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.
Terra Prime Lightsaber Academy > Terra Prime Lightsaber Academy > 7 Forms of Lightsaber Combat: A Discourse > Chapter 2 > Chapter 3 > Chapter 4 > Chapter 5 > Chapter 6 > Chapter 7 >