French fencing federation recognizes lightsaber dueling as a sport; are Olympics next?

The French Fencing Federation has recognized lightsaber dueling as a sport. (AP)
The French Fencing Federation has recognized lightsaber dueling as a sport. (AP)

Good news, Star Warriors.

You can now convert your love of lightsabers into the world of competitive sports.

That is if you live in France.

The French Fencing Federation that oversees Olympic level swordplay with foils, epees and sabres has added George Lucas’ laser sword to its cache of recognized weapons for competition, the Associated Press reports.

Looking to lure youth who ‘exercise with their thumbs’

The decision was made in an attempt to compete for the attention of young people who are otherwise glued their phones or video games.

”With young people today, it’s a real public health issue,” federation secretary general Serge Aubailly told AP. “They don’t do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs. 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.”

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Competing for the attention of children obsessed with technology is a decades-old dilemma for parents and traditional sports that don’t have the convenience and addiction factor of diving into an electronic world.

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Olympics are looking to eGaming

The International Olympic Committee is attempting to combat the lure of technology by accepting it in the form of competitive video gaming.

Yes — in case you haven’t heard — they Olympics are considering handing out medals for esports. A group is trying to get competitive video gaming on the docket for the 2024 Games in Paris.

France looking to actual athletic competition

The French Fencing Federation’s decision seems a much better idea, primarily because it involves actual athletic prowess.

It’s taking an established Olympic competition mimicking sword fighting and adding simulated lasers to the mix. What’s not to like?

Light saber aficionados can show their skills in recognized competition in France. (AP)
Light saber aficionados can show their skills in recognized competition in France. (AP)

The rules

The rules of lightsaber dueling in France are similar to traditional fencing competition, with a few significant exceptions. The biggest difference is that in order to score, competitors must swing their lightsabers with the tip starting behind them.

Basically, they want to encourage big swooshing blows seen in the movies from Darth Vader and Yoda. Jabs don’t count.

”We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be umpired and, most of all, we wanted it to produce something visual that looks like the movies, because that is what people expect,” tournament organizer Michel Ortiz told AP at an event held outside of Paris.

How it’s scored

Competitors face off in a circle marked on the floor. Head and body shots count for five points, limb blows count for three, and hits to the hand count for one. The first competitor to 15 points wins. If they tie at 10, the match goes to sudden death where the first head or body blow wins. If after 3 minutes a victor isn’t declared, the match will be determined by the highest point total.

There’s no word if this has caught the attention of Olympics officials yet. Here’s hoping the IOC gives lightsaber dueling a shot before video games.

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