A lightsaber is a weapon and a symbol of both the Jedi and Sith. It is constructed from a crystal placed in the hilt. Placing the crystal in the hilt requires the Force as someone who isn’t trained in the Force may kill themselves in the process of making one. A lightsaber can also be tweaked to the wielder's liking. This can include the length of the blade and the intensity of the blade. Younglings have the intensity setting on low so as not to pose a threat to others in their training. To use a lightsaber requires great skill, and just like making one, requires the Force.
A Brief History
After 25,000 Before Battle of Yavin (BBY), the lightsaber became apart of the Jedi culture and they came about when the first Jedi Knights had used a Force power called Jedi Forge, and combined that with an alloy hilt. Later, they used off-world technology and that would keep and bring out the laser, and that would the base design of lightsabers from there on. Around 15,000 BBY, more research could allow the laser of the lightsaber to retract and extend, becoming the first portable energy blade.
However, being new technology, it ate up the power supply quickly from a belt the Jedi wore and heated up quite quickly, making it unstable. It had to be used for short periods of time. Because of this, they were used more at ceremonies when granting the Jedi their next level in training.
In 7,000 BBY, lightsabers were more commonly used as they became more stable, but they were still depleting the power supply. Even more so, they still had to wear the belt to supply the power, and the belt restricted movement when they were fighting. Around 5,000 BBY, they placed the power supplies inside the lightsaber and by 4,800 BBY they also put in a superconductor. This superconductor would allow the energy to be re-transferred into the power supply, allowing the lightsaber to be always extended. When the lightsaber made contact with anything, the superconductor would transfer the energy through a negative-charged flux aperture and the energy loop would be broken, allowing the energy to then be used for extra power.
However, the lightsaber with this new technology was then sold on black-markets after 19 BBY (Episode III). It was from there on the lightsaber became quite rare and became collector’s items. It was Luke Skywalker who brought back lightsabers, and the discovery of Jedi holocrons, which were basically small electronic cubes which could hold large amounts of information.
To construct one’s own lightsaber required the Force and was apart of the apprentice’s training. First of all, the apprentice had to go into crystal caves, such as the one near the Jedi Enclave on Dantoonie, where in the cave the apprentice would use the Force to guide him/her to the right crystal for them. First, the lightsaber would take about a month to complete, the apprentice had to gather parts and materials to construct a lightsaber, but during the Clone Wars, it is said that lightsabers can be constructed in two days. Lightsabers must have all these basic components for it to become a “lightsaber”:
- Crystals (up to three)
- Power cell
- Power conduit
- Recharge socket
- Activation switch
- Hilt and a grip
The lightsaber hilt is made out of alloy that’s usually 30 centimeters long, but can vary according to the physical needs of a Jedi – for example, Yoda. He is short in stature so he would need a hilt that would be in proportion with his body. Inside the hilt are a set of lenses and energisers which would work with the crystal to extend the laser of the lightsaber (like light bouncing off mirrors). To place the crystals inside the hilt would require the Force, because it required the binding of the materials at a molecular level which would allow an almost-perfect construction. Of course, people who were not Force sensitive could also construct a lightsaber, but they came along very rarely. One such person is Jaden Korr.
Waterproofing had been considered as apart of the lightsabers feature, because most lightsabers would short out once put underwater but adding such a feature was very difficult. Such Jedis like Kit Fisto came from an aquatic race and went through the trouble of constructing a water proof lightsaber. Another added feature included was the use of a pressure sense so that when the Jedi let go of his/her lightsaber, the laser would retract. It was put in as a security measure.
Because the lightsaber would always represent said Jedi or Sith, variants were discovered to suit one’s own needs, physically and psychologically. With that, variations of crystals, hilts, blades and creations of new weapons using the same technology from lightsabers and weapons such as whips, batons and canes.
The main crystal of the lightsaber is the color of the crystal, which will define what color the blade of the lightsaber will be (more below). Certain crystals can be used to change the characteristics of the lightsaber. For example, Nextor and Damind crystals could be used to shape the crystal. Some crystals could be used to make the laser "sharper" or broader.
The color of the lightsaber could be changed by finding crystals of a certain color and using it as the focus crystal. The Jedi had used natural resources, collecting them from crystal caves where as the Sith had reconstructed natural crystals, which created the red hue. The fact that they could reconstruct also meant that they had a much more powerful lightsaber than the Jedi but that made the lightsabers unstable could easily short out. Even so, a Sith lightsaber could short out a lightsaber with only natural crystals in it, though that has rarely happened. However, it should be also noted that Luke Skywalker had used a synth-crystal as well during Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
At first during 1,000 BBY, crystals of any color was could easily be found, the most common colours being blue, green, violet, yellow, orange, silver and gold. After the Ruusan war, in which the colors mentioned before were quite common, the common colours now were blue and green. Others who wanted a different color had to brave dangerous worlds to get their crystals. Mace Windu is an example.
Colors could also represent a Jedi’s class during the Jedi Civil War, where Darth Malak reigned. A blue lightsaber represented the Jedi Guardian, someone who was forceful and talented in the areas of combat. A green lightsaber represented the Jedi Consular didn’t have great combat skills, but preferred the areas of diplomacy and common sense. A yellow lightsaber represented the Jedi Sentinel who was balanced in the areas of combat and the Force.
There are variety colors, the most common being blue, green and red. Other colors include:
- Silver Blue
With a different combination of crystals, users of lightsabers could tweak the blade to their needs.
- Dual-phase lightsaber - Allowed the user to change the length of the blade, allowing it to extend up to twice its own length.
- Great lightsaber - However, this one which was up to three metres long on its own, without needing to change the length of the blade. This blade was created to suit the larger users such Gorc who was three meters tall himself.
- Short lightsaber - Was smaller than the average blade of the lightsaber and was suitable for such Force users like Yoda.
- Shoto - A knife-like lightsaber, and it was for people who were not attuned to the Force as they could use this without endangering themselves or others around them.
- Training lightsabers - Are used with Jedi younglings who are just starting out. They are no where near as powerful as full-fledged lightsabers, but if made in contact with them, they can bruise or cause some minor burns.
- Saberstaff - These special lightsabers also known as double bladed lightsabers had blades projecting from both ends of a long hilt but required great skill and coordination to wield.
The most basic and earliest of hilts was the lightsaber hilt, ranging from 20 to 35 centimeters long.
This hilt had a royal and finished look forged from gold-electrum and were created specifically for the senior members of the Jedi Council. Known people for using them were Mace Windu and Darth Sidious.
These kind of hilts were created during the time when Form II of lightsaber combat was at its heights. These curved hilts allowed precise movement. Constructing the crystal was more challenging because of its curve. It seems as if this type of hilt is associated with the Sith as Count Dooku, his apprentice and many other Sith Masters use this type of hilt.
New Jedi Order
During the New Jedi Order, new variants of lightsaber hilts were created. Such hilts were.
Force-sensitive users trained with a lightsaber had a very versatile weapon with them. It was powerful but also very light and could be carried anywhere. They trained as if the lightsaber were apart of their own body and learned that the lightsaber was bonded with the user in the Force. With this, Jedi could move gracefully with super-human reflexes, dexterity and agility, almost as if they could predict the moves. The lightsaber could be also used to defend the user against lasers simply by deflecting them back randomly or deflecting it back at a target. Projectiles such as bullets would simply dissolve.
With the Star Wars Universe having a various selection of human and alien races, different combat forms were invented to suit the user’s own needs. There were seven different forms:
- Form I: Shii-Cho: The most simplistic form. Most Jedi think of Shii-Cho as a good form to fall back on when all other forms fail. Great practitioners include Kit Fisto.
- Form II: Makashi: The form most adept for lightsaber to lightsaber combat. It is very elegant and precise; much like fencing and requires a fair amount of detailed footwork. Great practitioners include Shaak Ti and Count Dooku.
- Form III: Soresu: The most defensive form. Soresu users will not attack until they are given a clear opening. Great practitioners include Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luminara Unduli.
- Form IV: Ataru: A very offensive form. Ataru uses many wide sweeping strokes and force-enhanced acrobatics, making this form difficult to use in enclosed areas. Great practitioners include Qui-Gon Jinn and Master Yoda.
- Form V: Shien / Djem So: The main philosophy of this form is "peace through superior firepower". It focuses mainly on using an opponents actions against them. Great practitioners include Anakin Skywalker and Plo Koon.
- Form VI: Niman / Jar-Kai: This is the "jack-of-all-trades" of lightsaber forms. It gives the user a moderate degree of skill in all aspects of lightsaber combat. It also allows for dual lightsaber wielding in combat. Great practitioners include Cin Drallig and Asajj Ventress.
- Form VII: Juyo / Vaapad: This is the most aggressive of all lightsaber forms. It requires knowledge of all other lightsaber forms to master. Jedi rarely use this form because it causes them to skirt close to the dark side. Great practitioners include Mace Windu and Darth Maul.
Each form of combat could be used to suit each user’s own needs. For example, the lack of height in Yoda meant that he used Ataru form as it was aggressive and fast-paced combined with acrobatics. A lightsaber is also not needed with these forms of combat, as unarmed combat can be applied with these forms. Different terms and techniques could be applied in lightsaber combat such as Sokan, Tra-Kata and Dun Moch.
Force of the Lightsaber
The way the lightsaber worked was when the lightsaber made contact with anything it would expend its energy and heat. It can cut through anything, though the material of the object depended on how fast it could be sliced through. Simple things like cutting through human flesh were very easy. The person who had been stabbed or cut from the lightsaber didn’t bleed though, because of the heat emitted from the lightsaber. It was so hot, that once it cut through, any veins and arteries got closed off.
However, something as thick as a blast door would take several seconds to get through. Rather than just slashing it, the user would stick the lightsaber through the door and the heat emitted would melt the door.
However, technology that was created and discovered has been able to resist lightsaber from rare materials. The base of building a lightsaber resistant weapon was from a metal called cortosis. At first, cortosis armor was developed, where if the lightsaber made contact with the armor, the lightsaber would fuse out. The lightsaber could be reactivated though it gave the wearer of the cortosis armor an upper hand in lasting longer.
However, the armor could still be damaged by the lightsaber. The next piece of technology was making a metal blade from the cortosis itself. This could handle the lightsaber without breaking, though it didn’t fuse the lightsaber as much. However, the most pure form of cortosis made into a blade could.