So, you want to be able to handle your lightsaber just like your favorite Star Wars characters? Well buckle up padawan because we are about to go through a crash course in how the actors of Star Wars mastered their lightsaber combat forms.
Let’s go series by series to see how lightsaber combat has evolved over the years.
The Original Lightsaber Masters
Lightsaber combat forms didn’t always feature back flips and epic confrontations. In the early days of Star Wars, lightsaber dueling was as much about emotion as it was about fight choreography.
These fights are about characters and their place in the story. Obi Wan isn’t looking to do a back flip and slice Vader in half, he’s trying to prove a point about the nature of the force.
Similarly when Luke has his duel with Vader. It’s all about Luke’s rage. Luke swings his lightsaber less like a sword and more like a club.
This was tough on the actors as well on the props. The early prop lightsabers were fragile and these emotionally-driven fight scenes frequently broke lightsaber blades.
Let’s take a look at the prequels and sequels that changed lightsaber duels forever.
Combat Styles of the Prequels
As it turns out, George Lucas doesn’t like writing fight scenes. Rather than writing a complicated play-by-play, Lucas gives very simple directions stating the length of the scene and some basics for how it goes down.
For Nick Gillard, the choreographer and trainer for the fight between Obi Wan, Darth Maul, and Qui-Gon Jinn, this was a blessing in disguise. Gillard has to map out his own style of lightsaber combat for this scene. It looks so fresh and iconic because this is the first time this style of swordplay appeared on screen. It took weeks of training to get the actors to master these interesting moves while still hitting their marks for the camera.
Training for the sequels took a bit of a different approach.
Lightsaber Combat in the Sequels
With the weight of Disney behind these movies, more resources than ever could be spent on fight choreography. Liang Yang, the assistant flight coordinator for The Force Awakens, personally trained Daisy Ridley to the point where she was a lightsaber dueling master in her own right.
Throughout the course of filming the three sequels, Daisy Ridley dedicated months to mastering the signature weapon of a Star Wars hero.