Form IV: Ataru
"Given enough time, any man may master the physical. With enough knowledge, any man may become wise. It is the true warrior who can master both....and surpass the result. " - Tien T'ai
The Fourth Form of Lightsaber Combat is Ataru. In Canon, it is referred to as The Aggression Form and the Way of the Hawk- Bat. The Hawk-Bat is a raptavian (reptile and bird hybrid) creature that is commonly found in urban areas and is notoriously aggressive as it was graceful, as such is Ataru.
Ataru was developed sometime after Soresu. Jedi were tasked with being peacekeepers throughout the galaxy. While many favored Form III to diffuse situations with as little bloodshed as possible, the Order realized that sometimes violence was the only answer. Such times included the rising conflicts with the Mandalorians, the fierce warrior culture that served to be just as much a threat to the Jedi as the Sith before them.
Ataru is marked as the second most kinetically active form, aside from Form VII. It relied on speed, acrobatics and power. It is also the form that most heavily relied on the Force to augment these attributes. This use of the Force allowed an even playing field for Force Sensitives with potential disadvantages in combat, such as size, lack of mobility and age. Its attacks are were wide and fast from all angles while flowing into one another, creating continuity. It was the offensive version of its sister form: Soresu. Both relied on Speed, The Force, a nonlinear move set as well as mindset in its applications.
Form IV is the most predominant of the Forms in the movies. Nearly every major Jedi character we meet has had some experience in Ataru. This is the Form of Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi- Wan in Phantom Menace. After the duel with Darth Maul and the death of Qui Gon, Obi-Wan moved to Form III, however, the high energy of Ataru is still evident throughout the Clone Wars. Anakin studied Ataru, and employed it with his Form V in his early years, which he would later abandon with the loss of his limbs and his ability to augment them with the Force.
The most prolific user of the Form is Grand Master Yoda, all two feet of him. His version of Ataru requires high acrobatics and spinning to compensate for his short stature. However, the other major user is the aforementioned Jinn, who was over six foot tall. Qui Gon uses a variation on the Form that uses more physical attacks and less acrobatics. While many consider the Yoda version to be the "True" example of Ataru, the Qui Gon version shows that there is some variability in the
Form. The Ultimate point seems to be a complete and total use of one's body in the attack
Ataru is a barrage of energy. The form was particularly strong against a single opponent in wide spaces. It was effective in its ability to attack from any given angle and in its fast reaction time. This made it a highly adaptive form that could be utilized in multiple scenarios.
Unfortunately, the form had its fair share of weaknesses. It was not particularly good with multiple opponents and wasn't good with dealing with blasters. As stated, the Form required a large field of play, an Ataru user would be limited in their movements in confined spaces. Its other main weakness was that, like Soresu, one could not keep to Form indefinitely. Eventually, fatigue would set in. It is believed that these two factors are what ultimately lead to Qui-Gon's death at the Hands of Maul. Even Yoda, who is one of the most prolific Force Users on record, is seen tired after his duel with Dooku.
There is something that should be said with Ataru: While Soresu was considered to be the most commonly used of the seven Forms, Ataru is the one we most commonly see through one form or another. This may be because in the films, we are watching Jedi in aggressive situations that call on attacks. Also, it may be because dramatically, having the Jedi do nothing but defend would get dull after a while. This is in part due to the fact that the Forms were thought of during the prequels instead of before, and many of the Forms and stances were tagged as this or that. I will go into further discussion of this in a later section.
Within Saber Combat, Ataru marks the final basic step. Form I, II and III rely on Control, Precision and Defense respectively. Form IV focuses on attacking with great speed and agility. The idea is to end the conflict by striking a Mark of Contact before the opponent can accurately defend and respond. After this, the next three forms use the concepts of its four predecessors in ways to suit their philosophy.
In speaking of Martial Arts terms, Ataru is clearly a Hard Form. By this, we mean that it is high on offense. It focuses on striking the opponent in a barrage of attacks. With that in mind, there are a wide range of martial arts to consider. The first would be Chinese Martial Arts in General. In this I mean anything that goes under the blanket terms "Kung/Gung Fu" and "Wushu". I say this because both forms use the entire body in their motions, creating an almost dance-like tornado. Special
consideration goes to the use of the Jian and Dao used in Wushu, which requires fast movements and flourishes. Both jian and Dao were mentioned in Makashi and Soresu, respectively. What separates their use now as opposed in other cases is that acrobatics can be employed with them, matching Ataru's look and feel.
Other considerations include Karate, which is the quintessential Hard Form. Other styles that should be considered is Capoeira, which uses dance like moves to employ striking and even grappling, and Parkour, which uses body mechanics to adapt to obstacles. The ultimate point is using the body to its full potential while attacking.
In the Jedi Community, Ataru is easily one of the more popular Forms and there are many who employ it. Many either use a specific martial art or merely physical discipline in their tricks. Most of the users are Masters in the Community. They include Glenn DeVecchis (Jin-Ke), who studies and teaches Wushu; Omar Holmes (Tier), who developed an Ataru Kata based on Jian sword work; Richard Zak (Zak-Ri Dicoo) who uses gymnastics in his technique. Special mentions include John Loobie (Lybro) who uses Capoeira and Demetrius Felder (Verdant Vendetta) who uses Parkour in his techniques. Other members include Roy Kaiser (as Carst Nagana) and Mike Merin (Darth K'Sheen).
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