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Star Wars nerds: you can die happy now, there's a real life Jedi Academy

Ranjan Crasta | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 1:43 IST

It's a sad world we live in when scientists waste their skills finding cures for cancer instead of making light sabers a real thing.

You may call it childish, but you'd be wrong. Because sword fights are for children but light sabers, those are for everyone. And now, light saber duels are finally a thing.

For an hour every Saturday evening, a small patch of ground under Singapore's metro tracks doubles as a real life Jedi Academy. One mercifully safe from sudden Sith massacres, but as epic as it gets without having to be in a galaxy far, far, away.

Even as the sound of surrounding traffic and passing trains fills the air, the noise is overcome by a different one - a sound that would make any Star Wars nerd weak in the knees - the sound of light sabers.

Neon greens, blues and reds whir through the air as a small group practice their saber techniques. They are the Saber Authority, and the force is certainly strong in them.

This isn't just a group of pasty-faced nerds with paper maiche sabers making buzzing noises and putting off getting laid for another year. Nope, while the Saber Authority is endless fun, it's also a serious business.

The group's Master Yoda, Reza Emmanuel, runs a self-defence academy when he isn't imparting lessons about the force to padawans. And, with a background in martial arts ranging from aikido and yang taijiquan to Filipino sword duelling, this isn't child's play. After all, as their website states, "We don't believe in learning skills that cannot be used in real-life or self-defence situations."

And while these sabers aren't the type you can really use if you're being mugged (unless the mugger is a Star Wars fan), the techniques mirror actual swordplay.

Like regular martial arts, there are even levels that padawans can progress through. Trainees go through 4 levels, starting as beginners before graduating to initiates, warriors, and, once they've mastered the ways of The Force, the elite Master level.

Unlike Scientology, you can't just pay your way up the ranks either, so get in line Tom Cruise. Wannabe Jedis have to undergo proper gauntlet-style testing by actual instructors to earn their stripes.

And what then? Where does one put their light saber skills to the test? Why, at the annual Light Saber tournament, of course. On November 20 this year, the Saber Authority conducted their first Combat Saber Tournament!

Combatants duelled it out for the ultimate prize in light saber nerd heaven: a Vaders Vault Dark Ardent saber. And it really is a saber worth fighting for.

In fact, they all are. The sabers are cutting edge and hand-crafted by actual bladesmiths in the US. They're made of polycarbonite so they don't shatter through the endless duels they will doubtless be in. They also have a brilliant combination of LED technology, motion sensors and a built in speaker to recreate the look, feel and sound of actual light sabers.

The motion sensors detect swings and clashes and the speakers respond with the sounds we're used to in the movies. It's enough to give your average Star Wars nerd an erection, never mind goosebumps (something that has made writing this piece in the office a fairly awkward experience).

Technology like this doesn't come cheap either, the average light saber provided by the Saber Authority costs upwards of Rs 20,000 and the upper end will set you back at least Rs 40,000. The Vader saber alone was worth $900. And while that sounds like an eye-watering amount, is it really when it comes to Darth Vader's light saber? With The Force Awakens just around the corner, expect the ranks of the Saber Authority to grow.

This is the real world Return of the Jedi.

First published: 17 December 2015, 9:09 IST
Ranjan Crasta @jah_crastafari

The Ranjan (Beardus Horribilis) is a largely land-dwelling herbivorous mammal. Originally from a far more tropical habitat, the Ranjan can now be found wandering the streets of Delhi complaining about the weather, looking for watering holes and foraging for affordable snacks. Mostly human, mostly happy and mostly harmless, the Ranjan is prone to mood swings when deprived of his morning coffee. Having recently migrated to the Catch offices, he now inhabits a shadowy corner and spends his time distracting people and producing video content to distract them further.