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Form III: Soresu

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"That is so like you, Master Kenobi. I am called a great swordsman because I invented a lethal style; but who is greater, the creator of a killing form—or the master of the classic form?"
―Mace Windu to Obi-Wan Kenobi[src]

Form III: Soresu, also known as the Way of the Mynock, or The Resilience Form, was the third of the seven classic forms of lightsaber combat that was recognized by the Jedi Council prior to and during the Clone Wars. Soresu was developed during the widespread emergence of blasters as an offensive weapon. Essentially a development on Form I blast-deflect training, Soresu relied on tight bladework and subtle dodges to provide maximum defensive coverage, minimizing exposure to ranged weaponry. Over time, Soresu transcended this basic origin, and came to be considered the ultimate expression of non-aggressive Jedi philosophy.

Like Makashi, Soresu relied on economy of motion and energy efficiency, keeping up constant blade-movement to build up momentum and minimize energy-expenditure. Form III focused on strong defensive technique to essentially outlast an opponent, waiting until he began making mistakes due to frustration or fatigue, before taking advantage of these lapses and countering. A master of Soresu was considered invincible, and the focus on long-term survival allowed such duelists to take stock of and control of their situation, choosing to kill, disarm, or even reason with enemies. However, despite its effectiveness, Soresu would receive heavy criticism due to its lack of offensive capabilities, as it merely facilitated survival rather than victory. As an answer to these weaknesses, the highly aggressive Ataru and Shien forms would be developed side-by-side.

DescriptionEdit

"A… defensive technique. But effective. Use it if you do not wish to be hit, or if you are facing many opponents with blasters. With a lightsaber blade and enough skill in deflection, it is an excellent offense against blasters, but in other situations, it merely delays the inevitable."
―Kreia[src]
TCG Luke

Luke Skywalker utilizing Form III.

The Soresu form was devised to counter the wide-spread emergence of blasters, a weapon that the previous Makashi form wasn't equipped to combat. The pragmatic Form III became the most defensive of the seven forms, and utilized tight moves, consisting of subtle dodges and efficient parries, intended to provide maximum defensive coverage, and minimize exposure to ranged fire. Over time, Form III came to transcend this basic and pragmatic origin, and became an expression of non-aggressive Jedi philosophy.[5][10]

Soresu utilized tight motions, lightsaber moving every second in an attempt to achieve near-total protection, and expend as little energy in the process as possible. Form III stressed quick reflexes and fast positional transition, in order to overcome the rapidity with which a blaster could be fired.[10] This technique minimized the body's exposure, making a well-trained practitioner practically invincible, which allowed Soresu to be effective against both single enemies and multiple opponents, as well as blasters and lightsabers. Form III involved preparation for prolonged battles where the user observed and learned as much as possible about their adversary's technique while engaged in combat. Also, being more optimized for lengthy battles, a Soresu user had the ability to gain control of a combat situation, creating multiple options for the Jedi employing the form.[5] A Form III user could choose to kill, disarm, or even reason with their opponent.[4]

Soresu TCG by Foti

Obi-Wan Kenobi using Soresu to deflect blaster fire.

The core tenets of Soresu encouraged duelists to place themselves "within the eye of the storm:" to maintain a calm center, undistracted and undisturbed by the conflict around them.[14] In keeping with this idea, Soresu commanded powerful defensive techniques that was flexible enough to adapt to almost any circumstances, at the cost of never reaching past the figurative "eye of the storm." In other words, Soresu focused almost entirely on self-defense, often at the expense of offensive capabilities. The tactics encouraged by the style involved the reliance on pure defense while essentially waiting out the opponent, holding back until his frustration or fatigue inevitably caused his defense to lapse, then employing an alternate, more aggressive attack to take advantage of this. Overall, the whole point of Soresu was to deflect blaster fire out of harm's way and safely prolong a lightsaber fight in hopes to wear an opponent down.[5]

Truly focused masters of Soresu were extremely formidable due to their strong defensive technique, as well as the well-rounded nature of the form itself, effective against both blasters and lightsabers. However, it should be noted that Form III merely facilitated survival, rather than victory. Form III initiates were more than capable of defending themselves from attack, but they needed a large amount of experience to learn how to effectively counter-attack and entrap opponents. Masters had to maintain an incredibly strong focus on the center of the combat circle, since the defensive tactics of the form included guards and parries engaged very close to the body. Jedi with small lapses in their otherwise strong defense left little room to avoid injury.[1]

Also, the goal of many Soresu practitioners was to prolong the fight, the idea being to cause the enemy to become fatigued or frustrated as they attempted to keep up their offense.[4] However, this tactic could easily backfire upon the user, as he himself becomes fatigued trying to keep up a defense against an aggressive, though cautious, adversary.[15]

Known Moves and ManeuversEdit

"This Form (Soresu) maximizes defensive protection in a style characterized by tight, efficient movements that expose minimal target areas when compared with the relatively open styles of some other forms."
―Cin Drallig[src]
Luminara TCW

Luminara Unduli in the Soresu opening stance.

For the Soresu opening stance, the duelist held the blade back in a one-handed grip, angled forwards with the left arm held parallel, the off-hand held up in a challenge. The dominant foot was positioned back.[9] The brace-ready stance had much in common with the "Ataru guard," with the hilt held at waist height on the dominant side in a two-handed grip for greater control, extended vertically upwards. The dominant foot was placed back while the other was extended forwards and to the side in a brace-position.[16] A variation on this stance featured the blade held high in a drop-parry position, though the foot positions were the same.[17]

Against individual shooters, Form III duelists were encouraged to apply the "deflecting slash". This move served the dual purposes of allowing a Jedi to redirect the momentum generated by deflecting an enemy projectile into a slashing attack at an adjacent target, and allowing the Jedi to advance and close the distance before the attacker could fire off another shot.[18] A careful application can allow a Jedi to redirect the shot back at the attacker, though this skill is more commonly applied by Shien practitioners. Against multiple blaster-wielding attackers, the "circle of shelter" was advised. This technique could allow a Soresu practitioner to hold off as many as twenty shooters by dropping into a moving meditation, relying on the Force to perceive the various positions of the attackers and the necessary movements to evade or deflect their shots. As this maneuver was executed while in a meditative state, prolonged use may open a Force-adepts mind to visions of the future.[11]

ApplicationsEdit

"Defense will not slay my enemy."
"You lack the physical strength required for the powerful attacking strikes of Djem So or the other aggressive forms. You must rely on quickness, cunning and, most of all, patience to best your enemies."
―Darth Zannah learns from Darth Bane the effectiveness of Soresu[src]
ZannahRuleOfTwo

Darth Bane and Darth Zannah, both practitioners of Soresu.

When Darth Bane first began training Zannah as his apprentice, he pragmatically judged that her small size and light build removed the more aggressive lightsaber forms from her potential repertoire. Teaching her to wield a saberstaff, he trained her to redirect an opponent's attacks rather than directly blocking in order to maintain her own energy. She took to twirling her weapon in order to maintain momentum and to set up a defensive shield against enemy attacks.[4]

In combat, Zannah also relied just as much on tactical know-how as lightsaber skills. As evidenced during the Duel on Tython, Zannah sought out strategically advantageous positions on the field, able to make do with a simple room corner, using the two walls to cover her flanks. Also, she was skilled at playing her opponents against one another, allowing lesser combatants to continue fighting in order to inadvertently hinder their fighting partners, as when she played Johun Othone against Sarro Xaj. However, Zannah was not without her weaknesses; her defense was designed to counter against all-out assaults, a method devised from her experience sparring with Darth Bane. Sarro Xaj's powerful attacks were tempered by caution, and Zannah was forced to expend huge amounts of energy to fend him off without finding any openings for her to exploit. She only succeeded in killing her opponent because he was momentarily distracted.[4]

Obi-Wan Kenobi originally specialized in Ataru, trained in the form by Qui-Gon Jinn. However, upon witnessing his master's death due to Ataru's lack of defensive capabilities, Kenobi took up dedication to Soresu as a defense against the Sith techniques that brought down Jinn.[10] Kenobi's resulting skill in Form III stood him in good stead against masterful gunslingers such as Jango Fett, or during the chaotic firefight on Geonosis. His tight defense and energy-efficient moves enabled him to pull through and survive.[19] However, when confronting Dooku, Kenobi's skill in Soresu was insufficient to effectively counter Dooku's mastery of Form II lightsaber combat. Dooku's elegant style worked away at Kenobi's defense; many of Kenobi's cutting parries missing Dooku's attacks entirely, while the Sith Lord's feints confused and forced him to retreat. Kenobi was ultimately brought down by light, though damaging cuts across his left arm and leg.[20]

Obi-Wan vs Ventress Teth

Obi-Wan Kenobi applying Form III against Asajj Ventress.

Over the course of the Clone Wars, Kenobi continued to develop his skills. His blast-deflection technique advanced to the point where Kenobi could walk unscathed through hornet-swarms of blasterfire. Kenobi's skill as a lightsaber duelist also improved considerably, developed by thousands of hours in lightsaber sparring with Anakin Skywalker and others,[5] and hardened by numerous engagements with enemy duelists, such as General Grievous or Asajj Ventress.[21] Even unarmed, Kenobi was a formidable opponent, evading enemy attacks and working his way inside an opponent's defense to physically assault them, demonstrating this tactic against the likes of Ventress and Pre Vizsla.[22][23]

By the end of the war, Kenobi's mastery of Soresu had developed to the point where he could compete with Dooku. In the ensuing duel, Kenobi and Skywalker both relied on basic lightsaber techniques and strategies, aiming to lull Dooku into a false sense of confidence.[14] When they suddenly shifted to the advanced fighting methods they had practiced and developed during the interim, Kenobi displayed his full mastery of Soresu. Dooku was astounded by the simplicity and efficiency of his bladework, but also his bewildering speed and precision. Caught off-guard and forced to retreat in confusion, Dooku only succeeded in defeating Kenobi thanks to his superior mastery of the Force. In his final duel with Grievous, Kenobi provided one of the most pure demonstrations of Soresu. His blade's intricate pattern of blocks and parries moved just fast enough to subtly interfere with Grievous' multiple strikes, while his slight dodges and shifts of stance facilitated his simple evasion of the rest. As a frustrated Grievous ramped up the intensity of his assault, Kenobi countered by merely altering the angle of his parries, clipping off two of Grievous' mechanical wrists.[5] However, Grievous' inability to defeat Kenobi may have been due to the injuries recently dealt to him by Mace Windu during the Battle of Coruscant.[24] Kenobi proved to be one of the only Jedi able to engage Darth Vader and emerge victorious, as his Soresu mastery perfectly countered Vader's angry Form V. Kenobi simply deflected and blocked Darth Vader's relentless rain of blows, returning counter-blows himself to disrupt Vader's onslaught, all the while guiding the battle to a location of his choice, before finally dismembering the hapless and enraged Sith Lord when his defense lapsed.[5]

Double Strike TCG Core set

Obi-Wan Kenobi utilizing Soresu against Darth Vader.

However, due to his long isolation on Tatooine, Kenobi's skills as a swordsman atrophied, as he went for years while only engaging in one duel. Despite this, he remained a formidable Form III practitioner, able to hold off Vader during their rematch. However, Kenobi's skill at this point was only sufficient to facilitate survival; despite his best efforts, he was unable to find an opening in Vader's cautious assault. Kenobi ultimately tired, and rather than continue the fight, opted to sacrifice his physical self and become one with the Force.[10]

The key to truly mastering Soresu seems to come from grasping the concepts and philosophy of the form rather than adhering to its tactics and maneuvers. While Kenobi displayed a strong preference for Soresu, he continued to apply elements of the relentlessly dogged Shii-Cho as well as the erratic strokes and acrobatics of Ataru. Mace Windu acknowledged Obi-Wan Kenobi as "the master of Soresu."[5]

PractitionersEdit

"The road is long, but it is worth the journey, for a true master of Form Three is invincible."
Luminara Unduli on Form Three[src]
Unduli Offee

Luminara Unduli and Barriss Offee, both Soresu practitioners.

Developed to combat blasters, Form III was in existence for thousands of years. One of the older practitioners of the form was Meetra Surik. Her tutor during her rehabilitation, Kreia, also possessed knowledge of Soresu.[2]

By the time of the New Sith Wars, the Sith Blademaster Kas'im had mastered Form III as well as the six other forms. Kas'im trained several apprentices in the style, including Fohargh, who used it against Bane's Form V.[13] Bane himself possessed considerable skill in the Form, training his apprentice, Darth Zannah, in it.[4]

Almost a millennia later, Soresu was mastered by the Jedi battlemaster Cin Drallig, who in turn trained many in its use. In fact, by the time of the Clone Wars, Soresu was the most common lightsaber form in the Jedi Order, with notables such as Luminara Unduli and Barriss Offee studying it.[6] Jedi Master Kit Fisto, despite his usual preference for Shii-Cho, was also proficient in Soresu.[5] Dooku maintained a working knowledge of Soresu, sufficient to train Grievous and his IG-100 MagnaGuards in it.[7] During this period, one of the highest masters of Soresu was Obi-Wan Kenobi.[5]

After his defeat and mutilation, Darth Vader included Form III elements in his personal variant of Form V.[8] Vader's apprentice, Galen Marek, was also familiar with Soresu and used it on numerous occasions. Marek's lightsaber-training holodroid, PROXY, replicated Soresu with his Obi-Wan Kenobi combat module, doing so with such accuracy that Marek used it as reference when he studied the form.[9] Luke Skywalker was known to possess some skill in Form III, using it to deflect blaster bolts.[1]

Behind the scenesEdit

Deflecting Slash JATM

A Gran Jedi utilizing "Deflecting Slash."

Sora Bulq is theorized to have practiced Soresu, based on statements in the official Databank.

Soresu has also been included in several Star Wars games of various types. Examples include Star Wars Galaxies; as part of moves and techniques employable by Jedi characters, though this has not definitively been clarified to be canonical;[25][26][27] or the Star Wars Miniature game; where a player with a Soresu Style Mastery can roll to block all attacks that hit the character, though a character with the Makashi Style Mastery can avoid having their attacks blocked by this ability.

AppearancesEdit

SourcesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 SWicon Fightsaber: Mastering the Art of Lightsaber Combat on StarWars.com (content now obsolete; backup link on Archive.org)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
  3. Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Darth Bane: Rule of Two
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith novelization
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 MedStar II: Jedi Healer
  7. 7.0 7.1 Labyrinth of Evil
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 The Force Unleashed novelization
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 Fightsaber: Jedi Lightsaber Combat
  11. 11.0 11.1 The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force
  12. 12.0 12.1 Legacy of the Force: Fury
  13. 13.0 13.1 Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
  14. 14.0 14.1 Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith: The Visual Dictionary
  15. Death Star
  16. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones: The Visual Dictionary
  17. Star Wars: Mysteries of the Jedi
  18. Jedi Academy Training Manual
  19. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  20. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones novelization
  21. Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series
  22. Star Wars: The Clone Wars film
  23. TCW mini logo Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Mandalore Plot"
  24. CloneWarsLogoMini Star Wars: Clone Wars – "Chapter 25"
  25. Gal-icon Chapter Archive 2006 on the official Star Wars Galaxies website (content now obsolete; backup links 1 2)
  26. Gal-icon Jedi Abilities: Learning the Way on the official Star Wars Galaxies website (content now obsolete; backup links 1 2)
  27. Gal-icon Jedi Profession Guide on the official Star Wars Galaxies website (content now obsolete; backup links 1 2)


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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