C4 hosts lightsaber combat group
Manny Goossen, CONTRIBUTOR
Winnipeg Star Wars fans are becoming Jedis.
River City Jedi (RCJ), Winnipeg’s only LED lightsaber combat group, showed off their skills at this year’s Central Canada Comic Con (C4) on Oct. 28-30.
The demonstration is an example of the training classes RCJ instructors teach on lightsaber combat. They have 25-30 students.
Beginners learn fencing footwork and Kendo basics, which is what most people would recognize from the original Star Wars trilogy, said David Alberto, 35, the co-founder and a primary instructor at RCJ.
The goal for duellers is to hit their opponent’s body, and each hit earns them a point. To avoid having Jedi rush for a quick hit in a duel, the instructors focus on a defensive approach, said Alberto.
The event drew a big crowd at C4, but Jedi duellers had to stay in the moment.
“It takes a lot of focus,” said Alberto. He enjoys the feeling of being in the ring.
“You are excited and nervous. It’s a good time,” said Alberto.
The group fights with padding and masks on for protection. A Jedi’s strike on an unpadded area leaves bruising, said Alberto. The group also wears costumes for personas during C4.
C4 is also where the group finds new Jedis.
“There are always new people who come [because of C4] and absolutely love it. They want to learn how to fight,” said Philippe Doucet, 27, a RCJ member.
LED saber combat’s popularity is rapidly growing because of the new Star Wars movies, said Alberto. Disney’s plan is to release five more movies by 2020.
RCJ originally started with about 10 members who were just dueling for fun, said Scott Isaac, 37, a co-founder and primary instructor.
Now, RCJ instructors teach different types of martial arts, like German longsword and Renaissance rapier. Footwork and strike-work is the main focus. It’s all for fun, but people are surprised at how serious it is too, said Isaac.
Neither age, skill, or fitness level should prevent people from trying out a class, said Alberto. The Jedi who attend range from teenagers to 40-year-olds.
“You put a [LED saber] in their hands, and they’re like, ‘Okay, I can do this. I’m down with that,’” said Alberto.
He encourages those who are interested but sceptical to come try something new.
The first class is free, said Alberto. RCJ is a non-profit. The fees go toward renting the venue and equipment. None of the instructors are doing this for money, said Isaac.
RCJ hosts a training class every other Sunday at Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus. For more details, visit the group’s Facebook page.