5 Reasons Why You Should Duel Like A Jedi (Or Sith)!

5 Reasons Why You Should Duel Like A Jedi (Or Sith)!

Lightsaber-duelling sessions by the Saber Authority are held every Sunday at Singapore Sports Hub.(Photos courtesy of the Saber Authority)

If you’ve spotted a group of people duelling with glowing lightsabers on the grounds of Singapore Sports Hub, don’t be alarmed: these are good guys — even the ones role-playing as Siths (the Big Bad in sci-fi movie franchise Star Wars).

More precisely, they’re members of the Saber Authority (SA). Started in 2014, SA was developed from the founders’ initial idea of making fitness and an Filipino martial art more accessible, by using lightsabers — instead of traditional rattan sticks — as weapons. The former was chosen because one of the two co-founders was a Star Wars fan.

Jahaan V Balan, 28, a coach with SA and a UX designer and project manager by day, shares that newcomers first learn basic strikes and footwork before they actually get to duel. “The martial art that we practise – Kali – is very mobile. The goal is to be constantly moving in and out of striking range,” he explains. “Our system also assumes that you are unarmoured, so there are a lot of evasion and dodging techniques.”

The lightsaber-duelling steps practised by the Saber Authority incorporate Filipino martial art Kali into its moves.

Jahaan, who has been coaching for nearly five years, admits, though, that ultimately the most special thing about lightsaber duelling is its cool factor. “There’s nothing quite like it, especially when you duel with the techniques you had learnt,” he says. “Plus, the sabers also have their own sound effects. It may sound silly at first, but in the moment of duelling, it adds to the fantasy and experience — like stepping into the movies,” he adds. In fact, Jahaan takes his craft so seriously that he drew on his engineering background to construct his own lightsaber.

When it began, SA only had three or four members before expanding to over 30 regulars. While enrolment shrank during the COVID-19 pandemic, membership is picking up again. Today, there are around 20 SA members.

Jahaan shares five reasons why you should join in the lightsaber-duelling fun.

#1: IT’S OPEN TO (ALMOST) EVERYONE
You don’t have to be in fighting form to learn – or excel at – lightsaber duelling. At SA, the only criterium is that participants must be aged 15 and above. “We’ve had members who are overweight, underweight, as young as 16 and as old as 64,” recounts Jahaan. “We’ve had parents and grandparents. Pre-COVID-19, we used to regularly get visitors from overseas who read about us online.”

Regular lightsaber duelling can help build hand-eye coordination.

#2: IT’S AN AMAZING WORKOUT
According to Jahaan, people have started lightsaber duelling for the fun of it before deciding to stay on for its fitness benefits. “It is absolutely a good cardio workout,” he says. “About half of our session is cardio-based. However, you don’t need to have good cardio to start. Our members are of all sizes, races, ages and fitness levels – and they’re able to get a good workout still. Over time, you will likely build up your cardio and hand-eye coordination.”

#3: PICK UP A NEW INTEREST
The joy of combat is open to all, including those who can’t tell a droid from a Wookiee.

“We’ve had a few people join who had no interest in Star Wars but were pulled along by their friends and found they enjoyed it,” says Jahaan, adding, “If you’re attracted to the idea of using a lightsaber, it’s very likely you’ll have quite a bit in common with our members.”

While SA provides lightsabers at its classes, it’s often only a matter of time before participants end up wanting their own. “Once you get one, it would lead to two or even three. Next thing you know, you would have a whole collection of lightsabers!”

Duellers can choose from a variety of lightsaber colours.

#4: JOIN A COMMUNITY OF LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE
The lightsaber may play a critical role in the sport, but it isn’t as important compared to being part of a community intent on its shared mission of mastering a martial art.

“I sometimes joke that we are the only group where you regularly fight your friends,” says Jahaan. “We also frequently go for dinner together after a session. Pre-COVID-19, we used to have BBQs and watch movies as a group. We even carried out flash mobs.”

Far from fighting solo, lightsaber duelling can be a team sport. “The bonding is especially strong when we have our team-based tournaments; we see people form teams and meet each other to train even outside of class hours,” says Jahaan.

#5: LEARN TO MASTER YOUR MIND
While you might not learn Jedi mind tricks, you’ll certainly learn to relax and live purely in the moment. For Jahaan, lightsaber duelling has taught him not to overthink things, allowing him to focus on the flow of a match. “In the ring, there’s only you and your opponent – nothing else. There’s no space to think or worry about other things,” he says. “It has helped me to develop more persistence and resilience. I’ve learnt that if I can still stand after an intense tournament, there’s not much I can’t weather.”

TIPS FOR A FIRST-TIME LIGHTSABER DUELLER

Lightsaber-duelling is a great way to bond with fellow enthusiasts.

Show up in comfortable clothing that you can move around easily in. “What we do is physically intensive, so we usually recommend that people wear light clothes because you’re going to end up sweating a fair bit,” says Jahaan. Also, put on covered shoes, bring lots of water, and come with a mindset of learning.

Be open to bonding with fellow duellers. Sharing an anecdote about two newcomers who became friends after training together for seven weeks, Jahaan says that watching them lean on each other for support after an intense workout was a moment to cherish. “Apart from the fun, there’s a value in what we do — when we create a space for people to meet and bond.”

The Saber Authority offers a Combat Saber Experience for beginners, as well as a nine-week-long Apprentice Intake Programme and customised events for corporate clients. Sign up for a training session now.

May the 4th be with you at Singapore Sports Hub

Star Wars is such a pop culture phenomenon that a day (4 May) has been informally dedicated to it. This year, Singapore Sports Hub will light up its iconic National Stadium with a special light display. Come down with your family and friends to enjoy the showcase – and May the Force be with you.

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