Lightsabre duelling officially recognised as competitive sport in France

Katy Clifton

France’s fencing federation has officially recognised duelling with lightsabres as a competitive sport.

The LED-lit weapons from the Star Wars saga look and even sound remarkably like the silver screen blades that Yoda and other characters wield in George Lucas’ blockbuster movies.

Duellists slash, feint and stab in organised three-minute bouts, with the more expensive sabres being equipped with a chip in their hilt that emits a throaty electric rumble during the duel.

The physicality of lightsabre combat is part of the reason why the French Fencing Federation threw its support behind the sport and is now equipping clubs with lightsabres and training instructors.

"With young people today, it's a real public health issue. They don't do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs," said Serge Aubailly, the federation secretary general.

"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."

In the past, the likes of Zorro and The Three Musketeers helped lure new practitioners to fencing. Now, joining and even supplanting them are Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader.

"Cape and sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth," Mr Aubailly said. "Lightsabre films have the same impact. Young people want to give it a try."