In the Star Wars universe, the Jedi and Sith Lords have developed various fighting styles to combat each other. These styles are based on seven different forms of lightsaber combat, each with its unique approach and strategy. It takes a long time to master any form, and only a select few have learned multiple forms. Throughout the series, every Jedi or Sith uses at least one form of lightsaber combat with advantages and disadvantages.
Form I: Shii-Cho
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Form I, also known as Shii-Cho or the Resolve form, is the first lightsaber combat form developed by the Jedi Council. Its creation was prompted by the growing presence of Dark Jedi and Sith Lords to counter their influence. The form is named after the Sarlacc, a creature that hides underground and waits for its prey due to its persistence and similarity to the beast.
Shii-Cho is a basic form of combat that offers only simple offensive and defensive moves. Its main advantage is that it can easily cut through all melee weapons, making it effective against multiple opponents. The form was designed to disarm opponents rather than kill them.
However, as the Sith Lords began to adapt to the lightsaber, the Jedi had to develop more advanced forms of combat. Shii-Cho became limited to training for beginners and was used less often in lightsaber duels. Skilled users of the document, such as Kit Fisto, Mira Sutric, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, could still hold their own against users of other forms.
Overall, Shii-Cho is a simple and essential form of combat that remains useful in certain situations. Its name reflects the importance of staying steadfast and relying on the basics of lightsaber combat.
Form II: Makashi
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The Scramble Form or the Way of the Ysalamiri is another name for Makashi, which is the second form of lightsaber combat. It was created after the failure of the Shuki Form and is more focused on lightsaber-to-lightsaber duels. Makashi requires much training to master and is all about precision and accuracy in striking unsuspecting opponents and disarming them.
This form is elegant and technical, requiring quick reflexes and perfect footwork. Its primary focus is to avoid the clumsy attacks of a Shii-Chu user with minimal energy input. However, Makashi is ineffective against long-range attacks like blaster guns and robots, which became prevalent as galactic technology improved.
Despite its limitations, Makashi is still considered one of the best forms of lightsaber combat and is very effective against Sith Lords. Count Dooku, Darth Tyrant, is a famous user of this form, as well as Qui-Gon Jin and Jedi Master Sin Delarine.
Combat Form III: Soresu
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Soresu, which is also referred to as the Resilience form, is the third lightsaber combat form. It was created by the Jedi Council to defend against long-range attacks and is named after the Maenok creature. A true Master Soresu can become indestructible even in blaster fire by creating a defensive shield with their lightsaber.
Soresu evolved from Makashi and relied on accuracy and agility to enhance users’ ability to react to their surroundings. Initially designed to deal with blaster attacks when fighting a lightsaber wielder, it has since evolved to deflect bullets.
Soresu is not about wild strikes or precise slashes but maximizing defensive power. A Soresu user can train their reflexes to be better than the average person’s. They must take a lightsaber deflection stance before a bullet is triggered. They hold their blade close to their body to deflect any shot from any direction and minimize their exposure to ranged blasters.
However, Soresu has limitations and could be more effective against offensive lightsaber movements. Other lightsaber forms have been developed to eliminate these errors.
Archmage Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi are popular characters who have mastered the Soresu form and survived Order 66. All Jedi learn Soresu by combining it with other forms of lightsaber fighting to maximize their defensive abilities.
Combat Form IV: Ataru
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Named after the aggressive hunting style of the eagle bat, Ataru is the fourth form of lightsaber combat, commonly referred to as the offensive form. It is an advanced form that requires a combination of Force abilities and lightsaber skills. It can only be mastered after learning the basics of the previous records.
Ataru is a form of aggression that allows several lightsaber attacks until an opening is found. It requires precision and continuous strikes while leaving no doors for the opponent. With the help of the Force, the practitioner can maintain defense and attack from unexpected directions.
However, Ataru has its limitations. While effective against Sith and long-range attacks, it requires much training to maintain offense and defense. Keeping the same security while landing continuous lightsaber strikes is impossible, making it vulnerable to blaster fire.
Despite its limitations, many Jedi and Sith Lords practiced Ataru until the fall of the Jedi Order. Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan used Ataru against Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, ultimately defeating him with a succession of lightsaber strikes.
Form V: Shien & Djem
Form V of lightsaber combat, known as Shien & Djem So or the Trail form, is called “The Path of the Krayt Dragon.” It was developed to address the offensive issues of its predecessor, Soresu (Form III). While Form IV offered some offense, it needed to maintain a different level of defense.
To solve this problem, Form V, consisting of Shien and Djem So, was created. It was derived from Soresu but with modifications to its defense. Shien focuses on maintaining robust security, while Djem So emphasizes aggression. With Shien, Jedi can defend against blaster attacks and accurately deflect shots back at their opponents.
Unlike Form III, which only prioritizes defense, Shien aims to overwhelm opponents with unexpected and aggressive moves. It was developed with a Makashi (Form II) mindset to precisely attack lightsaber wielders. Djem So was created as a complementary form to Shien, which came before it.
While Form II focuses on blocking and finding gaps for precise strikes, Djem So is about confronting the opponent head-on, using a combination of defense and offense to dominate them. Practitioners of Form V are expected to switch between offense and defense seamlessly. The goal is to subdue the enemy with precise brute Force and bring them to a vulnerable position for defeat.
The Jedi Council prefers Form V over Soresu or Makashi because Soresu lacks offense, and Makashi is challenging to master.
In summary, Shien and Djem So were developed to address the issues present in previous forms. Shii-Cho (Form I) and Ataru (Form IV) were overly aggressive, Soresu (Form III) focused solely on defense and patience, and Makashi (Form II) could have been more effective against blasters. Shien and Djem effectively manage all situations by maintaining strong defense and aggressive offense without exposing weaknesses.
Notable Shien and Djem So practitioners include Anakin Skywalker and his female apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. Anakin is proficient in Ataru (Form IV), but his Shien and Djem So skills are on another level. He has been seen deflecting shots at droids and even fighting Ezra Bridger in “Rebels.” Ahsoka, who uses a dual lightsaber, easily mastered Form V thanks to her reverse grip. Many Shien and Djem So practitioners use the reverse grip to enhance their defense and attack, and Ahsoka is one of them. She wields a yellow-green shoto lightsaber in a reverse grip.
Form VI: Niman
The Niman, also known as the Rancor’s Way, Temperance form, or Diplomat’s form, is the sixth form of lightsaber combat. It is a hybrid form incorporating elements from all previous forms, from Shii-Cho (form one) to Shien (form five). This balanced approach aims to provide Jedi a versatile combat style without specializing in any particular form, making it a “jack-of-all-trades” form.
Niman is primarily defense-oriented, drawing from Soresu (Form III), but also incorporates elements of Ataru and Makashi for fast and unpredictable offensive action. However, its main limitation is that it does not allow for mastery in any previous forms, resulting in weaker defense, poor footwork, and less powerful attacks than specialized forms.
Despite these limitations, Niman is widely practiced among Force users, particularly within the Jedi Order. It supports their diplomatic roles and allows for easier integration of Force powers such as telekinesis in combat. Notable Sith Lords, including Darth Maul and the Grand Inquisitor, have also practiced the Niman form.
Form VII: Vaapad
Mace Windu was a renowned Jedi Master and part of the Jedi Council, even considered more powerful than Master Yoda. He modified the 7th form of Juyo, creating Vaapad. Juyo needed reforming because it was banned by the Jedi due to its association with the Dark Side. Still, the Sith continued to use it, putting the Jedi at a disadvantage.
Windu made Juyo safer for Jedi by allowing them to use their negative emotions without losing control. Vaapad follows similar techniques, with Windu using his mental stress to fuel his emotions safely and access the power of this form.
In the past, many Jedi used Juyo, like Flock Lamar, Kaval, and Zez-Kai-El, but most fell to the Dark Side, leading to its ban. Sith, like Darth Maul, still uses Juyo. As for Vaapad, only Mace Windu is known to have mastered it, partly due to its difficulty and the extinction of the Jedi after Order 66.
Although Windu had students, none saw him use Vaapad, including Jedi Master Deppa Biraba. After they died in the Great Jedi Purge, Vaapad disappeared from Jedi teachings.