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Light saber academy brings the Force to Concord

  • A group of Granite State Saber Academy students practice drills during a recent class at NHTI. Teacher Jeremiah Davis Lauriat is currently looking for a new space for his class. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Jeremiah Davis Lauriat demonstrates his technique while teaching his Monday evening light saber combat class at NHTI. He is currently looking for a new space for his class. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Jeremiah Davis Lauriat teaches his Monday evening class at NHTI. He is currently looking for a new space for his class. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jeremiah Davis Lauriat teaches his Monday evening class at NHTI. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Jeremiah Davis Lauriat teaches his Monday evening laser saber class at NHTI. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Force is with you at Granite State Saber Academy.

Maybe not always. Maybe not on the first day, when teacher Jeremiah Davis Lauriat hands you a light saber and tells you to attack from the right shoulder. But under Lauriat’s training at possibly the only light saber training school in New Hampshire, you, too, may be able to learn the moves you’ve seen on the big screen.

Lauriat is no padawan – born and raised in Goffstown, he’s been practicing mixed martial arts for 27 years, as well as theatrical stage combat for 15. He’s choreographed fight scenes for King Richard’s Faire in Carver, Mass., and is currently working with Concord’s Hatbox Theatre on their upcoming production of Macbeth.

Saying Lauriat brings a medley of martial arts experience to the class doesn’t quite cover it. His playbook pulls moves from kendo, iaido, battojustu and Chinese broadsword fighting styles, to name a few, and that’s just some of the sword techniques.

The equipment is no joke, either. Light saber technology has come a long way from the toys you may have used as a kid; the ones used at Saber Academy are made from aircraft-grade aluminum and polypropylene plastic.

“Basically indestructible” is how Lauriat describes them.

Holding one in your hand actually feels swordlike, with the weight balanced in your hand and along the blade. Swinging one is pretty fun, too – all the sabers light up, and some give off convincing hums when activated. When you actually cross sabers with a classmate, the sabers make a satisfying clack! – though it’s not necessarily the laser-smashing sound you might expect.

But don’t be intimidated by Lauriat’s background, or his pirate-esque appearance – the class has a comfortable, theater-kids feel to it. Students often go barefoot and call Lauriat “JD.” Scruffy-looking nerf herders are welcome.

While the class teaches techniques that would make Obi-Wan proud, Lauriat said the real goal is to have fun – “nerd fitness,” he calls it.

“It appeals to your inner child, that ability to play and have fights,” he said. “You get to do what you see in the movies.”

Like the fights you’ve seen on the screen, everything is pretty choreographed at the Saber Academy. Lauriat stresses safety and encourages participants to not do anything they don’t feel comfortable doing. Unrehearsed skirmishes are not allowed, and neither is making physical contact with your classmate. While many of the moves are legit, this is still theatrical fighting, and is meant to look pretty – think more Errol Flynn and less Ralph Faulkner.

Juan Guzman, one of Lauriat’s students, said the class gives him a chance to learn a skill he’s always wanted to learn, and he’s been surprised by some of the physical feats he’s been able to pull off.

“It’s so much more legit than what else is out there,” said Guzman, of Manchester.

His favorite part of the class is a drill called “random roll” – when Lauriat gives a series of moves students have to string together.

And Tina Tiongson, who happened to be on vacation in New Hampshire for a week and is part of the Empire Saber Guild out of New York, said the class gives her an outlet for stress and physical activity.

“I’m a new mom, and sometimes you just need a way to let loose,” she said. “For me, that’s swinging a light saber around.”

The school is based out of Nashua, and while Lauriat was offering a Monday night class at NHTI, he said the space he uses at the school will no longer be available after Nov. 27. He said he’s looking into finding another space in Concord, though, possibly with Hatbox Theatre.

Classes are 90 minutes and cost $25. If you have your own light saber, bring it, but Lauriat also has his own cache that attendees are free to use. No Jedi mind tricks needed.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)

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