“An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age.” And with that, a lifelong obsession began. As a small town girl, it took a while, but eventually I found some people who felt the same way, picked up a lightsaber of my own, and suddenly realized: now this I can do.
Enter the Saber Guild. Formed in 2006 in California, the Saber Guild is an international Star Wars costuming and performance organization, dedicated to performing 100% choreographed lightsaber battles for charity. We are costumers, actors, dancers, martial artists, musicians, artists and photographers, and I’m here to tell you the seven reasons why Saber Guild is awesome.
Raising money and awareness for good causes is very important to our group. We’ve worked with both national charities like Make-A-Wish and ASPCA and local organizations, such as a youth filmography program in New York City. Our reason for being is to share what Star Wars means to us with the community. Every time a child smiles, we feel like real Jedi.
“Costuming allows us to portray the Star Wars world and bring our audience into it as well. Our costuming standards promote accuracy and creativity,” says our membership director Kiyo Gomes. Our timeline generally runs from the Clone Wars to Star Wars Rebels, when we see multiple light and dark side Force users onscreen. We have either canon (face) or custom (create-your-own) characters, and our costumes strike the balance between quick identification on stage, movie accuracy, and freedom of movement. Ever tried an Anakin spin in a cloak? Not fun.
Putting on a fully-choreographed performance takes a lot of time. We train once a week at a minimum, and more right before a show. Trusting your fight partner to pretend to kill you without actually doing so is essential. You can probably imagine that running around swinging a lightsaber is quite a workout. Empire Saber Guild in New York, under local director Rubin Polizzi, has recently paired with Neila Rey’s NR Project to develop a free Jedi-inspired workout routine.
My background is in dance, but plenty of our members are also martial artists. Robert Paske, the local director of Kaiju Temple in Tokyo, has a black belt in Song Moo Kwan taekwondo and years of fencing and kendo training. The different skills of our members coming together is fitting for a style of fighting that was developed as a wholly new mix of kendo, German longsword, rapier and Shaolin kung fu, to name a few.
When I paint my face in black and red Sith tattoos and my fiancé helps me get into my robes, I feel like Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai. But fighting isn’t the only key to a great show. Nothing enhances a great fight like the perfect music. “Working with audio, you can create fly-by ships, a ring of blaster fire, or whispers of guidance from Jedi who have fallen and become one with the Force on stage,” says Matthew J. Procaccini, co-director of Jet City Temple in Seattle.
Saber Guild started with half a dozen people. Now, there are 12 temples and 125 official members all over the world. We spend most of our free time together, working towards a common goal, and we get scarily close very quickly. Wonder how often Jedi wash their robes? Go ahead, ask me.
We only use battle-ready lightsabers with blades made from durable polycarbonate tubing. Yes, we are actually hitting them against each other. They come in a rainbow of colors and they’re pretty damn shiny. Some of us even make them.
So, what’s Saber Guild up to in 2015? “The next steps for Saber Guild will be to rock Celebration, which will help raise charitable funds, grow the fan base, and assist in recruiting new members,” says recently elected Global Director Robb Yanagihara. “After that, we will continue to recruit, build relations with Lucasfilm, Disney, and the other fan groups. The more we build, the more we solidify our position in the Star Wars community.”
Here are some videos of us in action:
Wanna join? Check us out at saberguild.com. And remember, there are Two Sides, but One Force.
Saber Guild will be performing at Star Wars Celebration at 1 and 3 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, and at 1 p.m. on Sunday at booth 124. We are also holding Padawan lightsaber training sessions twice a day in the Family Room.
Adrienne Lombardo is the global public relations director of Saber Guild International and the director of Jet City Saber Guild in Seattle. Depending on the day, she is also Jedi Knight Verryn Nova and Darth Hellion. Find out more at www.saberguild.com.