Chapter 8

Form VI: Niman
"Learn the principle, abide by the principle, and dissolve the
principle. In short, enter a mold without being caged in it.
Obey the principle without being bound by it. LEARN, MASTER AND
ACHIEVE!!!" - Bruce Lee
     The Sixth Form of Lightsaber Combat is Niman. It is known
as the Moderation Form, The Diplomat's Form, or the Way of The
Rancor. The Rancor was a predatory creature that was massive in
size, with skin tough enough to resist blaster bolts, but with
small limbs, making it a creature of balance. Its status as
sentient and intelligent seems to be based on the specific
breed, and sometimes one an individual basis.
     Niman was originally a non-lightsaber sword form that
utilized two swords. It was adopted by Dark Siders, and was
later made its way to the Jedi and Sith. During this transition,
Niman became translated to a single lightsaber form, while its
original dual wielding version later became known as Jar'Kai.
This article will discuss both.
     Niman's main distinction is that it tries to combine the
tactics and sword work of the older Forms. It blended these
Forms down into a uniform style, like melting down base metals
and making an alloy. As Niman covered all bases, it relied
strongly on the preferences, intuition, improvisational skills
and use of the Force from the wielder rather than rote and
rhetoric of the other forms. While all five forms in Niman,
Soresu's defensive nature is considered it's base form.
     It would best be considered a more philosophical form, in
that it relied more on the mentality of the user instead of the
weapon in his hand. Users were described as being a Leaf riding
the currents of the Force. They were calm and collected on the
inside and reacted when necessary. It is this peace and serenity
that should be noted, because this was not a combat form. By the
End of The Old Republic, Niman had become the preferred Form of
the Jedi, who were expected to be Diplomats, Ambassadors, and
not combatants.
     It was not, by any means, an easy form. Keep in mind,
students had to learn at least four of the last five forms,
understand them and their applications. Then they must learn the
serene philosophy and discipline of Niman. This meant you
essentially had to master several foms, then Master the concept
of Niman. It was said that Niman would take Ten Years to Master.
This form demanded mental discipline and commitment.


     I often wonder why Niman came to be. My best guess is as
follows: The other Five Forms had been around for Millenia. Like
all disciplines, some preferred one over the other. Soon, people
would begin to argue over which form was better, more deserving
of being used by the Jedi overall. This sort of dispute has been
going on for millenia in real life. Members of different martial
schools challenge other schools simply because they feel their
form is superior. I could see Niman as an answer, creating a
form that permitted all of these forms at the discretion and
imagination of the user, along with a strong philosophical
background. In short, Niman's main tenet is most likely "Nothing
is True, Everything is Permitted". Niman also marks a closing of
the circle, in a ways. It is similar to the first Form: Shii-Cho
in that they cover all bases. Both share a simplistic nature,
but its main difference is that while Shii Cho moves
simplistically and maintains a base attitude, Niman keeps it
simple while taking all of the knowledge acquired from the other
Forms with it.
     This makes a certain sense when one considers the
combination of Jar'Kai. Using one sword is difficult enough;
using two requires a high level of mental discipline and a deep
understanding of bladework. There were several different ways to
employ two blades, but one had to be acutely aware of where each
blade was at all times.
     There is really no one in the films who is an exact example
of Niman. Darth Maul was known to have used it, and Obi-Wan used
several Niman stances. The main user of the Form is Cin Drallig,
who was the Battlemaster of the Jedi Order. He was the pre-
eminent Lightsaber Combat Instructor to all of the Jedi during
the last days of the Old Republic. He knew all of the first Six
Forms enough to teach them, and it would make sense that he
would be a Master of the Form that employs most if not all of
them (Some sources say he used Makashi in his Niman, leading to
the aforementioned discrepancy). Cin Drallig is based on, and
performed by, Nick Gillard, the stunt and fight coordinator for
the Prequel Trilogies. Where Peter Diamond is credited as
creating Forms III and V, Gillard is credited as developing the
others. As for Jar'Kai, Anakin is seen using it in his initial
duel with Dooku; He is using an Ataru variation, employing
spins. However, since he did not have a familiar knowledge of
the bladework, he was reduced to going back to single blade. The
exemplar for Jar'Kai is Asajj Ventress, Dark Jedi during the
Clone Wars. She used a Makashi inspired variation of Jar'Kai in
service of her Teacher, Dooku.


     Niman is a well balanced form, and doesn't have any
specific weakness. If anything, it's weakness is that it doesn't
have any dramatic strengths. This is seen in the battle of
Geonosis in Episode II. Every single Niman user was killed in
the heated fire fight, whereas users of other Forms applied
their respective strengths to cut through the opposition. This
has lead Form VI to being considered too demanding of a Form. It
should be noted that many who used Niman followed the diplomat's
path and not the path of a warrior, hence leading to a different
mindset in combat, which was what Niman stressed. Niman should
be likened more to a Self Defense Form rather than one for Open
Combat. This view is supported by its base in Soresu. Jar'Kai
had the advantage of having two weapons in battle, however the
weakness was having to focus and control the location and action
of both weapons.
     Before his death, Martial Arts Legend Bruce Lee had
developed a "Martial Concept" called Jeet Kune Do (Way of the
Intercepting Fist). It was his belief that people became too
hung up on patterns, forms and styles that they were missing the
point entirely. He developed the Tao of Jeet Kune Do as his
belief, telling people to learn from different Martial Arts,
taking with them what worked for them and discarding what
different. All the while, the practitioner should maintain a
fluid form of thinking and awareness.
     This is exactly the same thinking as Niman. The only
exception is that Bruce Lee acknowledged that people had natural
strengths and talents, and to employ that which enhanced and
compensated for those. In Lee's case, he used elements of
Fencing and Boxing on top of Wing Chun, the style he had started
off with. These all focus on Lee's natural inclinations towards
speed and reach. Niman seems to place everyone at the same keel,
which perhaps lessens the extent.
     For Jar'Kai, many sword styles have a variation that employ
two swords. Dual Katana, Broadswords, knives, Rapier and Dagger,
etc. In the Saber Community, Jar'Kai is most associated with
Escrima, a Filipino martial art that focuses on dual wielding
sticks (mostly bamboo or rattan) or knives. It was introduced to
the community by Scott Ferra, known also as Cyrhan Ogma. He was
also the one to introduce the Alphabet System to the community
as well. Other dual wielding forms of note is Rapier and Dagger,
using the Dagger (or in the case of sabers, a Shoto) as a
defensive weapon while using the main saber as the attack.
Another is the Florentine Style, otherwise known as Case of
Rapiers, or just Case. It is the use of two Rapiers in Tandem,
and is in keeping in style with Asajj Ventress' Makashi inspired
Jar'Kai.

One of the prime historical examples of using two swords together is Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi, considered the High Mark in the Samurai Ideal, spent his entire life studying the art of fighting. He perfected his art against opponents from various backgrounds, who used various forms of weaponry. Eventually, he came to develop Niten Ichi-ryu (the school of the strategy of two heavens as one). Musashi considered this form, which used a katana (longsword) and a wakizashi (short sword) as the ultimate form of sword use. This use of a long and short sword is not unlike the use of standard and shoto sabers.

   

YouTube Video

There are few members of the community that use Niman. Alfie Supan (Ecaris), a ballet dancer and martial artist has developed a Niman Kata; Mike Merin (Darth K'Sheen) is currently in the process of developing a group form variation of Niman. Jar'Kai users include Scott Ferra (Cyran Oghma) stage combat instructor and Eskrimador; Maria Nowak (Azure Dragon/Crimson Finyx) co-founder of LI Jedi, who uses both Escrima and Sai based Lightsabers in some of her fights; Tony Ferradino (Arkimus), a member of LI Jed, is developing a saber form using a saber held standard in one hand and Assassin style (underhanded) in the other; Melissa Koval (Tindome Uruva) and her apprentice Scott Lind (as Narmo Telepsa) are also Jar'Kai users. Irshad Mustafa (Darth Shaddious) uses dual curved sabers in his use of Jar'Kai.
Juyo/Vaapad
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