"Remember... you are expressing the technique, not doing the technique" - Bruce Lee
There is a certain appeal to the lightsaber. It is a fictional weapon, yes, but there is something about its design that makes it so popular. Its design is simple. It can be used in a myriad number of ways and can be modified in several different forms while still maintaining its basic shape and function.
While it is simple, it is its very nature that makes it stand out: A beam of pure energy that can cut through (nearly) everything. This makes it a difficult weapon to use, making the ones who can use it a very rare breed. There is also something to be said about the symbology of the weapon. Obi-Wan states that the lightsaber was a weapon from a more elegant time. Every time it is employed, it symbolizes a higher ideal of how Sentient Beings were to handle violence: With Honor and Dignity, not with the randomness and casual callousness of ranged weapon.
The Forms are merely different expressions of this attitude. How best to use a weapon that can only be used by a special breed of people? Of course, with each person, there are different ideas, with different ideas come different ways of physically expressing the use of the weapon, hence, the Forms.
I also believe that there is a story being told by the Lightsaber Forms. That is the story of the Jedi before the Fall of the Old Republic. The Weapon begins as a siege weapon, but in the hands of a rag tag group of warrior priests, it becomes a personal weapon using their attunement to the Force and basic sword techniques (Shii Cho). Once they began to understand how to use the weapon, it became a matter of time before the various factions started using it on each other and perfecting their means of combat (Makashi).
Once the fighting stopped and the factions were thinned out, the Jedi (and the Sith) then had to contend with the vast majority of the Galaxy and their use of inelegant, yet highly effective blasters (Soresu and Ataru). Eventually, they began to think about how they employed the Forms, and decided to improve on the old concepts (Shien and Djem So). Finally, they began to move beyond the concept of Forms, and began to go by an ideal, and a Code (Niman). Some even went further, relying on pure emotion and impulse (Juyo and Vaapad). When it reached this point that went beyond the Jedi's philosophy, change was inevitable.
These forms are, like the weapon they were made for,wholly
fictitious. They are based on constructs and ideas that at once seem familiar to us an audience, yet alien by virtue of the weapon used. As such, we wish to emulate what we see in the films; to tap into the beautiful violence that struck us and countless others with awe. This is the main goal of all of the Saber Groups out there. Performers; Actors; Dancers; Martial Artists; Theater Geeks; Geeks in General, Photographers; People who enjoy the Philosophy of the Star Wars Universe; or any combination therein, we are all here because we want to touch the level of understanding of what it was like to use this magnificent weapon.
Naturally, that leads to wanting to emulate what we see in the movies and the Forms. However, the question becomes: How do we do that? Many just feel that what they see in the movie are the Forms, no questions asked. However, let us look at this from a Martial Perspective: Here we are, watching a group of swordsmen, or swordsmen in training, many of them had studied several of the Forms and employed them together into one blended, personal form.
Let's look at the two main characters of the Prequels: Obi- Wan and Anakin. Obi-Wan, when we first see him, employs the acrobatic Ataru like his Master. After Qui-Gon's death, Obi-Wan takes on the more defensive Form of Soresu. This doesn't mean he has eschewed all of his Ataru, as he still maintains the fast flourishes he did in his youth. Anakin is the worst perpetrator in this regard. His main Form is Form V, however, he is on record in employing all the Forms at one point or another as supplements to the shortcomings of Djem So. You can see the Ataru of his Master and his Hero (Qui-Gon) seep in during his youth, but then when he become Vader, the more aggressive, combative Makashi and Juyo become more prevalent. Also keep in mind, that every Jedi (and arguably every Sith; the two were connected by their weapons) were taught Shii Cho from the very start.
Then you have the other Users who rely on Forms that prize adaptability and co-mingling with other Forms. Dooku's Form II made it a point of adapting to suit the user's needs. Maul's use of Form VI and VII all required mastery of several of the Forms, if not all of them, and the ability to decide when to use what where in split second decisions. The Greatest of them All was Sidious, who is estimated to have Master all Seven Forms.
So, it's sad to say, one cannot look to any specific character in the movies and say "This is that Form". In
developing these Forms, we have to work backwards: We need to look at the source material, the concept and the ideas of the Forms, and work our ways up. This means Wookiepedia and the various stories and novels for descriptions. When you have developed something, and you look at the movies and you can see the similarities (though not necessarily the exact same moves) then you have achieved something.
After looking back at this collection of papers, I should make some things clear when I say something like "Kata" or "Group Form". When I mean Kata, I am saying that it is an individual members expression of their sword work. We in the Community refer to them as Solo Forms. A Group Form, on the other hand, is meant to teach specific techniques to the group. The Shii Cho that Damon Honeycutt developed was a Group Form, meant as an instructional tool that showed the technique and core beliefs of what he felt was Form I. On the other hand, Mike Zhang's Soresu Group Form comes from his personal Kata or Solo Form. Several aspects were lessened for general consumption. The difference lies in what the purpose of the demonstration is: performance or instruction. The quote at the beginning of this section lays it out straight, in the end, you are expressing the technique, not doing it. A solo form is meant to express, a group form is meant to do and learn.
The one thing that I feel many do not consider in their development is the weaknesses and limitations of each Form. It is counterintuitive to build a Form with a weakness in mind. We all want to build a perfect Form. However, it is the imperfections that define a thing, not the perfections. These will stop from Forms bleeding into each other and creating one giant mess. Or, if we're very, very lucky, a version of Niman or Juyo.
There is one final thing to keep in mind; I said it earlier, these Forms are not real. They are concepts, philosophies, ideas all revolving around a weapon that is itself not real. Everyone who reads these descriptions on Wookiepedia, on some community board, or the ravings of this paper are going to see something different than someone else. We fill in new information with the information we already have, and build from there. The Forms that exist today are not written in stone, even the ones most of us agree upon. Your mileage may vary, your imagination is in the driver seat, and-above all else-enjoy the ride.
- Craig Page
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 > Chapter 8 > Chapter 9 > Chapter 10 > Chapter 11 >