A competitive lightsaber sport has been created in an effort to get kids more involved in exercise and the world of fencing. The sport was built from scratch by the Fédération française d’escrime (FFE), France’s national organization for the sport of fencing. It is their hope that the popularity of Star Wars will inspire children to duel one another for fun just as classic movies like The Three Musketeers and Zorro have done in the past.
The rules for France’s lightsaber sport were created by the FFE and appear to have no basis on canon Star Wars material at first glance. (Besides, it would be hard to get a couple of kids to battle over a flowing volcano.) The two competitors duel within a circle marked on the floor rather than on the traditional fencing piste, a long area where combatants can move back and forth. Strikes to vital areas like the head and body are worth five points, arm and leg strikes are worth three points, and strikes to the hand are worth one point. The winner of the lightsaber sport duel is the first person to reach 15 points or have the highest score within a three-minute timeframe. In the event of a tie, a “sudden death” rule takes effect where the first hit landed wins the match.
“With young people today, it’s a real public health issue,” FFE Secretary General Serge Aubailly told The Guardian. “They don’t do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs.” It is the hope of Mr. Aubailly that Star Wars will get kids moving in the same way that the classic fencing movies of the past have done. There is certainly going to be some deal of interest, especially with the film Star Wars Episode 9 on its way at the end of 2019.
At the moment, there are only a few hundred practitioners of the lightsaber sport by these new official rules. It’s still relatively new, though, and odds are that quite a few of the millions of Star Wars fans are going to pick it up. One day, we may even see this interesting twist on fencing make its way into the Olympics.