We see Jedis and Sith lords using different fighting styles throughout the Star Wars Saga. Some are very offensive, some have an unbreakable defense, while others focus on agility and precision. Those fighting styles come from different lightsaber combat forms that evolved over centuries to overpower the menacing danger of rising Sith lords and Dark Jedis.
As learned from Star Wars Saga, lightsaber combat has seven forms. All the forms are different from each other in approach and tactics. It can take several years to master one form of lightsaber combat. Every Jedi or Sith was seen using at least one lightsaber combat form throughout the series, except for a few who learned multiple forms.
Let’s talk about all the lightsaber forms, their benefits, limitations, and who used them.
Form I: Shii-Cho
Form I is the first lightsaber combat form, also known as the determination form and way of the Sarlacc. A Sarlacc is a creature of Tattoine that hides in the ground and waits for its prey. The same creature Boba Fett came out of in “The Book of Boba Fett.” Series. Due to the persistence of this form, same to that creature, it was named “Way of the Sarlacc.”
The Jedi council first created Shii-Cho in the early times after the Sith Lords, and Dark Jedis began to appear in numbers. The form Shii-Cho came with the discovery of lightsabers themselves replacing the primitive metal swords.
With this new invention, lightsabers could cut down from all angles, unlike metal swords that can only cut from one direction. Shii-Cho’s limits were confined to basic offense and defense moves. Like the primitive metal swords, the Shii-Cho Form only offers basic strikes and blocks of another lightsaber.
Form I was a success considering it could easily cut all the melee weapons like clubs, swords, or similar weapons. The invention of Shii-Cho helped Jedis slice down multiple opponents. Shii-Cho was developed in a way only to cut down the weapons and disarm the opponents rather than kill them.
In the beginning, Shii-Cho’s invention proved to be very effective. It helped the Jedi defeat the opponents and easily keep the Sith overpowered. It was great but was not meant to stay like this forever.
The Sith lords started to adapt to the lightsabers and learned the Shii-Cho Form as time passed. The combats had gone tougher for Jedis. The purpose of Jedis had shifted from disarming the opponent to surviving the fight. Such situations caused the invention of 2nd form of combat. This form was more advanced and suitable for head-to-head lightsaber combats.
Who Used Shii-Cho?
As the other combats forms were invented, Jedi got involved in those more advanced forms, and Shii-Cho was limited to beginner’s training. As seen in “Phantom Menace.” Master Yoda was teaching the younglings Shii-Cho combat form.
Although form I was simple and more basic than other combat forms, a skilled master of this form could fight head-to-head with any other combat Form user.
A prime example is Kit Fisto. Kit Fisto was a Skilled Jedi of form I who fought during the clone wars. He almost defeated general Grievous using Form I of lightsaber combats. Other than Fisto, Meera Sutrik, and Obi-Wan Kenobi are the notable names to use Form I of lightsaber combats.
Indeed, Shii-Cho was not advanced and less used in lightsaber duels, but Jedi often tend to use it in fights impossible to win. They were told if nothing works, Shii-Cho will work. As the name determination form, one must stay determined even if he must rely on the basics of lightsaber combat forms.
Form II: Makashi
The form II of lightsaber combats is called Makashi, also known as the contention form and the way of Ysalamiri. Ysalamiri was a lizard-like creature who could create a defensive Force bubble to repel Force attacks. Respecting the perseverance of Ysalamiri, the Jedi order named Form II “ the Way of Ysalamiri.”
Makashi was invented in response to the failure of the Shu-Chii Form, which was not effective in lightsaber duels. Makashi focuses more on lightsaber vs. lightsaber duels than any other form.
It is an elegant form of combat that requires an intense amount of training to master. Unlike the Shu-Chii, which is more like wild lightsaber strikes, Makashi Form is all about precision and accurate strikes on off-guard opponents and disarming them.
Makashi is a technical form that requires swift reflexes and perfect footwork. Jedis learned with this form how to avoid lightsaber attacks with minimal effort.
This form’s main focus was on avoiding the clumsy strikes of Shii-Chu users with the least energy put in it. Shu-Chii is all about random attacks, so a Shu-Chii user tires himself out against a Makashi user who simply blocks all the attacks with simple footwork.
Indeed, Makashi was extremely effective in close lightsaber combats and was useful for quite a long time only until the new threats started to rise again. It was only a matter of time before Sith lords got hands-on technological weapons they could use from longer distances.
This time opponents appeared with projectile weapons like blaster guns and other lethal ranged weapons, including the droids. Makashi was efficient against close combats, especially against another lightsaber but was not evolved enough for long-range attacks.
As the technology in the Galaxy improved significantly, the Makashi form of lightsaber proved itself to be insufficient and unreliable. Jedis struggled to block blaster bullets with their lightsabers. So, this need caused the third form of the lightsaber, and Makashi was not the priority Form of Jedis. Just like Shii-Chu, Makashi was also limited to only a few learners.
Who Used Makashi
A famous name who used Form II of Lightsaber, Makashi, is Count Dooku, also known as Darth Tyrannous. He was the leader of the separatist army, which initially started as a Jedi separatist. Later, it was revealed that he turned to the dark side and worked as Darth Sidious’s apprentice.
Count Dooku was an extremely skilled Makashi Form user who wielded a single standard lightsaber. We watched him disarming his opponents with minimum effort. He easily held the night sisters and Assajj Ventress in the Clone Wars. Even against Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker, Count Dooku seemed to be controlling everything without losing his strike’s accuracy.
Qui-Gon Jin, a padawan of Count Dooku, also learned the Makashi form and was quite skilled in it. Similarly, a Jedi Master, Cin Dralling, also masters Makashi.
Despite Makashi’s limitations against the ranged attacks, It is still one of the best lightsaber combat Forms and is considered extremely effective against the Sith lords. This form might not save you from a blaster but can help you win against a strong Sith lord.
Combat Form III: Soresu
The third lightsaber combat form is called Soresu, also known as the resilience form. It is also called “The way of the Mynock.” named after the creature Mynocks. Soresu was created by the Jedi council to avoid the ranged attacks. A true master of Soresu becomes impenetrable even against blaster bullets. Its purpose was to create a defensive shield with a lightsaber that could block all the projectile attacks.
As evolved from Makashi, form II, Soresu relies on its accuracy and agility. Unlike Makashi, Soresu is used all the time as a defense. Soresu boosts the user’s observation of his surroundings and his reflexes. Soresu was originally perceived as a form, which will allow you to tackle blaster attacks while in combat with a lightsaber wielder, but it evolved to the extent of deflecting the bullets as well.
The form III of lightsaber combats, Soresu, does not allow wild strikes or even precise slashes, but only to use a lightsaber in a way to improve defense to the maximum. A Soresu user trains himself and his reflexes more than an average human can. A master Jedi of Soresu is expected to take the blaster deflecting position before the bullet is triggered. It is said that a Soresu user can take up to 20 opponents alone because of his reflexes and agility.
The Soresu users keep the blade close to their body in a position to deflect any bullet coming from any direction. They keep their body in such a position to minimize the exposure of their body to any ranged blaster.
While the Soresu forms protected you from all sorts of ranged attacks, it was not invincible. The Makashi form is about tackling lightsabers attacks and finding an opening for the offense. However, the Soresu form is completed and devoted to defense only. As the quote goes, “Offense is the best defense.” Soresu was able to protect from bullets but was not effective against the lightsaber’s offensive moves.
This limitation of Soresu resulted in the formation of other lightsaber forms to remove all the errors in Soresu.
Who uses Soresu
Soresu is a form that allows maximum defense but that the same time has no offense. Similarly, in a world of technology that advanced, you must learn Soresu to survive the blasters.
All the Jedis learn Soresu by combining other forms of lightsaber combats. From the first-ever movie released in the 1970s to until now, we have watched tons of movies and series. All the Jedis and Sith are seen easily deflecting the bullets.
Grand Master Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobis are popular names who master the Soresu form. Maybe that was also why they could survive Order 66 when others failed. He deflected the bullets coming from behind as well, while the others could not.
Combat Form IV: Ataru
Ataru is the fourth form of lightsaber combats, also known as the aggression form. It was also named “the way of the Hawk-bat.” after the aggressive hunting method of that creature.
When form IV was developed, the Jedis had become proficient in lightsaber combat forms, unlike form I. In the beginning, the form I of lightsaber combat had not evolved enough, and the battle included random slashes and slurry attacks. Jedis had also not properly learned the ways of the Force at that time.
Ataru is an advanced form of the 7 lightsaber combat forms that need a combination of Force abilities and lightsaber skills. Jedis had to be trained in the ways of the Force to be able to learn Ataru form. They could only master Ataru after learning the basics of previous forms of lightsaber combats.
As the name “aggression form.” says, Ataru is an offensive form that allows continuous lightsaber attacks until he finds an opening. An Ataru practitioner is expected to dominate his opponent with a flurry of lightsaber slashes and secure victory in a few moments.
Unlike Shii-Cho, Ataru’s blows are precise and continuous while not exposing an opening for the opponent. Combining the Force abilities, an Ataru practitioner is able to keep up the defense and attack the opponent from unexpected directions.
Ataru also requires a combination of Form III to properly master it. While Soresu only allowed the defense, Ataru allowed the Jedis to move forward towards the opponents while blocking projectile attacks like blaster bullets. A combination of defense and offense with an ability to swiftly get close to the opponent helped the Jedis secure victories for a long time.
Indeed, the Form IV of lightsaber combat, Ataru was the most advanced of all the previous lightsaber combat forms. It was extremely effective against the Siths as well as the ranged attacks. Still, it had its own limitations.
Learning to attack swiftly and continuously towards the opponent while blocking the incoming attacks altogether required an intense amount of training. However, even combined with Force abilities, Ataru could only do so much before its flaws became apparent.
Ataru’s offense was unmatched, but it was impossible to keep up the same defense while continuous lightsaber blows. The Jedis could dominate the battles but only for some time until they failed against blaster bullets. The Jedi council could not risk the Jedis fighting in the middle of the battles with Ataru, so they started perceiving new Forms that resulted in other forms.
Who uses Ataru?
Form IV of lightsaber combat, Ataru, was practiced by many Jedis and Sith lords until the Jedi order fell. As seen in the “Phantom Menace.” movie, Qui-Gon Jin and his apprentice Obi-Wan used Ataru form against Darth Maul.
Obi-Wan defeated Maul with continuous blows of lightsaber strikes while aggressively charging forward. He cut down Maul’s dual-phase lightsaber into two and ended up throwing him out of the ship.
Despite his limitation, Ataru is one of the most advanced forms of lightsaber practiced by many great Jedis and Sith lords.
Form V: Shien & Djem
Form V of lightsaber combat form is known as Shien & Djem So, also known as perseverance form. It was also named “The way of Krayt Dragon.” Form IV was developed to address the offense issue of its previous form Soresu. Although form IV provided the offense, keeping the same defense up was impossible.
So, another attempt to address this issue of the Soresu form was made and resulted in form V: Shien and Djem. Ataru was developed to resolve the issue of Soresu, but it was developed from scratch. However, Shien & Djem So was derived from Soresu (Form III) with some modifications in defense.
Form V has two halves Shien and Djem. While Shien focuses on keeping the defense as strong as Soresu, Djem So focuses on its offense. With Shien, the Jedis deflected the blasters and got so accurate to deflect bullets back to where they came from, hitting the opponents with their own bullets.
Unlike form III, which emphasized defense only, the philosophy of Shien was to overpower their opponent with an unexpected offensive move. While Shien was perfect for deflecting the bullets back to the opponent, it was developed with the mindset of Makashi (Form II) to achieve the precision of attacks against a lightsaber wielder. For that reason, the 2nd half, Djem So, was created after Shien.
While Form II emphasized blocking and finding an opening to make a precise blow, Djem So focused on fighting the opponent head to head and dominating him with a combination of defense and offense.
As keeping his defense up, Djem & So practitioner is expected to shift to offense and then back to defense again. So, Form V is about Soresu’s defense and Makashi’s precision. The purpose is to overpower the enemy with precise brute Force and bring him to a vulnerable position where he can be defeated.
The Jedi council encouraged Form V over Soresu or Makashi, as Soresu was not offensive, but Makashi was extremely difficult to master.
In a nutshell, Shien and Djem So were created to address all the issues that existed in previous forms. Shii-Cho (Form I) and Ataru (Form IV) forced their way aggressively. Soresu (Form III) only focused on defense and patience, and Makashi (form II) failed against blasters. Shien and Djem So controlled all the situations quite effectively. A Shien and Djem So practitioner kept his defense up and forced his way aggressively without exposing any opening.
Who uses Shien and Djem So?
Anakin Skywalker was a notable name who practiced Shien and Djem So. Although he was skilled in Form IV, Ataru, also but his Shien and Djem So form were on a whole different level. He was seen deflecting the bullets back to droids many times and even against Ezra Bridger in “Rebels.”
Another famous name is Anakin’s padawan, Ahsoka Tano. Although she uses dual lightsabers, she easily mastered Form V due to her reverse grip style. Many Shien and Djem practitioners used reverse grip style to assist their defense and offense, and Ahsoka was one of them. She used one yellow-green Shota lightsaber to hold it in reverse fashion.
Form VI: Niman
The sixth form of the lightsaber is called Niman, also known as the way of the Rancor, the moderation form, and the diplomat’s form. The form VI, Niman, was a hybrid form of lightsaber that perceived all the previous lightsaber forms. It contains several elements of all the lightsaber forms, from Shii-Cho (form I) to Shien (form V).
Niman had certain advantages over other forms as it infused all the essential elements of previous forms in one form, thus not leaving any weaknesses. At the same time, it lacked other forms in the aspect that it does not perceive any form to perfection.
The idea was to provide Jedis with a balanced approach during the battles. The Jedis were expected to be able to defend and offend without giving an opening. While the Jedis could learn all essentials of the previous forms, they could not specialize in any certain combat forms. For this reason, this form is also recognized as the “Jack of all trades.” form.
Indeed, Niman is generally a defense-oriented form derived from Soresu (form III). Combining the elements of Ataru and Makashi, the Jedi Order could achieve a form of swift and unpredictable offensive moves while keeping the defense up.
Limitations of Niman
Niman had been the most practiced form among the Force-users for centuries. Ironically, it is also the most criticized form due to the limitations that came with it. Many Jedis believed it to be a liability considering it does not allow a master-level proficiency in any previous form.
A Niman practitioner can defend like Soresu, but his defense is much weaker. His footwork is not perfect, and his accuracy is dull, unlike Makashi. His offense does not offer the same brutal strength as Ataru and Shien. But then again, this is a generalization form, not a specialization one.
Despite his limitation, Niman had proved itself to be the most useful, especially with the combination of Force
Who used Niman?
Niman was the most commonly used lightsaber combat form. The Jedi order preferred it over other forms as it supported the diplomats of the Jedi Order and the Republic. Secondly, Niman did not insist on a pro-level proficiency in any of the previous forms. It was easier for the Jedis to learn the basics and some essentials of all the forms that could help them in battles. That way, the Jedis could stay prepared for any unexpected battle events.
Another reason for its acceptance is the combination of Force with Niman. Utilizing basic physical elements of all the previous forms did not drain as much energy in a battle as a specialized form did. This allowed the Jedis to effectively combine the Force attacks like Telekinesis with Niman. Repelling, pulling, and pushing with the Force is more common in Niman form than in other lightsaber combat forms.
From the Jedi-Sith Great War to the Clone Wars, Niman had been the most commonly used combat form of lightsabers. It is considered the most practical form of lightsaber combats by many Jedis.
Similarly, the Sith lords had been practicing this form like the Jedis. The famous Sith names who learned Niman form are Darth Maul and the Grand Inquisitor.
Form VII: Juyo
The form VII of lightsaber combats is called Juyo, also known as Ferocity form. If was named “the way of the Vonskr.” after the name of a creature Vonskr who could sense the Force energy inside other creatures and hunt them to consume the Force. These hunters of Force-beings were an accurate description of the Juyo practitioners.
Form VII is the most demanding form of lightsaber combats. It is a bold form that involves direct attacks. Unlike Ataru or Shien, Juyo relied on mental energy more than physical energy. A Juyo user attacks his opponent in such angles and berserk behavior that it makes it difficult for the opponent to catch his unpredictable moves.
Juyo is a more physical and kinetic form that follows the brute Force of Form IV. Unlike Ataru, Juyo lacks the idea of defense and is only focused on killing blows like Shii-Cho.
The idea of the Juyo is to let them be absorbed into the Force and create mental pressure while looking calm from the outside. Jedis were expected to release their mental pressure to fuel their passion and rage during the combat. This fuel of emotion enhances the user’s focus and energy more than other forms, but at the same time losing the moral compass. In other words, Juyo was the form to hurt people.
“Rage leads to the Dark side.” Juyo was first adopted as a lightsaber combat form. Later, Juyo was banned from the old Jedi Order as this form makes his user vulnerable to the Dark side. Juyo stayed banned for centuries until Mace Windu made some modifications to it.
Form VII: Vaapad
Mace Windu was a legendary Jedi Master and member of the Jedi council. He was also considered more powerful than Master Yoda. Mace Windu made modifications into form VII Juyo and named this form Vaapad. Why was there a need to reform Juyo, and what modifications did Windu make?
Well, after the ban, Jedis restricted themselves from learning Juyo but Sith lords did not. Mace Windu realized the immense power Juyo provided to its users, and Jedis were at a disadvantage against the Sith.
Mace Windu fixed Juyo form and made it safe for the Jedis to learn it. He finds a way to let your negative emotions flow without getting them out of control. He trained himself for self-control to the extent that he could keep his negative emotions under control.
Vaapad followed the same physical and mental tactics. Windu let his mental pressure fuel his emotions to a safe limit to gain immense power the form VII had to offer.
Who uses Juyo and Vaapad?
During the old times of the Jedi Order, many Jedis used Juyo as a lightsaber combat form. Vrook Lamar, Kavar, Zez-Kai Ell were the famous Jedi Masters who practiced Juyo. Unfortunately, most of those Jedis fell to the dark side, which resulted in the ban of Juyo by the Jedi order.
The users of the other side of the Force continued to use Juyo, and Darth Maul is one of the notable names to master Juyo form. Although he was proficient in Niman but also learned the Juyo form.
As for its modified form, only Mace Windu was the only known practitioner of Vaapad. It is partly because the Jedi went extinct after Order 66 and because this form was extremely difficult to master. Letting your negative emotions flow while keeping them under control was something not every Jedi could have easily done.
Mace Windu had students, but none of his apprentices, including Jedi Master Depa Billaba, was ever seen using Vaapad form. After Mace Windu and Depa Billaba were killed during the Great Jedi Purge, Vaapad, the modification of Juyo, also disappeared for good from the Jedi teachings.