"Do, or do not, there is no try."
The diminutive Master Yoda is a strange pick for one of the galaxy's best duellists. In the original trilogy, imagining the strange green-skinned, wizened old hermit as a lightsaber wielder felt implausible, to say the least.
And then came the prequels, which not only showed us Yoda wielding a lightsaber - but also demonstrating his incredible acrobatics and ability.
While Yoda might be tiny, his skill level is higher than almost any other Jedi duellist in the franchise. As unlikely as it may have seemed at the time to viewers of Episode II: The Clone Wars, Yoda was a force to be reckoned with for more than just his unquestionable abilities with the force.
But as a master of that arcane power, how much of Yoda's skill was actually his duelling abilities? Or was he only capable of his wild flips and dives due to his affinity with the force?
Luckily, we don't have to dig deep to find out. Yoda's lightsaber skills are a subject of much discussion - from what made his actual lightsaber different through to how he adapted his stature around the established Jedi combat forms.
For those watching the latest Star Wars releases, a certain youngling's lightsaber is a hand-me-down from Yoda. Let's take a look.
While Yoda was the first Jedi to use a Shoto saber on-screen, he is not the only fighter that wielded this short-bladed design. Many dual-wielding Jedi using Jar'Kai opt for shotos instead as their shorter length makes them more agile.
Yoda was, however, the true master of the shoto saber. He built his own under the guidance of an architect droid. The kyber crystal used in it was from the planet Ilum and emitted a green glow.
This short saber featured a classic emitter shroud and metallic hilt with protruding handgrips. It served Yoda well for many years, but was eventually lost when it fell to the ground of the senate building during Yoda's duel against Darth Sidious.
After the fall of the Jedi order, Yoda opted to forgo his lightsaber skills entirely and concentrate on the Force. He kept a second, reserve lightsaber in his hut on Dagobah which is later offered to Grogu in The Book of Boba Fett.
Yoda's lightsaber form
Master Yoda was an excellent practitioner of Form IV, or Ataru. This style, focused on being able to overcome multiple enemies at once, suited the smaller Jedi who was always fighting against larger odds. Ataru is typified by lots of flashy acrobatics that are assisted by the Force.
In the real world, most lightsaber duellists who adapt the forms into real-life styles practice Ataru as a nearly gymnastic-level style. They'll train to use their sabers as they perform flips and acrobatic tricks such as the 'Butterfly Twist' to distract, beguile and evade their opponents. Lots of high profile lightsaber demonstrations feature Ataru moves performed by talented acrobats and stuntmen.
Despite Ataru being Yoda's preferred style, he was also said to have mastered all the others and could teach them to students during the days of the republic.
Was Yoda a good duellist?
If you spend less than ten minutes online searching for this, you'll find lots of articles and discussions about how good Yoda was. Many argue he was the best duellist of all time. Yoda was able to overcome fearsome duellist Count Dooku with relative ease after both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker failed to manage.
Yoda also managed to engage Darth Sidious in a duel that pushed the dark lord to his very limits - right after viewers had watched some of the Jedi Order's most stalwart warriors get easily bested by Sidious.
However, with his reliance on the force to overcome his short stature and lack of physical strength, we wouldn't agree with the articles placing him #1. In fact, in our own list of the best duellists in Star Wars, he's not even top 3. In the real world, you'd need to devote lots of time to studying acrobatics to manage to replicate Yoda's style - especially compared to a more efficient system like Form II.
How would you rank master Yoda as a duellist? If you'd like to adopt some short-saber style, whether for your child or to duel-wield in Jar'Kai, head to our Apprentice Saber page.