CHARLOTTE, NC - If you ever pass by Independence Park around 6pm on a Sunday or Wednesday, you may notice a peculiar sight. Live-action lightsaber duels, playing out in public for anyone to observe.
"We all have a little bit of training in martial arts, and we wanted to extend that towards swordplay," said David Cunningham, co-founder of the Carolina Sith. "We're all Star Wars geeks, Star Wars nerds, so we wanted to kind of combine our love of both passions together."
The Carolina Sith is a group of Star Wars enthusiasts who engage in battles using the signature weapon of the films. The matches are competitive, with points tallied for different types of contact. According to member Jeffrey Nuñez, it's also a great workout.
"For me it brings out the best in a person," Nuñez said. "It gets you emotionally in-check. It gets you physically fit."
The Sith engage in sparring sessions twice a week using custom lightsabers that are built to take a beating. Participants have to sign a waiver and wear body armor, and members said the contact definiltey hurts.
"I've gotten hit inside my head a couple times," Cunningham said. "It drew blood. So that's why we wear helmets. Safety first."
The group averages about ten participants per sparring session, but with all the hype surrounding the franchise right now, members said interests was on the rise.