Marks of Contact
The Marks of Contact are areas of an opponent's body which were considered prime targets to end the duel. These areas ranged from the disabling, to the maiming, to the killing blows. The Jedi strongly stressed using these marks of contact with intent, and to not use the killing marks unless deemed absolutely necessary.
As with all martial arts. Different Forms favor different areas. There are also several examples throughout the movies. I will also mention the philosophical leanings of the Jedi and Sith in these regards as well as using them for the stage.
Shiim, a grazing blow on the body. Used more to disable. Count Dooku used Shiim on Obi-Wan during their first duel, immobilizing him and taking him out of the duel.
Shiak, This is using the tip of the blade to pierce the body. This was the premiere mark for Makashi users. Darth Maul used shiak on Qui-Gon Jinn on Naboo, killing him. The Jedi Order preferred this as a means of honorably killing an opponent.
These two Marks are considered the most fundamental in lightsaber combat. The lightsaber blade is weightless, making control more diffcult, especially for non Force Sensitives. To be able to stop the edge of the blade, or direct the tip of the blade to precise points without making a mess should be considered a sign of control.
Sun Djem, targets the opponents weapon with the intent to disarm them. This can be done by cutting the weapon, thereby destroying it. Sun Djem can also be used by simply physically attacking the opponent. Any method that removes renders the opponent unarmed is considered under this mark. Sun Djem was a preferred mark for Shii Cho users. Makashi users were trained to protect against this mark.
Cho Mai, severing the opponents dominant hand. This is one of the most widely seen marks used in lightsaber combat. The most famous example being Vader cutting Luke's hand off during their duel on Bespin.
Cho Sun, severing the dominant arm. A modification on of Cho Mai, this was the removal of the opponents arm at the elbow.
Cho Mok, severing a non dominant limb. This is move was only suggested as a last ditch move in a duel.
Mou Kei, means "To Dismember". This is the severing of several limbs at once. It is a forbidden move by the Jedi. It was used on Vader by Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar, cutting off his other arm and both of his legs. It is one of the prime reasons Vader was forced to wear his life support suit.
Sai Cha, severing the opponents head. While the Jedi Order frowned down upon killing, they found this to be an honorable end in a duel. Use by Mace Windu on Jango Fett on Geonosis and by Luke to the Phantom Vader during his training on Dagobah.
Sai Tok, slicing the body in half. Considered a Dark Side move for its barbarism. Nevertheless, it's main example is Obi-Wan using it against Darth Maul on Naboo, killing him.
Using these Marks in Stage Combat is interesting. A lot of them revolve around the practice of dismembering an opponent's body. That kinda limits the field of what can and can't be done. However, moves like Shiim (grazing cuts) and Shiak (stabs) are highly popular and easy to use.
Sun Djem is an interesting move, in that it requires removing the opponents weapon from them. One of the most common tricks is simply miming a force pull, and the opponents saber "flies" into your hands or onto the floor. One example I saw had one opponent with using a prop blaster shooting against a Jedi. The Jedi, Joga (A soresu user, mind you) blocks the shots and swipes across the saber. The gunman takes aim one more time, but the gun falls apart, cut in half by the saber. That is Sun Djem.
The Jedi Community uses a basic form of the Marks of Contact. The Alphabet System Revolves around attacking several key points, giving the illusion (KEY WORD) that contact is implied and intended. There are six marks: The head, the shoulders, the hips, and the groin, with thrusts to the body. Some members include strikes to the thighs as well, implying cuts to the femoral arteries.
The only way I can see using most of the Marks of Contact in Stage Combat, short of rigging falling body parts (A la Monty Python's Black Knight) is the way it is depicted in samurai films. Killing blows are generally implied, with some exceptions in the gorier movies. Cutting a limb, or severing the body, can be implied simply by where you strike. The audience will get that you have struck. Beheading can be done simply by angling the execution in a way that the person can tuck their head to their chest, obscuring it from the audiences view.
The Marks of Contact help us in understanding the roles of the Seven Forms, especially those of the first four. Shiim requires great control of the saber, to the point where one could just use the edge to graze a limb. Form I's goal was to teach this control. Shiak is the precision stab of a limb. Makashi focus is on precision work, and is noted for its stabs. These are the two fundamental Marks of Contact.
The other Forms are applications of the Marks, with Forms III and IV being the basis for the others. Form III is the defense of these Marks, only striking when an opening/Mark is available to end fight. Form IV was the rapid attacking of openings, hopefully in the attempt to catch the opponent before they could respond. The other three forms are composites, and mix and match the concepts of these four to suit it's needs.
I would like to mention at this point that there are several tactics that could be employed during Lightsaber Combat. These techniques were independent of the Seven Forms, but could clearly be in conjunction with them. They were used to give the advantage, and were not necessarily fight winners. In battle, there are no guarantees These are the more popular tactics.
Sokan: Use of the environment to your advantage. This can be using a flaw in the structure, like the supports of a building or the strength of the ice you stand on. It can also be simple as having the high ground. Can be used either with the saber, the Force or manually. The main way to counter is both simplistic and problematic: Eliminate the surroundings around you.
Tràkata: One of the classic abilities of the lightsaber is its function as a hilt with an extending blade. This works both ways. By drawing in your blade mid-battle, you can confuse or unbalance your opponent long enough to take an opportunity. Similar in someways to the Samurai's Battou-Jutsu. Favored by the Jedi for its practicality.
Dun Möch: More psychological than physical. Dun Möch is the taunting of the opponent, goading them into anger and making them forget their tactics. Can backfire, and bolster the opponents efforts. The reverse is used by the Jedi to stop and redeem their dark side opponent.
Form Zero: Ironically, the first form of lightsaber combat mentioned is the most sensible Form Zero focuses on diffuse attacks using peaceful negotiations and The Force. The lightsaber is not used, making it more of a symbol than weapon. "The best blades are kept in their sheaths".
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