Rules for Ansteorran Rapier Combat - October 6, 2001

The purpose of this document is to establish minimum safety, performance, and equipment standards for Rapier Combat in the Kingdom of Ansteorra. These rules are subordinate to the SCA Rules of the Lists (Appendix B of Corpora), the SCA Conventions of Combat (found in the SCA Marshals' Handbook), and are subject to the Precedence of Law in the Society (Appendix A of Corpora).

I. General

  1. Fighters must be at least 18 years of age to participate in Ansteorran Rapier Combat. The Youth Rapier Rules for the Kingdom of Ansteorra exist as a separate document.
  2. Fighters and marshals must be authorized by the Marshalate to participate in combat activities outside of fighter practice. They need not be authorized to participate in a fighter practice.
  3. All fighters and marshals are responsible for understanding and abiding by these Rules for Ansteorran Rapier Combat, the SCA Rules of the List, and the SCA Conventions of Combat before they are authorized.
  4. Because of their unique handling characteristics, HEAVY class rapiers require a single separate authorization.
  5. Fencing authorizations from other SCA Kingdoms may be considered valid in Ansteorra subject to a demonstrated ability to abide by these Rules for Ansteorran Rapier Combat. The period of this temporary validity will not exceed three months, during which time the fighter will be allowed to use only those weapons and techniques for which he is authorized in his home Kingdom.

II. Rules of the Field

  1. For blow-calling purposes, all fighters are considered to be wearing common civilian attire, such as a shirt and hose or a skirt. Therefore, no blow may be discounted because of actual clothing or equipment worn unless agreed upon ahead of time.
  2. The entire body is target for the delivery of blows.
  3. Blows are to be struck by thrusting with the point of the blade (thrust) or sliding the edge of the blade (draw cut or push cut). Optionally, upon prior agreement of all involved fighters, blows may be struck by placing the tip and then drawing it across an opponent (tip cut). Chopping or saber-type cuts are not permitted.
  4. Acknowledgement of Blows:
    1. Any thrust that strikes with 4 pounds (1.8kg) of force will be considered a valid blow. This is the amount of force it takes to flex a #5 French foil by 2 inches (5cm) or a #5 epee by 1/2 inch (1.5cm).
    2. Any cut that the fighter perceives against himself, where the edge of the blade slides at least 10 inches (24cm) will be considered a valid blow.
    3. A valid blow to the following areas will end the fight, resulting in defeat for the recipient:
      1. Torso
      2. Groin
      3. Neck
      4. Head
      5. Brachial artery (arm pit and inside upper arm down to one hand's width from the arm pit)
      6. Femoral artery (inside of thigh down to one hand's width from the groin)
    4. A valid blow to the arm disables that arm and hand.
    5. A valid blow to the hand disables that hand, though the arm may still be used.
    6. A valid blow to the leg or foot disables that entire leg, prohibiting the recipient from standing or using that leg to move or rise to his knees.
    7. A valid blow to the mask or gorget shall be considered as having struck the head or neck, respectively.
    8. Fighters may call blows as having a greater effect than is required by these rules.
  5. Melees may utilize optional "killing from behind". In these scenarios a fighter may "kill" his opponent by laying his blade over his opponent's shoulder, to at least a third of the blade, while calling out "Dead, my Lord/Lady!" (or other similar courteous phrase) in a loud clear voice. The opponent will be deemed "killed" from the instant the blade touches his shoulder and may thus make no attempt to elude or engage his attacker.
  6. It is the responsibility of fighters to agree upon what weapons or optional blow calling conventions (such as use and length of tip cuts or "armor as worn") shall be used, and to so inform the marshals, prior to combat. If this agreement cannot be reached, the fighters may not engage in combat. The Marshal-in-Charge of the combat activity will then make the determination as to how this situation will affect those fighters' continued participation in that event's activities.
  7. An open hand may be used to parry an opponent's weapon or weapon hand. However, it may not be used to strike an opponent or grasp an opponent's weapon or equipment.
  8. Some actions are not allowed because they are unsafe. These include, but are not limited to:
    1. Punching, kicking, shoving, tripping, or grabbing an opponent or his weapons
    2. Grappling or wrestling for control of a weapon
    3. Whipping or chopping with a weapon
    4. Striking or pressing an opponent with any piece of equipment not approved for such use
    5. Throwing a weapon or other piece of equipment not approved for such use
    6. Hitting with excessive force
    7. Attempting to injure an opponent
  9. Some actions are not allowed because they are obstructive to normal rapier activities. These include, but are not limited to:
    1. Consistently ignoring blows
    2. Deliberate misuse of the rules (purposefully retreating into the ropes, calling "Hold" when pressed, or ignoring another fighter's attempt to engage you)
    3. Striking an opponent who is unaware of your presence
    4. Attacking from the back or side any opponent who may not turn to face you, such as an opponent grounded by a valid blow to the leg
  10. "Hold" will be called if unsafe or obstructive actions are noticed, or if any other significant concern is manifest. Upon a call of "hold" all fighters must stop, check for hazards in their immediate area, and then assume a non-threatening position with weapons pointed away from their opponents.
  11. Armored Combat and Rapier Combat may never be conducted on the same list field at the same time.
  12. No real weapons will be allowed on the field during combat.

III. Protective Gear and Equipment

  1. General Standards:
    1. All protective equipment should be tested prior to initial use and at least every two (2) years afterwards. Subsequent testing between those dates will take place at the discretion of the Marshalate. Regardless, all equipment should be inspected before use at any Society event.
    2. All required protection will be constructed and worn so as to provide the specified coverage, in all combat situations, regardless of stance or maneuver.
    3. No piece of armor or protection which might prevent the wearer from properly judging the validity of blows will be allowed.
    4. ABRASION-RESISTANT material is any material that will withstand normal combat stresses (such as being snagged by an unbroken blade) without tearing. Nylon pantyhose or cotton gauze shirting are examples of unacceptable materials. Acceptable materials include:
      1. Broadcloth
      2. A single layer of heavy poplin cloth (35% cotton, 65% polyester; "trigger")
      3. Sweatpants material
      4. Woven knit or lycra-spandex mix tights.
    5. PUNCTURE-RESISTANT material is any material or combination of materials that will pass the officially sanctioned punch-tests found in Appendix A of this document. Kevlar is not an acceptable material, as it degrades rapidly. Examples of acceptable materials include:
      1. Four-ounce (2 mm) leather
      2. Four layers of heavy poplin cloth
      3. Ballistic nylon rated to at least 550 Newtons
      4. Commercial fencing clothing rated to at least 550 Newtons
    6. RIGID MATERIAL is any puncture-resistant material that will not significantly flex, spread apart, or deform under pressure of 12 Kg applied repeatedly to any single point. With the exception of the mesh of a fencing mask, such material must not have holes larger than 1/8" (3 mm) in diameter, with a minimum offset of 3/16" (5mm). Examples of rigid material are:
      1. The mesh of a 12kg fencing mask
      2. 22 gauge stainless steel (0.8 mm)
      3. 20 gauge mild steel (1.0 mm)
      4. 16 gauge aluminum, copper, or brass (1.6 mm)
      5. One layer of heavy leather (8 ounce, 4 mm minimum)
  2. Specific Standards:
    1. Abrasion-Resistant material is the minimum allowable protection for any area of the body. All portions of the body not specifically requiring the heavier protection detailed below will be covered with abrasion-resistant material.
    2. FACE / HEAD / NECK - The face and sides of the head shall be covered with rigid material. The remainder of the head and neck shall be covered with at least puncture-resistant material. If HEAVY class rapiers are to be used, additional throat/cervical vertebrae protection is required. This additional protection shall consist of rigid material covering the entire throat and the cervical vertebrae. The throat area must be backed by either puncture-resistant material (such as a hood), one quarter inch (1/4") (6 mm) of open-cell foam, or their equivalents.
    3. TORSO - The Torso is defined as the chest, back, abdomen, groin, and sides up to and including the armpits. The torso shall be covered with puncture-resistant material. Male fighters shall wear additional groin protection of rigid material.
    4. ARMS - The inside of the upper arm, from the arm pit down one-third the distance to the elbow must be covered with puncture-resistant material.

IV. Weapons and Secondaries

  1. ANY weapon or secondary that is likely to entangle, break, or otherwise damage equipment, or to seriously injure a combatant is prohibited. Any equipment that has small rigid openings large enough to admit a rapier tip will not be used against FENCING class blades. Knucklebows and other such barwork running parallel to, and in line with, the edge of the blade are exceptions, and will be allowed.
  2. Striking an opponent with any part of a weapon or secondary not approved for that purpose is prohibited
  3. There shall be 3 classes of standard bladed weapons:
    1. FENCING class rapiers:
      1. Foils
      2. Epees
      3. Doublewide epees
    2. HEAVY class rapiers:
      1. Oval bladed schlagers
      2. Diamond bladed schlagers
      3. Approved Practice Rapier blades, designed for rapier combat (examples currently include the Del Tin, Scottie, and Zamorano firms' blades)
      4. Fiberglass blades
    3. Daggers:
      1. Flexidaggers
      2. Fiberglass blades
      3. "Safeflex" daggers
      4. Diamond-cross-sectioned daggers known as "Scotty" daggers. These are to be blunted in the same manner as the HEAVY class rapiers.
  4. FENCING class rapiers may never be used in combat against HEAVY class rapiers. Daggers may be used against either class of rapiers.
  5. Bladed weapons will be constructed according to the following:
    1. Quillons, if used, must not be longer than 12 inches (30cm) overall, and the ends must be blunt.
    2. Orthopedic (or "Pistol") grips will not be used except for medical reasons, and only with the express approval of the Kingdom Rapier Marshal.
    3. All blades must be reasonably flexible. "Reasonable" is at the discretion of the Marshalate.
    4. Steel blades must be of commercial manufacture. They will not be altered by grinding, cutting, heating, hammering, or other actions that could significantly alter their temper, flexibility, or durability. Normal combat stresses and blade care do not violate this rule. Exceptions to this rule include:
      1. The tang of the weapon may be altered to facilitate attaching handles, hilts, and/or pommels.
      2. The tips of HEAVY class blades must be flattened (perpendicular to the long axis of the blade); the corners shall be rounded off, so that no surface presents a sharp angle.
    5. Blade ends must be capped with tips of rubber or plastic.
      1. Tips on FENCING class blades and flexidaggers will be at least 3/8 inch (9mm) in diameter.
      2. Tips on fiberglass daggers and HEAVY class blades will have a flat striking surface of at least 1/2 inch (13mm) diameter.
      3. Tips must be firmly affixed to the blade and be of a color contrasting with the blade so that the tip's absence is readily apparent.
    6. Blades with serious physical defects, such as kinks, sharp bends, cracks, or irrecoverable "S" bends shall not be used.
  6. Secondary devices may be used to move or deflect an opponent's weapon or secondary. Secondaries may be used against all 3 classes of bladed weapons.
    1. Rigid secondaries (shields, canes, scabbards, etc.) will be made of sturdy materials and constructed to be resistant to breakage or splintering. They may not exceed 4 feet in any dimension. Shields, such as bucklers or targets, may not exceed 453 square inches of surface area (the area of a 24-inch diameter circle) and may be used against all classes of blades.
    2. Soft, non-rigid secondaries, such as cloaks or hats, may not be weighted with any rigid material or constructed in such a way that might cause them to act as a flail or impact weapon.
    3. Rubber-band guns constructed of sturdy materials to fire loops of surgical tubing will be allowed in melees. Once fired, they may be used to parry, subject to the rules governing construction of weapons and secondaries.
    4. All other weapons and secondaries will be considered Non-Standard. Such items include mugs, bottles, bar stools, or offensive bucklers.
      1. Non-standard equipment must be approved on a case by case basis, per user, by a marshal designated to do so by the Kingdom or Regional Rapier Marshal.
      2. Fighters wishing to use non-standard equipment must inform each opponent regarding the construction and function of that equipment.
      3. Any opponent may decline to face non-standard equipment without forfeiture of the bout. Non-standard equipment, declined as part of a melee, may not be used in that melee.
      4. Equipment that will be used to strike an opponent shall be made of soft flexible materials such as cloth, tape, foam or golf tubes.

V. Marshalling

  1. The purpose of the Marshalate is to facilitate fighters' safe, orderly, and enjoyable participation in Ansteorran Rapier Combat.
  2. One marshal must be designated as the Marshal-in-Charge of rapier combat activities at any Society event.
  3. Before any combat may take place at a Society event, marshals designated by the Marshal-in-Charge must inspect the gear of all the fighters who will participate to ensure it is safe and functional. Inspecting marshals will reject any weapons or other equipment not meeting these rules.
  4. At least two authorized marshals must oversee a tournament field. A melee field should be overseen by enough authorized marshals to ensure the safety of the fighters and spectators.
  5. In melees and tournaments one marshal per field will be designated as the Controlling Marshal. All other marshals will be deemed Assisting Marshals. The Controlling Marshal will be responsible for controlling access to the field, starting combat, and initiating disciplinary actions.
  6. In a practice bout, one of the participants, whether as a fighter or as a marshal, must be an authorized Marshal. For the purposes of disciplinary actions this authorized Marshal shall be considered the Controlling Marshal.
  7. Before a bout, the marshal(s) on the field should take a moment to glance over each fighter to be sure his equipment is properly in place and to assure that no real weapons were carried on the field.
  8. A verbal acknowledgement of readiness must be received from all fighters before combat may begin.
  9. The marshal(s) on the field will investigate any situation requiring a "hold" and ensure that the situation is corrected before the Controlling Marshal allows combat to restart.
  10. Marshals will pursue disciplinary actions against any fighter or marshal who violates these rules.
    1. If a fighter or marshal violates the rules, the first step taken should always be to ensure that the violator is aware of the nature of the violation, how to correct it, and the ramifications of continuing to violate the rules.
    2. If an accidental violation is significant enough in the eyes of the Controlling Marshal, or his superiors, the details of the incident must be noted by the Marshal-in-Charge of the event and included in his official Tournament Report.
    3. If a violation is considered deliberate or jeopardizes the safety of the participants, then an official "Warning" will be issued.
      1. The warning should be issued by the Controlling Marshal or one of his superiors.
      2. The warning should explain the nature and seriousness of the violation, and stress that the violator's privilege of participating in Ansteorran Rapier Combat is in jeopardy.
      3. Warnings must be noted in the official Tournament Report and should be reported to the Regional Rapier Marshal in person or by phone within 48 hours of the incident.
    4. If a fighter or marshal acts in such a way as to seriously endanger the continuing combat activity or the safety of its participants (i.e. - loses temper, ignores the instructions or warnings of a marshal, etc.), then that fighter or marshal will be removed from the field and will be suspended from participation in Ansteorran Rapier Combat until such time as the situation has been reviewed by the Kingdom Rapier Marshal. The Kingdom Rapier Marshal may specifically designate one of his Warranted Deputies to review the facts of the situation and make a binding decision.
      1. Suspensions must be reported to the Kingdom Rapier Marshal within 48 hours.
      2. If fighting privileges are reinstated to the fighter it will be with the stipulation that any such continued behavior will result in a suspension from Ansteorran Rapier Combat for no less that 3 months.
      3. Any decision to suspend a fighter from Ansteorran Rapier Combat will be forwarded by the Kingdom Rapier Marshal to the Earl Marshal for review.
  11. Any injury requiring more than rudimentary first aid (band-aid, ice, rest, or the like) must be reported in person or by phone to the Kingdom Rapier Marshal within 24 hours of occurrence. If the KRM is not reachable, and time is of the essence, report the injury directly to the Earl Marshal or Kingdom Seneschal. Failure to report an injury within 24 hours may result in removal from office or suspension of marshaling privileges. A hard copy of the Injury Report should accompany the official Tournament report, as well.
  12. Those who wish to appeal the decisions of any member of the marshalate may do so only by appealing to the very next person UP the chain of command. The chain of command from lowest to highest is:
    1. Assisting Marshal
    2. Controlling Marshal/Inspecting marshal
    3. Marshal-in-Charge
    4. Local Rapier Marshal of hosting group
    5. Appropriate Regional Rapier Marshal
    6. Kingdom Rapier Marshal (or his Warranted "drop-dead" Deputies)
    7. Earl Marshal
    8. Crown


Appendix A. - Testing Standards for Puncture-Resistant Material

  1. The "Four Thrust" Test:

    To conduct this test, lay the material to be tested on firm ground or penetrable material (not hard-packed dirt, concrete, or similarly hard surfaces). Holding a flat-broken foil blade in both hands, punch the material four times in the same area, increasing the force each time. After each punch, examine the material.

    If the material being tested is a single layer, it fails if penetrated.

    If the material being tested is made up of multiple layers, the material fails if more than the top layer is penetrated.

  2. The "Single Drop" Test:

Any testing device may be certified by the Kingdom Rapier Marshal to field-test protective gear as long as it produces consistent results and is constructed to:

*deliver 4 joules force to the fabric sample

*use a dull, flat 5/32" cylindrical surface to deliver the force to the fabric

*test the gear, or fabric sample, when it is stretched securely, but not tautly, over a frame, so that nothing

is under the test sample but air.

If the material to be tested is made of a single layer, it fails if penetrated by the 5/32" (4 mm) dull, flat cylindrical rod.

If the material to be tested is made of multiple layers of material, no more than the top layer may be penetrated when tested; if more than one layer is penetrated, the gear fails.