It's appropriate that Matthew "Novastar" Carauddo got his first inspiration for learning sword play in San Jose high school drama classes putting on the likes of Shakespeare and 'The Three Musketeers.'
Because now, after some 20 years of intense martial arts and sword study, he teaches a kind of fighting inspired by one of the fictional testaments of his time, "Star Wars."
His $10 "Force Fitness" course is now a series of DVDs and offered live weekly in Santa Cruz 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays at the Santa Cruz Aerial Playground, 2801 Mission Street Extension.
His classes are fun like "Heroes of Cosplay," the new show on Syfy, but they are also serious martial arts studies from masters he's studied with including Dan Tibbetts at the California Fencing Academy, Marcos Luchetti at the Museum of American Fencing and Tomek Aborski, at Coastside Fencers.
He works now with experienced Watsonville saber fighter Christopher Villa, who not only teaches the martial art, but is choreographing the play "Zoot Suit" in Salinas.
Carauddo likes the fact that Star Wars warfare combines ancient and modern fighting techniques. "A Jedi Knight would have to be a master of it all," he says, adding, that he also likes "the fact that it universally brings a common bond to those who choose to participate in the fun of it, the science, the sabers, the drama, and the juxtaposition of good vs. evil."
Carauddo builds his own lightsabers and has them available for students at his classes. He also teaches at birthday parties and has been known to perform with a Star Wars style cast at weddings.