“So, do I really get to spar with an actual light saber?”
I asked curiously.
“Yes, pretty much!” said Aloysius, co-owner of The Saber Authority.
He presented my own light saber for the evening, a smooth 30cm long beam attached to a sturdy steel handle. I turned it on and with a little hum, the saber illuminated into a fiery shade of red. This will be my trusty weapon to battle the dark forces for the evening.
The Saber Authority is the only place in Singapore where you get to yield a magnificent light saber, challenge your friends to a graceful swordfight duel and learn basic self defence techniques.
Learning How To Strike
These techniques have roots from Pekiti-Tirsia Kali (PKT for short), a Filipino combat oriented sport based on traditional blade arts and slicing swords.
Apprentices (a term referring to trainees embarking on this sport) learn to defend and attack in close range with powerful strikes, while evading attacks from their opponents.
While PKT uses sticks or swords, our natural weapon of choice were the glorious lightsabers you see in Star Wars.
The very dark forces I was battling that evening turned out to be a bunch of vibrant people of all ages from all walks of life. The lightsaber community is a group of supportive enthusiasts who have become long term close friends, connecting via their passion for the sport.
From millennials to working professionals, this is where everyone comes to lose who they are to become a saber yielding trainee for a few hours.
Amidst the cool evening breeze and curious joggers, we embarked on the warming up drills.
Our head coach, Reza lined us up in rows and guided us on the basic footwork of advancing and defending.
Imagine like walking within an invisible triangle as you beckon towards your imaginary opponent and retreating as they attack.
The next step to master was the act of controlling our light sabers and conquering a 4-step strike.
Step 1 was a strike to the left, step 2 to the right, step 3 was an undercut before withdrawing to step 4 for the final attack. These are the basic yet essential techniques that set precedence for all the other moves to come.
Combining both footwork and strikes took a fair bit of coordination but repetitive actions soon became muscle memory.
Putting Up A Fight
Up next were partner drills where we practised our swordfight and mastered more nifty footwork. If you’re ever cornered or faced with a weapon-yielding attacker, these moves are potentially life saving too!
Waving my illuminated saber, I coordinated my limbs as swiftly as I could, anticipating for the finale – an actual sabre duel.
Soon, the moment I have been eagerly anticipating, arrived. Breaking up into groups based on our ranks, we stood in a circle, fight club style.
There were three ranks ranging from apprentice, initiate to warrior. Each rank came with different objectives. An apprentice will focus on single light sabers and basic footwork while the warrior level will yield double sabers with more advanced defence techniques.
The warriors donned their headgears as they prepared for their double saber combat, executing rapid strikes and successive combinations of attacks and defence.
Most of these warriors have been training for a minimum of one year to gain this immense swordfighting proficiency. It was definitely intense and in the heat of sparring, you couldn’t help but admire their rhythmic movements and agile reflexes.
Aside from providing a good cardio workout, this sparring session trains your focus, stamina and mental discipline as well. Any distraction will result in an attack, any lapse in footwork will result in your opponent gaining an upper hand.
Sliding on our gloves and hoisting up our light sabers, it was our turn to duel. My goal in a maximum of 45-second duel was to administer as many hits as possible on my opponent’s gloved hand, while evading her strikes.
Being petite, I had to make up for my lack of height with faster and swifter movements.
We put our warrior face on.
More strikes, some hits and misses, our 60 seconds were up. Was it a tie? We were having fun immersing in the moment and were not keeping score.
We high-fived and shook hands while the warriors gave each other a friendly hug, as a sign of sportsmanship.
It is pretty amazing that in a short span of 90 minutes, you can learn the basics of an exciting new sport, pick up self-defence moves and make friends. If you’re looking to try your hand at something new or engage in a crazy and fun light saber duel, this, my fellow Jedi, is the place to fulfil your calling.
The Saber Authority
Wednesdays, Ang Mo Kio Central, 7:15pm
Sundays, Sports Hub Gate 2, 6:15pm
For more information on The Saber Authority, click here.