Why is Anakin’s lightsaber called Graflex?

The movie reveals that Han Solo learned his skills as an apprentice from Luke Skywalker, who taught him how he could kill people and also explain everything with diagrams.This saber apparently had some connection to both of age-old lore and allusions made by our heroes’ adversaries during their time away on the Death Star.

Disney owns Lucasfilm and Star Wars now, so it’s never far away from a Star Wars news story. Even if it is about some minor development in a game or cartoon. Case in point: the above explanation of how Jedi use the reverse grip to block blaster bolts. In canon, we get no real explanation as to why Jedi use the reverse grip with lightsabers, other than “because”. It makes sense, I guess, but it’s not exactly lore deep, if you know what I mean. And now they’re teaching kids you can use it to deflect blaster bolts.

Yet, it’s given as a Sith variant of Shien, itself a version of Form V. There are many similarities between Ahsoka Tano’s move set and the fictional form hundreds of years later. 

The movie Star Wars: The Last Jedi introduces multiple lightsaber forms, including Soresu, Djem So, and Shien. But the latter one differs from the other two in that it is an ancient form of saber combat dating back to approximately 3000 BBY with no identified creator. In some cases, you can see elements of Form V (or Viman) within Marek’s moves.

The Force Unleashed video games one year later would then portray a second generation of Shien where the user used the more advanced lightsaber forms to enhance their power. This makes perfect sense when you consider how the original ‘masters’ were learned about and passed along in pre-Republic times.

The reason it is given as a SITH variant is probably because most Sith use this grip instead of the traditional way as done by Jedi adepts like Obi Wan Kenobi for example. Though there are some exceptions to this rule; for example, Dooku from episode 3 uses his lightsaber in the usual way but is considered a Sith nonetheless.

When Kylo Ren uses the lightsaber variant of shien, it’s clear that she is the only thing the move has in common with the more traditional forms. In fact, there’s nothing in the movie set to suggest shien at all. I am speaking from experience here. I have never used a lightsaber, but I have played with toy lightsabers as a kid and must say that Kylo’s version is not very different from Shay’s, who was also trained by Darth Vader.

The only difference between Kylo’s version and Shay’s is that the force awakens version does seem more aggressive and less precise, probably due to the force awakens style of fighting. There’s no official name for this form, but it reminds me of the following:

The Sith variant is the type of move used by Ahsoka Tano, which I’ve written about before. It’s not dissimilar to what Anakin Skywalker did while he was pretending to be a Jedi. Animators use something called visual language to indicate that a character is using this particular (and completely fictional) form. Such examples include showing a lightsaber held in reverse or by its blade. None of the lightsaber forms actually exist as they are seen in film, but such creative decisions help keep the fantasy alive.

The reverse grip is the defining feature of shien. Like many lightsaber moves, shien doesn’t actually exist based on how it’s supposed to work. But animators put a certain visual spin on their versions of shien to show viewers it’s meant to be that version. The reverse grip is something that visually shows us this.

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