Light Saber Combat: Houston’s Jedi in Training

Fencers, by and large, are a nerdy bunch. We all have our own theories about why this is, some of which are flattering (you have to be clever!) and some less so. Whatever the reason, it’s definitely true at Houston Sword Sports. Our members include the owners of a local gaming shop, the head of a Cosplay company, and gamers of various stripes.

You could say that we are pretty into Star Wars, too.

Coach Liz did Rey hair for the Light Saber class. It fits under a mask better than Leia buns.

We really wanted to celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We know that these movies in particular have brought a lot of people to fencing – it’s about as close as you can get to being a Jedi in this galaxy. So, we decided to let people fully unleash their inner padawan learners and create their own light saber fights. On the Friday before Episode VIII’s release, we hosted a Light Saber Combat class!

Episode 1: The Younglings

Master Dan works with the younglings, teaching them to move like Jedi.

Our first class was open to kids ages 6-12, or more appropriately, the Younglings. About half of the kids in the group had never tried fencing of any kind before, so we started out with some movement exercises. A big difference between fencing and stage combat is that in fencing we rarely move side-to-side, but in stage combat we move in many different directions. In the picture above, the group works on moving side-to-side and forward and backward smoothly.

The younglings receive their training weapons.

We don’t have welding helmets and little bots that shoot blasters at you, but we do have fencing masks. While our training sabers are a) not lasers and b) soft and padded, it still isn’t great to get hit in the face with one, so we made the kids wear masks. When we first handed out the sabers, we had them all work while spread out so they could swing the weapons around without worrying about hitting or being hit.

Next step: learning to fight

Next, we taught the kids how to attack each other and defend themselves. In stage combat, practicality isn’t as much of an issue as it is in sport fencing, so we could teach some of the less-used parries like the one above, the saber version of parry 6, also known as “the coaches’ parry” (because only coaches use it).

The younglings begin putting together their fight scenes.

Once we’d given them the basic building blocks of the scene, it was time to start writing their own fight sequences. Here, we divided them into pairs and they began working on their fights together.

We had a nice little stage for the fights, even if the scenery was a bit anachronistic.

At the end of the class, the kids put on little skits with the choreography they’d worked on. Here’s one of our favorites:

Episode 2: Padawan Learners

Our teen/adult class was smaller than the youth class, and some of the students were a little old to be called padawans, but then so were Anakin and Luke. We followed a similar format, but were able to go more in-depth because the participants had more fencing experience.

First, they learned to move.

 

Then, Dan showed them how to hit him.

 

Then, they practiced hitting each other.

Two of the guys had a head start, in that they’d studied several of the fights in the movies ahead of time to get an idea of what they wanted to do. They were able to put together this fight, which was definitely the highlight of the evening.

In all, we had a great time running this class, and the participants had a great time too. If you missed out, we’ll be doing stage combat for the afternoon session of our youth winter camp on December 29. Click here to learn more and sign up!

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