Lightsaber duels often end with the loss of a limb. Yes, losing a hand or limb to a lightsaber wielder is not uncommon in the Star Wars galaxy. Turns out, this is not some kind of entertaining tradition upheld by sadistic filmmakers. It seems, there is an actual reason for it, inspired by Lucas’s influence from old samurai movies.

In the Star Wars book, The Essential Guide To The Force, we learn there is a definitive reason for cutting off a hand in lightsaber combat. Now this particular book falls into the legends category, but some of the facts in this book are definitely canon as established by the original trilogy and prequel films, so this fits in under that category.

“Cho mai translates as “to cut off the weapon hand.” Because this strike instantly ends an opponent’s ability to use a weapon but does not kill, cho mai is always a preferred move in combat.”

Cin Drallig, Jedi

It’s a technique called Cho Mai and it’s one of the desired outcomes of a lightsaber duel. Check out the in-depth explanation in this video from the guys over at Star Wars Theory. Enjoy and may the Force be with you.

Luke getting hand cut off. Empire Strikes Back
Empire Strikes Back lightsaber duel.