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Thread: 「十」The Seven Zanjutsu Forms

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    「十」The Seven Zanjutsu Forms

    「十」The Seven Zanjutsu Forms「十」

    Zanjutsu (斬術, Sword Techniques) is the fighting style for the Zanpakutō and is one of the Zankensoki, the four basic fighting styles of the Shinigami. It is considered shameful for a Shinigami to not master this technique at the very least. It is often the specialty of members of the Eleventh Division. It finds its roots in Kendō (剣道, Way of The Sword), a modern Japanese martial art of sword-fighting based on traditional samurai swordsmanship.

    Zanjutsu developed in the ancient days of Soul Society, when the Thirteen Divisions were little more than thugs. Zanjutsu was relatively simplistic, as this was the era before Zanpakuto were known to possess Shikai or Bankai. The first form of swordsmanship evolved from this time period as Zanjutsu practitioners identified issues with their Zanjutsu and developed new forms to address those weaknesses. Each form usually was accompanied by a certain combat philosophy. As a result, later forms often were developed to be used in conjunction with other components of the Zankensoki.

    Number and Title:
    Philosophy of Combat:
    Moves and Maneuvers:
    Common Supplements:
    Form I: Keddō (決道, Determination Form)
    Keddō swordplay was simplistic and raw. In the hands of a master, the bladework was described as "like watching water flow over the falls." However, less adept practitioners displayed much more basic and somewhat clumsy performance. In combat, Form I encouraged deliberate tactics, calling for continuous, step-by-step advancement while cutting off the opponent's angles.

    Keddō was specialized towards engaging multiple opponents, the wide, sweeping motions being ideally suited towards attacking numerous adversaries. However, Form I was not as useful against single opponents, as such enemies had complete mobility and could find a weakness in Keddō's comparatively clumsy bladework.

    The basic rules of attacks, parries and body target zones were established by Keddō combat. Keddō also had two methods of combat which determined how these moves were executed; Ideal Form and Live Combat Form.

    Ideal Form 1 was mainly used in sparring, and all the moves and maneuvers were executed at perfect horizontal/vertical angles, with attacks and parries being perpendicular to one another. The Live Combat Form was much more functional, the attacks being diagonal strikes at each respective body zone, the goal being to increase speed and reduce actual movement.

    The body target zones were numbered as follows; head, right arm and side, left arm and side, back, right leg, left leg.

    Form II: Kyōgōdō (競合道, Contention Form)

    Developed for the purpose of Zanpakutō-to-Zanpakutō combat, to address the failings of Form I, Kyōgōdō was the most dueling-centric of the seven classical forms. Relying on precision and efficiency over Keddō's wild, sweeping motions, Form II allowed an initiate to defend themselves against an opponent with minimal effort, while placing a heavy focus on avoiding disarmament.

    Kyōgōdō was described as elegant and focused, and was based on balance and footwork to outmaneuver opponents. Fluidity, precision, and economy of motion were relied on, rather than strength, with Form II bladework heavily utilizing jabs and light cuts rather than hack and slash movements.

    Form II's primary purpose was to serve as a counter to the first form, Keddō, by relying on precision swordplay to counter Form I's sweeping movements, with a heavy focus on preventing disarmament, the primary goal of Form I. The early levels of Kyōgōdō were devised to provide a defense against an opponent's blade, allowing an initiate in the style to defend himself with minimal effort, but needing to be paired with a more offensive style to score a winning blow.

    Kyōgōdō also placed a great deal of emphasis on footwork in both attack and defense. The footwork of Form II practitioners commonly followed a single line, front and back, shifting the feet to keep in perfect balance as the practitioner advanced and retreated. Kyōgōdō was a style based on balance, on back-and-forth charges, thrusts, and sudden retreats. Kyōgōdō practitioners were also uncommonly adept at defending themselves from Force-based attacks.
    Form II emphasized fluid movement and anticipation of a weapon being swung at its target, and so required very smooth motion of both the blade and the body, and practitioners often wielded the blade one-handed for a greater range of movement. With a skilled practitioner, the results were deadly. In fact, masters of the form often seemed so relaxed when employing it that they appeared to be dancing.[17] Kyōgōdō duelists also trained themselves to avoid enslavement to form, as such devotion opened the practitioner to be defeated by unpredictable tactics — what Count Dooku dubbed "the unforeseen". Also, Kyōgōdō was most potent when used against a single opponent, and was reduced in effectiveness when fighting groups of adversaries. However, skilled practitioners could still fare very well against multiple foes. However, the greatest flaw of the Kyōgōdō system of combat was its inability to generate kinetic energy in its application; the focus on precision and blade control hampered an adherent's ability to generate momentum in both offensive and defensive maneuvers. This meant that a duelist who possessed a sufficient level of physical strength could potentially overwhelm a Kyōgōdō practitioner, shunting aside strikes from the form's precision offense and simply bashing through it's evasive, footwork-oriented defense. This lack of physical force left Kyōgōdō practitioners vulnerable to duelists utilizing more contemporary forms, which emphasized power and brute strength. This weakness was especially pronounced against practitioners of the Ryuu variant of Form V, at the style was based around fast, strength-oriented swordplay. However, utilizing strength-based attacks was no guarantee against true masters.

    Being a style geared towards efficiency, Kyōgōdō adherents relied on balance and economy of movement, preferring to refrain from the leaps and acrobatics common to Form IV.[14] The Form II opening stance was a single handed low guard. The saber would be held in the strong hand of the user, and held at his side, the blade pointed down, and the feet would be shoulder width apart. Some faced their opponent side on, so the blade was pointed in their direction. The Zanpakutō hilt would be held with the thumb pointing down the length of the blade to allow for smaller, tighter, more accurate movements of the saber. The rest of the fingers wrap around the hilt holding it tightly, but not so tight as to limit the fluidity of the movements.

    In a marked difference from the Keddō "disarming slash" maneuver, which was a power attack designed to rip an opponents weapon from his grasp, the typical Form II applications of the sun djem were precise attacks directed at the weapon itself, often destroying it or even burning through an opponents fingers to disarm them.

    Due to Form II's emphasis on blade manipulation, and its many fluid one-handed moves, Kyōgōdō practitioners often wielded Zanpakutō that were specialized for such use. Their Zanpakuto often possessed released that accorded with this style of combat, elegant weapons that often had small or curved hilts. However, some practitioners used more standard Zanpakuto forms or even more exotic weapons, such as whips or sword-staffs.

    Form III: Taikyūdō (耐久道, Endurance Form

    While Form II can be thought of as a counterattacker's innovation, Taikyūdō was the defender's response to Form I. Taikyūdō relied on tight bladework and subtle dodges to provide maximum defensive coverage. Over time, Taikyūdō transcended this basic origin, and came to be considered the ultimate expression of non-aggressive Jedi philosophy.

    Like Kyōgōdō, Taikyūdō relied on economy of motion and energy efficiency, keeping up constant blade-movement to build up momentum and minimize energy-expenditure. Form III focused on strong defensive technique to essentially outlast an opponent, waiting until he/she began making mistakes due to frustration or fatigue, before taking advantage of these lapses and countering. However, despite its effectiveness, Taikyūdō would receive heavy criticism due to its lack of offensive capabilities, as it facilitated survival rather than victory.

    Taikyūdō utilized tight motions, Zanpakutō moving every second in an attempt to achieve near-total protection, and expend as little energy in the process as possible. Form III stressed quick reflexes and fast positional transition, in order to overcome the rapidity with which a blaster could be fired.[10] This technique minimized the body's exposure, making a well-trained practitioner practically invincible, which allowed Taikyūdō to be effective against both single enemies and multiple opponents wielding a variety of weapons or offensive techniques. Form III involved preparation for prolonged battles where the user observed and learned as much as possible about their adversary's technique while engaged in combat. Also, being more optimized for lengthy battles, a Taikyūdō user had the ability to gain control of a combat situation, creating multiple options for the Jedi employing the form.[5] A Form III user could choose to kill, disarm, or even reason with their opponent.

    The core tenets of Taikyūdō encouraged duelists to place themselves "within the eye of the storm:" to maintain a calm center, undistracted and undisturbed by the conflict around them.[14] In keeping with this idea, Taikyūdō incorporated powerful defensive techniques that were flexible enough to adapt to almost any circumstance, at the cost of never reaching past the figurative "eye of the storm." In other words, Taikyūdō focused almost entirely on self-defense, often at the expense of offensive capabilities.

    Truly focused masters of Taikyūdō were extremely formidable due to their strong defensive technique, as well as the well-rounded nature of the form itself. Masters had to maintain an incredibly strong focus on the center of the combat circle, since the defensive tactics of the form included guards and parries that engaged very close to the body. Jedi with small lapses in their otherwise strong defense left little room to avoid injury. As a result of this defensive mindset, Taikyūdō practitioners often had a great deal of difficulty in seizing the offensive initiative in combat situations.[3] Also, the goal of many Taikyūdō practitioners was to prolong the fight, the idea being to cause the enemy to become fatigued or frustrated as they attempted to keep up their offense. However, this tactic ran the risk of fatiguing the user if said user was to face an adversary who could maintain an aggressive but cautious offense.

    The key to truly mastering Taikyūdō seemed to come from grasping the concepts and philosophy of the form rather than adhering to its tactics and maneuvers. Practitioners and even masters often were proficient in more aggressive styles to facilitate the offensive moves that were needed in a fight but not provided explicitly in Taikyūdō.

    Form IV: Kōgekiseidō (攻撃性道, Aggression Form)

    An aggressive style, Form IV was fast-paced and effective against single opponents, though weaker in prolonged combat and confined spaces. Practitioners of Kōgekiseidō were always on the offensive, attacking with wide, fast, and powerful swings. Those who used Form IV could move at high speeds and could rain strong blows, jumping and attacking through the air. Powerful and quick spinning attacks could be utilized from all angles, either from ground or air. A master in Kōgekiseidō combat could appear like a blur to their opponents, attacking from all directions—the front, the sides, overhead, or behind—and perform amazing feats of acrobatics, such as somersaults and backflips, not only for attack, but also to evade the slashes and strikes of their opponents.

    This form was also considered not as effective for prolonged combat, as the nature of Kōgekiseidō could greatly tax the body. Kōgekiseidō practitioners were advised to withdraw if they were unable to win after a devastating burst of Kōgekiseidō attacks.

    Each action flowed from one to another in the smooth transitions characteristic of Form IV. In addition, three kinds of rotation, called su ma, figured prominently in his style: jung su ma (spinning), ton su ma (somersaults), and en su ma (cartwheels). These three moves represented the three possible axes of rotation in three-dimensional space.

    Form V: Fukutsudō (不屈道, Perseverance Form)

    Fukutsudō was developed by practitioners of Form III who felt that the defensively-minded form would unnecessarily extend time spent in combat by forcing its users to wait for an opportunity to strike rather than create their own openings. Form V combat was characterized by power attacks and defense immediately followed by a counter-strike.

    Form V evolved into an accepted style by combining the defensive maneuvers of Form III with the more aggressive philosophy and tactics of Form II. Form V required a higher level of physical strength than the other Zanpakutō forms, due to its focus on complete domination of its practitioners' opponents. It was considered the most physically demanding of all the forms. Jedi of large stature often chose to use Form V, because it required less agility than other forms of Zanpakutō combat and made use of their natural strength and reach advantages. Form V had two distinct variations: Tora and Ryuu, and most users had a preference for one or the other. Tora, considered the classical variant of Form V, was more suited for open combat on the battielfield, whereas Ryuu was developed later and was specifically intended for use in one-on-one duels. Both Tora and Ryuu were designed to use an opponent's attack against them.

    Tora (虎, Tiger
    Tora was described as being well-adapted to guard against blaster fire and enemy strikes without compromising one's ability to launch powerful counterattacks. The style worked best when countering attacks from multiple opponents, and was typically less effective against a single adversary. Some users used the reverse Tora grip, an unorthodox variation of Tora where the wielder would hold the Zanpakutō hilt in a backward position, exposing the front. This grip allowed the user to perform long, sweeping strikes to take down several enemies at a time, whipping the blade forward with the movement of throwing a punch. This variation was rarely seen.

    Ryuu (竜, Dragon
    Utilizing a combination of blocks and parries, a Ryuu user maintained a proper foundation of defense against both ranged and melee attacks. Immediately after defending against an opponent's strike, a Ryuu stylist followed with an attack of their own, bringing the force of the opponent's own blow against them and seeking to dominate the duel. Ryuu placed a heavy focus on brute strength and pure power, with wide, powerful strikes and parries followed immediately by a counterattack.

    Unlike Taikyūdō or Kōgekiseidō, Ryuu required the user not only to counterattack, but also to press the assault, combining Force-enhanced strength with powerful blade combinations to overpower and overwhelm an opponent's defenses. Ryuu's sheer power, when combined with physical and Force-imbued strength, was capable of defeating a user of Kyōgōdō, a Zanpakutō form focused on dueling, finesse, and elegance, when employed by a skilled practitioner. Because of the high level of power and strength summoned by Ryuu, it was best used against a single opponent as opposed to Tora.

    Form VI: Sesseidō (節制道, Moderation Form)
    This fighting style was a hybrid martial art created by effectively combining elements of the preceding Zanpakutō forms into a single, generalized form. Sesseidō balanced out between the various specializations of the other forms, covering many of the basic moves, but focusing on overall moderation. This resulted in a fighting style that lacked a significant advantage, but also lacking any serious drawbacks, and thereby not leaving adherents as exposed as some of the more aggressive or specialized forms. Overall, Sesseidō had a fairly relaxed focus on bladework, designed as a simple, easily mastered fighting form for Jedi who preferred to devote most of their time to study.

    To compensate for the relaxed focus on bladework and lack of significant specialization, Sesseidō training regimens encouraged the inclusion of Force-based attacks in combat, such as telekinetic pulls and shoves used in sync with Zanpakutō strikes. Also, as Sesseidō was developed from two pre-existing martial arts fighting forms that both emphasized the use of dual-blades, it provided a firm foundation for duelists looking to study into such practices. Ultimately, Sesseidō's success in combat was dependent on a practitioner's intuition and creativity in combat, rather than the rote responses common to the other forms. Sesseidō was a versatile form which best thrived in the hands of a Shinigami who could deploy an equally diverse array of other techniques from the arsenal of Zankensoki.

    It should be noted that while Sesseidō provided no decisive edge in battle, it achieved its worth by not leaving its wielder as exposed as some of the more aggressive forms. Due to the relaxed bladework of the form, it was said that most Sesseidō practitioners would find it almost impossible to defeat a Kyōgōdō practitioner.
    Form VII: Shiretsudō (熾烈道, Ferocity Form)
    Form VII was described as the most vicious form of Zanpakutō combat and was said to involve significant internal focus on the part of the user. Form VII was more demanding in terms of energy used due to a broader focus and deeper utilization of emotion. The form was given the title of the most difficult and demanding form in all of Zanpakutō combat. A Form VII practitioner was said to maintain a calm exterior appearance, but they were also stated to experience significant internal pressure, while using the Form. In addition, it was described as sometimes paradoxical and unpredictable, as well as filled with concepts that made the form too difficult and unattractive to many students.

    Skilled combatants with Shiretsudō were said to be able to "eviscerate a lone enemy"; in fact, it was designed for such a purpose in one-on-one Zanpakutō duelS. Though true masters could overcome it, Shiretsudō was somewhat weak against individual opponents. Jedi Battlemaster Cin Drallig listed bold, direct motions as characteristics of Shiretsudō, qualifying them as more open and kinetic than Form V, but with a less elaborate appearance than Kōgekiseidō. Drallig contrasted the tactics of Shiretsudō as not nearly as graceful or linked as those of Kōgekiseidō, instead referring to them as "seemingly unconnected staccato sequences." He also listed one of the strengths of the form as its unpredictability. The form was said to necessitate greater energy than Form V, due to a broader wielding of a user's focus and a deeper emotional link. The form's attacks appeared to be unconnected, its motions seemingly unpolished to an untrained observer. Shiretsudō users appeared to wield many Zanpakutō at once, moving too fast to see, just as the Shiretsudō creature would attack with blindingly fast tentacles that were impossible to count until the Shiretsudō was dead.

    Master Kavar, a colleague of Zez-Kai Ell, advised Shiretsudō for use in quickly overwhelming a single foe as well, but cautioned that it left one vulnerable to Force attacks. Form VII was sufficiently demanding that only masters skilled in practicing multiple other forms were capable of utilizing it effectively.

    It should be noted that while the sequences and maneuvers of Form VII could be practiced and drilled, a duelist would not be truly executing the style unless they allowed the excitement and passion of battle to color their actions. The form was both chaotic and erratic, with a heavy focus on offense.t was also possible to apply Shiretsudō in unarmed combat, with the user's arms becoming too fast to see, as well as in the use of dual Zanpakutō.

    Last edited by Shinoda; 03-30-2018 at 12:40 AM.
    Tetsuya Sajin | Raizo Shinoda | Shinoda Akira

    Tenth Division Captain | Privaron 306

  2. #2
    Determination (Keddō)
    Contention (Kyōgōdō)
    Endurance (Endurance, Taikyūdō)
    Aggression (Kōgeki-seidō)
    Perseverance (Fukutsudō)
    Moderation (Sesseidō)
    Ferocity (Shiretsudō)
    Tetsuya Sajin | Raizo Shinoda | Shinoda Akira

    Tenth Division Captain | Privaron 306

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