In January 2018, Tony Zaldua took his first Lightspeed-saber fencing class, and competed in his first tournament in March of that year. The latter half of that year was a rapid rise through the ranks, culminating in a silver medal win at Summer Slash II, the gold at Summer Slash III, and another silver at Lightspeed: A New Hope. It would be a disservice to everyone not to ask him a few questions.
Where are you from originally and where do you live and train now?
I was born in the Philippines and live in Pasadena now.
How did you hear about the LSL and what got you involved?
I train at Krait Base in Echo Park on Wednesday nights, but first heard about Lightspeed Saber League on Facebook. After I took a class in March 2018, I entered my first tournament in April (2018), but I wasn't that good yet. LOL
Do you have a martial arts or fencing background and do you participate in other sports that helped train you for this one?
In junior high, I took Tae Kwon Do and played tennis. In high school I also did Cross Country and Track and Field for three years, Pole Vault mainly. After high school I got into bicycle and I've kept up with that for the past 20 years.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Learn the basics and defense, then take a class and don't forget to have fun. After that, best to train with people better than you to get more skill.
You're known for some very unique stances and attacks, how did you come up with them?
I believe if you fight the same way, you'll never win. Some guys are incredibly fast and skillful Saberists. To beat them you have to try different moves and attacks. That's just my opinion. I enjoy inventing new moves and executing them. May the force be with you.
Who's your favorite person to fence with?
My favorite fencing partner would be Sean Balbuena. And a close second would be Noah Kim. They both are great training partners.
Do you have a most memorable engagement, particularly one that you emerged the victor?
My most memorable fight would be at Summer Slash 3. When I fought Rob Chan in the finals. The match ended up in the dark (the park lights went out). Which was difficult and challenging at the same time.
What do you think about the other weapon classes like Tano and Ren? Any interest to expand into them?
I love sparring get with dual wield. I actually made a few hilts myself. We trained with dual wield at Krait base three or four times. It's super fun. I look forward to a Dual Wield only tournament in the future. I'd like to try Tano and Ren also. Every class is fun in my eyes.
What are your goals for this year, in relation to "lightsaber" fencing?
My goals for 2019 is to win Lightspeed Nationals. I wasn't 100% when I fought in the finals in 2018.
What's your ideal saber color?
My ideal saber color would be Green. It's bright and it's a Jedi color.
What's your dream saber?
My dream Saber would be the Luke Return of the Jedi hilt minus the control box. LOL The box gets in the way of fighting.
What's your signature move?
My signature move is the foot strike with a low to the ground squat action. The guys at Krait base gave me the nickname "Professor Pedicure".
You've recently been promoted to Chief Fabricator for the league. How did you get so handy and creative with tools and machines?
LOL Chief Fabricator. I've always loved making things. Ever since I was a kid. I've been a professional bicycle mechanic for 20 years. And I'm also a die hard inventor. It's a lot of fun creating new and innovative Sabers and accessories.
When are you going to start producing your own sabers?
Wait till this summer. I'm working on some radical awesome stuff. Stay tuned! I want to start selling my sabers to the public soon. I still have to perfect my design and want super reliable Sabers to sell. I'll go public in a month or so. I still want to do final testing on some stuff.
You took second at Lightspeed-saber nationals last year. What are you going to do take first this year?
I want to train three or four times a week. And I want to work on new moves. I want to better my sword fighting endurance and well as power. I've made heavy training sabers to build my arm and hand strength. If my energy level is at 100%, I have a good chance to win.