The French Fencing Federation has given the weapon made famous by Star Wars’ characters Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader the same status as the foil, epee and saber in an attempt to combat sedentary lifestyles in young people.
The Guardian has reported that the France Fencing Federation has recognized lightsaber-dueling as an official sport in a move that they hope will encourage young people to get off the couch and start exercising.
Serge Aubailly, the FFF’s general secretary told The Guardian that the move was an attempt to combat a new ‘Dark Side’: the sedentary habits of 21st century life.
“With young people today, it’s a real public health issue,” he said. “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 technology, so participating in a sport feels natural.”
Competitors in the brand new sport will win their bout by being the first to reach 15 points, or as in fencing, have a score higher than their opponent after a set time limit. If both fencers reach ten points, the duel enters ‘sudden death’, where the first to a head or body blow wins. Prior to that, strikes to the head or body are worth five points; strikes to the legs, three points; on the hands, one point. Combatants will also fight inside a circle marked by tape, as opposed to ‘the strip’ used in traditional fencing.
The intention is to create a sport that is both competitive, and like the scenes from the ongoing Star Wars saga, visually appealing.
“We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be umpired and most of all, we wanted it to produce something that looks like the movies, because that is what people expect,” said Michel Ortiz, the organizer of a national lightsaber tournament in France.
While an appearance at the Olympics looks like something that might only happen in a galaxy, far, far away, anything that encourages young people to give the sport a try must be a good thing. May the force be with you all.