The primary weapon of the Jedi from the Star Wars series. An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.
Possibly the coolest (fictional) weapon ever conceived, don't tell me this thing did not make you wet your bed when you were young. The lightsaber is the primary weapon of the Jedi Order from the Star Wars series and consists of a short, cylindrical metal hilt with either one or two "blades" emanating from the ends. Colors vary, but commonly are dictated by moral alignment and include green, red, blue, yellow and purple. The lightsaber has been shown to stop blaster shots and cut through all known materials except for the blade of another lightsaber.
In 2008 a survey of film fans found the lightsaber to be the all-time favorite movie weapon, despite the fact that if any of them actually owned one they'd almost certainly chop off their limbs accidentally.
Lightsabers are blades of pure energy wielded by members of the Jedi and Sith orders and their disciples. Traditionally hand-built by their wielders, the construction of a lightsaber is one of the last steps in completing a Force user's training. After the Jedi Purge and the extermination of most of the galaxy's Jedi, lightsabers became objects of incredible value.
When deactivated, the lightsaber hilt is a metallic handle 24-30 centimeters long. Affixed with various control knobs and adjustment dials, the energy blade is activated by various methods. Depending on the construction, a simple on/off toggle switch or an internal activator only accessible by Force-sensitive wielders may be used. Once activated, the power flows through a positively-charged continuous energy lens at the center of the handle. The beam then arcs circumferentially back to a negatively charged high energy flux aperture located at the emitter end of the hilt. A superconductor transfers the power from the flux aperture to the power cell, while the adjustable power amplitude determines the length of the emitted blade.
While the energy blade has no mass, the lightsaber produces a distinct gyroscopic effect that makes the weapon difficult to wield by the untrained. The crystals used to focus the blade's energy determine the color of the lightsaber, with multiple jewels allowing for adjustment of the amplitude and length of the energy blade. Prior to the Battle of Ruusan, Jedi primarily obtained the crystals for their lightsabers from the planet's extensive deposits, resulting in blades of various hues. Following the detonation of a Sith thought bomb, the crystal mines were rendered inaccesible. Until the end of the Galactic Civil War, lightsaber crystals were obtained from mines on Ilum, giving rise to a large amount of blue and green lightsabers. Once Luke Skywalker re-established the Jedi Academy on Yavin 4, esoteric sources of suitable crystals were discovered--once again resulting in a wide variety of lightsaber hues.
Early drafts of the screenplay for A New Hope depicted the lightsaber as a common infantry weapon, wielded alongside blasters. Imperial Stormtroopers were depicted in concept artwork wielding lightsabers and large shields. Eventually, Lucas limited lightsaber use to Jedi. The original handle of Anakin/Luke's lightsaber was actually taken from an old fashioned camera flash made by the Graflex company (see image). A grip was added and the over large disc designed to focus the light on whatever was being photographed was removed, but otherwise the prop went virtually unchanged.
During production on A New Hope, the lightsaber's glowing effect was achieved primarily through the use of a motorized blade affixed with a reflective material, similar to that used on highway road signs. The hilt contained a tiny battery that powered a motor rotating the blade, while a light was shone from off-screen and reflected back into the lens. While producing the effect of a glow, the blade lacked the hazy corona and colored blade that would become the weapon's signature. However, these props were highly fragile and the emitted glow was not uniform. To compensate, a colored glow was hand-rotoscoped on top of the footage with pen and inks, one frame at a time.
By the time production commenced on The Empire Strikes Back, the rotating blade concept was abandoned and the lightsabers were constructed from carbon rods. Even so, the blades were still very fragile and required almost constant replacement. Almost 20 years later, the blades used for The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones would be constructed from steel and aluminum. While the blades seldom broke, they were constantly bending during fights and needed to be re-shaped. Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) had a particular talent for bending his, due to his ferocity in his duels with Ray Park (Darth Maul). By the time Revenge of the Sith began shooting, a carbon fiber alloy was used that resisted breaking and warping, producing long-lasting blades suitable for combat. The hilts for the original trilogy lightsabers were constructed from old camera flash attachments, with pieces of windshield wiper blades, old models and parts from World War II firearms attached. By the time of the prequel trilogy, the hilts were custom machined out of aluminum.
The unique sound effect of the lightsaber was produced by Ben Burtt, who took the sound of the interlock motors of an old film projector and combined it with the interference caused by a television set on an unshielded microphone. The sound of the blade in motion was achieved by playing back the idle sound effect and recording it in a handheld microphone moving back and forth in front of the speaker.
During the making of the six films, Peter Diamond (the original trilogy lightsaber choreographer) and Nick Gillard (the prequel trilogy lightsaber choreographer) created forms of combat for the combatants to use in the movies. They created each form to suit the personality of the character in the scene using it, and it ended up becoming part of the Star Wars Universe. These forms would become essential for every fight scene involving lightsabers in anything Star Wars.
Before Order 66 was issued and the majority of the Jedi were killed, as seen in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the Jedi Order recognized seven different forms of lightsaber combat. While every Jedi youngling learned the basics of most of the forms, as Jedi they study a few specific styles that compliment their strategy in lightsaber combat. The goal of this system is to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of the wielder of a lightsaber in combat. Master Yoda, for example, uses form IV (Ataru) and its acrobatics to make up for his small stature in a duel.
Form I: Shii-Cho
Shii-Cho contains the basics of all lightsaber combat prior to around 0 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin, which was the final battle in the movie Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope). This form simply teaches parries, blocks, and simple attacks. Though simple, Shii-Cho is used as a building block upon which the rest of the forms were built upon, making it an absolutely necessary form to learn. By itself, Shii-Cho was a good form for taking on multiple opponents, or when faced with multiple lightsabers (ex: General Grievous ). However, one could not last on Shii-Cho alone in a one-on-one duel.
Due to being a necessary part of the Jedi's repertoire of forms, Shii-Cho can be found in any movie that involves a Jedi wielding a lightsaber. Two Jedi known for their Shii-Cho are Kit Fisto and Jedi Exile.
Form II: Makashi
Created to fix Shii-Cho's lack of efficiency in one-on-one lightsaber combat, Makashi was a much more formal form, used specifically for battling another lightsaber. This style bears a resemblance to fencing; parries, thrusts, stabs, and small cuts are used to wear out the enemy, wasting as little energy of the user as possible. Makashi was also created to gain the advantage against a Shii-Cho practitioner, who would often attempt to perform a sun djem, a maneuver that would disable or destroy the opponent's lightsaber hilt without harming the opponent. Due to the fact that it was developed solely for one-on-one combat, Makashi had flaws as a whole form. For one, it was difficult to defend against blasters, which were becoming the preferred weapon at the time. While that could easily be overcome by a skilled Makashi practitioner, Form II also could not last for long against multiple lightsabers, and the form had very little momentum and power in their strikes, leaving the user open to many strikes if the opponent properly redirects a stab or other such attack.
Form III: Soresu
As the modern blaster began to become the weapon of choice for those who weren't Jedi or Sith, a new style had to be created to protect those who only used lightsabers. Soresu was created to answer any blaster that was fired in the direction of a Force-user. When blaster fire was sent toward a Soresu practitioner, the Jedi or Sith would redirect the blast by blocking it with their lightsaber. The blast would then fly off without injuring or killing anyone. Soresu turned out to be a good style against lightsabers as well, making it a rounded combat form. This was a style that was mostly preferred by Jedi rather than Sith, due to it's defensive nature and desire to leave all involved unharmed. The flaw in a complete defense, however, is that there was rarely any offense; Soresu would often draw out a fight, delaying what some say would be the inevitable: defeat. When created, Soresu was intended to deflect blaster fire and safely prolong a lightsaber fight; it was not exactly intended for ending a fight quickly. This would spell trouble for anyone who would study Soresu by itself.
The most famous master of the Soresu form is Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is almost always shown using Soresu, even during his final moments against Darth Vader in the movie Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Another notable user is General Grievous , and even Darth Vader uses a little Soresu from time to time.
Form IV: Ataru
Arguably the second most recognizable form of the seven (the most recognizable being Makashi), Ataru is a very acrobatic style, involving jumps, flips, and spins that are attributed to the physical attributes of the user and the Force. Using the force, an Ataru practitioner could strike harder, run faster, and jump higher than anyone could without the Force. Using these abilities, Ataru could help a Jedi or Sith dodge or attack in ways thought impossible by his or her opponent. The style could often leave an opponent disoriented, revealing many openings for the Ataru user to strike. While seeming like an invincible form, Ataru has many weaknesses of its own, the biggest being that the style often requires maneuvers that many say are "unnecessary". If not used correctly, Ataru could leave more openings to the user than it would to the opponent. Darth Vader's last maneuver before his defeat at the hands of Kenobi at Mustafar was a classic Ataru flip that help his limbs open to attack.
The most notable users of the Ataru form are Qui-Gon Jinn ( Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace) and Yoda. Yoda, while he has mastered all forms, uses Ataru more than any other to make up for his size. He can be seen using Ataru in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
Form V: Shien / Djem So
The Soresu form was seen by many as a great form, but was not very ideal due to the fact that there was not a lot of attacking in the largely defensive style. Eventually, somewhere around the Jedi Civil War, masters of Soresu combined the offensive moves of Makashi to create Form V. Shien, the classical version of Form V, continued to concentrate on defending against blaster fire in the way that Soresu did. However, the style was more offensive in that, rather than deflecting the blasts to the ground or air, the blasts would be deflected right at the one responsible for it, or even at another opponent. While making the style more offensive, Shien concentrated on fighting multiple opponents, therefore making its use in one-on-one lightsaber combat not ideal. In response to this problem, Djem So was created. Instead of blocking the opponent's lightsaber over and over again, looking for a chance to counter, the Djem So practitioner would block, then immediately respond with an attack of their own, constantly looking to parry an attack and then attack themselves. This strategy was created to help the Djem So user quickly gain a hold on the duel. While useful, not everyone could use Djem So, as it required a lot of brute strength to use. Because of this, some saw a possible gateway to the dark side, since many made up for the lack of strength with anger. Not only that, but it can often lead to the user losing focus of what's going on around him/her and, if their strike is properly redirected, the Djem So user could easily be opened up to a finishing blow.
Galen Marek, the Sith-turned-Jedi who sparked the Rebel Alliance and, eventually, the destruction of the Empire, was known for using "Sith-Shien" along with Juyo and Soresu. Anakin Skywalker is also known for using Shien. Sith Shien can be found in the video-game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Star Wars Episode III 1/2) while regular Shien can be found in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Djem So is best seen in the movie Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, when both Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker use Djem So during their final battle.
Form VI: Niman
Many of the previous forms have necessary maneuvers and strengths, but come with many weaknesses. To try and solve that problem, Niman was created. Niman integrated all the styles together into one style, making it the most practical of all the forms. Because it covers everything that the previous forms do, a Niman practitioner can answer to nearly anything that is thrown at them. This is also the preferred style of diplomats and other lightsaber wielders who would rather spend their time working on their Force abilities or talking their way out of situations than use "aggressive negotiations". This form is arguably the easiest to learn as well (other than the essential Shii-Cho). Despite the lack of difficulty, it took at least ten years or so to master. Because of the fact that Niman didn't have any weaknesses, its strengths weren't exactly significant. The form seemed to be the near ultimate solution until the Battle of Geonosis, in which almost all Niman practitioners were killed. After this battle, Niman was not as praised by the Jedi as before.
Notable users include Jedi Exile, General Grievous and Darth Maul.
Form VII: Juyo / Vaapad
Though known for thousands of years prior to the Great Jedi Purge, Juyo was a form that slowly became a secret form among the Jedi Order, due to the fact that it borders on being a gateway to the dark side. Known for being vicious, violent, and incredibly emotional, Juyo was a rare form used only by those who could control it. Internal focus was key in keeping a Jedi from falling to the Dark Side using this style. The Sith, on the other hand, used Juyo quite a bit. It consisted of erratic attacks, making the whole form very chaotic. While it is the greatest of all the forms, it's weakness is that it takes Jedi who cannot control it to the darkness, leaving them a great threat to the Jedi and their allies. Only a few have ever studied it, and only one, Mace Windu, has ever mastered it. Windu not only mastered the style, he modified it into Vaapad, in which the user's mind and emotions played a great part in the battle. While it gives the user great strength, it only adds to the temptation of going to the dark side. Because of this, many who studied Juyo and Vaapad fell to the dark side.
Juyo is often used by Sith, most notably Darth Maul and Galen Marek. Vaapad was only ever used by Mace Windu and his fallen apprentices, Sora Bulq and Depa Billaba.
|2015||Star Wars Episode VII|
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|2009||Scuba Wars 2|
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|2007||Family Guy: Blue Harvest|
|2005||Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith|
|2002||Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones|
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|1999||Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace|
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|1983||Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi|
|1980||Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back|