It is 2015 and lightsaber groups as well as “lightsaber” groups have mushroomed across the globe, especially since we’re going to have a new Star Wars movie in a decade.
Even in the Southeast Asian region, we have seen quite a few lightsaber groups popped up over the past 5 years, with FightSaber having 5 chapters in 5 countries.
Because of this, I would like to try to chronicle the history of the different lightsaber groups in the ASEAN region.
Saber Suicide Squad
The first ever lightsaber group in Southeast Asia, was from the Philippines.
Formed in 2003, the group called themselves the Saber Suicide Squad, headed by Master Gary Mayoralgo.
The Saber Suicide Squad staged their first performance in March of that year at New Worlds – The 1st Philippine Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention.
Saber Suicide Squad Performance at New Worlds III in 2005
Unfortunately, Darth Real Life strikes and the Saber Suicide Squad staged their final performance in 2006 before hanging up their lightsabers.
SEJA (Subterranean Esplanade Jedi Academy)
In Singapore in 2005, a film student had the idea of doing a Star Wars fan-film as his project. Jason Siah aka Darth Crovus as he was known back in the Fan Force Singapore forums, had gathered friends and other Star Wars fans to help him make his fan-film a reality.
Faiz aka Master Hakama offered his skills and knowledge, acquired from years of Kendo training, to help choreograph any fight scenes that the fan-film required, as well as train the actors involved.
Though the fan-film never got made, Jason converted the whole premise into a stage performance, to be performed at a local cosplay covention, CosFest.
SEJA went on to be quite a success for the next 4 years, performing at various local conventions as well as appearing alongside the local 501st Legion.
I had joined SEJA in late 2005 and left the group in 2009. SEJA, now called Team SEJA, went into hiatus shortly after and has not performed since.
In May 2010, I attended an event celebrating 30 years of Empire Strikes Back in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia organized by Outpost Malaysia and supported by the local Rebel and 501st Legions. There, I also judged a lightsaber wielding competition.
A few weeks later, after discussing with an old friend & long time Star Wars cosplayer, Allen Yap, I decided to start my own lightsaber performance group and calling it FightSaber. It was only after my decision to start the group that I recruited Herbert Donald, winner of the aforementioned lightsaber wielding competition to help me kick-start FightSaber Malaysia.
FSMY First ever performance in 2010
A couple of months later, only did I started the first training for FightSaber Singapore.
As of November 2014, FightSaber as a whole, was recognized by Lucasfilm as a lightsaber organization, receiving the same standing as all the other previously-recognized fan clubs like the 501st & Rebel Legions and Saber Guild.
Right now, FightSaber has a dozen chapters running across 5 countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia(started in Jan 2011), Brunei(started in Dec 2014) & the Philippines(started in May 2015).
Zin Jedi was a martial arts group from Brunei which focuses on practicing lightsaber combat as a martial art, and at the same time aims to promote the group as a lightsaber battle choreograph group.
In February 2011, Zin Jedi was founded by Master Yazin Yahya, a Kendo practitioner.
One would say that Zin Jedi was the Asian equivalent of LudoSport International.
In December 2014, Zin Jedi dropped their name and officially became FightSaber Brunei.
Urban Jedi are a group of lightsaber performers based in Bandung, Indonesia. Unlike other lightsaber organizations like Saber Guild and ourselves, their focus is more on the lightsaber performances than on the costumes, hence the Urban in their name.
Urban Jedi was founded in December 2011.
Jakarta Saber is the 3rd lightsaber group in Indonesia. They were founded in May 2012 by several members of the Indonesian Star Wars fanbase: Order 66 Indonesia.
Although based in the same city as FightSaber Indonesia, that hasn’t stopped Jakarta Saber from performing and showing off their skills. I guess the city IS big enough for the both of them.
Force Arts Stunt Team (FAST)
In September 2012, a number of FightSaber Malaysia members quit the team and started their own citing a difference in interest and direction. The FightSaber Malaysia chapter was abandoned and only to be resurrected in July 2015.
The Saber Authority
Not a lightsaber club in the strictest sense, The Saber Authority is just a martial art school, teaching Filipino Martial Arts derived from the Perkiti-Tirsia Kali System Global Organization (PTKGO).
Started in January 2015, they are the new kids on the block, although they mostly use the lightsabers as a gimmick because lightsabers are cool and a new Star Wars movie is coming out later this year.
The Saber Authority does not follow any canon or even the EU. Instead, they are just using their martial art knowledge just to provide and alternative avenue for people to learn a traditional martial art.
There you go, a “brief” history on all(hopefully) the lightsaber clubs & “club” in Southeast Asia.
– Master Sas-Ejiid