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The weapon of choice for Jedis and the most iconic weapons in the Star Wars Universe.

Lightsaber

Overview

The lightsaber is a weapon that has been utilized by Force sensitives including the Jedi and the Sith for over thousands of years. The lightsaber is considered an archaic relic by some, a symbol of bygone age that predates modern day blasters. Nevertheless, it has becomes synonymous throughout the Galaxy that to carry a lightsaber marks one as a Jedi Knight due to their proliferation and usage of it.

As its name implies, the lightsaber consists of a blinding blade of energy generated from its hilt. The energy blade can be a wide variety of vibrant colors and is well known for its legendary attribute to being able to cut or penetrate through (virtually) any substance in the Galaxy. In the hands of a master, a lightsaber is even capable of intercepting and reflecting blaster bolts. Although lacking the range of a blaster, it remains an incredibly dangerous weapon that only trained Force sensitives such as Jedi or Sith can truly wield to its fullest extent.

Technical Specifications (Typical Lightsaber)

  • TYPE: Melee Weapon
  • OVERALL LENGTH: 24-30 centimeters (hilt); 145 centimeters (blade)
  • OVERALL WIDTH: 3.2-3.75 centimeters (diameter)
  • MASS: 1 kilogram
Cutaway saber

Lightsaber Cutaway

Design Features

Lightsabers are unique, personalized, and individual works of art that are hand-crafted by the wielder themselves and are not mass-produced weapons. In fact, many Jedi and Sith regard the fashioning of their lightsaber to be a symbolic rite of passage. During the days of the Old Republic for example; a Jedi Padawan would only be conferred the rank of Knight after several trials; chief among which include the creation of their own personal lightsaber for the first time.

The lightsaber also served as a symbolic demonstration of the link between a Padawan and his or her Master. Upon being accepted as a Padawan Learner under a Jedi Master, the Master would confer upon them a lightsaber. Traditionally, this lightsaber was one of their older weapons that the Jedi Master had previously wielded. The Padawan would wield this blade during their period of training until they embarked on a pilgrimage to one of the sacred sites. At these sites, the Padawan would search for and select a focusing crystal before constructing their own personal lightsaber and ceremoniously returning their Master's blade and thanking them for their instruction.

The Sith themselves refused to allow their Apprentices the chance to wield their own lightsabers until they had completed their apprenticeship and had proven themselves in combat; only then would they be permitted the opportunity to construct their own lightsabers.

Creation lightsaber

Forging the Lightsaber

The amazing and extraordinary abilities of each lightsaber is due to the fact that it is assembled and aligned via the Force by its wielder on a microscopic level, producing unparalleled efficiency and forging their personal connection to it. As a result, Force wielders regard their lightsaber a literal extension of their own body and may frequently construct several lightsabers over their lifetime, accruing to their experiences, changing dueling styles, and needs.

The typical lightsaber consisted of a metal cylindrical hilt. Depending on the hand size and needs, style, and preferences of the individual; the hilt can range between 24 and 30 centimeters in length and generally 3.2 to 3.75 centimeters in diameter. The hilt itself has several control devices such as knobs, buttons, and dials to vary the lightsaber blade's length and power output as well as an insulated grip to protect the wielder from any accidental feedback discharges. The grip itself could be fashioned from a wide range of materials from synthetics to even natural ones such as wood or bone.

There are a wide variety of modifications that an individual could make to their lightsaber hilts ranging from pressure switches that would automatically deactivate the lightsaber should it be dropped; ring clips to attach to utility belts; Force-activated levers to alter the lightsaber settings; recharging plugs to fit into standard energy sockets; safety switches to prevent an unauthorized user from activating the saber; or anti-personnel devices which would disable someone other than the proper wielder.

Dooku curvedsaber-0

Curved Hilt Saber

Not all lightsabers hilts are straight cylindrically shaped either. Dueling masters such as Count Dooku preferred a slightly curved hilt rather than the typical straight one even though it increased the difficulty of construction and arrangement of the internal components. The curved hilt allowed for more precise movements and flexibility as well as giving the wielder more power when delivering overhand strikes and allowing them to wield the lightsaber one-handed more easily.

The lightsaber's mechanisms such as the power cell, superconductors, focusing lenses and crystals were all incorporated within the hollow internal space of the hilt itself. The key to the the lightsaber's cutting power lay in the focusing lenses and crystals. A typical blade required at least three while specially modified lightsabers could require more or differently arranged arrays. The ignited blade of the lightsaber can come in a wide variety of colors and hues depending upon the coloration of the crystals.

Around 4,000 years prior to the Clone Wars, it was traditional for the Jedi to classify themselves as Jedi Guardians through blue hued blades, Jedi Consulars who utilized green colored blades, and the rare Jedi Sentinels as wielding yellow blades. That practice had largely died out sometime before the Clone Wars however and the Jedi did not bother to symbolize their professional status in this manner any longer. Although blue and green colored blades still dominated; it was not unheard of for lightsaber blades to come in yellow, purple, white, bronze, orange, magenta, and even silver reflecting the individual Jedi.

Unlike the Jedi of the Old Repubic who harvested and used naturally grown crystals for the focusing in part due to their reliability and tradition towards working in harmony with the Force; the Sith create synthetic crystals for their lightsabers. Normally artificial crystals are incapable of handling the power requirements of a lightsaber and rapidly burn out; but the Sith perfected a method via their strange alchemy and manipulation of the Dark Side of the Force. These synth-crystals are blood red and as a byproduct, this causes their ignited sabers to be red as well which became their traditional color and to wield a blood red lightsaber blade marked one as a Sith.

The Sith claim that their synth-crystals are stronger than a naturally grown crystal used by the Jedi and because of that; their lightsabers are naturally more powerful. It is unknown if this is actually true or mere hyperbole. Another possible reason why they were forced to create these artificial synth-crystals was because of the large presence of the Jedi at the rare sites that the natural crystals were to be found and they also kept a close eye on them to prevent misuse. After the Great Jedi Purge, Emperor Palpatine also had the Galactic Empire keep a careful watch on these locations to prevent any Jedi or potential students from claiming these crystals to fashion future lightsabers.

When activated, a highly charged beam of energy is emitted from the hilt and further shaped by a containment field in the form of a 'blade' of approximately 145 centimeters in length. The ignited blade has a completely omnidirectional cutting edge, generates no heat, and is also completely weightless. Further, the 'blade' produces an incredibly strong gyroscopic effect through the hilt. All of these features contribute to the difficulties in wielding a lightsaber which requires a great deal of physical strength, dexterity, and awareness to utilize. It is also incredibly dangerous to wield and the risk of slicing off a limb or inadvertently killing oneself (or another) with the lightsaber is a very genuine threat. Even Jedi and Sith initiates require extensive practice in mastering it.

Modern-day lightsabers have different power setting dials which can generate a 'training' mode which creates a low-powered energy blade that is still tangible but provides non-fatal stinging impacts upon contact. This allows a Jedi or Sith to practice their lightsaber dueling on a daily basis without risk of permanent injury.

An active lightsaber produces a distinctive hum in an atmosphere as it is igniting the molecules in the air. The highly charged energy blade is so powerful that it can withstand even another energy field such as electricity or the blaster bolt without interruption or dissipating. It can also cut through virtually any matter, only the size and density of the object in question affected the speed and ease that the saber would pass through it. Most materials would be sliced through effortlessly including a humanoid body. Lightsaber wounds usually did not bleed due to the fact that it cauterized as it cut.

Only very dense or very rare materials could resist the cutting power of a lightsaber as well as certain electromagnetic energy fields such as shields and another lightsaber blade which actually repels the blade itself.

Specialized Lightsaber Types

Yoda lightsaber

Size matters not

Not all Jedi or Sith were of similar size and stature to typical humanoids and found the regular sized lightsaber hilts to be awkwardly uncomfortably large in their hands or far too small and delicate. For that reason, two different types of lightsabers came into existence; the shoto and the great saber.

The shoto is in effect, a miniaturized lightsaber with a hilt around 10 to 15 centimeters in length and much slimmer as well, around 1 to 2 centimeters in diameter. The ignited blade of a shoto was usually half the length of a typical lightsaber blade; around 72.5 centimeters and only one crystal was sufficient for the focusing lens. The shoto was also referred to as light daggers or short lightsabers. Some Jedi also took to wielding the shoto as a secondary weapon in their off hand as part of a dual sword style of combat. Others simply because it better fitted their size such as Grand Master Yoda who wielded a shoto in combat.

The great saber is the exact opposite of the shoto. It is an enlarged lightsaber built on a bigger scale for Force wielders who usually over 2 meters in height. Typically, the hilts of great sabers were 40 centimeters in length with a diameter of approximately 6 centimeters. On average, they weighted 5 kilograms and would project a staggeringly large blade of well over 300 centimeters in length and would require specialized superconductors, lenses and crystals to handle the massive power output. The sheer size of the great sabers made many refer to these massive weapons of blunt destructive power as the lightclub.

Maul doublebladed

Double-Bladed Lightsaber

There have been various other variations of the standard lightsaber over the millennia. One of the more prominent ones is the double-bladed lightsaber; which has proved popular particularly with the Sith but the rare Jedi have also wielded such weapons. It has been referred as the saberstaff or lightstaff as well.

The double-bladed lightsaber consists of a longer than usual hilt with a beam emitter on either end. This extended hilt allowed the wielder to use either one or two hands. This enables the wielder to generate a lightsaber blade from both ends simultaneously and thus increasing their lethality and range of attack. However this also limited the wielder's maneuverability and techniques, forcing them to adopt a vastly different style of combat. The rarity and obscurity of this weapon is probably the real reason why so many Jedi fell as they were unused in countering a saberstaff duelist. Darth Maul employed such a weapon after encountering a Jedi Master whose skill was such that Maul needed a weapon with a longer reach to assassinate him.

A Sith variant included the double-bladed lightsaber with an interlocking hilt. With a twist of the hand, the wielder can disengage the paired hilts into two separate and useable weapons. This allows the user with greater modes of attacks as they could switch from a saberstaff assault to a dual-hand lightsaber combat style. The Sith Assassin, Asajj Ventress favored a weapon of this particular type as well.

The Inquisitors, the Dark Side Adepts assembled by the Empire following Order 66 all employed a unique lightsaber weapon with a circular hand guard. These lightsabers could ignite both single or double-blades and could engage a mode which would allow the twin blades to rotate rapidly along a spinning track via this deployed hand guard.

During this era, novice Jedi Knight Ezra Bridger created a lightsaber-blaster hybrid during his early apprenticeship with a blaster barrel as part of the handle itself. He created this in part to compensate for his lack of confidence in his Force powers as well as his limited skill in deflecting blaster bolts; but also for better stealth and concealment. Rather than wielding the distinctive lightsaber, he would simply use the blaster until he had no other option than to use the lightsaber mode.

History

Millennia ago, even before the formation of the Old Republic; on the Deep Core World of Tython, the inhabitants of the planet developed a philosophy of Ashla. The seers of Ashla proclaimed it to be a regenerative pool of wisdom, strength, and power which modern day wielders refer to it as the Force. The seers of Ashla discovered that they could move objects without touching them, increase their speed, and even see into the future by drawing upon its power.

Tython oldsabers

The First Force Wars on Tython

However certain seers became corrupted by their power and so began the first Force Wars between the light and dark; mirrored centuries later by the Jedi and Sith. The Tython Seers first utilized metal blades that they specially forged with the Force to enhance their sharpness and durability. These were the first precursors to the modern day lightsaber.

Around 36,500 years before the Clone Wars, the Tythons left their homeworld thanks to the advent of hyperdrive and spread their philosophy of Ashla to the rest of the galaxy. Offworld technology helped create more advanced weaponry including a handheld portable high-energy blade which were the first proto-sabers. These sabers however consumed massive amounts of energy and required a belt-mounted power supply which they plugged into the base of the projector hilt via a power cable.

Then 11,500 years later; an era of tumultuous war known as the Great Sith War erupted between the descendants of the Ashla Seers now known as the Je'daii Order and their rivals, the Sith Empire led by Dark Je'daii. This era of warfare resulted in key advancements of the proto-saber into a fully refined weapon as the Sith added superconductors and the modern power cell. This allowed them to make the saber into a handheld portable weapon without the restrictive power cable and belt pack, thus creating the first true lightsaber. The Je'daii Order quickly adopted their enemies' innovations and so becoming inextricably linked to the weapon.

Over the millennium, the Je'daii Order would evolve and grow; becoming a cornerstone of the Old Republic as their peacekeepers, guardians, and warriors of justice and would become known simply as the Jedi. However one thing that has not changed between both the Jedi and Sith is their personal weapon of choice, the lightsaber.

Lightsaber Combat Forms

Starwars saberduel

Clash of Lightsabers

Over the millennia, the Jedi developed seven distinct traditional styles of lightsaber combat known as Forms. These Forms were usually predicated by the prevalent threats of the era that they were developed.

By the era of the Clone Wars, all Jedi were trained in six of these forms and it was expected that they were to create their own unique style of dueling by incorporating the techniques best suited to them and their strengths. Some Jedi preferred to master a singular Form and rarely deviated from it while others freely drew upon the strengths of the other Forms. The seventh style was forbidden to all but the most experienced and most resistant of Jedi as numerous members had fallen to the Dark Side by the destructive allure of this final form.

The early Sith rarely bothered to create their own distinct style of swordsmanship for lightsaber combat. At best, they had two very basic concepts of lightsaber dueling known as "Strong Style" and "Fast Style" which revolved around the focus of either power or speed. By the days of the Clone Wars however, even the Sith also studied and practiced the Jedi Forms to better understand the flaws of their opponents and incorporated the techniques of their enemy.

Form I: Shii-Cho

The first and most ancient style of lightsaber combat. Form I was heavily based on wielding actual blades than lightsabers in fact. Shii-Cho is the very first form taught to any student as it prepares them for the principles of swordmanship; the target zones of attack; and defensive blocking and parrying. This form is also known as the "Determination Form" or "The Way of the Sarlacc" due to its simplicity.

Form II: Makashi

Considered to be the highest pinnacle of lightsaber dueling, Makashi is also called "The Contention Form" or "The Way of the Ysalamiri". Precision, accuracy, elegance, and footwork is the hallmark of this style which was created in the era where it was common for Jedi to fight the Sith in open warfare. Unlike the wide sweeping slashes of Form I, Makashi focuses on penetrating thrusts along with rapid rushes and retreats. Combined together, this made wielders incredibly adept when it came to countering or defending themselves against a Force wielder.

Unfortunately, Makashi's overwhelming focus on lightsaber to lightsaber combat left them vulnerable to other threats and over the ensuing centuries; it became increasingly impractical as Jedi rarely engaged another lightsaber wielding opponent outside of formal mock duels. Thus, Makashi became an obsolete combat style that only the most archaic Jedi would practice. It did make those experts in this style, hideously effective against another Jedi. Count Dooku and Asajj Ventress were two of the more prominent masters of this style in recent years.

Form III: Soresu

The "Way of the Mynock" or "The Resilience Form" preaches that the best offense is a great defense. Developed approximately 4,000 years ago with the widespread advent of hand-held blasters; Soresu focuses on defensive dodging, blocking, and parrying to a whole new level.

Soresu involves very tightly controlled sweeps and keeping the lightsaber in close range of their body to maximize the defensive zone coverage unlike other more offensive minded styles such as Form II or VI. The Jedi maintains a very strong defensive meditative trance in which they use the Force to predict and anticipate their enemy's attacks.

The idea behind this style is to conserve the Jedi's body and energy by creating a protective lightsaber barrier to deflect assaults and outlast their opponent through a war of attrition. Once the enemy has exhausted or over-commit themselves, they will exploit it with a single decisive blow. But the patient stratagem of this style only worked if the enemy was rash or incautious. On occasion, the Jedi lacked the ability to retake the offensive and ultimately overwhelmed by sheer exhaustion due to the massive concentration and focus that Form III demanded.

Critics argued that this passivity was perhaps the greatest weakness of this style and thus Form IV and Form V were created specifically to counter it. Indeed, Form III was never intended to wrest victory from opponents but to facilitate the wielder's survival instead. However, it was said that a Master of Soresu was nigh-invulnerable on the battlefield and could stride into the midst of a swarm of blasterfire and walk back out untouched.

Kenobi vs griev

Barrier of Blades

Obi-Wan Kenobi was widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest masters of this style in his prime and it was his skill in this "passive" style that enabled him to overcome the impressive offensive style of General Grievous who felled many other Jedi. Even Mace Windu who was the preeminent master swordsman of the Jedi Order of this era admitted that he wasn't sure that he could win in a duel against Kenobi and at best, they might simply come to a draw.

Form IV: Ataru

To compensate for the offensive weakness of Form III, "The Aggression Form" or "The Way of the Hawk-Bat" was born several thousand years ago. Ataru is the most elaborate and acrobatic of the lightsaber combat forms and without a doubt; the most kinetic and most fast paced of them. Form IV harnesses each wielder's strength, speed, and agility and magnifies them with the Force for blindingly fast somersaults, backflips, cartwheels, midair spins, and leaps. A Master of Ataru resembles nothing less than a whirling dervish which is always on the move, always lashing out with wide slashes as they attack their opponent from above, behind, and from unexpected angles and directions. Perhaps the greatest practitioner of this style was Grand Master Yoda as this style was pioneered by generations of smaller sized Jedi to compensate for their lack of reach.

Ataru is not without its flaws though. The practitioner relies on their constant movement to evade counterattacks and is best against a singular opponent in wide open spaces and for very brief spurts of action. This is undoubtedly what lead to the death of Master Qui-Gon Jinn (a noted expert in Ataru) during the Battle of Naboo against Darth Maul. Jinn was forced into a prolonged lightsaber battle and was exhausted and subsequently trapped in the tight spaces of the reactor core was thus deprived of his acrobatics to evade Maul's killing stroke. This exposed weakness led Obi-Wan Kenobi who specialized in Ataru in his youth to rededicate his swordsmanship into Form III to counter his lack of a strong defense.

Form V: Shien / Djen So

Luke saberdeflect

Bouncing Blaster Bolts

Developed in parallel to Ataru, adherents believed that the passivity of Form III was a critical weakness and sought to evolve Soresu into a more offensive form. The result was "The Perseverance Form" or "The Way of the Krayt Dragon". Shien and Djen So are both considered part of Form V and are actually two complementary lightsaber forms each with their own broad focus. Shien is the classic form and is used primarily against projectiles and blasterfire while a modified variant, Djen So was devoted towards countering lightsaber opponents.

Unlike Soresu which impels the practitioner to wait for a critical opening to exploit, Form V is designed for the wielder to create them. Form V relies on the wielder's strength and power and is the most physically demanding of all of the Forms. However a number of Jedi felt that the basic philosophy of Form V was unbecoming of them due to its philosophy of overpowering their opponent and domination. In addition, the Sith favored many elements to Form V as well and in fact, a considerable amount of this style is based on the Sith's "Strong" lightsaber combat style.

Unlike Soresu which parried or subtly deflected attacks, the Shien variant actively redirects them. When confronted with a hailstorm of blasterfire, a user of Shien would employ a broader defensive guard which would allow the wielder to forcibly sling the blaster bolts back at their opponents.

Ahsoka reversegrip

Shien Form's Reverse Grip

Djen So was similar in that the wielder would instead of merely blocking a lightsaber blade; would with sheer brute force batter their adversary's blade away so that they could be free to counterstrike. This aggressive style of parrying was even a form of attack as it increased the strain on the part of the blocker to maintain their grip on their lightsaber hilts, weakening them. This style demanded similar Force enhancement of the user's physical abilities like Form IV but to a far greater degree. Djen So advocates the overwhelming of their opponent through greater physical strength.

Shien is particularly well known for its unorthodox grip techniques such as the reverse backwards grip favored by Padawan Ahsoka Tano. Her mentor, Anakin Skywalker meanwhile favored the Djen So version of Form V in his youth and still utilized a large part of the style in his swordsmanship as Darth Vader; although he was forced to adapt and supplemented it with elements derived from Niman and Juyo as well to compensate for his mechanical limbs and lesser mobility and agility. Luke Skywalker is extremely skilled in Form V as well and was considered a master of this Form.

Form VI: Niman

Lacking the precision of Makashi, the defensiveness of Soresu, the acrobatic aggressiveness of Ataru, and the power of Shien; Form VI is considered a "jack of all trades" combat style dubbed "The Moderation Form" as well as the "Way of the Rancor" .

The concept of Niman revolves around an attempt to blend all of the strengths and attributes of the other lightsaber combat styles and into a cohesive whole without any of the glaring weaknesses of them. Rather, Niman required a solid grounding in the other Forms but preached flexibility, adaptability, and the use of exploiting one's terrain for their advantage. In addition, it was the first lightsaber combat style to adopt the concept of dual saber wielding with a regular lightsaber in one hand and a smaller shoto in the wielder's off hand.

Niman also encourages combining Force manipulation into the combat style using such simple tactics as 'Draw Closer' to telekinetically yank a distant opponent into melee range or the 'Pushing Slash' in which the Jedi inflicts a slashing attack with the lightsaber in one hand and with their free hand, blasts their enemy backwards with a telekinetic shove. A more advanced technique was the 'Saber Throw' although a few frowned upon it as it was also a favored Sith manuever. Basically the user would lock their lightsaber in the 'on' position and literally hurl their lightsaber in a boomerang fashion to cut its way through obstacles or opponents before telekinetically summoning it to their waiting hand. The use of telekinesis could also make mid-air course corrections or keep the saber hovering in place.

Following the destruction of the Sith Empire approximately 1,000 years before the Clone Wars, Form VI became increasingly popular among the Jedi and adherents to the Jedi Council encouraged it as a deliberate response towards the belief that the Jedi had outgrown the necessity of being warriors and blademasters and had transitioned into becoming peacekeepers. Part of this was because Form VI required much less practice than the other style and allowed contemporary Jedi to focus on other pursuits and studies. It was particularly popular with Consular Jedis and since their tendency to negotiate and seek non-violent options; it resulted in Niman commonly being referred to as "The Diplomat's Form".

However, this non-specialization tended to made those who practiced Form VI far weaker than Jedi who focused on the other Forms. In essence, it was an excellent peacetime fighting style but less than ideal during a period of war. This was proven sharply on the battlefields of the Clone Wars where numerous practitioners of this style were slaughtered. In the Battle of Genosis where over 179 Jedi were killed, the majority of the casualties' primary lightsaber style was Form VI. As the Clone Wars continued, the survivors of the Jedi Order considered Niman to be regulated to being a secondary lightsaber combat style worthy of study, but required another form to supplement it.

Form VII: Juyo / Vapaad

Vornskr vs skywalk

The Vornskr

The most controversial of the seven lightsaber combat forms, it swiftly became banned because it is the most violent and most unpredictable of them. Juyo is known as "The Way of the Vornskr" which was named after a vicious quadruped predator which evolved the ability to hunt via the Force and was attracted towards the most powerful Force wielders, hunting and killing them. Many however feel that it is best described by its alternative title ... "The Ferocity Form".

Juyo was an attempt by Jedi Knights to emulate the power and technique of Sith warriors. In a way, it was an overwhelming success as it is one of the most powerful lightsaber combat forms ever created. In another, it was an utter failure as many who practiced this style, soon fell from grace and became Dark Jedi or Sith themselves.

Physically, Juyo consists of bold and powerful movements and slashes similar to Form V with spurts of kinetic movements reminiscent of Form IV. Juyo however disdains flashy acrobatics or blocking as Juyo relies on a total unrelenting offense. Indeed, that is probably the greatest and most damning aspect to this style as it relies on the Jedi towards relinquishing their emotional control and immersing themselves into the Force with a deliberate intention towards the utter destruction of their enemy. The result is that as the battle goes on, the Jedi becomes an increasingly malignant and unstoppable berserker with incredible power, hammering their opponents over and over again until they have utterly destroyed their defenses and slaughtered their enemy.

For this reason, Juyo is considered to be more of a Sith style of lightsaber combat. Darth Maul was considered to be an extraordinarily gifted master in Form VII as well as Anakin Skywalker in his post-Darth Vader transformation with both of them using rage to fuel their attacks. For thousands of years, Juyo was taught to only a handful of adepts who had proven themselves capable of withstanding the temptation of the Dark Side. Even so, a number of aspiring Jedi fell prey to the darkness of the Ferocity Form.

Vapaad is a refinement of Form VII developed specifically for the Jedi by High Councilor Mace Windu. According to Windu, his style is more a meditative state of mind flow designed to allow a Jedi to withstand the darker impulses of Juyo. Instead of focusing on the utter destruction of their opponent, Vapaad focuses on victory over one's opponent yet never losing one's mental and emotional control. Windu admitted that he had created his version to "channel his own internal darkness into a weapon of light".

Despite his intentions to safely tame Form VII for other Jedis' usage, Windu proved to be the exception to the rule. Others who attempted to master his far more challenging and demanding version of Form VII would ultimately fall to the Dark Side including his own Padawan Learner Depa Billaba and even his fellow Jedi blademaster, Sora Bulq who helped Windu perfect Vapaad. As Windu stated about Sora Bulq: "He claimed to have mastered Vapaad. In truth, Vapaad mastered him."

Windu vapaad-tech

Vapaad Unleashed

As utilized by Windu, Vapaad was an incredible flowing array of interlocking lightsaber feints and attacks like a multi-armed tentacled beast much like it was named after which used lightning-fast whipping attacks to utterly overwhelm their prey. It was said that the only way it was said to know how many tentacles the real life predator possessed was only after it was dead as it as impossible to accurately count them otherwise.

A novice swordsman would proclaim that Windu's attack pattern was utterly confusing, completely chaotic, and a totally unpredictable staccato blur of his lightsaber. Only the most skilled duelists however could determine that his style was incredibly intricate and perfectly balanced and brilliantly executed flashing bladework. Vapaad demanded a constant and sizable stream of Force usage from the user, even greater than Form IV and V which only utilized Force enhancement in brief explosive bursts. This was likely the other reason why such deep immersion in the Force was necessary to draw the power needed to utilize this form (and Juyo) properly.

It should be noted that it was through the mastery of his deadly Vapaad style that Mace Windu was the only individual who defeated Darth Sidious in physical combat, a feat that not even Grand Master Yoda was capable of accomplishing.

Production Notes

When George Lucas was writing the early drafts of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, he was inspired by the swordfighting serials of his youth and wanted to include it into the script but was hampered by the fact that it was such an anachronistic type of weapon. To better mesh with the futuristic technology of this setting, he ultimately came up with the 'lazersword' concept; replacing the traditional metal blade with a 'frozen laser beam'. The 'lazerswords' were in fact a mundane weapon that was utilized by both the Empire and Rebel forces as well as the more high-tech blasters in the early drafts of his scripts. Later in subsequent drafts, Lucas decided to exclusively arm the Jedi Knights with such weapons in order to heighten their mystique of an ancient warrior order; explaining the reason why Darth Vader also utilized such a weapon was because he was a former Jedi himself and that the other Sith used different weapons instead.

In Lucas' original notes the lightsabers were depicted as being extremely heavy weapons much like broadswords which is why it was a two-handed dueling weapon when first used and involved a relatively slow paced fight between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi. By the time of the sequel, The Empire Strikes Back filming, Lucas wanted to increase the intensity of the lightsaber duels, thus dramatically sped it up and also incorporated one handed dueling.

The lightsaber hilt models themselves were constructed out of a variety of odds and ends. Luke's lightsaber for example was fashioned out of a Graflex camera flash attachment while Darth Vader's was from a Micro Precision flash attachment. Both of these lightsabers had windshield washer wipers wrapped them for grips and D-rings so that they could hang form the character's belts. Obi-Wan Kenobi's lightsaber was the most complex of the three as it had components from a Graflex flash handle, a World War I British rifle grenade, a Browning ANM2 machine gun booster, an Armatage Shanks faucet, a 1974 calculator, and a Rolls-Royce Derwent Mk.8/Mk.9 jet engine balance pipe.

For filming purposes, the lightsaber blades were originally made out of a three-sided wooden dowel rods covered with retroreflector tape, the same sort used for highway signs that reflect light. The rods were then rapidly spun via a compact motor in the hilt while a lamp was then positioned to the side of the camera and reflected towards the lightsaber through an angled glass so that the sword would appear to glow as the light hit it. This effect however depended greatly on the angle of the lights striking the retroreflector tape and Lucas decided that it was more troublesome to rely on this lighting effect. Instead, he chose to imitate the glowing via post shooting special effects.

For the sequels, Lucas replaced the dowels with carbon rods for the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi filming. These rods however were extremely fragile and frequently broke and required replacing. For the Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones prequel films, steel/aluminum rods were utilized instead. Although more durable, these rods tended to flex and became bent and required frequent replacement as well. For the Revenge of the Sith filming, a new type of replacement rod was created out of carbon fiber but reinforced with plastic and glass. It was belatedly discovered that this amalgamation prevented the flexing and necessitated the frequent replacements; but was extremely punishing on the actors and stuntmen and would leave bruises and scars if striking them.

In order to ensure that the lightsaber blade looked 'shaky' like a actual beam of light, special effects artists would color a frame with a darker color and then inserted a lighter color in the next frame which made the saber appear to fluctuate and vibrate. The lightsaber blades were colored red and blue to ensure that they were visually distinctive opposing colors in the first two films. In Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker's lightsaber in early drafts were colored blue and appeared so in several early trailers and promotional materials. However, it was decided at the last second to switch out the colors and make the blade green in order to contrast better against the blue of the Tatooine skies.

The sound of a lightsaber being active was created by a combination of the idling interlock motors, interference caused by an television set on an unshielded microphone, and a degausser. Once recorded, sound technicians would play the sound on a moving microphone that they would move in sync with the actor's sword movements to create a shifting Doppler sound effect.

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