Form V – Shien/Djem So
-by DB Barrett
‘I prefer more straightforward tactics.’
‘Master of understatement’
–Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi
Form V, also called Shien and Djem So, the ‘Way of the Krayt Dragon’ or the Perseverance Form was an aggressive extrapolation of Form III, whose practitioners felt that Soresu’s defensive and observational style would unnecessarily extend the time spent in combat by forcing a wielder to wait for an opportunity instead of creating their own openings.
Form V was typified by power attacks and defense immediately followed by a counter strike.
“One must question any discipline that has lethal potential. However, if it serves to suppress violent opposition and preserve peace, I believe it is a discipline worth knowing.”
The earlier variant, known as Shien, was created to combat blaster fire, and unlike Soresu, was geared towards deflecting lightsaber blasts directly back at the opponent. With its focus on repelling blaster fire, Shien kept in mind that Jedi were often outnumbered by their opponents and needed to defend themselves while retaining offensive capability.
Djem So was the later variant and was created specifically for lightsaber combat, and was notable for flowing directly from defence to counter-attacks, and for its heavy power attacks. Because of its ability to generate forceful kinetic energy, Djem So is considered the perfect counter to the duel-centric Form II, as Makashi, more focused on precise strikes, is quickly overwhelmed by Djem So’s superior strength and ‘defend and counter’ tactics. (However, it is noted that it requires a master of Djem So to completely overwhelm a Makashi wielder).
Unlike Soresu or Ataru, Djem So required the user not only to counter, but to press the attack, hoping to dominate.
- Reverse Grip
- Some users used the reverse Shien grip, an unorthodox variation of Shien where the wielder would hold the hilt in a backward position, exposing the front. This grip allowed the user to perform long, sweeping strikes to take down several enemies at a time, whipping the blade forward with the movement of throwing a punch. This variation was rarely seen and, indeed, was almost a matter of controversy among lightsaber masters.
Both variants of the Form involved using the opponents’ attacks against them. Form V developed by combining the defensive tactics of Form III with the more offensively oriented philosophy espoused by Form II. However, Form V required more physical strength than the other lightsaber forms, due to its focus on complete domination of its practitioners’ opponents.
This Form was developed alongside Ataru (Form IV) when the Jedi were actively called upon to keep the peace. Some Jedi, noting its dedication to strength and domination, felt that Shien/Djem So encouraged an unbefitting focus on controlling one’s opponents.
With its balance between attack and defense, Shien is arguably the most useful lightsaber Form, notable for its effectiveness against both blasters and other lightsaber wielders, and is considered the most versatile as it can be used in both one-on-one situations and against multiple opponents. Its weaknesses, therefore, are considered more metaphysical than practical.
- Jedi are cautioned in its use, as its focus on strength – and more importantly, on domination, leads perilously close to the Dark Side.
- A clear mind is needed to use this form. Those clouded by rage often take unnecessary risks with the domination inherent in this form – a state that is easily reached in the heat of battle.
Anakin Skywalker: Considered a Djem So master after his defeat of the Makashi master Count Dooku. Anakin Skywalker was swiftly rising to prominence as the finest duellist in the Order before his fall. As Darth Vader, however, his form loses its defensive focus and he focuses on aggression, becoming reckless in his attacks – and it is this recklessness that costs him his limbs in his duel against Obi Wan Kenobi, whom he was considered superior to, in terms of duelling. After being placed in his cybernetic suit, Vader used a more cautious variation of Djem So, utilizing it in conjunction with other styles, focusing more on physical strength to make up for his lost agility.
Ahsoka Tano: former padawan of Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka was noted for using the unconventional Shien reverse grip.