Star Wars in Real Life: Lightsaber Duelling Officially Recognized as a Sport by Fencing Federation

Re-enacting Luke Skywalker's exploits in Star Wars can now be considered a sport, after the French fencing federation officially recognized lightsaber duelling as a competitive sport.

That means the LED-lit, lightsabers now have the same standing as the foil, epee and saber, the three disciplines that constitute modern fencing.

Made famous by the Star Wars saga, lightsabers are developing a growing following around the world but the number of practitioners remains limited.

The French fencing federation said it hoped its decision of recognizing lightsaber duelling as a sport would encourage more young people to ditch their sedentary habits.

"With young people today, it's a real public health issue," Serge Aubailly, the federation secretary general, was quoted as saying by the Press Association.

"They don't do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs.

'It's becoming difficult to [persuade them to] do a sport that has no connection with getting out of the sofa and playing with one's thumbs. That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural."

Thanks to the French fencing federation's decision, fencing clubs across France will now be equipped with lightsabers and instructors. Aubailly indicated he was hopeful the popularity of movies featuring the weapon would encourage more people to participate.

"Cape and sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth," he explained.

"Lightsaber films have the same impact. Young people want to give it a try."

While lightsaber duelling might look like something only Star Wars aficionados would take up, it requires a certain degree of physical fitness.

Unlike traditional fencing bouts, where competitors fight on a horizontal stage, lightsaber duelling sees the combatants go head-to-head in three-minute bouts fought inside a circle marked in tape of the floor.

Head and body blows are worth five points, while hitting arms and legs earn combatants three points and a blow to the hands counts for one point.

The first combatant to reach 15 points, or whoever has the highest score after three minutes, wins.

If both fighters reach 10 points, the bout goes into "sudden death", where the first fighter to land blow to the head or the body wins.

Lightsaber duelling also differs from traditional fencing as blows only count if the fighters point the tip of their saber behind them before striking. The rule means the tip-first strike normally seen across the three fencing disciplines is almost worthless.

Lightsaber duelling
[File photo] Fans gather for the Star Wars Lightsaber Battle 'The Light Battle Tour' at Pershing Square on December 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Star Wars in Real Life: Lightsaber Duelling Officially Recognized as a Sport by Fencing Federation | Sports