Emulating Star Wars combatants will encourage young people to engage in regular exercise, says French Fencing Federation
It’s now easier than ever in France to act out Star Wars fantasies. The country’s fencing federation has officially recognised lightsaber duelling as a competitive sport, granting the weapon from George Lucas’s space saga the same status as the foil, epee and sabre, the traditional blades used at the Olympics.
Of course, the LED-lit, rigid polycarbonate replicas can’t slice an opponent in half. But they look and sound remarkably like the blades that Yoda and other characters wield in the blockbuster movies.
The physicality of lightsaber combat is part of the reason why the French Fencing Federation is now equipping fencing clubs with lightsabers and training would-be lightsaber instructors. Like virtuous Jedi knights, the federation sees itself as combatting a Dark Side: the sedentary habits of 21st-century life.
“With young people today, it’s a real public health issue. They don’t do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs,” says Serge Aubailly, the federation’s secretary general. “That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural.”
In the past, Zorro, Robin Hood and The Three Musketeers helped lure new practitioners to fencing. Now, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader are joining them.