Do or do not. There is no try. That’s the approach I took last year when I decided I wanted to learn to fight with a lightsaber for real. Or…as real as I could get, anyway.
I’m pretty obsessed with lightsabers and I feel like I don’t really have to explain why. From the very first time I saw Luke Skywalker spark up that green laser sword and slaughter Jabba’s goons in
About a year ago, I made a Nerdist video about the Saber Legion. These men and women gear up in full armor and hack the crap out of each other with lightsabers. Terry Birnbaum, the organization’s founder, told me about an event called TSL3, their third annual national tournament held in Las Vegas as part of CombatCon. I had about a year to get ready and I figured it was time to put Master Yoda’s words into practice and go for it.
Training in other lightsaber fighting disciplines is helpful, especially for someone who has never been trained to fight before. But as I soon found out, nothing really prepares you for the Saber Legion like the Saber Legion. I visited the group’s birthplace on a trip to Minnesota earlier this year. I got to fight with Birnbaum and Charlie Cummings, a top-ranked TSL fighter. The person in the ring who has fought the most will usually win the fight, Terry told me. I nodded like an idiot, thinking I knew what he was talking about. I didn’t find out until later that I really had no idea.
When I say it’s full armor, I’m not kidding. The organization has a strict rule set, requiring fighters to be covered head to toe in protective layers of foam, plastic, metal and leather. My whole thing was, if you’re gonna build a suit of armor, why not make it
The thing I really took away from TSL3 was how much this group of fighters from all over the country truly cares for its members. After every fight, the fighters hug it out. There’s no trash talk, there’s no macho bullshit — these people just love to get in the ring with each other and fight with laser swords. And I felt like I fit right in. They’re super passionate and dedicated.
“It’s our family,” Birnbaum told me. “There’s this awesome feeling when we’re all together. You may talk with them online but when you see them in person it’s just this strong, very loving feeling. It’s amazing. I love these people.”
The Saber Legion has charters all over the U.S. Find one near you at saberlegion.org. You can also find resources there on what kind of gear you need. But seriously, if you’ve ever wanted to get out there and fight with a lightsaber, now is the time. Do or do not. There is no try.