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Darren Sherman has started a campaign to officially make lightsaber competitions an Olympic event. He calls it the "Light My Saber" campaign, and it aims to bring the sport of lightsabering to the 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sherman says that lightsaber competitions could be individual skills, point-based sparring, or choreograph saber duels. Lightsabering is the fastest growing sword sport, with millions of fans across the globe. This iconic sport deserves to be an official event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio!
A fencing sword would be no match for a real Lightsaber which would have a better reach and weigh nothing.
originally posted by: Phage
Actually, I think that Lucas got the basic idea from Niven.
The Star Wars Origins project began with one question: "How did George Lucas invent the lightsaber?" I thought it would be easy to find an answer, but the search ultimately led to two years of research culminating in this website.
A Wikipedia contributor has identified what I suspect is probably the strongest inspiration on the idea of the lightsaber: the "force-blade" from the Lucky Starr series of science fiction juveniles, originally published 1952-1958 by Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) under the pen name "Paul French." The force-blade is "a short shaft of stainless steel" which can project a force field that can cut through anything, making it "the most vicious weapon in the galaxy."
I think it's a safe bet lightsabers were also influenced by the magic swords from The Lord of the Rings: When Luke watches from across a chasm as his mentor Obi-Wan duels with Darth Vader, that echoes the scene in which Frodo watches from across a chasm as his mentor Gandalf duels with the Balrog. The good guys magic swords (Glamdring and Sting) glow blue, the evil Balrog's magic sword glows red.
Where did Tolkien get his idea for the flaming magic sword in the first place? He was almost certainly inspired by Surtur, the king of the fire giants from Norse mythology. The idea of a flaming sword is at least as old as the Book of Genesis: after Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, a magic flaming sword guarded the entrance to prevent them from returning (in one part of the Bible the sword is held by an angel, in another the sword magically floats in the air).
George Lucas recalls that Star Wars was influenced by pirate and swashbuckling films of the '40s, which showcased the romantic side of fighting, illustrated in characters like Errol Flynn's Robin Hood. With Jedi, who were heroes in this tradition, the director needed a weapon that would match their ideals.
Thus, the lightsaber also became a symbol for more peaceful, honorable times, representing what the galaxy was like before the Empire. Originally, Lucas says, Jedi were meant to fight with just swords. But to give the weapon a technological edge, they became "laser swords," able to deflect incoming fire -- which made sense, character-wise, as Jedi were not meant to be warlike, aggressive fighters.