Lightsaber Dueling is Now A Sport


Photo credit to SYFY Wire.

Competitors in the February 18th tournament outside of Paris, France.

Nicholas Silva, Layout Editor

In the galaxy far, far away, lightsabers dance in brilliant arcs across planets, in hallowed halls, and battlestations. They have dazzled fans for decades, and inspired young children to tromp around yards, houses, and parks playing out epic imaginary battles between the forces of good and evil. Now, the French fencing federation has adopted lightsaber dueling as an officially recognized competitive sport. This means that in France, at least, lightsabers join the ranks of many traditional Olympic blades that have been used for centuries.

The French fencing federation is now equipping clubs with FX lightsabers which can mimic the lights and sounds of their onscreen counterparts, and are training instructors in proper form -just like the Jedi.

The biggest reason why the federation moved to endorse lightsaber dueling is because of the physicality of the sport. Even just a three minute bout of proper dueling and sparing is enough to work up a mild sweat.

They want to combat the sedentary lifestyle that plagues modern youth by tieing into pop culture. “Cape and sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth,” Serge Aubailly, the federation secretary general, stated. “Lightsaber films have the same impact . Young people want to give it a try.”

And in the short while since the sport was made official, there has already been a tournament. On February 18th, the federation held a national lightsaber tournament outside of Paris. Even though it only had thirty-four competitors, it is a clear sign of how fast the sport is growing. The tournament took place in dark halls, so that the audience could clearly see and appreciate the cinematic flow of the sweeping lightsabers. Official rules for lightsaber combat were pioneered, and costumed fans patrolled the premises, with uniformed stormtroopers checking cars flowing into the venue.

Competitors also got dressed up for the event. Lightsaber dueling requires protective armor, just like fencing. Some competitors designed or decorated their armor to emulate the appearances of popular force-users from the films and games, such as one participant who decorated their armor to look like Darth Nihilus from the Old Republic.

Rules established over the tournament set the sport apart from traditional fencing. Competitors are encouraged to execute more sweeping movements, instead of the poking and prodding strikes of the traditional sports, to produce a more exciting and dramatic spectacle.

The federation currently recognizes hundreds of equipped lightsaber duelers, however, there is a far way to go until it can be considered mainstream. But who knows, if more people join in and support the sport, it could even make its way to the Olympics one day.