Saturday, February 23 was a day of beginnings and ends.  As the first official Lightspeed tournament of 2019, it is the start of this year’s competitive cycle. This was also the first official tournament hosted by Lightspeed’s newest affiliate, Light Force Academy.  However, it is the end of an era, as Lightspeed moves to debut and implement it’s new ruleset for the remainder of the competitive season.

Light Force Academy, which is part of Iron Fist Martial Arts, generously hosted the tournament, provided spectacular trophy prizes, and coordinated with several local businesses and celebrities to add an air of excitement to the event.  They also developed a ruleset to be used with very young Lightspeed fencers, and are helping to grow the sport by including several youth and teen events for LFA’s younger members.

Under the official Lightspeed rules, LFA hosted an open mixed-gender tournament, as well as a ladies division, as has become standard for Lightspeed.  The tournament was well attended with a total of 30 competitors, with participants from Light Force Academy, Penguin Saber Academy, Krait Base Los Angeles and Lightspeed Base Buena Park.

There were many fighters of note at the tournament, each with their own personal goals and stories. Sean Balbuena had a particularly strong showing in the pool matches, being undefeated and earning a top seed heading into the bracket matches.  Isaac Islas, who has has returned from a temporary absence from Lightspeed competition also had a strong showing, narrowly missing the final brackets. The ladies who participated in the open event also made a name for themselves, with some of the most spectacular hits being scored by Amy Rooney of Penguin Saber Academy and Jowanna Lewis of Lightspeed Base Buena Park.  It was Erin Isbell, however, who was able to fight her way through the brackets and take home a third place trophy not only in the open tournament, but in the women’s event as well.

Sean Balbuena, in only his third tournament ever, destroyed the competition and made it all the way to the finals against top fencer and fellow Krait Dragoon Tony Zaldua. However, Sean, perhaps gassed from his perfect showing in the qualifiers, was soundly defeated 17-0.

Special congratulations should also go out to William Alonzo, who had his highest ever finish in 4th place in the open tournament, and Jowanna Lewis, who defended her title as the #1 women’s fighter in Lightspeed’s ladies event.

A special thanks to everyone who helped run the tournament.  There were several dedicated referees who donated their time and effort to make sure the event ran smoothly, as well as assistants who helped keep time and scores for all of the 80 individual matches that we fought throughout the day.  There were also many friends, family members, and supporters who came out to cheer on their favorite fighters. These events could not be what they are without this tireless assistance and support.

Thank you to these staff members, in no particular order: Noah Kim, Nick Richardson, Colin Campbell, Jason, Emily, Nathan, Tricia Bauler, Cang Snow, Patrick Tatevossian, Christine Tatevossian

It was a long day, but a fun one, and most people went home happy.  Some with trophies and some without, but everyone with lasting memories and friendships made through sabers.

— Patricia Bauler

RESULTS— Mixed event

  1. Tony Z 181

  2. Sean B 166

  3. Erin I 104

  4. William A 102

  5. Jordan B 86

  6. Amy R 69

  7. Josiah S 67

  8. James S 48

  9. Jowanna L 46

  10. Isaac I 37

  11. Jeff S 34

  12. Anthony D 22

  13. Earlwin B 20

  14. Sean H 19

  15. Andrew F 17

  16. Sean R 12

  17. Joanna V 9

  18. Robin C 3

  19. Bryan L -13

  20. Morgain R -24

  21. Elizabeth P -26


  1. Jowanna L

  2. Joanna V

  3. Erin I

  4. Morgain R

Amy Rooney and Elizabeth Panou were forced to drop out due to injury.