Miami’s SaberCraft

IMG_7153

As a new mom, I’m always looking for new ways to exercise and work on my fitness. Right now, I’m attending a spinning class every weekend but it’s really far (but so affordable!). That’s why I was so happy when I found out that Miami had its own Jedi Academy (amongst other reasons, of course). South Florida doesn’t tend to be very fandom-friendly, so I was floored. The owners of SaberCraft, Alfred and Santiago, are a total joy and wanted to make sure that they brought quality combat techniques to Miami’s chapter after training with San Francisco’s Golden Gate Knights. The classes are more choreography-based, so they teach you the moves you loved to watch on screen. There is also a little Hatha Yoga incorporated since there is a definite overlap with those teachings of The Force.

IMG_7182

I had the opportunity to take a class along with my chapter of Geek Girl Brunch last month and I can say that it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. We initially started the class with a quick (but peaceful) meditation and then got to start learning moves with a foam saber. This way, everything was as safe as possible while we got used to maneuvering with our peers. The masters level students were also in attendance to help us, and we would often split into partners where they would instruct us 1:1. It was beyond amazing, and surprisingly empowering. When I would flow through the 6 moves in succession successfully, it was such a rush!

collage1

Towards the end of class, we got to practice all the moves we learned with as close to the real deal as possible: sabers from UltraSabers! The lights were switched off and we got to have our own little out of this world nerdy rave. We also finished by learning some flourishes, which was a nice touch (although difficult at times) and made us look like extra bad asses.

How cool is the Scottish Rite Temple where some Magic City Jedi events are held?
How cool is the Scottish Rite Temple where some Magic City Jedi events are held?

I was also able to chat for a bit with Alfred and ask him a few questions about the organization.

1. How did SaberCraft come to be?
Here’s the long answer so you can understand where we’re coming from as SaberCraft is not a Saber Combat class. It’s more than that and the reason why is because of it’s direction. SaberCraft is an Empowerment Course that is built on Yoga, Dance, Saber Combat and Meditation. It’s not just about learning staged combat choreography – it’s truly about empowering our students beyond just the prop. The prop is key to opening yourself to ways to improve your life through your imagination. Here’s a little background:
Back in 2014, I was working on my Yoga Teacher Training and one day we were covering what is known as the Ashtanga or 8 Limbs of Yoga. In studying it that day, I realized how many of the principles of the proper life the Ashtanga mentions is parallel to the path of the Jedi – at least according to the movies and the lore. So after meditating on it and putting in a little research, it led to this idea of “classes for Jedi” similar to the Yoga Teacher Training I was currently doing. That led me to finding New York’s New York Jedi group and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Knights online. I reached out to them and asked how I could learn the saber techniques they were showing in their classes to which they pretty much told me to come by. I flew up to NY to take one class with New York Jedi and had a blast. I knew at that point that Miami needed a chapter.
I stayed in contact with both groups and reached out to the guys in California who created the a saber-combat system some folks in these groups utilized. After my first Ultrasaber arrived, Santiago came over, he turned it on and was sold on the idea the minute he held it in his hand. Soon after my graduation from Yoga Teacher Training, Santiago and I discussed how the classes we were designing could be more than just cosplayers learning how to do saber-combat choreography. We wanted to build a course that exposes folks to aspects of Yoga, movement and meditation – especially for some folks who are not into physical activities but are huge fans of Science Fiction in general. This led us to combine aspects of my Yoga Teacher Training that originally sparked the idea where the two lores (Yoga/Jedi) crossed paths along with proven breathing/movement techniques that encourage proper health.
I flew out to California to attend a Golden Gate Knights class and to do a couple of one-on-one sessions with the founders of the NCSCS – Novastar-Caine Saber Combat System, Matthew Carauddo and Mark Praeder. The idea was to see how others who’ve been doing this for over 10 years have been doing it and bring that back to Miami. Once I came back, we went back into our secret cave, re-designed the entire system and now we have it – SaberCraft.
Santiago and I started training using the NCSCS system while we built out the various other aspects of the system and built a new curriculum built on Empowerment which we aptly titled JEDI: or Journey to Empowerment, Discipline and Imagination.
The key here is Imagination. We don’t want folks getting lost in the combat choreography system. We want folks to find that inner spark that is leading them here and to cultivate that wonder and apply it to their every day life. Reminding them how special each moment is and how to move mindfully minute by minute in the miracle we call life. If this isn’t similar to how Yoda describes “The Force” I don’t know what is.
2. What can a budding Jedi expect at a class?
Simply put, they’re going to learn how to meditate, move consciously and mindfully. If they never learned how to just sit and clam the mind, they’ll learn that. They will learn how Yoga and various lore across the Science Fiction spectrum cross paths. This goes beyond Star Wars as Star Wars itself is based on ancient lore that’s been around for thousands of years. They’re going to learn the NCSCS saber combat system and apply it to choreographed arrangements and conduct these “fights” in front of crowds. So if they ever had fear of crowds, that’s going out the door really quick. They’ll also get a huge bump in their self-confidence as a result, which is something folks need from time to time.
3. What is your personal favorite move to teach students?
Our favorite moves are the initial saber spins or “flourishes” as they are called. This is when the saber is flying around you rather than any clashing. But depending on the classes it changes as students get better with each class. When we show them a new flourish, you can just see their eyes light up as they can’t wait to learn it and add it to their skill set.
4. How has the local geeky community responded? 
So far, really well. In less than 6 months, we were profiled by the New Times, the Sun Sentinel, we maxed out our studio space from the first class and we’ve been invited to a number of Conventions already. We collaborated with J. Wakefield Brewing in Wynwood for Star Wars Day this year as they’re huge fans of the local geeky culture grow in South Florida. We worked with a Woman’s Empower Group called Chicas Poderosas along with Univision and Fusion to show a group of talented new journalists from FIU how to be more empowered each day by just jumping into the mix and learning something new. We’ve even had Theatre students in Orlando reach out to us to set up workshops there.
5. How do you feel about geeky culture making a bigger mark in South Florida?
It’s what we’re all about. Science Fiction itself is the Mythology of today. It’s what sparks the imagination and makes us live outside the mundane. To imagine a possibility much larger than us. South Florida’s geeky scene has grown considerably. We remember when the only conventions that came were yearly comic book conventions and the occasional Star Trek convention. Today we see more Cons popping up on a monthly basis – more than ever before. There isn’t a weekend that you can’t just open Facebook and look for local “geeky” events without one popping up. We love it and this is our way of contributing to it!
6. Any plans for the future of SaberCraft?
A moon-base operation. 🙂 Seriously, we’d like to work more with local cons throughout Florida and open our Broward and Palm Beach chapters utilizing the same system. We’d even love to get some corporate clients – even big companies like Google – to sponsor classes like these for their staff. We have some big dreams but we’re taking it day-by-day right now as we have full-time jobs and families. We do have “secret-plans” now whether for a moon base or a collaboration with various groups from around the world, but well….that’s our secret. There’s a reason why plans like these are called “secret” anyways.

For those of you that are local to the South Florida area, check out SaberCraft. Their affordable classes are so totally worth it – we’ve already had several girls from our GGB chapter join since our event! And if you want to see them in action, check them out at Florida Supercon, where they will be holding a demonstration.

  • Kay

    What a fantastic idea for a class! I love that it incorporates more than just learning the moves (while that is cool, it’s nice to see the added thoughtfulness in there too!) Definitely sounds like a great experience!

  • Karen

    Absolutely wonderful!! Sadly they didn’t have this when I lived in south Florida! I hope that I can one day find something similar here in Orlando.

  • melificent

    I did too – I think it was the most relaxed I’ve been in months! lol

  • melificent

    That’s too bad! Definitely check out the scene in Orlando – you never know! There could be a chapter opening!

  • gamerwife

    This sounds amazing! Now to figure out how to set up a chapter in Montreal…

  • melificent

    Yes!