The art of lightsaber combat in the Star Wars universe is so intricate that it doesn’t merely involve knowing how to swing a laser sword around, hoping it will hit the target. Instead, there are different forms that Jedi and Sith need to master and use, depending on their style of combat. Each of these forms is effective in certain situations. As such, let us look at the different lightsaber combat forms and the most prominent users of these forms.
Form I: Shii-Cho
As you can expect as its status as the first lightsaber combat form, Form I or Shii-Cho is the oldest lightsaber form in existence and is also the most basic form to master among all lightsaber combat practitioners. All Jedi need to learn and master Form I before they can try to learn other forms. And all of the other forms, in one way or another, are derived from this form.
When you look at the way Form I is used, it is quite basic. However, it is quite effective and even brutal to the extent that it can be quite aggressive. It relies on a lot of fast strikes that allow the user to use the lightsaber as an extension of one’s inner being.
But while Shii-Cho may be basic, one can only truly master it when a Jedi attains a level of inner peace to the point that the lightsaber forms part of the person’s self. That is why not a lot of Sith use it.
Another reason why the Sith don’t often use Shii-Cho is that users are supposed to move back to a defensive stance after attacking to prevent the opponent from seeing an opening. Considering that the Sith prefer aggression over defense, they usually don’t use Shii-Cho, which requires them to pull back after an attack instead of continuing on with an onslaught of attacks.
All Jedi usually use Shii-Cho from time to time, even though there aren’t a lot of Jedi that favor it over the other forms. Jedi are usually forced to change to this form whenever the occasion calls for it, as it was often seen in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones that the Jedi were using this form in the First Battle of Geonosis. Among the practitioners that often use this form include Jedi Master Kit Fisto.
Form II: Makashi
When the sword and lightsaber combat was first invented thousands of years before the time of the nine Star Wars films, the Jedi only needed to rely on Form I because they were already operating at an advantage over their opponents when they were wielding a lightsaber.
However, lightsabers became common among Jedi and Sith alike, especially when the two orders began clashing with one another or when a Jedi turned to the dark side and would fight another Jedi. This meant that the Jedi needed to create new fighting styles that were meant to counter other lightsaber users.
One such style that was effective against another Force user was Form II or Makashi, which is one of the most graceful dueling forms in lightsaber combat. It resembles fencing quite a bit, as it requires skills and controlled strikes that are carefully placed instead of relying on brute force and a flurry of attacks.
The Makashi style also opened the floodgates for numerous lightsaber designs because of the fact that this style required the user to be more graceful. As such, the lightsaber needed to be designed to accommodate the grace and precision of the user, as different duelists used different designs such as crossguard lightsabers. There were even others who employed Form II together with a second shoto lightsaber, which is shorter than the main lightsaber.
Due to the offensive nature of this style and how it employed a calculated type of attack, the Sith heavily favored it over Form I. However, Form II seemingly fell off the map when the Sith were believed to have gone extinct.
Even though Sith favored Makashi, there were still Jedi who practiced this form. One of the most notable Jedi that used Form II was Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi. But the true master of this form was none other than Count Dooku himself.
Dooku employed a lightsaber with a curved hilt so that he would be able to employ his precision strikes with more grace and ease when using Form II. He also taught his apprentice, the assassin named Asajj Ventress, in this form, as she used dual lightsabers when employing Makashi. Due to how prominent Dooku’s Form II combat was, Yoda was quick to recognize that the former Jedi was the one who taught her how to fight.
Form III: Soresu
As technology in the Star Wars galaxy improved, more and more people began employing the use of blasters in fights. Meanwhile, the Jedi still used their lightsabers as their trusty weapons. But they needed to find a way to become effective against those who used blasters.
In that regard, Form III or Soresu was created to counter blasters in a fight. Even though other forms could be used to block or deflect a blaster bolt, Soresu was the most effective at allowing the Jedi to defend themselves against blasters. All Jedi trained in Soresu because they needed to learn its basics, especially against the Separatists’ droid army.
Of course, Padawans learned this form as early as their early days of Jedi training because they are trained in the art of blocking laser blasts while wearing helmets that kept their eyes covered. This was a good exercise for them because it allowed them to use their instincts when blocking blaster bolts. As Luke Skywalker himself said, they used the Force as their guide when employing Form III to block blasters.
The focus of Form III is primarily defense, as the user needs to keep a tight defensive stance to block blasters and lightsabers alike. Meanwhile, on offense, the user needs to employ controlled and precise attacks that should only be used during an opening.
Soresu users should take time to analyze their opponent’s fighting style before striking back, and that is why it requires the user to be very patient. An opening should arise when the opponent becomes too frustrated or begins to tire out. Think of a user of this form as the Floyd Mayweather of the Star Wars universe.
The fact that Form III is too focused on defense is also its downfall because a gifted offensive lightsaber duelist can find a gap in the user’s defense before the user could even find the right time to strike back.
One of the most prominent Form III users in the entire Jedi Order was Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is known as a defensive specialist. His mastery over this form was so great that he could employ it even against the best lightsaber duelists and use their strength against them.
On paper, he shouldn’t have been a match for Anakin Skywalker at the end of Revenge of the Sith. However, Obi-Wan used Anakin’s hubris and frustration against him to defeat him using this form. But a patient and precise duelist such as Dooku was able to easily counter Kenobi’s Soresu.
Meanwhile, another good duelist in the form of Kanan Jarrus, a Jedi Knight during the events of Star Wars: Rebels, was also very capable of using Form III as his form of choice.
Form IV: Ataru
If Form III is the best defensive lightsaber form, Form IV is one of the most aggressive forms because it employs a lot of different attacks that rely on the user’s mastery over the Force. Also called Ataru, Form IV requires the user to be quite acrobatic with his movements, as the user should also know how to use Force-assisted movements to perform such attacks.
Because of how Ataru is great at using the environment to the user’s advantage, it is great for one-on-one battles. Form IV users can often bounce around the environment using the Force, as the flurry of attacks that come from all directions and every angle can easily confuse an opponent and create an opening. Most Ataru users are capable of finishing a fight in a hurry due to the aggressive nature of this lightsaber form.
Ataru is also great at bothering an opponent’s offense because it forces them to stay on the defensive. Launching a counterattack can be detrimental to the opponent because an Ataru user’s attack can see an opening and use by launching a flurry of strikes that can come out of nowhere.
The fact that Ataru is an offensive and aggressive style made it quite popular among the Sith, who seem to prefer aggressive forms over defensive styles, as their anger and emotions allow them to grow stronger when they are on the attack. This is why there are some Jedi who are prone to the dark side whenever they use Ataru.
Another downside to Form IV is that it requires the user to master the use of Force in combat as well due to the fact that it relies on acrobatic movements that are assisted by the user’s mastery over the Force. That’s why those who aren’t Force-sensitive won’t be able to use this form.
The greatest master of Form IV is none other than Jedi Grandmaster Yoda himself. He used Ataru because it was perfect for his small frame. Yoda used his tiny size to his advantage by performing acrobatic attacks that could come out of nowhere. And because he was quite small, he could launch attacks from all angles without fearing a counterattack due to the fact that his opponents struggled to hit him.
To some extent, Anakin also used Form IV, especially in battles where he needed to use his emotions to become effective in battle. Of course, we all know that he eventually fell to the dark side.
Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn also employed Ataru as his favorite lightsaber form. He also taught the same form to his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi. However, Kenobi began training more in Form III when he saw that his master died due to Form IV’s lack of defense. Obi-Wan would later sucker Darth Maul into thinking he shifted to Form IV before employing a counterattack to defeat the former Sith once and for all in Star Wars: Rebels.
Form V: Shien and Djem So
Form V is actually two different styles of lightsaber combat. The first is Shien while the second is Djem So. And both of these styles, while different, are similar in the sense that they are both very difficult to master due to how they are physically demanding on the part of the user.
The fifth lightsaber form was actually developed by those who mastered Form III, as they needed to find a way to mount an offensive attack without sacrificing the defensive aspect of Soresu. This is why Form V incorporates the basics of Form III, such as blocks, parries, and timely counterattacks.
Shien is the variant that is more effective at combat that takes place from a distance. It also employs timely counterattacks after completing a successful block or parry. There were also instances wherein the user needed to use a reverse grip for a counterattack.
On the other hand, Djem So is the better style to use in one-on-one lightsaber combat because it is an excellent offensive form. Users of Djem So could also use a reverse grip, and it is often seen in dual-saber duelists, who use one saber with the regular grip and the other saber with a reverse grip.
Anakin Skywalker’s favorite lightsaber stance is Form V, which allowed him to stay on the defensive end before he could counter with his own offense. In a way, his mastery over this form is a combination of Obi-Wan’s defensive style and his own tendency of being recklessly offensive.
Due to the fact that she trained under Anakin, Ahsoka is also a master of Form V. She uses this form together with a second shoto lightsaber, which she often uses with a reverse grip.
Luke Skywalker began training in Form V after he lost to his father in their first duel. He also mastered Form V and used it effectively against Darth Vader in their second encounter.
Meanwhile, Rey, to some extent, also used Form V, as most students who can be traced all the way back to Anakin usually prefer Form V.
Form VI: Niman
Form VI or Niman is usually seen as the combination of some of the most important aspects of all of the previous forms, as many people regard it as one of the most versatile lightsaber combat forms that a Jedi can use.
Niman requires that the user has a mastery over the Force, as the user needs to combine all of the basics of the other forms so that they can avoid the traditional weaknesses of those forms while also utilizing their strengths.
However, while Niman does use some of the strengths of the other forms, the greatest advantages of those forms cannot be utilized by someone who uses Form VI. This is why Form VI users are Jacks of all trades.
Form VI users are usually those who want to win a duel without necessarily dominating their opponents. Think of it as someone who prefers to win 12 rounds of boxing on the judges’ scorecard instead of knocking the opponent out.
But, even though Form VI prevents a Jedi from dominating an opponent, it is the perfect way for a Jedi to dispense justice because of how it allows them to win without necessarily using excessive force on the opponent.
One of the most prominent users of Form VI is, surprisingly, Darth Maul. This is surprising because Sith prefer to use offensive styles. However, as seen in Maul’s duel against both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, he didn’t have a lot of weaknesses and openings, and that is a mark of a master of Form VI. It was only when he got too cocky that he was defeated.
Form VII: Juyo/Vaapad
Form VII or Vaapad is the most controversial lightsaber form because of the fact that it encourages the users to use their emotions to their advantage. And that isn’t something that the conventional Jedi should do because emotions open a path to the dark side.
Vaapad most likely originated from Form I because of how similar they are in the sense that this form promotes the use of a flurry of attacks that come in quick succession. This is why, when a Jedi uses Form VII, they can launch a relentless assault, as the form requires the use of emotions when attacking.
Of course, Vaapad users need to be able to master their own emotions before they can master this form. That’s because a Jedi who uses Form VII without mastering their emotions will easily fall to the dark side. This is why Vaapad was banned by the Jedi Order for a very long time before a certain Jedi was able to show an unprecedented mastery over it.
The most notable Form VII user is Jedi Master Mace Windu. His mastery over this form was so great that he used his inner darkness and emotions and channeled them into his saber so that he could use the negativity inside him for something that’s positive.
When he started training in this form, the Jedi Council constantly probed him regarding whether or not he was beginning to feel himself drawing close to the dark side. But when he said that he didn’t, that was when the Council allowed him to pursue his mastery over this form.
Mace Windu was so proficient in this style of combat that he was able to defeat Darth Sidious in a lightsaber duel, as he channeled both his and that of Palpatine’s negative emotions and darkness into his combat style. This is why it can be an effective deterrent against the Sith, even though it can lead the user to the dark side.