Rules for fencers
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When you are allowed to fence
- You must be authorised in Fencing to compete in any combat event. To be authorised, you have to pass a verbal and practical test to show that you:
- understand the rules;
- understand the requirements for your protective equipment and weapons; and
- can fight safely.
- Until you are authorised, you can take part in practice sessions. This includes classes and practice sparring to help you learn how to use all weapons safely.
- Before you fight, you must get your equipment and weapons inspected by a marshal to make sure it is safe and complies with these rules.
- You are not allowed to fence if you are feeling unwell or if you have even mild symptoms of a cough or cold.
- You are not allowed to fence in a mentally impaired state, which includes:
- being impaired by an injury such as a concussion;
- being impaired by alcohol, prescription or over-the-counter medication, or illegal or controlled substances.
- You do not have to fight if you don’t want to. You can refuse a challenge, decide not to take part in a bout, or decide to withdraw from a fight. If you are in a competition, that might result in you forfeiting the bout.
- You must obey these rules and the instructions of marshals when you are practicing or fighting.
- You are responsible for your behaviour. You are expected to fight safely at all times. Deliberately hitting your opponent too hard, or trying to hurt them, is not allowed.
- You must always control your attacks and defence.
- You are not allowed to make uncontrolled attacks such as running at your opponent.
- If you do not follow these rules, or you hurt your opponent, the marshal can take action, including telling you to leave the field or stopping you from taking part in further combat.
- To make sure people are safe during combat, the call of “HOLD” is used to stop the combat because of a safety issue. This might include:
- a problem with your weapons or protective equipment
- an injury
- you or your opponent moving too close to a boundary
- an unexpected hazard on the field.
- Anyone can call a “HOLD”, including you, your opponent, the marshal or a spectator. When you hear “HOLD”, you should:
- stop fighting and freeze in place
- check if you or someone else is in danger—then move your weapons to a safe position
- repeat the call of “HOLD” and then wait for instructions from the marshal.
- The marshal will tell you when fighting can start again.
Issues on the field
- After a bout, the marshal should ask you if you are satisfied with the outcome. This is a chance for you to talk to your opponent and the marshal about any issues you have.
- If you leave the field without raising any issues, you are considered to be satisfied with the outcome.
- If you are not happy with the result of the discussion, you can raise it with the marshal or the Fencing Marshal in Charge for further review.
- If you disagree with a decision by the marshal, you can lodge an appeal in the process described in section 5.7.
Types of fencing
- There are two categories of Fencing Combat in the Kingdom of Lochac. These are:
- Standard Fencing
- Cut and Thrust Fencing.
- You need separate authorisations for each category.
- You also need a separate authorisation to use a Spear.
- You can authorise as a non-fencing combatant, to use Rubber-Band Guns (RBGs).
Single combat and melee
- In fencing, you can fight in single combat against one opponent, or in a melee, where you fight multiple opponents.
- In single combat and melee, the objective is to win your fight. This could be by:
- scoring a ‘fatal’ blow
- scoring an ‘incapacitating’ blow so your opponent cannot use a weapon
- scoring any touch on your opponent (“first blood”)
- organisers might come up with other ways to win a fight.
- In a melee, there are other rules:
- You can be part of a team, or fighting against everybody else on the field
- You can attack any single opponent if you are inside a 180 degree arc of their front view, but you must call out to them to make sure they know you are there and ready to attack
- If your opponents are part of a line, you can attack anybody in that line if you are inside the arc of their front view
- You are not allowed to attack an opponent from behind. The only time this changes is if a scenario allows ‘killing from behind’ without striking (see section 3.6.3)
- You are not allowed to turn your back on an opponent so they can’t attack you.
- You are not allowed to run at or past an opponent to attack them.
- You are allowed to run from one part of the field to another.
- You must stop running when you are 5 metres from an opponent or group of combatants.
- Since the release of the SCA Fencing Marshals' Handbook (April 2020) you are allowed to use Cut and Thrust combat in a melee, as long as all the fencers are wearing Cut and Thrust equipment.
Using your weapons and defensive objects
- In fencing, you can use swords, daggers, spears and Rubber-Band Guns. The requirements for these weapons are described in section 6.
- Other projectile or thrown weapons described in the SCA Fencing Marshals' Handbook (April 2020) are not allowed for Fencing Combat in the Kingdom of Lochac.
Striking your opponent in Fencing
- When you strike your opponent, you must control your weapons to deliver the lightest blow that you can.
- You can score a blow with a sword or daggers by:
- touching your opponent with the tip (thrust)
- placing the edge of the blade on your opponent and drawing it across their body (draw cut)
- placing the point on your opponent and drawing it across their body (tip cut).
- You and your opponent need to agree to allow the use of tip cuts before the bout.
- You are not allowed to strike your opponent with any other part of the sword or dagger besides the blade.
Striking your opponent in Cut and Thrust Fencing
- In Cut and Thrust, you can also score a blow by using a slashing cut that makes contact without placing the edge on your opponent first (percussive cut).
- You are not allowed to strike your opponent with any other part of the sword or dagger besides the blade.
Killing from behind
- In melee combat, the organisers may allow ‘killing from behind’ without striking. To make a kill from behind, you must:
- lay your weapon over your opponent’s shoulder, so that the tip is clearly visible to your opponent; and
- call out loudly “You are dead”, “You are slain” or another short, courteous phrase.
- Once you have touched their shoulder, you have ‘killed’ your opponent. They are cannot avoid the blow and they are not allowed to try to spin, duck or dodge away.
- You can use a spear for single combat or melee combat.
- You can only score a blow with a spear by thrusting with the point to touch your opponent.
- You are not allowed to brace the spear, for example by holding the end of the spear on the ground or by locking your back arm.
- You can hold the spear lightly under the arm, as long as it is not locked against your body.
- Spears are considered to be a non-standard weapon for single combat. You can decide that you do not want to fight against someone using a spear, and you won’t forfeit the bout.
- You can use an RBG for melee combat, or for single combat that is not a tournament, such as sparring.
- In accordance with the Society’s Rules of the List, RBGs are not allowed to be used within the Lists of a tournament.
- You can only use an RBG if it is safe to do so—which means that marshals must be armoured, and unarmoured spectators must be kept further away than the effective range of the weapon.
- You score a blow with an RBG by ‘firing’ the weapon and hitting your opponent with the rubber band:
- If you hit your opponent’s weapon or a rigid defensive object, the shot is counted as destroying it.
- If you hit their cloak or non-rigid defensive object, the shot is counted as going through the cloak to hit your opponent.
- You must not aim your shot at the back of an opponent’s head.
- There is no minimum range for an RBG.
- The marshals will declare when it is safe for RBGs to be loaded and fired. At all other times they must not be loaded.
- As well as defending yourself with your weapons, you can use defensive objects, such as:
- a rotella, buckler or other kind of shield
- a walking stick, scabbard, banner pole or other rigid object
- an RBG
- a cloak, hat or other kinds of non-rigid object.
- You are not allowed to strike your opponent with a shield, rigid defensive object or RBG.
- If you defend yourself with an RBG and it is damaged, you will have to check with the marshal if it is still safe to use as a weapon.
- If you use a cloak:
- you can defend yourself against a thrust. The cloak will count as stopping a thrust that hits it if you are holding it at least 20cm away from your body
- you can wrap the cloak around your hand or arm to protect it against a draw cut or a tip cut
- A cloak wrapped around your hand or arm will not protect it against a thrust.
- you can throw your cloak, or another type of non-rigid object, at your opponent to slow down their attack or defence, or as a distraction
- you must not deliberately throw your cloak over your opponent’s head—if the cloak falls over their face, a “HOLD” should be called
- You can also defend yourselves with your hand, if you are not holding a second weapon. You are allowed to use a chain mail or armoured parrying gauntlet to protect your hand:
- the gauntlet will protect your hand and wrist from cuts from an attack or if you slide your hand along your opponent’s blade
- the gauntlet will not protect your hand or wrist from a thrust.
- You are responsible for calling out the blows that hit you.
- When you fight, you are considered to be fighting with very sharp weapons, and wearing ordinary clothes that would not protect you.
- any thrust or cut that would have penetrated your skin counts as ‘good’.
- any RBG shot that hits or grazes you counts as 'good'
- if you feel a ‘good’ blow, you should call it. There is no such thing as a light blow.
- The only time this rule changes is if organisers hold a tournament where they define areas of the body that are protected as if you were wearing real armour.
- If you are hit in one of the following areas it counts as a 'kill':
- Armpit (to 10cm down the arm)
- Inner thigh (to 10cm down the leg)
- If you are hit in the hand, you lose the use of that hand. You can close the hand into a fist and use your arm to defend yourself.
- If your fist is hit again it will count as a blow to the arm.
- If you are hit in the arm you lost the use of that arm. If possible, you should put your hand behind your back.
- You can change your weapon to your good hand, if your opponent gives your time.
- If you lose both arms you cannot hold a weapon and you have lost the bout.
- If you are hit in the outside thigh, the lower leg or the foot, you cannot put weight on that leg. You can stand with your feet together, or kneel or sit on the ground to continue fighting:
- you need to be able to keep your balance and you are not allowed to hop away from or towards your opponent
- if you were hit in your lower leg or foot, you can kneel and move around on your knees
- if you were hit in your upper leg, you can kneel, but you are not allowed to rise up.
Wearing protective equipment
- Safety is the most important thing on the fencing field. This section describes the protective clothing and other equipment that you must wear for sparring and combat.
- Fencing practice sessions can also include drills and other classes that do not involve sparring. During weapons drills with an opponent, you must wear eye protection, such as spectacles, sunglasses, safety glasses or a fencing mask or helm.
- There are four types of protective material. These are:
- rigid material
- penetration-resistant material
- abrasion-resistant material
- resilient padding.
- More information about the requirements for protective material is in section 6.1.
- 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.
- Your mask or helm must have resilient padding or be suspended to prevent it hitting your head if it is struck:
- modern fencing masks meet this requirement, but you might need additional padding if the mask’s padding degrades as it gets older
- if you wear a helm, you might need extra padding if the suspension is not enough to stop the helm hitting your head
- 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
- Your mask or helm must be fastened on so that it doesn’t come off during combat:
- If you wear a mask, you must use a fastening below your jawline, such as a lace or a strap, to help hold the mask in place.
- If you wear a mask, the rest of your head must be covered by at least penetration-resistant material. This can be a coif (a cap) that fits inside the mask or helm, or a hood that you wear over the mask:
- for combat involving RBGs, it is recommended you use resilient padding or rigid material to protect the back of your head
- you must wear rigid material to protect the back your head in Cut and Thrust Fencing Combat.
- You must wear a gorget (collar) made from rigid material to protect your neck and throat. This should be backed by resilient padding or penetration-resistant material.
- You must also protect your cervical vertebrae with rigid material. This might be a combination of a gorget, helm or hood insert.
- You must wear penetration-resistant material to protect your torso, including your chest, back, abdomen, groin and sides up to and including the armpit to 10cm down the inner arm).
- Breast protection, such as a plastron or extra padding, is strongly recommended.
- External reproductive organs must be covered by rigid material.
Legs, feet and arms
- You must wear abrasion-resistant material on your legs, feet and arms:
- You must also wear resilient padding to protect your elbows and knees in Cut and Thrust Fencing Combat.
- You must wear gloves made of at least abrasion-resistant material to protect your hands.
- There are extra requirements for Cut and Thrust Fencing Combat:
- you must wear gloves with at least resilient padding that protects your fingers, hands and your arm 2.5 cm above the bend of your wrist
- if at least one combatant is using a two-handed sword, you need to cover your hands and wrist with rigid material. This can include gauntlets, the guard of your sword, or a shield of buckler, as long as these protect all of the areas mentioned.
- 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.
- If you wear medical equipment, you must cover it with protective material to help protect you from a blow or fall that damages the equipment.
Note: These are the minimum standards for fencing clothing and equipment. You can wear additional equipment, including appropriate period clothing like hoop skirts or ‘puffy’ sleeves, but you need to make sure these don’t stop you from feeling a ‘good’ blow.