Kage Tatsu's Rapier Fencing 104

Things the honorable Fencing Master Tora Taka Says:

"If your not getting hit, your not learning"
"Pain is just weakness leaving the body."
"Break that line and I’ll take that arm!"
"A medium level swordsman with distance mastery, will almost always defeat a master swordsman that has not also mastered distance."
"You can survive almost any attack if you remember to retreat and parry!"
"Remember to attack and then immediately retreat and parry. Don't wait around after you attack!"
"Control the head of the beast (the sword feeble) and you control the entire beast (the entire sword)."
"Use distance and sword mastery to defend, and sword mastery and distance to attack. In that order."
"The way you train is the way you’ll fight!"
"Your muscles are not like rubber bands; if you don’t warm them up they won’t snap back."
“In the hands of a skilled warrior, a single dagger will rule the battlefield.”

Rapier Style Fencing 401

Now you have learned some Rapier techniques, here is information on the different kinds of competitions you will experience, and what you need to know!



It is very important that before you enter the tournament that you have done several things. The first thing is to get both your armor and your weapons inspected by the Marshal (referee or senior SCA fighter) to ensure that your armor is safe for your use, and that your weapon is safe and won't injure your opponent. Many times a special event sticker is put on your gear to certify that this is so.

You will also need to ensure that your local Marshal or trainer has certified you for your particular kinds of fighting abilities and skill. Without these certificates or paperwork, you will not be allowed to participate in the tournament.

Lastly, make sure that you have signed up for the tournament as soon as possible. Make sure of the times of the event, get there early, sign up as soon as you can. Stretch, do your warm-ups, do some pick-up fights to prepare. Make sure you stay hydrated, by drinking lots of water or gatorade. Stay out of the sun, and don't get overheated.



In a standard tournament, two opponents walk up to each other just before a bout and extend the chivalrous inquiry as to what the other person is going to fight with. If one person wants to fight just one sword, then the other person graciously offers to fight the same. If one person wants to fight "Case" which is two swords, or fight Sword & Dagger, then the other person graciously agrees. It's not a contest of who asks first, it is to see if one person has a personal preference, or lacks a skill in one style of fighting. It is not uncommon for both to "I don't care", and they both meet on the field with a different load of weapons.

You are now standing in front of each other, and should be seperated by a good 10 to 20 feet. The Marshal will ask you if you are ready, and have calibrated or agreed on any rules, conditions, types of deaths, etc. Then you will be asked to give your salutes to your patron, marshal, king/queen, consort, and finally opponent. The verbage varies, but the concept is the same. Many people have very unique and very good personal salute moves. The marshal will then move to the side, and loudly say "LAY ON". You are now free to engage and start your bout.

Some bouts (which are either part of the tournament rules, or you agreed with your opponent earlier) are a single touch kill, some are 2 out of 3, etc. Many times the marshals ask that you only give multiple salutes the first time, and during the finals. This cuts down on the time taken up before fighting.

NON KILL HITS-In a tournament, if you are hit in a hand, arm or outer shoulder, it is customary to hell "HIT" backup and then give the weapon/item in that hand to the marshal. If it was your primary hand/weapon, you can move it to your secondary hand, and give the secondary item to the marshal. If you want, you can put the hand/arm behind your back, holding the item. It's up to you and your opponent normally. If you get hit in the foot, leg or sometimes thigh, you have a choice of dropping to your knees, or "posting". If you "post", you can stand instead of dropping, but the injured leg cannot be moved from the ground. You can turn on the leg, but it can't be raised at all. As a note, many times an upper thigh hit would have been fatal, as a major artery is there. This is your call, as the hit is "fatal" or not. Posting or dropping should be agreed to before the fight starts.

POINTS OF HONOR You will be given a verbal "POINT OF HONOR" by the marshal if you elect to also drop or discard your side weapon if you hit your opponents secondary hand. This helps make the remaining time of the fight more even, more chivalrous, etc. Getting a reputation as this kind of honorable opponent is key in advancing in fencing circles, and possibly even striving to become a rated fighter, or a "Don". (Knight equivelent for a Rapier Fighter).
CALIBRATING Also, many times the two opponents will "calibrate" against each other. This is done by one person standing in front of the other, and making "hits" on the other person, in the face, chest, arm, leg, etc. This is so the receving person can say that the hit was too light, too hard, etc. Then the roles are reversed. This is done so that someone cannot say they did not know how hard or light the other one got hit. Some people prefer that if they get hit, it be a forcefull hit, and not a light tap that would have left a scratch only, and not impared their fighting ability. This is a good thing to know, so if you are fighting and lightly touch your opponent (as a courtesy, you are touching lightly) and your opponent does not acknowledge the hit because it was too light. Both checking on what the other is fighting with and calibrating should be accomplished before you are called by the Marshal (referee) to come forward and fight.


WEAPON DEFAULT Many times a marshal will announce that a particular type of tournament is a "X" default. This "X" can be Epee, Schlager, or even something else. What this means is that if two opponents are matched up, and one requests to fight the default setting, the other person has no choice but to comply. So, if you are a master Schlager fighter, in an Epee default tournament, and your opponent asks to use Epee in your bout with him, you have no choice but to fight Epee against him.




In a standard 5 on 5 competition, teams will face off against each other with 5 players on each team. The weaponry that each person uses is usually up to the individuals choice, and usually each person will have have both hands grasping implements. To make teams fair, usually the Marshals will decree that no more than two "Dons" can be in any one team. Usually also, friends and fellow students of schools will form their own teams. When the Marshal declares "LAY ON", there are a variety of tactics that teams use. Here are some common tactics used:

1) The team screams and yells loudly, and charges the opponents. Although this sounds corny, it actually works a good number of times by un-nerving one or two of the defenders.

2) The team breaks up into several small units, or even splits up into 5 individuals circling around the opposing team. This is a good technique if the ones splitting up are very very good.

3) The team forms a skirmish line and advances on their opponents. This is the most common action, and the trick here is not to really target the person in front of you, but to look at the opponents to either side of the person in front of you. You wait for either of them to make a lunge or jab, and you then use that opportunity to hit the extended hand/foot/head, etc.

3) MELES-Various types of scenarios


This is my favorite type of combat. In Mele Combat, the Marshals pick a scenario, teams form up, and the "game" is played. There are many types of scenarios, some where once you are dead, you are out of the game, others are "Res" battles, where after you are killed you can be resurected at a starting spot. Some scenarios allow only a few "Res's", etc. Many differnt goals and themes are possible. It is usually in these scenarios that small squad fighting is really exciting, variables such as rubber-band muskets are used. (Only a few shots allowed tho), and hunter/killer (rogue) squads are in their element. Here are a few common scenarios:

1) OPEN FIELD. In this scenario, there are usually two teams fighting, starting across from each other, with a large open or slightly contoured field between them. In these scenarios, it's usually one death, and you are out of the game.

2) BROKEN FIELD. In this scenario, there are usually two teams fighting, starting across from each other. In this case, there is usually some sort of trees, ravine, wall, etc. in the way that causes some sort interesting strategy and attacks.

3) TOWN BATTLE. In this scenario, there are usually two teams fighting, starting across from each other. A set of buildings or hay bales simulating buildings are set up in the combat area. Fighting is done in the streets, and sometimes from inside the buildings.

4) WOODS BATTLE. In this scenario, there are usually two teams fighting, starting across from each other. A heavy woods seperates the two armies, visiablity is reduced, and small units or even 1-ON-1 fights are common.

5) FORTESS ASSAULTS. In this scenario, there are usually two teams fighting, starting across from each other. One team is usually in some sort of a structure, such as a castle or stronghold. The other army tries to break in and kill the defenders. In battles like this, the defenders usually have the odds on their side, so normally the attackers are much more numerous, or have many "Res's" available, while the defenders do not.

6) BRIDGE WAR. In this scenario, there are usually two teams fighting, starting across from each other. Inbetween them is a bridge, or a setup to simulate a bridge. The two armies must fight over control of the bridge, and this causes the fighting to be done in a very narrow pinch.

7) OTHER. There are many many different other scenarios available, although the previous 6 are the most common. A famous one from the Estrella Wars (Annually, each February in Arizona) is the "Cattle Wars". In this scenario, two hundred heavy hay bales are set up in a large field. The two armies start on opposite side, and over the next hour, they try to "round up" or haul as many hay bales to their "corral" as possible. Of course some squads are not rounding up cattle, but are killing the other side. You can raid or even try to take over the other teams corral. At the end of the hour, the team with the most cattle in their corral or corrals wins. If you are killed in this war, you get "Res'd" back at your start. So, this is a high energy, hour+ long fight, with all sorts of raids, tactics, skirmish's, etc. available.


When attacked: When you are attacked at anytime, there is always two things you must do. The first is to retreat. The second is to parry. This seems simple enough, but in the heat of battle, or the exhaustion of the fight, there is a very powerfull urge to not retreat when attacked. Fight this urge, and get in the habbit of ALWAYS retreating and parrying when attacked.
When maneuvering: Remember that even tho your opponent is just barely out of lunge range, he can do a "Balestra" or similiar attack and do a lightening quick lunge. Always keep your guard up when your opponent is this close. Lowering your weapon can rest your arm and shoulder some, but don't let this rest cost you your life!
When maneuvering: Always remember to keep your posture as upright as possible. During advances, retreats, lunges, etc. Always keep your back or posture as straight as possible. Failure to do this invites hits on your head, (because you know you are going to lean it forward during a lunge!) tires you out quicker, and causes your footwork and balance to suffer.
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