May the (French) force be with you
France’s leading fencing federation has today recognised Lightsaber Duelling as an official, competitive sport, delighting Star Wars fans around the globe.
It means that the neon-blasting weapons from George Lucas’ universe are now held in the same status as the foil, epee and sabre – the traditional blades used in fencing tournaments at the Olympics.
As reported in The Guardian, the federation has said it hopes the physicality of the new Star Wars inspired sport will help to tackle the Dark Side of 21st century life: lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyles.
The federation’s secretary general, Serge Aubailly, said: “With young people today, it’s a real public health issue. They don’t do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs. That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural.”
He added: “Cape-and-sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth,” referring to films such as Zorro, Robin Hood and The Three Musketeers which have all increased participation in fencing. “Lightsaber films have the same impact. Young people want to give it a try,” Aubailly said.
French organisers have even produced a set of new competition rules according to Michel Oritz, who is the organiser of a national lightsaber tournament. He said: “We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be umpired and, most of all, we wanted it to produce something visual that looks like the movies, because that is what people expect.”
Participants will dual inside a marked circle. Strikes to the head or body are each worth five points. Those to arms and legs are worth three and hands are worth one point. Whichever participant reaches 15 points first is the winner.
After three minutes, the duel ends regardless of whether the 15 points have been achieved – the one with the highest score is declared a winner. There is also a “sudden death” round if there is a tie-break.
Meanwhile, in news from the actual Star Wars universe, director J.J Abrams recently shared a rare set photo as filming wrapped on Episode 9, due for release later this year.
John Boyega also shared the same photo from the set and published it alongside an emotional post on Instagram.
He wrote: “That’s a wrap on Star Wars episode 9 and the end to a chapter of my life that I couldn’t be more thankful for. What a process! It really has been a joy to be in these movies surrounded by amazing people. I personally want to thank @jjabramsofficial for giving me a chance to make my dreams come true.”