36

The Jedi used lightsabers mainly to repel projectiles, but, in my opinion, this would be better job for a shield. A "lightshield" as the Jedi are stylized futuristic paladins.

A lightsaber seemed a poor defense against:

  • multiple shooters,
  • weapons with a high rate of fire,
  • very fast or invisible projectiles,
  • explosive rounds or other forms of fragmented weaponry such as shotguns

If they carried lightshields perhaps they would be able to expand into other areas of the Force without having to focus on repelling projectiles with their lightsaber. The only weapon lightsabers seem effective against are blasters so why don't Jedi also carry a shield?

  • Welcome to stack exchange Juan, I tried to edit out the parts of your question that seemed unnecessary to your questions, so it was easier to read. As it stands this is very close to being non-constructive as per the faq, which would be a good read if you haven't already. – AncientSwordRage Dec 9 '12 at 21:34
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    Multiple shooters doesn't seem to be much of a problem for a Jedi, as far as I can tell. – Misha R Aug 26 '15 at 5:50
  • See also Darth Desolus? – IG_42 Aug 26 '15 at 17:18
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    Because shields will attract a worm? – n_b Oct 3 '16 at 4:24
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    Obviously, because Jedi use the Eldritch Knight archetype, and so they need to keep one hand free for somatic spell components. – Paul Sep 28 '17 at 1:15
40

The Jedi did not carry shields because of their use of the Force. Simply put, they don't need them.

  • Besides a shield's obvious bulk, they also signify a more militaristic appearance and mindset. The Jedi make every attempt to appear as defenders of the peace, not promoters of war.

  • Their use of lightsabers as defensive weapons, enhance their appearance as promoters of negotiation, not force, diplomacy before arms. Don't be mistaken, part of the Jedi's training is to lead troops into combat, but that is a secondary role, and one most do not enjoy.

But most importantly:

  • Using the Force, a Jedi can determine if a blaster bolt is going to hit him or not.

  • Once he decides a bolt WILL hit him, he uses his lightsaber in conjunction with the Force to deflect the bolt.

Blast reflection with a lightsaber.

  • If he has a need to attack an opponent at range who is shooting at him, and if he has the particular training, he can return the blaster bolt to the target. No, not every Jedi can do this, but most are able.

  • Yes, there is shield technology in the Empire but there is another reason they would not use it. (See Gungan Personal Shield below.)

Gungan Personal Shield

  • Most Jedi use an open hand to direct their manipulation of the Force. No, most don't NEED to use gestures for simple applications, but even Yoda would use his hands to manipulate the Force if an object were massive or ungainly enough. A shield would have both hands filled all the time.

A Jedi using his free hand for telekinesis.

  • Yes, there are Jedi who use two-bladed techniques (see Niman/Jar'Kai), but those styles also use Force powers which enhance those weapon proficiencies with enhanced agility, enhanced speed and coordination which are more internal/personal/defensive uses of the Force.
  • 1
    Sometimes the jedi would need shields, as in Order 66, for example. Shields would not militaristic look, because they would lightshields, and being disabled they would look harmless bracelets. A lightshield may not be used to return the projectiles to shooter, but it is much more useful as a defense, besides that the jedi have other options for range attack, as the throw of the lightsaber, telekinesis or even lightwhip. Although a jedi carry saber and shield, would not both hands full, because the shield would take on a bracelet allowing free hand. – Juan Dec 10 '12 at 10:10
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    If you've already decided they should carry shields, why the heck did you bother to ask a question? Every single answer here explains why they didn't, and you respond continually with "they should carry shields." Tell it to Lucas. Or Mickey Mouse, as the case may be. – Gabe Willard Dec 10 '12 at 21:00
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    Provided the gungan shields are a valid example of the average energy shield technolody available in the SW galaxy, you can clearly see that even powered down, they remain massive and large objects that require using a hand to grip. Also, a lightsaber only uses energy when cutting. An energy shield would deplete a lot of energy with each attack, making it less useful than a Jedi-wielded lightsaber against blasters (or just about any form of attack). – Dungarth Dec 10 '12 at 21:24
  • I cannot agree the non-militaristic explanation. Then Sith lords could perfectly appear with force shields, while they don't. – Bardo Dec 11 '12 at 12:56
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    The question didn't ask about the Sith. It asked about the Jedi. The motivations for why the Sith don't carry shields would be different. The sith don't worry about defending people, so they tend to carry TWO lightsabers. The ones who don't are often so strong with the Force, they prefer to have an open hand for manipulating it. I also agree with another writer who said what is the point of carrying a shield against a weapon that cannot be effectively blocked. Sith tend to fight Jedi, so the best shield for a lightsaber is a lighsaber. Accept no substitutes. – Thaddeus Howze Dec 11 '12 at 16:23
18

Lucas originally envisioned it as an Japanese movie with an asian cast, or so I've heard from friends (the sort who are even more nerdy than I). Darth Vader's helmet for instance, vaguely resembles a samurai's helmet in general shape.

If this were true, Japanese swordsmanship doesn't make use of shields. The katana is a two-handed sword and parries strikes and blows as needed.

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    You're right, the Jedi are no carry shield that is based on the samurai and samurai no carry shields, but two-handed swords, but the samurai never faced off against many shooters as the Jedi, so I still consider that the Jedi would have to carry shield to better match his time. – Juan Dec 10 '12 at 10:20
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    I'm agree with the samurai explanation. Even the blaster deflection derive from a samurai technique known as yadomejutsu (literally: Technique of cutting arrows) that was widely depicted on medieval japanese art. – Bardo Dec 11 '12 at 13:00
8

The Jedi don't use shields because there aren't any in universe that would work against a lightsaber

Deflector shield technology in the Star Wars universe is not capable of producing a man sized field that can be powered by a man portable power source that can stop a lightsaber. The closest thing they have is the smaller fields that can hold a door against the vacuum of space, but they are not portable, and Jacen and Jaina have disabled them before with a lightsaber (Young Jedi Knights series)

What about the Gungan shields

During Phantom Menace we see those shields failing under blaster fire, something we know lightsabers are directly stronger than. It wouldn't be worth carrying a shield around that can only withstand a few shots, especially since it have to come with a trade-off in maneuverability.

with those special cases resolved, lets move to the real answer -

You can't turn a light saber into a shield, the physics of that universe don't work that way

Hey, look it, it's the insides!

The important parts of the lightsaber for this answer are the primary crystal and the focusing crystal. Without both of these, when you turn on the lightsaber, you get either a explosion or a slagged lightsaber casing (Young Jedi Academy books, Jedi Academy books). (a smaller explosion than a thermal detonator, so still not militarily applicable). We also learn from Corran Horn, Jedi master that when you mess with the length of the blade it grows weak and unstable (I,Jedi and the yuzhong vong books) to the point that striking anything is enough to able to short circuit the beam.

Basically, the reason that there are so many lightsabers that are exactly the same blade length is because that is the length that they are the most effective at and most Jedi don't find the trade offs worth it

One other small nitpit, that makes sense to me but I don't have a source for, is what material exactly are you going to use as a splash to divert the energy outward in a shield shape? Lightsabers cut through anything. Some materials are resistant but none would hold up to repeated use. Who wants to take equipment into the field that might fail at any moment? Like I said, no source but without a way to do that, I don't see how a lightshield would even be possible.

  • In this page includes lightshield used by the Jedi, although not cannon: starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Light-shield Lightsabers can cut any material, but a lightshield consists of energy, not a material. – Juan Dec 10 '12 at 12:34
  • There are several materials Lightsabers can NOT cut through. Cortosis being one, as well as another saber (which is energy not material as you said) – Monty129 Dec 10 '12 at 12:45
  • cortosis causes the lightsaber to short out, thus would be ineffective for the application. Plus, it's not uncutable, it just has a special property that defeats the technology aspect of the lightsaber. Also, attenuating the blade (like changing it's shape) makes it no longer able to resist cutting. Corran had his lightsaber blade sliced through for just that reason more than once. – sarge_smith Dec 10 '12 at 12:51
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    @juan Not canon means not canon. You can't explain every stupid thing people post on the internet. or in magazines for that matter. – sarge_smith Dec 10 '12 at 12:56
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    I don't recall if it's ever shown on screen, but Droideka shields are said to resist lightsabers. This would explain why Obi Wan and Qui-Gon always flee them. However, these had a serious power source and likely not portable (or harmful to organics). – Schwern Jan 2 '15 at 4:50
5

As depicted in the Star Wars movies, the Jedi were more of an elite, plainclothes police force than soldiers. As peace officers, travelling with all the accoutrements of a soldier was inappropriate to their function. Also, if you're taking automatic weapons fire, a shield is the wrong answer. You should be returning fire and urgently seeking cover, which is what a running Jedi deflecting bolts with his saber would be doing.

  • So it is the same reason why policemen today carry a handgun and baton at most, instead of an assault rifle with grenade launcher, full body armor and helmet. However, we have seen Jedi fighting in real battles, and they still only carry a lightsaber. I understand that when not in a battle they would not carry heavy weapons (just as the famous three musketeers only carried rapiers when in town, and only took their armor and muskets when going into battle), but why do they use the same equipment in battles? – vsz Dec 10 '12 at 7:20
  • A lightshield not provide soldier aspect, because being disabled would look like a bracelet. The lightshield would be impenetrable, so I do not see that it is a wrong solution for automatic weapons. And Vsz is right, at least in the battles the Jedi would have to carry armor and lightshield. – Juan Dec 10 '12 at 10:17
3

The easiest answer i can come up with is they used the air of force around them to dampen the blaster blows and such. You can also see in the sith's case, they used very strong battle armor at times to dampen impact and blaster bolts.

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    +1 and this is the right answer; witness Vader in ep 5 for example - he easily deflects Han's blaster shots just by using the Force. Why bother with a cumbersome ungainly shield that could impede his movement? He has something better! – user8719 Oct 21 '13 at 16:30
1

Just to be clear if we are including recent events on Star Wars: Rebels then a "lightshield" wouldn't be that hard to replicate. If the Inquisitor managed to make his two lightsaber blades spin as fast as he did with a machine imagine if it were designed better and the user was trained to enhance its speed with the Force. It would be spinning so fast it would be a lightsaber shield for deflecting and attacking, kind of like they all would have Captain America shields made of lasers.

0

A light shield could potentially be done in the following manner. The saber would still have all of the traditional parts. However, the lens would have to be altered to have a double divot or, a water-drop shaped lens. This would allow the beam to be dispersed over a larger area in a circular shape. The beam emitter would simply have to be adapted to control properly for the width of the blade/shield.

Also, for best positioning of the light-shield it should probably be worn on or, as a part of a bracer. This provides a few advantages; namely that being disarmed is more difficult. The fixed position also allows for a free hand to utilize for powers with somatic components to them, i.e. hand movements. The saber would have to be reshaped but, you can do it in a side-by-side method or a circular method.

Also, the shield does have advantages itself. There is a wider area to deflect a blaster bolt over. They could come in varying sizes as regular lightsabers do; bucklers, full shields, and great/tower shields. The larger shields would even be great for cutting through doors, walls, ceilings, and floors.

However, the light-shield would not work with the 7 lightsaber forms in the traditional sense and would have to be adapted to them or, have a form all of its own. Also, it requires the second hand to some degree even as a buckler. So, it does limit the wielder's Force use somewhat or, at least can limit it. A lightsaber is a highly specialized weapon and to truly master the shield would me you'd have to focus on training with it as well. This gives it another reason why it was abandoned by the Jedi because it was simply not a feasible to teach to a youngling or for a Jedi Knight to have the time to focus on with their other duties.

I do remember reading a brief excerpt from somewhere a while back about how they did exist. But, they were a old relic of the Hyperspace War and not many Jedi used them even then. After that they became a training tool for younglings that they'd eventually give up before they became Padawans. After a time they were taken from the training completely and pretty much forgot about.

  • 1
    If you can track back that source in the last paragraph, please edit it in - that will improve your answer :) – Jenayah Jul 5 at 6:12

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