The New Lightsaber Is Old

The updated lightsaber, featured in “The Force Awakens.”

The trailer of “The Force Wakens,” episode VII of “Star Wars,” offered a fleeting glimpse of an updated version of the lightsaber.

We heard its muted sizzle, saw its red, argon glow, and we could tell, instantly, that’s it’s not quite the same device we’ve seen in the previous six installments.

The new weapon has a three-pronged blade, giving it the unmistakable aura of a slick medieval sword. It has a cross-guard.

The original “Star Wars” trilogy featured single-blade lightsabers. Those of the Jedi knights emitted green or blue plasma beams; those of the Sith warriors, red.

Fans have denounced it as “dumb.” Others have said, it’d slice off a wielder’s hands. They couldn’t be more wrong.

The anatomy of a sword.

The cross-guard—a bar of metal, perpendicular to the blade, placed between the blade and the hilt—was developed in the 10th century, with the goal of protecting the hand from the opponent blade that was deliberately slid down the length of the blade.

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