Mark Hamill on Lightsaber Battle-Martial Arts Connections

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Editor’s Note: (re-publication today on #MayThe4th Post originally ran in December 2015, as the first Star Wars movie in 13 years was coming out) 

What in the universe does Mark Hamill hosting a special on lightsaber duels have to do with sports? Well, not much. Unless you’re really big into fencing, which is obviously a cousin of light saber fighting. Mark Hamill, a man who needs no introduction as Luke Skywalker, will appear on ESPN’s SportsCenter Featured not because he’s doing anything overly sports-oriented.

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He’s there because of corporate self-promotion and cross-promotion, or as its known by its corporatespeak euphemism buzzword- synergy.

Disney owns both the Star Wars franchise and ESPN, meaning it’s time to use one media juggernaut to aggressively promote another media juggernaut.

ESPN is WAY more a marketing/promotions company than they are a news service. It’s been that way for a very long time.

We’re totally cool with promoting their self-promotion because we have Star Wars fever too. As it’s getting to be time to pre-order cinema tickets and find an opening weekend showing that’s not sold out yet, a Star Wars, or Mark Hamill post is truly in order.

Here’s the gist of the show:

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Examining the sport and athleticism behind the choreography and training utilized in the making of Star Wars lightsaber duels, Star Wars: Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel, hosted by Mark Hamill, will air Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The documentary will precede the Friday, Dec. 18, launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in U.S. theaters.

For the half hour special, ESPN traveled to the 2015 Kendo World Championships in Japan to gather interviews and information to explain the genesis of kendo and how it applies to Star Wars lightsaber duels. See this is a sport; an extreme death sport.

Mark Hamill, who does reprise his Skywalker role in The Force Awakens, lived in Japan for his last two years of high school and is very familiar with kendo.

“I really feel that kendo has informed so much of what we have done in the films it is about time that it gets some long-overdue recognition,” Hamill said.

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“What people don’t realize is how much goes into what appears to be just minutes on the screen,” Hamill said.

“The elaborate choreography for the actual fight is done on several different sets over a period of weeks and then it is edited down to what you see on the screens, so I am happy people are able to see the amount of work that goes into it.”

We will be setting the DVR for this program because it does sound pretty cool. So I guess we’re shilling a shill that’s shilling something else. Pretty much exactly like the time Mark Hamill appeared at Bi-Mon Sci-Fi Con on The Simpsons:

“I’m here to talk about Star Wars, but I’m also here to talk about Sprint.”

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Mark Hamill and The Simpsons were years ahead of the curve with sponsored content and/or native advertising.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TVSports IllustratedChicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.comon Twitter and his cat on Instagram.

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  1. Shillin like a villain.

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