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Form II – Makashi

Alternative Names: The Way of the Ysalamari, The Contention Form

Makashi is the pinnacle of the sword arts, developed over millenia of combat between lightsaber users. Though generally considered by many modern lightsaber users to be archaic, Makashi has nonetheless become a more prominent form of lightsaber combat among Jedi, since it is often considered likely that two opposed saber-wielders will eventually meet in combat. It is a form designed primarily for those that find lightsaber-to-lightsaber combat to be more involved than simple blaster deflection, which is learned with Shii-Cho and advanced later with Soresu and Djem-So. For the user of Makashi, the ability to defeat another saber-wielding adversary stands precedent to the ability to deflect ranged attacks.

As a result of this, Makashi is a form based upon the classic sword forms – it uses advanced parries with all blade movements generated solely from the wrist. As a result, most Makashi users adapt their lightsabers to be used solely in one hand, rather than using the traditional two-handed stances of the other forms. The main mark of contact for Makashi is the Shiak, which is, for practitioners of this form, both an elegant method of defeating an opponent and also far more respectful to the adversary in question – besides the fact that the difficulty involved in performing Cho-Mai or Sun-Djem accurately makes it difficult for all but Makashi practitioners to be able to do it flawlessly.

The abilities of the Makashi practitioner are a true refinement between the combination of blade manipulation and footwork. Those using the form generally tend to focus mainly on back-and-forward movements, carefully shifting the weight of their bodies over the ankles in order to allow the duellist to maintain their balance, regardless of the tactics of their opponent. As a result, it enables the swordsman to focus on their defense and attack without having to worry about keeping their balance as they duel with an opponent. Above all, it also makes Makashi practitioners experts at counter-offensive movements, since they can stay on the defensive in perfect balance, using the adversary’s own movements against them, to the point wherein on is overbalanced and the swordsman is perfectly able to launch their counterstrike while yet remaining balanced all the time. However, at the same time this is also a defensive flaw, in that while a Makashi user maintains an almost flawless forward defense, they tend to leave their flanks unguarded, which can be exploited easily by users of Ataru, Juyo, Vaapad and Sokan.

In the same instance, their deflection abilities are normally less than that of a practitioner of any form other than the Shii-Cho form, and as a result they are also weaker against the use of blaster and projectile fire. However, in a lightsaber duel, their defensive ability is paralleled only by a master of the Soresu form, since they are trained in all the advanced forms of parrying and deflection. Evasive techniques are almost completely unemphasised, however, since such techniques would require more room than Makashi practitioners allow themselves, since moving around more than is used in Makashi would decrease the precision of their strikes, and also compromise their balance.

With regards to strengths and weaknesses, Makashi users tend to emphasise finesse with a blade over pure physical strength, so tend to be disadvantaged against the strong kinetic attacks of a Djem-So practitioner, simply unable to effectively meet them blade-to-blade, since very few blocks are used with Makashi, instead tending more towards parries that take a weapon out of line, rather than stopping them entirely. However, the kinetic energies that drive a Djem-So user to attack in a relentless, brutal manner are also a boon to the Makashi practitioner, who can use their balance to perform a steady retreat against such a barrage and then quickly reverse it with a sudden thrust that pushes past the guard of their opponent. Makashi does not emphasise defense of the flanks or rear, instead concentrating all their defensive energies forward, so a fast, kinetic form like Ataru or Djem-So can quickly overwhelm a Makashi practitioner, who will likely only be able to compensate by retreat. Furthermore, a Makashi practitioner will aim to keep his opponent at maximum distance, using lunges or precision cuts rather than closer strikes, so anyone capable of pushing within the Jedi’s comfort zone will place them at a disadvantage.

Students intending to study Makashi need to be very much focused on the duel between two swordsman, and generally must allow themselves to see the form as more of an art than as a means to an end – the majority of those that practice Makashi generally remain true to the form, studying no other form than the Shii-Cho. In a physical sense, Makashi is also one of the least demanding of the forms, with the focus on stability and counter-attack rather than kinetic energies or strength.

The mindset of a Makashi practitioner is more akin to the mindset of a good Dejarik player: they are masters of strategy, valuing finesse over brute force, seeking advantage in every move and having three or four countermoves available in their arsenal – a quality also shared by Ataru practitioners. They do not believe in engaging in direct confrontation unless necessary, instead preferring subtle maneuvering and often create complex layered plans with which to deal with problems, creating solutions that will function on multiple levels. They are, put simply, Jedi best suited to diplomacy and the political arena, where their creativity and tendency towards finesse can be best put to use. They tend to abhor direct or brutal methods, and thus will respond to such by use of feints and other means by which to disguise their true response until, as with a lightsaber, they finish off with a simple but efficient thrust to the heart of the matter.