A variety of high-tech weapons exist in Star Wars, yet the Jedi primarily use lightsabers. You may ask why Jedi need lightsabers, and why don’t they seem to need weapons like blasters?
Lightsabers are much more than combat weapons; they’re also part of a Jedi’s identity.
Most Jedi need lightsabers because using one lessens their temptation to use the dark side’s abilities, which go beyond a lightsaber’s power.
It’s also why the Sith use them to a lesser degree. Few Jedi will go without using lightsabers in Canon and Legends.
Table of Contents
Do Jedi Need Lightsabers?
Jedi do not always need lightsabers, as Yoda proved during his duel with Darth Sidious in Revenge of the Sith. However, it’s also appropriate to note that Yoda was a generational talent, and perhaps no other Jedi in the Star Wars universe matched him in power.
So, the true answer to the question is this: Jedi do not need lightsabers, but most Jedi do.
For one, the lightsaber is the symbol of the Jedi Order, as Obi-Wan Kenobi kindly reminded Anakin Skywalker throughout Attack of the Clones, whenever he lost his lightsaber.
During the Golden Age of the Republic, Jedi also identified themselves with one another by wearing their lightsaber at their hip. Especially if they ventured into situations that may have required them to diffuse, or to become involved in a scuffle if tensions escalated.
During this age, which lasted until the Clone Wars, Jedi could de-escalate tensions fast by igniting their lightsaber. Often, a lightsaber was all they needed to deter potential aggressors because of its ability to block blasters and other long-range weapons.
Also, a Jedi was responsible for acting as a conduit with the light side of the Force. Meaning they, and even those few Jedi who did not need lightsabers, used them not just for offensive attacks, but also for defense.
It’s important to remember, Jedi could not initiate force, nor could they attack their opponent first. The lightsaber ensured that a Jedi did not need to use offensives to de-escalate a potentially violent confrontation.
Jedi were also proponents for close-range dueling, as opposed to non-Force-sensitive users and the Sith. The latter of whom used the dark side of the Force to learn offensive maneuvers from long-range.
Why do Jedi Need/Use Lightsabers?
Obi-Wan Kenobi sheds light on why Jedi need and use lightsabers early in the novelization of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. In it, he states the following:
“This was the formal weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. More skill than simple sight was required for its use. An elegant weapon. It was a symbol as well. Anyone can use a blaster or a fusion-cutter.
“But to use a lightsaber well was a mark of someone a cut above the ordinary.”
Breaking down Obi-Wan Kenobi’s statement, he outlines several reasons why Jedi needed lightsabers.
For one, he states, “more skill than simple sight.” Jedi needed lightsabers because the skill required to use one involved Force-sensitivity. While anyone can use a lightsaber, Jedi needed them to evoke the skill they were born with.
Lightsabers were more than just weapons; they were also shields, as Mace Windu and countless other Jedi showed during the First Battle of Geonosis in Attack of the Clones.
But Didn’t Some Jedi Not Use Lightsabers in Specific Situations?
Okay, you may be shouting, Force Lightning, or Force Choke. While it’s true Force-sensitive individuals did not need lightsabers for specific maneuvers, both movements were akin to the Sith, not the Jedi.
Further, Jedi theoretically could go without the lightsaber, as Yoda demonstrated when he used a Force push against Darth Sidious. But Yoda primarily went without his lightsaber before he drew it to duel Sidious, and after he lost it, in which he reflected Force lightning.
That said, let’s break down Obi-Wan’s next statement when he says, “it was a symbol as well. Anyone could use a blaster or a fusion-cutter.”
This statement jumps out because the lightsaber symbolized everything the Jedi Order stood for — peace and justice. And every being in the Galactic Republic knew this.
Finally, Obi-Wan says, “But to use a lightsaber well was the mark of someone a cut above the ordinary.” The Jedi, as Force-sensitive beings, were probably more than a cut above the ordinary in the Old Republic.
And given their rarity in the Galactic Empire, they were more than a cut above. As Luke and Anakin Skywalker proved in Return of the Jedi, even when they were at their most vulnerable, they could still overpower the dark side.
Also, only Jedi could wield lightsabers at maximum efficiency. Non Force-sensitive beings could not block blasters with lightsabers, nor could they take on a Force-sensitive Jedi in a lightsaber duel.
Once again, the symbolism takes center stage.
Yoda showed us that the Jedi can handle themselves without a lightsaber. But to maximize the light side of their Force sensitivity, most needed them, as few attempted to block blasters without a lightsaber.
Why Do the Sith Not Use/Need Lightsabers Like the Jedi?
You may notice that many Sith Lords either don’t use lightsabers or they use lightsabers in conjunction with long-range attacks. For example, Darth Sidious rarely uses his lightsaber extensively until the climactic scene in Revenge of the Sith.
Also, since the Sith derive their power from the dark side, they’re not looking to become one with the Force, or to even see themselves as a conduit like Jedi do. Instead, the Sith is looking to become larger than the Force, to rule over it.
They use negative emotions, like anger, rage, and hate to try and accomplish this goal. Sith Lords and their apprentices seek to kill and gain power at all costs, and although a lightsaber is a powerful tool, the power they’re seeking goes beyond that of a lightsaber.
Lightsabers are not like traditional swords, but tools to help Jedi become at one with the Force. And while the Sith will use lightsabers, as shown in both Canon and Legends, they act as though lightsabers are second-rate given their ultimate power limitations.
Sion Fawkes has been covering Star Wars since January 2022, expanding his expertise in both Star Wars Canon and Legends. When not writing, you can find Sion in the gym or running trails. He also likes watching sports and listening to audiobooks.