Form III: Soresu
"If you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by" - Japanese Proverb
The Third Form of Lightsaber Combat is Soresu. In Canon, it is referred to as The Resilience Form and the way of the Mynock, a bat-like creature that can survive in the dark vacuum of space.
As the War between the Jedi and the Dark Side came to a close in the Days of the Old Republic, so too did the need for Lightsaber dueling. The Jedi's began to form into the Order we are so familiar with. The Jedi were Peacekeepers, Defenders of the Republic, Diffusers of Conflict. It was also during this time that Blasters became wide-spread throughout the Galaxy, to which Makashi and Shii Cho were not wholly adept in dealing with. It is here that Soresu, a wholly defensive Form, was born.
Soresu is a stark contrast of the previous two Forms. Where Shii Cho and Makashi relied on broad blade use and linear footwork, Soresu relied on keeping the blade close to the body and using broad footwork to move around the playing field. Any sweeping motions were kept short and never left the main core of the body, still protecting it as a shield. A Soresu user only attacks when it is necessary, and only when the opponent provides an opening.
However, it is not wholly passive. Remember, a lightsaber is an all cutting weapon. Yes, it can repel other laser based weaponry, but it can still cut. Soresu Users were equated to the Eye of a Storm. They were Calm at serene, while all around them was violence and movement. The same is true for people engaging a Soresu User. Moving towards a Soresu User is like flying into the Path of a Cyclone or Hurricane; it is nothing short of suicide or desperation.
Soresu is the predominant Form of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Kenobi is, inarguably, the consummate Jedi in the films. He is the one we look at in the Original Trilogy and go: "this is a Jedi". That he would use Soresu, which relies on patience and cunning rather than brute strength and violence, tells you something not only of the mindset of Kenobi, but of the Jedi at their core. It should be noted, however, that Kenobi was also a user of Form IV, Ataru, as well as being taught Shii Cho along with everyone else in the Jedi Order. This means that not everything you see him use in any of the films is wholly Soresu.
Soresu is the ultimate Defensive Form. Ranged attacks, Melee Attacks, Single or Multiple Opponents, Soresu could adapt
to all of these situations. Kenobi, a master of Soresu, was said to be able to block any strike and was able to move less than 20 strikes per second. The Form was good for small incursions. It was best utilized by people with high concentration of Focus, Patience and Observational skills.
While Soresu is the ultimate Defense, that is ultimately its weakness. Soresu can block a blade or blaster round better than any of the other Forms. However, that is all it does. Soresu relies on the chance that one's opponent(s) will grow tired and create an opening. There is no such thing as Initiative in wielding Soresu. If a Form III User finds themselves in a protracted battle against massive numbers, or against one highly aggressively overwhelming attacker, then they will become the ones most likely to tire and create openings for attack. Like everything that promotes Stasis and Safety, it runs the risk of Stagnation. It is not surprising that many of the remaining Forms were developed either as a contrast or to answer the weaknesses in Soresu.
Soresu marks another progression in Saber Combat. While Forms I and II helped teach Control and Precision, Form III now focuses on applying that to defense. Soresu protects the body, including the Marks of Contact. This defense continues until the user is able to "Diffuse" the situation. This often means that the target of few strikes that Soresu users wield focus on the Marks of Contact to stop the conflict.
Trying to find a good analogue for Soresu is problematic. I'm hard pressed to find a Martial Art that is purely defensive. It's my belief that, like Shii Cho and Makashi before it, that Soresu is an amalgamation of several different weapon defense principles. If I had to be forced to make a decision on any martial art or weapon use that matches Soresu, I would have to pick the Chinese Broadsword, or Dao. The blade work is fast, and kept close to the body. The User does several rapid flourishes for deflection. They attack sporadically. It also employs nonlinear footwork that is paramount in Soresu.
Another system that works well with the principles of Soresu is the Defense side of the Alphabet system used in Stage Combat. Where attacks in the Alphabet promote the precision and directness of Makashi, the defensive movements are static. They're flat, 180 degree blocks that block the vital portions of the body (head, groin, shoulders and hips). This allows for attacks to bounce off or ricochet, there are no deflections. Any attacks that come from this either come from the defender exploiting an opening in the attack.
Interestingly enough, a source for Blaster-oriented Soresu comes from another athletic endeavor. There are many in the community who find Tennis to be a close analogue to Soresu. Several of the groups have been known to use training exercises in block Nerf balls with their sabers. Having undergone some of these drills, I can say that it requires patience and focus-two main aspects of Soresu-are required to react and deflect the projectile accurately.
Soresu is the second of the Canon forms to have a corresponding Group Form in the Saber community. It was developed by Mike Zhang (Ebon Wing). Mike has been trained in several martial arts including Wushu, and has a degree in performance art. The group form of Soresu was developed from Mike's personal Kata, and several elements have been lessened for mass consumption. It is based on Dao movements with several static blocks.
As it is the most passive Form, it has the least number of dedicated users in the Saber Combat Community. However, alongside Mike Zhang, one of the founders of NY Jedi, there are a few members who use the Forms. Steve Cohen (as Joga Crosswind)uses Soresu as his base form and supplements with Ataru and Vaapad. Stephanie Lindquist (Lin-Tes Quin), head of Connecticut Jedi, also wields Soresu
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