'Lightsaber duelling' is now an official sport

Lightsabers used to be a pipe dream confined to the big screen – but not any more.

The French fencing federation has recognised lightsaber duelling as an official sport.

The famed blades from the Star Wars franchise are now seen on equal terms as the foil, sabre and epee, albeit without the deadly cutting power.

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Replica lightsabers are used in the sport, which sound and look true to their film counterparts.

Duelists fight three minute bouts wearing protective body armour, and are free to slash and stab at opponents at will.

The fencing federation is viewing the new sport as a means of getting people up off the couch – why watch Star Wars when you can be involved in it?

“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.”

Mr Aubailly said the recognition of the sport was a nod to how other pop culture had played a role in the popularity of fencing, many years ago.

“Cape and sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth,” Mr Aubailly said.

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

While the number of people taking part in the unique sport only stands in the hundreds, French officials are bullish about how many more may pick it up.