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Lightsaber Combat (forms I - VII)


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Yes, the thread titles don't get much more nerdy than that.

 

I'll soon be working on systematizing basic lightsaber combat techniques and appropriate signature moves of the seven canonical forms describes in the SWEU. 

 

First a little background on Why:

As someone who performs displays of medieval swordfighting for entertainment and educational purposes, I have recently put forward a proposal for team building workshops in schools which use HEMA and theatrical choreography. One option, aside from the medieval/renaissance style of swordsmanship we offer, will be a more theatrical approach using lightsabers.

The proposal has been received very positively and there is considerable enthusiasm for the lightsaber side of the coin...

 

Not to be outnerded, I have undertaken to put together a small syllabus of lightsaber techniques beginning with the basics of Form I (Shii-Cho) and aspects, techniques and philosophies of the other six forms, incorporating real world moves (i.e. not requiring telekinetic or mind reading ability), variable degrees of acrobatics, martially sound techniques and theatricality.

 

I have a background in HEMA (theatrical and competitive), Ninjutsu and modern fencing. I also have varying degrees of experience in Iaijutsu, Kenjutsu, renaissance and mediaeval re-enactment fighting, larp, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai and a few other relevant disciplines.

I'm also a Star Wars Nerd.

 

 

I'm also aware of a group in the US who already kinda do what I'm talking about: Terra Prime Lightsaber Academy.

They will soon be getting an email from me seeing how what I have in mind might mesh with the great work they do.

 

 

So, this post is an introduction and "declaration of intent".

 

This is also a call to the nerd community, especially the Monks, for any suggestions or advice :)

 

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Does anyone know of other LS training groups or resources?

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It will be part of my goals in the next 6 week challenge ;)
Til then, I'll only mention a few of the basic techniques of the first few forms...

 

Form I: Shii-Cho - The Basics

Will include the "Sarlac Sweep", which is a wide sweeping slash for use against multiple opponents. My version will also be a way to disengage while threatening those around you.

 

Form II: Makashi - one to one dueling

Will take ideas from Polish sabre, renaissance rapier, modern fencing and singlestick/backsword (among other disciplines). As demonstrated by Darth Tyranus / Count Dooku, it will be a style which often utilises a single handed grip.

 

Form III: Soresu - Defensive Form

As a tight style which uses precise distancing and tight parries/blocks, this will include the "Circle of Shelter", a 360 degree swirling sequence (kata) designed to move through key defensive poses.

 

Form IV: Ataru - Aggressive, Acrobatic and Mobile

Quick and always moving, this style will include sequenced flurries of attacks which bring the practitioner into range and back out again while forcing the opponent to concentrate on defence.

 

....

 

More will follow ;)

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I come from competative HEMA (Ringeck).

 

To me Shii Cho should just be Lichtenauer's 5 guards and 4 hau as Shii Cho was the form from before the lightsaber. You see the key point of the lightsaber is all the weight is in the handle, there is none in the blade. Give me a lightsaber and I'll krumpfhau it into someone's temple, every time. However this is ungainly. The tip has no mass to propel it's self round and add to the momentum.

 

I wish I could remember where I read that Shii Cho was a sword form from times pre-lightsaber. I also wish there was a reason any Jedi still kept with Shii Cho with a lightsaber. Why Master Fisto? The form doesn't work with the weapon!

 

Still look forward to seeing this, especially Soresu. Who doesn't love Soresu?

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Five guards?
Ochs, Pflug, Alber and Vom Tag are the four primary guards of the German tradition (and a crap load of secondary guards). I haven't forgotten one have I... or am I being a bit thick? (I have just got back from a 2 day camping trip and am pretty tired)

 

To be honest, I was probably going to make Shii-Cho even simpler. Probably based more on the classic fives of re-enactment fighting.
Lichtenauer's blossfechten will certainly be involved in the process somewhere along the way but probably not much for Shii-Cho.
 

Realistically, the styles would blend somewhat but I'm planning on making them fairly distinctive and including a few "signature moves" for the theatrical aspect. At the end of the day, there are only so many ways to swing a sword ;)

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Don't worry, I hadn't forgotten Fiore.

The syllabus of European Historical Combat Guild, where I cut my HEMA teeth, is heavily based on Fiore's stuff.
The ARMA crowd have some great resources and are very generous about sharing them

(even if I don't agree with all of their interpretations... cough-cough-krumphau-cough! ;) )

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Five guards?

Ochs, Pflug, Alber and Vom Tag are the four primary guards of the German tradition (and a crap load of secondary guards). I haven't forgotten one have I... or am I being a bit thick? (I have just got back from a 2 day camping trip and am pretty tired)

 

To be honest, I was probably going to make Shii-Cho even simpler. Probably based more on the classic fives of re-enactment fighting.

Lichtenauer's blossfechten will certainly be involved in the process somewhere along the way but probably not much for Shii-Cho.

 

Realistically, the styles would blend somewhat but I'm planning on making them fairly distinctive and including a few "signature moves" for the theatrical aspect. At the end of the day, there are only so many ways to swing a sword ;)

Apologies, got my 4s and 5s mixed up. 4 guards, 5 hau. Unless you count using vornhau as a guard that is....

 

As for Fiore, I trained with some Fiore practitioners and the stuff they came up with was astonishing. Every slight variation in guard was called something else. It was complex, it was not something that could be learned instinctively where as Lichtenauer is simple. Is the sword vor or nach, high or low?

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(even if I don't agree with all of their interpretations... cough-cough-krumphau-cough! ;) )

Is this the idea of it being a diagonal strike you have the issue with? I think our school did it slightly differently to some of the other German schools we came across. Then again our Sword Masters went straight from Ringeck's text using their previous martial training and understanding of body mechanics to interpret it themselves.

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Yeah, Fiore certainly liked to give flowery name to every tiny variation of a guard. I guess, as a mnemonic, it's a good thing as it helps you remember what the guards are used for... as long as your native tongue is medieval/renaissance Italian!

 

Is this the idea of it being a diagonal strike you have the issue with? I think our school did it slightly differently to some of the other German schools we came across. Then again our Sword Masters went straight from Ringeck's text using their previous martial training and understanding of body mechanics to interpret it themselves.

 

A touchy subject for many... A krumphau for me is, essentially, an offline step with a diagonal forward "windscreen-wiper" movement which could (though in my experience rarely does) start in schrankhut on one side and end in schrakhut on the other.
ARMA have been throwing around another interpretation which I'm not convinced by - it's hard to explain and is certainly a discussion for another thread ;) But

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I don't know anything about swordfighting (I was sick the day we really workshopped stage combat in my opera class...) but oh my gosh I would love this! :D

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Excellent!
Sadly, my intended meeting with my good friend, who is a re-enactment sword fighter, could not happen. My gout flare up has just been too painful to deal with leaping about waving a sword :(

It'll have to be next week.
So, in the mean time, I've put together the "most basic of basics" of Shii-Cho as I see it - basic guards and strikes:

Please bear in mind that these are fictional techniques and are characterised (for TV, RPGs and video games) as much by their "weaknesses" as by their "strengths". e.g. Shii-Cho is very basic and direct and it's weaknesses are addressed in subsequent styles.

 

Shii-Cho has three rings of defence.

Paraphrased from Wookieepedia:

Outer Ring

The Outer ring of defence relied on grand sweeping blows to attack at range. The wide attacks took longer to deliver, but were very powerful. The Outer ring consisted of four guard positions, all with the blade held diagonally: the upper right, upper left, lower right and lower left.

 

Middle Ring

The Middle ring of defence was designed to pick up quicker blows and block them, though it was also effective for blast-deflection. The guard positions all featured the blade being held at right angles, with the upper and lower guards being horizontal, while the left and right positions being vertical.

 

Inner Ring

The Inner ring was the last line of defence, dangerous to be attacking or defending from. It was proof against lunging attacks, and relied on parries instead of blocks. It had only a single guard position, with the hilt covering the navel. Attacks would be deflected by angling the blades tip and shunting them aside with the lower third of the blade, facilitating a swift counter towards the opponents chest or abdomen.

 

 

My interpretation at this stage:

(I've put the rough approximations of german longsword guards in for reference. I'll look into appropriate "translations" for you Kendoka... unless anyone wants to enlighten me? ;) )

 

Please note: these are in a two handed grip.

The Outer Ring - This ring has powerful attacks and wide blocks. It does not easily blend attack and defence. 

Outer Ring guards: 

four guards. A low guard and high guard on each side.

In these guards either the hands are held out wide and the point of the weapon is roughly on your centre-line or the hands are centred and the point out to the side. These are "diagonal" extended positions so the blade from your POV will be at about 45 degrees.

The "lower" two guards hold the hilt at roughly waist level on one side or the other and the point leaning towards the floor (Alber with hands out to one side or even an extended Schrankhut). The hands could be held higher in these positions, reaching up into a high guard with point down and forwards (upper hengen or a hanging variation of Ochs)

The "upper" two guards have the hilt at waist level with the blade pointing up and to the font (like an extended Pflug)

Outer Ring attacks:

Wide, sweeping, powerful attacks including "sarlac sweep" (still to be clarified). Outer Ring Attacks use mainly "passing footwork".
Many strikes will start in a point-backwards position: a high, over-the-shoulder guard for horizontal strikes at neck/head level or diagonal downward cuts; a low, point-to-the-ground-behind-you guard for low sweeping cuts or diagonal uppercuts.

The weakness of the Outer Ring is a very obvious demeanour of either attack stance or defensive guards.

 

 

The Middle Ring - This ring combines parry and riposte effectively. 

Middle Ring guards:

The guards of Shii-Cho's middle ring are characterised by solid, static vertical blocks (point up or down) and horizontal blocks (high and low).
The vertical blocks (to defend against a horizontal cuts) are preformed either with hands low and point up or hands high and point down.

The horizontal blocks (to defend against descending or ascending cuts) have the hands on either side, high or low. These blocks are strongest when the wrists are not crossed (e.g. if right handed a horizontal block will have hands on the left side).

Middle Ring attacks:

Attacks are basic. Vertical strikes to the head and horizontal strikes to shoulders and legs.

Ripostes will be equally simple. A point down vertical block can be easily followed up by a rotational "snap" down on to your enemy (schnappen). A horizontal block can be followed by a horizontal snap the the side of the head (Zwerchau).

Footwork will be "passing" for power and "lunging" for reach / speed.

The middle ring is a good mix of offence and defence. It's weakness is a lack of exclusivity.

 

 

The Inner Ring - This ring lures attacks close for fast retaliation. Risky for both parties.

Inner Ring guard:

Just the one guard position here: a short central guard – hilt at waist level, point up toward opponent's face. (essentially like Pflug but on the centre line)

Inner Ring attacks: 

Short, quick thrusts and ripostes. Opportunistic hand sniping. Mainly lunging footwork.
This is simple, economical and requires skill... but deadly.

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I really appreciate this, being from a similar background (hapkido black belt, some training in lichten. longsword, modern fencing, some kali, tai chi, karate, jiujutsu, and a smattering of others).

 

I think that some Filipino Martial Arts (Kali/Eskrima/Silat) could work well with Juyo - the efficiency and brutality of these weapon arts would be appropriate in this fast and rough style. IIRC, doesn't Juyo also encourage two weapons, like Kali? Even more than that, the Filipino arts encourage lots of limb destruction ('Defanging the snake,' they call it), which I think would be particularly effective given how weightless lightsabers are.

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IIRC, doesn't Juyo also encourage two weapons, like Kali? Even more than that, the Filipino arts encourage lots of limb destruction ('Defanging the snake,' they call it), which I think would be particularly effective given how weightless lightsabers are.

 

 

Depends on who you ask.  I've always heard that Jar'kai is the dual-wield subform for sabers.  Same thing for staff as well.  But really it's however you want at this point.  There's no A-canon rules set in stone yet that I know of.  

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Finally got off my butt and did some digging; Jar'kai is indeed the dual-saber form, and Wookiepedia says most practitioners transition from Niman (which seemed to more often use a short off-hand weapon, as in Espada y Daga) because Niman's generality makes training easier. But that kind of makes it sound like dual-wielding lightsaber duellists are just lazy.

 

Ataru is another interesting one, because it often makes use of paired full-length lightsabers, demonstrated (albeit poorly) by Anakin at the end of Ep.II against Dooku. I'll have to watch that fight again and edit to add some comments.

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