Now, Star Wars fans can grab hold of George Lucas’s space sword and fight each other in a regulated battleground to truly determine who is the best “real life” Jedi!
To encourage young people to engage in regular exercise, the French Fencing Federation has made lightsaber duelling an officially recognised competitive sport. Now, Star Wars fans can grab hold of George Lucas’s LED-lit space sword and fight each other just like people do with foil, épée, and sabre. The difference is that you won’t be able to cause any harm as they are made out of rigid polycarbonate and although they look and sound remarkably similar to the ‘real deal’, they are not.
Combating the 21st century ‘Dark Side’ – the sedentary lifestyle – the French Fencing Federation are equipping fencing clubs with lightsabers and also training people to become lightsaber instructors. Serge Aubailly, the federation’s secretary general, mentioned that young people nowadays are more focused on exercising their thumbs than practising a real sport. For that matter, they have decided to try and integrate modern technologies within their discipline, in the hope that it will make a difference.
Back in the day, characters such as Zorro, Robin Hood and the Three Musketeers – Athos, Porthos and Aramis – drew young people towards fencing. Now, times have changed and other characters are influencing youngsters. “Cape-and-sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth,” said Serge.
For the new sport to work, competition rules are being produced by French organisers. Michael Ortiz, organiser of a national lightsaber tournament, agreed that although they want to see a sport with a lot of visual impact, it also needs to be safe and umpired.
According to the rules, combatants will be fighting inside a circle and will be scored five points for head and body shots; three points for arms or legs; and one point on hands. To win, the fighters must reach 15 points, or, if the fight lasts for too long, whoever has the most points at the end of the three minutes round is victorious. In the case of both fighters reaching 10 points, they will enter a ‘sudden death’ stage, in which the first to land a five points shot wins.
Lightsaber duelling is still a new sport and due to only having a few hundred practitioners, it is unlikely to win a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics. However, it is a great idea to attract young people and who knows, maybe in the near future it will become as big as fencing!