Any fan of Star Wars remembers wanting to be Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader or Qui-Gon Jinn. Being a Jedi was the childhood dream of many Star Wars fans and for many, the main appeal of being a Jedi was wielding their legendary weapon — the lightsaber.
A unique and quickly growing club on campus, ABQ Jedi, taps into this childhood dream by meeting twice a week at the Duck Pond, where members duel using recreations of the Jedi’s weapon. The club was founded by Revan Killian, a former UNM student, and a “Master Jedi” in the club.
“I joined up with another group that meets here called ‘Order of The Wolf.’ It wasn’t exactly a Star Wars group, and I stuck with it for a while, but I wanted something more closely based on the lore of Star Wars,” Killian said. “I played around with the idea six years ago with a few people, and about four years ago I set it down with three other guys. We made the basis and the foundation based off of what I was already throwing around.”
ABQ Jedi is a club based around the art of lightsaber dueling. Each club meeting starts off with warm-ups and then the fighting begins, where the members break off into their respective factions, Jedi, Sith and “Gray” to duel it out for the rest of the evening. The duels are organized into various games, some of which are based off of classic first-person-shooter game modes like “Protect the General” and “Team Deathmatch.”
The lightsabers the club members use aren’t your usual toy design. The lightsabers are custom made by superfan craftsmen like club member Josh Pedersen, who makes metal hilts that attach to highly durable “blades” that are able to withstand the beatings the members put them through. The hilts contain electronics that light up the blades via batteries within the hilt so that the lightsabers are able to replicate their cinematic counterparts. The sparring is full contact.
ABQ Jedi has been around for the past six years, but began to gain traction four years ago when Killian departed briefly to focus on his personal life. Killian said that during his absence another member of the group whom Killian left in charge began to bring more people in, which increased the size of the club and encouraged older members to attend more frequently.
“He brought in a few more people, and a few of the people I already pulled started coming in more often because they saw more people were coming,” Killian said. “I came back a year later and there was 12, 15 people a night, instead of the same five to nine people. After I came back I started talking to a few of my other friends — ‘hey, come out here, it’s completely different than Order of the Wolf.’ I said ‘hey, you need to come back here and do this.’”
Two years ago, according to Pedersen, is when the club reached 30 members, and that number keeps growing.
“Right now there’s a couple of different groups. We got the main core who always show up, and then we have people who we see semi-regularly,” Pedersen said. “Some people we only see during school breaks, because they go to school down in (New Mexico) Tech, or there’s some people who just come once or twice a month.”
Killian said that ABQ Jedi has a diverse membership from all backgrounds and ages — their youngest member is 10 years old and their oldest is in their 40’s. Killian said that it’s a love for Star Wars that unites the members and brings in new people.
“Really, we’re all just 8-year-olds in adult bodies” Killian said.
ABQ Jedi meets every Wednesday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Duck Pond. Loaner lightsabers are available to new members.
Fin Martinez is the culture editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @FinMartinez.