“Kssshhh!” “Wommmm!” “Ha!” “szzzllle…”
The year is 1981 and my friend Gary and I are in his back yard, having the lightsaber duel of our lives. We dance back and forth with absolutely reckless abandon, all technique (if we ever had any) thrown to the wind. Far from suburbia, we are racing the halls of the Death Star, walking through the ancient ruins of Yavin, or baking under the twin suns of Tatooine.
We are smugglers, rebels, heroes… Jedi.
At least until we’re called home for dinner.
More than 30 years have passed since those glory days, but the lure of the Jedi is a strong today as it was then — maybe even stronger. My children have seen all of the movies, watched the Clone Wars on Netflix and Rebels on apple tv. They are fascinated by their feats of derring-do, just as my friend and I were back then.
I don’t know what it is about Lucas’ creation, but it became one of the most timeless creations of sci-fi, possibly even THE most timeless creation. Certainly one of the most recognized. Whether they like Star Wars or not, nearly every human alive since 1977 knows what a lightsaber is.
Lightsabers have become so popular — so desired — that an entire cottage industry has arisen to provide “fighting” quality lightsabers. Fencing studios across the country have re-ignited their business by offering “Jedi training” — the perfect gateway for young swordsmen.
And so, three weeks ago, on a sunny Saturday morning, I signed my three younglings up for Jedi training.
That may have been the best thing I’ve ever done as a Dad. Well, OK, that’s probably a little extreme – but it’s up there!
Some quick background — I’m a classically trained sabre fencer, and fenced varsity in college and continued into grad school. Over the years I’ve tried to stick with it, but, let’s face it, it’s not like there are weekend pick-up matches at the local club. I figured my fencing days were long over.
So, when we paraded into Swordplay over in Burbank, I expected to just have a pleasant Saturday morning where the kids got to try something new. They were thrilled to see Jedi Master Akon there, in full robes, corralling them through their paces. I was thrilled to see that he taught actual fencing techniques — starting with proper footwork.
Even better, I was invited to fence with the Sabre instructor who had some time between lessons. Yeah, I was rusty, but in a few passes it all started coming back to me. And, even better, my kids got to see me do it. But, as excited as I was to loosen up my fencing instincts, my three were absolutely filled to the brim with awesome. They made me promise to come back. Now, it’s part of our Saturday routine.
And the other day, I actually bought them each lightsabers of their own (I’ll post pics when they arrive!). This morning, we had Jedi training at home for an hour. I want to do more. A lot more. And so do they. I’m looking at how to set up my schedule so we can have some time in the morning before school to “train” (my kids are crazy early risers).
Previously, my boys have been into soccer and baseball. My daughter did dance for a while. They have music lessons once a week – piano and guitar. I’ve never done these things — they aren’t even my interest, much less my passion. I’m thrilled to see them happy, but I’m not that knowledgeable. I was a swimmer, a fencer, and a shooter. But, now we’ve all got lightsabers in common and it’s brought us a lot closer.
And as a Dad, it’s pretty cool, because I finally have something to teach that they’re all interested in learning.
So, when you swing by the park and see a middle aged dad trying to hold his own against three Jedi — don’t smirk too hard. You know you slashed like a fool when you were a kid, too. Maybe you will again.
And, besides, it’s not like we have Jedi robes or anything… At least, not yet.