SC Featured: The sport that sparked lightsaber lore

ByGreg Garber Via <a Href="" Title="espn" Class="espn_sc_byline">espn </a>
December 15, 2015, 12:47 PM

&#151; -- It's hard to believe Luke Skywalker is 64 years old.

But as actor Mark Hamill recently stood on a stage at the Palace Theater in downtown Los Angeles, dressed in black, he still looked comfortable holding a lightsaber.

Thirty-eight years ago, in a galaxy that feels even more far, far away, Hamill played the iconic character in "Star Wars: A New Hope." It was a world we had never seen before. It proved irresistible for some by the epic lightsaber duels that would help define the franchise.

Now, he is set to return in the seventh movie in the series, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which opens in theaters Friday and is being released by The Walt Disney Company. SC Featured takes an in-depth look at the sport that helps define those duels: kendo.

The Japanese martial art, whose history extends back to 17th century samurai swordplay, is highlighted in a new ESPN documentary, "Star Wars: Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel," hosted by Hamill.

"Having lived in Japan the last two years of high school, I became aware of the Japanese culture at a young age," Hamill told ESPN while filming the documentary in L.A. "I really feel that kendo has informed so much of what we have done in the films, that it is about time that it gets the recognition. That is really long overdue."

The documentary, which premieres Tuesday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET), features behind-the-scenes training and interviews with director J.J. Abrams, actor John Boyega and the man who trained him for his cutting-edge duels, Paul Vincent.

In a series of interviews with ESPN, Hamill and the trio weigh in on the lightsaber lore.

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