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The Jedi Master Handbook

So, you bought yourself a lightsaber. What's your next step? Teach you, Alain Bloch will.

It probably happens every year at your company picnic: Craig from accounting gets a little too tipsy and starts challenging co-workers to a lightsaber combat tournament.

OK, fine, that has never actually happened. But Craig from accounting probably exists, and so does competitive lightsaber combat. And it is probably conceivable that one of your annoying nephews could pick a plastic sword fight with you at the next family gathering.

With that in mind -- plus the fact that May 4 has become known as Star Wars Day -- here's a complete guide to how to dominate like the very best self-appointed Jedi Knight master in the galaxy, San Francisco software engineer and Obi Wannabe Alain Bloch. The recently crowned Saber Legion world champ takes us through seven of his very best lightsaber fighting moves.



HURRICANE

Just like a real hurricane, the correct conditions must exist for this to occur -- and those conditions can be quite rare. When the Hurricane does work, it is spectacular … and devastating.

1. Start in a "Wrath" stance with the blade behind the back at an angle.

2. Deliver a powerful descending cut at the opponent's shoulder while moving at a forward angle with a passing step.

3. If the opponent moves out of distance, let go of the blade with the backhand.

4. Sweep the blade up and behind the head while supinating the wrist and rotating the body so that the blade is pointed at the opponent. Make sure that the blade is pointed at the opponent so that they do not attempt to move forward and strike.

5. Jump in the air and forward to surprise the opponent and cause them to react.

6. While landing, sweep the blade in front of the body in a horizontal cut at the opponent.

7. Bring the blade back up in an ascending strike to the opponent.

8. Grab the hilt with the backhand and bring the saber back into a hanging guard to protect the body.

9. Take a bow for executing such a complex move.

DEFENSE CUT

Created by a man nicknamed the Bonebreaker, a seventh-level swordsman of the Western Circle of Swordfighters, in order to defeat his opponent on the shores of Scotland's Loch Shiel. A circumstantial move to be used against opponents who like to riposte with a slash to the shoulders.

1. Start in "Defensive" stance: The point of your saber is forward and facing your opponent, and angled at their chest. The arms are extended forward but with a slight bend at the elbows. Hips are square to the opponent and shoulders are relaxed. The legs are slightly bent with your dominant foot forward, the same side as your dominant hand. Both feet are angled outward as if you are walking a tightrope. In The Path of the Jedi, this is called the "Jedi Neutral" stance.

2. Make a full circle behind the head to deliver a descending cut at an angle at the opponent's shoulder.

3. When the blade is moving in front of you, make a passing step forward.

4. If the opponent defends the attack by moving out of distance or parries the blow and attempts to deliver a riposte with a shoulder cut, quickly raise the blade high at an angle so that the opponent's blade is deflected down.

5. Make a side step to the opponent's vulnerable side (the opposite side of their weapon) while delivering another full circle cut to the opponent's head. Make sure to only side-step when the blade is in front of you and can defend a blow.

6. As the blade is about to land, pivot the back foot so that the body is at an oblique angle to the opponent, further distancing yourself from a counterattack.

7. Raise the blade again in a hanging guard to ward against any other blows.

DRAGON'S TAIL

Most often people think that a dragon's most dangerous attack involves its fiery breath. But that ignores a dragon's secret weapon: a long, violent tail.

1. Start in a "Falcon" stance with the hands holding the blade high and near the shoulder of the back foot.

2. Release the forward hand and cast the blade out with the back hand in a descending cut to your opponent's shoulder while stepping forward at an angle. The goal is to cause the opponent to want to defend the attack by moving their blade up or distracting them.

3. As the opponent defends, quickly sweep the blade down and aim at the opponent's legs, making sure that the body is still defended by moving out of distance.

4. Pivot the leg and bring the blade up into a hanging guard to ward against any counter blows.

TEMPEST

The blade moves in wide, sweeping motions aggressively in front of the opponent -- like a tempest! -- to create openings for your attacks.

1. Start in a "Resting" stance, with the point of the blade off to the side of the back foot. This stance is also known as "Iron Door" or "Iron Gate."

2. Move the blade in an arc to the other side of your body, while moving at a slight angle away from the blade with a passing step, making sure that the body is defended from any incoming blows.

3. If the opponent takes the bait and follows the blade, then attack with a full circle cut to the shoulder by bringing the blade behind the head and cutting down at a descending angle. Otherwise, continue moving the blade from side to side while stepping at a slight angle toward your opponent until they react. Make sure not to do this too often or at a consistent rhythm, because your opponent will be able to predict the movements.

3a. When the blade arcs across, it can also be used to beat away and displace the opponent's blade to create an opening.

4. During the cut, pivot the back foot so that the body moves away from the target at an oblique angle.

ROLLING THUNDER

Before the opponent experiences the Lightning, another move in my arsenal, let them fear the Rolling Thunder.

1. Start in the "Falcon" stance away from your opponent.

2. Circle the saber in a cone so the blade is threatening the opponent, while making a shuffle step forward.

3. When the opponent reacts by raising their guard to defend, quickly dash to their exposed flank with a side step and deliver the "Lightning" move to their head or waist.

4. Quickly pull back into "Falcon" stance or hanging guard to create distance to defend against afterblows.

Lightning

A forward dash to the opponent's flank to deliver a full circle cut to their head. This quick attack hits the opponent's head like a bolt of lightning.

1. Start in "Defensive" stance.

2. Wind the saber around your head in a clockwise rotation. As the saber goes behind the head, dash forward at an angle to the right of the opponent with a passing step. It is important not to step forward until the blade is behind your head, otherwise, you will be vulnerable to being attacked.

3. The blade should be passing in front of your body and aiming at the opponent's crown as your foot lands with your body perpendicular to the opponent.

4. As the blade makes contact with the opponent's crown, pivot the back leg behind the front leg for balance, counteracting the momentum of the swing.

5. After the swing, circle the blade back to the front of the body with the arms high and blade angled down to protect against counter blows.

DAVENRICHE

Named for the famous martial arts school where I learned it.

1. Begin in the "Falcon" stance swinging the blade at a descending angle aimed at the opponent's shoulder, while bringing your back foot up to your front foot, tricking your opponent into thinking you're moving forward. This makes your opponent react and want to counterattack.

2. Swing the blade back up to hit your opponent's blade down, using the false edge or the edge that is closest to the space between your thumb and forefinger.

3. Take a real step forward to get into close proximity to your opponent.

4. After the blade is hit, you simply slide up and hit the opponent in the face with the true edge of the blade while pivoting.

5. Move past the opponent, swinging the blade at a lateral angle, hitting him or her in the back or side of the head.

6. Step back into a hanging parry to defend from any counter blows.

THE CHARLEY

Named after an opponent of mine who has won many bouts with this move. Simple but effective if used with speed and precision.

1. Start in a defensive stance.

2. Perform an overhead cut while passing forward.

3. If the opponent moves out of distance, but still leaves their blade high up, bring the blade up with the "false edge" (the edge nearest you) with another passing step and hit the underside of the opponent's arms.

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