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03.06.2012 , 06:49 PM | #1
One thing that has always bothered me is the design of lightsabers. They just don't seem practical.

First, let's start with the way they are carried. Most Jedi carry their lightsabers hanging from their belts, blade emitter pointing down. Ignoring the issue of how the lightsaber actually attaches to the belt, this position just seems awkward and impractical. Consider Luke, who just left his hanging freely from his belt. I carry my keys in a similar fashion, so I know this would be very uncomfortable, as every time I take a step, my leg hits my keys, causing them to swing. Imagine having a heavy metal tube swinging from your belt and hitting your leg, especially one with a push button that activates a blade. Not a good idea. While the Jedi in SWTOR and in the prequels seemed to improve this by firmly securing the lightsaber and moving it more to the side of the hip, it still seems awkward to quickly draw the lightsaber.

In such a position, it would be easiest when drawing the lightsaber to grab it on its bottom half, as this is the closest to one's hand. This theory seems to be supported by the fact that most lightsabers feature hand grips on their bottom halves. Furthermore, most lightsabers have activator buttons in the middle of their hilts, facilitating quick activation when holding the lightsaber on the bottom half. However, swinging a lightsaber one-handed with the hand on the bottom half of the hilt would be awkward as you would not have much leverage in that position. Lightsabers are meant to be wielded with the dominant hand on top (and the other hand below), as is shown in the movies.

This causes a problem, as the hand position with which you draw the lightsaber differs from the hand position with which you swing the lightsaber, meaning that you would have to quickly change positions between drawing and attacking/defending. Not a good idea in a sudden life-or-death situation, especially when you have a on/off switch in the middle of the hilt that you might accidentally hit while shifting your hands.

Thus, it seems that this poor lightsaber design starts from the poor carrying placement. Ideally, you would want your lightsaber in a position where you could draw, activate, and attack in one motion. Compare this with the samurai. Samurai carried their katana on the side of their hips, with the full hilt accessible to grabbing. When drawing, a samurai could grab the katana at upper half of the hilt and be already in attack position. The Jedi should do the same.

I believe that for a perfect design, the lightsaber should be carried in such a way that it facilitates grabbing the upper half of the hilt, and the activator button should also be at the upper half, where it can be easily reached but also out of the way of holding the hilt. Rahm Kota from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed comes closest to this ideal, by placing the lightsaber on his back. Though it looks funny, it is much more practical than the mainstream fashion. I would suggest combining Rahm's idea with the mainstream idea, having the lightsaber attach to the belt at the upper half of the hilt, with the hilt extending away from the body in a similar fashion to samurai. IMO, this change would benefit the Jedi immensely.

Tl;DR: Lightsaber designs in Star Wars are impractical, stemming from the way they are carried. I suggest an alternative that would improve upon this.
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