Got Such Thing In Singapore Ah: Lightsaber Duelling
"Got Such Thing In Singapore Ah" is a series that explores cool hobbies and interest groups that you might not know exist in Singapore.
Most of you will agree that there is nothing as cool as watching lightsabers collide in an epic Jedi vs Sith duel. From Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader, to Obi-Wan and Qui-Gonn vs Darth Maul, the iconic "wooosh" sound of a lightsaber is unforgettable.
I fondly remember watching the movies as a kid, swinging a toy sword around pretending it’s a lightsaber. Which Star Wars fan doesn’t want to play Jedi (or Sith) and wield a laser sword of their own?
If you really want to fulfil your destiny as a Jedi Knight, there’s a place you can do so right here on our Little Red Dot! At The Saber Authority, you can hone your saber duelling skills while working out and having fun with fellow Star Wars fans.
The Saber Authority is headed by Jahaan V Balan, who works as a venture architect by day but by night, he dons the robes as a master of the force, one of the coaches teaching padawans young and old.
He joined the school as a student in 2014 and transitioned into a coach before taking over The Saber Authority in October last year.
At first, it was something fun for him to do for a weekend. “I didn't expect it to be such an intense workout. I thought might as well stay because it's a fun way to keep fit. Then, as I got to know the group better, it became less about the fitness and more about the people,” says the 28-year-old.
This Star Wars Day, I speak to Jahaan to find out how I can become one with the Force just like him.
I want to be a Jedi Padawan! How should I begin?
Well the easiest way would be to sign up for our combat saber experience. That’s a one-off class that will bring you through our basic techniques and footwork, ending with a round of duelling to put what you’ve learnt to use!
Is there a minimum age?
Yes, for safety purposes our minimum age is 15 years old. There is however no maximum range, in fact some of our best duellists are those who are well into their 40s and 50s.
What is the style of sword-fighting do you teach? Is it inspired by the Star Wars movies?
The idea for The Saber Authority came when the founding coach wanted to try something different and make martial arts and fitness more accessible. His idea was to teach the Filipino martial art called Kali or Escrima that emphasises weapon-based fighting, but replace the wooden sticks with lightsabers.
It’s an interesting system that assumes you aren’t wearing armour. Because of that, it is highly mobile, focusing on lots of good footwork to evade your opponent or being able to close the distance and strike when you spot an opportunity.
What is the best part about combat saber duels?
I could tell you it’s the community spirit and the camaraderie. I could tell you it’s a good workout. I could even tell you that it’s a great way to forget about life’s worries because if you’re in the ring you can’t think of anything else but your opponent. And all those things are true.
But the best part is gotta be the lightsabers, to be able to apply a martial art base with a lightsaber and live out the dreams we had as kids .
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced keeping The Saber Authority running?
When we first started it was initially hard to communicate to people that we’re not just playing around. That the class is based on a real martial art and it’s a real workout. Nowadays that’s less of an issue but the pandemic has made it hard to run classes as freely as we used to. However with the recent restrictions lifted, we can finally go back to almost normal.
Tell us more about your annual tournament!
Oh it’s great! Every year, we try something new. One year it was a singles tournament. Another year it was teams of 3, fighting 1 pair at a time. In another year, we tried a tag team system like in wrestling where you could swap with your partner. The tournament is certainly a place for us to test our skills and see how we improved, but it’s also a big community event that lets us come together and celebrate our shared passion.
What are some common misconceptions about combat saber duels?
People sometimes think of us as big kids, and that we're just wasting our time and running around waving a stick in the air. Now while we are definitely big kids, we train with purpose - every strike, every angle, every movement has a purpose. And it’s in understanding that purpose that you can become a better duellist.
How much does it cost to learn combat saber duels?
For the one-off combat saber experience. It’s $25. If you’d like to continue beyond that, you can join our apprentice course which is a structured 9-week program to give you complete mastery of your basics and build up your combat experience. We even have a special deal for the apprentice course right now where you get the 9 sessions plus a saber of your choice to keep for just over $300.
If you want to pick up lightsaber duelling, visit the The Saber Authority’s website here. As Master Yoda once said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”