This article is an introduction to lightsabers fighting styles in the fictional Star Wars universe stories and a discussion about the seven forms of lightsaber combat used by the Jedi. In the massive universe of Star Wars there reside force users who are named Jedi and Sith who wield swords that consist of literal beams of energy. These swords are what we have come to know as lightsabers. Lightsabers, as you can imagine, require masterful skill with them being wielded by these two factions that hold individuals that are already extraordinarily powerful in their own right without weapons. To inquire exactly how these weapons are utilized we must first briefly look at these weapons’ history.
A Brief History of Lightsabers in Star Wars Stories
As you may have already pegged, these magnificent weapons were not always the way they are now. As a matter of fact, the Jedi who wield these weapons in the Star Wars stories originally never used them at the time of their origin. Instead of lightsabers, Jedi would use Vibro-blades or other kinds of metallic weapons of the sort. The Je’daii (precursors to the current Jedi) were the first to use the sci-fi energy weapon versions of lightsabers we are familiar with as audiences of the Star Wars stories. The early versions of lightsabers were relatively primitive if held to the same standard as current ones meaning the fighting style of early Jedi would have been radically different from what we see in the films and comic books; it is likely that these more ancient Jedi fighting styles were not nearly as effective as the modern fighting styles are. Early lightsabers’ importance comes in how they may have cultivated the modern fighting styles into what they are now. Moving away from the earliest of lightsabers, we can analyze what is known as the “First Blade.” The First Blade was a hilt created by the Weapon Master on Tython, which was given to Rajivari, who in turn engraved in the hilt the location to his reservoir of knowledge, which was common of Jedi and Sith alike. The true importance of the First Blade though is that it is the direct precursor of the modern lightsabers, basically meaning all lightsabers originated from this design, furthermore, you could go onto say that not all but most modern fighting techniques stemmed from the construction of this saber. That cues us to move onto all the different fighting styles put in use by the practitioners of lightsabers.
Introduction to the 7 Forms of Lightsaber Combat in Star Wars
There are seven different forms in lightsaber combat. Each form has its own benefits, and its own drawbacks. No form is objectively stronger than the other either. The effectiveness of each form is situational and skill-based as to how effective the form is. None of these forms are a set path either, meaning that one could be a practitioner of a single form or even all forms. It must be taken into account though, that one Jedi who practices one form and masters it will always be more effective than one who simply has a basic understanding of all forms. The form someone favors the most is usually heavily dependent on the person’s personal attributes. When choosing a favored form, a Jedi must know themselves thoroughly because if not, they could fall victim to the corruption that comes with the form they have chosen or even the opposite. Now that we are familiar with the basic nuances of these forms in general, let us move on to breaking down each and every form.
Form 1 “Shii-Cho” or “The Way of The Sarlaac”
This form is the most ancient of all the forms of saber combat. Shii-Cho is probably the most common of all forms of saber combat due to it being the one all Jedi are taught first. The reason it is the most ancient form of combat is because this is the form adopted by the Jedi Order as they made the transition from traditional vibroblades to lightsabers. Shii-Cho is a form that bases itself on disarming enemies dealing as little damage as possible in the process. The form is reliable and effective against multiple enemies who are not users of lightsabers themselves. Essentially this is a form that would be most prominent in an era of peace where lightsaber duels would not be a common sight. Also, it should be noted that someone who actively pursues the dark side most likely would not be proficient nor interested in this style due to their aggressive and hateful tendencies with the exception of the Dark Jedi such as Exar Kun who would have been taught it due to his Jedi upbringing. The most notable users of the Shii-Cho form would have to be Luke Skywalker and Yoda.
Form 2 “Makashi” or “The Way of The Ysalamiri”
This form was created by the Jedi when they became embroiled in bitter lightsaber combat with their eternal rivals, the Sith. Makashi focuses on being precise, simplicity in footwork, and preventing being disarmed, making it the natural and perfect counter to Form 1, which focuses on disarmament. It should be noted that this is a one-handed form of combat, which means that a curved hilt only makes this form even more deadly. In times of peace between the Sith and Jedi this form would not be common whatsoever due to the lack of lightsaber duels at the time. Those who use this form praise it as being the most elegant of all the other forms. The most notable users of the Makashi are Count Dooku (note he had curved blade indicating his mastery of Makashi) and fan favorite Darth Vader.
Form 3 “Soresu” or “The Way of the Mynock”
The form Soresu is considered a deep reflection of the Jedi’s own philosophy, because it reflects the Jedi belief in nonaggression and calmness. Soresu being so tightly knitted with Jedi belief would make it the common form of those in touch with the force’s light side. The practice of Soresu focuses on blocking and shielding the user, it was developed to block blasters. A practitioner of Soresu must have tight and efficient movements in order to protect their body. A large requisite for someone to be able to use Soresu efficiently is to have themselves centered in the force to be able to anticipate their opponents’ attacks. The most notable users of Soresu are Obi-Wan-Kenobi and Yoda.
Form 4 “Ataru” or “The Way of the Hawkbat”
Ataru is a form that relies heavily on an acrobatic and agile approach to combat involving jumps, flips, high speeds, and deadly strikes. Easily this is the most offensive of the forms but comes at a great risk in the form of the user being quickly overwhelmed if the fight continues for too long due to the heavy strain this form takes on the user’s stamina. Though it is hard to argue the effectiveness too many who do not understand Ataru, it looks like nothing more than a wild flurry of movements with no real elegance, yet it remains one of the deadliest forms. The most notable users of Ataru are Yoda and Qui-Gon-Jinn.
Form 5 “Shien/Djem So” or “The Way of the Krayt Dragon”
This form is developed from Form 3 but innovates it to make it a much more offensive version. The first variant, Shien, is based on blocking blaster bolts like Soresu. Instead of solely blocking and defending, the user will deflect the blaster bolts towards their opponent, making the user’s defense an offense. The second variant, Djem So, uses the same exact principle as the first variant Shien but this time with lightsabers. Djem So focuses on blocking a lightsaber user’s attacks and then using the enemy saber users’ energy to counterattack. The most notable users of Shien/Djem So are father and son Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker.
Form 6 “Niman” or “The Way of the Rancor”
This form is a complete synthesis of all of the previously stated forms. This is a popular choice among those in the Jedi order who prefer not to partake in combat training since it is the easiest of all other forms to execute and master. Those who have mastered another form may see Niman as an inferior fighting style. Niman focuses on mixing lightsaber combat with multiple Force abilities. A user of Niman would use something like Force Push or Force Pull with a flurry of slashes from their lightsaber to quickly dispatch of their enemies. Most duel wielders or double-bladed wielders use the Niman form. The most notable users of this form are Darth Maul and General Grievous.
Form 7 “Juyo/Vaapad” or “The Way of the Vornskr”
These are the most difficult of all traditional forms of lightsaber combat physically and mentally. With this form, the user must not rid themselves of their emotions in a fight but instead use them to their advantage in a fight allowing them to attack in a chaotic, destructive, and unpredictable manner that is hard to counter. Those who use this form constantly walk in between the Dark and Light side of the force but must maintain the perfect balance or will fall to the corruption of the Dark Side. Mace Windu created the variant of Vaapad during the Clone Wars, and its premise was to make the user a conduit who takes their opponents’ negative emotions and use them against them. Few Jedi were ever allowed to use this form due to their susceptibility to falling to the dark side. The most notable users of this form are Mace Windu and Darth Maul.