Rules for fencers
When you are allowed to fence
- You must be authorised in fencing to participate 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 according to these rules.
- Until you are authorised, you can take part in practice sessions. This includes classes and practice combat to help you learn how to use all weapons.
- Before you fight, you must get your equipment and weapons inspected by a marshal to make sure it complies with these rules.
- You are not allowed to fence with impaired judgement, 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.
- If you suffer an injury involving bleeding, you must leave the field immediately. You must have the wound cleaned and dressed before you return to the field. Any weapons, equipment or clothing that have visible blood on them must be cleaned, or not used further.
- 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.
Fighting by the rules
- You must obey these rules and the instructions of marshals, or people supervising the field, when you are practicing or fighting.
- You are responsible for your behaviour.
- 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 person supervising the field can take action, including telling you to leave the field or stopping you from taking part in further 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 non-threatening position
- repeat the call of "Hold!" and then wait for instructions.
- The person supervising the field will tell you when fighting can start again.
Issues on the field
- After a bout, the person supervising the field will ask you if you are satisfied with the outcome. This is a chance for you to talk to your opponent about any concerns you have.
- If you are not happy with the result of the discussion, you can raise it with the marshal or the Marshal-in-Charge for further review.
- If you leave the field without raising any issues, you are considered to be satisfied with the outcome and cannot raise the issue later. The exception is if there is an emergency situation, such as being taken off the field because of an injury.
- If you disagree with a decision by the marshal, you can lodge an appeal in the process described in Chapter 4 - Rules for managing incidents.
Types of fencing
- There are two types of fencing combat in Lochac. These are:
- Standard fencing
- Cut and Thrust fencing.
- You need separate authorisations for each type of fencing combat.
- There are also separate authorisations for:
- using spear in combat
- being a non-fencing combatant (Gunner) who can use rubber band guns only.
- You must have a current Standard fencing authorisation to be authorised for Cut and Thrust fencing, or to use a spear in either type of fencing.
- There is no waiting period for obtaining these additional authorisations.
- There are no authorisation prerequisites for a Gunner authorisation.
Single combat and melee
- 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:
- striking your opponent with a "fatal" blow
- striking your opponent with an "incapacitating" blow so your opponent cannot continue to fight.
- Organisers might come up with other ways to win a fight, such as making any hit on your opponent ("first touch" or "first blood").
- If your opponent loses their weapon, you can allow them to pick their weapon up, or tell them to yield.
In a melee:
- You can be part of a team, or fighting against everybody else on the field.
- You can only attack an opponent if you are inside a 180 degree arc of their front view, as defined by the opponent's shoulders. If you are not sure that your opponent knows that you are there, you should call out to them to get their attention before you engage them.
- 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". (see section 2.6.3)
- You cannot turn your back on an opponent to gain an advantage (that is, to stop them attacking you). If you do turn your back on an opponent during an engagement, you might be attacked.
- 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.
- 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
- You can use swords, daggers, spears and rubber band guns to attack your opponent. The requirements for these weapons are described in Chapter 5 - Rules for equipment.
- Other projectile or thrown weapons described in the SCA Fencing Marshals' Handbook are not allowed for fencing combat in Lochac.
Striking your opponent
- When you strike your opponent, you must control your weapons to deliver a blow that your opponent can feel, without hitting too hard.
- You are not allowed to strike your opponent with any other part of the sword or dagger except the blade.
- You can strike a blow with a sword or dagger by:
- touching your opponent with the tip (thrust)
- placing the edge of the blade on your opponent and drawing it (push or pull) 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.
- In Cut and Thrust Fencing, you can also strike a blow by using a slashing cut that makes contact without placing the edge on your opponent first (percussive cut).
- If you begin to strike your opponent before something happens that would stop the fight, the attack will count. This includes:
- a 'HOLD' being called
- your opponent striking you.
Killing from behind
- In melee combat, the organisers may allow "killing from behind". To make a kill from behind, you must:
- lay your weapon over your opponent's shoulder, so that the blade or spearpoint 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 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 strike a blow with a spear by thrusting with the point to touch your opponent.
- If you cannot use both hands (for example, because you have been struck on your hand or arm) you can use a spear with one hand.
- You are not allowed to brace the spear, for example by holding the end of the spear on the ground.
- You can hold the spear lightly under the arm, as long as it is not locked against your body.
- In a melee, you can use a spear to make a "kill from behind", as described in section 2.6.3.
- 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 ask them to use a standard weapon.
Rubber band guns
- You can use a rubber band gun for melee combat, or for single combat that is not a tournament, such as bouting.
- In accordance with the Rules of the Lists, rubber band guns are not allowed to be used within the Lists of a tournament.
- When rubber band guns are used, all people on the field must be wearing protective equipment, and any unarmoured spectators must be kept further away than the effective range of the weapon.
- You score a blow with a rubber band gun 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 a rubber band gun.
- The people supervising the field will announce when rubber band guns can be loaded and fired. At all other times, the rubber band gun 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
- a rubber band gun
- a cloak, hat or other types of non-rigid object.
- You are not allowed to strike your opponent with a shield, rigid defensive object or rubber band gun.
- If you defend yourself with a rubber band gun and it is damaged, you will have to check with the marshal if the rubber band gun still meets the rules to be used as a weapon.
- If you use a cloak:
- 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 face, or to trip them - if the cloak falls over their face, a hold should be called.
- You can parry your opponent's weapon with any part of your body in a controlled action, such as using your gloved hand to deflect or push against the blade. However, any thrust or cut that that occurs as a result of that contact will count as a good blow, regardless of your intentions or who started the action.
- You can use your hand to parry your opponent's weapon or wrist. You are not allowed to grasp your opponent.
- 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 draw 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 or from a percussive cut.
- You can briefly hold your opponent's blade to control it, but both of you must agree to use grasping during the bout. Grasping should be for no more than a couple of seconds, so that you do not start wrestling for the blade.
- You are responsible for calling out the blows that hit you.
- When you fight, you are generally 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" and must be called. There is no such thing as a light blow.
- any rubber band gun shot that hits or grazes you counts as "good".
- The only time this 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 lose 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 you time.
- If you lose both arms, you cannot hold a weapon and you cannot continue.
- 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, "post" - standing with your weight on your "good" leg, or kneel or sit on the ground to continue fighting:
- If you are posting, you are not allowed to hop.
- 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 or move on your knees.
Wearing protective equipment
This section describes the protective clothing and other equipment that you must wear for combat. Your equipment must be designed and worn so that there are no gaps over vital body areas, and no more than incidental gaps over other parts of your body. These are the minimum standards for fencing clothing and equipment. You can wear additional equipment, including appropriate period clothing like hoop skirts or gauntlets with stiffened cuffs, but you need to make sure that you are still able to feel and call "good" blows.
- Fencing practice sessions can also include drills and other classes that do not involve fighting. 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.
- rigid material
- penetration-resistant material
- abrasion-resistant material
- resilient padding.
- The requirements for protective material are defined in section 5.1.
- 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 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.
- 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:
- For combat involving rubber band guns, we recommend 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.
- You must wear a gorget (collar) made from rigid material to protect your entire 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 and abdomen, and your upper arm and inner thigh extending at least 10cm from the armpit and the groin.
- 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.
- You must wear gloves made of at least abrasion-resistant material to cover your hands and fingers.
- There are extra requirements for Cut and Thrust fencing:
- 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.
- 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.
- The coverage for a) and b) can include gauntlets, the guard of your sword, or a shield of buckler, as long as these prevent a reasonable percussive blow from contacting the bones of the hand and wrist.
- 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 could damage the equipment.
- You take responsibility for your own safety on the field, based on any advice from your doctor or health professional. You can ask a marshal for advice, but you will be the best expert for determining your safety.