Form VII: Juyo/Vaapad
"Six there were for generations of Jedi. The seventh, is not well-known." ―Yoda
Like Form V, Form VII is split into two parts, Juyo and Vaapad. They are known as the Ferocity Form and the Way of The Vornskr. The Vornskr was a vicious, predatory animal that was able to detect and hunt Force-Sensitive creatures. Their favorite prey was the Ysalamir, the animal Symbolizing Form II. This viciousness and focus on Force-Users is key in understanding Form VII.
The history of Juyo is hard to place. It first appeared about a millenia before the Rise of the Galactic Empire, around the time when the Jedi and Sith were in a state of Civil War amongst each other. Each move was a constant form of attack, and left no space for defense. Juyo attacks were bold and direct, moving in a series of seemingly unconnected movements. It was the most most kinetic form, requiring a constant state of movement. However, it was not as acrobatically inclined as Ataru. Its main strength came from the user relying on a well of emotion, almost to the point where they had to enjoy the combat.
This last aspect is why Juyo was eventually looked at with a cautious eye by the Jedi. Enjoying the battle, the thrill of the fight, lead to the Dark Side of the Force. Eventually, the Jedi Order restricted the teachings of Juyo, with only the highest ranked Masters being able to study it. Juyo was perfect philosophically for the Sith, whose main tenets were to give into desire and anger to relish in the combat. This has led many to believe that Juyo was for Sith only, while there were still some Jedi (though few) who used it. Despite what side used it, it was widely considered the most dangerous of the Forms.
Vaapad is the youngest of the Seven Forms, having been developed in the last few decades of the Old Republic. It was developed by Mace "BMF" Windu as a means of channeling his tendencies towards the Dark Side. It was developed alongside Lightsaber Combat instructor Sora Bulq. Aside from Mace and Sora, the only person to know Vaapad was Mace's Padawan, Depa Billaba. Unfortunately, both Sora and Depa fell to the Dark Side, making Mace the only Master of the Form. Mace had since restricted use of the Form, so much as halting a sparring match with a friend and demanding he never use those techniques again for fear he would slip to the Dark Side.
While Vaapad was every bit Mace's Form, Juyo was exemplified by Darth Maul. Maul was Emperor Palpatine/Darth
Sidious' first known apprentice, and a master of the saberstaff.
In his fight with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jin, he is moving with nearly reckless abandon. He is putting all of himself, not just his body and his mind, but his emotional being into every stroke. You can see in some close ups that he is enjoying this. His movements against Obi-Wan are sharp, going from one move to the next without hesitation and preamble, not giving the young padawan much time to react.
Form VII is, in many ways, similar to Niman as both required the practitioner to have mastered several of the other Forms. This took time, at least ten years if one is studying it the same way one did Niman. That meant that a Juyo/Vapaad User had to not only use these form, but understand them at their core, to know and acknowledge what each meant. They then had to learn the principle of Juyo, to give in to their emotions and impulses and to never give up the offensive. While Form VI focused on commitment to defense, Form VII relies on full commitment to the attack.
In a sense, Juyo is the culmination of Lightsaber Combat as a whole. Lightsaber Combat began with the simplistic style of Shii Cho and culminated in Niman, combining it and the five forms before it into a central focus and discipline. Niman was the closing of the Circle. Juyo and Vaapad are outside of that circle, relying on the user's emotional core and personal feelings above and beyond some doctrine. Form VII is, with no doubt in my mind, the Anarchist Form.
So the question becomes, what is the ultimate difference between Juyo and Vaapad? Ultimately, it boiled down to philosophy. Juyo relied on emotion-pure, unbridled emotion- fueling the fire of the attack; it was unrestrained inside the user while the outside remained calm. While Juyo was the Inferno, Vaapad attempts to channel that fire, giving more focus and control without succumbing to it. Think of a steam locomotive: all that fire, heat and coal burning hot and keeping the engine going, with only the conductor making sure it doesn't jump off the rails.
Form VII's strength lies within its unpredictability and in its tenacity. The opponent is not sure what move will be coming next, or from where. Like Niman, the movements were at the discretion, imagination and improvisation of the user, which meant the use of either form was only as good as the quick thinking of the person using it. Another concern was becoming too engulfed by the heat of the moment, and therefore losing sight and focus of their goal and/or their surroundings.
Finally, Form VII's reliance on pure attacks left it no defense. While this can be compensated for with creative attacks, it was a particular blind spot.
In finding a martial art for Form VII, I still am drawn to the teachings of Bruce Lee and Jeet Kune Do. Bruce Lee studied several different arts, many of which appealed to his strengths and his preferences as a fighter. He had made his martial art a personal thing, not bound by rote or dogma. He had become a fighter that reacted on reflex, to the point where he was intercepting the opponents attack before they could fully engage (hence "The Way Of The Intercepting Fist"). Another thing to look at is the now infamous training scene in Lee's Film Enter The Dragon, where he tells his student that fighting isn't just for show. One must use emotional content in their attack. Perhaps to the chagrin of the Sith, he snapped at his student when he employed anger in his attack.
Another Martial Art that matches the overall feel and vibe with Form VII is Kenpo. It relies on fast strikes, both offensively and defensively. As a Kenpo practitioner described it to me, "The idea isn't to just block the punch, it's to make it as uncomfortable as possible". The practitioner attacks the attackers arm, pushing it out of the way and leaving them open to follow up attacks. The attacks seem random, but it is only due to the rapid succession of blows going up the arm and to other vital or open spots.
There should be something said in terms of the movies. Juyo was based on the performance of Ray Park as Darth Maul in Episode I. Park is a champion Wushu user, and used several techniques in the fight. While I did say that Ataru employed some Wushu techniques, there is some ground for overlap. It can also be argued in Canon that Maul may have preferred using Ataru style techniques in his attacks.
In terms of Stage combat, the Jedi Community has the Numbers System. The Numbers System is a pattern of attacks. Unlike the Alphabet System, they focus more on rapid high and low attacks in a number of exchanges (hence the name). The distinctness of the numbers is that both characters fighting are attacking, the blades clashing in mid air. There's some discrepancy in its usage on stage, some preferring it above the others while others feel that it's flashy and takes away from the "story of combat", meaning that there is no clear image of who is the attacker or defender in the exchange. I feel that the numbers work as a bridge, a moment in the fight where the characters are evenly matched and are trying to find a chink in
the others defenses. I personally use it to transition from one major exchange to another, or while speaking lines. Regardless, it does match the fast and sharp approach of Form VII.
Not surprisingly, Form VII is a favorite among the community. Even less surprising is its popularity amongst Sith/Dark/Rogue characters. Notable Juyo users include Roy Kaiser (as Darth Malice), NY Jedi Master and Founding member of New Jedi Order; "T" Hannigan (Sith'ari Dra'Kaz), a ninjitsu practitioner who employs the form with a saberstaff. Other users include Brad Worrel (Ar'vage) another co-founding member of NJO, he wields a five foot long Claymore Saber; Melissa Koval (Tindome Uruva) developed a solo form based on Trispzest, which is flying Juyo (Tindome is a Bat-Humanoid and can fly); Other users include Chris Abrams (Xeo Xeniro); John Loobie (Jai'ko Lybro); and Mike Merin (Darth K'Sheen)'s staff work. Vaapad users include Flynn (Talek), founder of New York Jedi; Jess Mermelstein (Tarynn Fireside), stage combatant and director; and Steve Cohen (Joga Crosswind).
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