In an effort to get the younger generation off the couch and exercising, the French fencing federation recently recognized lightsaber dueling as a competitive sport.
Just like medieval tales like The Three Musketeers once inspired youths to take up classic fencing sports, so too can Star Wars save young people from the clutches of the evil currently plaguing public health – sedentary lifestyle. Or at least that’s how officials from the French fencing federation explain their decision to acknowledge lightsaber dueling as an official sport. They even included some specific rules designed to make battles between Jedi Knights and Sith Lords more visually appealing and get young people interested in taking up the sport.
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“With young people today, it’s a real public health issue. They don’t do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs,” fencing federation secretary general, Serge Aubailly, told The Associated Press. ”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.”
But what makes the Star Wars franchise so special is the fact that it appeals to many adults as well, many of which grew up watching George Lucas’ original episodes and still consider the opportunity to fight against Siths or Jedis in real life – be it with polycarbonate, LED-lit lighsabers – a dream come true.
According to the now-official regulations of French lightsaber dueling, battles are carried out in a circle marked with tape on the floor, and last for 3 minutes. The goal of the duelists is to reach 15 points before their opponent and win the bout. If both players reach 10 points within the 3-minute time limit, the duel enters an exciting “sudden death” stage where the first combatant to land a body or head blow wins the match.
Strikes on the head or body count for 5 points each, hits on the arms and legs are 3 points, and touches on the hands are 1 point. If neither of the fighters reaches 15 points before the 3 minutes are up, the fighter with the higher score wins.
The scoring system is similar to that of traditional fencing sports, but the federation did implement some special rules to make the duels more exciting. For example, blows only count if the fighters first point the tip of their lightsabers behind them, which is designed to both prevent the quick front lunges typical of fencing, and also give the duels a realistic Star Wars feel, by encouraging swishier blows.
Lightsaber duels are carried out in low-light conditions, to make lightsaber motions more visually appealing for spectators. As for the weapons themselves, duelists have a wide range of lightsabers to choose from, depending on their budget. There are simple ones that simply light up, and more expensive ones that seem to have pulsating energy in them and also reproduce those iconic Star Wars sounds when cutting through the air and making contact with other lightsabers. That’s pretty cool, actually!
We’ve seen unofficial real-life Jedi Academies before, even people putting down Jedi as their official faith in a national census, or living their daily lives as Jedis, but it’s nice to see a part of the Star Wars universe officially recognized on Earth.
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