Every Star Wars fan since the release of A New Hope in 1977 has at least once wished they could use the Force and wield a lightsaber, even if it's only for the cool sound effects that come from the sophisticated weapon of the Jedi and the ability to strike fear into one's enemies.
For those lucky Star Wars fans that happen to live in or relatively near France, using a lightsaber on a daily basis has just become a realizable dream.
With the franchise having been on the big screen and in the news again since the new trilogy and the spinoff movies were announced back in 2014, a new generation of sci-fi fans has emerged. With that in mind, France has officially registered lightsaber dueling as a competitive sport as a division of fencing, the Guardian reports.
This new registration of lightsaber dueling will elevate the lightsaber to the same category as the more traditional fencing weapons.
Understandably, for safety reasons, these lightsabers won't actually be severing any limbs or cutting opponents' bodies in half upon defeat. In all likelihood, they also won't be able to melt the blast doors on the Trade Federation's ship either or repel shots from a Stormtrooper's blaster.Part of the reason France has decided to register lightsaber dueling as an official sport was the hope that it would encourage kids and teens to get and stay active.
"With young people today, it's a real public health issue. They don't do any sport and only exercise with their thumbs," says Serge Aubailly, the French Fencing Federation's secretary general. "That is why we are trying to create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies, so participating in a sport feels natural."
Aubailly believes that the pop culture allure of pretending to be Luke Skywalker (or maybe even Darth Vader, for those who come down on the Dark Side of the Force) will help to lure children into the sport.
"Cape-and-sword movies have always had a big impact on our federation and its growth," Aubailly says. "Lightsaber films have the same impact. Young people want to give it a try."
The official sport already has rules that will help to not only keep it competitive for participants but also interesting for spectators to watch.
Michel Ortiz, an organizer of a national lightsaber tournament, explained how important it is for the aesthetics to also be appealing to bring in the viewers.
The rules appear to be similar to those of fencing, which might just open the way for the sport to be picked up by sporting tournaments all over the world and perhaps even have a future in the Olympics.