Today is May The Fourth, a gloriously geeky day when we proudly don our Star Wars-themed graphic shirts, raise our toy sabers, unabashedly quote classic lines from our favorite flick, and celebrate the triumph of good over evil in a galaxy far, far away. But the intergalactic party won’t stop because tomorrow also happens to be Revenge of the Fifth, which is all about reppin’ the Dark Side of the Force—appealing to fans with souls as dark as their guyliner. This year also marks the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope and December brings us Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It’s definitely a good year for SW fans (contrasting the heartbreaking year that we lost our Princess, no, General).
But let’s take the fanboying one step further and embody the core values of the Star Wars universe. We talk to members of Fightsaber PH, who are without a doubt hardcore Star Wars fans, about the positive changes in their lives thanks to taking up the saber.
1) Confidence can be built, young Padawan
Some of the Fightsaber PH members have never performed onstage prior to joining the group. Try something new. Nothing boosts your self-esteem quite like wielding the deadliest weapon in the galaxy.
“My fondness for martial arts choreography pushed me to join the group. Being an introvert, I was apprehensive about performing for the public at first. I overcame my stage fright (thanks to) continuous stage performances.” – Mike Atienza, member since 2015
2) You can embrace your geekery at any age, even if you're as old as Palpatine
There’s no shame in your fanboy game. Never do anything half-assed when pursuing your passion. Nothing expresses your SW fandom love more than sparring with sabers.
“It took me 40 years to realize na pwede ko pa pala gawin yun (cosplaying, joining conventions, performing for Fightsaber PH). Masaya pala!” - Perci Ramos, member since 2016
3) Resourcefulness is a neat skill
Nothing can stop you from MacGyver-ing your way to becoming a Jedi Master or Sith Lord. A small budget just pushes you to get creative. Doesn’t matter if you’re holding a PVC pipe or a polycarbonate tube, it’s all about how you carry yourself.
“Natuto ako gumawa ng sarili kong lightsaber with sounds and everything. Naging resident saber technician ako ng group—before the other sabersmiths joined.” - JB Casacop, member since 2015
4) A Jedi needs to keep his chill
The Jedi way of life values objectivity and not letting your emotions get in the way of making rational decisions. But hey, if you like raging maybe you should join the Dark Side instead—Kylo Ren could use the company. (Otherwise, he’ll be thrashing his saber crossguard to the tune of screamo songs.)
“Part of the Jedi Code says that ‘There is no emotion, there is peace.’ It’s important to remember because when stuff happens, you don’t let it override you and you just go with it. Stuff always happens, both good and bad.” - Khan Larracas, member since 2016
5) Stay committed to your passion
Any normie can suddenly decide one day to start whacking people with a stick, while calling themselves a Jedi. But it takes hard work and perseverance to become a true master of the lightsaber. To join the Fightsaber PH group, you have to undergo the six-month Padawan Program before you actually get to perform. Basically, flakers won’t last long in the sacred temple.
"We’ve been blessed to have members who are seriously into Star Wars but at the same time are willing to devote their time and energies to push lightsaber choreography as an art form" - Marc Macalua, Fightsaber PH co-founder
“When you hold a lightsaber, it isn’t just a toy, for us it’s a weapon that requires study and practice. When you wield a lightsaber you have to know your movements, the exact time and place to hit your opponent, and the footwork. To be good at it you really need, patience, discipline and hardwork—something that I was able to incorporate more into my life as a student.” - Tristan Lazo, member since 2016
6) You must let go of your ego
None of that crab mentality here. When performing the choreographed battles, everyone gets a chance to shine. In fact, several people in Fightsaber PH take turns playing Darth Vader and the other major roles.
“Cosplayer ako na laging solo. Dati, gusto ko laging nasa akin ang spotlight. Pero nung pumasok ako sa Fightsaber, iba yung natutunan ko: teamwork. Pag ikaw ang nag-perform, hindi lang sarili mo lang dadalhin mo, kundi ang buong team. Lahat kayo magtutulungan at pag nag-saber salute kayo sa huli, as Fightsaber at hindi bilang sarili mo lang. - Dranzer Dice, member since 2016
7) Health is wealth
Lightsaber dueling requires a lot of cardio work. After all, you can’t save/conquer (depends on your alignment) the galaxy if the opponents can easily catch up to you.
“There was a time a couple of years ago when I was in pretty bad shape. The choreography that we do in our group is a great cardio workout. Add in the martial arts type discipline of wielding a weapon. I'm proud to say that our workouts and fight choreography are amongst the key things that got me back into better shape.” – Nino Alejandro, member since 2016
8) Work as a team for the Jedi/Sith cause
Whether you’re fighting for the Light or Dark Side, you have to come together to put on a good show.
“I’m a game artist and design assets for games and costumes here and there. I help with the costume designs of the group. I think each member has something to offer besides their lightsaber skills—everyone helps out.” - Cheto See, member since 2016
9) Channel The Force for positive experiences
When you’re pissed off, don’t be destructive and be productive instead.
“Nalalabas yung creativity mo, and yung passion mo sa fandom. Yung wife ko na sa ibang bansa so outlet rin siguro ito kasi na-emo at lonely ako. So crafting lightsabers and joining the group makes me happy.” - Carlo Martinez, recruit since 2017
10) Respect people from all walks of the galaxy
It doesn’t matter what your background is, once you join the saber squad, you’re treated as an equal. After every saber performance, a Saber Salute is done to show respect, especially after sparring sessions.
“As a dancer, performing for the public didn’t worry me, but learning how to fight convincingly was uncharted territory to me. I was surprised to learn how much like dancing dueling is. It’s about communicating with your partner/s and trusting them as well. When we duel, I have to trust that my partner is going to block the right way, I have to be attentive to his/her body language, I have to give way when needed. If I commit a mistake, we have to acknowledge we’re wrong, instead of blaming someone else. These are all lessons that we learn to take with us when we switch off our sabers.” - Mika Fabella, member since 2015
“I learned to be mindful of my surroundings. Who knows, just one mistake while swinging your saber could make all the difference.” – Paolo Bragais, recruit since 2017
11) Give back
To truly be one with the Force doesn’t mean simply mastering the movements and acing the freestyle fights, it’s about taking everything you’ve learned and paying it forward. Like maybe teach a noob the basics or visiting the hospital in full costume to entertain the patients.
“Our passions can awaken the passion in others. We visit kids in the hospital and less privileged communities. That is the absolute best part—leveraging our love of Star Wars to do good. That’s what our community is about. Making people happy through lightsabers and the Force.”– Michelle Alejandro, member since 2016
Is the Force strong in you? Learn the basic lightsaber moves when you attend a Philippine Lightsaber Guild meetup. Or maybe you’re ready to take on a greater challenge and do some actual dueling? Then message any of the Fightsaber PH members to apply or wait to be nominated by any of the members.
Fightsaber PH will be performing this weekend (May 6-7) at SM Megamall. The group will also hold a Jedi Academy to teach basic moves to kids and have a Saberwalk—a special march where anyone with a lightsaber is welcome to join.
All photos courtesy of the Fightsaber PH Facebook page.