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How to Fight/Duel with a Lightsaber Effectively? (in Real Life)

How to Fight/Duel with a Lightsaber Effectively? (in Real Life)

The world of competitive Lightsaber Dueling has exploded in popularity in recent years. Leagues, dojos, and local groups have popped up all over the globe, allowing fans to fight with a “real-life” lightsaber.

Sounds impossible? Don’t get too excited; these sabers use a “blade” made from clear polycarbonate and LED lights; they won’t be cutting through any doors.

But make no mistake, the combat they’re used for is fast and exciting, and is quickly becoming a competitive sport.

Maybe you’re intrigued by this world but have no idea where to start. Or maybe you’ve even bought a dueling lightsaber but are wondering “How do you beat someone in a lightsaber battle, anyway?”

It might seem overwhelming at first, but if you know where to start you can take your first steps toward being a master Lightsaber Duelist today. Read on to learn how to get the resources you need to hold your own in a lightsaber duel.

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Find a local scene

It doesn’t matter if you’ve already bought a combat saber from a retailer like Vaders’s Vault or UltraSabers. The best lightsaber in the world is useless without someone to fight against.

The best way to learn how to duel effectively is to practice consistently with a sparring partner. Or better yet, with a larger meetup group or training academy in your local area.

If you don’t know where to start, your best bet is to check the internet. Typing “Lightsaber Dueling <your area>” into google should turn up some useful results.

If you can’t find anything on google, try checking or Facebook to see if there are any lightsaber dueling groups in your area.

Local groups are not just a great opportunity to practice and hone your skills, finding one is essential to learning how to win a lightsaber fight. This is simply because the rules of Lightsaber Dueling will vary from group to group.

Since the sport is so new, there is no overarching worldwide organization that decides on an official set of rules. And while the different rule systems do share many similarities, your local group might do things differently than others.

Another benefit of researching your local group is knowing what equipment is necessary for that group. Some groups require a lot of protective equipment, others none , and many lie somewhere in between.

Learn the rules

LOYALSE Metal Lightsaber

While the specific rules of lightsaber dueling vary from group to group, there are many similarities between the systems. I’ll go through the major groups and how they work individually later on, but for now let’s focus on what they have in common.

The core of the rules closely resembles the sport of fencing. Each fighter attempts to land a “strike” on their opponent by making contact between their blade and their opponent’s body.

Typically strikes to the head, throat, groin or knees don’t count for points and, in some cases, will result in a penalty. But depending on the group, some of these strikes may be allowed and in fact be worth more points.

As a general rule of thumb, the more protective equipment that’s required, the more valid targets there are. But this isn’t a hard and fast rule, which is why it’s important to learn the norms and rules for your local group.

When a point is earned, the player who was hit calls out the number of points earned by their opponent so far. There’s typically a short break in the action for judges to confer and fighters to reset, but in some cases play may continue without a formal break.

Play takes place within a clearly established “ring”, and stepping both feet out of the ring results in a “ring out” for that fighter. Some groups will award a point to a fighter when their opponent “rings out” while others will use some other system to discourage this.

As I hope you’re starting to realize, every group does things a little differently. Knowing the details of how your group duels will help immensely.

How to win a lightsaber duel

No matter what rules system your group uses, each match will have an agreed upon victory condition: typically a defined point total and/or time limit. This may be the first to 5 points, or the winner after 10 minutes, or some combination of the two.

Often there will be a “Sudden Death” round if the fighters are still tied after time expires. This means that each player has a certain amount of time to land a strike (typically 30 to 90 seconds), and whoever manages to do so first wins the match.

So the basic answer to the question of “how to win a lightsaber duel” is simple: land strikes on your opponent and don’t let your opponent land strikes on you. Of course, in practice, this is easier said than done.

If you want to learn the finer points of Lightsaber Dueling, you’ll want to turn to the experts.

The Big Leagues

So by now, you may have done some searching and discovered what group is available in your area.

If you’re lucky, your local group will be a chapter of one of the larger organizations. If that’s the case, joining a local group will be like taking your first step into a larger world.

Even if your local group isn’t officially part of one of these leagues or schools, it’s good to familiarize yourself with them. If you ever travel to events or interact with duelists from other areas, it’ll be useful to have a frame of reference.


The sport with the lightsaber: LudoSport

One of the oldest of the Lightsaber Dueling organizations, LudoSport was formed in the early 2000s in Milan, Italy. Today, the organization has chapters throughout Europe, many parts of the US and beyond.

LudoSport’s version of the sport emphasizes mobility and style, and has minimal required equipment. The only thing you need is a lightsaber built to their specifications, and a standard uniform with a belt, much like Karate tunics.

Unlike many other Lightsaber organizations, every part of the body is a valid target in LudoSport. There’s a suggestion to avoid the face area as much as possible, but it’s not considered illegal.

You can look into in person classes in Italy, or one of their academies in the US. If you want to learn online first, they also offer a video course in Italian with English subtitles.

The Saber Legion (or TSL)

TSL’s Saber Masters 2019

Founded in 2015 in Minnesota, The Saber Legion (or TSL) features some of the most intense combat available, and they require gear to match.

At the highest tournament level, you’ll need as many as eight pieces of protective equipment from head to toe. With this extra level of protection, they allow strikes on every part of the body outside of the throat, groin, and fingers (due to safety concerns).

TSL also boasts a variety of rulesets depending on the type of combat desired. This includes a new “Unity” ruleset that features non-stop action where they award points in real time, stopping the match only if they have to.

Check their page for more details on these and other rules. If you’re interested in learning through local meets, you can sign up for TSL membership here.

Lightspeed Saber League

The world's fastest light-based fencing

Lightspeed Saber League (or LSL) began in Southern California when many different local clubs combined into one in 2017. Their version of lightsaber combat is intense and realistic, while also as accessible and safe as possible.

The main distinction from other leagues is their ultra thin “Lightspeed” blade. Most leagues use blades with a 1″ diameter, LSL’s 3/4″ blade allows for a more lightweight and fast-paced dueling experience.

Their other claim to fame is their full-contact rules, which give different point values to different actions. Be sure to read up on these rules before joining an LSL melee, as they’re a bit more complicated than some other leagues.

An “Assault” (or headshot) is worth 2 points, a “Return” (a strike right after a defensive action) is worth 3 points, and most other strikes are worth 1 point each. The only off-limits target is the groin, along with a few technical fouls.

Also, be aware that fighters must wear head and hand protection; LSL recommends fencing masks and lacrosse gloves. This puts them in the middle of the pack – requiring more protective equipment than LudoSport, but not as much as The Saber Legion.

If you’re interested in learning more, they offer beginner training sequences free of charge, as well as an online self-learning program that features more individual feedback from instructors. And of course you can check them out in person at one of their local groups.


Lightsaber Fencing Is Now A Thing In France (HBO)

The French Fencing Federation (Fédération Française d’Escrime or FFE in French) is the newest entry into the Lightsaber Dueling world. It may also be the most consequential, since in 2018 they became the first official fencing group to recognize Lightsaber Dueling as a sport

Fencer Cedric Giroux developed their form of Lightsaber Dueling for his school, the Académie de Sabre Laser (or ASL). He based his system on an open-source system called the Terra Prime Lightsaber Academy.

As you might imagine, many of the rules are like fencing and need similar masks and armor to a traditional fencing match. But unlike other forms of fencing, FFE’s version assigns different point values to different targets on the body.

A strike to the head or body earns 5 points, a strike to the arms or legs earns 3 points, and a strike on the hands earns 1 point. The winner is the first fighter to score 15 points, or the highest score after 3 minutes if neither makes it all the way to 15.

One other unique trait of the FFE’s system is that the fighter must swing their saber behind their body before a strike. This creates dynamic sweeping arcs like lightsabers in the films – any strike made without first doing this will award no points.

If you’re in France, you can train in this form of Lightsaber Combat at the Académie de Sabre Laser. In the US, the official ambassador of this form is the Terra Prime Light Armory, which has a few schools in the US, and an active YouTube channel.

Also, the full TPLA system is still available online for free.

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