There is no doubt that one of the greatest lightsaber duelists ever introduced in the canon side of Star Wars was Jedi Master Mace Windu, who was often regarded as a champion of the Jedi Order and the greatest among them in terms of his ability to use the lightsaber. Of course, the thing about Windu’s combat style was that it looked much more aggressive than what the Jedi are known for. So, did that mean that Mace Windu used the dark side of the Force whenever he was fighting?
Mace Windu did not use the dark side of the Force but was someone who understood how to draw power from his anger without pushing himself over to the dark side. That’s because he mastered Form VII and invented Vaapad, a lightsaber combat form that was aggressive and angry but did not use the dark side.
Mace Windu is one of the most unique Jedi Masters of all time because the dark side of the Force never tempted him, even though he used his emotions whenever he was fighting. He was a rare case among the Jedi as he understood how to control his emotions and use them to his advantage without turning to the dark side. Now, let’s look at this discussion in greater detail.
Was Mace Windu a Dark Jedi?
Out of all of the Jedi Masters that lived during the final days of the Jedi Order, Mace Windu was said to be right at the top of the list in terms of the strongest. He was just about as strong or even stronger than Jedi Grand Master Yoda and was perhaps the strongest out of all of them in terms of his ability as a duelist. And his feats as a duelist prove he was an incredibly strong Jedi Master.
Windu was so strong that he could easily defeat some of the strongest characters in Star Wars. But his greatest feat was being able to defeat Darth Sidious in a duel after the dark lord of the Sith was able to easily defeat three other Jedi Masters without much effort at all. This was the only time in history that Sidious was bested in a lightsaber duel, as not even Yoda could defeat him.
In that regard, Windu was incredibly strong and was one of the few Jedi Masters that had an incredibly aggressive way of fighting. While there are lightsaber combat forms known to be aggressive, Mace Windu was much more aggressive than both Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn, who favored Form IV as their lightsaber combat forms. So, does that mean that Windu was a dark Jedi?
Even though he favored an aggressive combat style that allowed him to best one of the strongest Sith Lords in history, Mace Windu was never a dark Jedi. There was never a point in his life that he was tempted to go over to the dark side despite his aggressive nature as a combatant. And we must talk more about Form VII to understand Mace Windu’s history as a Jedi champion.
Form VII is the seventh and final lightsaber combat form developed thousands of years ago before it was formalized. Unlike some of the passive lightsaber forms that the Jedi used, Form VII: Juyo was known to be very aggressive and dangerous because it focused more on the ferocity of the combatant by allowing the Jedi to use anger as fuel for their attacks.
Due to how aggressive and dangerous Juyo was, most of the Jedi that used this form were tempted by the dark side of the Force, which focused more on the emotions and anger of a Force user. Due to the passionate nature of Juyo, it was a form that went against the Jedi Order’s teachings of harmony and balance. The Jedi were always known to disregard their emotions. And because Form VII used the Jedi’s emotions (especially anger or rage) as fuel, it had to be outlawed by the Jedi Order due to how it forced the Jedi practitioner to tread closer and closer to the line that separates the light and the dark sides of the Force.
Due to how Form VII naturally uses negative emotions, the Sith favor this form above any other form of combat. As such, those who were first taught in the ways of the Sith were naturally proficient in Juyo as it allowed the Sith duelist to become stronger by using anger and hatred as fuel for their attacks.
So, what does that have to do with Mace Windu? Well, for starters, Mace Windu was said to have used Juyo during his younger years as a Jedi. However, for some reason, there were no negative effects on his emotions, as it appeared that he was naturally resistant to the temptations of the aggressive style of Form VII.
The Jedi Council at that time allowed Mace Windu to continue to use Form VII as his combat style while allowing him to observe any changes in his personality or emotions. And when it became apparent that Windu could handle his emotions without turning over to the dark side whenever he was using Juyo, it became his default lightsaber combat form.
As such, even though Windu used a very aggressive lightsaber combat form, he never turned over to the dark side. He was never tempted by the dark side at all, as he was seemingly naturally immune to the aggressive nature of Form VII. And because of his mastery over this form, Windu developed his own combat form, which he called Vaapad.
Mace Windu’s Vaapad Explained
Mace Windu’s combat form evolved from Juyo to Vaapad, which is his own creation. This lightsaber form was created during the final decades of the Jedi Order when Windu rose to prominence as the only Jedi that could resist the temptation of Form VII’s aggressive combat style. And Windu mastered Juyo well enough for him to understand how to address the weaknesses of Form VII.
In that regard, Windu created Vaapad to formalize his way of controlling the inner darkness associated with Juyo whenever a Jedi uses it. His version of Form VII allowed the Jedi to tap into their inner darkness without necessarily becoming overwhelmed by its temptation. As such, Vaapad became a lightsaber form that aligned with the tenets of the Jedi Order, even though it was still a very aggressive lightsaber combat form.
Mace Windu’s Vaapad became a true Jedi lightsaber combat form because he taught its practitioners how to control the inner darkness that tends to surface whenever a Jedi becomes a bit too aggressive in a fight. But because of the dark and aggressive nature of Form VII, Windu was wary about teaching it to the Jedi. That means he chose certain Jedi he knew had the discipline and emotional intelligence to understand Vaapad.
One of the Jedi that Windu allowed to learn Vaapad was his own Padawan learner, Depa Billaba, who you might be familiar with as the Jedi Master that Kana Jarrus learned under. While Billaba was known to be a master of Form III: Soresu, the same defensive combat style that Obi-Wan Kenobi perfected, she learned Windu’s Vaapad as well. However, she favored Soresu more than the aggressive style of Form VII.
Even though Vaapad was a dangerous combat form, it didn’t have the reckless nature of Form VII, as the practitioner was taught to strike a balance between being aggressive and being wary. As such, those who used Form VII could strike with the fury and ferocity of a dark side user but in a controlled manner that was refined and somewhat graceful.
When used by Mace Windu, Vaapad was an art form that allowed him to strike with a combination of fierce and powerful blows that he used to overwhelm his opponents. This was why he could defeat Darth Sidious in a duel, as he could use his inner darkness to redirect the Sith Lord’s aggression toward him.