By Craig Page
"This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as random or as clumsy as a blaster, but an elegant weapon for a more civilized age."
There is a certain appeal to Lightsabers. It is an all cutting weapon, no matter what part of the blade you touch it is going to cut something (at least, in the movies). The only people who can use these weapons effectively are those who are strong enough with The Force. It's an item of martial prowess;you are skilled enough to wield a weapon only a fraction of the Galaxy could use.
And that is what a lightsaber is, a weapon; it is an item designed to kill other people. It is usually designed to resemble a sword, although there are several different variations on it which I may very well go into during the duration of these articles. Like with real life weaponry, there are differing views and designs on how to use them effectively. This is compounded by the fact that the saber is defined mostly by its hilt, which is custom made by the person that is using it. So, it goes without saying that there are a few different philosophies on how to use a lightsaber.
In the Star Wars Universe, there are Seven Main Forms of Lightsaber Combat. Each one has its own philosophy, strengths, and weaknesses. Each one seemingly built to address or compliment the strengths and weaknesses of the ones before it.
They are as follows:
Form I: Shii Cho, also known as the Determination Form. Roughly every Force User was taught this Form when first handed a lightsaber.
Form II: Makashi, also known as the Contention Form. It's design is based on Lightsaber vs. Lightsaber Combat.
Form III: Soresu, also known as the Resilience Form. Its design was based on pure Defense with either ranged or Melee attacks.
Form IV: Ataru, also known as the Aggression Form. Its design is based around high energy attacks and defenses.
Form V: Shien/Djem So, also known as the Perseverance Form. Their design is based on manipulating an opponent's attack.
Form VI: Niman, also known as The Moderation Form. Its design is a conglomeration of the preceding Forms.
Form VII: Juyo/Vaapad, also known as the Ferocity Form. Their design is based on Pure Attack, No Defense.
The purpose of these articles will be to examine each of the Seven Forms, to understand their philosophy, their history, and their context in terms that the Star Wars Canon has established them as. It is also an attempt to understand what their strengths and weaknesses are. I also will try and determine what aspects of real life martial arts or stage combat (as there is some overlap) comply with these concepts. Also I will attempt to draw examples to those in the Star Wars Universe as well as our own Community who employ a respective Form.My main source of information will come from Wookiepedia, as it is a collection of other sources combined in one place.
While many wish to emulate the movies, I do not believe that they are choreographed with the Forms exactly in mind. In my concluding article, I will go into further detail on the matter, but what we are seeing in lightsaber combat in film and the shows are Masters of several forms who are employing their own personal blend. While I will draw examples from the Films and TV Shows, my intentions are to discuss the forms in essence.
Many members of the community have tried to develop their interpretations of the Forms; many are good, others are good attempts. It is my hope that these articles will help in further development and help make our performances and our art all the more distinctive while paying homage to the Universe that we are all playing in.
While writing this paper The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force, written by Daniel Wallace, was released. The Jedi Path contains many enlightening information on several aspects of lightsaber use. It speaks on Marks of Contact, specific areas of attack. It also discusses the several varieties of lightsabers that existed. Finally, it mentions a rather popular topic in the Saber Community: Materials that are resistant to Lightsabers. We will go into these aspects in their own sections.