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An in-depth look at combat: Yoda

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > STAR WARS Discussion
An in-depth look at combat: Yoda

Aurbere's Avatar


Aurbere
01.14.2015 , 06:00 PM | #1
This is my second contribution to Beni’s combat analysis series. This time around, I’ll be working with another of my favorite characters: Yoda. Because who doesn’t love Yoda?

”Secret, shall I tell you? Grand Master of Jedi Order am I. Won this job in a raffle I did, think you? 'How did you know, how did you know, Master Yoda?' Master Yoda knows these things. His job it is.”- Yoda

Age: 900
Height: 0.66 meters
Weight: 17 Kilograms

Physicality: Obviously, Yoda is a very, very old creature of currently unnamed species. He suffers from tremendous physical afflictions that force him to walk with a cane or even use a hovercraft for transport. Without the Force, he is very slow and obviously has difficulty with just the simple act of walking. However, with the aid of the Force he can move with baffling speeds, achieve incredible feats of acrobatics, and even engage much younger opponents in contests of strength.

Melee Abilities

Grand Master Yoda was renowned as the finest lightsaber duelist in the Jedi Order. He was a master of all seven lightsaber Forms, several other advanced fighting styles, and the highest level master of Ataru. His great skill in lightsaber dueling was renowned across the entire Jedi Order, and he personally instructed most Jedi in lightsaber combat, helping to forge most of the Order’s greatest warriors, including Dooku, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, and many others.

Lightsaber: Due to his size, Yoda’s green-bladed lightsaber is of shoto-make. Outside of being adjusted for his size, the weapon possesses nothing inherently special in its design.

Ataru: Yoda’s primary fighting style of choice. Ataru is a fast-paced, highly acrobatic fighting style that is believed to be the epitome of Jedi fighting styles because it uses the entire body as a weapon and applies the Force liberally. The Form uses complicated acrobatic maneuvers and fast-paced combat to overwhelm and outmaneuver opponents in a flurry of strikes. Unarmed combat was also a discipline of the style. Yoda’s application of the style was typical Ataru. He fought with incredible speed, striking his opponents quickly and moving about the arena to outmaneuver enemies and strike them from any and every possible angle.

Sokan: Compounded with his application of Ataru, Yoda employed the advanced fighting style of Sokan. Sokan is the act of using the environment to gain an advantage, be it seizing the high ground, using it to outmaneuver enemies, or forcing them into a position of vulnerability. Yoda employed Sokan in several lightsaber duels to avoid attacks, engage an opponent on equal footing, or outmaneuver enemies and strike them from multiple angles.

Mounted Combat: Obviously, Mounted Combat is the act of engaging opponents while mounted on a beast or other mode of transportation. Mounted Combat is a difficult discipline to learn as it requires maintaining steady control over the mount in the heat of combat while also striking at enemies from odd angles. Yoda’s mount was a Kybuck, of which he had many throughout his lifetime. He applied this form of combat several times throughout his life, notably doing so during the Battle of Coruscant.

Force Abilities

Over many centuries of Jedi training, Master Yoda developed an immense mastery of the Light Side of the Force. He was renowned as one of the most powerful Jedi in the history of the Jedi Order. As such, Yoda learned and mastered many different abilities, some of which will be listed here.

Telekinesis: The primary offensive ability of the Jedi, telekinesis was the act of moving objects and people with the Force. Naturally, Yoda possessed immense mastery of this ability. He could lift and move many small objects with ease, or even move multiple objects worth several tons. His Force Pushes were incredibly powerful, as he was able to blast away dozens of enemies at a time and even break the raised Force defenses of the incredibly powerful Sith Lord Darth Sidious.

Force Valor: Yoda’s most useful ability was the Force Valor ability, which he used to increase his physical abilities to levels comparable to much younger and fitter warriors. Yoda’s mastery of the technique was undoubtedly supreme, as he was able to overcome his extreme physical handicaps to engage and defeat younger fighters in combat, even brilliant swordmasters like Mace Windu and Count Dooku.

Tutaminis: Also known as Energy absorption, the use of Tutaminis allowed the user to absorb and deflect harmful energy such as blaster bolts and Force lightning. Yoda was one of the few masters of the ability capable of deflecting, absorbing, and dissipating Force lightning, which he showed in his duels with Count Dooku and Darth Sidious.

Telepathy: Telepathy was the Jedi’s ability to read and probe the minds of others. Though it is not often applied in combat, Yoda was still a high-level master of telepathy. He was able to easily probe the minds of other Jedi and even enter the minds of other Jedi spread across the galaxy. His applications of the Jedi Mind Trick manifested from simple persuasion to the erasing of memories and even the application of Battle Meditation.

Alter Environment: Though not often applied by the Grand Master, Yoda was experienced in the application of the technique. He was able to manipulate air currents to form a pocket of air that was strong enough to resist the vacuum of space.

Force Stealth: Going by many different names, Force Stealth was the ability to conceal one’s presence in the Force. Yoda applied this on Vjun to conceal his presence from Count Dooku before he reached the Count’s Chateau. However, Yoda’s application was not perfect as he was revealed through the Force, though this was most likely to be due to the ambient Dark Side energies on the planet rather than a short coming of Yoda’s.

Students

Yoda has had many students over his extremely long life, and has had a hand in the training of countless more. Some of these students reached incredible heights of lightsaber and Force mastery. Some of these students will be listed here.

Cin Drallig: Jedi Master Cin Drallig was instructed by Yoda in lightsaber combat. He eventually mastered six of the seven Forms and had a hand in instructing most of the Jedi Order during his career as Jedi Battlemaster.

Count Dooku: Prior to his fall to the Dark Side, Dooku was instructed by Yoda in lightsaber combat. True to his competitive nature, Dooku studied Makashi and mastered it to the highest levels, eventually proving an equal to Master Yoda himself.

Luke Skywalker: Luke Skywalker was Yoda’s student during his exile after the fall of the Old Republic. The ancient Jedi primarily instructed Luke in the usage of the Force, helping Luke refine his abilities and attain a greater control over the Force in preparation for his dramatic encounter with Lord Vader. Eventually, Luke passed Yoda’s training on to his own students, continuing the ancient Master’s legacy for decades after his death.

Opponents

Yoda engaged few opponents that could truly match his prowess, those opponents will be listed here.

Count Dooku: Fallen Jedi turned Sith Lord, Dooku engaged his former Master first on Geonosis. Unable to overcome each other in a contest of the Force, the battle turned to lightsaber combat. Though Dooku put up a strong fight, he could not defeat Yoda in combat and was forced to flee. They later engaged each other in combat again on Vjun. There Dooku had the support of the planet’s strong Dark Side energies. Despite that, Yoda prevailed and forced the Count to flee once again.

Darth Sidious: The True Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious served as Yoda’s parallel on the Dark Path. The Dark Lord of the Sith was just as fearsome a lightsaber duelist and even more powerful with the Force. Sidious was a master of all seven Forms of lightsaber combat and had mastered the Dark Side to an extent beyond anything Yoda had ever encountered. In their final climactic duel, Yoda gave the Dark Lord a tremendous fight, even disarming the Sith Lord of his lightsaber, but he was eventually defeated and forced into exile.

Strengths

Obviously, Yoda’s strengths lie in his overwhelming offensive abilities. Typical of an Ataru master, Yoda is an incredibly aggressive and, more importantly, speedy fighter. He fights with a speed and aggression that few can contend with, let alone match. His greatest strength in combat is his skill with the lightsaber—his primary method of combat—which few have matched. He attacks his opponents with sheer speed and aggression that can overwhelm even the most skilled of opponents. Indeed, out of all of the great masters in his era, none were capable of defeating him in lightsaber combat.

However, though he does not use the Force in combat often, the Force is a powerful ally to him. His mastery and strength in the Force is rivaled by only one individual in his era: Darth Sidious. If he must use the Force, he attacks with great strength and speed. However, he primarily defends himself with the Force, using his strength in the Light to repel Dark powers such as Force lightning.

As said before, he is primarily a lightsaber duelist, but his mastery of the Force is not to be underestimated. If necessary, he will use his power to dispatch his foes or defend himself from attack.

Weaknesses

Yoda’s primary weakness comes from his greatest strength. In order to effectively put to use his immense lightsaber skill, he must constantly apply Force Valor, which acts to drain him of energy. Theoretically, it could be suggested that Yoda’s reason for not often applying the Force in combat is because he is more focused on applying Force Valor, and would rather not divide his energies. It is possible, of course, that he would recognize that he wouldn’t be able to vanquish his opponent with his Force abilities and would be at a disadvantage if he failed, especially when contending with opponents such as Count Dooku or Darth Sidious.

Regardless, his extreme age and deteriorated physical condition forces him to devote massive amounts of Force energy to Force Valor in order to physically compete with his much younger opponents. That is his greatest weakness.

Scans, Quotes, and Video Clips

Yoda easily cuts through a large force of battle droids:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlHyF6lCgP8

Yoda engages and defeats Count Dooku:
http://youtu.be/BvnwLLXHabg?t=2m24s

In a vision, Yoda engages and defeats Darth Sidious (though one could call it a stalemate):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rahk3r5vob8

Yoda engages Darth Sidious in their final duel before finally being defeated:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUlqDMcS_RE

Yoda disarms Darth Sidious and deflects his Force lightning:
Quote:
YODA unleashes a ferocious assault on PALPATINE, causing him to almost go over the edge. The Dark Lord drops his lightsaber but recovers with a BLAST OF ENERGY from his hands that surrounds YODA. YODA is deflecting the Sith Lord's lightning bolts.

The energy bolts begin to arc back on the Emperor. It looks as if the Dark Lord is doomed.
—Revenge of the Sith script

Quote:
Inside the spacious interior of the Galactic Senate chamber, Yoda challenged the Emperor. The two engaged in a spectacular duel—a contest between the most powerful practitioners of the Force’s light and dark sides.
—The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia*

Quote:
This truth: that he, the avatar of light, Supreme Master of the Jedi Order, the fiercest, most implacable, most devastatingly powerful foe the darkness had ever known...
--Revenge of the Sith novel

Quote:
To the uninitiated, lightsaber combat can seem like a confusing blur of swipes and blade clashes, but on close examination, the secrets of the Jedi Knights become clear. To understand the combat of these warriors, we must delve into the sacred history of the fabled Seven Forms of Jedi lightsaber combat and look at how these have played out in the Star Wars saga. Only then can we understand the extraordinary combat moves of Yoda, perhaps the greatest lightsaber master the Jedi Order has ever seen.
– Insider #62: Fightsaber: Jedi Lightsaber Combat*

*Special thanks to Silver 2467’s Yoda respect thread for the marked quotes. Unfortunately, I didn’t have all of the sources I needed for this thread on hand at the time of this writing.

Final Thoughts

Yoda is most well known as a master duelist and a warrior. However, I feel he should be best known as a teacher. He has instructed most, if not all, of the most skilled and powerful Jedi (and former Jedi in some cases) of his era in some way or another. But to view him strictly as a teacher is also folly, as Mace Windu himself warns against it. Yoda is viewed by his peers as an unparalleled warrior, ultimate master of the Force, and wise teacher. For good reason of course. Out of all of the Jedi of his era, Yoda remains the greatest of them.

I view Yoda in a similar light as his peers. Though much smaller than his peers, he stands head and shoulders above them as a swordmaster and Force master. Indeed, size matters not. What I found most important about his fighting style is that it applies that rule. Despite his size, Yoda can engage and defeat much taller and younger opponents. What makes Yoda truly great in combat is that he is able to overcome every disadvantage he has to fight those without those disadvantages, and, not only prove an equal, but even defeat them.

Yoda is the great warrior and the wise sage all wrapped up into one small package, and that is why he is so great.
Added Chapter 66 to The Shadows Fall
"Your only hope to survive is to give in to the rage boiling within you, to acknowledge the Dark Side you deny, and tap into it!"--Darth Tyranus

Aurbere's Avatar


Aurbere
01.14.2015 , 06:01 PM | #2
A long time ago, Sel and I discussed an analysis series on the Prequel Jedi Masters. If you want to work on that, Sel, I would be up for it. However, if you can't or don't want to, then I am willing to do it on my own. Regardless, this thread serves as the launching point for that series.

First on my hit-list: Plo Koon. Obviously.
Added Chapter 66 to The Shadows Fall
"Your only hope to survive is to give in to the rage boiling within you, to acknowledge the Dark Side you deny, and tap into it!"--Darth Tyranus

Selenial's Avatar


Selenial
01.14.2015 , 06:05 PM | #3
Ohh yes!

I started on Shaak Ti actually, but I can honestly do whatever order
We all live or die as Krayt wills, Stryfe. At his word, I would cut out my own heart. Or yours.
Celéna Mercenary Cathinka Seeliara Sage

Aurbere's Avatar


Aurbere
01.14.2015 , 06:07 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by Selenial View Post
Ohh yes!

I started on Shaak Ti actually, but I can honestly do whatever order
It doesn't matter what order really, just tell me which ones you'll do so I don't step on your toes.

We could probably collaborate on them (IE. fact-checking) if you wanted.
Added Chapter 66 to The Shadows Fall
"Your only hope to survive is to give in to the rage boiling within you, to acknowledge the Dark Side you deny, and tap into it!"--Darth Tyranus

dcaleb's Avatar


dcaleb
01.14.2015 , 06:11 PM | #5
Just because Yoda was a prolific teacher doesn't mean he was a good one, he was too inflexible and didn't do much to help his students prepare for the darkside. I mean, someone came to him asking for advice on how to cope with lose and his response was basically "Meh, get over it you should young Skywalker, it is the jedi way".

Now, I'm not saying that he might have been able to stop Anakin from falling to the dark side if he had given a better answer (Palpatine already had his hooks in pretty good by then). But the one he gave sure as hell didn't do anything for Anakin's plummeting confidence in the Order and made Palpatine's job that much easier.

Aurbere's Avatar


Aurbere
01.14.2015 , 06:49 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by dcaleb View Post
Just because Yoda was a prolific teacher doesn't mean he was a good one, he was too inflexible and didn't do much to help his students prepare for the darkside. I mean, someone came to him asking for advice on how to cope with lose and his response was basically "Meh, get over it you should young Skywalker, it is the jedi way".

Now, I'm not saying that he might have been able to stop Anakin from falling to the dark side if he had given a better answer (Palpatine already had his hooks in pretty good by then). But the one he gave sure as hell didn't do anything for Anakin's plummeting confidence in the Order and made Palpatine's job that much easier.
Well, I can't say I didn't expect the philosophy discussion to come in. It's a discussion I've had many times. I can see both sides of the argument, but I feel that blame can't be placed solely on one side or the other.
Added Chapter 66 to The Shadows Fall
"Your only hope to survive is to give in to the rage boiling within you, to acknowledge the Dark Side you deny, and tap into it!"--Darth Tyranus

cs_zoltan's Avatar


cs_zoltan
01.14.2015 , 06:55 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Selenial View Post
Ohh yes!

I started on Shaak Ti actually, but I can honestly do whatever order
Yay, Shaak Ti
The ability to speak does not make you intelligent. Now get out of here.

The Red Eclipse <PC Gamer Mint Imperials>
Kéja, Kejann, Aemis, Kyrí, Kyra'h, Késsa, Frängit, Lamîa, KalkïMaelin, Morwy

Aurbere's Avatar


Aurbere
01.14.2015 , 08:28 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by cs_zoltan View Post
Yay, Shaak Ti
I'm excited as well. Shaak Ti's one of my favorite Jedi, so I'm looking forward to the thread. Can't wait to see what she comes up with.
Added Chapter 66 to The Shadows Fall
"Your only hope to survive is to give in to the rage boiling within you, to acknowledge the Dark Side you deny, and tap into it!"--Darth Tyranus

Beniboybling's Avatar


Beniboybling
01.15.2015 , 03:18 AM | #9
Excellent thread, this reminds me that I've got time now to get more of these out.

Ghisallo's Avatar


Ghisallo
01.15.2015 , 08:16 AM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by Aurbere View Post
Well, I can't say I didn't expect the philosophy discussion to come in. It's a discussion I've had many times. I can see both sides of the argument, but I feel that blame can't be placed solely on one side or the other.
I think the problem is that people are looking at a character like Yoda through a western eye. Now this is meta here but GL was VERY influenced by Akira Kurosawa jidaigeki (period films) to the point the Jedi were inspired by this term. Yoda is VERY much a Zen teacher. The HEART of Zen and swordsmanship is clearing the mind, it is about acting in a critical situation as if nothing critical is happening. Your own life? it is not endanger. Your wife if she stands beside you? She is not in danger. There is not Passion, only peace. There is no chaos, there is serenity.

The way they teach this is NOT the western way of "oh my goodness this student is troubled, let me give him the sunshine pump." To accomplish the goal, they tell them things the student must reflect upon by themselves. So when Anakin asks him "what must I do Master Yoda" and Yoda responds "train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose" he is not saying "get over it". When he says "train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose" he is saying rather, to be at peace, when the time is right, you must not fear loss, even that of your own life. It is VERY Bushido and the idea of "get over it" really comes from not understanding the mindset behind the philosophy.

In the end if anything, Anakin's failure is not an indictment of Yoda. Yoda was against him becoming a padawan, he felt he was too old. He was right. Anakin in the end was a poorly prepared student. He grew up for too long with a completely different mindset and could not adapt his way of thinking to the way Jedi are taught.

Trust me. In HS and College I struggled with this myself. I studied Aikido and my instructor was VERY Japanese and VERY Zen and he taught very much in this manner (though with better english lol)