Lightsaber Combat Forms

Lightsaber Combat Forms

There are seven known forms of lightsaber combat, each with their own unique style, patterns of movement, and particular focus:

  1. Form I: Shii-Cho
  2. Form II: Makashi
  3. Form III: Soresu
  4. Form IV: Ataru
  5. Form V: Shien/Djem So
  6. Form VI: Niman
  7. Form VII: Juyo/Vaapad

These forms were historically developed in order chronologically by the Jedi to face different challenges; therefore, Form I is the oldest and original form of lightsaber combat that was formally developed, and Form VII was the last.

We'll go into these each in order below.

(Note: if you want to practice any of these but don't have a good saber yet, scroll down to our section at the end on that topic! We can help.)

Onto the forms!

Form I: Shii-Cho

Form I: Shii-Cho

As the most ancient style of lightsaber combat, Shii-Cho was developed during the transition period from swords to lightsabers. The simplicity and persistent methods of the form led it to being dubbed the "Way of the Sarlacc" and the "Determination Form." In the hands of a master, the bladework is described as "like watching water flow over the falls.”

Form I encourages deliberate tactics, calling for continuous, step-by-step advancement while cutting off the opponent's angles. Shii-Cho is specialized towards engaging multiple opponents, the wide, sweeping motions being ideally suited towards attacking numerous adversaries. However, Form I is not as useful against single opponents, as such enemies have complete mobility and can find a weakness in Shii-Cho's comparatively clumsy bladework.

This led to the formation of Form II: Makashi.

Form II: Makashi

Form II: Makashi

Makashi is the most dueling-centric of the seven forms, developed during an era where engagements with Darksiders and rogue Jedi became an almost routine activity. Form II's primary purpose is to serve as a counter to the first form; Shii-Cho.

Form II emphasizes fluid motion and anticipation of a weapon being swung at its target, and so requires very fluid movements of both the blade and the body. Timing, accuracy, and skill, rather than strength, are relied-upon to defeat one's opponent, and so Makashi users typically fight one-handed. Makashi users are often elegant, precise, calm, and confident to the point of arrogance (as befit Dooku's personality, a notable master of Makashi).

Form II users often look so relaxed when they are fighting they appear to be dancing.

Despite all of these advantages, Makashi falls short in a key area: defending against blasterfire and other non-lightsaber forms of combat. And thus, Form III was developed.

Form III: Soresu

Form III: Soresu

The original purpose of the Soresu form was to counter blaster-wielding opponents, as the previous combat styles focus strictly on lightsaber dueling. Becoming the most defensive of the seven forms, Soresu utilizes tight moves, subtle dodges and short sweeps designed to provide maximum defensive coverage, leaving the duelist less exposed to ranged fire.

Soresu utilizes motions that occur very close to the body, in an attempt to achieve near-total protection and expend as little energy as possible while executing moves. This technique minimizes the body's exposure, making a well-trained practitioner nearly invincible. A notable master of Soresu was Obi-Wan Kenobi.

However, Form III merely facilitates survival rather than victory. Form III initiates are more than capable of defending themselves from attack, but they need a large amount of experience to learn how to effectively counter-attack and entrap opponents.

A more aggressive form was needed, and so the Jedi turned to Form IV: Ataru.

Form IV: Ataru

Form IV: Ataru

Ataru is an aggressive combat form relying on a combination of strength, speed, and agility. Practitioners of Ataru are always on the offensive, attacking with wide, fast, and powerful swings, constantly calling upon the Force to aid in their movements and attacks.

The standard components of Form IV focus on application of and smooth transition between the three axes of rotation in a three-dimensional space through a combination of spinning, somersaults, and cartwheels.

Those who use Form IV can move at high speeds and rain strong blows, jumping and attacking through the air. Powerful and quick spinning attacks can be utilized from all angles, either from ground or air. A master in Ataru combat can sometimes appear like a blur to their opponents, attacking from all directions - from the front, the sides, overhead, or behind.

For all its speed and aggression, however, an additional form was needed for stronger and slower lightsaber wielders.

Form V: Shien/Djem So

Form V: Shien/Djem So

Form V has two distinct variations: Shien and Djem So. Classic Form V, Shien was developed first. Known as the "Perseverance Form", Shien was designed to protect against enemy blaster fire and strikes without compromising one's ability to launch powerful counterattacks - a direct answer to Form III: Soresu's weakness. However, it lacked effectiveness against single opponents. Shien practitioners were known to favor, or at least regularly utilize, reversed grips, most notably Ahsoka Tano.

Whereas Shien specializes in blast-deflection, the more advanced Djem So focuses on lightsaber dueling. Rather than counter only when necessary as per Soresu training regimens, Djem So actively presses the offense. Djem So places a heavy focus on brute strength, utilizing wide, powerful strikes and parries. Power attacks from a Djem So user can even knock an opponent back just through sheer kinetic force, throwing them off balance and leaving them vulnerable to further brute force strikes and power blows that seek not just to penetrate an opponent's defense, but drive them back and leave them unable to counter entirely.

Notable masters of Form V include Anakin Skywalker, a master of Djem So, and Ahsoka Tano, a practitioner of Shien.

Form VI: Niman

Form VI: Niman

Form VI was the first form developed that attempted to blend multiple previous forms together into a more balanced, less intensely demanding combat style. In practice, Form VI is a combination of Forms I, III, IV, and V, and all of them in moderation. In the blending, much of the individuality is lost, but the strengths are spread evenly, and there is little weakness in it.

Due to its "jack-of-all-trades" nature, the success of this form is largely dependent on the practitioner's intuition, improvisation, and creativity in combat rather than the rote responses derived from other forms. Practitioners of Form VI often use it as an alternative to their normal fighting style when needed due to its adaptability. At the same time, Niman is rarely used as a primary form of lightsaber combat due to its lack of specific focus and individuality.

Form VII: Juyo/Vaapad

Form VII: Juyo/Vaapad

The final form of lightsaber combat, Juyo is described as the most vicious form of lightsaber combat, and is said to be filled with both fury and "malignant grace." The form is known as the most difficult and demanding in all of saber combat, considered both chaotic and erratic, with a heavy focus on offense.

Juyo is characterized by bold, direct motions, more open and kinetic than Form V, but with a less elaborate appearance than Form IV: Ataru. Juyo moves are not nearly as graceful or linked as those of Ataru, instead often described as "seemingly unconnected staccato sequences." One of the primary strengths of the form is its unpredictability.

Juyo is said to necessitate greater energy than Form V, due to a broader wielding of a user's focus and a deeper emotional link.

Vaapad is a unique variant of Juyo, developed and practiced by Mace Windu, with a cautionary warning by the Jedi that use of Vaapad leads the user perilously close to the dark side due to its focus on physical combat. It is his use of Vaapad that is largely attributed to Mace Windu's ability to defeat Darth Sidious in the final hours of the Clone Wars.


What form of combat most speaks to you? What style do you prefer? Balanced? Defensive? Agile? Aggressive?

The choice is yours. May The Force Be With You!


I want to practice but I don't have a saber!

We can help you practice any of the combat forms above, whether you're a single-blade user, dual-wielder (Jar'Kai style), double-bladed saberstaff for more advanced forms like Juyo, or if you just want some extra flair with the unique Crossguard variant.

Whatever you're looking to practice, we've got you covered!

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