The force was with competitors

Fancy footwork at lightsaber tournament

Shauni James





There were lunges, jumps, quick foot and arm work, and slashes of light as competitors brought their best moves to a Lightsaber Tournament. The Rotorua branch of the New Zealand Lightsaber Guild hosted a tournament at the Otonga Primary School Hall last Saturday. There were 17 competitors from around the country in the tournament. Rotorua’s Royston Bartholomew says as always it was an awesome tournament fuelled by members of an enthusiastic community. He says it was some of the best level of competition that they have seen at any of the guild’s events. Eventually Wellington’s Brendan Hair won, and Rotorua’s Mark Upshall was runner-up (winner of last year’s tournament). Royston says the guild aims to hold events twice a year, every six months or so. “But demand is such that we may be making it more frequent. We tend to hold them alternating been the upper and lower North Island.” He says the next tournament is pencilled in for Wellington in the summer, and then Auckland in winter of 2023. The New Zealand Lightsaber Guild started in Rotorua almost six years ago with six Star Wars enthusiasts who wanted to bring competitive lightsaber sport to New Zealand. Now, the guild has a community of 1200 nationwide, Royston says. “It’s an amazing feeling. It’s a culmination of years with a lot of hard work by groups all over the country.” Brendan Hair was the winner of the tournament, and was one of two competitors from Wellington. He says he was really excited about duelling everyone on the day and he hopes lightsaber combat will build as a sport in New Zealand. Brendan says he has been doing lightsaber sport for about a year. He previously did six to eight years of fencing, starting when he was 14 in high school. He progressed quickly in fencing and competing, but had to retire due to injury. “I really love the atmosphere. Everyone here has been friendly and it’s great energy. “I’ve been going really well, going in I was excited and nervous.” Brendan thinks it is great to see more women participating in the sport and says it would be cool to see even more women get involved. Danyel Degenhardt is from Whakatāne, where he is the instructor for a club of the martial art of Korean Sword fighting Haidong