Ealdormere Rules for Rapier Combat

Version 2.4- August 5, 1999

Magnus Rasmussen - Ealdormere Rapier Marshal

  1. Protective Equipment
    1. Definitions:
    2. A Fencer, for the purposes of this document, is defined as one who studies and practices the period art of defence with a rapier. It is not to be confused with one who practices the modern sport of fencing with foil, epee and saber.

      Resistant Material is defined as material that will withstand the normal combat stresses (such as being snagged by the unbroken blade) without tearing. Nylon tights or stockings and cotton gauze shirts are examples of unacceptable materials. Broadcloth, denim or sweat pants are examples of acceptable materials.

      Impenetrable Materials are defined as any fabric or combination of fabrics that will withstand four hard thrusts from a broken foil blade. Four layers of broadcloth or one layer of four ounce leather are generally considered impenetrable, but all materials must be tested using the test outlined below or its Society approved equivalent. Kevlar is not an acceptable material. As an additional note, any material can be penetrated under the right circumstances. The standard set down here is one that under normal use should not be penetrated by the weapons being used.

      In conducting the four thrust test, the material to be tested is laid on a penetrable surface, such as the ground or a block of ethyl foam (used for archery targets). The section to be tested should be on a spot not normally subject to attacks (i.e. the back, the inside, etc.). This will prevent excessive wear from taking place. Marshals shall take special care to observe the front of the material for obvious weakened spots. If one is observed, the test shall take place at that location instead. The broken foil blade is held in both hands, and the material is punched four times, the force increasing each time. After each punch, the material is examined. If it has been completely penetrated, or seriously damaged, it fails. If there is no damage or only the top layer has been damaged, then it passes. Note that the test blade should have a typical "flat" break, not a jagged point.

    3. Requirements
  1. The face shall be protected with a standard 12 kg (or stronger) fencing mask. The mask shall be in good condition and repair, and should fit properly. The mesh shall not have any rust or weak spots, and if a weak spot is suspected, it shall be punch tested at that location. The bib shall remain in place, over the throat, at all times and must be secured to ensure that the mask will stay in place. A mask that comes off or becomes seriously dislodged during combat will cause that combatant to immediately forfeit the bout. The fencer may not resume fighting until the marshals are satisfied that the mask will stay in place.
  2. Impenetrable material is required on the back of the head, the entire neck, the torso (including the chest, back, armpits, abdomen, sides and groin).
  3. Resistant material is required on the arms, legs and all other areas not specifically mentioned in these rules.
  4. A gorget must be worn which shall protect the larynx and trachea and cover the jugular notch at the top of the sternum. This protection shall consist, at a minimum, of eight ounce leather backed by 1/4-inch of closed cell foam (or the equivalent).
  5. The hands must be protected by leather gloves. The cuffs may be made of resistant material. Feet shall be protected by closed toe shoes or boots.
  6. Male combatants must wear rigid groin protection. Any holes must be covered from the outside with impenetrable material. Female combatants may wear breast protection and/or rigid groin protection if they wish.
  7. There must be no skin exposed or easily accessible. There shall be at least 3 inches of overlap between separate pieces of protective clothing regardless of what posture a fencer may happen to take.
  8. Armour and masks must be punch tested annually. Passing equipment will be signed in ink either on the items themselves or to a tag permanently attached to them. The name of the passing marshal and the date of the test are to be written on the tag.

If a marshal has reason to believe that the armour or mask may no longer pass, the marshal has the right to request another test before letting the equipment back on the field.

  1. Weapons
  1. Rapiers: The standard rapier blade used in the Kingdom of Ealdormere is the practice schlager blade. Practice schlager blades, hereafter referred to as schlager blades, are theatrical combat blades which have an oval cross section throughout the length of the blade. The tips shall be round or flat as received from the manufacturer/distributor. Blades thereafter modified by the use of power tools are expressly banned. The schlager blade shall be 35"±1" in length. Schlager blades longer than this are considered nonstandard weapons, and shall require permission to be used (see B.9).
    All foils, epees and sabers are barred from rapier combat. This includes double-wide epees and musketeer blades.
  2. Daggers: The only acceptable dagger in Ealdormere is the type known as "flexi-dagger". A flexi-dagger may not be longer than 25 inches.
  3. Tips: Daggers must be tipped with a rubber or plastic tip no less than 3/8-inch in diameter. Schlager blades must be tipped with a rubber or plastic tip no less than 5/8-inch in diameter ( Rubber archery rabbit blunts are typically used.) A small solid metal washer must be inserted into all schlager blunts and must lay flat against the bottom to prevent the tip from working its way through the bottom of the blunt. The tip of the blade must fit securely inside the rubber or plastic tip and shall be firmly attached to the blade. This tip and the last two inches of the blade shall be taped in a colour which contrasts with both the tip and the blade so that the absence of the tip or a broken blade will be readily apparent. The striking portion of this tip shall not be covered in tape so that it may be inspected for excessive wear.
  4. Blades: All blades must be in good condition. Any blade with multiple curves, cracks, repairs, rust or pitting may not be used. The flexi-dagger blades may have a single gradual curve. The schlager blade must be straight, and may have a gradual curve in one direction not to exceed 20 degrees from straight over its length. Any blade which corkscrews (twists around its axis), has an abrupt bend (kink), or exceeds this 20 degree limit when presented for inspection shall not be used. If failed at the inspection the fencer shall have an opportunity to correct the deficiency and resubmit the blade for inspection. No part of any blade may be sharp.

  5. Hand Guards: A schlager blade or flexi-dagger may have a hand guard of any style as long as it does not constitute a danger to either fencer. Quillions may not be longer than 12 inches overall, and the ends must be blunt. Modern fencing grips commonly called as the "pistol" or "orthopædic" grips may not be used in period rapier combat.
  6. Bucklers: Shields that do not exceed 315 square inches of frontal surface area are considered bucklers. (This is equivalent to a 20" round shield). Bucklers are to be constructed of lightweight material such as (but not limited to) 1/4 inch plywood. The edges must be covered to prevent splintering and to protect blades from becoming damaged. The buckler must be free from any sharp corners, points, or edges. They shall not be designed to trap or break blades, nor may they be used as offensive weapons.
  7. Cloaks: The size, shape and weight shall be left to the discretion of the fencer as long as it is recognizable as a cloak and not as a whip or a flail. A cloak may be weighted with soft material such as rope or rolled cloth; it may not be weighted with any hard or metallic material such as a chain or fishing weights. The cloak may not be tossed at an opponent or used to cover his head. The cloak may be dropped over a blade, or tossed aside as a distraction. The cloak should not be dropped if it may present a footing problem (e.g. on a polished wood floor).
  8. Non-standard Parrying Devices may be used as long as the fencer informs his opponent and the marshal of the device's purpose, and the marshal and opponent both consider the device to be safe and acceptable. The fencer using such an object is responsible for complete control of the device at all times. Making contact with an opponent with any rigid parrying device may be considered grounds for removal of the device from the bout. Rigid parrying devices shall be subject to the same general rules as a buckler (rule B6) except that scabbards, batons and similar devices may be no longer than 40 inches. Non-rigid parrying devices shall be subject to the same general rules as a cloak (rule B7).
  9. Non-standard Blades or Offensive Weapons are allowed only with the permission of the Kingdom Rapier Marshal. The decision to disallow a particular weapon may be appealed to the Earl Marshal and the Crown according to the procedure outlined in the Rapier Marshal's Handbook. A non-standard weapon that is allowed by the Kingdom Rapier Marshal, the Earl Marshal and the Crown may not be used in combat unless the opponent of that weapon gives their approval.
  1. Weapon Forms
  1. Rapier: using a schlager blade and parrying with the off hand.
  2. Parrying Device: using a buckler, baton, scabbard, mail gauntlet, etc. for defence with the rapier. No standard offensive weapon shall be used only as a rigid parrying device.
  3. Non-rigid, Parrying Device: using a cloak, hat, skirt, etc. for defence with the rapier.
  4. Dagger: using a flexi-dagger with the rapier or another flexi-dagger for both offence and defence.
  5. Case of Rapier: using two rapiers at the same time, one in each hand.
  1. General Conduct

Rapier combat falls outside of some of the rules of traditional SCA armoured combat. It is intended to recreate the rapier fighting styles of the 15th and 16th centuries.

    1. Every fencer is expected to abide by the Rules of the Lists and Conventions of Combat of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., (SCA) and the additional rules set down here.
    2. All fencers must be 18 years of age or over to be able to participate at any practice, tournament, or authorization. Proof of age must be provided on the request of any marshal at any time.
    3. No one may participate in any rapier combat or marshalling, at practices, tournaments or otherwise, who is under the influence of alcohol, prescription or non-prescription drugs, or any other substances or conditions which might impair the person's judgement or ability.
    4. Engaging in Rapier Combat with the deliberate intent to inflict injury on an opponent is strictly forbidden. A fencer who violates this rule shall be suspended from all society fencing for a minimum of six months. Any subsequent violation of this rule shall result in a permanent removal from rapier combat in the SCA.
    5. All fencers are considered to behave as nobles of honourable upbringing and character. This being the case, the bout will be judged by the combatants themselves. Section F.2 defines the complete definition of a valid blow.
    6. All combatants are considered to be wearing hose or a skirt, and a shirt. No blow may be discounted because of the actual clothing worn by the fencer. Any protection or clothing which prevents a fencer from properly calling a blow shall not be allowed.
    7. A combatant is considered armed as long as at least one offensive weapon is retained. In single combat, a fencer who loses all offensive weapons is defeated unless his opponent chooses to allow him to recover a weapon. In melee combat, a combatant who loses all offensive weapons is considered defeated and shall withdraw from the combat.
    8. Dishonourable conduct such as grappling, throwing a weapon at an opponent, striking with excessive force, consistent ignoring of blows, or deliberate misuse of the rules shall not be allowed. Violation of these rules shall result in the fencer being withdrawn from all fencing activity for the day. Repeated violation of these rules shall result in the fencer having their authorization card removed (see rule D.4).
    9. A rapier or flexi-dagger may be parried by contacting or pushing the blade, or its guard, with any part of a parrying device, the hand and arm, or an offensive weapon. (If this results in the hand or arm travelling 6 inches or more along the edge of the blade, then the use of the arm will be lost, see D.5 and Rule F.4b.) No fencer's equipment may be grasped, or trapped against the body by another fencer. The blade may not be parried between the fingers of the hand. A rigid parry device shall not touch any part of an opponent's body at any time.
    10. No limb that has been lost to a thrust or cut shall be used to protect a valid target area. When a limb that has been lost covers a valid target area, any thrust or cut that contacts the limb will be considered to have contacted the valid target area.
    11. When a fencer loses his leg(s) he may either sit or kneel. He shall not rise up on his knees, fall forward, or intentionally move from this position except for reasons of safety or courtesy.
    12. All fencers shall comply with the rules and standards of the Kingdom in which they are fencing, and conform to the accepted definition of honourable conduct. At inter-kingdom events, a fencer must at a minimum, comply with the SCA's Rapier Fencing Rules and meet their home kingdom's standards for protective equipment.
    13. Fencers must maintain control at all times, so that when a hold is called they can stop, immediately cease all offensive action and assume a defensive posture.
    14. No fencer shall be allowed to intentionally use any fall, roll or other move that would not allow him to maintain control at all times. If a combatant falls or slips accidentally, there will be an automatic hold. All offensive moves should be stopped immediately, and the combatants and/or marshals shall call hold.
    15. The modern fencing move known as the "fleche" may not be used.
  1. Authorizations
    1. Before attempting any authorization, the candidate must get a written recommendation from his/her group marshal or a marshal at large who is familiar with the skill of the candidate. A verbal recommendation will suffice if the recommending marshal is present at the authorization. The candidate must sign a combat waiver form to be filed with the Ealdormere Minister of the Lists and fill out the appropriate authorization paperwork. There shall be two warranted marshals to run the authorization, both of whom are authorized in the form being attempted. At least one of the marshals shall not be a regular opponent or teacher of the candidate. The candidate will be asked a number of questions about the Ealdormere Rules for Rapier Combat to demonstrate the candidate's familiarity with and understanding of these rules. The candidate's protective equipment and weapons shall be inspected to ensure that they meet the standards described in sections A and B. If these requirements are completed satisfactorily, the authorization can proceed.
    2. The first form that a fighter is to authorize in shall be Single Rapier. The following procedure shall be used. The candidate will fence against an experienced and authorized fencer, who may be one of the two marshals running the authorization. The two will fence and acknowledge all valid blows (see section F), calling these out loudly so that the marshals can verify the candidate’s ability to detect and accurately judge the blows. Non-valid blows which might have appeared good should also be acknowledged verbally. The candidate shall show good control at all times whether being pressed or on the attack, demonstrate ability in both defence and offence, and the ability to respond properly to a hold (rule D.14). The candidate shall also show the ability to use the rapier in the following circumstances:
      1. With both fencers standing
      2. With the candidate fighting with the off hand
      3. With the candidate fighting from the ground while the authorized fencer is standing
      4. With both fencers fighting from the ground
      5. With the candidate standing while the authorized fencer is fighting from the ground.
    3. The marshals and authorized fencer shall discuss the candidate's progress at several points during the authorization. If they agree that the candidate has shown sufficient skill and control to be able to participate safely in fencing tournaments, then the candidate shall be considered authorized. A high degree of skill is not required for authorization but due to the nature of the weapons involved a moderate degree of skill is expected and required. It is the duty of the candidate to submit the necessary paperwork to the appropriate people to receive an authorization card. At this point the candidate shall be allowed to participate in all rapier combat activities in the Ealdormere, using only the weapon forms in which they are authorized.
    4. Advanced authorizations: Since the other weapon forms are considered advanced, a slightly higher degree of skill and control will be expected than that required for Single Rapier.
  1. Fencing A Bout
    1. Preliminaries: Before fighting in a tournament, the fencer shall report to the list table, show a valid authorization card, and sign any appropriate waivers. The fencer's protective equipment and weapons shall be inspected to ensure that they meet the Kingdom of Ealdormere's standards (see sections A and B). Failure to complete these requirements shall result in the fencer being disqualified from the tournament. When these requirements are completed satisfactorily, the fencer may participate in the tournament.
    2. Judging Blows: Since a period rapier had a sharp point and edges, any blow that can be felt on the skin should be taken as a valid blow. Blows are to be struck by thrusting with the tip, or with a push or draw cutting motion with at least 6 inches of the edge of the blade. Chopping, slashing, and saber type cuts are not permitted. Tip cuts are not prohibited, but your opponent is not required to accept a tip cut unless he/she judges it to have been sufficient to cause injury. Upon being struck a valid blow, the fencer receiving it shall be honour-bound to acknowledge it. If you see your opponent starting to take a blow that you know was not valid, you are honour-bound to inform them of this also.
    3. Communication between combatants is highly encouraged. If a fencer has a question during the bout, they shall first call "Hold". At this point, questions or comments can be raised in safety. The marshals are also available for their input and may be able to clarify a situation better than either fencer at that moment and should be utilized. All questions should be resolved on the field. If both combatants leave the field, the bout will be assumed to have been satisfactory to both of them.
    4. Target Areas: The entire body is considered a valid target, from head to toe, both front and back.
      1. Killing areas for a thrust, or cut: head, neck, back, chest, abdomen, groin, brachial artery (armpits) and femoral artery (inner thighs).
      2. Loss of a limb: one thrust or cut to an arm, hand, leg or foot will cause the loss of that limb. The loss of the hand or foot will cause the loss of the entire limb. The hand is considered to be protected only by a leather glove, and as such is not protected from either thrusts or cuts. A fencer may choose to yield the bout rather than continue without the lost limb.
    5. It is the duty of each fencer to examine the tip of his rapier before each bout and make sure it is secure.
  1. Melee Combat
  1. The use of excessive force is prohibited.
  2. Charging an opponent or opponents (i.e. attacking at a run) is not allowed. Running to gain ground or a position is acceptable.
  3. No more than four fencers may attack a single opponent.
  4. When two opposing lines are engaged, all combatants in each line are considered to be engaged with all those in the opposing line. Two or more fencers fighting together will be considered a line. A fencer who joins a line is engaged with the opposing line.
  5. With the exception given in Rule G4, a fencer shall be considered to be engaged with an opponent when he has moved to protect himself from that opponent.
  6. Fouling an opponent or his weapons from behind is not allowed. Attacking opponents from behind is permitted if declared so before the melee begins. No fencer shall be attacked from behind with either a thrust or a push cut. Only draw cuts will be considered acceptable.
  7. When "Hold" is called, all combatants shall drop to their knees until the marshals call "lay on". Holds shall not be used to regroup or to make plans. If a melee must be moved, the same relative positions must be maintained. Fighting will resume upon the marshal's verbal signal.
  8. Defeated combatants shall acknowledge their defeat with a verbal and/or physical signal, and then promptly withdraw from the melee/field of combat in a safe manner. Falling to the ground during a melee is not safe, and will result in an automatic "Hold". See Rule D11.
  9. Combatants whose equipment fails in any way (for example, a tip comes off, the blade bends too much, or the mask or protective clothing is dislodged) will be considered defeated and shall promptly leave the field.

Revision History







Cerdic Weyfare




Cerdic Weyfare

Changes for Submission



Lars Eriksson

Convert to word format, proofreading



Lars Eriksson

Some corrections.



Lars Eriksson

Clarified attacks from behind.



Lars Eriksson

Standard blade length defined, curve allowed in schlager blade.