Lightsaber Forms in Star Wars
Though not discussed in the films, lightsaber combat derives from several schools of fighting that can be broken into various "forms." Each carry their own advantages and disadvantages, and they can help explain the outcomes of certain fights; Obi-Wan's style pairs poorly against Count Dooku's, accounting for his multiple losses.
With seven main forms plus various branches, there's plenty of dueling approaches to cover—which reign supreme? Here are the 10 best lightsaber forms in Star Wars!
Users: Kit Fisto, Lucien Draay
The first and most simplistic style, Form I is described as the Way of the Sarlaac and is taught as a "tutorial" for students to branch out from. It's considered adaptable if less impressive than other forms, with its biggest advantage being its ease of learning.
Users: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Kanan Jarrus, Luminara Unduli
Championed as the Way of the Mynock and Resilience Form, Soresu provides a defensive armament focused on shielding against blaster fire, compensating for Jedi often being outnumbered in battle. Since blaster-wielding foes are more common than lightsaber, most Jedi at least dabble in Soresu.
But it's far from useless against blades. While admittedly not great at aggression, Soresu swordsmen employ defensive parries and energy-efficient moves designed to wear foes out, waiting for a key moment to counterattack.
Users: Exar Kun, Vrook Lamar, Darth Sidious
The Way of the Rancor, Form VI blends together the prior five styles, creating a balanced amalgam with no glaring weaknesses or strengths. This might not sound terribly impressive, but Niman most heavily encourages mixing in Force-related attacks, offering a versatile assault that can flip between blade and telekinesis as desired.
Users: Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn, Ezra Bridger
The Way of the Hawk-Bat and Aggression form, Ataru uses speed and mobility to barrage foes with several quick strikes, aiming to quickly end a fight. Ataru favors 1v1 combat, making it ideal for saber combat. However, it has its weaknesses, needing ample space for acrobatic maneuvers, quickly draining stamina, and having poor defense against blasters.
In fact, after seeing Darth Maul exploit Ataru's spacing requirements against Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan switched from Form IV to the more-defensive Form III.
Users: Mara Jade Skywalker, Corran Horn, Obi-Wan Kenobi
While not an official form, Tràkata techniques involve using the lightsaber's unique ability to retract and reignite. For instance, the "Pass the Blade" attack deactivates the saber to bypass a block before reactivating it, and the "Flash Slash" continually extends and retracts the blade to throw off opposing parries.
Both Jedi and Sith are often reluctant to use Tràkata, with the former finding it too deceptive and the latter favoring raw power over tricks, but in my opinion, it's a criminally-underrated combat approach that can blend with other forms.
Users: Ahsoka Tano, Asajj Ventress, Vandar Tokare
Jar'Kai isn't a true form but rather a catch-all for general combat using two blades at once. While adapted to the user's preferences, it shares similarities to Ataru, overwhelming foes with repeated attacks. But unlike Ataru, Jar'Kai's multiple blades make it well-suited for engaging multiple foes.
Jar'Kai's biggest weakness is its inability to utilize two-handed strikes, so it can be battered through with sufficient aggression, but practitioners can simply holster a blade when needed to counteract this limitation. In Episode 2: Attack of the Clones, Anakin (still a Padawan) briefly uses Jar'Kai to put Dooku on the defensive, but his inexperience with the form allows Dooku to quickly recover. And speaking of the Count...
Users: Count Dooku, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Asajj Ventress
Dubbed the Way of the Ysalamiri and Contention form, Makashi is often considered the best dueling style, heavily favoring saber combat. While poor against blasters, Makashi uses precise and elegant maneuvers to deflect opposing attacks while responding with its own.
More energy-efficient than Ataru, Makashi works well in extended fights, and it's a natural fit for Sith (who, unlike Jedi, are more likely to engage saber-wielding opponents). However, similar to Jar'Kai, Makashi has limited kinetic energy and can struggle against brute force assaults from styles like...
3. Shien/Djem So
Users: Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Plo Koon
The Way of the Krayt Dragon and Perseverance style, Form V offers two variants: Shien excels against blaster-wielding foes, while Djem So prefers saber combat. Both styles utilize the same principles of reflecting opposing attacks back at their source and striking with powerful two-handed blows.
Considered the most physically demanding style, Djem So requires more brute strength than other disciplines, but its heavy blows and twin variants let it match nearly any opponent.
Users: Darth Maul, Galen Marek, Darth Bane
The Way of the Vornskr and Ferocity style, Juyo is the most vicious form, blending relentless attacks with internal concentration. Graceful and passionate, Jedi often have misgivings about Juyo, while Sith tend to embrace its emotional philosophy.
Straining both the body and mind, Form VII is the hardest to master, but arms those who take the plunge with a ferocious repertoire that can expand into...
Form: 7 (variant)
Users: Mace Windu, Sora Bulq, Quinlan Vos
Created by Mace Windu and Sora Bulq, Vaapad is a variant of Juyo called as much a state of mind as fighting style. Contrary to most Jedi teachings, users accept their inner darkness and channel it into their saber technique. This carries the risk of turning to the dark side, but masters of the form (like Mace Windu) can utilize it without falling.
But perhaps Vaapad's biggest strength is its ability to harness the darkness of the opponent; the more malignant the enemy, the stronger Vaapad's user becomes. This is best shown when Mace Windu fought Darth Sidious, whose dark energy magnified Windu to the point that Anakin could barely see him and described his bladework as "an oblate sphere of purple fire"
Vaapad isn't invincible, even against dark-side foes, but its acceptance of emotion offers power unavailable to most light-users.
Other Combat Forms in Star Wars
In addition to today's mainstream disciplines, weapons like the lightwhip and saberstaff have their own stances and motions to master, though these often draw from the established forms.
While most Jedi and Sith favor a particular style, many learn multiple and can switch as needed, letting them tackle both blade and blaster. But for now, vote for your favorite lightsaber form and I'll see you at our next Star Wars countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill
Alvaro G from Valencia on April 24, 2020:
Loved it, thanks!