In June, local teens and their dads traveled to a galaxy far, far, away, also known as Las Vegas, Nevada, to compete in the national Lightspeed Saber Tournament—there, laser sword swinging combatants gathered to determine the best in the nation.
The Virginia delegation was led by the captain of the local club, and Spotsylvania County teacher, Josh Blum. Josh discovered the Lightspeed Saber League during the pandemic lockdowns when he needed to keep his son Arden active after earning his Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. Seeing the success of his own son he started a Saber club at his school devoted to learning the “ancient” art of laser sword combat. The response at the school was exceptional, where roughly 40-plus students would attend the weekly club meetings. As the school club became more established, Josh started looking for adult and more teenage recruits in the surrounding communities. He met Chris Stadther and his son Aedan while they were looking to expand on their fencing background. Together with one of the standout students in the club, Asher Trask, and his dad Tim, they began training and preparing for the national tournament.
As mid-June rolled around, the six found themselves in Las Vegas where there were over 30 others competitors from all around the nation. In addition to the group from Virginia, others attended from Oregon; Long Island, N.Y.; Orange County, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Texas, and many from Southern California, where Lightspeed Saber was established.
Participants were able to attend many different workshops before the tournament began, where everything from footwork and fighting techniques were taught and discussed.
As the tournament started, the competitors were divided into three groups (squadrons), pink, green, and blue. Each group member competed against every other member within the same group, resulting in nine matches per person over two days. Fighters were distributed among the three areas, or “boxes,” so that everyone had an opportunity to fence a variety of skill levels, from unranked novices all the way up to the most experienced and seasoned fighters. Arden, the youngest fencer in the tournament, fought his very first match against the No. 1 top-ranked Tony Zaldua of California. followed by the dynamic Salasi Quashie from Texas. Upon completing these matches, wins, loses, and points scored were used to calculate seeding for a single elimination round, where the top 16 of the 30-plus competitors would battle to determine the best in the nation.
After the second day, Chris, Aedan, and Asher found themselves in the top 16. Arden, his dad Josh, and Tim found themselves just out of contention after hard-fought matches.
The single eliminations implemented more advanced rules, increasing the time and total points per match. That combined with the more seasoned competitions at this stage, resulted in Aedan, Asher, and Chris not making it past the semi-finals, they finished the competition with Chris in 12th place, Aedan in 13th place, and Asher in 15th place, still placing high enough to earn their ratings, which ranks their skills and abilities against all the other competitors in the league.
Between the workshops and the tournament, the Virginia group took to the streets and sites of Las Vegas. They experienced the many shows and concerts Las Vegas has to offer. They walked the Las Vegas strip (Las Vegas Blvd) where there are many exciting attractions, like the Bellagio fountains synchronized to music, street performers, and much more. Sadly the Mirage volcano erupted its last nightly show at 11 p.m. before the group saw it one late evening out. Other outings included walking around Fremont Street, going to the Tiki Bar, and Go-Karting one afternoon.
Overall, the Virginia group had an amazing time, met a lot of new friends from across the nation, and experienced the best competition they have encountered. Next year, they hope to bring more Virginia club members and make an even bigger showing.
If you are interested in the group and joining weekly meets and practices, you can reach them at