Want to frustrate, outmatch and finesse your opponents when you cross duelling sabers with them? Why not learn from a style created to do just that: Makashi, also called the Contention Form.
In Star Wars' rich lore, lightsaber forms were originally created as a reactionary measure. Where Form I was the first style designed to give lightsaber users an edge over conventional weaponry, the rise of lightsaber dominance meant a form that helped saber wielders overcome rival Jedi and Sith. And thus, Form II was born.
This lore is based in real-world truth. Throughout history, warfare and fighting styles have been created to address key weaknesses/technologies. Consider things like the English Longbow, which enabled lesser-armed forces to punch through plate armour, which had previously enabled knights to crush unarmoured infantry easily. Just as the longbow was an answer to plate armour, warfare methods changed again to react to the longbow's widespread use.
Like in that real world example, Makashi was created as a reaction to having to battle other saber wielders rather than the original multi-attacker/blaster fire threat which dictated Form I's purpose. In the Star Wars universe, Form II is not practiced by many Jedi - as they rarely encountered other saber wielders in battle. The Sith, who expected to fight Jedi, were far more supportive of Form II.
But wait! What if we told that you while there is a lore reason for Form II, its actual depiction, techniques and style are all based on a real-world technique that will help you win real LudoSport style duels?
Makashi, Count Dooku and Sir Christopher Lee
When Sir Christopher Lee was chosen to portray Count Dooku in Episode II: Attack of the Clones, few fans could have expected the impact his experience would have on the role and on the Star Wars timeline.
Dooku's fighting style, which we now know as Form II, was influenced by Lee's experience as a stage fencer and swordsman. (While the author can't find any stats to back it up, rumour suggests Lee participated in more on-screen sword fights than any other actor.)
While a stunt double was used for the majority of the scenes in Episode II, Lee's influence and suggestions meant that the style he portrayed was one similar to real-world fencing. With a focus on footwork, tight movements, parries, thrusts and jabs, the physical 'shape' of Makashi began to take form.
While the late actor's reputation as a 'champion fencer' is disputed online and hard to source, it seems certain that his screen experience led to the stylistic movements of Makashi.
The style's impact became cemented in the lore by Lee's character, Count Dooku. The Sith also known as Darth Tyranus was one of the most effective one on one duellists of the entire Star Wars franchise - only being defeated when the odds were stacked against him.
Dooku's saber hilt was also influenced by Makashi, with its curved grip permitting more control in the hand.
Makashi and real life fencing
Makashi uses a central concept that is shared by real world fencing: that of action economy. By reserving movements and conserving energy, Makashi was designed to take the least amount of energy yet produce devastating results.
It was also distinctive in its use of the tip of a saber. In the Star Wars universe, the lightsaber is better used with its edge since it is made from pure energy and can burn through virtually anything. By using the point, the Makashi fighter is essentially making things harder for themselves but showing their control and precision.
This calls to mind real-world fencing. Sport fencing blades, despite being famous for the 'tip' style fighting called to mind when you hear 'fencing', actually have slashing components. They are based on duelling sabers of the 19th century, which had slashing edges. But like a Makashi user, fencers tend to favour the tip of the blade for stabbing actions.
Both real-world fencing and Makashi use stabbing thrusts because they deliver good return for minimal energy expenditure. Compared to a slashing movement, jabs and thrusts take less energy and movement. Real-world fencing is a sport grown from classic tournaments which were almost never 'no holds barred', meaning the combatants usually had to score points or draw blood - not to actually end their opponent's lives. It seems natural then that Makashi was designed with some empathy for opponents in mind - which makes sense when you remember that it was developed for force-user vs force-user combat.
Makashi in saber duels
While it might not be designed to savage opponents, Makashi is one of the most effective forms in real-world saber duelling. Thanks to its similarity to fencing, much of what works in that sport can be applied to your duelling saber. Here are a few ideas for making Makashi work in your next bout...
Saber thrusts and jabs
Much of the contention form is about poise, balance and precision. By utilising lots of jabs and thrusts, a Makashi user can slip through the wider swings of another form to land accurate blows.
Jabs and thrusts also require less energy than slashes, supporting Makashi's energy conservation ideals.
Parries and deflection
When Dooku battles Obi-Wan Kenobi, we see lots of parries and deflections - with Dooku actively forcing Kenobi's blade to the side. A Makashi duellist is capable of catching strikes with their duelling saber and then offering their own riposte.
A final tip for potential duellists is to utilise lots of feints. Make shallow jabs and thrusts that would never land, forcing your opponent to react. Then dart in and land a blow to maximise your opponent's weakness.
If you want to implement Makashi in your own saber duels, make sure you have a refined saber that can complement the highly technical style. Efficiency, gracefulness and ruthless action economy will see you overwhelming your opponents.