The Big Picture
- The Star Wars franchise needs to evolve its action sequences to keep things fresh and interesting.
- Using fists and hand-to-hand combat can be just as effective as lightsabers and blasters in the Star Wars universe.
- Teräs Käsi, a martial art form, offers a different approach to combat and has been codified in the new Star Wars canon.
As any Star Wars fan knows, the weapon of choice of a Jedi Knight has always been the iconic lightsaber. Despite a lightsaber being an incredibly useful weapon and tool for the defenders of the galaxy, maybe it’s time the many characters of this vast galaxy start using their fists to settle their inevitable differences. To be frank, if the Star Wars franchise wants to keep things fresh and interesting, it needs to evolve its action set pieces. Part of that is on the direction and editing front, as many of these sequences could really use some more creativity in how they’re presented. However, there also needs to be a bit more innovation in the content of these fights. Yes, lightsaber duels and blaster firefights are the bread and butter of this series, but you can only watch so many of these battle types start to feel a bit derivative. With there now being more Star Wars content coming out than ever, that’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
It might sound silly at first, but maybe the answer isn’t to come up with a new lightsaber type, but perhaps it’s really going back to basics with some good old-fashioned fisticuffs. Obi-Wan’s (Ewan McGregor) teachings in Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones led us to believe that a Jedi is nothing without their lightsaber, but perhaps that’s yet another Jedi teaching that has become outdated and archaic. If there’s one show that consistently addresses the many flaws of the Jedi Order and its teachings, it’s Ahsoka.
Ezra Bridger Doesn’t Need a Lightsaber to be a Fighter in ‘Ahsoka’
Ahsoka has served as the star vehicle to reintroduce the long-lost Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi) to the Star Wars universe following the fan-favorite character’s disappearance in Star Wars: Rebels. We see him reunite with his faithful companion Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), but their reunion is short-lived when Grand Admiral Thrawn’s (Lars Mikkelsen) forces catch up to them. Before they know it, the two Rebellion heroes are surrounded by a legion of Night Troopers, led by fallen Force users Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) and Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno).
Now abundantly clear that they’ll need to fight these dark forces, Sabine sees now as a good a time as any to give Ezra back the lightsaber he entrusted to her. Sure his years of exile may have made him a bit rusty, but surely that won’t be a problem, right? Well, Ezra is confident they can win the day, and he’s so confident to the point where he tells Sabine to keep the saber. What sounds like a fool’s errand to some turns out to be no problem for Ezra.
As these fearsome soldiers get a taste of battle, Ezra dispatches them all through just his hands and The Force. This might seem like a simple bout of pacifism for the older and wiser Jedi outcast, but this sequence truly shows how far Ezra has come. The young boy we know from Star Wars: Rebels would have wasted no time grabbing his lightsaber and exterminating Stormtroopers. The man we see in Ahsoka is still unmistakably Ezra Bridger, but he’s one so in tune with The Force that a lightsaber is secondary and not required.
Believe It or Not, ‘Star Wars’ Already Has Its Own Martial Arts Style
As seen in Huyang’s (David Tennant) training with Sabine, different lightsaber styles have been a part of the franchise for quite some time. However, did you know that there is also an official martial art that doesn’t even require Force sensitivity in the Star Wars canon? Well, there is, and it actually originates from the now-defunct Legends continuity.
This martial art, known as Teräs Käsi, first appeared in the Shadows of the Empire book series set after the events of the original trilogy. Teräs Käsi was intended as a defense form against force users, giving skilled combatants an edge against Jedi and Sith warriors alike. The martial art became popularized (or rather de-popularized) by the infamous video game, Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi, which is a fighting game of all things in the vein of the Mortal Kombat and Soulcalibur franchises. The only difference is it has Star Wars characters, giving players the opportunity to have a one-on-one duel with Chewbacca and Darth Vader, which is just as absurd as it sounds.
Though Teräs Käsi originated from the Legends continuity, it has since been codified in the new canon thanks to one of the most criminally underrated Star Wars stories of all time, Solo: A Star Wars Story. While the heroes of the film are breaking into the Pyke base on Kessel, we see that Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) has learned a thing or two about hand-to-hand combat. When L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) asked what exactly that was, Qi’ra told the droid that it was none other than the Teräs Käsi martial art.
Mace Windu in ‘Star Wars: Clone Wars’ Shows Just How Powerful Hand-to-Hand Jedi Combatants Can Be
Speaking of criminally underrated Star Wars content, if you haven’t watched Genndy Tartakovsky‘s Star Wars: Clone Wars yet, add it to your watch list. Not to be confused with the also excellent 3D-animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars from Ahsoka creator Dave Filoni, the 2D-animated Star Wars: Clone Wars has some of the best action in the entire franchise. It may no longer be considered canon, but it’s still available to enjoy on Disney+.
One of the many standout moments of the series is when Mace Windu (Terrence ‘T.C.’ Carson) is marooned on a desolate planet. The Jedi Grand Master is surrounded by Super Battle Droids and has misplaced his famous purple lightsaber, so what does he do? He punches them. Yeah, we’re not kidding. Mace Windu literally just punches hundreds upon hundreds of droids and blasts them away with Force pushes. Couple the absurd action with the wonderful visuals, and this is the exact type of innovation and creativity Star Wars could use right now in the action department.
Ahsoka is streaming on Disney+ now.