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When Did the Term 'Teräs Käsi' First Appear in Star Wars?

In 1996, Steve Perry first used the words to identify the martial art used by Zan and Zu Pike in his book Shadows of the Empire (Bantam).

[6/05] Read the June, 2005 interview with Steve Perry about teräs käsi.

Does 'Teräs Käsi' Mean Anything?

Strictly speaking, not in any known language. In Finnish, "teräs" means "steel" (n.) and "käsi" means "hand" (n.). Being nouns, the two words appearing separately as "teräs käsi" doesn't convey any meaning: They are two objects which don't describe each other, rather like "cheese" and "cloth" are two separate things with separate meanings, yet make a third entirely different thing when conjoined into "cheesecloth". To imply "hand of steel" or "steelhanded" in Finnish, however, it would be "teräskäsi" or "Teräskäsi."

[6/05] Steve Perry wrote to us: "The name, as you figured out, came from Finnish, but doesn't really mean anything other than "steel" and "hand(s)." I don't speak the language but wanted something with a certain kind of sound, and the Norse languages have the kind of rhythm I like. (In my Matador novels, I did the same thing with spetsdod, which was a pair of Swedish words, "point" (as in "sharp end") and "death.""

How is 'Teräs Käsi' Pronounced?

If you go by Finnish pronunciation (presuming the Finnish for "steel" and "hand" were used):

  • "t", "r" and "k" are as in English;
  • "s" is ok as in "star", but can have a "z" or "sh"-ish sound;
  • "e" is usually "eh," but sometimes "ay";
  • "ä" is usually as in "Padme," but sometimes sounds like "eh";
  • "i" is always as in "Threepio";
  • Stress is always on the first syllable.

So acceptable Finnish-based pronunciations are:

  • TEHR'ass, like "tear (up some) ass";
  • KASS'ee, as in "Casio" without the "-o"; or KAZ'ee; or KA'shee

Hear it for yourself at mikropuheLive by copying teräs käsi and pasting it into the window, then click the "Kuuntele puhe" button. The computerized voice distorts the pronunciation a little. Not withstanding any more indignities to the Finnish language, most people I hear pronouncing the words in English say "terh'ass KAH'see".

How do I Type "ä" On My Keyboard?

For Windows systems in English, hold down alt and type 132 (alternatives are 01252 and 0228) on the numerical key pad. On Mac OS type Opton+u then 'a', or use the character keymap.

What is Teräs Käsi in Star Wars Galaxies Terms?

A deadly form of unarmed combat focusing on unarmed combat and near magical meditation skills. Teräs Käsi is an elite profession which first requires training through the Unarmed Specialist branch of the Brawler tree. Teräs Käsi is a very short range method of combat. Teräs Käsi masters are afforded the best skill-based melee attacks and defenses, and are set apart from other melee classes by their speed and meditation abilities.

What is Teräs Käsi in Terms of Star Wars and the Expanded Universe?

One of many martial arts, but one of the few which appears to integrate well with the Force. Mastery of Teräs Käsi is seen as uncommon in galactic terms, but not rare in the Pacanth Reach of the Outer Rim Territories where Teräs Käsi originated. Sith, Jedi and neutral Force-users seem to be attracted to Teräs Käsi: The martial art itself is neither good nor evil.

Are Your Sources on Teräs Käsi Official Star Wars Canon?

Teräs Käsi is NOT part of George Lucas's original story and cannot be considered canon.

  • Canon: The movies and Special Edition screenplays.
  • Continuity: Novels, radio plays and other Lucas-licensed materials. Note that Lucas writes his story the way he decides no matter what has been produced in the way of Lucas-licensed materials, and that even novels have become incontinuitous at points with the release of Lucas's movies.

Credible information on Teräs Käsi is scant and scattered, steeping the actual history of Teräs Käsi in mystery. The Star Wars Role-playing Game (SWRPG), originally released in 1985 by West End Games (WEG) and now supported and produced by Wizards of the Coast (WotC), makes first mention of Teräs Käsi. However, it appears it has been the SWRPG players who created the "history" of Teräs Käsi, not the game's producers (I'm working to verify the facts on this).

  • Do not try and bend the canon. That's impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth.
  • What truth?
  • There is no canon.
  • There is no canon?
  • Then you'll see that it is not the canon that bends, it is only yourself.

Teräs Käsi's Accreditation

Even though Lucas companies approve everything under license, Star Wars games and novels are suspect as canon because there is so much invention on the part of authors. But Teräs Käsi has been inducted up the credibility ladder from it's appearance in novels, RPGs, a video game and comics, and has been directly associated associated with a major Star Wars character.

From the first chapter of Star Wars: Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter (2001. Michael Reaves):

"Using the momentum of the forward thrust, Maul dived over the collapsing droid before him, flowing smoothly into a shoulder roll. He came up twirling his lightsaber overhead, then stepped down solidly into the teräs käsi wide stance called Riding Bantha. Even as he did the movement, part of him was monitoring his body's state. His breathing was slow and even, his pulse elevated by no more than two or three beats per minute from its resting rate."

Although Teräs Käsi is not mentioned In The Phantom Menace (1999), Darth Maul's acrobatic fighting style may have influenced Michael Reaves to write Maul in as a Teräs Käsi expert in DMSH.

But it is Steve Perry ( "Shadows of the Empire", Bantam 1996) who I credit as the Father of Teräs Käsi. Perry's fanaticism for martial arts is evident in his novels, which include the Matador series ("The Man Who Never Missed", 1985; "Matadora", 1986; "The Machiavelli Interface", 1986; "The 97th Step", 1989; "The Albino Knife", 1991; "Black Steel", 1992; and "Brother Death", 1992) which is centered around martial arts liberation fighters. As far as I have been able to determine, Perry is most recently involved with the Indonesian martial art Pentjak Silat. If Perry were to write a series on Teräs Käsi, I feel that it would resonate very strongly with the Matador series.

Not that this list below is complete, but the timeline here should give you an idea of how Teräs Käsi came to be part of the Star Wars universe:

  • May 1996. Bantam: Shadows of the Empire in which Zan and Zu Pike, twin sisters and Teräs Käsi artists, work for Prince Xizor - though the main story is not about the Pikes or Teräs Käsi. In this printing, Teräs Käsi appeared as two words in lowercase with umlauts and in italics: teräs käsi.
  • Jun 1996. West End Games: Shadows of the Empire Sourcebook.
  • 1997. LucasArts Entertainment Company: Masters of Teräs Käsi (video game). Ironically, this game is not a very credible source for unique information about Teräs Käsi because the backstory seems to serve as a rather poor excuse to get famous Star Wars characters in a Tekken-like battle arena: "Arden Lyn, an assassin and a master of Teräs Käsi, has been sent by the Empire to eliminate most of the higher-profile Rebels. The Rebels respond in kind, learning the lost fighting art in the process. The characters include Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, Boba Fett, and of course, Darth Vader." -- Jeff Gerstmann, GameSpot review (12/03/97)
  • Jan 2001. Del Rey: Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter mentions a good number of Teräs Käsi moves and characterizes Darth Maul as a Teräs Käsi practitioner.
  • 2002 (?)., vol 153 issue 55. Includes a sports article on the Teräs Käsi tournament in Aslaja, Bunduki, wherein tournament fighter Phow Ji defeats Teräs Käsi fighter and Jedi Knight Joclad Danva, and kills another tournament fighter, Dux Pike, father of Zan and Zu. Several Teräs Käsi moves are mentioned, as well as other Teräs Käsi fighters.
  • Aug 2002. WotC: Power of the Jedi Sourcebook, offers a brief description of Teräs Käsi and identifies the Jedi Anoon Bonara as a master of Teräs Käsi. In this printing, Teräs Käsi appears as two words all lowercase with umlauts: teräs käsi.
  • May 2003. LucasArts: Star Wars Galaxies (SWG). Though offering nothing in the way of history, Teräs Käsi finds new life in the gaming community when Noh Dojo (now TKO) spawns the first Teräs Käsi Masters.
  • Jun 2003. Wizards of the Coast (WotC): Hero's Guide. At about the same time SWG is released publicly, Hero's Guide is released with details on developing Teräs Käsi skills for SWRPG characters. The guide offers a little history, and states that whether the Followers of Palawa created the martial art is unknown. In this printing, Teräs Käsi always appears as two words with initial caps and umlauts: Teräs Käsi.
  • [6/05] Jul 2004. Del Rey: MedStar I: Battle Surgeons. Palawa Band winner Phow Ji, borrowed from the above HoloNet News article, appears generously and vibrantly as the primary foil character to test Jedi Padawan Barriss Offee. Ji is shown in three fights, one with Offee, and several character defining scenes.
  • [8/05] May 2005. Ubisoft Montreal: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (video game). Clone Assassins, a type of Clone Trooper appearing in the game, are trained in Teräs Käsi, able to dodge attacks and evade Force use. It is not clear whether Teräs Käsi training is what allows Force avoidance.

Is it True the Teräs Käsi Hunted Jedi and the Jedi Feared Teräs Käsi Masters?

[6/05] Foremost, teräs käsi is a martial art: Any purpose an individual or group may have beyond the physical practice of teräs käsi is independent of the art itself. There were a few recorded instances where Jedi fought teräs käsi practitioners. For example, Joclad Danva (HNN) was both a Jedi Knight and Teräs Käsi tournament fighter who was defeated by Phow Ji in the Bunduki Teräs Käsi tournaments. Joclad implied he did not use the Force as his training as a Jedi taught him, but limited himself to using only his training in teräs käsi. Phow Ji later faces Jedi Padawan Barriss Offee (MedStar I) who, like Joclad, must decide whether she should make use of the Force.

In answer to the question of his view on the relationship between Jedi and Teräs Käsi, Steve Perry responds: "Friendly and sometimes not-so-friendly rivalry. You always want to test your art to see if it works, and against somebody who is adept. No thrill in beating somebody who can't fight."

Wasn't the Order of the Teräs Käsi a Secret Organization that Hunted Jedi?

Though I don't know the author's sources, there is an entry in Star Wars Encyclopedia (June 30, 1998. Del Rey. Stephen J. Sansweet.) which states:

"Both a martial art and an Order. The Teräs Käsi were formed from the remnant civilians of a long-ago battle which devastated their home world of Palawa, a war which involved the awesome powers of the Jedi Council. The few survivors of Palawa migrated to a nearby world called Bunduki, where they decided to master mind over body so they may keep the Jedi use of power in check. The Teräs Käsi are thought to be sensitive to changes in the Force, and Teräs Käsi Masters are feared by the Jedi. But Teräs Käsi are not generally Force users as Jedi are: Teräs Käsi draw internal, personal power, while Jedi draw from everything around them."

[6/05] Steve Perry states he has no problem with the above description, and could use a lot of it. The mystery of the Star Wars Encyclopedia entry is the where the idea that "Teräs Käsi" is both a martial art and an Order: Nothing I've seen thus far supports this idea, and, in fact, contradicts the statement. I've only seen mention that the Followers of Palawa were interested in keeping an eye on Jedi.

There is some unverified information about teräs käsi in the timeline by Galactic Embassy, a community of Star Wars RPG fans. In the timeline, it is stated that the Followers of Palawa secretly hunted Dark Jedi and Jedi who were near turning to the Dark Side, and that the Teräs Käsi assassins may have been known as "Shadows."

Do You Have Actual Quotes About Teräs Käsi?

Glad you asked! You can see actual quotes on the Teräs Käsi Citings page. If you have sources you would like to cite and have included in the quotes, click on the Add a Citing link at the top of the Teräs Käsi Citings page.


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