The deadliest force in the entire galaxy during the reign of the Empire was Darth Vader, who everyone feared due to his incredible strength and ruthlessness as Emperor Palpatine’s right-hand man and enforcer. He was a stronger user of the Force but was as deadly as they come when he had a lightsaber in his hands. As such, he was an incredibly strong lightsaber combatant that no one dared to cross during the Imperial era. So, what lightsaber combat form did Darth Vader use?
Darth Vader specialized in Form V: Djem So, which was the same lightsaber combat form he used when he was still known as Anakin Skywalker. Djem So employed parries and blocks that allowed the duelist to quickly transition to counterattacks and flurries.
It goes without saying that Anakin Skywalker never changed so much, even though he had fallen to the dark side and was now sporting an entirely different look. He still favored the same lightsaber combat form that made Anakin one of the most promising combatants of his era. So, with that said, let’s take a look at the lightsaber combat form that Darth Vader used.
Darth Vader always favored Form V: Djem So
One of the things that we always knew about Darth Vader was that he was the most feared entity throughout the reign of Emperor Palpatine. While Palpatine was stronger and more powerful, Vader was the image of the Empire because he was the being that struck fear into the hearts of those who dared to defy the Empire. In fact, even the Imperial officers themselves were afraid of Darth Vader.
Of course, Vader was feared because he used the power of the Force ruthlessly. But those who trained in the ways of the lightsaber were afraid of him because he could overpower anyone in a lightsaber duel.
He was just as ruthless in the use of a lightsaber as he was in the use of the Force. As such, no one dared to cross lightsabers with him.
But while that may be true, Darth Vader didn’t change a lot as a combatant even though he tried to shed away his identity as Anakin Skywalker. And that’s because he always favored the use of Form V: Djem So as his lightsaber combat form ever since he was still a Jedi Knight.
Anakin was always known as a master of Form V, and he carried that with him when he fell to the dark side and became Darth Vader. And Djem So became his signature lightsaber combat form throughout his reign as the feared Imperial enforcer.
Form V isn’t a complicated lightsaber combat form because it uses the fundamental basics of offense and defense. The form was first developed to block and deflect blaster bolts before going on the counter-offensive.
This form was called Shien, the Form V variant that focuses on blaster deflection. Djem So was eventually developed to use the tenets of Form V against melee weapons and lightsabers.
The basics of Djem So require the user to be in a nonstop state of blocking and parrying before going on a flurry of counters. It is a lightsaber form derived from Form III, the most defensive style of lightsaber combat.
But because Form III tended to drag fights because it required the user to stay on the defensive before finding an opening to attack, Form V was developed to combine some of the basics of Form III’s defense with the fundamentals of offensive lightsaber combat.
While Form III: Soresu users were quite passive and would only attack once an opening presented itself, Form V: Djem So wasn’t so passive because the user would have to go on the counter-offensive immediately after a successful defensive stand. So, whenever the user could successfully block or parry an attack, they would have to go on a flurry of attacks meant to dominate and break the opponent’s defense. After that, the user would return to a defensive stance once more.
Djem So required the user to have the stamina and physical fitness that allowed them to consistently defend and attack endlessly. This is why this is the most demanding out of the seven forms of lightsaber combat.
In Darth Vader’s case, he mastered this form so that he often stayed on the defensive for a while before going on the offensive. We saw this in his duel with the rogue Inquisitor Reva, who betrayed the Empire when she immediately attacked Vader using a flurry of moves.
However, Vader blocked and defended all of those moves before overwhelming Reva with his own attacks.
Vader used Djem So differently
As mentioned, Djem So was already the preferred lightsaber combat style that Anakin Skywalker mastered while still with the Jedi Order. Darth Vader still used the same style even though he was no longer willing to associate himself with Anakin’s name. But while that may be true, Vader used Djem So differently than when he was still Anakin.
Due to his youth, speed, and nimbleness, Anakin was a very mobile lightsaber combatant that incorporated a lot of different flashy moves and footwork together with his lightsaber strikes. He was quite acrobatic in his own right and was known as a ruthless combatant that never gave his opponents time to recover after a counterattack.
But because Darth Vader had lost most of his mobility due to his cybernetic body, he became more calculating and economical in his approach when using Djem So. Instead of the flashy movers that Anakin was known to use, Vader used basic strikes that he could unleash with more power compared to when he was still known as Anakin.
As such, while there was nothing flashy about how Darth Vader fought, he still used the basics and fundamentals of Djem So masterfully while incorporating them with simpler yet more effective moves.
Form V became synonymous with the Skywalker family
Ever since Anakin Skywalker started using Djem So, this lightsaber combat form became synonymous with the Skywalker family and those who were associated with the members of this family. The first person to adopt the same combat style was Anakin’s Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, who favored Form V: Shien with her Jar’Kai style but was also an effective user of Djem So.
After that, Luke Skywalker, despite learning under Obi-Wan Kenobi (a master of Form III) and Yoda (a master of Form IV), also favored using Form V: Djem So. In fact, he used the same form that his father used to defeat him in a lightsaber duel. Luke’s mastery over Form V was passed on to Leia, who also used the same form despite her relatively short-lived career as a Jedi.
Leia’s son and Luke’s apprentice, Ben Solo, also used Form V while incorporating it with other lightsaber forms when he fell to the dark side and became Kylo Ren. And Rey, who called herself a Skywalker, also favored Form V and often used Shien by incorporating an unorthodox reverse grip.
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