Form V: Shien/Djem So
"If someone ever tries to kill you, you try and kill them right back!" - Capt. Malcolm Reynolds
The Fifth Form of Lightsaber Combat is in fact Two Forms. Shien and Djem So. Both are considered part of the Perseverance Form, or the Way of The Krayt Dragon. The Krayt Dragon was a fierce and powerful reptile that was native to the Desert Planet of Tatooine. This has some significance as this is the Lightsaber Form most associated with The Skywalkers.
Shien was the first of the two to be developed and was created during the same time as Ataru. Form V was in direct response to Soresu as some Jedi felt that the Absolute Defense mentality of Soresu prolonged battle. Instead of deflecting blaster rounds with the blade for simple protection, Shien focused on redirecting the blaster round back to the attacker or attackers. Instead of waiting for an opening, Form V created the opening. Shien was a combination of Form II and Form III, also making it adept in melee combat. It's counterpart, Djem So, was developed later on. It focuses primarily on Saber Dueling. Like its twin, it focuses on redirecting and countering the opponents attack, but focuses more on brute strength and overpowering the opponent with broad, wide power strokes.
As stated before, Form V is the Form most associated with the Skywalkers. Anakin was an accomplished Master of Shien and Djem So, with his main focus being on Djem So. Anakin would use Form V as his base form while adding other Forms into the mix. Anakin is the only one on record of having used all Seven Forms at one point or another during his lifetime. At the beginning, he employed a more Ataru-centric of Djem So. As Vader, he employed Makashi and Juyo with his Djem So. His Son, Luke, instinctively mirrors his father's Form. On the flip side, both of Anakin's apprentices, Ahsoka Tano and Galen Marek (known by his codename: Starkiller), employed Shien, using the underhanded style. Anakin tries to break Ahsoka of the trait to favor the standard grip and Galen only uses underhanded as an opening attack, switching to standard immediately afterwards.
One question that needs to be addressed with Form V is this: What is the difference between Shien and Djem So? Yes, Shien is made for blasters and Djem So for Lightsabers, but there is more to it than that; Shien could be used as a melee form and Djem So could be used to block ranged attacks as well. So, where is the line drawn? Well, look at its parent Forms; Form V was developed by mixing Makashi and Soresu. As these articles have shown, these two forms seem opposed to each other
in every way possible. A combative form with linear movement and a defensive form that employs 360 degrees of mobility.
Shien clearly favors its Soresu roots: It values blocking blaster rounds. With this in mind, Shien must value speed and mobility to compensate for the rapidfire ranged weapons. Offensively, attacks would be quick, relying more on speed than power. This is seen in its potential at employing an underhanded approach, where underhand blocks are close to the body or rely on deflection followed by quick strokes. Due to the structure of the arm, Underhanded doesn't have the strength that someone employing Djem So would need. The attacks were sharp and precise and moved wherever an opening could be made before the attacker knew what hit him. It should be noted that Shien could be used as an underhanded style, not that Shien was an underhanded style.
Djem So favors it's Makashi side, however, it eschews the finesse and grace of Form II and relies on overpowering and manhandling the opponent. It shares the point/counterpoint mentality of Makashi, and can be employed either one handed or two. Djem So's goal is to ultimately remove the fight out of the fighter, with some of the attacks even focusing primarily on the opponent's blade itself. It also shares Makashi's linear movement, almost to the point of being detrimental.
The purpose of Form V is retaliation. If you are being attacked, you return the attack in kind. The mindset is to dominate your opponent, making their attack a part of your own. The Jedi were leery of this mentality, feeling it was far too aggressive for their tastes. This may have lead to a more controlled blending in the next Form, Niman.
Despite this being a marriage of two powerful Forms, Form V is not without its weaknesses. Where Shien was strong against multiple attacks, relying more on blaster fire and mobility to take care of opposition, it was not strong against a single opponent. Djem So's main weakness was its lack of mobility, as Djem So users did not cover much ground, and relied mostly on pressing the attack. This is probably why Anakin employed other, more mobile Forms, as a means of compensation.
There are several levels of trying to find an appropriate analogue (or analogues) for Form V. There are what the Form sounds like, what was used to develop it, and what we have to work with in our community. There is some overlap, but it covers a wide field.
The overall philosophy of Form V resembles that of a Soft Form of Martial Art. By Soft Form, I do not mean weak. I am instead referring to the martial arts reliance more on manipulating the opponent rather than destroying them. Let me give you an example: Karate is a Hard Form, as is Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu and Wushu. These are all disciplines that rely on striking and taking the offensive to the opponent. Soft Forms or more passive, and rely on grappling and knowledge of body mechanics to remove an attacking opponent after he attacks. Several Soft Forms are JiuJitsu, Aikido, Tai Chi, Ba Gua, Systema, and a number of others. There is some overlap in the styles of course: Kung Fu uses the fluid movements of a Soft Form for Hard Form attacks.
I've seen several sword forms from the Shaolin Kung Fu discipline, and I would personally consider the discipline a perfect candidate for Shien. The moves are quick, agile and implement many blocks, parries and counterpoints. While I'm not sure if it could be implemented towards blocking blaster fire (the people I've seen do it probably could), it functions as a good analog to Shien as a melee combat art.
It's my belief that Djem So is a spiritual analogue to JiuJitsu. JiuJitsu is a martial art that focuses on responding to an attack and using power to manipulate, disarm, and create an opening in the attacker's defense to incapacitate them. This is the same criteria for Djem So, which requires power to manipulate and create an opening in the attacker. It also shares Djem So's weakness and does not employ any real mobility. However, JiuJitsu is an unarmed form of combat, and therefore has no equivalent in regards to swordwork. It should also be noted that JiuJitsu, like Shaolin Kung Fu, are both Martial Arts based on Buddhist teachings.
Another analogue for Djem So would be Longsword combat. Longswords were used primarily as hewing and slicing weapons. Longsword combat also employed catching and trapping the opponent's blade using the hilt or changing from the edge to flat of the blade. This brings me ultimately to the stage aspect of the Forms. Peter Diamond was the Stunt Coordinator and Fight Coordinator for the Original Trilogy. He is credited for being the one to develop the fighting style used in those films, which he had used elements of Kendo and Longsword in it. As Djem So is used in all of those fights, he is inarguably the creator of Djem So (Wookiepedia's article for him says as much, as well as creating Soresu).
As we're a community that is focused on Lightsaber vs. Lightsaber Combat, we are naturally inclined to focus on Djem So. There is a system we use that already suits the needs to employ Djem So: The Alphabet System. As Form V is a blending of Form's II and III, it makes sense that we would use a system that employs the precision of Makashi and the Defense of Soresu. The ultimate question is enhancing what we know.
For the attacks, one must make it appear that they are applying power into the strikes, though not actually doing it. Remember, we deal in the illusion of combat. This can be done simply by applying power and aiming it six inches away from the target, this gives the audience the perception you're hauling into your partner while giving your partner enough room to respond safely. As for Defense, it's a simple matter of changing the blocks from Static to Active. Instead of just blocking the attacking saber to your sides and above and below you, you have to address the blade directly, either through parries and blade manipulation, or by (as they did in the Original Trilogy) attack the blade itself.
There are currently Four main members of the Community who employ Form V in some form or another, three of whom are Masters. Damon Honeycutt (General Sun), Kung Fu Grandmaster and developer of Shii Cho; Brian van Kuik (Taomoon Nightstar) co- founder and headmaster of Long Island Jedi, wields a single handed variation of Djem So; Maria Nowak (Azure Dragon/Crimson Finyx), co-founder and headmistress of Long Jedi, also uses a single handed version of Djem So. The other user is Craig Page (Rave), who is a black belt in JiuJitsu. Another possible user is Jesse Barnick (J'ai A'rehal), a practitioner of several Martial Arts, including Systema. Tim McDonald (The Emerald Jedi/Darth Mageddon), an expert in Medieval Broadsword, could also be considered a Djem So user
It should also be noted that Long Island Jedi is taught by Brian and Maria, as well as additional instruction from a Master of Shaolin Kung Fu. This arguably makes them all Form V users in one way or another. There are currently two sword forms for Djem So: a (as of this article) non-documented form by Damon Honeycutt and one by Craig Page, using the philosophy of Jiu Jitsu and applying it to the ABC system.
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