Form I: Shii Cho
"The beginning is a very delicate time..." - Frank Herbert
Shii Cho is the First Form. In Canon it is referred to as the Determination Form, or the Way of the Sarlaac. It focuses on simplistic, albeit relentless, tactics.
In Star Wars history, Shii Cho was developed as Force Users began to transition from regular swords to Lightsabers as means of melee combat (at this point, Lightsabers were bulky Siege weapons). As such, its foundations are the basics of all sword fighting, including strike zones, parries and blocks. It was a two handed form, relying on broad, sweeping motions. Masters of Shii Cho were noted as having a distinct, watery flow.
Every Jedi, and arguably every Sith (as there is overlap between the two schools) had to learn Shii Cho when they began training. In A New Hope, when Obi-Wan has Luke training on the Millennium Falcon with the Remote, that is a Shii Cho practice (it gets mirrored with the Youngling training in Episode II). It teaches body movement, where to strike, while getting used to the feeling of the weapon. At the end of the scene in A New Hope, where Luke is blindfolded, it also teaches what separates wielding a lightsaber from holding a blade: Trust in the Force.
Shii Cho was used for crowd control. Its wide, angular motions were ideal for dealing with groups as it was constantly moving forward, like a bulldozer. In this regard, the lightsaber still maintains its use as a Siege weapon. In terms of combat, it has very strong similarities with Niman, in that it covers most of its bases. However, in this regard, it is meant as a teaching tool.
Unfortunately, as Shii Cho is the first form, it is all one of the forms placed under the harsher criticism. As Lightsabers became in popular use Amongst other Force Using groups, duels were expected. While there are some duelists who used mainly Shii Cho, many found the form lacking in single combat, and therefore created Makashi in response.
Philosophically, Shii Cho follows the principle of "Keep it simple, stupid." Its movements are broad and deliberate, made dangerous in a constant, ever advancing barrage. In terms of modern warfare, Shii Cho can be likened to a shotgun blast: Powerful, can clear a space in a heartbeat, and completely devoid of any subtlety. It didn't have all the answers, but serves as a stable groundwork for potential work.
In terms of an actual, real life Martial Art analog, it is hard to pin this one down. It is already admitted to be based from the basics of swordplay. With few exceptions, all basic swordplay is relatively the same; it's only when you start learning the details of a specific school do you get the differences. It makes sense that Shii Cho would be a Double Handed form, as it's easier to learn Control of the blade with two hands before you start relying on only one.
I will say, that in studying aspects like the Marks of Contact, I find Shii Cho to lean towards Kenjutsu and Iaijutsu, sword styles that focus on using the katana, or some variation thereof (bokken, shinai, etc). In training, the sword positions must be exact, to the most extreme degree. Angles of the blade work, footing, body mechanics. All must be perfect to the millimeter. The training with a lightsaber, a weapon that can cut without a second though, should be taught similarly. This makes sense, as the lightsaber was meant to be an homage to the mythical aspects of the katana just as the Jedi and Sith represented the dual aspects of the Samurai who wielded them.
Shii Cho is the beginning Form, and therefore is the first to introduce the Marks of Contact. Sun Djem, the disarming of an opponent by either destroying or otherwise removing the weapon from the opponent. Shii Cho was all about understanding and controlling the blade. Being able to use the Shiim to graze a limb instead of cutting it whole would seem to me to show mastery in controlling the blade.
In the Jedi Community, there is a Shii Cho Group Form. It was developed by Damon Honeycutt, also known by his Jedi handle of General Sun. He is a Grandmaster of Monkey Style Kung Fu and has taught several of the New York members. His 3 part form is inarguably the most widely accepted interpretation of any of the Seven Forms. It truly does serve as a learning tool: it teaches members to use their shoulders, elbows and wrist in concert with one another, and it teaches people how to use the saber fluidly and responsibly. Most members of the community are taught to use at least the first part of the form. Some however have mastered all three parts, and have incorporated many of its motions into their overall sword work.
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