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Il Ritorno dello Jedi

Star Wars may be American, but lightsaber training is all Italian

Author Hannah Stuart-Leach Illustration Luci Gutiérrez

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BRISTOL, U.K. – A line of recruits stand silently in a hall in the English city of Bristol, holding their weapons before them. “From now on, when I give an instruction, please respond with ‘Sì,’” says the black-robed instructor. “Sì?”

“Sì!” the trainees shout out as one.

The reason for this affectation, the instructor explains, is that the fighting technique he is teaching originated with a Milan-based outfit called LudoSport. Star Wars may be an American creation, but formal training in lightsaber combat is all Italian. And, like any sport, he says, “It needs a common language.”

Jordan Court, a 34-year-old musician who became England’s first full-time lightsaber sensei last fall, has yet to decide on whether to be Jedi or Sith. “I like to strike a balance between the two,” he says.

Today, Court is teaching the Seven Styles of Combat, which range from defensive Shii-Cho moves to the attack mode of Ataru. “We use different tactics and applications,” he says, “but none is better than the others.”

The first ever international lightsaber tournament takes place in Milan in May, but it’s unlikely that any of today’s “younglings” will compete. Their priority, as one puts it, consists mainly of “not losing an eye.”

After a primer in how to hold the weapons, Court gives the nod, the lightsabers buzz to life, and battle commences.

DOINK!

A lad has overzealously thwacked his partner on the head. “Don’t worry,” Court says. “It’s not a real weapon; it shouldn’t hurt.” He beckons a man to come and doink him on the head to prove it.

“See?” he says.

“Sì!” the would-be warriors respond.

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