IN a church hall not so far away, Britain’s first lightsaber combat academy has been launched - where Star Wars fans can become qualified Jedi Knights.
The LudoSport movement was founded to “study and practice the seven Jedi and Sith combat styles” described in the Star Wars saga.
Apprentices train with illuminated lightsabers and progress through the ranks to become Jedi Knights, Jedi Masters and - ultimately - a Grand Master.
Now the discipline has arrived in the UK after martial arts expert Jordan Court travelled to Italy to train as an instructor.
He now teaches the skill to a group of die-hard Star Wars fans every Tuesday night in a church hall in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
Jordan, 34, from Cheltenham, said: “I have always had a fascination with Star Wars and martial arts.
“I thought there must have been something of this nature in the UK but there wasn’t.
“Last year I came across LudoSport and was blown away by watching these videos of guys who had been training at it for six or seven years.
“I went to Italy to train and it was stunning.”
LudoSport was founded by three friends in Italy in 2007 who wanted to explore how the lightsaber would be used in combat in the real world.
They studied various western and oriental fencing techniques and mixed them with evidence from Star Wars films and books to develop a new form of combat.
The LudoSport International Light Saber Combat Academy was formed, teaching seven different styles of combat.
Armed with a lightsaber, competitors learn technically demanding moves before fighting each other in an ‘Arena’.
Opponents battle it out to inflict a ‘mortal blow’ on their rival.
If they are hit on the lower legs or lower arms, it is a non-mortal blow, but anywhere else is a mortal shot.
Blows are self-declared and the encounter ends when one of the contenders inflicts a mortal strike on their opponent.
Jordan’s favourite Star Wars film is The Empire Strikes Back and his favourite character is Obi Wan Kenobi.
He launched LudoSport in the UK last month and it is going from strength to strength as word of it spreads, he says.
Jordan added: “We had seven people this week and lots of fresh enquiries. There has been a lot of excitement.
“It is tremendous fun, good for fitness and is not tedious like a treadmill. It is also good for keeping your mind sharp.”
People starting at the school go in as an Apprentice (8-12 years old) or Youngling (13+), before climbing up the ranks.
They then become a Padawan, followed by a Jedi, then Jedi Knight before qualifying as a Jedi Master and, ultimately, a Grand Master.
The classes are held in Cheltenham and there are plans to expand to Bristol.
LudoSport’s seven combat styles
Shii-cho: provides for good defence and foresees treacherous attacks
Makashi: elegant and powerful form based on precise foot movements
Soresu: close body movements to protect the body and use as little energy as possible
Ataru: an aggressive form, attacking with rapid and powerful slashes
Djem-So: a mixture of the defensive Soresu and aggressive Makashi
Niman: for diplomatic people. moderate at other skills with no excellence in any of them
Juyo-Vaapad: technically difficult, based on unpredictable, accidental-looking movements