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These are the rules for the 2013 Hammertertz Forum Invitational Franco-Belgian Longsword Tournament. This competition uses a traditional format used by the fencing guilds of France and Belgium for at least three centuries. Participation in this tournament is by invitation only and is limited; it is primarily intended for instructors and senior practitioners.
 
 
Weapons and Protective Gear
 
The fencers will use steel feders provided by the tournament organizers. Use of personal weapons is not allowed. At a minimum, all fencers must wear a padded black fencing jacket or gambeson; a fencing mask in good condition; a black mask cover/back-of-head protector; reinforced throat protection; padded or hard-shell gauntlets; elbow protectors; and rigid groin protection (rigid breast protection for women). All fencers must wear some form of athletic footwear. No exposed skin will be permitted.
 
Valid Technique
 
Only cuts are allowed. These must be delivered with the flat of the blade. The flat will be chalked so that the marks can be seen. A blow will only be considered valid if it leaves a mark.  Thrusts, one-handed thrusts, one-handed cuts, half-sword techniques, pommel strikes, strikes with the cross, punching, kicking, and grappling are not allowed. Coming corps-a-corps ("body on body" or "cross-on-cross") is not allowed. Hits which are delivered by coming to this range will be disregarded, and the offending fencer will be warned or penalized with a fine.
 
Valid Target Area
 
The valid target is above the elbows and above the belt. This means that only blows which land above the waist and above the elbows (i.e., no legs, hips, forearms or hands) are considered to be valid. The action will not be stopped if a blow lands on an invalid target area, and the action will simply continue.  Monetary fines may be assessed against a fencer who repeatedly hits off-target. If a fencer covers his valid target area with his arms to shield it from attack, the blow to the arms will be considered as having landed on the valid target area which they cover.  Important Note: The valid target area will become more restricted during the course of the tournament-- see the section on "The Rising Target" below.
 
Falling or Dropping the Weapon
 
If one of the fencers falls or drops his weapon, the bout will be paused, the fencers re-set, and the fight begins again. However, a fine will be imposed upon a fencer who does this.
 
Overall Concept of the Tournament

The Franco-Belgian rules do not seek to provide a "fair fight." Instead, they use what we might think of as a "King of the Hill" format, where one fencer (the "King") enjoys a significant advantage under the rules (see the section on the "After-Blow" rule, described below). However, the King must hold the field against all comers, fighting a series of competitors (the "Challengers") one after the other. If the King remains the "last man standing" when all the fencing bouts are finished, he wins the tournament. If the King is defeated, the fencer who dethroned him takes his place as King. In turn, the new King must defend his crown against the remaining fencers. As a result, there will likely be several Kings during the course of the tournament.
 
The Clean Hit
 
The goal of the game is to defeat the King.  The King is defeated when a Challenger strikes him a "Clean Hit."  A Clean Hit is defined as a blow which lands on valid target area. To be considered a Clean Hit, the blow must leave a mark on the opponent. The blades are covered with chalk for this reason; the fencers wear black so that the marks are easier to see. If any part of a chalk mark is on-target, the blow will be considered as valid. Most importantly, to be considered a Clean Hit, the fencer who strikes it must escape from the King unscathed, without being hit by the King.
 
The King's Advantage: The Double Hit and the After-Blow
 
The King has two key advantages. First, any Double Hit (defined as a simultaneous or near-simultaneous blow) is counted in favor of the King.  Second, the King is allowed an After-Blow. If the After-Blow hits, it counts in favor of the King.
 
An After-Blow is defined as a blow which is delivered by the King after the Challenger lands a hit on valid target area. The King is allowed to strike back, but his attack must be initiated immediately after he is struck. If he delays, he loses his right to an After-Blow.  The King is allowed to take one step as he delivers his After-Blow. To be counted, the After-Blow must land on valid target area.  If the After-Blow hits, it not only negates the Challenger's blow, but is counted in favor of the King. If the Challenger parries or evades the After-Blow, then the King is defeated, and the Challenger takes his place as the new King.
 
The Lottery System
 
This is the second annual Franco-Belgian longsword tournament held at Fechtschule America. Last year's winner was Jake Norwood, who will be defending his crown. Thus, Jake will attempt to hold the field against all comers. His opponents are selected by drawing lots:  Lot #1 one fights first, lot #2 fights second, and so on.  Fencers line up according to their lottery numbers, and fight in order. They must stay in line and maintain the proper order during the entire tournament.
 
The Veney
 
Each fencer (including the King) will be assigned three Veneys.  As each Veney is lost, the fencer gives up a strip of cloth, either to the victorious fencer or to the judges.
 
A fencer loses a Veney any time he is struck by his opponent. For the Challenger, this means that he loses a Veney any time he is hit by the King (this includes Double Hits and After-Blows).  For the King, it means that he loses a Veney each time he is struck with a Clean Hit, as defined above. Once a fencer has lost all of his allotted Veneys, he is eliminated from the tournament.
 
The Order of Bouts
 
The tournament will consist of a series of one-point bouts. In this method, each bout is fought until either the Challenger or King strikes a Clean Hit. 

If the King strikes a Clean Hit, Double Hit, or After-Blow upon a Challenger the Challenger loses a Veney and moves to the back of the line.

If the Challenger succeeds in striking a Clean Hit, he becomes the new King and faces the next Challenger in line.  The former King loses a Veney, goes to the back of the line, and becomes one of the Challengers.  It is possible for the old King to regain the crown; the next time he fences, he will fight until he uses up his remaining Veneys or until he strikes a Clean Hit and becomes the King once more.
 
Any fencer that loses all of his Veneys is eliminated from the tournament.
 
The winner of the tournament is the fencer who remains King when all of the remaining Challengers have used up their three Veneys.
 
The Rising Target
 
Once a Challenger strikes a Clean Hit and becomes the new King, the valid target area is changed. The valid target now rises to the level of the blow which dethroned the old King. For example, if a Challenger strikes a Clean Hit that lands on the old King's shoulder, that become the line which denotes the valid target area. From that point on, only hits which land above the level of the shoulder are considered to have landed on valid target area. Afterwards, if a new Challenger were to land a Clean Hit on the King's head, he would become the new King, and the valid target area would be the head only. It is possible for this to reach the point where only the top of the head is the valid target.The effect of this rule is to change the conditions of the fight as the tournament goes on, making it progressively more difficult to land a blow on the King. On the other hand, it also means that the King's After-Blow is also more difficult to land; this has the effect of making it more difficult for the King to defend his crown.
 
Judging
 
Judging will be conducted by using a jury system, with a Head Judge assisted by two or three Assistant Judges. Fencers will abide by the ruling of the judges and not dispute their calls. Violations of this rule will be punished by a fine.
 
Whenever a hit is seen, any of the judges may call "Mark!"  The Head Judge will then call "Halt", leaving a momentary pause for the King to deliver his After-Blow.  If needed, the judges will confer to determine the result. In case of disagreement, the Head Judge's vote will be decisive. In case of a Clean Hit, the valid target area will be adjusted and announced to the fencers before the fighting resumes.
 
Fines
 
Fines may be imposed at the discretion of the Head Judge. When a fine is imposed, the fencers must pay the fine on the spot, or the fine is doubled. The standard fine will be $10; fencers should bring sufficient monies to pay their fines.

In addition to other fines mentioned elsewhere in this document, fines may be imposed for the following but are not limited to these:

  • Dropping the weapon
  • Falling
  • Coming corps-a-corps or cross-to-cross
  • Striking with edge, pommel, or one-handed
  • Injuring the opponent
  • Hitting off target
  • Covering target area
  • Arguing with the judges
  • Unsportsmanlike behavior
  • Failing to shake hands with the opponent
  • Use of profanity
  • Disrespect to the weapon or equipment
  • Speaking of a woman below the waist
  • Farting
  • Belching
  • Coming to fence while drunk