French Fencing Purists Aren’t Happy About ‘Lightsaber Fencing’ In France

“The spirit of lightsaber fencing has been built around an artificial idea. It has no real foundation.”

These are probably the least harsh words spoken by fencing master Alban Garrouste on the subject of “lightsaber fencing,” the newest craze sweeping the world of French athletics. This unorthodox take on traditional fencing made headlines in February when the French Fencing Federation declared it an official sport in an effort to spark interest in blade-to-blade combat among France’s younger generations. But despite the FFF’s satisfaction at seeing hordes of new students flocking to an almost-forgotten sport, and the obvious glee emanating from French nerds everywhere, not everyone is so thrilled about the prospect.

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It makes sense–you spend your entire life training to master a craft, and then devoting your life to teaching others that craft, and then someone barges in with a bunch of shiny new toys and suddenly you’re out in the cold. It has to be frustrating to watch someone deflect a blow, not with their weapon, but with ‘The Force’ (a lightsaber fencing concept this video does not do enough to explain), when you’re sweating through chain mail trying to keep from getting stabbed.

But to be fair, does practicing a form of combat that hasn’t been used in warfare in over a century make that much more sense?