Real-Life ‘Star Wars’: KC Lightsaber League Aims to Save an Ancient Sport

Two lightsaber duelists clash at a Galactic Saber League event

Real-Life ‘Star Wars’: KC Lightsaber League Aims to Save an Ancient Sport

In the heart of Kansas City, a unique venture has been igniting the spirits of “Star Wars” fans and community enthusiasts alike. Galactic Saber League, an effort to revitalize fencing for a new generation, has evolved into a vibrant community hub where lightsaber enthusiasts gather to train, compete and forge lasting connections.

The genesis of Galactic Saber traces back to 2019, when a decline in youth participation threatened traditional fencing clubs. The solution? Introduce a lightsaber fencing ruleset to rekindle interest.

Lightsaber duelists gather at a Galactic Saber League session
Lightsaber duelists gather at a Galactic Saber League session

Founder Lucy Kull recalls the early days of overcoming language barriers, translating rulesets and launching the league on a memorable date — May the Fourth, 2019, a reference to the famous phrase, “May the Force be with you.”

“When we were just getting started, it was really exciting,” Kull says. “The French Fencing Federation had just announced lightsaber dueling as an official competitive sport, and it seemed like a cool idea. So we did a lot of research into the ruleset. We downloaded the goals that they put out, which were only in French at the time, which meant lots of hours of using Google Translate. After a lot of translation and research, we launched the league in 2019.”

However, the league’s journey hasn’t been without its trials. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a temporary shutdown, disrupting training regimens and testing the resilience of the community.

“The pandemic hit right as the league was really starting to take off, which was really unfortunate,” Kull says. “It’s one of those things where it’s a martial art, so it does require a level of commitment from the students participating. A lot of our students who had been attending pre-pandemic lost a lot of their skill during that time. Some of them came back when we re-opened, and some of them didn’t.

Two lightsaber duelists face off
Two lightsaber duelists face off.

Yet, through perseverance and adaptability, Galactic Saber League emerged stronger, welcoming back dedicated students and attracting new recruits eager to wield a lightsaber.

At the heart of Galactic Saber’s success lies its commitment to fostering both skill and camaraderie. Adult classes resemble combat sports, blending rigorous drills with philosophical discussions on Jedi principles. Meanwhile, children’s classes offer a dynamic mix of structured drills and energetic sparring.

The Galactic Saber tournaments, held monthly, showcase skill and strategy. With rules emphasizing choreographed combat over raw aggression, participants engage in exhilarating duels reminiscent of the iconic lightsaber battles from the “Star Wars” saga.

Beyond lightsaber combat, Galactic Saber is part of a larger organization called Redux Society, a collective of community-focused businesses sharing a common ethos.

“Aside from lightsabers, Redux Society offers lots of events, from social dance classes to book clubs and game nights,” Kull says. “It’s all about providing avenues for people to meet and build connections. All of our events are community focused so we can continue to foster those face-to-face connections.”

With aspirations for expansion and continued community growth, Redux Society’s hopes to bring its events and activities to new audiences and locations. Whether through lightsaber duels or salsa dancing, the goal remains the same: to cultivate bonds and create communities.

“Continued growth is definitely the goal,” Kull says. “Whether that’s expanding to more locations or just getting more people to come here, we haven’t figured out yet. But we definitely want to grow while maintaining that sense of community.”

As the journey of Galactic Saber League continues, one thing remains clear—the Force is strong with this community, guiding them on a path illuminated by passion, creativity and the power of human connection.

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