the Jar'Kai style, most notably Axmis' apprentice, Alora. Many Jedi also used Jar'Kai to combat Axmis' Reborn. Kyle Katarn's Jedi apprentice, Jaden Korr might also have been skilled in this form. Clone Wars-era Jedi Knight A'Sharad Hett also utilized two sabers, using his late father's weapon in conjunction with his own. After he fell to the dark side and became Darth Krayt, he continued to practice Jar'Kai up to his death in 137 ABY. Various members of Krayt's Sith Order also practiced Jar'Kai, including the third Darth Wyyrlok and Darth Reave. Seven years before Krayt's death, when his Sith attacked the Jedi Praxeum on Ossus, Jedi Master Kol Skywalker took up his former Padawan Wolf Sazen's lightsaber and used it against the Sith before he was killed.
The Grand Master of the New Jedi Order Luke Skywalker displayed his skill with the dual-bladed tactic during the Yuuzhan Vong War, often utilizing it with a shoto in conjunction with his regular lightsaber. During the Swarm War, the Sith Master Lomi Plo used Jar'Kai against Skywalker when she dueled him two out of three times, using a standard lightsaber and a shoto. Approximately five years after the end of the Swarm War, Skywalker applied Jar'Kai in actual combat against the Dark Lady Lumiya on Roqoo Depot and at Gilatter VIII during the Second Galactic Civil War. Skywalker's wife Mara Jade built a shoto per his request when Lumiya re-emerged. She was with Luke on Roqoo Depot when he fought Lumiya; at the same time she dueled Dark Jedi Alema Rar. Mara Jade also used a variant of Jar'Kai when she dueled her nephew and Lumiya's Sith apprentice Jacen Solo on the planet Kavan, using her shoto and vibroblade. Sometime after the Jedi retreated to the forest moon Endor and set up a secret outpost, Skywalker used Jar'Kai against Mon Calamari Jedi Master Cilghal in a training exercise; he had used the Force to take her lightsaber away from her, and used it with his lightsaber. During that same training session, Barabel Jedi Master Saba Sebatyne used Jar'Kai against Corran Horn.
Other Jar'Kai practitioners included Serra Keto, Aurra Sing, and Jeng Droga. Known occassional practitioners included Lycan, Quinlan Vos, Corran Horn, Anakin Solo, Sa Cuis, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Jedi Council member Shaak Ti also appeared to have some training in the style, as she expertly wielded an electrostaff in conjunction with her lightsaber during the Battle of Coruscant; sources describe her wielding dual lightsabers after the Jedi Purge. The Zabrak Padawan Maris Brood used two guard shotos in combat against Darth Vader's secret apprentice Galen Marek. The Sith apprentice Vestara Khai was adept in the use of Jar'Kai.
Behind the scenesEdit
William C. Dietz and Dave Dorman's novella Dark Forces: Jedi Knight, suggests the dual-blade combat predates the invention of the lightsaber. Furthermore, in the Star Wars computer game X-wing Alliance, there is a pair of "Jar'Kai dueling sabers" that are ordinary metal swords. This also suggests that Jar'Kai predated lightsabers, even though the release of X-Wing Alliance was before the behind the scenes "invention" of lightsaber forms. This was confirmed by a Wizard of the Coast supplement, which revealed that the Jar'Kai style, and swords, originated with the Yovshin Swordsmen of Atrisia.
Originally, Dooku would have displayed his ability with two blades against Jedi Master Yoda in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, which would have made him a possible Jar'Kai practitioner. However, the idea was later dropped, and in the novel Labyrinth of Evil, Dooku was stated to dislike usages of multiple blades, which made him no longer likely to be a Jar'Kai practitioner. Photos with Christopher Lee wielding two lightsabers with visual effects became promotional pictures; one of them can be seen in the Attack of the Clones Visual Dictionary. Also, the scene where Dooku is wielding two lightsabers was seen in the comic version of Attack of the Clones.
In the video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, a character's skill in the Jar'Kai form was measured by a set of three feats called Two-Weapon Fighting. Acquiring these feats made the character excel in dual sword or lightsaber combat, but it also increased the character's proficiency in wielding double-bladed lightsabers and swords, and even dual blasters. However, in the game's sequel, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, one of the available implants, called the Enhancement D-Package, allowed a character to use two weapons effectively without having to purchase the Two-Weapon Fighting set of feats.
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 116 (DOO6, Count Dooku)
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force
- Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Jedi Academy Training Manual
- Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game: Squadrons Over Corellia
- Saga Edition Core Rulebook
- Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game: Galactic Hunters