Why The New 'Star Wars' Lightsaber Actually Makes Sense

It's silly, yes, but not entirely impractical.

The biggest debate coming out of the teaser for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" -- beside "How awesome was it?" -- centered around the series' newest lightsaber and whether the cross design sucks.

On the surface, the two small, fiery offshoots could be explained at the ever-innovating lightsaber industry just looking to slap on more blades somewhere. How else are they going to sell new toys?


But if fans are looking for a more strategic explanation for why a "Star Wars" baddie would wield this type of lightsaber, all they really need to do is read up on historical weaponry.

When the mysterious figure in the teaser ignites all three beams of his or her lightsaber, the finished product looks something like a medieval sword, which would make the new design elements a sci-fi crossguard, a familiar piece that sits perpendicular to the hilt and the blade.

The primary use of a crossguard -- and the one a lot of people focused on in their critiques -- is to protect the hands and fingers of the wielder. This makes sense because "Star Wars" is really into chopping off hands.


The crossguard would stop an opponent's sword from sliding down the blade and directly hitting the fingers. Many critics of the new lightsaber point out the since the metal hilt sticks out sideways, any oncoming lightsaber could slice through and hit the wielder's hands.

This complaint, while valid, does ignore the second purpose of the crossguard: to prevent the holder's hand from slipping forward onto the blade during a thrusting motion. If the entire width of the new crossguard were made of lasers, it would be particularly dangerous. The lip prevents any accidental slippage.

So the next time you find yourself in an argument about the practicality of a lightsaber design, remember that it was created by professionals, who probably thought this stuff through, also that you're arguing about the practicality of a lightsaber design.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" opens in theaters on December 18, 2015.

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