Meet Grimes’s Lightsaber Coach–And TikTok’s Favorite Viral Stunt Star

It didn’t hurt that Grimes, a massive Star Wars fan who once penned a love letter to the space franchise, was a motivated learner. “She’s so real and willing to learn,” explains Smith. “I find that a lot of times when you work with people high up in the industry, they’re afraid to be vulnerable and suck at things, but she was just like, ‘I want to learn this! How do I keep learning this? This is so cool. I love doing this!’”

Photo: Courtesy of Michelle C. Smith

The good news is that you don’t have to be Grimes—or have the Force with you—to learn how to wield a lightsaber with finesse. Smith, who has over a million followers on TikTok, shares all the content an aspiring Jedi craves, from spinning and wrist roll lessons to a two-minute “Obi Ani Spin” (the move Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker do during their duel in Revenge of the Sith) tutorial. And if you want to take your mastery to the next level, Smith also offers online courses on her platform The Freestyle Staff Academy.

While Smith has had an enthusiastic following on the Internet for years, it was during lockdown that her tutorials and training videos really took off to viral effect. “There’s a huge niche of people that wanted to be a Jedi when they were kids,” says Smith of tapping into the Star Wars megaverse. “I think it really speaks to that inner child and allows them to have a door, a window into this world they love so much.” There’s also the inherent, mesmerizing beauty of lightsaber spinning, which is based in traditional Japanese martial arts. “Lightsabers are such an aesthetically pleasing weapon; it’s a light-up sword that just creates this magic,” explains Smith. “People use it as a meditative tool that can be really good for anxiety and stress. If you need to chill out you just pick up your staff and spin.”

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