Learning the ways of the Force through swordsmanship is now a real thing.
It was going to be my first lightsaber duelling experience. Once I alighted at Ang Mo Kio MRT station, I walked straight in the direction of the train tracks towards Bishan and found a gem that is The Force Academy.
Every Sunday evening, an interest group called The Saber Authority organises The Force Academy training sessions under the train tracks (called The Deck), for aspiring Jedis or Siths.
The group was founded by training consultant Reza Emmanuel, 37, and entrepreneur Kong Ming Jie, 29. Their aim was to let us experience the full thrill of lightsaber dueling while learning the fine art of swordsmanship.
I was invited to watch the advanced class train for their upcoming competition at Liang Court on Nov 20. As I expected, the combatants looked more like the typical sci-fi fans you would expect in a cosplay event than the athletic bunch we see in the famed Star Wars movies.
However, looks can be deceiving and I was made to swallow my words once they started wielding their lightsabers. They were skilful, vicious and fast, perhaps fuelled by the hate for a childhood bully or maybe just an unquenchable passion for the movie franchise.
An hour passed and I learnt that a duel between two combatants was held in a hexagonal boundary, marked by flashing red lights on the floor. It lasts for 30 seconds and the objective is to hit your opponent’s hand.
As the clock struck seven, I got to choose my own lightsaber. It was green and had a soundboard below the grip that produced the signature lightsaber hum. I was pretty careful handling the weapon after finding out the cost of each saber can range from $390 to almost $1000!
I was pretty excited to start the beginner’s class and try to emulate what the advanced class did. How hard could it be? I watched an amazing lightsaber duel video prior to the session and I was confident I was ready for what was coming.
I was proved wrong again.
We were taught how to do different striking combinations and footwork patterns. If I was not wearing black and the setting was not dark, you would have seen me soaked in perspiration.
I did not expect to have trouble with my hand-leg coordination while holding the lightsaber. However, things got interesting when I paired up with a partner and I tried to apply the strike combinations I had just learnt.
Fifteen minutes before the end of every session, I finally had the chance to take part in a 30 second duel with another combatant. It was exhilarating, but Reza reminded us to focus on our basics first.
Overall, the one hour class felt quite short, but it was worthwhile because it was a good workout. More than that, it was nice to embrace my inner Star Wars nerd and duel with fellow fans.
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