Original SCA Rapier Rules
These were the first set of SCA-wide rules for rapier fighting after the Board of Directors formally allowed it as an ancillary activity in September of AS XIV (1979.) They were written by the Society Marshal, Earl Kevin Perigrynne, and were based heavily on the existing Ansteorran rules.
SCA PERIOD FENCING RULES
(Effective October 1, 1979)
The rules given below are the basic minimum rules and requirements for the practice of fencing within the SCA. Each Kingdom is permitted and expected to institute such additional or more exacting rules or standards as prove needful to meet the needs and wishes of its Crown, Marshallate and populace.
I. ARMOR REQUIREMENTS
A. A fencing mask The mask must cover the front and sides of the head and be fastened on in such a manner as will prevent its coming off during a bout.
B. Thrust resistant resilient padding for the back of the head and the throat and neck (to the level of the collar bones). Minimum is 4 oz. leather with at least ¼" of resilient padding or equivalent (equivalency becomes the responsibility of the Marshal inspecting and allowing other materials/combinations.)
C. Torso armor Minimum is 4 oz. leather, or equivalent. A modern three-weapons jacket is acceptable (though it should be concealed under period clothing). No skin shall show at the neck, and the armpits shall be covered (this is a soft, vulnerable access path to the chest cavity.)
D. Gloves Leather gloves must be worn on both hands. They must cover the openings of the sleeves, and any cuff openings or slashes. Three weapon or sabre gauntlets are recommended.
E. Groin/Breast armor Male fighters shall wear a cup. The perforations in the cup must be covered so that a point will be prevented from entering, fiber tape or leather is recommended for perforation covering. Female fighters shall wear additional breast armor. At least ½" of resilient padding in addition to the 4 oz leather torso armor, or an equivalent (such as modern fencing breast protectors) is the minimum.
F. Pants Canvas, leather or heavy denim trousers, or the equivalent shall be worn. Fencing bare-legged or in tights is forbidden. Leather boots are an acceptable equivalent for the area they cover.
II. WEAPONS SPECIFICATIONS
A. Rapiers (While I am permitting foils to be used, I do not encourage them.)
- 1. Foil, epee and "Y" configuration sabre blades are permitted.
- 2. Points must be padded with a standard plastic or rubber fencing tip.
- 3. Foil, epee and sabre bells are permitted, epee bells are recommended. Bells with piercing or openings large enough to admit a sword point are prohibited. Sharp quillons are prohibited.
- 4. Blades may have a single, gradual curve. Sharp bends or more than a single curve is cause for prohibiting the use of a blade.
- 1. Maximum overall length is 20 inches.
- 2. Maximum quillon width is 12 inches.
- 3. Thrusting daggers shall be made of rattan in the standard SCA manner.
- 4. Parrying daggers may be made from shortened foil or epee blades. The point shall be bent backwards into a loop and covered with a padded tip at least ¾" across.
- 5. Metal quillons are permitted, their ends shall be blunt and padded.
- 1. The maximum in any dimension is 20".
- 2. Bucklers shall be constructed in the standard SCA manner, but of lighter-weight materials (i.e. ¼" plywood instead of ¾"). Edges shall be covered to prevent splintering.
- 3. Bucklers intended for offensive use must conform to weapons standards in terms of padding and lightness. A buckler for offensive use shall be light enough so as not to cave in a fencing mask when punched into one. All offensive bucklers must be specifically tested, inspected, and passed by a warranted fencing marshal.
- 4. Offensive buckler use is subject to the consent of the opponent.
- 1. Cloak size, shape and weight are left to the discretion of the user, subject to the condition that they be wearable as a cloak.
- 2. Hem weights are permitted, but shall be padded. Bars, rods or strips of weighting material or other large or rigid weights are not permitted.
III. CONDUCT RULES
A. Fighting Rules
- 1. All fencing shall be done in the round.
- 2. Any portion of the body is a legitimate target.
- 3. Thrusts shall be performed with the arm, not as an extension-lunge (which is not period technique in any case.)
- 4. Cuts should be performed as draw-cuts using wrist action, not full arm-and-shoulder chops. Whipping and hacking are prohibited.
- 5. Wrestling with the opponent is prohibited.
- 6. Striking with any portion of the weapon other than the blade is prohibited, as are other street-fighting techniques such as chopping with the buckler or whipping with the cloak.
- 7. Combat between fencing weapons and SCA tournament weapons is prohibited.
- 8. A fighter is considered armed so long as one offensive weapon is retained.
- 9. Open-handed parries are permitted and are not considered as wounding so long as only the blade (not point) touches the glove. Pushing the opponent’s hand aside is permitted under this rule. Grasping the blade is prohibited and is cause for forfeiting the bout.
- 10. Except as noted above, the rules of SCA tournament combat and the conventions of honorable conduct will be enforced.
- 1. a kill with a thrust is one solid touch to the head (below the eyebrows) to the neck, to the torso, or through the fleshy part of the arm (which would continue on into the torso.)
- 2. A kill with a cut is one draw cut to the throat (anywhere on the front of the neck from ear to ear), the brachial artery (inside of the arm above the elbow), the abdomen (below the ribs and above the hips) or the femoral artery (inside the leg from knee to groin.)
- 3. Wounds are two thrusts or cuts to any limb or a single cut to vulnerable tendons (across the inside of the wrist or elbow or the back of the ankle or knee.)
- 4. Any blow may be counted by the recipient as heavier than it technically needs to be, if in the fighter’s opinion it would have caused a disabling wound (e.g. a stop thrust to a joint or a single thrust with a draw cut disengage.)
- 1. Marshals shall be specifically trained and warranted for period fencing.
- 2. All combat shall have at least one marshal present.
- 3. The Kingdom Marshallate shall institute such standards and procedures for authorizing period fencing participants as shall be deemed needful.
- 4. Marshals shall thoroughly test fighters’ equipment for compliance with SCA and Kingdom standards.
- 5. The Marshal of a bout has absolute say on any fighter’s conduct on the field and may summarily eject any fighter who is guilty of misconduct.
Duke Andrew's Rules
A few years earlier, in June of AS 12 (1977), Duke Andrew of Seldom Rest, who was Society Marshal at the time issued these rules. Since they were not approved by the Board, and since rapier combat itself existed in something of a nebulous state, neither officially approve or banned, there is some question as to their validity. (On the other hand, things were much looser in those days, and these rules were taken as official by the folks practicing rapier at the time.)
As many of you have expressed a desire to see and/or participate in fencing within the Society and as a few of you have shown by your expression that there is a desire for safe conduct of such activities, the following regulations shall be enforced whenever and wherever fencing takes place at any official SCA event:
Fencing shall be monitored by Marshals whose main objective will be to protect the public, and, when necessary, the combatants from preventable injuries.
- Mask….A three-weapon mask is strongly recommended. Some form of throat and neck protection must be provided.
- Gauntlets….On any hand held forward from the body, must entirely cover the sleeve opening of any garment worn, including slashes, wrist laces, etc.
- Coat or Doublet….Modern fencing jackets are acceptable, though authentic garb looks much better.
- Cups or Breast Protectors….Are strongly recommended, depending on the gender of the combatant.
- No rough edges which may cause a laceration of an opponent.
- Shall conform to a single gradual curve. Blades showing double curvature or sharp bends will be disallowed.
- All tips/buttons will be marked with bright colors so that their presence or absence will be readily recognized.
- Cross hilts must not extend unreasonably beyond the bell and must be rounded on the ends.
- Splinterable materials shall not be used in the construction of any weapon (exception: Grips, Rattan Daggers, etc.)
RULES OF FENCE:
- Medieval fencing was done in the round, as will we.
- All blows will be scored as if from a real weapon of the type used against unarmored opponents.
- Hacking or whipping will not be allowed. Any such peformance will result in immediate removal from the Lists.
- Right-of-way shall be given in the weapons style as it applies in modern fence.
Andrew of Seldom Rest
Marshal, SCA Inc.