Third Form: Soresu Soresu
Soresu: Reaction/Defense, The Resilience Form, The Way of the Mynok
The third formula is one of reaction and defense. The idea is not to create power or force with movement, but to use moment to block, redirect, and absorb in coming aggression. The formula it’s self is concerned with being able to move your saber to any position around your attack zones. It’s practices are often beautiful, hypnotic to viewers and to practitioners. It is meditative in nature, very abstract, and requires a fair amount of experience to appreciate fully. The learner must be careful not to perform the exercises incorrectly or mindlessly. The technique must be trained and honed to razor perfection before one lets go and finds true flow with the Force.
The combat philosophy of Soresu is reaction. Soresu is more a component of combat than something to be used in isolation. The idea of training the formula is in accepting and using incoming attacks instead trying to defeat them. The student must hone their abilities to see what the opponent intends and respond accordingly. This is where the myth that Soresu does not attack or that it draws the fight out to exhaust the opponent. This is not true. The training of Soresu in the system is predicated on reaction, not passivity. It its through active defense and reaction that we actually defend ourselves.
“The Resilience Form” is an appropriate name for this formula. The training of reaction, of yielding, acceptance and bearing of aggression all result in a resilience the fighter. The training methods are meditative, but also physically challenging. The coordination and stamina needed to train the formula properly is higher than most would expect, and often never succeed in putting forth the proper effort. One must exert control over their weapon, their body, and their mind to complete the training.
The training methods of Soresu are open ended and general. They have direct applications but seldom are they performed together as they appear in the training. The Form has the reputation of being completely defensive.This is partially because it’s techniques are characterized by evasive footwork (which it shares with Ataru) and extremely flexible blade work. These two items make it’s practice very intricate and often distracting. It is concerned with defense primarily, but there is always a possibility that one will be left with few option to end the fight.
The orbits are the formula’s most well known piece, and represent a good example of the problems inherent in the Form. The practice of saber orbits is almost never practiced in full, but rather, people focus on the minor orbits and “spins”. Arguments arise over the usefulness of such techniques since they are being done with little regard for the full practice. The incomplete knowledge will result mostly in unimpressive and/or unlikely uses for the minor orbits. Soresu suffers the same paradoxical state. On one hand, more novices identify with the Form and it’s seemingly passive attitude, never realizing that that passivity is the exact opposite of the goal. The goal being, know when, how and where to react without hesitation.
How this Form became associated with the pest known as the mynok is anyone’s guess. But, the creature has the reputation of being almost impossible to kill or rid one’s self of an infestation. Presumably, this quality could be a common description of one proficient in this formula. All one’s attacks would miss their mark, the opponent just out of reach, and reacting to every move you make. This would be a terrible opponent to face.
The techniques in the Soresu formula offer opportunities only. What you do with the opportunity, kill, maim, or spare, is up to you. The training methods are not concerned with that.