Form VII: Juyo

The final Form of Lightsaber Combat is known as Juyo. It is also called The Ferocity Form, or the Way of the Vornskr. The Vornskr was a predator with the innate ability to sense the Force in living creatures. It was from the planet Myrkr, and was the natural predator of the Ysalamiri, the animal associated with the classical and structured Makashi. The stroIMG_0538nger in the Force they were, the bigger the prey they were to the Vornskr and the more they wanted to hunt. This vicious and instinctive predatory nature against other Force-using beings is the perfect description of anyone using Juyo.

Juyo  is noted by its bold and direct movements, the user moving in non-rhythmic staccato pattern. It was a demanding Form, as athletic as Soresu or Ataru but not nearly as elaborate as either.  Like Ataru, it was heavily offensive, except it lacks even the vaguest sense of defense that Ataru might have carried.

Its major attribute is its philosophy. Juyo practitioners fueled their attacks with focused emotion. They needed to feel the fight, invest their emotions in to it. They needed to enjoy the fight, want it. This leads to a vicious, almost malignant grace coming towards you. If this description sounds incongruent from the stance of the Jedi Code, particularly There Is No Emotion, There Is Peace, there is a very good reason for this. The Form is heavily implied to have been developed and designed by the Sith first. Darth Sidious, himself a master of the Form, refers to it as such in the liner notes of The Jedi Path. Jedi were restricted from learning this Form, lest they become tempted to seek out conflict, thereby falling to the Dark Side.

But some Jedi did learn Juyo. One of the things that people studying the Forms tend to forget that Juyo is not about fighting emotional, it’s about directing that emotion and doing something with it. People speak of finding a form of clarity in the swirl of emotions inherent in combat, where everything makes sense and you just go with it. Total commitment to the moment and the fight before you.

Watching people talk about Juyo, many emphasize the importance of  emotions. Yes, there is emotion. There is also control. A Jedi would strive to find the balance, and the Sith would never allow anything to control them but them. Juyo wasn’t chaotic or erratic; it was the illusion of Chaos. A Juyo master would strive to improvise situations, to keep the opponent guessing and unprepared. In many ways this can be seen as a dark take of Niman, and it would have to be. Juyo required an understanding of the Forms before it, as Niman did. After all those lessons of control, from Shii Cho’s focus on the blade, to the lessons on controlling the opponent we’ve mentioned in the other Forms, how could a Juyo user be anything but in control? They simply controlled through chaos and disorder.

Here is a non-lightsaber example. The Prequel Trilogy tells several tales, chief among them is the rise of the Empire and Palpatine’s rise as well. We start the series with him guiding the Trade Federation as Sidious, while using the conflict to garner sympathy vote for his public identity of Senator Sheev Palpatine. He sets up the Separatists to justify his grasping for military control, while also depleting the Jedi focus, all the while no one knows the full story. All the while Palpatine, a Sith Lord, never raises a hand himself. He does not actually fight until he himself is directly threatened. Millions dead, and a Galaxy so far caught in the fog of war that no one realized they sold themselves away until it was too late. That is using the illusion of chaos, that is commiting to the conflict, that is enjoying the battle. That is Juyo.

On the flip side. Luke does something very similar in Reurn of the Jedi. When he approaches Jabba’s castle, he does so in a position of seeming helplessness at best, and haplessness at worst. He sends several emissaries both publically and covertly, to varying degrees of success. Leia and Chewie are captured. Artoo and Threepio are enslaved. Lando is relatively free, but clearly not in any convenient location to spot. Luke arrives, coming off as a Jedi, which no one takes seriously. A mind trick here, killing a Rancor there. He’s imprisoned and sentenced to die and he never bats an eye. And then, at the very plank, he makes his move. And suddenly everyone is in just the right place. Jabba is dead, so is one of the most dangerous bounty hunters in the galaxy, and Han is rescued.

Ask yourself: Could that have been done without the body count? This also lends to the notion that Luke was definitely not running so closely to the Jedi doctrine, which was why Palpatine was just shy of getting a grip on him at the end.

I think if you’re going to understand Juyo, you need to understand psychological manipulation, which in lightsaber combat is known as Dun Moch. You’re working off of the expectations of the opponent, even giving them what they want. They expect you to move one way, give them that until you’re in a position where they will be completely blindsided. It sounds protracted, right? It sounds like the fight matters more than the winning. It does, and that is where the scope of Juyo begins to loose perspective. Users of it run the risk of getting too caught up in the fight and the situation. They become too invested, they start to develop the blind sides both physically and psychologically that will cause their own demise. This is why an effective Juyo user is the one who is in control.

Not surprisingly, Juyo is taken up by a lot of the members of the community who identify strongly with Dark Sider and Sith teachings. I’ve come across many of them who see Juyo as described and believe that so long as you make up whatever comes next, you’re doing it right. Unfortunately, that’s not it. Effective improvisation requires the ability to recognize what needs to be done and the tools to do it with a second. That means you need to understand what you’re doing, instead of just going off. Know the rules of what you’re doing; it’s the best way to know when to break them.

Those who have studied lightsaber combat will note I’ve omitted a key part of Form VII. There was another variation of Form VII, by the name of Vapaad. This variation was developed only a few years before the end of the Old Republic by Jedi Master Mace Windu. Master Windu was depicted as a Jedi with a touch of darkness in him. With the help of a battlemaster (an expert instructor in lightsaber combat) he developed a style not too dissimilar from Juyo that focused his power and his emotional need for combat in to a fighting style that kept him in balance.

I don’t mention Vaapad much for a few reasons. Chief among them is that the descriptions that differentiate itself and Juyo are slim. There’s roughly nothing to compare them to. Also, the history of the Form only has one person perfectly mastering it. Everyone who studied Vapaad, with the exception of Mace himself, fell from the Jedi Order. There is even an instance of Mace stopping a sparring match because he recognized his opponent using the Form against him. The opponent, Quinlan Vos, was a Jedi not too far away from the dark side himself. Mace recognized this and told him never again to do so. With every one having studied it going to the Dark Side, and thereby failing in its attempt, and Mace being the only true practitioner, I don’t really see this as much different as Juyo but merely Mace’s personal take on the situation.

The Forms, for all the work we’ve put in them, started as means of characterizing and adding depth to characters in the Star Wars movie. Mace Windu, played by Samuel L “BMF” Jackson, was a distinctive character in the movies. As they made the description of Makashi to mirror the classical nature of Christopher Lee as he played Dooku , it stands to reason that they developed Vapaad to add character to Master Windu.

If Niman is the closing of the circle, where someone has gained a full understanding of themselves and have maintained a level of stasis and peace, Juyo is the breaking of the circle. The user is no longer bound into stasis. They have the lessons of the previous Forms, but they can truly evolve into something that doesn’t just fight, but acts. The motions, mindset, and methods are so ingrained that they don’t have to think or plan, they can just respond as they feel. Juyo is a jazz solo, no two solos are ever the same, but it still fits in the pattern of the song they work with. It is that simple, and it is that difficult.

12 thoughts on “Form VII: Juyo

  1. I love your analysis of the different Forms, especially your take on possible real life inspirations. I was looking forward to see what martial art(s), if any, you’d associate with it. While I understand that, if anything, Juyo is more of a state of mind than a physical Form, I think that, from the descriptions we have, it could be associated with filipino kali and silat. Both arts make good use of staccato, disconnected but fluid strikes delivered with accurate speed, and overwhelming the opponent is key. What do you think?


      1. Overlap happens in creating fictional styles. So it can be Kali/Silat heavy, but the concept of its improvisational and focus on most effective destruction is JKD philosophy.


      2. I see the JKD in juyo, although I would argue that it’s more prevalent in niman. I was thinking of Kali/Silat primarily because of both arts focus on overwhelming the opponent to get by his defenses.


      3. I’m a big fan of asking ‘why not both?’ JKD as a philosophy allows for the fluidity, but you have to start somewhere as a base. A lot of Bruce Lee’s stuff was still heavily influenced by his initial instruction of wing chun and it shows.


  2. I hate that it took me so long to read this, I love your takes on the styles of lightsaber fighting. But I really like and feel connected with Juyo so I’ve been waiting and waiting to see this 🙂 A lot of the details in the description of the philosophy and mechanics of Juyo as you lay them out, sound like how my old martial arts school trained us to fight. Controlled abandon and savagery leashed to a longer-term goal that was different from other styles.

    Liked by 1 person

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