Borrowing attacks from kendo, epee, rapier, and even tennis and ax chopping, Gillard teaches Neeson and McGregor how to fence
with real swords and to employ "speed and economy of movement" in their fencing. Of course all swordwork, whether
Japanese katana, Chinese sword, or Western fencing requires speed and economy of movement, this fidelity to true sword movement
reflects the life-like quality Gillard wanted for Episode I. In addition, other skills needed for swordwork include precise
timing, accurate movement, and perfect coordination.
Swordsmanship is not simply slashes to the head or the leg. There are cuts to the neck (to strike through to the jugular
vein), thrusts to the armpit (the open spot in all armor), thrusts up under the chin (to penetrate to the brain), cuts to
base of the wrist (to sever the muscles and tendons that allow the hand to grip and control the sword), and cuts to the elbow
or knee cap (where cartilage is easier to cut through than bone). The thrust of a foil to the torso worked in a 17th century
duel where neither duelist wore armor, pummeling by mail-clad knights was common during the middle ages, and the pointing
of sabres in a cavalry charge worked with deadly efficiency for Hussars and Arab horsemen. So too in Episode I, Jedi fighting
must reflect the time and the place.
But what is the essence of the Jedi’s lightsaber style? Much of it depends on the qualities of the weapon and
the situation in which it is used. One inconsistency among the three films is whether or not a lightsaber cauterizes exposed
flesh. In Obi-Wan Kenobi’s attack in the Cantina, blood was spilled around the wound to the alien’s cut-off
arm. Yet in The Empire Strikes Back, there is no blood when Luke’s hand is cut off. Lightsabers are not real, however,
and certainly artistic license in telling the story is a greater consideration than lightsaber continuity. Encyclopedic sources
in the licensed literature state that the length and strength of the light shaft can be adjusted from short to long, weak
There is also the weight of the weapon and the strength of the saber’s light blade. Since light energy has negligible
weight, one can assume a lightsaber is only as heavy as the lightsaber itself. This is an important consideration since it
is the mass of the blade, along with speed, direction, and gravity, that determines the quality of a cut in a real blade.
Probably a more important consideration, given the very different nature of an energy blade, is the cutting power of the lightsaber’s
Obi-Wan is in chudan position. Qui-Gon is in hasso no gamae position. His hands would have to be just below chin level
to the right side of his head for a perfect stance. Also notice the hole cut through the door in the background.
The Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology states that a lightsaber can cut through "almost any substance."
Assuming that a lightsaber can cut through durasteel out of which the hulls of space ships are made (a Star Wars universe
term for a kind of super steel), one can definitely recognize the extraordinary qualities such a technology can have. Were
this a real technology, one can imagine the myriad of applications: cutting stone effortlessly, chopping forests, shaping
metal, etc. In fact, several pictures on a space ship show a circular hole in a door that has supposedly been cut by a lightsaber.
By the same token, it is doubtful that a lightsaber’s "blade" could cut through metal because of the lightblade
itself. If it did, Vader’s arm would have been severed in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke hit Vader on the shoulder.
In fact, that scene shows that the force of the strike influences penetration power. It therefore follows that a lightsaber
can cut through metal rather easily if there is sufficient force to the cut. Even with a real metal blade, learning to cut
properly takes considerable practice. If the vector of the cut is not aligned with the cutting edge, a metal blade would "bounce
off" a person (it would be deflected by bone). The effect would still be dreadful, but the cut would not be as effective
if executed correctly. Simply put, the lightsaber’s cutting power is directly related to the force and direction
of the wielder’s attack.
To develop lightning reflexes and tight control, Jedi face each other in drills called velocities. The tenth velocity
sequence takes each opponent through a series of attacks and parries and is repeated in turn at ever greater speed until one
opponent is felled or yields with the declaration, "Solah." That is, Jedi in training run lightsaber velocities
endlessly to increase their key skills and physical stamina.
Building on these basics, Jedi can go beyond what is physically possible, allowing the force to flow through them. A Padawan
practices for the trials of passage using Dulon: Solo sequences of moves in which the opponents are only envisioned. The patterns
of velocities and Dulon prepare a Jedi for the unpredictable realm of combat.
Ready stances: In a ready stance a Jedi is prepared for combat. Lightsaber forms include many stances, but the one called
"Jedi ready" is the most common: dominant foot back, blade held in a parry position on the dominant side.
Defensive Neutral: In this stance, feet are positioned evenly and the lightsaber is held upward in front of the body.
This position presents the maximum amount of blade for deflection of blows or bolts, and maximizes the visual impact of the
blade to an opponent as a warning sign. While a Jedi hopes to avoid conflict the Sith actually seek it out.
Aggressive Neutral: In this stance, feet are placed evenly with the point of the blade closest to the opponent. It presents
the minimum visual blade target for attack and tracking.
Body Zones: (The body is divided into 6 zones where attacks or parries occur)
1. Head (Slashing attacks to the neck are considered Zone 2 or 3 attacks)
2. Right arm & side
3. Left arm & side
5. Right leg
6. Left leg
Attacks and parries are described in terms of the body zone they concern. "Attack 1" is a blow to the opponent's
head, "parry 2" the block of an attack to your right arm or side, and so on. Attack zones are those you see on your
opponent, while parry zones are those of your own body.
Ideal Form: In Ideal form, attacks are horizontal sideswipes and parries are made with the blade upright, pushing the
point of the opponent's blade safely away. This rule is reversed for attack and defense of the head, where the attacker slashes
down and the defender holds his blade parallel to the ground. This form is more often used for Velocities and lightsaber combat
Live Combat Form: In contrast to Ideal form, in live combat, blade attitude for attack is often angled downward to minimize
body movement and increase strength. Keep in mind the ideal distinction between attack and defense attitudes improves precision.
Kai-Kan: Great lightsaber duels have been studied throughout the ages by sword-masters. Kai-Kan are dangerous re-enactments
of these combats that only well-trained Jedi attempt.
So in essence, in advanced lightsaber combat the Force plays a larger role than actual skill alone. Combatants use force
powers for attack and defense while the Sith attempt to break a Jedi's inner spirit.
Breaking the blade: Sith blades built with a synthetic crystal have slightly stronger blades, however the blade color
is red. So a red Sith blade can rarely "break the blade" of other lightsabers, this makes for more danger when battling
a Sith, increasing the fear and infamy that surrounds them.
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