Date: 4 August, 2004


This proposal is to develop the armouring and weapon standards to be used, as well as test the feasibility of an advanced level authorisation for cut and thrust (hereafter called sidesword) style swordplay within the Society of Creative Anachronism. This style of sword and rapier play was prevalent during the 16th. C. The study will include those masters who taught styles of combat antecedent to the use of the rapier proper.  These masters may include Marozzo, Agrippa or any other master considered to have taught the rapier or a weapon in the rapier's family line such as the spada da lato (side sword) or spada da filo (edge sword).  This experiment may also be used to explore the use of cuts as taught in the rapier treatises published at the end of the 16th century such as Capo Ferro's treatise published in 1600 in Italy or the Spanish rapier play of Caranza.

Cuts within the current SCA rules set produce a series of non-period,  non-realistic actions through the non-period use of draw cuts and pushc cuts. It is the desire of this proposal to determine realistic and accurate cutting actions, while remaining safe and accessible to the Society at large.

If you have any questions about a particular rule(s), please feel free to contact me.

Barwn Meistr Gwylym ab Owain, OL OP, DWS (, Marshal in Charge for cut and thrust (C&T) rapier experimentation in the SCA (hereafter called Society Sidesword Marshal (SSM)).


A. Blows are struck by: thrusting with the point of the blade (thrust) and by cutting with the edge or with the tip (stramazone).

B. Cutting attacks are performed in several ways:
   1. Cuts through percussion (chop)
   2. Cuts through incision (slice)
   At all times cuts must be controlled and pulled sufficiently so as not to  injure the opponent while still retaining the necessary contact and pressure to validate the cut.

C. Parrying devices may be used to move, deflect, or immobilize an opponent's weapon or parrying device, so long as such use does not endanger the safety of the combatants.

D. Striking an opponent with any part of a weapon or parrying device not approved for that purpose is prohibited.


A. In judging blows, all fighters are presumed to be wearing common civil attire of the period, not armor.

B. Exhibitions may be held which define areas of the body as if armored, and to what degree, so long as all the participants are made aware of these special conditions prior to the start of combat.

C. In sidesword combat, blows will be counted as though they were struck with a real blade, extremely sharp on point and edge. Any blow that would have penetrated the skin shall be counted a good blow. Any blow that strikes a mask, helm or gorget shall be counted as though it struck flesh.

D. A good thrust to the

--inner groin (to the fighter's hand width down the inner limb), or
--armpit (to the fighter's inner hand width down the limb)

shall be judged incapacitating, rendering the fighter incapable of further combat. Cuts to these locations shall be judged incapacitating.

E. A good blow to the arm will disable the arm. A good blow to the hand shall render the hand useless. Note: when the hand is lost, the arm remains available for parries.

F. A good cut or thrust to the foot or leg that would disable the fighter will result in a victory.

G. Parries may be performed with weapons, parrying devices, the gloved hand, or any other part of the body.

H. Fighters may choose to grasp, rather than parry, the blade. If the blade that is grasped slides in the grasping hand, that hand is deemed disabled.  In the event that the hand is on the ricasso of the blade it will not be considered cut unless the hand slides into the sharp area of the blade. Grasping techniques shall be used only to immobilize a blade, not to bend it or wrest it from the opponent's grip.

I. If an effective blow is thrown before, or on, the same moment as an event that would stop a fight (a "HOLD" being called, the fighter being "killed" himself, etc.), the blow shall count. If the blow is thrown after the hold, killing blow, or other event, it shall not count.


1. Sharp points, edges or corners are not allowed anywhere on any equipment.

2. All equipment must be able to safely withstand combat stresses.

3. Equipment that is likely to break a blade or damage other equipment is prohibited.


A. The following classes of blades are used:
Sidesword/Rapier (in order of preference):
-- Del Tin Practice Sidesword blade
--  Darkwood Armory sidesword or bated rapier blades
-- Popinjay sidesword blades
-- Del Tin bated rapier blades
-- Scottie Armory Renblades
-- 37" Hanwei Blades
-- Hanwei "renblades"
-- Del Tin Practice Rapiers or equivalent  (For example the Zamarano blade)
-- replica blades that pass the flexibility standard and that are equivalent to the above and have been cleared by the Society marshals and by the Kingdom marshal for use in the kingdom in question
Dagger blades:
-- Darkwood Armory Dagger
-- Scotty dagger blades
-- Triplette dagger
-- Safeflex dagger (15/6 model)
-- fiberglass daggers
-- replica blades that pass the flexibility standardand have been approved as per the instructions above for rapiers.
B. All are subject to the following:
i. Steel blades must be manufactured by commercial suppliers. Artisans desiring an exception must apply to the Deputy Society Marshal for Rapier Combat and the Society Sidesword Marshal and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

ii. Steel blades 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 are:

a. The tang of the weapon may be altered.

b. Heavier-type blades may be shortened so long as it does not make them too stiff.

iii. All steel blades must be reasonably flexible. Rigid steel "parrying-only" daggers such as those made from cut down blades will not be allowed. See Appendix 1, below, for field tests of flexibility.

iv. All blade ends must be capped with rubber, plastic, or leather.

a. Tips will have a blunt striking surface, presenting a cross-section of at least 1/2 inch (13 mm) diameter.

b. Tips must be firmly taped or glued in place. The tip must be of a color contrasting with the blade so that the tip's absence is readily apparent. If tape is used, it must contrast with both blade and tip.

v. Any blade with kinks, sharp bends, or cracks shall not be used. Steel blades that develop these defects cannot be repaired and must be retired.

vi. Weapons may use a hand guard such as a swept hilt or quillons, or knucklebow. The ends of quillons must be blunt.


A. Solid parrying devices will be made of sturdy, lightweight materials, resistant to breakage and splintering.

B. Soft, non-rigid devices such as cloaks may be made of cloth, foam, leather and similar materials. They may be weighted with soft material such as rope or rolled cloth; they shall not be weighted with any rigid material, nor with materials which are heavy enough to turn the device into a flail or impact weapon.

C. Devices that predictably cause entangling of an opponent or their equipment, either by design or by repeated mishap, are not allowed.


1. In order of increasing resistance:

A. Abrasion-resistant material: material that will withstand normal combat stresses (such as being snagged by an unbroken blade) without tearing. Examples include, but are not limited to:

--a single layer of heavy poplin cloth (35% cotton, 65% polyester; "trigger" cloth)
--sweat pants
--opaque cotton, poly-cotton, or lycra/spandex mix tights.
Nylon pantyhose and cotton gauze shirts are examples of unacceptable materials.

B. Puncture-resistant material: any fabric or combination of fabrics that will predictably withstand puncture. Examples include, but are not limited to:

--Four-ounce (2 mm) leather;
--four layers of heavy poplin cloth or the equivalent;
--ballistic nylon rated to at least 550 Newtons;
--commercial fencing clothing rated to at least 550 Newtons.
Kevlar is not an acceptable material, as it degrades rapidly. These materials need only be tested at the marshall's discretion; all other materials must be tested the first time new gear is used, or if no marshal on the field knows a given piece of gear to have been tested.

i. Acceptable field inspections shall deliver a consistent force. Tests known to be acceptable are noted in the Society Rapier handbook.

C. Rigid Material: puncture-resistant material that will not significantly flex, spread apart, or deform under pressure of 12 Kg applied by a standard mask tester, repeatedly to any single point. Examples of rigid material are:

-- 22 gauge stainless steel (0.8 mm)
-- 20 gauge mild steel (1.0 mm)
-- 16 gauge aluminum, copper, or brass (1.6 mm)
-- one layer of heavy leather (8 ounce, 4 mm)
2. The following are the requirements for protective gear.


i. The head shall be covered with a steel or other metal helm or an FIE rated mask.  The back of the head must be covered either by a rapier helm or by a padded coif if a fencing mask is worn.  The padding on a coif must be sufficient to abate any injury from a percussive hit to the back of the head.

ii. The face must be covered by either 12 kilogram mesh (e.g, as in a standard fencing mask, 24 kilo mask is suggested) or perforated metal. Such metal must not have holes larger than 1/8" (3 mm) in diameter, with a minimum offset of 3/16" (5 mm) and shall also meet the definition of rigid material.

iii. Helms must be secured to the fighter, so that they cannot be easily removed or dislodged during combat.

iv. Rapier helms, when inspected, shall comply with the rigid material standard, provisions on facial coverage, and shall show no evidence of impending failure (e.g, rust which weakens the metal involved, dents or other defects which spread open mesh, broken weld points, etc).

v. At all times, additional throat protection is required; it shall consist of rigid material, as noted above, covering the entire throat, and shall be padded by one quarter inch (1/4") (6 mm) of open-cell foam, or their equivalents. The cervical vertebrae shall also be protected by rigid material, provided by some combination of gorget, helm, and/or hood insert.


i. The entire torso (the chest, back, abdomen, groin, and sides up to and including the armpits) must be covered.  It is highly suggested that the torso be covered with sufficient padding to avoid excessive bruising while still allowing for proper judging of blows.

ii. Male fighters shall wear rigid groin protection. Any ventilation holes large enough to admit a broken blade must be covered from the outside with at least puncture-resistant material. Female fighters shall wear puncture resistant groin protection.


i. Hands shall be protected by gloves, made of abrasion resistant material, that overlap any sleeve openings as below. Feet shall be protected by boots, shoes, or sandals, comprised of at least abrasion-resistant material.

ii. Abrasion-resistant material is required on arms, legs, and any area not otherwise mentioned in these rules.

iii. No skin shall be bared. There shall be sufficient overlap between separate pieces of protective clothing, regardless of the fighter's stance or movements, that the minimum protection for that body area be preserved.

iv. Elbows and Knees are recommended to have rigid protection ('cops').

It must be noted that you must be armored at least as well as for standard SCA rapier combat.


1. AUTHORISATIONS: Competence in other SCA combat styles does not automatically mean competence in Sidesword combat. As this is an experimental form, separate warrants and authorisations in sidesword rapier combat are required. These will be administered by the Kingdom Marshal of Fence, or their suitably appointed designee(s).

2. BROKEN BLADES: Marshals and fighters shall pay special attention for missing tips or broken blades.

3. BLADE GRASPING: If a rapier has been grasped by an opponent, "HOLD" shall be called if wrestling about the blade occurs (more than 5 seconds of tussling).  If one person still retains full control of their own weapon and no one is in imminent danger of injury a hold should not be called.

5. EXCESSIVE IMPACT: Combat in the Society poses risks to the participant. This is to be treated as a martial art. This recognition, however, does not excuse fighters from exercising control of their techniques. If a fighter throws blows which force their opponent to retire from the field, from a real injury (even one which only causes brief incapacitation), the marshal responsible for the field shall take such steps as are appropriate to stop the problem from recurring.

6. MELEE: For the purposes of this initial experimental period, melees are prohibited.

7. Tournies: For the purpose of this initial experiment, sidesword combat is not to be used in tournaments.  Especially tournaments that allow awarding of rank such as a queen's rapier tournament.  Sidesword combat may be used for exhibitions such as playing of a prize or for demonstrations.

8. PARTICIPATION: All Kingdom participation must be authorized by the Society Sidesword Marshal.  Any Kingdom wishing to take part in the Sidesword Program must make petition to the Society Sidesword Marshal.  Any Kingdom specific rules must be approved by the Ssm. A list of the Deputy Kingdom Sidesword Marshal(s) and instructors will be provided with the petition as a courtesy. As a note, in order to be considered for part of the experiment there must be qualified instructors in the Kingdom.  The KMoF will assure that each participating territory under their control has sufficient instructors for the program.

9. UNFORESEEN SITUATIONS: Should a situation arise not explicitly covered by Corporate or Kingdom rapier combat rules, the marshals should NOT assume that the situation is forbidden or inappropriate. Again: No matter how clear or accurate, rules cannot replace common sense, good judgment, and concern for the participants.


Practices should be held on a weekly basis with some practices being held during the normal territorial SCA rapier practice.

Any group participating is required to maintain a record of fighters attending, any and all technical issues stemming from the use of cutting technique, and ALL injuries (regardless of severity). At the end of practices, there will be a 30 minute 'cool down' discussion period. Minutes of these meetings to be included in a report to be given to the Kingdom Marshal (or appointed deputy) on a monthly basis. The KmoF will be required to file a quarterly report with the Society Sidesword Marshal. In addition the field groups must hold a combined practice/meeting once per quarter and file a combined report for that event.

In the event that a participatory group does not meet their kingdoms standard for reporting, their participation within this experiment is ended. This limited participation testing period will continue until the participants involved, the KmoF's of the kingdoms involved, and the SdmoFsc is satisfied as to it's validity and safety. At that time, it will be open to fighters meeting the armouring and participation standard for sidesword combat that have been authorized to take part in the experimental program.

Once the experimentation period is over a final set of Society level rules will be written if the experiment is successful.  Input will be expected from the Kingdom Marshals who took part in the experiment.




If doubt exists about a weapon's flexibility, an acceptable field test is:
Hold weapon parallel to the ground, supporting handle against table or
bench if necessary. Hang a 3 ounce weight (85 grams) just behind the tip.
If the blade flexes visibly (more than 1/4 inch <6 mm>), the blade is
sufficently flexible.
APPENDIX 2: Saber Study

The study of historical saber from the Hungarian area , Turkey, Russia, etc is allowed under the auspices of the sidesword program.   The following additional equipment is allowed:

Sword Blades:
  -- Alchem Curved schlagers (for saber study)
APPENDIX 3: Backsword

The study of backsword play (i.e.  Highland combat and the style of George Silver) is allowed under the auspices of the sidesword program.  Swords mounted with the following blades are legal under the backsword element of the sidesword program.

-- Del Tin Practice backsword blade
-- Del Tin practice sidesword blade
-- CAS Iberia mortuary hilted swords
--  Any blade equivalent to the Del Tin practice backsword or sidesword blade that has been approved for use at the Society or Kingdom level.