“Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel”: A Documentary Hosted by Mark Hamill


ESPN has announced a new documentary that will featured the Lightsaber duel and its changes through the films and connection to modern martial arts and it will be hosted by our beloved Jedi Master, Mark Hamill.

“We will take viewers on a unique journey that examines the connection of these duels to sports and their evolution, from the original trilogy through the prequels, and now to Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Craig Lazarus, ESPN .


Along with Hamill, the documentary will have appearances from John Boyega, J.J. Abrams and Ian McDiarmid. The show will use Kendo practitioners from Japan to help them connect their martial form to the lightsaber duels in Star Wars.

“What people don’t realize is how much goes into what appears to be just minutes on the screen,” Hamill said. “The elaborate choreography for the actual fight is done on several different sets over a period of weeks and then it is edited down to what you see on the screens, so I am happy people are able to see the amount of work that goes into it.”

As a kid, I loved the duels between Luke and Vader. I remember reenacting them with a friend of mine in his basement using his sister’s Ringette sticks. I would always play Luke and he, Vader. My favorite Lightsaber duel to this day was the one between Luke and Vader in The Return of the Jedi. The emotions and “destiny defining” moment between Father and Son still gives me chills when I watch it! When the prequels were released and a more Chinese martial art style was used, I was also thrilled of a new style of fighting for the Jedi! Of course, some became tired of the overly flashy and sometimes over the top display of moves. In a recent interview, J.J. Abrams said that he is wanting a “more primitive, aggressive and rougher” style of lightsaber duels much like the original trilogy. It seems that this documentary may be also suggesting a return to a Kendo form.

While I respect Kendo and its history, my hope is that Abrams will not limit the Jedi to one style of fighting. That he would give other fencing forms a chance to be included such as Historical European Martial Arts, which is growing in popularity world wide. It is a perfect addition to the direction of “aggressive and rougher” that Abrams is looking for. Could this [HEMA] be the style that Kylo Ren uses as he does owns a longsword styled lightsaber? We will see.

Kendo vs. Historical European Martial Arts
Kendo vs. Historical European Martial Arts

Of course, we may see such diversity in the films from Abrams and will have to wait and see when The Force Awakens on December 18th.

Star Wars: The Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel premiers December 15th at 7 pm EST on ESPN.

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About Wookiee Steve 710 Articles
From the moment Steve first watched Star Wars: A New Hope in the theater when he was a child, he wanted to be Luke Skywalker when he “grew up” (and STILL does!). He now shares this passion with his wife, two daughters, friends and fans. Steve is the Founder of Star Wars Reporter.