IV BHFM Longsword & Rapier Tournament Rules

The rules for these tournaments are based on the rules ACEA uses for the internal tournaments it organizes every year. Such rules have been used since 2010 and although having had minor modifications, they have proven successful though all these years.

Our tournaments are based on the following principles:

  • The Tournament is not JUST a competition, but a way to test your fencing skills in a pressure environment.
  • A simulation of a real duel in which both sides want to harm the opponent without being injured is expected.
  • Every action, strike and technique will be considered as performed with a sharp pointed weapon. However, it is impossible to determine the exact effect or injure it would have caused in the opponent’s body and to which extent it would have been a serious or incapacitating wound.
  • It may (and will) happen that the Judges make a mistake. This is because we try to simulate a very complex situation, but we want to be fair so we don’t want to value a rubbing and minor wounds in the same way as serious ones.
  • From the fencers, it is expected that they consider their opponents as mates and not as enemies by respecting always them. The same behaviour is expected towards the Judges and the organization.

Required Equipment:

Minimum:

  • Fencing jacket
  • Mask
  • Breast protector (women)

Minimum Longsword:

  • Additional chest protector if wearing a light jacket
  • Elbow and Knee protector
  • Padded gloves
  • Occipital overlay

Recommended:

  • Groin (men)

Recommended for Longsword:

  • Forearm protector
  • Gorget – throat protector (compulsory if the jacket doesn’t cover the neck properly)

The swords must be blunt, and without a pierced tip, any sharpened edge nor any sharp nick. In case they are too pointed, the swords must be buttoned. They must flex when thrusting, at least when leaning on the sword the blade should start flexing.

Bout mechanics:

The bout will end when scoring 3 points. Most of the lethal or deadly actions will score 3 points. Other actions might score 2, 1 or 0 points, depending on how clear and complete such action is, always as the Judges deem to be appropriate. For example, to score 3 points the sword must flex when thrusting or the thrust needs to be clear. The cuts need to be direct, with the sword edges aligned and it is no “half stopped” by the sword of your opponent, etc. Every action must be performed with the correct part of the sword, the point or the edges.

The Head Judge will call “READY”“FIGHT” to signal that the bout has started. Upon witnessing a valid technique one or more judges will call “HALT”, the moment when all action must stop. According to the Judges Criteria, such actions will be assessed and taken into consideration as active or potential in order to score.


Scoring will be provided according to the action/s that reached the opponents. The judges will 
comment and poll among them. As mentioned before, they might make a mistake, but that won’t take place freely. It might happen that the Judges check the actions with the fencers, so it becomes clearer. Their final decision will be unquestionable.

Longsword scoring (illustrative)

  • Thrusts to the head or torso: 0 – 3 points
  • Thrusts to other parts of the body in general (arms): 0 – 2 points
  • Cuts to the head:  0 – 3 points
  • Cuts to other parts of the body in general (torso and arms): 0 – 2 points
  • Cuts and thrusts to the hands: they are valid, but to avoid this target, the judges will provide 1 point maximum
  • Complete technical disarm: the fencer controls the weapon of the opponent and his/her own remains free: 3 points

Rapier scoring (illustrative)

  • Thrusts to the head or torso: 0 – 3 points
  • Thrusts to other parts of the body in general (arms): 0 – 2 points
  • Cuts to the head:  0 – 3 points
  • Cuts to other parts of the body in general (torso and arms): 0 points
  • Complete technical disarm: the fencer controls the weapon of the opponent and his/her own remains free: 3 points

Other rules

  • The disarms must be clean. If while trying, the disarm action reaches a deadlock or the fencers abandon their weapons (hand-to-hand combat or Ringen) the bout will be stopped and it will start over again.
  • Kicking is forbidden. Punching might be pretended by slapping the mask, but never with a hard hit. If when trying a disarm action a fencer marks the slap, the situation will be considered a deadlock. Thus, the bout will be stopped and it will start over again.
  • (Longsword) Pommel strikes in the mask will be considered as hits with the blade and will score depending on its execution.
  • Deliberate attacks to the legs are not allowed, especially those under the knee
  • Strikes wielding the sword with only one hand are not allowed either.
  • In case of double-hits, both actions will score and both will be assessed.
  • The concept of afterblow does NOT exist. If an action clearly takes place after another, will not be taken into consideration. In case of doubt, it will be taken as a double-hit.
  • If both opponents score 3 points, both lose. Even in the direct phase.
  • good attitude is expected from the fencers. If any of them do not behave properly, s/he will be notified. If he reiterates, he will be expelled.
  • Karma rule: if a fencer makes another one abandon the tournament due to her/his direct actions (e.g. s/he breaks his/her finger), he will be knocked out as well.

Tournament Mechanics

  • Classification phase (pools): participants will be randomly divided into groups, forming pools, each one under the supervision of someone in charge. Each member of the group will fight against each other. The best performers of each group will be classified into the Direct Phase. The best ones will be those with the greatest number of wins. In the event of tie, the one with fewer points against them will be classified. In the event of a tie, it will be the one with more points in his/her favour. If there is still a tie, the performers will have to fight to untie.
  • Direct Phase: It will be reached only by the top fighters from the pools. The position on the tournament bracket will be set randomly. This phase has a single-elimination format. Two performers can mutually eliminate each other, so none of them will move on to the next round. This may happen even in the final round.