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Form V – Djem-So

Alternative Names: Shien (Antiquated), the Way of the Krayt Dragon, Perseverence Form

Form V, much like Form VII is actually comprised of two different forms that have a very similar focus, but place a slightly different emphasis. The original Form V, Shien, was designed primarily to deal with blaster fire and that of ranged weapons, while Djem-So was later designed to build on the same combat philosophies and techniques, but to play a role in lightsaber-to-lightsaber combat. Modern Form V is referred to as Djem-So and combines the abilities of both variations of Form V, with the term ‘Shien’ now being used to refer to combat using a lightsaber held with a reverse grip (hence, the pommel of the hilt is held upwards while the activated blade faces the opposite direction to a traditional stance, so with a supinated wrist the blade faces upwards, but with a pronated wrist, the blade faces downward, contrary to traditional stances).

The Form itself is among the most aggressive of the traditional seven lightsaber forms, focusing on all-out attack in the same way that Soresu preaches all-out defense. A common notion among Djem-So practitioners is that victory is best achieved with superior firepower and, as such, Djem-So is not designed to be a subtle form, but instead uses primal fears, intimidation and pure aggressive intent and motion to dominate an opponent – it is also for this reason that the Form is so often used among Dark Jedi and Sith, as well as their Jedi counterparts. It arose from the doctrine that while a defensively-sound Jedi might prevent themselves being killed by an attacker (as with Soresu), such an emphasis on defense did not enable the Jedi to deal with their opponent effectively, simple drawing out a battle rather than neutralising the threat. ‘The best defense is a good offense’ is a term that best suits Djem-So technique and philosophy.

Among the Sith, Djem-So is the logical extension of the Dun Moch doctrine – the desire to completely dominate your opponent by whatever means necessary. For the Jedi, the methodology is similar but lacking the lethal intent – the Jedi seeks to overwhelm their opponent and force them into submission so as to prevent them causing further harm, and this is thus entirely different to the darker approach which seeks pleasure in dominance. This does however allow for a considerable variation in mindset: some Djem-So practitioners feel as aggressive as their motions, and thus can almost be characterised as belligerent, while others prefer a cold precision that takes into stock of an opponent’s weaknesses and will play on them at every opportunity to overwhelm and defeat an adversary. However, since this can often lead to anger or even rage becoming a weapon in combat, Djem-So must only be practiced under controlled conditions, so Jedi will often seek to develop powerful emotional shields before developing this form, to prevent themselves from being tainted by contact with these emotions – the Dark Side often most easily speaks to those under the influence of a strong emotion, and a Djem-So practitioner must work hard to prevent this, at all costs.

The form is primarily focused on offensive movements, and can be practised in many various ways – some users focus upon simply the attack, cold and precise, while others (especially amongst the Sith) are far more aggressive, both in their psychological approach and physical technique, undermining an opponent in ways that are both obvious and brutal, designed to chip away at their physical defenses while also encouraging them to recognise themselves as weaker or less able, and thus more likely to surrender without prolonging the battle. To that end, many Jedi practising Djem-So will work to develop their emotional projection, using it to convey a sense of fear, intimidation and a subtle play on their opponent’s emotional mindset in order to shake their confidence or batter their mental defenses before weapons are ever drawn.

Because of the major emphasis on attack, many mistake Djem-So for being a defensively-weak form, due to the aggression necessary to overcome an opponent as quickly as Djem So would require. However, a good Djem-So practitioner fights not only based on principles of aggressive offense, but also aggressive defense – hence, following the idea that the best defense is a strong offense. For that reason, Djem-So practitioners are almost equal to a Soresu practitioner against blaster and projectile fire, since they use their aggressive deflection skills not only to prevent being hit by such attacks, but also to destroy the one firing at them by reflecting the shot back to it’s origin. However, while this aggression is maintained, in order to generate the powerful and kinetic saber strikes that are characteristic of Djem-So, the form therefore suffers from the same weakness as Soresu – a particular lack of mobility, since it is the practice of Djem-So users to stand their ground while relentlessly attacking their opponents.

Djem-So is, however, strongest only when it is allowed to flow, with kinetic motions and sheer physical strength being used to overwhelm an opponent: not to allow them a moment’s breathing room, to dominate them physically as well as psychologically, to keep them off-balance and position them for the finishing stroke that will end the fight. As a result, Djem-So is excellent against both Makashi and Soresu users, but vulnerable to Ataru and Juyo/Vaapad since it also opens up points in the defense of both the flanks and rear side. Consequently, Djem-So users are encouraged to end a fight as quickly as they can, using the element of surprise and the suddenness of their outbursts to poke holes in a defense. A collected and tactically-minded opponent will however aim to use this against them, falling back against their attacks while preparing a counter-attack designed to reverse this momentum, something best suited to Makashi and Ataru – thus ensuring that the outcome in such a battle cannot be determined purely by choice of form.

With regards to the other strengths and weaknesses of Djem-So, the kinetic and aggressive nature of the saber attacks are such that only Soresu and Juyo/Vaapad are truly capable of defeating a Djem-So stylist in full swing, since Makashi fails to generate sufficient kinetic energy with attacks to counter those of Djem-So, while the attacks of Ataru are too delocalised to form an effective barrier against Djem-So’s attacking forms.

For users of Djem-So, the priority with regards to the mindset is two-fold: firstly, it is necessary to have the intent to defeat your opponent as quickly as physically possible, so the nature of the strikes and movements made should be directed towards that aim alone, while secondly, it is in some ways necessary to use your own emotional abilities to augment your physical skills, which is why Djem-So is such a popular form amongst the Sith. They tend to appreciate direct action more than subtlety, and in this respect often produce more overtly spectacular solutions to situations, but can also be fairly blunt in their dealings with others, which can lead to the Jedi in question being particularly unsuited for diplomacy. Among their peers, Djem-So practitioners often serve as cause for concern, given their emphasis on all-out attack as a strategy, this encouraging domination of an opponent which many feel (perhaps with good reason) that this is but a short step from thinking of others as lesser beings that need to be controlled. However, some Djem-So practitioners possess some of the greatest presence of mind among the Jedi: they understand aggression exceedingly well, and know how to harness it, and as such perhaps have better self-awareness than many of their less focused brethren, this usually manifesting in supreme outward focus and emotional control.