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The Jedi Know Nothing About Fighting With A Lightsaber

The lightsaber, the most favorite weapon in Star Wars. And who doesn’t love the lightsaber duels in Star Wars? We have the measured, careful testing out of skills and then we also have the 15 minute acrobatic lightsaber dances of the prequel trilogy. But as it turns out Jedi use the lightsaber all wrong. How so? Click through to find out!

Obi-Wan and Anakin

Obi-Wan and Anakin rehearse for Tchaikovsky’s Lightsaber Lava Lake ballet

Before I proceed one important caveat: of course the movies are the movies. No one would want to see realism in a movie like Star Wars. And whatever lightsaber fighting techniques the Jedi and Sith display in the movie, it all has one purpose above all, to entertain us.

But YouTube channel Shadiversity has looked at Jedi and their lightsabers from a real world point of view. How would and should Jedi actually fight were lightsabers a real thing? As it turns out real world lightsaber duels would be very brief, no flashy moves at all, it could all be over in a few short seconds.
While lightsabers are not a real thing we can still compare then with some real world weapons, swords or rapiers, for example. And once you do that one acronym comes up almost instantly: HEMA, which stands for Historical European Martial Arts, i.e. how real people actually fought in Europe during medieval times, using swords etc. HEMA uses original sources, there are various booksor illustrations  from the time period that show several fighting styles and techniques, for example. And it’s as far removed from most Hollywood swordfights as your usual Bud Spencer (google him if you don’t know him yet!) fist fight is from real fist fights.

Shadiversity is an authority on the topic and please check out his YouTube video on the, in which he explains in detail why Jedi fight all wrong and how a real world Jedi should actually fight. In real life a Jedi should wield a lightsaber more like a rapier, in “real world” lightsaber combat it’s all about about thrusting, not so much about slashing and hacking the weapon, since minimal contact with the blade, even the tip of the blade, does incredible damage. You would use the saber one-handed, and not hold it like a two-handed sword or katana. This will be important for a follow-up article, where I will introduce you to actual real world lightsaber fighting guilds, with some of them actually follwing real world HEMA fighting techniques. It’s a thriving hobby and actually quite interesting. But before we go there, first a look at how Jedi should really fight:

But Shadiversity has a few more things to say, he’s especially critical of Rey’s fight choreography in The Last Jedi. He analyzes the various bad things about her fighting style in this video. And he also points out how sloppyily, in his opinion, the Praetorian Guard fight was choreographed:

In short: even Rey’s basic stance is all wrong to begin with, she has no real balance, and her exaggerated lightsaber moves are very bad too. The Praetorian Guard is badly choreographed too since Rey should have died several times over in the fight.

In the following still from early on in the fight you have the first instance of very sloppy choreography:

Rey vs PraetorianThe Praetorian on the left in the foreground with the double blade could easily strike Rey in her back and kill her (Click the image for the large version to better see it). Instead he, for some unexplicable reason, rises his weapon in the very next frame and misses Rey’s head by probably 1 or 2 feet.

And the next scene is actually quite infamous, it’s the case of the mysteriously disappearing blade:

Rey vs PreatorianIn this scene, the Praetorian has a blade in each of his hands. You can see the second unblocked blade in his left hand (he could have easily stabbed Rey now already). Click the movie still for a much larger version! A split second later, he positions his left hand behind Rey’s back and could once more easily stab her in the back and therefore kill her. But the blade is suddenly gone. It was erased in post when the editor or director realised that Rey should be dead, because of sloppy choreography, and therefore they had to fix it in post.

Rey vs PraetorianThe blade is suddenly gone! Click on the image to see that the left hand is suddenly empty.

The Shadiversity video shows you the scenes in motion, once you see it you can’t unsee it!

However, the Praetorian fight is not the only fight with questionable choreography in Star Wars. In Attack of the Clones Anakin, in his duel with Dooku, for no apparent reason suddenly opens up his guard, stretches out his right arm, so Dooku can cut it off. A move that is so amateurish it really stands out.

Darth Maul’s double bladed lightsaber is the most impractical saber of them all since Maul can’t really use the advantages of a stafflike weapon: reach. Instead he’s in constant danger of amputating himself.

And in Return of the Jedi Darth Vader is very cooperative when he leans into the guardrail before Luke even hits him.

It is the movies, after all.

But there are real world lightsaber fighting guilds, and some of them fight in a realistic style (others follow the movie rules). I will tell you more about them in the next article, when we look at a section of the Star Wars fandom we usually don’t hear about here on JTA.

Source: Shadiversity YouTube Channel

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