We’re well into February, and as I’m sure is the case with many, my fitness resolutions aren’t going as well as I had planned. I have every intention of going to the gym and sweating my proverbial (and literal) butt off, but it’s so boring. There are only so many times I can kick box an imaginary assassin and spending an hour running nowhere on the treadmill is pretty dreadful. Now thanks to the explosion of all things Star Wars, there’s also been a fitness awakening – lightsaber training.
When I first heard about lightsaber training as a form of fitness, I had to learn more. Regardless of whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not, who wouldn’t want to learn how to yield a lightsaber to battle their mortal enemies? The original lightsaber training gym, New York Jedi, has been teaching young Padawans and Sith-hopefuls on the art of lightsaber fighting for over a decade, so I got in touch with them to learn more.
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About New York Jedi
Since 2005, The New York Jedi has been made up of a community of cosplayers, martial artists and teachers, who share practical stage combat techniques using lightsabers to create illuminated stage combat. Although not character or cannon specific to any story or franchise, you’re given the exciting ability to create your own hero from whatever source inspires you. New York Jedi is the perfect way to learn some awesome lightsaber skills while hanging-out with people like yourself.
Lightsaber Training: The Ins & Outs from New York Jedi
While lightsaber training may seem pretty straight forward to some, I knew there had to be some skill and patience involved so I got in touch with the folks over at New York Jedi to answer some of my questions regarding the practice and their classes.
TFT: First things first, do you get more Jedi or Sith trainees at your classes?
It’s actually pretty balanced. Sometimes we may have more than one than another, but it always balances out. We also have members that have characters for each, so if a show needs a member to be Sith in one and a Jedi in another we can be versitile for what we can do for our fights and shows.
We have members who have backgrounds in several different martial arts and sword fighting techniques: Aikido, Tae Kwon do, Savat, Medieval Fencing, German Longsword and others. We also have techniques that we have developed ourselves based on the movies and novels: Shii Cho and Soresu and we have a number and letter system.
TFT: Do most people come to your classes strictly for the fun and cool aspect of learning to use a lightsaber or do they also hope to achieve better fitness or weight loss with your classes?
The main reason for the classes is to learn how to perform with a lightsaber so that we can create fights for our shows. That is the basis of the group. We are a stage choreography group at it’s core. We learn lightsaber techniques that we can then use to create and choreograph fights to use in our various shows. The weight loss aspect is a side benefit of all of the hard work we put into what we do.
TFT: Are there different weights and lengths to the lightsabers or is there a standard size used in class?
Each saber will have a different weight or length depending on the user’s preference and fighting style. We have members that use 2 short sabers in an escrima style, then others will use a long sword sized saber, Staff saber lengths will actually depend on the height of a user. Someone that is on the shorter end will have a much shorter blade length than someone who is tall. It is all based on personal preference and what is a good length and weight for the performer.
TFT: Can you describe a typical class?
The first 15-20 minutes of class will be warm ups to get ready for the class. That can be anything from basic stretches and light muscle warm up to stretches and running around the room to get the muscles nice and warm and ready to go. Then we have 45 – 60 minutes of instruction on the style or technique that we are learning in that particular class. Then we have open choreography time for 30-45 minutes. This time is used to work on the technique that people learned and working on fights for upcoming shows. Then the last 15 minutes are when we have show offs of what everyone is working on so we can critique and improve.
TFT: Do you have any lightsaber training tips for those of us who want to learn but aren’t in the NY area?
NYJ also does have videos on our site that we have posted teaching some basics and we are looking to expand the video series to help people.
Lightsaber training sounds amazing. NY Jedi is taking fitness to a whole new level that not only works your body, but calms the mind and allows you to have fun and learn some amazing skills – with using a lightsaber being the ultimate bonus, of course. They offer a variety of different classes, even some for kids. I know if I’m ever in the area, I’ll be stopping by to take a class or two. The Force is strong with New York Jedi.