What’s the Deal with Trákata?

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I recently reposted one of my old YouTube videos on TikTok. It went viral within a day, but I wasn’t that surprised about it. I had expected it to go viral on YouTube, but the algorithm just kept passing it by. What did surprise me was that I couldn’t find any videos demonstrating the technique I filmed. Sure, there were dozens of videos with people describing the method or using LED lightsabers to demonstrate it. But no one had shown the actual technique using visual effects. Believe me, I searched exhaustively for years. I figured the only way I would see it executed was if I made it myself.

I posted my original video in 2017, the same day The Last Jedi was released. It probably got lost among the mountains of other Star Wars content released around that time. My clip included a long text scroll at the beginning, providing some background info about the technique. The technique is known as Trákata, and it was born from Star Wars fanon almost two decades ago. That’s right, its origins are from fan fiction, not canon.

The version of the video I posted on TikTok doesn’t include the text scroll, so impatient viewers can watch the ‘action’ sequence the right way. Many viewers were delighted to see the pass-the-blade technique using visual effects. The only thing resembling this that made it to the big screen was Kylo Ren turning Rey’s lightsaber on and off to take out one of Snoke’s guards. You can see that here.

Many other viewers were quick to point out that this technique was viewed as dishonorable by the Jedi and cowardly by the Sith. I had already acknowledged this in the opening text of my first version.

Regardless of whether or not this technique was “frowned upon” by the two main factions, that’s not a good reason to exclude it from the big screen. If anything, that represents a more compelling reason to include it as often as possible. Anyone familiar with the lore knows there is no shortage of seriously messed up acts committed by both sides. Consider the absurdity of a character uttering this line.

Anakin: I killed a room full of younglings and a village full of Tusken Raider families, but I would never…ever…do something so cowardly as turning my lightsaber off and on during a duel.

Or this.

Palpatine: I blew up a couple of planets inhabited by billions of innocent civilians. But only a lowly coward would dare use the pass-the-blade technique in a duel.

How about this?

Lucien Draay (Jedi Covenant): We have had shared visions of the destruction of the Jedi Order and the end of the Galactic Republic. To prevent this, we have no choice but to murder all of our Padawans. At least they won’t have a chance to grow up and learn that dastardly Trákata technique.

I’m not the only one who acknowledges that the Jedi Order ticks off many of the boxes of a religious cult. We know that no organization can get 100% of its members to follow its rules 100% of the time. Someone will always dissent. We also know a consistent, unwritten rule that predates advanced civilization. If you repeatedly tell someone something is forbidden, they will eventually try it. Did I mention that the technique was developed and named by the Jedi Order?

While it’s unlikely that the Jedi would use a technique that relies on deception, the Sith aren’t guided by strict rules and regulations. Imagine if the actual deception was convincing the entire galaxy that the Sith would never use this “cowardly” Jedi Order technique, only to catch unsuspecting opponents off guard. Are the Sith really afraid of looking cowardly? Darth Jar Jar says, “No, suh!”

The Sith’s entire rise to power came about as a result of deception after deception after deception. Hell, the dark side of the force is deception incarnate. I doubt every Sith throughout lore history would have shunned a deceptive technique in life-or-death situations just because it appeared cowardly. But if you’re married to this orthodoxy, consider that there was a time when Trákata was created, used, and named. Numerous stories could be centered on its inception and even explain why it was eventually banned. There’s an even better story I have in mind.

I seriously doubt I would spend time writing narratives for someone else’s fictional universe. My own universe is already taking a considerable amount of my time. The concept I envisioned is based on a man who died the same year I was born. He was a martial artist and actor who established schools in the US where he trained non-Asian students. Many Chinese martial arts instructors forbade teaching their combat arts to non-Asians. One even challenged him to a fight, with the stakes being that he would agree to shut down his school if he lost. I won’t get into the conflicting accounts regarding this fight and the reason for it, but I will say that many throughout the world know this man as Li Jun Fan. He was better known as Bruce Lee.

A Star Wars version of this story might be about a Padawan who gets kicked out of the Jedi Order for repeated use of forbidden techniques. The person would not embrace the Sith but instead might go on to create his own style that embraces deception and some aspects of the dark side. This is an interesting story, regardless of how it ends.

Another intriguing aspect of such a story would be a visual representation of using Trákata with Jar’Kai. The combatant might simultaneously swing two blades at an opponent and turn off one blade when the opponent blocks. Even an offensive type of block wouldn’t stop the second blade from going by and reigniting. While no combat style is unbeatable, this would be quite difficult to counter and totally cool to watch. I’m working on an example of this. I hope you watch it.

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