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JEDI HoloNet » Form IV – Ataru

Form IV – Ataru

Alternative Names: Way of the Hawk-Bat, Aggression Form

Ataru is the fourth form of lightsaber combat, one that focuses primarily on the application of motion and kinetic energies to deal with an opponent, but also places considerable emphasis on the user possessing and using a tactical mind: each move is not random or unco-ordinated, but rather part of a greater sequence designed to open an adversary’s defenses and to find a vulnerable spot or to create an opening through which the Ataru practitioner will then break through to successfully strike. Many Jedi believe that Ataru is purely focused on the employment of acrobatics to achieve dominance over an opponent, but this is only an occasional byproduct of the tactics that are used.

The basis of the Form’s philosophy focuses on the notion that very few lightsaberists are capable of providing themselves with full defensive coverage, and thus will always have a side to them that is vulnerable to attack when pressed – the key is to find and exploit this as quickly and efficiently as possible. A Makashi user will be vulnerable on their flanks, since most of their defensive ability is directed forward, while a Soresu practitioners weakness lies in the lack of mobility that often characterises their form (since a person is considered more vulnerable in motion), and so on – Ataru is designed to exploit these weaknesses. Movement in the form of complex acrobatics, fast co-ordinated movements and a change in orientation are all common tactics with an Ataru user as they seek to find their way through their opponent’s defenses by probing at their responses and constantly forcing them to adapt to new positions and new environment.

In this respect, Ataru is just as aggressive in design and function as Djem-So, but the emphasis is less on domination of an opponent and more on outwitting them through the use of a lightsaber. Ataru focuses on the notion that a Jedi should always remain in motion, controlling the flow of the fight because you’re always on the move and therefore requiring your opponent to adapt to you, rather than waiting for them to make the first move – a highly pro-active approach. The form itself possesses a fairly unusual approach to the perceptual flow of combat: an experienced practitioner will use their sensory skills and precognitive abilities to plan ahead and create an attack strategy to get through their opponent’s defenses based on what they see and sense of that adversary, but conversely, they will also be highly adaptable, and flow with the motions of the battle, adapting their every movement based on the way their attacker responds.

To observe an Ataru practitioner is an interesting experience – they are simultaneously appearing to be chaotic in their motions, which are often sequenced and unpredictable, designed that way in order to confuse an opponent, but at the same time, their attacks are well co-ordinated, fluid and beautiful to the eye. They make considerable use of feints, flurries and other distracting motions to fool an opponent and expose patterns in their technique that can then be used against them, and spend considerable amounts of time testing an adversary to find weaknesses or apparent flaws in their defense. As a result, Ataru is often best suited to those who prefer an offensive form, using it with a tactically-sound mind. However, due to the pure focus used by an Ataru practitioner, they will rely more on evasion and dodging to defend against attacks made against them, using those to create an opening of their own through which to respond with a tailored counter-attack – they will avoid blade work as much as possible, to prevent themselves becoming entangled in a melee that thus limits their options.

Ideally, an Ataru user will have plenty of room with which to bring forth their repetoire of techniques, movements and strategies, but can easily be put at a disadvantage by being duelled in a restricted space. This does not however mean that you should underestimate someone using Ataru: while true that they prefer space and opportunity to use their mobility against their opponent, they are nonetheless master strategists, and will make excellent use of whatever space they are permitted. In terms of their Force abilities, they will mostly focus on abilities that augment their physical strength, speed and mobility, so Jump and Acceleration are popular choices, but some also practice carefully-controlled telekinesis that enables them to force an opening with a gentle push, or to bring their opponents into line with a sturdy telekinetic pull. With a lightsaber, Ataru focuses on controlled and precise footwork, combined with fast, agile strikes of a lightsaber.

However, Ataru is not designed to be a directly confrontational form – it provides cover for the weaknesses of physical ability, increases the range of attack for the practitioner, and also enables the practitioner to exploit the weaknesses of an opponent by attacking from more than one direction – hence, it is primarily strong in this regard against Makashi. That said, though, against Djem-So, and certainly against the forms of Juyo and Vaapad, Ataru is particularly weak since it is not designed to counter head-on attacks of greater intensity, since the skill of the Ataru user lies in using the energy of the opponent against them, or maneuvering around an opponent to breach their defenses. In this, it also possesses a similar weakness to Makashi, since it is not adequate to counter the strong techniques of Djem-So or Juyo/Vaapad.

The mindset of an Ataru user is fairly complex: they are astonishingly competent strategists who place all their energy into generating multi-layered strategies that serve to confuse, mislead and ultimately destroy an opponent, working constantly to outmaneuver an opponent at every turn, and in this respect also playing upon emotional weaknesses, using tactics that will frustrate and irritate an adversary, thus poking holes in their psychological defenses as well as those they possess with a lightsaber. Ataru and Makashi practitioners are fairly similar with respects to their tactical focus, and both believe in the use of subtlety, but Ataru practitioners are quicker to dismiss courses of action and alter their plans, simply because they’re used to dancing on a knife edge, so to speak, and thus often appear impulsive to the point of reckless, despite being both intelligent and methodical. They believe that a Jedi must pay close attention to the flow of the Force as to the flow of the fight, and thus are often practitioners advocating the Living Force over the Unifying Force. They tend to be highly sensitive to their environment and the flow of energy around them, and will often act recklessly if they feel it provides them an advantage or creates a solution that would serve better than a more conservative approach, even if it places them in danger to achieve this.