Halfway between a martial art and fencing, the sport combat with lightsabers created by LudoSport Academy adapts the use of the mythical lightsaber of the knights jedi from the ‘Star Wars’ saga to sports.
Ricardo Navarro, co-founder and rector of LudoSport Madrid, explains the characteristics of this sporting discipline, present in twelve countries, which is close to being recognized with its own federation.
– This sport started in Milan (Italy) in 2006 with a small Academy founded by Simone Spreafico, Gianluca Longo and Fabio Monticellil, passionate about the ‘Star Wars’ universe. How do you get in touch with them?
Our teachers, who, in addition to fans of ‘Star Wars’, They had practiced martial arts or fencing, they decide to adapt the lightsaber fighting that appears in the movies to a sporting environment. What they did was analyze the gestures that appeared in each of the bouts, which are choreographies designed by a fencing master. With this premise, and after consulting with various masters from different martial arts disciplines, they adapted these techniques to a new set of maneuvers with a weapon that appears in the movies to bring it closer to sport fencing.
– In 2015 you open with Guillermo Serra LudoSport Madrid. How did you know each other and why did you dare to open the Academy?
With Guillermo we did not know each other at all. We both came into contact with this discipline when we read in the press that a father and son had just opened an academy in Belgium. To me, who come from the world of sports fencing and am a great Star Wars fan, it struck me that there were none in Spain. I contacted the teachers in Milan and they told me that there was another person who was looking for information to bring the sport to Spain and that is how we met.
They told us that they were not going to send instructors to Spain, but that we had to train in Italy. Once we got the title, the system works as a franchise that is exported to different countries of the world. Gullermo is a computer scientist and I am a political scientist, but we are united by our love for ‘Star Wars’, so we decided it was worth partnering and bringing him to Spainña.
– What has been the expansion of the LudoSport academies?
It started in Milan and then spread throughout Italy. The first foreign country, if I remember correctly, was Sweden, and then the United Kingdom. Belgium, France and Spain followed. Right now we are in 12 countries, from Hawaii to Reunion Island.
– How did you get to know each other in Madrid?
Italy asked us to organize an event coinciding with the premiere of ‘The awakening of the force’ what was called ‘Madrid Awakens‘. The founding teachers and several instructors did a workshop in which several people signed up. From that promotion action we opened the first class with ten students.
– Today you have more than 130 students and 8 instructors. Do you keep these figures with the pandemic?
We had reached 150 students, although the number has dropped to 118. There has been a downturn, of course, but we are recovering. We currently have four active instructors; three at the El Templo academy and another at the school we have in Fuenlabrada.
«The first two or three years we went from having an academy in Madrid to opening in Barcelona and León, and now in summer, if the situation improves, there will be academies in Mallorca, Valencia and Murcia»
– LudoSport Madrid is the international academy with the highest growth in more than a decade of LudoSport’s history. What do you associate it with?
The discipline combines the fun of using a tool that appears in the movies with the practice of sport that, as we all know, is something healthy. There will be people who, for example, will not like to go to the Gym, But if you propose a physical activity in which they will also have fun because somehow they are playing with a lightsaber, it is attractive to many people. The first two or three years we went from having an academy in Madrid to opening in Barcelona and León and now in summer, if the situation improves, there will be academies in Mallorca, Valencia and Murcia. Each rector who wants to open an academy manages it directly with Italy, although we give support from Madrid.
– Sports lightsaber combat is inspired by aikido, judo, ju-jitsu and medieval fencing. What similarities do you share?
It could be more similar to things that are done in kendo, although we do not practice kendo or sports fencing with a lightsaber. It is a sports combat with its own techniques that are justified by the tool we use.
– LudoSport has its own lightsaber, the Polaris, a saber specifically designed and built for optimal performance in sport.
By conceptualizing this sport, our teachers designed a weapon that sticks to discipline. The saber makes it Blade of Light, which is the official manufacturer of LudoSport, and the designer is one of the first students they had in Milan. It is not the only sword that can be used but it is the one that best adapts to the sports system.
– Sport is mixed, something that happens in few sports.
This is another key to success, as our discipline is modern and inclusive, not only because of sex, but because of age. If we compare it with sport fencing, in which there are three different weapons, boys and girls shoot in separate categories and there are age divisions. We also have three different weapons but they can be mixed. From the age of 12 anyone can compete in the same category. It is a sport that depends on the ability of each one to handle the tool, not on gender or age.
– Madrid hosted in 2019 the first edition of the Champions Arena held outside of Italy. What did it mean for you to organize the international tournament par excellence?
It was a success because many foreign competitors came and it had a very interesting acceptance at the public level. The teachers offered us this possibility because they had been thinking about taking out the Milan Champions League for some time, since with its expansion it made no sense that it was always held in the same venue. And they thought of us because Spain is the second powerhouse of LudoSport in the world.
«We are in negotiations with the Royal Spanish Fencing Federation for the recognition of an own federation »
– Do you work at LudoSport full time?
From the beginning we considered it as a complement to our work. The current situation does not allow us to say whether or not it is a profitable business. It will have to be in the future because it is very attractive and for sure we will soon return to the numbers we had before. As more academies open in Spain, the interest of the community will grow and will help the development of the whole.
– Is the sport officially recognized?
We are in negotiations with the Royal Spanish Fencing Federation for the recognition of an own federation. They have been surprised by the depth of the discipline and the organization itself, the franchise system and its internationality, which shows that what we offer is serious. There is an International Commission of Style Referees and Judges and a Council, in which Spain has a presence at the highest level since I am one of the commissioners.
The problem with new sports is that they need time to create a sufficient mass of people to practice it and to opt for a federation of their own. In Italy they started in 2006 and they are the ones who lead the federation of our discipline around the world. For example, the French sports fencing federation has recognized the discipline of lightsaber combat as an added discipline and this is something that we are trying to do here as well.
– Would the Olympics therefore be a medium-long term goal?
It is a dream that we have and that we talk about often. There is no reason that prevents us from opting to be an Olympic sport because Since the birth of the discipline, our teachers have adhered to the Olympic spirit and its values.
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Images | Loaned by LudoSport Madrid