Saber Legion brings friends together over passion for science fiction, swordplay

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - It's not every day you get to channel your inner Jedi, but one organization in Huntsville is doing just that!

Saber Legion is an organization dedicated to full contact saber fighting, using a favorite prop from science fiction movies.

For Alabama Chapter Representative Douglas Gillon, joining the Legion was born out of a shared family interest.

"My son and I were looking for a place to fight with LED sabers and we thought, 'There’s gotta be a place to do this - were in the Rocket City!'"

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Gillon says there’s a lot of collaboration and camaraderie within the Legion. In fact, it took a demo from the Tennessee chapter to restart the Alabama chapter.

“So I started searching for it and actually ended up having a meeting with a charter in Tennessee. They came down to a longsword fighting class that we were in and did a demonstration for us.

Gillon said the Alabama chapter extends down to Mobile, where there are 10 active members, along with up to 17 members sparring in Huntsville.

Saber Legion isn’t just in Huntsville, either.

"Right now we are in most of the states, we have charters in several other countries. We have charters in Australia, Mexico - we just had one start up in the UK -we have a charter in Germany, and we are continuing to grow."

But for Gillon, people make the organization what it is.

"It's a lot of fun. Everybody treats each other like family - everybody’s welcome. We don't bring any politics or religion or anything else into this. This is our time to just get together and have a good time with other people that are interested in the same thing."

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History of the Legion

Gillon said the Legion began in 2015 when Terry Birnbaum and Charely Cummings, two fans of the Star Wars movies, got together and were looking for a way to fight with props from the movies because it looked fun.

Initially, the sabers they used were flimsy and not durable. After finding people who made durable sabers, they had another problem - since the sabers didn't break, people did.

As a result, they developed rules and requirements for protective gear. Lots of Legion members use hockey or lacrosse gear because it has extra padding to absorb blows from the sabers. One other requirement for Legion members when dueling includes fencing helmets - because thrusts to the head are legal in tournament sabering.

What are sabers made from?

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Sabers in the Legion include a clear or white polycarbonate blade - the same stuff used to make police batons, a rounded tip (to avoid a stabbing injury), and a metal hilt (itself made of a battery, emitter, LED, and a switch).

How do I join the Legion?

Gillon said the Alabama chapter is always looking for new members. However, since the Legion involves combat, prospective members will need to sign a hold harmless agreement and agree to the rules of the Legion. Once the agreement is signed, members can join the Facebook group for the local chapter and follow the main organization on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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