First Form: Shii-Cho Shii-Cho
Shii-Cho: Foundation. The Determination Form, The Way of the Sarlacc.
Shii-Cho is the beginning and end of swordplay and saber fighting. The principles trained in the formula will follow you through each phase of development. The basics do not change as much as they are given added sophistication. Shii-cho is practiced by almost every saber group, organization, or Kai Kan troop in existence. As such there are most likely hundreds of versions, sets, and exercises given this title.
In the system, Shii-cho operates on a cycle of three. There are three stances, three steps, three guards, three strikes, etc. This simple and striped down approach is often easier for novices to learn and gain proficiency. Be able to internalize and express these sets of principles is essential to all the other stages in the system.
The combat philosophy of this first and most important Pillar is to advance, engage and remove. It is a common thing to have a novice back up excessively when engaging an opponent. This is why Shii-Cho advocates advancing into your opponents space. When you have engaged them you are able to remove the obstruction they present. Whether it be moving the weapon off and pushing through, cutting through them to advance, or deflecting their attack and moving forward, Shii-Cho teaches the things that are counter intuitive to most people but are common place in fighting or on the battlefield.
This fits with the traditional designation “The Determination Form” of Shii-Cho. Much of it’s philosophy and material comes from battlefields and large scale warfare training ideas, not single combat or dueling as some of the later Forms. These types of contexts have very clearly defined goals, as they are dealing with large amounts of chaos. They need to train soldiers quickly and effectively. They need to impart a sense of urgency to push forward. Large scale infantry battles were often about pushing the other back or surrounding them. There comes the idea that you advance, engage, and remove the obstruction by any means necessary. This can include simply parry and passing then re-engaging another opponent. It instills the determination to train and to fight.
The Way of the Sarlacc is more difficult to understand. This is probably due to the general ignorance of the animal. it’s life cycle is most likely the source of the attribution to this Form. The spores of the sarlacc are shot into space where they drift for sometimes thousands of years before finding a home. The young are able to move rapidly underground, through all manner of obstruction, either by going through it, around it, or under it. As it grows older it no longer needs to hunt and rather roots it’s self in the path of the unwary. The qualities can be applied by metaphor to the idea of Shii-Cho.
One advances forward into space, looking for the enemy. One engages the enemy formation and burrow into it, causing chaos and disorder. As the line breaks those retreating will be taken on by one. This is one interpretation, a possibility, nothing more. We will never truly know what the true relationship may be.
In the system Shii-Cho lays the foundation. Everything that comes next is based on this Formula. It is the key and the cypher. Keep it with you always.