They have been incorporated into many of the iconic and memorable scenes from the Star Wars’ films, but dedicated fans can now experience the ‘real thing’ as they battle it out in lightsaber competition. Last weekend saw the completion of the inaugural UK lightsaber combat championship final as contestants played out their own homage to the famous ground-breaking science-fiction vehicle. The honour and prestige of becoming the first champion went to Bristol’s Paul Dunsford.

Eight finalists battled it out

Brockworth in Gloucestershire was the chosen venue for the final battles, with eight determined wannabe Jedi Knights making it through to Saturday’s final stages after two rounds of qualifying.

The lightsabers used for the event consisted of weighted hilts with flexible blades being mounted on to them.

The winner described the experience as “great fun” but related how important strategy was in order to be successful at the sport, with moves needing to be “well thought out and crafted.”

Forever linked with Star Wars

Lightsabers will be forever linked to the Star Wars’ franchise and films. Their introduction into the storyline fuelled the imagination of millions of young (and not so young) viewers, as they sought to imitate the battles that they saw on screen.

The Jedi order and their Sith counterparts both used them as their signature weapon for close combat. A distinctive hum that amplified as the modern-day blade swished the air and the sharp crackle as the weapons clashed, all added to the tension in the carefully choreographed fight scenes during the films.

In essence the weapons were plasma-energy swords, typically around one metre in length and representing a technological development on the sort of sword play previously seen in earlier Robin Hood films.

Rotoscoping exchanged for digital imagery

The original Star Wars’ episodes utilised the animation technique of ‘rotoscoping’ to create the illusion of the blade on the lightsabre hilt.

The prequel films used more advanced digital images to create their weapons for the requisite lightsaber involvement in the action.

Cinema devotees have been enamoured with the lightsaber down the years, with a survey back in 2008 of around 2,000 Film fans voting it the most popular weapon in film history.