What happens after you build a lightsaber and spend some quality time swinging around your brand-new blade in the privacy of your home? Where do you go from there? A lot of collectors develop an interest sooner or later in the stimulating world of lightsaber dueling. If this is the sort of activity that appeals to you, then you have plenty of company, as organized lightsaber dueling is rapidly growing in popularity, with the backing of several internationally known athletic associations and martial arts studios.
Those who become involved in this aspect of fandom soon realize that lightsaber dueling is a complex, demanding discipline. For anyone who is in this position—not a total beginner, but eager to learn more—we present this short guide of advanced lightsaber tricks. As we’ve said before, there’s only so much you can learn about dueling on the internet—you have to get out and do things. But we can show you a couple of secrets that may inspire further study.
The Art of Spinning
Lightsaber duels between beginners are awfully primitive affairs. Usually you end up with two people who keep jabbing and swinging their sabers around in a clumsy way. To get beyond this level, you need to learn how to use a lightsaber effectively. One way to do that is to learn some lightsaber spins. Basically, spinning a lightsaber involves using hand and wrist rotation to swing the blade in a (more or less) circular pattern.
Spins might seem to be kind of superfluous—how can you score on your opponent while you’re just swinging your saber around? Actually, learning spins serves two valuable purposes:
- Improved dexterity – All that time spent spinning your lightsaber helps you learn how to control it properly, in a broad range of physical orientations.
- Opponent Intimidation – We’ve mentioned in another post that one of the keys to winning duels is getting inside your opponent’s head. Performing an artful spin right in front of them can be highly intimidating.
Spins also help you get more out of your lightsaber in general, even when you are away from the combat circle, or have no interest in duels at all.
The Basic Spin
You can’t get into top-level lightsaber tricks until you have mastered the basic spin, which forms the foundation for many of those advanced moves you see on the internet.
Here’s how it works:
- Start by holding the lightsaber with the hilt at your side around waist level and slightly in front of you. The blade is positioned so that the tip is pointed upward at a 45-degree angle.
- Swing the blade downward by rotating your hand and wrist away from your body. The blade will begin a sweeping arc down alongside your leg.
- As the blade swings downward to a vertical orientation (tip pointed toward the floor), open your hand so that you are now gripping the hilt between your thumb and forefinger.
- Continue rotating your wrist so the blade swings behind you in a clockwise fashion.
- Allow the blade to swing back around (making a full 360-degree circle), then grip the hilt tightly, as you did at the beginning position, to stop the movement of the lightsaber.
You have now completed a lightsaber spin! Incidentally, be sure to practice on a carpet or another type of soft surface, because you can expect to drop your saber plenty of times before you get the hang of it.
The action we have just described may be difficult to visualize, so here’s a useful lightsaber spin tutorial that shows all the steps.
Once you’ve mastered the basic spin (this could take a while), you can get into more complex moves, like the Obi-Ani spin, the Soresu Circle of Protection, and other neat lightsaber tricks. Again, not everything is directly applicable to lightsaber duels, but these tend to be excellent practice exercises that will enhance your combat readiness.
Additional Lightsaber Duel Tricks
A few more suggestions for expanding your combat knowledge:
- Avoid overswings – Beginners tend to swing their sabers around like baseball bats. You need to avoid doing this, because missing a strike tends to leave you wide open to retaliation. Practice your strikes so you’re in a strong defensive position if you miss.
- Practice footwork – Too many novice duelers worry exclusively about the movement of their lightsabers, but they need to know how to move their feet as well. You must maintain proper balance at all times, avoiding uncontrolled lunging. Learning proper fighting stances will go a long way toward improving your dueling skills.
- Learn to breathe – Breathing is another oft-overlooked aspect of combat. Practice breathing with your stomach, not your chest—this will help you maintain your posture as well as boost your endurance.
- Learn to feint – Inexperienced duelers often overreact to attacks, and this tendency leaves them vulnerable to the feint, which is essentially a strike intended to give the impression that it is directed at an area other than its true target. For example, an overhead swing, which appears to threaten the opponent’s head, can easily turn into a thrust attacking the midsection.
In the limited space we have here, all we can really do is indicate some avenues for exploration on your training quest. If you’d like to learn more about lightsaber combat, visit our online discussion forum at SaberForum.com. You can also contact us with your questions about our inventory.