I had the opportunity to attend a new movement rising in Southern California known as Underground Lightsaber Fighters Battle. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't what I witnessed. Before I even got there, though, my ride was explaining certain things. And when I saw his fencing masks in his car, I realized a few preconceived notions were already wrong.
When I got there, I saw a number of people of all ages, from veteran Star Wars fans to little ones only just becoming aware of the Force, all gathering and performing mock battles. Some people were in cosplay, most were not, and some had body armor. That was another red flag.
And then the tournament got under way.
It was instantly obvious that these were people that actually knew how to fight with swords and were simply displaying that skill with lightsabers. When the tip of the first combat lightsaber exploded off from the impact made, I knew this was far more real and painful than I realized. As the tournament went on I saw more lightsabers "pop" from damage, a man get his helmet knocked completely off his head, another lose the entire protective part of his face mask, and the eventual champion get stabbed in the face, through a fencing mask, causing his mouth to start bleeding.
Despite the danger of competing, everyone had a blast. The fights were the best of five rounds, with hardly any showboating, three judges, and two prizes, one for the champion and another for a raffle winner. The most humorous part was that the raffle winner happened to be the runner up.
The event was amazing to witness. I hope to be able to attend another ULFB in the future and take more amazing photos.
Underground Lightsaber Fighters Battle occur every last Saturday of the month, at the Fountain in Balboa Park. You really can't miss them, just wait until sundown and look for all the lightsabers.