French fencers brandishing a lightsaber use force



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Master Yoda, dust off his French, he owes it.

It is now easier than ever in France to act Star wars fantasies, because his fencing federation borrowed from a distant galaxy and officially recognized the laser saber duel as a competitive sport, giving the emblematic weapon of the saga of George Lucas the same status as the foil, the sword and saber, the traditional knives the olympic games.

Of course, rigid polycarbonate and LED-lit lightsaber replicas can not divide a Sith Lord into two.

But they have air and, with the more expensive swords equipped with a chip in their guard that emits an electric growl throat, even sound remarkably like the big screen slides that Yoda and other characters brandish in the hit movies.

A lot of realism, at least, so that the duelists can get rid of their sweat, cutting, feigning and stabbing during organized fights of 3 minutes.

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Competitors face off at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

1 of 12Christophe Ena / AP

Competitors face off at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. "We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be refereed and, most importantly, we wanted it to produce something visual that looks like a movie, because that's what the people are waiting, "said Michel Ortiz, the organizer of the tournament.

Competitors face off at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

2 of 12Christophe Ena / AP

Competitors face off at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

A competitor is fighting at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

3 of 12Christophe Ena / AP

A competitor is fighting at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

Julien Esprit, on the left, competes with Jean Baptiste Marchetti-Waternaux during the national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. In France, the battle lightsaber is an official sport, recognized as such by the French fencing Federation.

4 of 12Christophe Ena / AP

Julien Esprit, on the left, competes with Jean Baptiste Marchetti-Waternaux during the national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. In France, the battle lightsaber is an official sport, recognized as such by the French fencing Federation.

A man disguised as Stormtrooper and French gendarmes during a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

5 of 12Christophe Ena / AP

A man disguised as Stormtrooper and French gendarmes during a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

Men dressed as Stormtroopers joke about the approach of a vehicle at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. In France, it is easier than ever to play the fantasies of "Star Wars". The fencing federation officially recognized the lightsaber duel as a competitive sport.

6 of 12Christophe Ena / AP

Men dressed as Stormtroopers joke about the approach of a vehicle at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. In France, it is easier than ever to play the fantasies of "Star Wars". The fencing federation officially recognized the lightsaber duel as a competitive sport.

A policeman plays with a fake gun at the national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. In France, the battle lightsaber is an official sport, recognized as such by the French fencing Federation.

7 of 12Christophe Ena / AP

A policeman plays with a fake gun at the national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. In France, the battle lightsaber is an official sport, recognized as such by the French fencing Federation.

Steven Hildevert, left, and Stéphane Devallois prepare for a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

8 of 12Christophe Ena / AP

Steven Hildevert, left, and Stéphane Devallois prepare for a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. "We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be refereed and, most importantly, we wanted it to produce something visual that looks like a movie, because that's what the people are waiting, "said Michel Ortiz, the organizer of the tournament.

A competitor prepares for his fight at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

9 of 12Christophe Ena / AP

A competitor prepares for his fight at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

Competitors face off at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. In France, it is easier than ever to play the fantasies of "Star Wars". The fencing federation officially recognized the lightsaber duel as a competitive sport.

10 of 12Christophe Ena / AP

Competitors face off at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. In France, it is easier than ever to play the fantasies of "Star Wars". The fencing federation officially recognized the lightsaber duel as a competitive sport.

Competitors face off at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

11 of 12Christophe Ena / AP

Competitors face off at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

A man watches the competitors fight at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

12 of 12Christophe Ena / AP

A man watches the competitors fight at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

The physical character of lightsaber fights partly explains why the French Fencing Federation has supported this sport and now equips the lightsaber fencing clubs and trains their future instructors.

Like the virtuous Jedi Knights, the French federation sees itself as fighting a dark side: the sedentary habits of life of the 21st century that are giving birth to a growing number of adults and children.

"With young people today, it is a real public health problem.They do not practice any sport and only exercise with thumbs," said Serge Aubailly , secretary general of the federation.

"It has become difficult to (persuade them to) do a sport that has no connection with getting out of the sofa and playing with your thumbs.That's why we try to create a link between our discipline and the technologies. modern, in order to participate in a sport seems natural. "

A competitor prepares to participate in the national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

Christophe Ena / AP

A competitor prepares to participate in the national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

In the past, Zorro, Robin Hood and The Three Musketeers, for example, have helped attract new practitioners to fencing. Now, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader join them and even supplant them.

"Sword films have always had a significant impact on our federation and its growth," said Aubailly. "Lightsaber movies have the same impact, kids want to try it."

And young at heart.

Police officer Philippe Bondi, 49, practiced fencing for 20 years before switching to lightsaber.

When a club began offering classes in Metz, a city in eastern France where he was assigned to the gendarmerie, Bondi said he was immediately attracted by the prospect of living in the city. love that he has for the Star Wars universe since he saw the first movie at age 7, released in 1977.

He fights in the same mask as the one used for fencing.

He spent about 350 euros (NZ $ 576) for his protective armor (heavy-duty gloves, chest protectors, shin guards and shin guards) and for his federation-approved lightsaber, opting for bright green "because these are the Jedi colors, and Yoda is my master. "

"I had to be on the safe side, since my job is to enforce the law," he said.

Competitors face off at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. In France, it is easier than ever to play the fantasies of "Star Wars". The fencing federation officially recognized the lightsaber duel as a competitive sport.

Christophe Ena / AP

Competitors face off at a national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris. In France, it is easier than ever to play the fantasies of "Star Wars". The fencing federation officially recognized the lightsaber duel as a competitive sport.

Bondi woke up well before dawn to make the four-hour drive from Metz to a national lightsaber tournament outside of Paris that drew 34 competitors. It showed how much sport had progressed in a few years, but also that it was still light years away from generalization.

The crowd was small and a technical problem prevented the display of photos, battle names and scores of duelers on the big screen, which made fighting difficult to follow. But the illuminated flows of colorful slides were spectacular in the dark hall.

The cosplay of the fans as Star Wars characters added lightness, authenticity and a strange tickling to the proceedings, especially the incongruous show of Darth Vader buying a ham sandwich and a bag of potato chips. the cafeteria during a break.

By building their sport from the ground up, the French organizers have developed competition rules designed to make the battle with the lightsaber competitive and enjoyable to watch.

"We wanted it to be safe, we wanted it to be refereed and, most importantly, we wanted it to produce something visual that looks like a movie, because that's what the people are waiting, "said Michel Ortiz, the organizer of the tournament.

Men disguised as Stormtroopers joke while controlling a car during the national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

Christophe Ena / AP

Men disguised as Stormtroopers joke as they control a car during the national lightsaber tournament in Beaumont-sur-Oise, north of Paris.

The fighters are fighting inside a marked circle of a band on the ground.

Blows to the head or body are worth 5 points; on arms or legs, 3 points; on the hands, 1 point.

The first to 15 points wins or, if he does not go quickly, the best marker after 3 minutes. If both fighters reach 10 points, the fight enters the "sudden death", where the first one to hit the head or body wins, is a rule to encourage enterprising fighters.

Blows only count if the fighters first point the end of their sword behind them. This rule prevents quick viper strikes that resemble the tip of the first sight in fences.

Instead, the rule encourages darker moves that are easier to see and appreciate for the audience and that are more evocative of duels in Star Wars.

Among these, the battle between Obi-Wan and Dark Maul in The ghost threat it ends badly for the Sith despite his double-bladed lightsaber is particularly appreciated by the aficionados for his swordplay.

Still nascent, counting its practitioners in France by the hundreds, not the thousands, the lightsaber duel has no hope of appearing at the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024.

But to hear the sound of blades and see them cutting shapes in the air, it's wanting to try the sport.

Or, as Yoda would say: "Do not try, do it! Or do not do it. There is no try."

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