The Problem with “Duel Worthy” Lightsabers
“Is a lightsaber duel worthy?” That’s one of the MOST COMMON questions people ask the lightsaber community, especially when someone is considering purchasing a first lightsaber or simply a new lightsaber. The problem with the question is it’s asking for a binary answer of “Yes, the lightsaber is duel worthy” or “No, the lightsaber is not duel worthy”.
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Force FX lightsabers, like the ones shown in the above images, are generally not considered duel worthy.
Calling a lightsaber “duel worthy” or “not duel worthy” is currently highly subjective and not standardized among custom saber companies. A specific lightsaber dueling organization may set its own standards for a duel worthy lightsaber. The Saber Legion (TSL), the self-proclaimed “world’s biggest custom saber dueling organization”, details very specific requirements for approved lightsaber hilts and lightsaber blades in their TSL Official Event Rules and Guidelines document.
The average person may apply the term “duel worthy” broadly and generously, however. Similarly, custom saber companies may use the term in different ways. Some companies use the term “duel worthy” with lightsabers that may only handle light to medium contact. Other companies only use “duel worthy” with lightsabers that can handle medium to heavy dueling. Blade thickness can correlate with the duel worthiness of the lightsaber, although other factors related to the quality and design of the hilt would need to be assessed independently of the blade as well. Generally, heavy grade/thick-walled blades are required for heavy dueling.
Even the term “duel worthy” itself is not applied in a standardized manner. Some custom saber companies favor alternate, nebulous terms like “combat ready” or “duel capable” or even “fighting lightsaber.”
On the SaberSourcing YouTube channel and elsewhere around the internet, people often like to argue about whether a lightsaber is duel worthy or not, which really illustrates the point that there’s a lack of standardization for the usage of the term. Individuals who are a bit newer to lightsabers or only have experience with licensed lightsabers like Force FX lightsabers or Disney Parks lightsabers (e.g. Savi’s Workshop lightsabers or legacy lightsabers) commonly claim the lightsabers are duel worthy due to some variation of “I fight with my friend all the time”. The lightsaber community generally does not consider any of the officially licensed lightsabers duel worthy, unless the lightsaber is converted into a duel worthy form.
Just because a lightsaber is not duel worthy, that doesn’t necessary mean that you can’t make some light contact during a friendly and light ‘duel’ with a friend. Most of the current Force FX lightsabers are equipped with a permanently attached blade with an LED string inside that illuminates the blade. These ‘string blades’ can incur damage to the LEDs during dueling, creating dead spots. Some people have even reported snapping the blade off entirely during a duel. Hasbro does not endorse ANY Force FX lightsabers as ‘duel worthy’. In fact, the company simply labels the lightsabers as ‘Adult Collectibles.’
How would you define a ‘duel worthy’ lightsaber?