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I understand that the mechanics and design of a lightsaber aren't that complicated. Do others besides the Jedi and Sith (or their minions) make or use lightsabers? And if they don't, why not?

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    That's cheating! :P You edited your question to exclude Sith minions. In any case, Grievous is not a Force-user, which is probably what you're looking for. – Andres F. Jan 28 '12 at 0:37
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    Yeah, there was this one bloke. Not sure if you know him. Went by the name of Han Solo. Likes cutting open tontons. – bitmask Jul 21 '13 at 20:31
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    Pre Vizla was a non-force user who used a lightsaber. He held his on versus Obi-Wan and Darth Maul even though he was defeated both times. (R.I.P. Pre Vizla) – jacen.garriss Sep 23 '13 at 17:44
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    General Grievous is an example... – Captain Cold Dec 13 '15 at 6:12
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    Ah, but Finn used a lightsaber with ease in The Force Awakens. And he had no training at all, whatsoever. – bgmCoder Jan 11 '16 at 22:45

14 Answers 14

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From Wookiepedia:

Due to the weightlessness of plasma and the strong gyroscopic effect generated by it, lightsabers required a great deal of strength and dexterity to wield, and it was extremely difficult—and dangerous—for the untrained to attempt using. However, in the hands of an expert of the Force, the lightsaber was a weapon to be greatly respected and feared.

Basically, the Jedi order is an order of discipline, and a demonstration of that discipline is the use of their chosen weapon. To the general public the light saber would be nearly anachronistic by the time of the events of the original movies. Pointed to by Obi-Wan saying that it

"This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age."

'Normal' people don't use them because they are too difficult, and too obsolete in most people's hands.

While it is true that non-force attuned people physically CAN use light sabers, they generally avoid it because they are dangerous and not worth it in the end. Add to that the fact that all of the really cool things about light sabers (deflecting blaster bolts etc) generally come from force-influenced reflexes and so at its best in a normal persons hands its a glowing sword in a world filled with guns.

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    Agreed - this is probably the best answer. It's similar to swords today, which are seen by most people as obsolete and potentially dangerous to the wielder. The few people that collect and/or use them do so because of their elegance. If you simply wanted to kill someone or defend yourself, you'd probably use a gun, not a sword. – Omegacron Feb 17 '14 at 19:00
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    +1 for 'glowing sword in a world filled with guns' - it makes sense, and is humorously put. – Megha Jan 5 '16 at 0:35
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    Where do the Wookiepedia authors get that? We see several untrained characters (even pre-Disney) pick up and activate a lightsaber. Nowhere is there any indication that there are forces at work that are hard to control. Yes, you have to be careful and precise, but where is strength needed? – Raphael Jan 11 '16 at 18:39
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    Strong gyroscopic effect...of the plasma...makes it difficult to- LALALALA I CANT HEAR YOUR BS PSEUDOSCIENCE – Broklynite Sep 23 '16 at 21:01
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The answer is obviously yes, if only because Grievous wasn't a Jedi or Sith and he was successful at handling 4 lightsabers simultaneously (and if I remember correctly, even managed to defeat several Jedi before facing Obi Wan).

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An extremely skilled one, according to Wookieepedia:

After being made Supreme Commander, Grievous proceeded to wreak havoc on the Republic for the three-year–span of the Clone Wars. The general was trained in the art of lightsaber combat by Dooku himself, who was also a Sith Lord. Grievous was a quick study and eventually came to be recognized as one of the most skilled duelists in the galaxy.

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While it might be difficult for a non-force user to wield and fight with a lightsaber, it has been known to happen:

From Ask A Jedi:

Han Solo did it, but didn’t fight with it. In a non-canon story Boba Fett did however. In Episode III, the Clone Wars miniseries, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars General Grevious does too. In Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 2 Pre Viszla does it as well as one of the thieves who stole Ahsoka’s. In season 3 of the same show we know Cad Bane jumps on the bandwagon as well. Finally we have Anja Gallandro, who appeared in Star Wars: Young Jedi Knights in the novel Return to Ord Mantell by Kevin J Anderson and Rebecca Moestra.

So we have G, T, and C canon examples of it happening.

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Han solo used Luke's Lightsaber in Episode V! Watch this:

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There are two major reasons why non-force users aren't seen using the light saber. The first I think is often exaggerated because of various lazy references in the literature which can no longer assumed to be part of the new cannon.

There are early references to the "gyroscopic" effect making it difficult to use a blade but frankly I think the original movies themselves undercut this notion because of the ease with which Han uses one to cut open the TaunTaun and the ease with which Luke waves one around in the first movie. I think if there were really was a gyroscopic effect going on we would see some kind of difficulty in controlling it. The counter that Luke is force sensitive is very weak because it is demonstrated very clearly that what he lacks is the ability to control the force. Which he would require in a gyroscopic type test.

The first and most important reason that the lightsaber isn't more popular among non force-users is actually very simple--they can't get their hands on one. Jedi are very rare in a Galactic sense, and their weapons are therefore also rare. One isn't going to simply find one lying about in a junkyard. More importantly though they are the only source of constructing them. They also (and this would appear to be valid in new canon based on Rebels) require kyber crystals to construct. And seem to be constructed using the force.

The second reason is practicality. They are, in an absolute sense, bringing a sword to a gun fight. If you brought a lightsaber to a fight against a blaster you will lose (unless you are fighting a stormtrooper who can't hit anything except Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen). If you brought a lightsaber to a fight against a Jedi you will lose even faster. The advantages Jedi have in fight with them are mostly due to the force.

There is one other reason, but it is mostly related to story telling. Lucas wanted them to be the knights (not unlike the knights of the round table) of the romance. They were chivalrous and noble. Swords are the weapons of knights. In early mockups they were a commonplace weapon, however they were quickly restricted to the the Jedi to make them more distinctive.

In summary they can and do use them. They just almost never get the opportunity.

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If you think about it there have been plenty of non-Force sencitives who have used lightsabers: Han Solo on Hoth, Viszla and the Darksaber, the girl who stole Ahsoka's lightsaber and was stopped by the old wise Jedi with the white saber, and Cad Bane when he fought Obi-Wan with Quinlan Vos's lightsaber. Boba Fett was able to use a lightsaber against Vader, and General Grievous used a lightsaber. Plus there are special laser swords called lightfoils that were used by nobles of some sector I can't remember at the moment. These nobles were called saber rakes.

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Anyone could use a lightsaber, but Jedi and Sith have force reflexes to deflect bullets and do awesome stuff. So for non-force wielders, a lightsaber isn't an effective weapon at all!

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    If anyone can use it, why then isn't it an effective weapon? You've contradicted yourself. – Monty129 May 12 '13 at 21:36
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    There's no conflict between using something and using it effectively or well. Anyone can use a computer, anyone can drive a car, anyone can cook food. That doesn't mean it's worthwhile eating what they cook. – Wayne May 31 '14 at 20:10
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I'd like to just add a point that hasn't been touched on I don't think, though all the above is pretty much spot on as well.

Consider for a moment taking a blade-less sword, just the hilt and how quickly it could be wielded with no weight in the blade itself. Now attach the deadly light saber to it, you can move it so quickly that I would argue in a real fight it would be quite deadly to a non jedi opponents in close combat, but very deadly to the user as well. One wrong reflexive twitch and you cut yourself wide open. It would be like wielding a real sword, to an extent, but never so much as touching any edge of the blade even lightly, sharp side or not. The jedi have situational awareness of exactly where the hilt is pointing, and where it is going next, it would be very deadly to the user if you didn't have that awareness. Basically part of its amazingness, the combination of quick and deadly, the ability to maneuver it almost instantly with the flick of a wrist, is what also makes it to easy to hurt yourself with and too impractical for non jedi.

It has a far too high expense to usefulness ratio to be practical for everyone even a well off fighter to carry I would think. That being said, given no other option in close combat, should it come to that, if a light saber were nearby and available, I would certainly expect that anyone would attempt to use it with no other weapon available, likely even over conventional close weapons.

In season 1 or early season 2 of the clone wars, princess Amadala is taken hostage with some other senators and happens to have Anakin's lightsaber. She poses to another senator whether she should use it should she need to. I think this scenario is very realistic, it is still a devastating option in close combat, but it is more useful in situations like this where you wouldn't ideally find yourself as a non jedi in the first place. Non jedi are going to spend their efforts not being put in a situation where a lightsaber would ever be useful. Just like today's war forces, or even home protection, you never want to be close enough to come to blows with the opponent ideally.

Also, while the movies and such focus on activities surrounding jedi, keep in mind that jedi are extremely rare (I seem to recall reading somewhere at the height of the council, there were around 10,000 known jedis, and estimates figured ten times that many unknown, so 110,000 out of trillions of being force attuned, and 10,000 out of trillions that actually practice). The odds of coming across that kind of weapon, or having to defend against it are quite rare in reality, and even if you had to defend against it, you aren't going to beat a jedi in a lightsaber dual, fighting fire with fire does not hold here for non jedi.

One unlikely scenario.... If for some reason the price went down and proliferation of lightsabers went up, like say if an army decided it would/could equip all it soldier with lightsabers, and it made tactical advantage to do so, then you'd suddenly see an increase in the use by everyone else so that they had some sort of close combat defense against it. You'd also likely see unintentional self inflicted casualties rise in said armies!

  • You seem to forget the gyroscopic effect in the lightsaber and how that makes it difficult to handle. – Tango Aug 26 '14 at 3:45
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There have been records of non-Force-sensitive people using lightsabers, but because the blades don't have any weight, they are rather awkward to use. Force-sensitive people can wield them the way they do because of the extra sense and reflexes the Force gives them.

  • General Grievous is a skilled duelist even though he is not Force sensitive! – Andres F. Jan 28 '12 at 0:39
  • @AndresF.: Yes, but Grievous has strong, precise mechanical "muscles" to control the things with. There's probably software support helping him position the things as well. – Tynam Jan 28 '12 at 23:32
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    @Tynam I agree that is a factor. Nevertheless, most of his lightsaber skills must be in his mind; otherwise the Empire would have simply created an army of lightsaber-wielding cyborgs and become an unstoppable force ;) Since they didn't, it cannot be just about mechanical muscles. – Andres F. Jan 29 '12 at 1:05
  • @AndresF.: You're right; I didn't mean that mechanical strength and precision were enough by themselves - otherwise a droid army would work better than it does. I just meant that Grievous probably needed the mechanical precision and talent and training to be able to use multiple lightsabers. Without incredible talent and training he wouldn't be good enough; without mechanical assistance he wouldn't be strong or precise enough. – Tynam Jan 29 '12 at 11:02
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Yes.

As we know, Kylo Ren is neither a Jedi nor a Sith, yet he uses a lightsaber. Ergo, some people who use lightsabers are not Jedi or Sith.

  • And Finn, who fights him with one… – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 1 '16 at 0:24
  • +1 for being tricky. That being said, Ren is a trained Jedi acolyte. – Valorum Sep 23 '16 at 19:09
  • This must be your shortest answer ever. ;) – Adamant Sep 23 '16 at 20:30
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Although General Grievous wasnt exactly a Jedi, he was a droid mixed with the force. Called the Perfect Droid, it's the perfect balance between droids/robots/electronics(whatever you want to call them) and the Living Force. Giving him the advantages a Jedi have, added to the non-living metalic materials made to create him. So in other words, General Grievous doesnt even count as a non-force user. For the force in combined and intertwined in the droid. So I wouldnt believe a non-force user would be able to use a lightsaber unless they had some force attributes.

  • Grevious was originally a Kaleesh being before being augmented after sustaining injuries. The star wars wiki has him being quoted as saying "I am not a droid!" If anything he is the perfect balance between organic and synthetic life. – Solomon May 31 '14 at 15:33
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Yes. There are many users.

Han, Flin, General Grievous, Mandalorians ( Darksabers ) etc.

All non Jedi and all non trained.

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Great question. I had always assumed that a lightsaber was an energy generator, with a focal crystal that allowed force users to project. Up until recent times, it was only force users who could actually turn it on.

People seem to have gotten the bad habit of allowing anyone to be able to turn it on. Force sensitives, such as Han Solo and Boba Fett, had enough strength to ignite one, but not to use it effectively as a weapon (being able to concentrate on project their will while engaging in combat).

With that in mind, it makes the different styles of combat more important to each individual; the more powerful (sentinels, juggernauts) will easily dominate the less powerful with the sheer awesomeness of their blades. That would also be the reason why some force users focus more on affecting and manipulating the environment, using sabers and dexterity defensively.

That would also explain how a 30 lb. Yoda could match sabers with Sith Lords of obviously superior strength.

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Can't use a light saber if hes not Jedi or Sith lol But I mean come on they have to be modded or the person as to be modded to even use it. Or had killed a Jedi when he was using said light sword.
Some story lines have slipped up by letting non force users use them anyways.. Cannon maybe they can be left active and none active? a setting on them?. lol you need the force to be able to active them crystals was linked to the person using them.. Cannon and legend so just stop any other thing is wrong or not a real light saber/swords. None cannon but should be, same with color of said swords should be link to moods and so on actions of the person. (p,s finn is a Jedi end of/. son of someone mace windu or his grandson.) and to add this (dark side powers is anti life and light side powers are life.)

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    Who is "he" in the first paragraph? Were you attempting to reply to one of the other answers? Please take a look at the help center to learn how this site works. – Null Sep 23 '16 at 19:06
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    Welcome to the site! Your answer is confusing and it's hard to tell what your point is. Please edit and improve it. See tour and help center for more tips. :) – RedCaio Sep 23 '16 at 19:08
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    @RedCaio - "confusing" barely covers it. – Valorum Sep 23 '16 at 19:09
  • I asked the question and I have no idea just what you are trying to say in this answer. I'm not saying that to be mean, I honestly am not clear what you are trying to say. From what I read, it seems like this answer is contradicting some of what we've seen in the movies. Also, many sentences are just incomplete thought fragments. – Tango Sep 24 '16 at 3:49

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