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The 2012 Hammerterz Forum
Open International Longsword Tournament
Rules

Context of Rules

Using documentation to support conclusions has been a cornerstone of success for the modern reconstructions of the Western and European martial arts.  Modern tournaments have largely developed independent of detailed documentation of the competitive martial practices designed to produce the martial artists who used these arts.  However, in recent years intriguing details of historical “school” fencing have started to become available.  While the picture remains far from complete, core details are occasionally outlined such as Antonio Manciolino’s description of salle play in his Opera Nova (1531).

This rule-set seeks to begin the process of exploring historically documented martial practices in a significant competitive environment.  Wherever possible, these rules aim to adhere to the specifics of Manciolino’s rules while filling in unspecified details with established modern solutions.  In cases where multiple potential readings of an historical rule arise, decisions have been made that attempt to fall within the perceived ‘spirit’ of the rules.  Experience will validate or refute each decision. 

Naturally, everything will go off without a hitch!

Tournament Format

The 2013 Hammertertz Open International Longsword Tournament will use round-robin pools where equal numbers of top performers from each pool will seed a single-elimination finals round.   Winners of each pool will be decided using performance-based statistics.*

In the event of a tie between qualifying fencers with the same number of wins and identical statistics, those fencers will face each other in a single elimination format to determine who will move on to the finals.

Each bout will continue for one three-minute round of fencing, until one fencer attains at least fifteen points, both fencers have accumulated three double-hits, or a ‘Clean Embrace’ (technical definitions located at end of document) has occurred.  In the event of a tie when time expires, fencers will compete until the next scoring action that determines a clear leader.

For seeding purposes, three double-hits will score as a loss for both fencers (Double-Out).  In the event of a Double-Out during the finals, new finalists will be drawn from the losers of the semi-finals and/or quarter-finals in order.  In the event of a Double-Out in the semi-finals new semi-finalists will be drawn from the losers of the quarter-finals.  In the event of a Double-Out in the quarter-finals new quarter-finalists will be drawn from the appropriate pool.  In the event that all quarter/semi/finalists Double-Out, there will be no winner for the Hammertertz Forum Open International Longsword Tournament.

*In order: wins, clean hits; fewest double hits; fewest after-blows received and given; fewest knockdowns/falls; disarms; and out-of-bounds.


Conduct of Bouts

The Head Scorekeeper will announce the immediately scheduled competitors as well as the names of those competing in the following bout.

Fencers will enter the ring, dressed to compete, and take their positions at the Blue and Red starting markers in accordance with their assigned corner. Fencers are expected to be on their guard and ready to fence at all times when in the ring. Only the referee and two fencers will be within the arena during each bout.

The referee will signal to the fencers, timekeeper, scorekeeper, and judges that the bout is about to begin. The referee will call “Fight” to signal that the bout has begun and the timekeeper will begin the clock.

Fencers will begin to compete.

Upon witnessing a valid technique one or more judges will call “point.”  After allowing time for potential after-blows, the referee will call “halt,” drop his staff between the fencers, and holding his staff horizontally, immediately separate the fencers by walking between them. Both fencers will immediately return to their appointed corners.

The referee will immediately poll the judges regarding their Phase One-Tempo scoring votes. Quickly assessing the votes, the referee will then poll the judges for their Phase Two-Value votes.  He will then communicate any score to the scorekeeper who will repeat aloud and record the result.  The referee will immediately signal to the fencers to continue fencing.

Competition will continue under these protocols until the timekeeper signals the end of the round at which time the referee will immediately halt the action.  Alternatively, the Scorekeeper will indicate that the bout has reached fifteen points or three double hits should that occur before time runs out.

The referee will summon the fencers to join him in the center of the ring while the scorekeeper announces the final score and the next competitors.


Scoring and Acceptable Technique

The entire body is a valid target area except for the hands, groin, back of the head, neck, and spine.

The point and edge are valid striking surfaces of the sword. Some pommel strikes will be considered valid (see below).

A Clean Embrace will automatically win the bout.

Both initial-hits and after-blows will score based on their area of contact as follow:

·         3 points for hit to the head

·         2 points for hit to the foot

·         1 point for all other valid target areas

No points will be awarded for double-hits. If three double hits occur within a single bout, BOTH fencers will record a loss for that bout. Double-hits will be recorded for statistical purposes.

After-blows will score the FULL VALUE of their target value and be recorded for statistical purposes.

Points are not cumulative within a single exchange. Only one point value will be awarded for any exchange between fencers. For example, if a fencer hits their opponent who then drops their sword and falls down out of bounds only one point will be awarded, not four.

If both fencers attain a point during the same tempo, even if for different circumstances, this will be scored as a double-hit. For example, Fencer A strikes Fencer B as he/she steps out of bounds, both fencers will be perceived to score a point and the result will be recorded as a double-hit.

If both fencers attain a point during the after-blow tempo, even if for different circumstances, this will be scored as an after-blow. For example, Fencer A strikes Fencer B but A falls while voiding B’s after-blow, this will be recorded as an after-blow.

One point will be awarded for pommel strikes regardless of target area.

One point will be awarded if the other fencer steps completelyout of bounds with BOTH feet.

One point will be awarded for a successful grappling submission (lock) that does not result in seriousinjury to the other fencer.

Three points will be awarded for a technical disarm.

One point will be awarded for non-technical disarms.  If the fencer still in possession of his sword is able to make ‘controlled contact’ within the after-blow tempo the full value will be scored.

One point will be awarded to each fencer if both competitors fall to the floor in a non-grappling situation. This will not be considered a double hit.

One point will be awarded for a clean takedown or throw.

“Ricochet” or “Caroming Strikes” will score only one point value equivalent to the judges’ votes.

"Incidental strikes” may score as a point subject to the judges’ discretion. 

Standup submission grappling, throws, and takedowns are generally allowed and will each score one point.  All action will be halted upon completion of a fall, takedown, or submission.  Except in the case of an after-blow, the referee will allow three seconds for fencers to apply grappling technique. If no discernible advantage has been achieved by one fencer within that time action will be halted and reset.

Submission grappling techniques whose inherent nature is serious injury (fractured bones, dislocated joints, suffocation, and the like) MUST be stopped short of full application by the competitors. Failure to do so will result in immediate ejection from the tournament.

All throwing techniques whose inherent nature is to deposit an opponent onto their head are forbidden. Regardless of the result, throwing an opponent onto their head will result in automatic ejection from the tournament.

If both fencers fall as the result of an attempt to grapple neither competitor will be penalized for the fall. The judges may award a point to one of the fencers if they are in a clear position of dominance when the fencers reach the ground.

If a fencer should unintentionally fall, one point will be awarded to his opponent. If the fencer who falls never loses control (e.g. skillfully rolls out of the fall), the judges may disregard the fall.

No point will be allotted for grabbing the opponent's weapon by the blade. However, blade grabbing is allowed provided the weapon is stationary.  For example, grabbing a blade immediately upon parrying is acceptable; grabbing a blade as it executes a cut is not.  Grabbing a thrusting blade is acceptable provided the grab is performed in the same direction as the thrust in a tempo that is consistent with the thrust.

Neck-wrenching techniques are strictly forbidden.

Striking with the cross of the sword is forbidden. (e.g. “mortschlag” type techniques)

Throwing the sword is forbidden.

Only "straight" kicks above the waist and below the neck are valid kicking techniques in this tournament.  While valid, straight-kicks do not score.

Closed-fist punches are forbidden.

Open-palm strikes, "straight-arms", "traps", and "checks” are permissible hand/arm-based techniques but do not score.

Intentionally striking an unarmed (see ‘controlled contact’ exception), fallen, or incapacitated opponent is forbidden.  

Fencers are expected to conduct themselves in a mature and sportsmanlike manner throughout the tournament. There will be no derogatory insulting, back-talk, or baiting of other fencers, coaches, director, judges, staff, or spectators by any fencer or coach during the tournament.

Any means of delaying the action via the tournament administration processes are forbidden. Examples include, but are not limited to, walking slowly back to the corner between exchanges, communicating with others outside of the arena during the bout, and excessive celebration.

Scoring Protocols

Scoring will be conducted in two phases using separate semaphore systems. Phase One will indicate tempo, and by default, contact.  Phase Two will indicate value based on contact area as per Manciolino’s 1531 description. 

PHASE ONE- Tempo

In this phase judges will indicate their perception of tempo related to valid contact, including the after-blow.  At least two judges must signal the same semaphore for the exchange to be recorded as valid.   In cases of complete disagreement amongst the judges the referee will indicate “No score.” 

·         Clean hit for Red: Red flag held horizontally out to right side at shoulder level

·         Clean hit for Blue: Blue flag held horizontally out to left side at shoulder level

·         Double-Hit: Both flags held horizontally out to both sides at shoulder level

·         After-Blow on Red: Red flag held horizontally out to the right and Blue flag held vertically above the head. This indicates that Red made the initial hit but Blue achieved an after-blow upon Red

·         After-Blow on Blue: Blue flag held horizontally out to the left and Red flag held vertically above the head. This indicates that Blue made the initial hit but Red achieved an after-blow upon Blue

·         Abstain: Both flags held crossed below the line of the waist

PHASE TWO- Value

In this phase judges will signal point value for both fencers simultaneously.  A judge may only score during Phase Two for fencer’s whom he/she indicated in Phase One.  Judges who indicated scoring contact during Phase One may NOT abstain during Phase Two.  Accordingly, ONLY judges who indicated contact during Phase One may vote and ONLY for fencer(s) indicated during that phase.

·         ONE point for Red: Red flag held horizontally out to right side

·         ONE point for Blue: Blue flag held horizontally out to left side

·         TWO points for Red: Red flag held horizontally out towards center of arena

·         TWO points for Blue: Blue flag held horizontally out towards center of arena

·         THREE points for Red: Red flag held horizontally across the breast

·         THREEE points for Blue: Blue flag held horizontally across the breast

·         Clean Embrace: Both flags held in one hand pointing towards recipient

 

At least two judges must agree on scoring values for any fencer in order to be recorded by the scorekeeper.  However, the values do NOT have to agree and will default to the lowest indicated value unless two judges agree to a higher value.  Some clarifying examples are:

·         Judge A signals one point for Red, Judge B signals three points for Red, and Judge C indicates one point for Blue.  The score will default to one point for Red. 

·         Judge A signals one point for Red and three points for Blue, Judge B signals three points for Red and three points for Blue.  Judge C indicates no score.  The score will default to one point for Red and three points for Blue.

Fouls and Scoring Related to the Off-Target Hand

Judges are instructed to disregard ‘incidental’ contact with the hands and such contact will not halt the fencing unless deemed to have been intentional.  Intentional striking to off-target areas (most notably the hands) and/or intentional parrying with off-target areas will be addressed by allowing judges to pass judgment on intent via the Foul System.  Fouls will be indicated when a judge calls “Foul”, the referee will immediately halt the action and query the judges who will then signal the offending party by touching the Red or Blue flag to his/her head. 

Judges are instructed to err on the side of caution regarding fouls and only issue fouls in cases in which they are fully confident of the intent.  In other words, accidentally being struck on the hands while attempting to parry using high guards such as ochs or finestra should not draw a foul.  However, blatantly moving the hands/arms into the opponent’s weapon trajectory to lessen a strike’s value will draw a foul.  In such cases, judges are instructed to weigh judgment as though the weapon had struck its intended target.

Fouls include but are not limited to:

·         Attacker’s deemed to have intentionally targeted the opponent’s hand (typically at wide distance but not limited to such) may draw a foul.

·         Defender’s perceived to be intentionally blocking with the hands may draw a foul.

Fouls will be penalized in the following manner:

·         The first foul will result in three points being awarded to the opponent

·         The second foul will result in the loss of the bout for the offender

Fencers deemed to be abusing the foul system, such as intentionally striking the hands in numerous matches, may be subject to expulsion from the tournament.  This will be at the discretion of the Tournament Administrator in concert with the judges and/or referees.

Fencers are strongly encouraged to minimize confusion related to the off-target hands by fencing clean thereby simplifying the judging process.

 

The 3-Offence Penalty System

The Referee may assess penalties against fencers for violations of the rules. At the Referee’s discretion, a warning may be given before assessing a penalty. Penalties will be given out in a hierarchical system as follows:

·         1st Offence will result in a loss of three points.

·         2nd Offence will result in loss of current bout. If 2nd offence occurs outside of a bout but while the tournament is still occurring, this offence will be applied to the fencer's next scheduled bout.

·   3rd Offence will result in disqualification from further participation in the tournament

The 3-Offence Penalty System is cumulative. Gaining a 1st and 2nd offence in one bout means that a 3rd offence in a later bout will result in disqualification from the tournament. However, this only applies to the same or similar offences. The decision regarding whether an offense is cumulative shall be made by the Tournament Administrator.

Coaches and the 3-Offence Penalty System

As leaders, coaches are expected to act as role models and maintain a sportsmanlike demeanor at all times. Coaches violating tournament rules will be subject to the 3-Offence Penalty System as follows:

·         1st Offence will result in loss of three points for that coach’s fencer currently in the arena. If the offence occurs outside of a bout, but while the tournament is still being held, this offence will be applied to that coach’s next scheduled fencer’s bout. There will be no negotiation which fencer this offence will apply towards. In the event that this bout contains two fencers from the same club the referee will flip a coin after assigning heads and tails to each fencer.

·         2nd Offence will result in loss of current bout for that coach’s fencer currently in the ring. If the 2nd offence occurs outside of a bout, but while the tournament is still being held, this offence will be applied to that coach's next scheduled fencer’s bout. There will be no negotiation which fencer this will apply towards. In the event that this bout contains two fencers from the same club the referee will flip a coin after assigning heads and tails to each fencer.

·         3rd Offence will result in disqualification from the tournament. The coach and the current fencer will immediately be disqualified from the tournament. The coach will be asked to leave the building. If the 3rd offence occurs outside of a bout, but while the tournament is still being held, the disqualification will be applied to that coach's next scheduled fencer’s bout. There will be no negotiation which fencer this will apply to. In the event that this bout contains two fencers from the same club the referee will flip a coin after assigning heads and tails to each fencer.

Injuries

Fencers must act in a prudent and reasonable manner at all times in order to avoid injury to themselves, their opponents, tournament staff, and spectators. Any fencer who acts in an unsafe or malicious manner may be disqualified from further participation in the tournament at the discretion of the tournament administrator.

The on-site medical staff will attend to all injuries.

No fencer, coach, or spectator will enter the arena to assist with an injury unless specifically called for by the referee.

If a fencer injures his opponent to such an extent that he is unable to continue participating in the tournament following two five-minute recovery periods, the bout will be recorded as “I” (incomplete due to injury). In evaluating such cases, the referee and will ask the injured party if he can continue; however, the ultimate decision to allow the injured fencer rests with the referee, tournament administrator, and the on-site medical personnel. An “I” counts as less than a tie when evaluating performance during the pool-fencing. During the elimination phase, an “I” will count as a double-loss, resulting in elimination of both fencers.

In all cases of injury, the judges and tournament administrator will make an assessment as to whether the injury was inflicted maliciously. A fencer who injures his opponent maliciously will be disqualified from the tournament. Regardless of fault, a fencer whose actions result in two “I” bouts will be automatically disqualified from the tournament.

Injury inflicted on any other party (referee, judges, administrative staff, spectators) may result in disqualification, depending on the circumstances and at the discretion of the tournament administrator.

Equipment

All fencers will present themselves and their equipment to the equipment inspector prior to the beginning of the tournament for compliance inspection and approval. There will be no exceptions.  For questions regarding approved gear contact
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for clarification.

Swords of equal dimensions will be provided by the tournament hosts. Additional back-up weapons will be available in case of breakage and to allow the fencers to warm up with.

Participants must provide the following:

Mask: 3-weapon mask in good condition with no discernible rusting, breaches of the mesh, tongue, or bib. The mask must completely cover the participant's ears and must be neither too large nor too small to snugly fit the competitor.  Other headgear such as "helmet-type" masks will be allowed pending inspection for rust, damage, coverage, fatigue, and other related safety issues. Rigid and/or padded protection for the back of the head is mandatory.

Neck Protection: Some form of padded and rigid neck protection that covers the larynx must be worn.

Gauntlets: Fencers must wear gloves or gauntlets which protect the hand, fingers, and the portion of the wrist nearest the hand. Gauntlets must have rigid and padded protection; unpadded gloves are not sufficient. Lacrosse or hockey gloves are recommended but must be of a quality that plastic inserts are found above each digit of the finger and without voids on the back of the hand. Steel gauntlets are permissible but will mandate the sacrifice of any hand-based striking by the wearer.  Motocross gloves, even with rigid knuckle protection are NOT acceptable hand protection.

Groin/Breast Protection:
Use of rigid groin protection (cup/box) is mandatory for males. Females are required to wear rigid plastron breast protection. Rigid pelvic protectors are highly recommended for female participants. Rigid plastron chest protection is recommended for all participants.

Jacket: Fencers must wear a padded jacket that completely covers the torso, back, and arms. Coaches fencing jackets or padded reproduction gambesons are recommended. Acceptable jackets must be available on the open market and from an established reputable manufacturer. A 3-weapon fencing jacket is NOT sufficient protection.

Elbow/Knee Protection: Use of padded or rigid elbow and knee protection is mandatory. The protection must completely cover the knee and elbow.

Footwear: Fencers must wear some kind of enclosed toe footwear. Historical reproduction footwear is acceptable.

Shin: Rigid shin protection is strongly recommended but not mandatory.

 

Key Definitions

A "clean-hit" is defined as the execution of a valid technique to the opponent’s target area which is unanswered by an after-blow, and not invalidated by a double-hit.

An “initial hit” is defined as the execution of a valid technique to the opponent’s target area, but which is answered by an after-blow.

An "after-blow" is defined as any hit made in response to an initial hit, and which is begun in the tempo immediately following the tempo in which the opposing fencer made a successful hit. (Generally defined as the time required to execute a single step.) Both fencers are entitled to perform the after-blow.

There is no difference in scoring between clean hits, initial hits, and after-blows; the distinctions are used for seeding and statistical purposes, with clean hits having the greatest value.

Double-hits are those which occur when two fencers strike each other in the same tempo (i.e. simultaneous). Double-hits also include near-simultaneous hits, such as those landing immediately after a successful hit from the opponent, and which were begun in the same tempo as the successful attack.

A short demonstration will be given prior to the tournament to clarify clean hits, initial hits, after-blows, and double-hits.

A fall is defined as any contact with the ground other than with the feet. If the person who falls never loses control (e.g. skillfully rolls out of the fall), the judges may disregard the fall.

A takedown is defined as an intentional technique whose result is to bring the opponent to the ground and immediately establishes a position of dominance but is not a “throwing” technique. If a knee touches the ground in the execution of a clean takedown this will not be considered a “fall”.

A throw is defined as any technique whose inherent nature is to project the opponent to the ground while the applier remains standing. These include shoulder throws, hip throws, and tripping techniques.

A clean embrace is defined as a specific technique in which both arms of the opponent have been enveloped and the opponent has been unable to deliver a valid hit or after-blow.  A clean embrace automatically wins the bout.

A Technical Disarm is defined as any specific techniques intentionally using leverage, joint manipulation, and/or beats on the sword to disarm the opponent.

A Non-Technical Disarm is defined as any disarming of the opponent through accidental means such as ripping the sword out of the hands by pure force and equipment related phenomena.

Neck-wrenching is defined as any technique that directly targets the neck in a jerking or rotary motion.

“Straight” kicks are defined as any kick not performed with a circular motion of the hips and kicking leg.

An incapacitated opponent is one who is unable to mount an effective defense, such as through injury or excessive fatigue.

“Ricochet” or “caroming strikes” are defined as any strike that contacts the opponent more than once in a single action. For example, Fencer A cuts downward at Fencer B striking the mask and glancing onward to the shoulder. 

"Incidental strikes" are defined as any touching of the blade to the other fencer in an unintentional fashion.  For example, Fencer A hits Fencer B, but while attempting to defending against that hit B unintentionally strikes A's valid target area.  A's point may be negated if the judges feel that the hit was substantial enough to warrant scoring.  A's attack is not "clean" fencing because B's weapon was not controlled or voided.  

“Controlled contact” is defined as non-violent contact intended to demonstrate contact was a potential.  Most notably in the case of a dropped/disarmed weapon, the competitor may lightly touch (controlled contact) the disarmed fencer to indicate target value.  Malicious contact to an unarmed fencer will be grievously punished via the 3-Offence Penalty System.

An exchange is defined as each encounter between fencers beginning when the referee calls “fight” and ending when the referee calls “halt” in relation to the judges’ stoppage.  

Arena

The legal fencing area will be a circular arena having a 10 meter outer diameter. Starting positions will be clearly marked for fencers equidistant from the edge of the arena. Three judges’ stations will be marked equidistantly around the perimeter of the arena.

A fencers’ warm up and staging area will be provided as will a tournament administrator area for scorekeepers and timekeepers.

For safety, no spectator or fencer will be allowed within three meters of the arena during the tournament save those currently scheduled to compete.

Role of the Timekeeper

The role of the timekeeper is to judiciously manage the time-clock in cooperation with the referee and scorekeeper. In order to ensure that fencers are treated fairly, it is imperative that the timekeeper be consistently focused on managing the time, not observing the fencing.

The timekeeper will start and stop the time-clock in accordance with the rules of the tournament and the direction of the referee. The timekeeper will loudly signal the end of regulation time to the referee who will immediately halt the bout.

Any concerns or issues regarding timekeeping must be addressed only to the referee and only between rounds or bouts. If necessary, the referee will coordinate with the timekeeper to resolve any problems or issues.

Role of the Scorekeeper

Scorekeepers will document the results of each exchange, bout, and round, based on the conclusions of the referee. Scorekeepers, in participation with the tournament administrator, will organize and record seeding and sequencing of the tournament. Scorekeepers will document number of clean-hits, double-hits, after-blows, and penalties. Scorekeepers will also announce the results of each bout and which fencers will next compete in each arena.

Because the duties of the scorekeeper are complex and demand dedicated concentration, no fencer, spectator, or coach will address the scorekeeper during the tournament for any reason whatsoever. Any concerns or issues regarding scorekeeping must be addressed only to the referee and only in between bouts or rounds. If necessary, the referee will coordinate with the scorekeepers to resolve any relevant discrepancies, anomalies, or issues.
 

Role of the Referee

Referees will efficiently govern bouts between fencers, maintain safety in the arena, and enforce the rules of the tournament.  Referees will carry an 8’ (approximately 2.5 meters) staff which will serve as his symbol of office.

The referee may halt the action for any reason including, but not limited to, grappling stalemates, immediate safety hazards, injuries, equipment failures, as well as other reasons calling for a halt in the action (e.g. “out of bounds).

The referee has the authority to stop the clock for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to, immediate safety hazards, injuries, equipment failures, and conferring with judges. In doing so, the referee will be mindful of the need to allow fencers the maximum amount of time to fence.

All competitors, coaches, and spectators will obey the referee at all times, without question or challenge. Violations of this rule are punishable by ejection from the tournament and/or the venue.
 

The Role of the Judges

The role of the judges is to observe, identify, and indicate valid scoring technique performed by the competitors in accordance with the rules of the tournament. Each judge will have one blue and one red flag for signaling their votes. 

In order to provide a consistent judging environment, judges will remain in the marked sections placed equidistantly around the perimeter of the arena. All judging will be done in an independent, unbiased manner. Judges will not confer with each other during the tournament regarding individual hits. Judges will not look at each other before voting. With the exception of a valid after-blow, judges will not vote on any action occurring after the action has been halted.

In participation with the referee and/or tournament administrator, judges may confer to resolve some event not covered by the rules or to clarify particulars of the rules.

Judges will call “point” anytime they witness a valid scoring technique during the match. Judges will raise their flags to signal their votes only after the referee has halted the action and called for their votes.

No spectator, fencer, or coach will argue, debate, or attempt to negotiate with any judge during the tournament for any reason. Any concerns or issues must be addressed only to the referee and only between bouts.  The only exception to this rule is in the case of an immediate safety hazard.

Judges will signal their decisions in two phases via the semaphore systems listed in the Scoring section.

 

All rules are subject to change. The tournament hosts will make all reasonable efforts to announce changes as soon as possible to maximize the notice to the fencers.