Local Teens Travel Far, Far Away for Lightspeed Saber League CompetitionSep 17, 2023 11:40AM ● By Jessica Trask
Local Teens Travel Far, Far Away for Lightspeed Saber League Competition
Em Watson & Jess Trask
In Star Wars, have you ever wondered if fighting with lightsabers could really happen? Could plasma swords really exist? Would lightsaber fighting follow any rules? The answer to all these questions is YES.
Plasma swords do exist. They are very expensive and really are in the prototype and experimental phase. Fighting with lightsabers does happen and happens across the country in various groups, or bases. One such base started about 2 years ago and gathers locally in Fredericksburg. Local Riverbend High School teacher Josh Blum started a local Lightspeed saber base in 2021. He learned of the sport online during covid.
Lightspeed Saber League is the official name. Founder Cang Snow says “Lightspeed Saber is a new form of fencing designed to simulate realistic plasma sword combat, while still being athletic, strategic, safe, affordable, accessible and fun.” (www.lightspeedsaber.com) Snow has a martial arts weapons-based background. “When I first picked up a LED saber, I knew that it would change weapon-based sports.” He wanted to make sure he would be around to see that change, so he created Lightspeed Saber League in 2017.
Recently in June, in a galaxy far, far away, or more commonly known as Las Vegas, Nevada, two local high school students went to compete in Lightspeed Returns, the 3rd national Lightspeed Saber League tournament.
Students, Asher Trask and Em Watson both attend Riverbend High School. The club has about 30 members who attend club meetings during school and about 10 of those students stay after once a week for additional practice. Throughout the past school year Watson knew she wanted to attend nationals in June of 2023. Asher attended in the summer of 2022 and was ready to go again. These two, along with their mothers, Sheila and Jessica, went on an adventure far, far away.
At the national tournament level this year there were up to 5 different events competitors could choose to compete in. The 3 versus 3 team event and 2 versus 2 team tournaments were added this year. The open tournament, in which any level of competitor could compete, the advanced tournament, where only those who are D ranked or higher could compete, and a women’s tournament. Competitors can become ranked by competing in tournaments and depending on where they place, they can earn a rank. Ranks are A through E, with A being the highest rank, ranks their skills and abilities against all the other competitors in the league.
On the first day of the 4-day tournament, there were workshops so participants could hone in on their saber fighting skills. A few of the workshops offered taught different types of grips used to hold on to your sword, how to have good footwork, and how to use good technique for controlled hits.
Day two, the events started with preliminary rounds. Watson & Asher both competed in the 3 v 3 team event. After the first elimination both made it to the top 8. Each team member rotated fighting with the other team's fighters through 6 rounds.
Next was the open tournament. This started out with fighters divided into 4 groups or boxes. Each box contained 5-7 competitors.
Asher easily defeated all but one competitor in his box and moved on to the finals which were held the next day. Watson was challenged in her box but was able to defeat 7’2” Sean, a founder of a Lightspeed base in Long Island, NY.
Upon completing these matches, wins, loses, and points scored were used to calculate seeding for a single elimination round, where the top 16 of the 40 plus competitors would battle to determine the best in the nation. The single eliminations implemented more advanced rules, increasing the time and total points per match. That combined with the more seasoned competitions at this stage. For Asher the competition was more challenging in this second round. He was defeated by 2 points and was not able to advance. Overall, he finished the competition in 8th place in this open tournament. An improvement from 13th last year.
Watson also competed in the women’s division later that day with the same set up as the open tournament. With some tough women’s competitors, Watson was able to place in the top 8. She went up against high ranked Bri, who won the Women’s tournament. She also managed to rack up the most returns/defensive actions in the women’s division, with a total of 9 being recorded.
The major competition was the advanced tournament. This is where only those ranked D and up could compete. Asher qualified for this being ranked a D. This was a long and exhausting day.
First in Asher’s box he fought experienced fighters, and at the time #1 ranked fencer Steve Perez. He did well in defeating 2 fighters and moved on to the next round. Then he faced against the women’s #3 ranked Ally, from Oregon, Asher was defeated only by 3 points. This was a hard blow for Asher. Overall, with his wins and point accumulation, Asher became ranked 10th in the advanced tournament. Currently Asher is ranked nationally #18 overall and #1 on the East coast.
The 2 vs 2/duet tournament took place on the third day right before the finals, Watson being on team Snotson and Asher being on team Trullins. The duet tournament began with the Trullins vs the Snotsons. In a massively fun and tense match the teams ended up tied 27-27 with Watson vs Asher, both teams being 1 point away from the win. The two competitors charged each other and with the final exchange Snotsons took the win. Later on, in the day the Snotsons faced their final match and lost 44/45.
Even with the long days of frustrations and challenges, fun and social interactions occurred like a group dinner, bowling out one evening and exploring the amenities at the hotel/casino where everyone stayed for the duration of the tournament.
Watson & Asher, and their mothers, had an amazing time, made a lot of new friends from across the nation, and experienced the best competition they have encountered.
Lightspeed Saber Virginia is always looking for more members to join and experience this fun and exciting sport. If you are interested in the group and joining weekly meets and practices, you can reach them at
Email: [email protected]
Lightspeed Saber League: www.lightspeedsaber.com
Discord Server: discord.gg/E9kdDqkjyn