Star Wars fans may want to consider a trip to France, as lightsaber dueling has been officially recognized as a sport in that country. Since the release of the first Star Wars film back in 1977, fans have come up with various ways of incorporating their favorite universe into their day-to-day lives, including the practice of lightsaber combat.
Lightsaber “training” and duels have taken place in different parts of the world for years, but have not gone past a hobby for die-hard fans or mere entertainment at conventions and cosplay contests. Now, thanks to the French Fencing Federation, lightsaber battles will be taken a bit more seriously as they've officially recognized it as a sport.
According to the Associated Press, the Fencing Federation has recognized lightsaber dueling as a competitive sport, so all those who own one of those LED-lit, rigid polycarbonate lightsabers can now say they own an actual weapon. One of the reasons behind this recognition by the Federation is the physicality that comes with this type of combat, which will help battle sedentary habits and the health issues that come with them. And so, fencing clubs in France will now have lightsabers and instructors in this art. Serge Aubailly, French Fencing Federation secretary general, shared the following:
“It’s becoming difficult to (persuade them to) do a sport that has no connection with getting out of the sofa and playing with one’s thumbs. That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural. Cape and sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth. Lightsaber films have the same impact. Young people want to give it a try".
Like with any other sport, there are rules to lightsaber dueling. Safety first: combatants have to wear a protective mask and armor (sturdy gloves, chest, shoulder, and shin pads), and the lightsaber must be approved by the Federation. The duel takes place in a circle, where strikes to the head or body are worth five points, arms and legs are worth three points, and hands just one point. First to get to 15 points, or the highest score after three minutes, wins.
However, if both fighters have 10 points by the end of the match, they go to “sudden death”, where the first to land a head or body blow wins. Also, the tip of the lightsaber has to cross behind the fighter in order for the blow to count. This is in order to prevent “viper-like, tip-first quick forward strikes seen in fencing” and to make the battle more Star Wars-like. And, of course, you can chose the color of your lightsaber.
This is the closest we've come to Jedi (or Sith) training, and it’s cool to see this sport aims to be more than a fun practice for Star Wars fans. Those who've ever wanted to recreate that Luke vs Darth Vader fight, Obi Wan vs Darth Maul, or even the Mustafar duel between Obi Wan and Anakin, might want to plan a visit to France and one of their fencing clubs.
Source: Associated Press
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019