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There's a lot of discussion going around about the new lightsaber in Star Wars VII. One criticism I've heard is that the cross-guard on the lightsaber doesn't look like it's going to do anything. One function of a cross guard is to stop your opponents blade from sliding down your own and lopping off all of your fingers. As you can see in the image below, there's a little nub of an emitter at the base of the cross-guard. Wouldn't an opponents lightsaber just lop the cross-guard right off as it slid down the blade?

With that in mind, what prevented people from losing fingers in the first place? Can lightsaber blades even slide against each other? This scene from the battle between Obi-Wan and Dooku seems to suggest that they can.

enter image description here

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    <comments removed> Okay everyone, I know how popular this thing is to discuss. Please take it to chat. Keep the comments here about the question quality, and not its topic. – user1027 Dec 3 '14 at 14:10
  • Isn't the answer a bit opinion-based for now? – PartyKingThrandeezy Dec 3 '14 at 16:18
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    @PartyKingThrandeezy – I dunno, it might be, but considering that there are apparently some crossguards (at least half-crossguards) on lightsabers already in canon I'd assume there's also some explanation. – ShemSeger Dec 3 '14 at 16:40
  • Even though this question is interesting, it is off-topic because there simply is no answer available yet. All we can do is speculate. – Kevin Dec 4 '14 at 14:40
  • Do we even know they're crossguards? They could be something else, like exhausts. – Rogue Jedi Sep 12 '15 at 15:02
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+50

I can see how it can be useful. If the plasma beam is split at the crystal inside the hilt, then there is a plasma beam inside the cross-guard surrounded by metal. So then the metal shroud around guard is not there to protect your fingers from the enemy's blade, but to protect your fingers from your own cross-guard blades when your hand slides up the main shaft. If the enemy's blade slides down yours into your cross-guard, it will cut through the metal, but the beam is still there inside to stop their blade.


EDIT: Via @DVK, the image below shows that the actual implementation is similar to my previous conjecture.

The crossguard blades, or quillons, are tributaries of the primary central blade

and it's clear from the image they are shrouded in metal.

enter image description here

http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/11115/111155790/4967134-0923527786-P4K2d.jpg

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    +1 this is exactly how I assumed the plasma beam worked. It's not like the beam starts just at the end of the metal as everyone thinks. – Alfredo Hernández Dec 3 '14 at 6:24
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    You could still question why the metal is there in the first place? Couldn't such a metal part be better fitted below the crossblade so it's not damaged the first time you parry something? – Mario Dec 3 '14 at 9:22
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    @Mario But that doesn't look nearly as cool. Seriously though you gotta consider aesthetics along with functionality. If they had it designed like you said people would say it looks stupid and awkward despite the logic behind it. – Demarini Dec 3 '14 at 17:16
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    This is what Colbert also believes. – Red_Shadow Dec 3 '14 at 19:42
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    This image (via DVK) seems to support this answer. – Raphael Jan 11 '16 at 18:33
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Time For A Lightsaber 101

enter image description here


There appear to be a lot of people doing a significant amount of research about this. It'll be interesting to finally see the movie and figure out what the real answers are.


Original Source?: Alright Imgur I'm putting this debating to rest! Time for a lightsaber 101

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    Can you transcribe part of the image text into the alt text (that's what the "enter image description here" placeholder is for) so that those with screen readers are able to read it? – Lèse majesté Sep 15 '15 at 6:17
  • having seen the film, I still don't understand why the crossguard is useful – Kidburla Dec 18 '15 at 14:12
  • @Kidburla: There's no reason to think that his crossguard IS useful. We already know that Kylo Ren is an unstable kid. Perhaps he wasn't smart enough to make a lightsaber that didn't have side vents. Perhaps the crystal he found resonated with him as a metaphor for himself. Or... perhaps he wanted it because he thought it looked cool. – David Liu Jan 5 '16 at 20:45
  • @DavidLiu thanks, good points........actually, after seeing the movie a second time, now I understand why the crossguard is useful (it's used in one of the fight scenes - I missed that the first time) – Kidburla Jan 5 '16 at 21:47
  • Downvoting this for form; text in answers should be text (copy-paste, screenreaders, search, ...), not hidden in images. Also, copy-pasting from another source is less than desirable. – Raphael Jan 11 '16 at 18:35
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I think a lot of what you're seeing here may be just bad visual design overall.

We could argue that the hilt of the saber is built from various forms of Star Wars unobtainium (cortorsis, etc) but ideally engineering would dictate that simply splitting the emitter or creating a corona would provide the necessary function mimicked in the weapon. Advanced sword play will show more necessity than simply defending the hand, but keeping it as simple as possible. I think we are seeing an example of "wow that will look cool, it looks like an old weapon" getting ahead of the actual functionality.

4

It can be used as a defensive technique, by preventing your fingers/hand from getting cut like you said, but it can also be used as an offensive technique.

You can slide it down to the bottom of your enemy's lightsaber and disarm him.

(misleading title:)

4

Having seen The Force Awakens, the real answer becomes more obvious. I'll keep the answer spoiler-free however.

Lightsaber blades can indeed slide against each other, and when that happens and you both are in a bind, using the crossguard to poke your opponent is a nice feature. It also dissuades other people from trying to grab the hilt at the same time, unless they are unaware.

Although Wookieepedia has sources claiming it is simply a necessary engineering part of the design: "His lightsaber, based on an ancient design dating back to the Great Scourge of Malachor, relied upon a cracked kyber crystal that could barely contain the power of the weapon, necessitating the lateral plasma vents that produced its signature crossguard quillons." They cite two sources for this.

2

I want to answer one thing about this, and that's the whole 'not losing your own fingers on this thing' part. If you remember the kids in the Jedi temple on Coruscant (if I'm spelling that planet name right), they had training sabers. Those are related to what I'm about to get at.

The containment field on a lightsaber can have its strength adjusted. Training sabers have it locked to a very high setting, meaning that the lightsaber is very restricted in how much damage it can actually do. Most other lightsabers can have the field strength adjusted for various reasons and applications.

One such application is in the crossguard here. The blade (or blades, we don't know what the internals look like yet) is either a separate plasma field or possibly drawn from the main. In either case, its own containment field could be set up just like a training saber, ensuring the crossguard does about as much damage on contact as a training saber. So it'll hurt a bit, but unless you intentionally try to cut off your fingers, it shouldn't do much else.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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It's entirely an aesthetic choice in production. The entire franchise mirrors historic events, 4-6 is an allegory for fighting Naziism and 1-3 represents the fall of Roman democracy in favor for one supreme ruler.

The cross guard makes the light saber resemble a crusader sword, so that may be an indication to plot direction.

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    -1. The OP is asking for an in-universe explanation. "That's the way the people who made the movie wanted it" is completely irrelevant. Also, where did you get the idea that the original trilogy is a WWII allegory? – dodgethesteamroller Mar 19 '15 at 23:31
  • Watch a video of when the Emperor enters the second Death Star and not see the comparison to Hitler. There have been made for TV documentaries about this specific subject. And this question is unnecessary in of its self because both logic to its design and reference made to non-cinema source material were secondary priorities to maintaining George Lucas's traditions when this light saber was put into this movie. – Kings Adviser Mar 20 '15 at 0:06
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    There have been made for TV documentaries about this specific subject. Citation? I think you're making this all up. The only connections between WWII and the original trilogy are stylistic, not thematic: the FX crew used in-camera footage of aerial dogfights as a model when shooting the POV footage from the fighters attacking the Death Star; and, embarrassingly, Lucas modeled the "medal" scene at the end on a similar shot in Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will. – dodgethesteamroller Mar 23 '15 at 7:33
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    1-3 represents the fall of Roman democracy in favor for one supreme ruler. You might just as well argue that it's about the 2004 midterm elections in the USA and the so-called Republican "Contract with America." Nute Gunray = Newt Gingrich. – dodgethesteamroller Mar 23 '15 at 7:37
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    I'm not taking it personally. You're just wrong. You say "symbolism," but you mean "similarity." You say "comparison," but you mean "parallel." I think you're having trouble with the distinction between Lucas' intentions and what you're reading into the text. It's a common mistake to project the latter onto the former. – dodgethesteamroller Mar 27 '15 at 2:48

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