By Laura Abruscato
Some lightsabers were foam and blow-up versions, others were plastic with flashing lights and beeping noises, but the Jedis-in-training at Gerry Blanck’s Martial Arts Centerlearned the proper way to wield them from a true Jedi Master, Quami Adams.
To the sounds of John Williams’ “Imperial March” from Star Wars, about 30 kids safely practiced their choreographed lightsaber moves, led by Adams and his 16-year-old son, Shon. The 3- to 12-year-olds stood in lines behind the two teachers, learning to use the Jedi’s weapon with moves like the “Obi,” the “Wampa,” the “Hutt” and the “Dooku.”
“Real Jedi, like in the movie, don’t actually exist, but this was the next closest thing, which was really cool,” one youngster said.
Adams is a Jedi Master at Disneyland where he has been performing for 11 years, providing Jedi training to children at the Star Wars stage show. His wife Katisha is a long-time dance instructor at Fancy Feet Dance Studio, located just down the hall from Blanck’s dojo in the 881 Alma Real building. When Blanck and Adams met, and Blanck discovered that Adams was a Jedi Master, he invited him to teach at the studio last August. In addition to Shon, who co-led the class as a Jedi Knight, Adams and his wife have a daughter, Kamiko, 8. The family lives in Anaheim.
Adams led a second Jedi training class at Blanck’s studio on Friday, Jan. 6, the last day of winter break camp. Blanck wore a Jedi’s brown robe and his assistant, Ashford, dressed as Princess Leia.
“It’s a combination of Wushu Kung Fu, German longsword and fencing—epee and sabre,” said Adams, a long-time Star Wars fan. He added that lightsaber training uses some of the same wrist movements as baton and nunchuks.
Adams and his son Shon teach a six-week class in the Way of the Force in Buena Park, where Adams goes into more detail about the physics of the lightsaber. He also teaches moves based on the various planets in the Star Wars universe and their qualities: The breeze of Naboo, is inspired by the planets’ water and uses flowing movements, while The Fires of Mustafar are fiery movements inspired by the lava planet.
Adams, a dancer, actor and stunt actor, believes the philosophy of martial arts relates to the philosophy of the Force as described in the Star Wars universe.
“Martial arts is discipline, you are training your body to defend yourself,” he said. “You focus your body on being defensive not offensive—whether you’re on the dark side or the Jedi, depends on how you use the force.”
Kids and adults alike enjoy meeting a Jedi master. Even a group of Orange County police officers, who ran into Adams as he practiced at a park, all wanted to take a turn with his custom lightsaber.
Adams enjoys interacting with people in his Jedi role, noting that “People’s inner 12-year-old comes out.”