If you grew up with Star Wars you surely played at being a Jedi at one time or another. Whether you had an actual toy lightsaber, a knock-off plastic sword, or just a stick that you swung around and added sound effects to, you probably pretended to be the greatest Jedi in the galaxy far, far away. Now, you can actually put those skills to the test as lightsaber dueling is now an official competitive sport in France.
In an attempt to get more young people into fencing, the French Fencing Federation has officially given the lightsaber the same approval that traditional blades like the epee and foil have. Now lightsaber fencing clubs are being created throughout France and official lightsaber instructors are being trained to become your own personal Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The lightsabers are made of polycarbonate and are lit by LEDs. Some more expensive models also include chips that create sound effects so that the lightsaber even sounds like the real thing, and really, if it doesn't make the sound what is even the point?
Like traditional fencing, lightsaber dueling has officially sanctioned rules for the 15 point, 3-minute bouts. Check out some of them in the brief video below.
The decision to add lightsaber battles to traditional fencing comes from a desire to make young people in France more active. According to the AP, there's a feeling that French youth aren't participating in sports as much and so by combining traditional fencing with the pop culture status of Star Wars the hope is that young people will be willing to give the sport a try.
Sword fighting in movies has always helped post the popularity of fencing, but now people are more into Star Wars than Robin Hood, so it seems the sport needs to take its cues from the movies instead of the other way around.
It will certainly be interesting to see if the lightsaber clubs ultimately succeed and make sword fighting more popular with a new generation. If it works, fencing groups in other countries could pick up the idea. Then, if it becomes popular enough a global scale, Olympic lightsabers battles are a real possibility. How cool would that be?
We're years away from such things ever happening, to be sure, but it's at least theoretically possible.