Jedis may belong in a galaxy far, far away, but that doesn’t mean their teachings have to stay there. We can all utilize lightsabers like the peacekeepers of the Star Wars universe. That is, if you take a few classes.
LudoSport International, a worldwide sporting lightsaber combat academy, has locations all across Europe (and one in Russia), but opened its first in the United States this weekend. LudoSport is, so far, unconnected to the recent intellectual properties lawsuit dropped on several “lightsaber” schools by Lucasfilm. So, for the time being, you can train to be a Jedi with these folks scot-free — if you live in San Francisco, that is.
The first LudoSport Academy opened in Milan, Italy in 2006 thanks to Simone Spreafico, Gianluca Longo, and Fabio Monticelli. The three friends were fans of the Star Wars series, and also happened to be skilled in various forms of martial arts and fencing. Together they wanted to create a “new” form of combat that combined sport with play.
What they ended up with was almost 30 academies across the world that teach lightsaber dueling, which focuses on “respect and knowledge of one’s own body, and develops imagination, elegance, and reflexes,” according to the LudoSport website.
The academy teaches the Jedi Order’s canon seven forms of lightsaber combat: Shii-Cho, Makashi, Soresu, Ataru, Djem-So, Niman, and Vaapad.
Each of the combat forms takes inspiration from the time period it was created in in the Star Wars universe. For example: Shii-Cho was the most simple form of combat, and didn’t require much more than basic fencing knowledge. However, it became outdated when Jedi who’d fallen to the Dark side of the Force began engaging the Jedi Order in duels. Shii-Cho fell to the side to make way for Form II, Makashi, a fighting form well-suited for lightsaber dueling.
Vaapad, the Jedi form closest to those used amongst Dark Jedi, was invented by Master Mace Windu and is the most aggressive form of the seven.
In developing the seven combat forms, Spreafico, Longo, and Monticelli took inspiration from other combat forms and Star Wars “history.” The group’s website says that “the various sports that inspired Light Saber Combat have not been used to supply single movements or techniques, but solely aspects that could be adapted to the instrument that this sport uses.”
The lightsabers used by the academies are made from flexible polycarbonate. Like any other fighting form or martial art, lightsaber dueling distinguishes rank and experience by color and varying uniforms. Apprentices, Younglings, and Padawans use blue lightsabers, while Masters are free to pick their own colors (including Sith-red).
You can sign up for classes on the academy’s website. But, be warned, they’ve had to turn people away in the past due to the popularity of the classes. So, may the Force be with you.