LudoSport: The Network of Sporting Lightsaber Combat
This just in: Star Wars is back, and it has reached and inspired more fans than ever. Some of these fans have taken the art of Lightsaber fighting and created an entire international network. It’s called LudoSport International.
The debate over the practicality of light saber battles has existed since the franchise debuted in the 70’s. In the last decade or so, thanks largely to the connectivity of social media, the concept of making light saber combat leagues became more of a reality. In 2005, Saber Wars was founded, with a loose group of choreographers and combatants filling its rosters. Many of the members came from New York Jedi, a group that has grown far larger since then, performing stage combat at conventions, corporate events, and even the debut of the first Star Wars stamp at the Empire Post Office in 2007.
LudoSport International originated in Milan and now has academies all over Europe including posts in Sweden, Russia, England, Ireland, France, Spain, Boston and San Francisco. Each academy teaches a range of skills, covering all seven forms of light saber battling as detailed in Star Wars canon. The academy programs include duels, demo teams, and seminars for both students and instructors. Students are individually ranked, and all pupils in the network can challenge one another worldwide to a duel.
National tournaments are held annually, with awards going to categories like Best Style, Best Technique, Best Sequence, Best Fight, Best Jedi, Best Sith, Best Padawan and Best Youngling. The winners of the national tournaments go on to the international championship, with competition restricted to the top ranked students only.
Students progress through the seven styles of saber fighting in order. The progression is intended to add in attacking and defending skills without ever compromising with the pupil has already learned. The first style is Shii-Cho (a defensive-minded style) that takes students approximately a year and a half to master. Next is Makashi, a style focused on speed and quick strikes. Third is Soresu, a skill focused on fluidity and counter strikes. Fourth is Ataru, an acrobatic style that is used to keep one’s enemy off-balance. Fifth is Djem-So, wherein the student develops top levels of speed and unpredictability. Sixth is Niman, which incorporates all of the previous styes in a manner that minimizes effort to maximize counter strikes. The final style is Vaapad, a focus on self-control to maximize harmony and domination.
There are ten rules to competing in LudoSport events.
- The Light Saber – 3 types are allowed (short, long, and double)
- Combat Apparel – combatants must wear apparel that matches their individual rank
- The Combat – typical events are 1:1, however other types of combat can be included depending on the event and coordinators
- The Combat Arena – the size and shape must follow official guidelines
- The Target – the entire body is a target, with mortal or non-mortal zones
- Points – typically awarded for first touch (as in fencing or sparring)
- Validity of Strikes – judges determine the validity of strikes during a duel
- Combat Time – typical events do not have a time limit and are decided by points
- Loyalty – each fighter must ensure that his or her opponent is not injured
- Competition Judges – no scores or ranking is official unless the event is judged by a certified judge as part of the event
Do you have what it takes to try real life training? Are you ready to begin the path to Jedi Knight or Sith Lord? LudoSport International awaits!