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Form IV: Ataru

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"Ataru is the name given to the movements of this form—though it is aggressive, it is focused, and its best use is in combat against a single opponent."
―Zez-Kai Ell[src]

Form IV: Ataru, also known as the Way of the Hawk-Bat, or The Aggression Form, was the fourth of the seven forms of lightsaber combat. The history of Ataru stretched back through the Old Republic, to at least as early as the Mandalorian Wars, where it was commonly employed by Jedi of that day. Ataru continued to be a common form among the Jedi in the latter stages of the Republic, and was also known to be employed by the Sith.

An aggressive style, Form IV was fast-paced and effective against single opponents, though weaker in prolonged combat and confined spaces. Also, it was not recommended for use against opponents wielding blasters. Ataru was characterized by Force-assisted acrobatics, such as somersaults and leaping strikes, both for attack and defense. Another characteristic of the form was its fast, powerful strikes from multiple directions. Notable users of this combat form during the Old Republic included Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn. The New Jedi Order preserved knowledge of Ataru and Jedi Masters such as Luke Skywalker, Mara Jade Skywalker, and Kyle Katarn all employed it.

DescriptionEdit

"Form IV, also called Ataru, is the most acrobatic Form, filled with numerous elaborate moves, and relies heavily upon a Jedi's ability to run, jump, and spin using the Force."
―Cin Drallig[src]
Ewan

The opening stance of Ataru

Ataru was an aggressive combat form relying on a combination of strength, speed, and agility. Due to this, it was also called the Way of the Hawk-bat or the Aggression Form. Practitioners of Ataru were always on the offensive, attacking with wide, fast, and powerful swings. Form IV practitioners constantly called upon the Force to aid in their movements and attacks. By allowing the Force to flow throughout their body, they could overcome their physical limitations—including old age, as was the case with Master Yoda—and perform amazing feats of acrobatics, such as somersaults and backflips, not only for attack, but also to evade the slashes and strikes of their opponents.[1] Jedi utilizing Ataru needed to incorporate all the Force powers that involved surpassing normal physical ranges of motion, speed, and agility in order to be successful. Running, jumping, and spinning were all emphasized in learning the elaborate kinetics of the form.[16]

Those who used Form IV could move at high speeds and could rain strong blows, jumping and attacking through the air. Powerful and quick spinning attacks could be utilized from all angles, either from ground or air. A master in Ataru combat could appear like a blur to their opponents, attacking from all directions—the front, the sides, overhead, or behind. The Force not only allowed them to perform athletic feats not possible otherwise, but it also helped guide their actions and movements in combat.[1]

ApplicationsEdit

"Against multiple enemies, only a true Ataru master will prevail."
―Yoda[src]

Ataru proved to be an effective combat form when used properly, and was common among Jedi during the Mandalorian Wars. It was well-suited to close combat, particularly against single opponents.[3] Due to its speed and agility, Ataru was recommended for use by Jedi with the ability to enhance their speed and stamina with the Force.[17]

DotF TPM

Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi utilize Ataru against Darth Maul's Juyo on Naboo.

Because it was such an aggressive style, Ataru was not generally optimal for use against multiple opponents, and it was somewhat ineffective against blaster fire, particularly from multiple foes.[3] Despite those weaknesses, Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn were able to employ this form with great success during the Battle of Naboo against numerous B1 battle droid opponents.[18] This form was also considered not as effective for prolonged combat, as the nature of Ataru could greatly tax the body. Ataru practitioners were advised to withdraw if they were unable to win after a devastating burst of Ataru attacks.[15] Fatigue was theorized to have been a contributing factor in Qui-Gon Jinn's defeat on Naboo at the hands of Sith Lord Darth Maul during the latter stages of the Battle of Naboo. In fact, ever since their brief fight on Tatooine, Maul knew that Ataru would be the Jedi Master's undoing.[19][20] Another contributing factor in Jinn's death was the requirement of open space for the kinetic acrobatics of Ataru. Without ample space to move in the Theed Royal Palace reactor core, Jinn was deprived of the key element in his defense, and thus could only attempt to block Maul's incessant barrage of Juyo strikes. This event influenced Kenobi—after his Master's death, he changed his preferred form to Soresu, the most defensive of all forms.[1]

Through the Force, Yoda was considered to have mastered Form IV to its highest level. He used it in almost all of his battles, and his mastery of the style caused others to describe him as virtually unstoppable against most opponents, including Separatist battle droids, despite his small size and advanced age. His moves in his duel against Count Dooku on Geonosis during the Battle of Geonosis were revealed on close examination to be a fast-paced demonstration of the standard components of Form IV. Each action flowed from one to another in the smooth transitions characteristic of Form IV. In addition, three kinds of rotation, called su ma, figured prominently in his style: jung su ma (spinning), ton su ma (somersaults), and en su ma (cartwheels). These three moves represented the three possible axes of rotation in three-dimensional space. Together with Force-enhanced jumps, the rotational su ma moves composed most of his style, making the Grand Master exemplary of Form IV mastery.[1] At one point prior to the Clone Wars, Yoda was known to give demonstrations of the form in use, some of which were recorded on databooks in the Jedi Temple.[16] Yoda also employed Ataru against the clone troopers on Kashyyyk and Coruscant at the conclusion of the Clone Wars when the Jedi Purge began. Despite its weaknesses to blaster fire and multiple opponents, Yoda's mastery of the form was such that he was able to defeat the clones.[21]

Dooku stated that he understood "every weakness of the Ataru form, with its ridiculous acrobatics." Dooku's Makashi would counter Ataru by launching a series of thrusts toward the enemy's legs to draw the opponent into a flipping overhead leap, so that Dooku could burn through the enemy's spine from kidneys to shoulder blades with his Makashi attack. The count applied this tactic against Obi-Wan Kenobi, who blocked Dooku's blows with Soresu, on board the Separatist flagship Invisible Hand during the Battle of Coruscant.[22]

Moves and maneuversEdit

"The Ataru form of combat is aggressive, but focused. You must never rely solely on skill with a weapon, but rather embrace the idea that your whole body is the weapon. Use the Force to spin, jump, to overpower your foe."
―Luke Skywalker[src]

The opening stance for Ataru was a balanced two-handed guard: holding the lightsaber vertically with both palms, either on the right or left side of the body.[22] One technique employed with greater effect by Ataru users was the Hawk-Bat Swoop. When utilized by Ataru practitioners, it was intended to allow a combatant to quickly strike their opponent without giving them a chance to react, and then escape before they had a chance to retaliate. Another move that Ataru users could use effectively was dubbed the Saber Swarm, where numerous short strikes were aimed at the adversary to force a defensive posture.[17] Ataru wielders were able to execute this combination with particular skill.[2] Both the Hawk-Bat Swoop and the Saber Swarm were related to the Falling Leaf technique, and they gained in popularity during the New Sith Wars.[15]

PractitionersEdit

"This style of fighting was taught to me by Master Yoda. In most cases, you will not use it as a first resort, but you'll find it often works as a last resort."
―Luke Skywalker[src]

Besides Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn, other notable practitioners of Ataru were Jedi Masters Tott Doneeta,[2] Zez-Kai Ell, Kavar, Vrook Lamar,[3] Ki-Adi-Mundi,[23] Cay Qel-Droma,[2] Aayla Secura,[11] Shaak Ti,[24] Vandar Tokare,[13] and Quinlan Vos;[14] Jedi battlemasters Skarch Vaunk[17] and Cin Drallig;[25] Sith Lord Darth Maul;[8] Sith Blademaster Kas'im;[5] and Dark Jedi Set Harth.[4]

The Sith Lord Scourge used Ataru to defeat two Sith acolytes of Darth Xedrix on Bosthirda.[26] Obi-Wan Kenobi was also a practitioner of Ataru, but proceeded to study Soresu following the death of his Master, Qui-Gon Jinn, on Naboo.[1] General Grievous and his IG-100 MagnaGuards also learned Ataru from Count Dooku.[27]

Yoda Tyranus duel

Yoda using Ataru against Count Dooku's Makashi.

As a Padawan, Anakin Skywalker studied Ataru briefly, as it fit his flashy, bold, and aggressive personality—he would later use those same traits to become a skilled Form V practitioner. Anakin applied the two-lightsaber variant of Ataru against Count Dooku on Geonosis during the Battle of Geonosis. Because neither Ataru nor dual-wielding were Skywalker's most effective styles, Dooku broke through it easily with sun djem, forcing the young Padawan to switch back to his standard Form V.[1]

Circa 1000 BBY, Jedi Padawans were discouraged from practicing Ataru, as their youthful energy was considered prone to sloppy execution of its cadences.[17] However, by the waning years of the Old Republic, Padawans would spend a year or two studying each Form from II to V, including Ataru.[16]

During the Clone Wars, both Obi-Wan Kenobi, who had mastered Ataru in addition to his expertise in Soresu, and Anakin Skywalker often applied some of the Ataru acrobatic moves, despite their mastery of Soresu and Djem So, respectively.[28] When dueling Dooku on the Invisible Hand in the Battle of Coruscant, Obi-Wan Kenobi started the duel using Ataru stances and techniques to mislead the Sith.[22] Ahsoka Tano practiced Ataru in a training session with Skywalker, shortly before the Battle of Bothawui.[29] Weequay Jedi Sora Bulq[30] as well as Lannik Jedi Master Even Piell also practiced Ataru, in addition to other saber forms.[31] Piell's apprentice, Jax Pavan, would also learn Ataru, along with the other forms, during his Jedi training.[32] After his transformation and defeat on Mustafar, Darth Vader included elements of Form IV in his personalized variation of Form V,[33] such as during his second duel with Jedi Master Roan Shryne.[34] Vader's secret apprentice was also familiar with Ataru, and his personal droid PROXY attempted to emulate the form, albeit without the aid of the Force, which the apprentice found to be a notable weakness.[24] The usage by the apprentice was displayed in both single and dual-saber variants.[24][35]

The New Jedi Order would learn of this form, along with the others, from knowledge gleaned from the book The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force,[17] holocrons and recordings, particularly the Great Holocron which included a recording by Cin Drallig explaining lightsaber forms.[16] Kyle Katarn[36] and Jedi Knight Alema Rar, among others, were trained in the use of the fourth form of lightsaber combat.[10] Grand Master Luke Skywalker also had knowledge and skill in the use of Ataru, as did his wife, Mara Jade Skywalker.[2] Skywalker learned the form from Yoda and passed it on to his students, teaching them to embrace it not as a weapon of first use and to use both their weapon and their body in practicing Ataru.[37]

Behind the scenesEdit

Yoda soulcaliber4

Yoda's non-canon Form IV usage in Soulcalibur IV

Ataru, along with forms II, III, and VII was first mentioned in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones: The Visual Dictionary, but little information was given about the form other than a brief description of it, and listing Anakin Skywalker as a known practitioner.[38] Along with the other six classical forms, it was fully fleshed out and described by David West Reynolds in Fightsaber: Jedi Lightsaber Combat after the release of Episode II, as part of Star Wars Insider 62. Reynolds was aided in this work by fencer Jack "Stelen" Bobo.[1]

In the Revenge of the Sith novelization, Labyrinth of Evil, and Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, Ataru is misspelled as Ataro. In Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith: The Visual Dictionary, it is mistakenly stated that Obi-Wan is "a master of the Jedi lightsaber style known as Ataru, in which deflection is prized above aggression." Though Obi-Wan did know Ataru, this statement totally contradicts Ataru's true form, as it is not very good for deflecting blaster bolts and is one of the most aggressive of the seven forms. The dictionary likely refers to Form III: Soresu instead.

Ataru, along with the other lightsaber forms, appears in Star Wars Galaxies as part of moves and techniques employable by Jedi characters. This has not definitively been clarified to be canonical.[39] It is possible that the Jedi Exile was trained in the use of Form IV after her return from exile. However, it is also possible that she was a Jedi Consular and learned the Force forms instead.[3]

Ataru also is featured in a non-canonical appearance as part of Yoda's inclusion in the fighting game Soulcalibur IV, as Yoda wields Ataru in combat against other characters.[40][41]

AppearancesEdit

SourcesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 Fightsaber: Jedi Lightsaber Combat
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Jedi Academy Training Manual
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
  4. 4.0 4.1 Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
  6. 6.0 6.1 WizardsoftheCoast Legacy of the Force Preview 5: Darth Krayt and Kyle Katarn, Jedi Battlemaster on Wizards.com (original article link, backup links on Archive.org)
  7. 7.0 7.1 TCWA Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures – "Lightsaber Duel"
  8. 8.0 8.1 Maul: Lockdown
  9. Star Wars: The Clone Wars Character Encyclopedia
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Legacy of the Force: Fury
  11. 11.0 11.1 The Clone Wars Campaign Guide
  12. The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
  13. 13.0 13.1 Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide
  14. 14.0 14.1 TCWA Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures – "Lightsaber Duel" (Ataru Mastery Pack)
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force
  18. Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
  19. Star Wars Episode I Journal: Darth Maul
  20. The Wrath of Darth Maul
  21. Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith novelization
  23. Star Wars: The Clone Wars Character Encyclopedia
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 The Force Unleashed novel
  25. Order 66: Destroy All Jedi
  26. The Old Republic: Revan
  27. Labyrinth of Evil
  28. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith: The Visual Dictionary
  29. The Clone Wars: Wild Space
  30. Databank title Sora Bulq in the Databank (content now obsolete; backup link on Archive.org)
  31. Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight
  32. Coruscant Nights III: Patterns of Force
  33. Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
  34. The Last of the Jedi: Secret Weapon
  35. The Force Unleashed II novel
  36. Based on statements in http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=starwars/article/LOTFpreview5
  37. Crimson Empire III: Empire Lost 1
  38. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones: The Visual Dictionary
  39. http://starwarsgalaxies.station.sony.com/players/content.vm?id=64186&resource=publish; http://starwarsgalaxies.station.sony.com/en_US/players/content.vm?id=66843&resource=features; http://starwarsgalaxies.station.sony.com/players/guides.vm?id=70002
  40. Soulcalibur IV
  41. SWicon Fightsaber: Mastering the Art of Lightsaber Combat on StarWars.com (content now obsolete; backup link on Archive.org)


Lightsabers
Combat:
Duel · Dun Möch · Fast style · Jar'Kai · Medium style · Strong style · Form "Zero" · Lus-ma · Mounted · Sokan · Three rings of defense · Trispzest · Tràkata
Forms:
I: Shii-Cho · II: Makashi · III: Soresu · IV: Ataru · V: Shien / Djem So · VI: Niman · VII: Juyo / Vaapad
Techniques:
Center of Being · Cho mai · Cho mok · Cho sun · Dulon · Faalo's cadences · Faalo's Will · Falling Leaf · Flowing Water · Jedi ready · Jung · Jung ma · Kai-kan · Mou kei · Mountain Storm · Praetoria Ishu · Praetoria Vonil · Sai · Sai cha · Sai tok · Sequence · Shiak · Shiim · Shun · Snake Ascending a Waterfall‎ · Su · Sun djem · Twin Suns · Velocities
Variations:
Crossguard lightsaber · Curved-hilt lightsaber · Darksaber · Dual-phase lightsaber · Double-bladed lightsaber · Forcesaber · Imperial Knight lightsaber · Interlocking hilt · Lightclub · Lightfoil · Lightwhip · Long-handle lightsaber · Lightsaber pike · Protosaber · Sabercane · Shoto / Guard shoto · Sith lightsaber · Training lightsaber / Sith training saber
Lightsaber-resistant materials:
Amphistaff · Armorweave · Cortosis · Force weapon · Mandalorian iron · Neuranium · Orbalisks · Phrik · Sith alchemy · Songsteel · Ultrachrome · Vonduun crab
Technology:
Activation stud · Bifurcating cyclical-ignition pulse · Blade power adjustment knob · Blade emitter · Crystal · Diatium power cell · Discharge energy cell · Emitter matrix · Enhancement jewel · Fibercord · Field energizer · Flux aperture · Focusing lens · Force-activated · Hilt · Inert power insulator · Ion energy cell · Locking activator · Pommel cap · Power pack · Pressure grip · Stabilizing ring · Trapped grip
[edit]

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