Jimmy Sourile is the Saber Legion’s Luke Skywalker, an ordinary guy who goes on a hero’s journey and discovers he has the hidden skills to be a champion.
Sourile, a 26-year-old youth pastor from Eagan, was just another “Star Wars” nerd until one of his students at church gave him an LED saber made for fighting.
Even though Sourile watched some Saber Legion dueling on YouTube, he had his doubts.
“I thought it was kind of silly,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it was a thing.”
But in 2017 he gave it a try at a meeting of Twin Cities Saber Legion members in Maple Grove.
“I was exhausted, but exhilarated,” he said of his initial duels.
Sourile didn’t have any martial arts experience. In fact, he hadn’t even played many sports. Growing up, he was into theater and band, “the kind of kid you would expect to really be into ‘Star Wars,’ ” he said.
Still, he started training and seeking out Yoda-like mentors in simulated sci-fi combat.
“If there was anyone who wanted to give me advice, I just listened and tried it,” he said.
He rose in the rankings of Saber Legion fighters using a loose, wonky, one-handed style of swordsmanship that earned him the nickname “Gumby.”
Now he’s considered a “prodigy,” said Ryan Kappes, a saber dueler from Mendota Heights. “He’s just like a sponge. He can soak it all in.”
Sourile, who prays before his fights, asking God that no one gets injured, went on to challenge the reigning Saber Legion world champion, Alain Bloch, a San Francisco martial artist whom ESPN once called “the LeBron James of lightsaber fighting.”
The force is strong with Sourile.
In a January bout at the James Ballentine VFW Post 246 in Uptown Minneapolis, Sourile outdueled Bloch to take the championship belt.
Sourile will defend his title in October. But first he’s moving to South Dakota to start a church — and the first Saber Legion chapter in that state.