You may have seen them at previous incarnations of the Singapore Toy, Games and Comic Convention (STGCC), where they wield lightsabers with expert dexterity, and execute complex fight choreography with the sole purpose of entertaining young and old, regardless of whether they are Star Wars fans or not.
HereBeGeeks caught up with FightSaber founder and veteran lightsaber fight choreographer Azmi Danuri. In part one of this exclusive interview, we talked a bit more about the group, being a ninja in training and an exciting upcoming project.
HereBeGeeks: Let’s start at the beginning: when was Fightsaber founded? And don’t say “A long time ago, in a galaxy far away…”
Azmi Danuri: FightSaber was founded in Malaysia last year during the 30th anniversary celebrations of The Empire Strikes Back in KL where I was judging a “lightsaber wielding” competition. I was invited over by Allen Yap and Richard Chua, the “bigwigs” of Star Wars fandom over in KL.
The winner of this competition was Herbert Donald, whom I approached to help me start FightSaber Malaysia and he gladly accepted the responsibility.
That’s awesome! But did Malaysia already have a lightsaber choreography group? Or was it just you and Herbert in the beginning?
Prior to that, Malaysia never had a lightsaber group. There was only Herbert. and he was resourceful enough to get people to join him. In Singapore, there were only 2 at the beginning, me and my 2IC, Tarmizi.
And how many members do you number today? In just the span of… a year?
50 members, active and inactive, across three countries.
So, are there any common traits among your members? Age, gender, martial arts background?
Well, most of our members are regular guys (I think the local girls are not really into this kinda thing) whose ages range from late teens to early 30s. Some have martial arts background like fencing and kenjutsu. I myself have had training in Ninjutsu. Yes, I’m technically a ninja. In training.
But of course, anyone is welcome to join, right? Whether they choose to fight for the Light Side of the Force, or otherwise?
Definitely, everyone is welcome, and their Force alignments are totally up to them.
So, just out of curiousity’s sake – how many Jedi and Sith do you have in FightSaber?
The Sith outnumber the Jedi greatly in FightSaber. Everybody wants to be a villain. It’s cooler that way I guess.
So, between Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia what is the reaction like to FightSaber? Are you making a name for yourself?
In Indonesia, it’s kinda slow. In Malaysia, it’s quite a smash – the team’s been up to their necks in performances for a variety of cosplay events.
Over here, it’s in the middle. We’ve done a few performances both public and private events, and we were hoping to do some for STGCC this year. We’ve been in contact with the organisers, and are exploring options. But you’ll see us at the Con, and we may even put up an impromptu performance for sure
Well, we hope you’ll get your chance to show off your stuff at STGCC. Were you there last year?
Yeah, we were. We ninja’d the Lucasfilm booth. Everyone was like, “Do we have to pay to take photo with you guys? We have to if we wanna take photo with Vader and his troopers”
Everyone loves a free shot with the Force Users.
It’s the lightsabers, man.
Speaking of the lightsabers, tell me more about your arrangement with Kit Sabers.
It’s kinda like the Hong Kong Jedi and Makoto Sabers – we’re just supported by Kit Sabers. Kit does exclusively customized designs for us . Most of us in Singapore use his sabers for performances and appearances. It’s like a marketing thing for him and cheaper discounted sabers for us.
How has it been working out for him and what have you got out of this symbiotic relationship?
A lot of people have been asking where we get them “multi-coloured light-up laser swords”. His sabers are mostly cheaper than Hasbro FXes and other custom saber works like Ultrasabers or Makoto, since it’s local-made and all. Support local products!
For FightSaber, we get to test out his prototypes. One of the guys had a walking-cane saber made; and he’s our go-to guy if we want to convert our Lucas-licensed saber into something less wall-candy and more stage-combat worthy
So, what can we look forward to for FightSaber? Public performances, events, maybe even workshops?
Mostly public performances, and… a bi-monthly fanfilm series. We just shot the pilot a couple of weeks ago. The fanfilms will showcase all or most of the Singapore members doing what they do best. The Malaysia guys are looking to do the same thing too.
A fanfilm? Wow, what is the concept behind it?
I guess it’s mostly me being a film geek and aspiring filmmaker, since I have my own equipment. Besides, it’s basically the same thing we do on stage, but with many cuts.
Any hints about the story and characters? Or is that less important than seeing one awesome saber fight after another?
Believe it or not, the choreography and story are being made up as I shoot them! To quote Han Solo, “Sometimes I amaze even myself.” It does help that Jason, one of our senior members, has the same film background as I do. He helps me cover the loopholes.
As most star wars fanfilms go -it’s basically, many Jedi versus one Sith. Sith kills a Jedi, another Jedi kills said Sith, and turns to the dark side, and then it’s Jedi versus former Jedi.
Did you… just give away the plot?
Aren’t most fanfilms that way, to be honest?
Coming soon, the next episode of this thrilling interview, where we learn a bit more about the Grand Master of FightSaber! Meanwhile, you can find FightSaber online @ FightSaber.com