We’re very proud of our duelling sabers - and rightly so. With polycarbonate blades, balanced weight distribution and sturdy aluminium hilts, they are perfect for LudoSport-style duels.
However, what happens if you’re disarmed? As we’ve discussed in our past article on Lightsaber Combat Forms, some forms have specialist disarming attacks designed to knock sabers out of their opponents hand. If you’re suddenly left without a lightsaber in your hand and your opponent is attacking, what can you do?
You can learn Teräs Käsi and fight back!
What is Teräs Käsi?
Teräs Käsi was originally introduced to the now defunct Star Wars Legends in Shadows of the Empire where it was briefly mentioned. However, in Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, the style was fleshed out and described as a martial art that taught non force sensitive users how to fight back against the Jedi.
In Legends, Teräs Käsi, or ‘Steel Hand’ is a style created to fight the Jedi by the Followers of Palawa. The word itself comes from the real-world Finnish “Teräskäsi". The style is emphasised by both hand-to-hand combat techniques that rely on speed as well as mental techniques to help combatants avoid mental attacks from Jedi and Sith alike.
Fans of video games will remember the PS1 title, Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi - which didn’t truly explain the style. Instead, it was a Tekken-style Beat’em’up with no real emphasis on the styles used by the fighters. However, the MMORPG Star Wars Galaxies offered Teräs Käsi as a real style - with players able to become Teräs Käsi after mastering the Brawler skill. This was, at the time, a pinnacle of achievement and one of the most formidable classes in the game.
Is Teräs Käsi canon?
This great video from the channel 'Sci Fights' explores some of the style's history.
After Disney made Legends non-canon, fans of the style thought it was going to disappear. However, Teräs Käsi was made officially canon once again in Solo: A Star Wars Story by Q’ira after she dispatched a number of enemies single-handedly. This reference renewed interest in the style and also linked it to one of its most famous practitioners - Darth Maul. After all, Q'ira was trained secretly by Maul.
While Darth Maul was a powerful Sith who fought with his iconic double-bladed lightsaber, he was also a unique combatant in the Star Wars films. Showcasing some deft acrobatics, Darth Maul was said to have trained in Teräs Käsi alongside his Sith training. This is a great lesson for real-life duellists: relying solely on your blade may get you in trouble. Often, knowing an unarmed style or at least the fundamental ideas behind it can help you get an edge.
How does Teräs Käsi work?
As it has yet to be officially fleshed out in the now-canon universe, Teräs Käsi is still somewhat mysterious. However, if you look back to Legends and the video games, key movements and inspirations for the style become clear.
The overall martial art is based on real-world style Pencak Silat, which is usually just called Silat. The style stems from Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Southeast Thailand (though not to be confused with Muay Thai).
Silat has a huge array of styles and disciplines - making it hard to identify a certain characteristic like other martial arts. It’s a realistic style that was practiced in history as a war art, so sparring was often done in poor conditions such as dim light to condition fighters to adversity.
Silat has more of a spiritual element to it than many full contact combat sports - including forms and ‘energy’ training.
Teräs Käsi takes much of this to create a style that is focused on both hand-to-hand fighting and meditation - with practitioners drilling their minds as hard as their bodies in order to battle against the superhuman Jedi and Sith. With moves inspired by Star Wars creatures such as the Slashing Wampa and Striking Sarlaac, Teräs Käsi practitioners can overcome saber-wielders through speed and technique.
Teräs Käsi has not yet been explored in the new universe - with Q’ira performing her moves off-screen. However, the style has been showcased in video games and partially in films thanks to Darth Maul - so if you want inspiration, watch Maul and study the real world Silat style.
Remember though - nothing really beats a good duelling saber. Keep yours held close, use the lessons learned from Teräs Käsi to stay calm and engage your opponents with respect. If you get disarmed, what you've learned in this article should keep you feeling secure.