I honestly don't think I know a single person who watched Star Wars as a child and didn't swing a broomstick or golf club or wrapping paper roll around pretending it was a lightsaber (providing their own sound effects of course). The fact that there are Lightsaber Dueling Clubs all around the Country proves I'm not the only one with such fond, childhood memories. So, when I found out a Club was starting up in my own backyard, it was only natural that I had to go check it out!
I caught up with the Lightsaber Dueling Club of New Orleans at their second get together (appropriately) held under the Dueling Oaks in City Park. After a short safety briefing from organizer Scott Simmons, and a sudden rainstorm that sent everyone scrambling under the cover of a nearby gazebo, the meeting got going under the guidance of Thomas Heller of Shogun Martial Arts. Heller happened upon the Club's first meeting and fell in love with the idea of finally applying his practical knowledge and training in Japanese Sword Fighting to dueling with lightsabers. He was so excited to join in the fun that he brought his family and several of his students with him. Everyone else in attendance was obviously delighted to have Heller there to help guide them, and everyone seemed to have a blast.
I got in touch with Simmons afterward to get a little more information:
She-Geeks: How did the Lightsaber Dueling Club come to be?
Scott Simmons: The Lightsaber Dueling Club was an epiphany for me. Scott Rivet and I are the co-captains of Sith Happens. [Editors Note: Sith Happens is a sub-krewe of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, a geeky New Orleans parade krewe you can read all about here.] Our original concept was to have an equal number of Old Empire Sith Lords in periodic lightsaber fights with Jedi of the Old Republic (before the rule of two) through the streets of the Marigny. Unfortunately, our twin sister Jedi Krewe never materialized. I realized that if we were going to make this concept work the next year, we really needed to learn to realistically fight with Lightsabers. That was the birth of the Lightsaber Dueling Club of New Orleans. Our first members were all Chewbacchus members of Sith Happens, but we have now attracted many other Star Wars fans. This will only accelerate when the frenzy of the new movies begins.
SG: Do you have any specific goals for the Club?
SS: 1. To learn the 7 forms of lightsaber fighting according to the Star Wars canon and practice them to a level of proficency for each member in at least one form.
2. To be able to realistically duel in front of the Chewbacchus Parade crowd and provide them a spectacle that they will remember. (A third side goal is to create a short dueling film. I have written a script for a 7 to 10 minute film that will capture the essence of the Old Republic/Empire Struggle and an exciting duel between Sith and Jedi. There is a competition every year for the best choreographed light saber dueling film.
SG: What are the details interested people should know?
SS: Interested parties should start by visiting our facebook page "The Lightsaber Dueling Club of New Orleans". There are guides to where to buy or make practice sabers, safety equipment and goals. There are also lots of links to form and practice links. Our first rule is safety. Lightsaber dueling takes a certain level of fitness. No one with a heart, blood or lung condition should participate, but are welcome to join and watch. Safety is our most important precept.
The next meeting of the Club will be on Sunday, June 28th from 1-4pm at Audubon Park in New Orleans.