Lightsaber Academy

Soresu: Of the Unity of the Grid and the Circle. Book 1

Translators preface

The following document is taken from an extant copy of a volume supposedly dating from the Old Republican period. It is titled “Of the Unity of the Grid and the Circle.” The original text is in some manner of Corellian, an antecedent of Basic. The text consists of a series short explanatory poems. It would appear to be an old treatise on a martial art or the philosophy of martial arts most likely intended for military training. 

The first portion of the text is in the form of clay tablets kept in the antiquities collection at Corelli Universihat. The tablets appear to be of modern manufacture (only about 200-300 cycles old) but the clay was appropriate in age and fragility with something much older. It was unlikely that the tablets were the original as such artifacts are rarely found intact. As it is, the tablets seem to be copies made from another source. The remaining sections (and some passages) in the main text have been informed by several well known sources in both the history of warfare and antiquities. Because these texts have traditionally offered little scholarly incentive for research, what little information on their content available is often from biased and untrustworthy sources. Fragments from other works, books of commentaries, and other sources all help to fill in the blanks on what could be the most complete historical treatise on this particular art. 

As to the authenticity of the text. There are no apparent damaged or missing portions of text from any of the tablets. This is in it’s self a bit suspicious and suggests that some editing or addition to authorship had been done. The language is consistent, even showing signs of lexical borrowing and idiomatic usage appropriate to the time period. Other linguistic markers are obvious miscues and mistakes common to the language and time. These are difficult to impossible to artificially create. Misspellings occur in the source text as do syntax errors. All of which leads this translator to accept this text as what it purports to be.

Of note are certain linguistic artifacts and curiosities. Much of the terminology is outdated or archaic and there are some obvious intrusions or artifacts from contact languages. For instance, the main title of the piece is, in the original Text as written;  “De Uhl unuec Re Uhl So Re Su” with the subtitle of “De Uhl unuec de Uhl Grid Il Ronto” which is the accepted Old Corellian text. Throughout the text three words are repeated. The three main lexemes that are intrusions are “Sor”, “Su”, and “Re”. The text only writes them together in the “So Re Su” order. 

“Sor” appears to be used as a proper noun through most of text. It is used to refer to straight, direct, and linear concepts. This are often translated else where as “The Grid”. 

“Re” has commonalities with the Old Corellian “De” as being an adverb, adjective or classifier depending on its use. This word as well is used most often as a proper noun rather than a linguistic element from the Corellian. 

“Su” also is common in the text. It is used to indicate things that are round, cyclic in nature, smooth, and continuous. It relates to rotation and movement. 

“Ma”:advancing, pushing forward 

“Jung” :The waist

 “Shun”: this word eludes translation

“Ka”: big 

“Rut”: small 

One may notice also, that the verses for the “songs of the orbits” rhyme in the Basic but not in the Corellian. These translations were actually a part of an obscure Je’daii Bendu order’s oral tradition in the outer rim. These rhymes had been passed down for generations only to be relegated to obscurity when the order became monastic. These rhymes did not appear to have any connection to this text until the translation of the “orbit quatrains” began. It was a boon to have the rhymes to use a key while translating so much, that after confirming the content was the same, I have chosen to include them as they were told to me.

There are also Modern Basic words written untranslated within the text. This further casts doubt on this being the original piece as some those could be errors or substitutions by the copyists. At times they are obvious, as they do not follow the same linguistic rules, but other times they are not so. This can cause any manner of misinterpretations. 

The texts completeness and wide corroboration make this artifact of much interest to historians and archeologists. Military historians as well would benefit from much of the information within. 

The Text

The Grid= Sor

Sor- Straight,grid 

  • Zals io ek de Uhl Sor.
  • Unu eshas unu. Tia du caini. Uhl unu Sor, Uhl orfo’in linio.
  • Uhl tri’cha ek kreihaj. Uhl tri kre Uhl trianlulo, Uhl unu dayro. Uhl deven malplen
  • Uhl kvar’chah kre Uhl piramid. Ihn firmo funtament suv Ihn mallarg telment. Uhl sam formi protuchaj re kva tempo.
  • Uhl kvincha punct kre Uhl Sor. Uhl belel shrat, Il grand voiet.
  • Uhl recha devas kontuci Valle. Uhl Sor devas lum Uhl tiamanier.
  • Uhl Sor jehi sin su Ehin, Il fermi. Uhl Sor far io mallonl Il inherspac grand. Li lil Il ovshrucci. Li tranch Il aparhil. Li rompi tra bar.
  • Uhl Sor faras ne kurveco.
  • Uhl Sor turni
  • All things begin with the Sor. 
  • First there is one. Then two appear. The first Sor, the orphan line. 
  • The third begins creation. The three create the triangle, the first space. The original void.
  • The fourth creates the pyramid. A firm base under a narrow roof. The same shape reproduced four times. 
  • The fifth point creates the Sor. The grand road, and great path. 
  • The straight will lead you. The Sor will light the way.
  • The Sor rushes in, and closes. The Sor makes things short and distance large. It binds and obstructs. It cuts and separates. It breaks through obstruction.
  • The Sor does not curve.
  • The Sor Turns

[The “Sor” as it is used through this document, seems to mean “grid”. The accompanying diagram shows what must be the process and final representation of this grid. It is a square with its corners connected with lines. The identical diagram is repeated with in the main square creating an elaborate criss cross pattern. The text simply describes the geometry of drawing the diagram. It is the opinion of some martial historians that this was philosophical exercise for the student in some schools. The idea being that there are lessons in the traditional order and the diagram is pneumonic device. ]

The Circle= Su

Su- round, circles

  • Uhl Su Bey Uhl orbit. Uhl voiet chircaye
  • Li Bey lonla sed fashi.
  • Kie Doko Valle voiag Uhl inherspac Ehin malpl tempo?
  • Kie Doko Valle kro tempo Ehin Uhl sam inherspac?
  • Canti Uhl inherspac per ven chircaye.
  • Unu orbit protuchaj du. Renvers Uhl direction Il vicag Uhl Bogansol.
  • Li alhaj Uhl secvant tal sen malprosperi. Cnous Ten Il Valle Mahn konfiti Ehin li.
  • Uhl ronto Bey lonla. Pen Al ahn Uhl cento. Li Bey ne kie Valle pensi.
  • Perileo garti io sentanter, enhav Uhl mem. Suvheno tie kia Valle Doko.
  • Apole Bey chevalej ne. Li Bey viv sed maltust.
  • Kia Ehin Uhl Pinho, lil Il mov.
  • Kia Ehin Uhl Pinho, Bey preha Al elect.
  • Kia Ehin Uhl Kunil, tir via linio Ehin Uhl savlo.
  • Uhl tri Orbits Bey aparhil Il unu.
  • Uhl unu orbit Bey de Uhl mem, Uhl dua Bey de pohenco, Uhl tri’cha Bey Ehin Uhl lum
  • The Su is the orbit. The path around. 
  • It is long but fast. 
  • How can you travel the distance in less time?
  • How can you save time in the same distance? 
  • Change the distance by coming around. 
  • One orbit yields two. Reverse the direction and face the setting sun. 
  • It rises the next day without fail. Know this and you may trust in it. 
  • The circle is long. Try to find the center. It is not where you think. 
  • Perigee keeps things safe, including the self. Stay there when you can. 
  • Apogee is unstable. It is quick but inexact. 
  • When in the Apex, bind and move. 
  • When in the Vertex, be ready to choose.
  • When in the Annex, draw your line in the sand. 
  • The three Orbits are separate and one. 
  • The first orbit is of the self,the second is of power, The third is in the light.

Re- joining, connecting ( Sor+Re= sora= “door”)

  • Ehin Re ni serchi unuec. Ne unuil.
  • Unuec Bey eshaj unu. Unuec Bey eshaj mulha.
  • Ni serchi Uhl unuec de Uhl Sor Il Su.
  • Re devas torcho Uhl du. Ehin Re chia Bey ili propr.
  • Chia devas Bey unu
  • In Re we seek unity.
  • Not amalgamation. 
  • Unity is being one. Unity is being many. 
  • We seek the unity of the Sor and Su. 
  • Re will link the two.
  • In Re each is their own. Each will be one. 

[This passage is difficult to understand because of its heavy use of idioms. “Re” as a linguistic artifact is interesting. “Re” is applied to a concept rather than a function in language, as it seems to be. The word its self has many different uses in the remote groups in which it is used. It does imply a connection, being a conjunction in many uses, but also a classier and adverb describing action. The use here is divorced from that history and its use has perhaps become analogous to the practice of this art.
The concept being intended here is most likely the union of component pieces. 

Circle of Protection: ronto de prohect The techniques of orbiting the saber around your self. 

  • Amehi Uhl oculo Ehin Uhl cento de Uhl ahaci. 
  • Kviehil Il hel. 
  • Sed movad Zals chircaye. 
  • Enerlio bruel perfort. 
  • Doaba Ehin Uhl cento. 
  • Kviehil amehi Uhl Mord
  • Like the eye in the center of the storm
  • Calm and bright
  • But movement all around
  • Energy turmoil violence
  • Peace in the center
  • Quiet like the grave

Circle of Shelter: ronto de rifutej 

  • Marshi Uhl ronto lum. 
  • Garti tiu mulhecost inherne. 
  • Sorvi Uhl blovi. 
  • Valle ne pova dodge. 
  • Nenio mosho eniri Uhl Ronto.
  • The techniques of create a perimeter around an external area. 
  • Tread the circle lightly.
  • Keep those precious inside.
  • Absorb the blows.
  • You cannot dodge.
  • Nothing must enter the Circle.


Major Orbits

  • Maior orbits turni che Uhl devus. 
  • Ili precess kun Uhl Jung. 
  • Uhl pieto Bey firmo Ehin Uhl pishi. 
  • Al far brulajo Fho Uhl Evihi.
  • Major orbits turn at the shoulder.
  • They precess along the Jung.
  • The feet are firmly in the ground.
  • to make fuel for the Shun.

Minor Orbits

  • Neplenata Orbits turni Ehin Uhl man,
  •  Kunil tra Uhl arm. 
  • Uhl pumpi far acv flu supre monheho, 
  • Al garti Valle sentanter el maluhil.
  • Minor Orbits turn in the hand,
  • Connected through the arm. 
  • The pump makes water flow up hill,
  • To keep you safe from harm.

Third Orbit

  • Uhl Tri’cha Orbit secvi Uhl lun. 
  • Li tir Il shoves Uhl alflu, 
  • Renvers direction Il orientation, 
  • El ecshe de Port Al inherne.
  • The Third Orbit follows the moon
  • It pulls and shoves the oceans
  • Reverse direction and orientation
  • From out of doors to inside.

Inner Core and Outer Rim

  • Gasheio inhernajo fermi Uhl Ka Sora. 
  • Ehin Uhl lum de Uhl Fulle lun. 
  • Gaini via pishi per dolor re tra.
  • Poshsilno Ihn ruvanto Fho honor.
  • Inner core closes the Ka Sora.
  • In the light of the full moon.
  • Retrieve your ground by reaching through.
  • Trace a ribbon for honor.

  • Ecshe Ranto fermi Uhl Ratcavo Sora. 
  • Uhl nov lun kass via cel. 
  • Jeboe’i devas cheli de unu man. 
  • Killars devas morhili de Uhl ali.
  • Outer Rim closes the Rut Sora.
  • the new moon hides your intent.
  • thieves will steal with one hand.
  • Killers will kill with the other.

End Book One.

Interpretation of the Text

The Formula of Soresu is said to be one of defense to the exclusion of all else. This is not entirely true, but it’s focus, especially in these days, is the defensive techniques used to ward off aggression. This is the true goal of Soresu; to meet aggression with non-aggression, movement with stillness, to add the opposite to any situation and cancel that action out. All strife and conflict come from imbalance. Soresu is the balance. 

A Soresu practitioner is not concerned with the domination of the opponent per se, only with attaining the balance between . Some times this means eliminating a factor (namely the opponent) but often it simply means to change. But change takes time, and the training of Soresu is designed to buy you that time. 

The Orbits

The saber orbits (the circles that one makes by spinning the saber around) are the core of the techniques, but there are far more nuances than most lay persons will attest. They are divided into two main categories: vertical orbits and horizontal orbits.

Horizontal Orbits

The horizontal orbits are the simplest. Also called “halo orbits” these are circles that go around the head and body. They are divided between inner core orbits and outer rim orbits. As always the circle is of paramount importance in Soresu. 

Inner core orbit

The inner core orbit is one that goes from zone 2, toward zone 3 in the front and continues through the back to the front. It corresponds to the full moon guard of Makashi. The parry uses a lifting strength and supporting force from the back of the hand. The shoulder is paramount to the technique. 

Outer rim orbit

This is the opposite of the above. Outer rim orbits correspond to the new moon guard of Makashi. They also are similar to the drop parry of Shii-Cho. This technique used the back and under arm regions to support, hold, and parry. This technique is often used with the empty hand blocking or trapping the opponent. 

Vertical Orbits

Vertical orbits are essentially the welding of the blade from one zone to another. The rotations are done from different points. These circles are analogous to the three spheres of Makashi but, are all concerned with the movement from the arm rather than of the weapon. The points of rotation that should be focused on are the shoulder, the elbow, and the hand/forearm. Rather than thinking of these separately as choices, one must think about them working together to cause different sized circles and arcs. 

Major orbits

The major orbits rotate form the shoulder. They are characterized by long, sweeping motions and outstretched arms. These are the beginning technique as they lay the foundation for the minor orbits and the transitions. Major orbits are useful for control and follow throughs, as well as dense intended to clear space. They should be practiced in the vertical plane and should be performed close to the body on each pass. 

Minor orbits

Minor orbits are often referred to as “spins” by laymen and Kai Kan troops. It is a useful maneuver to reposition your blade. They correspond to the photosphere of Makashi. It is the only orbit that shares a sphere and can be considered the junction point between the weapon and the wielder. 

Often this technique is wrongly identified or named as a “wrist” rotation. In reality the rotation must be at the hand and weapon. It is easy to let the finger release the weapon as it spins back. This way doing is not advisable, however. It will build a habit of doing this instead of rotation from the forearm and shoulder. 

The entire arm should be involved with the minor orbits, not just the wrist. The elbow gently bends and straightens in a “pump” type action. This allow one to use the shoulder to move and adjust with the rotation of the weapon. 

Upward or Ashla Orbits

Upward orbits move the blade upward in front of you. These are compared to slashes and the Sarlacc Sweep. As such these orbits are associated with cutting and beating. They are more aggressive in nature due to their difficult angle to intercept.

Downward or Bogan Orbits

The downward orbit mimics the half/full moon change from Makashi. Parries with the outside of the blade help to create a space around you. These correspond to thrusts with the tip and the downward orbits are used to reposition thrusts to a great extent. 

Grand Precession of the Orbits

This is an exercise that combines the orbits into  one moment that covers the entire body. It is generally seen as 5 orbits at each flank. The orbits are the two flanks and one turning orbit at the hip of the zone 2 side. The effect is one that makes it look as if the saber is literally orbiting the body. Here the sequence is less important than the skill. The grand precession should not be thought of as a self defense drill. But rather its is a set of movements that will benefit your swordplay by increasing athletic ability and motor neuron patterning. 

Conclusion to book one

Soresu as a formula for combat is a storied one. It has many claims made of its ability and utility. While much of these tales are exaggerations, the main idea does remain true. Soresu is primarily concerned with the defense of the swordsman. The orbits are the first set in learn how to defend from any angle to any zone. They are fundamental to proper movement of a weapon. The force should come from the body, move through the shoulder ad be expressed at the hands. This basic structure of a block or parry is on that will follow one through their whole career. 

Book one is comparatively simple in scope and content. Book two is significantly different. We will present book two soon. 

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