Fencing:Protective Equipment

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This section describes the protective clothing and other equipment that you must wear for combat.

General requirements

  1. Your armour is to be designed and worn so that no gaps form over vital body areas when you assume any reasonable position, and no more than incidental gaps on other areas.
    1. If there is a small gap in coverage for areas required to be covered by abrasion-resistant material, such as a loose seam on a glove, then the item is still considered safe and legal.
    2. A "Hold!" should not be called for incidental gapping in abrasion resistant armour, such as a gap between glove and sleeve, or a sock slipping down during a lunge.
  2. These are the minimum standards for fencing clothing and equipment. You can wear additional equipment, including appropriate period clothing like hoop skirts, or additional protective equipment such as a chest protector for comfort, but you need to make sure that you are still able to feel and call "good" blows.
  3. For drills against an opponent with a spear, you must wear full face protection.
  4. It is strongly recommended that during sword or dagger drills with an opponent fencers wear eye protection. Safety glasses, a fencing mask or a helm are appropriate. Spectacles and sunglasses are not considered eye protection.

Protective material

  1. There are four types of protective material. These are:
    • Rigid material
    • Penetration-resistant material
    • Abrasion-resistant material
    • Resilient padding.
  2. Rigid material is defined as a material that will not significantly flex, spread apart or deform under pressure of 12kg applied by a standard mask tester repeatedly to any single point. Example of rigid material that may comply with the standard are:
    • 0.8mm stainless steel or 1mm mild steel
    • 1.6mm aluminium, copper or brass
    • One layer of hardened heavy leather (8oz; 3.2mm).
  3. Rigid material covering the face must be 12kg mesh (as found in a standard fencing mask) or perforated metal that meets the rigid protection standard. Perforated metal must have holes no larger than 3mm in diameter, with a minimum offset of 5mm.
  4. Penetration-resistant material is defined as any fabric or combination of fabrics that passes the Standard Fencing Armour Test in Safety tests. Commercial fencing clothing that is rated to at least 550 Newtons complies with this standard.
  5. Abrasion-resistant material is defined as fabric that will withstand normal combat stresses (such as being snagged by an unbroken blade), without tearing. Fabrics that do not comply with this standard include cotton gauze shirts and nylon pantyhose.
  6. Resilient padding is defined as any material or combination of materials - equivalent to 6mm of closed cell foam - that absorbs some of the force of a thrust or blow.


  1. The front and top of your head must be covered by rigid material to below the jawline and behind the ears. Standard 12kg fencing masks comply with this requirement. You can also wear a fencing helm.
  2. Your mask or helm must have resilient padding or be suspended to prevent it hitting your head if it is struck:
    1. Modern fencing masks may meet this requirement, but you might need additional padding if the mask's padding degrades as it gets older. Whether your padding is suitable will be checked by a Marshal during inspections.
    2. If you wear a helm, you might need extra padding if the suspension is not enough to stop the helm hitting your head.
    3. When you put your mask or helm on, it should fit snugly and not move much during combat. It should not have any parts that press into your head.
  3. Your mask or helm must be secured so that it cannot be easily removed or dislodged during combat. Masks require an additional fastening method besides the tongue spring and back strap to secure them.
  4. If you wear a mask, the rest of your head must be covered by at least penetration-resistant material. This can be worn inside or over the mask.
  5. You must wear rigid material to protect the back your head in Cut and Thrust fencing.


  1. You must also protect the cervical vertebrae roughly parallel to your throat with rigid material. This might be a combination of a gorget, helm or hood insert. Figure 2 shows the area that must be covered.
  2. Neck protection with a gap of less than 9mm (for example, where the ends of two plates meet) meets this standard, so long as the gap is not within the front or rear 90 degree arc.
Figure 2. Areas of the neck and throat that must be protected by rigid material.


  1. You must wear penetration-resistant material to protect your torso, including your chest, back and abdomen, and your upper arm extending at least 10cm from the armpit.
  2. Breast protection, such as a plastron or extra padding, is encouraged, but not required.
  3. External reproductive organs must be covered by rigid material.

Legs, feet and arms

  1. You must wear abrasion-resistant material on your legs, feet and arms.
  2. You must wear resilient padding to protect your elbows and knees in Cut and Thrust fencing.
  3. All participants, including combatants and non-combatants such as marshals, must wear enclosed footwear.
    1. Period-style footwear is strongly encouraged.
    2. Footwear with soles that provide good traction is strongly recommended.
    3. Footwear which provides ankle support is strongly recommended.


  1. You must wear gloves made of at least abrasion-resistant material to cover your hands and fingers.
  2. There are extra requirements for Cut and Thrust fencing:
    1. You must wear gloves with at least resilient padding that protect the back of your hands and fingers, and your arm to 2.5 cm above the bend of your wrist.
    2. If at least one combatant is using a two-handed sword, you need to wear gloves with rigid material that protect the back of your hands and fingers, and your arm to 2.5 cm above the bend of your wrist.
    3. The coverage for a) and b) can include a combination of gauntlets, the guard of your sword, or a shield or buckler, as long as these prevent a reasonable percussive blow from contacting the bones of the hand and wrist.
    4. A shield alone is not sufficient in Lochac, since it covers only the back of the hand, but not the wrist, fingers or thumb.

Medical protection

  1. If a part of your body is at risk of serious injury or severe bleeding, such as hemangioma, you must protect that body part with rigid material.
  2. If you wear medical equipment, you must cover it with protective material to help protect you from a blow or fall that could damage the equipment.
  3. You take responsibility for your own safety on the field, based on any advice from your doctor or health professional.

Protective identifiers

  1. If you are a gunner, you must wear scarves on both arms to show that you are not a fencer, and may only be shot or declared "killed", not struck.
    1. The scarves must be a contrasting colour to your sleeves.
    2. If you have a Standard fencing authorisation, but are carrying only a gun, you can choose to wear scarves on both arms and be subject to the rules for killing gunners, or choose to not wear scarves and be slain as normal for a fencer.
  2. Combatants under the age of 18 are exempt from the Society rule requiring a marking to identify them as a minor.