SoCal 2020 Longsword Tournament Rules

The goal of this rule set is to promote a style of fencing that is skillful, artful and martial. 


All fighters are expected to display skill and control. This is a martial arts tournament and all fighters are expected to conduct themselves with respect for the weapon, their opponent, and the tournament staff. Any fighter that is deemed to pose a danger to themselves or others will be addressed at the discretion of the tournament director.

The tournament director will serve as the ultimate authority within the ring. The disciplinary procedure will generally constitute first a warning, then a penalty, then an expulsion from the match or tournament; however it shall remain at the discretion of the director. Fighters who have been banned from attendance of previous SoCal Swordfight tournaments, or from other major HEMA tournaments must contact staff before attempting to register for any tournaments.


Each match will last for 90 seconds of regulation time or once a win / loss condition has been reached. Once the time of 90 seconds has been reached, the match will proceed until the next break in the fighting is called. At this point, match time is concluded.


A double hit is defined as two fighters initiating their strikes such that both thrusts/cuts are in “flight” at the same time. Regardless of if one fighter begins his action “first”, if both are moving at the same time it is a double hit. This is undesirable, as it shows that the fighters are not adequately concerned with their defence. Doubles will be penalized in accordance to the stage of the tournament in which they occur.

  • Pools: Should two fighters strike three double hits in the course of a pool match, the match will end and they will both be considered to have lost their match. At the conclusion of the pool fights each fighter will have their total number of doubles recorded and have their pool standings score penalized by an appropriate margin.

  • Eliminations: Should two fighters strike three double hits in the course of an elimination match the winner of the match will be assessed a score penalty for their subsequent match. Each additional double hit will increase the score penalty.

An afterblow is defined as a fighter landing a strike within ONE action of their opponent striking them. At no point should an afterblow be considered a ‘revenge blow’, and afterblows are expected to be thrown with an appropriate level of control.

Should the match director determine that a double hit or afterblow was without a doubt the direct result of a single individual acting with complete disregard of defence they retain the ability to assign the fault of the double strike to the individual in question. At this point the offending fighter will be assessed a penalty at the discretion at the director.

Remember, a double is both swords moving in the air at the same time. An afterblow is when the fighter’s sword begins to move AFTER that fighter has been struck.


Points will be awarded for cuts, thrusts, slices and pommel strikes in accordance to the rules of the individual tournaments. Points will not be awarded for touches with the sword, but must be delivered with sufficient intent.

  • Cuts: For a cut to be considered valid it must travel an arc of 75 degrees. Cuts must be delivered with sound body structure to be considered valid. Strikes with the tip of the sword, incidental contact and flailing type attacks are not valid cuts. SCA style ‘wrap strikes’ are not valid cuts.

  • Thrusts: Thrusts must be delivered in a committed manner, rather than pokes which make superficial contact. A sword bend is not required if the fighter is in range to deliver a deeper blow., however most judges are more likely to see a thrust if there is some bend, or a visible effect on the opponent.

  • Slices: Slices will only be considered as valid when performed against the head/neck and the arms. A valid slice must exert sufficient pressure on the target that judging staff can clearly see the effect on the balance and structure of the affected fighter. Please note that this requires a very high degree of commitment, and is not simply sawing a blade back and forth on the body.

  • Pommel Strikes: Pommel strikes are only valid against the front of the mask. The strike does not need to hit hard, but it must display a structure capable of delivering the whole body’s force rather than a lucky strike from an uncontrolled fighter.


The following are off limits for safety reasons:

  • Direct targeting of the feet. 

  • Kicks are not permitted. 

  • Repetitive punching  is not permitted. However, mask punches or pushes to control the opponent’s head prior to a grapple or cut are allowed. No punching is allowed for synthetic longsword.

  • ‘Mordschlag’ style strikes are not permitted.

  • Throwing the sword or any other object.

  • Any strike thrown with a complete lack of control on the part of the attacker. Competitive martial arts fighting involves throwing forceful strikes with full intent to make contact, however each competitor is expected to maintain a respect for their opponent’s safety at all times.

  • Intentionally exposing the back of the head/body to the opponent will be considered a safety violation. Fighter will be warned, with increasing penalties if behavior is not adjusted.

  • One-handed blows while not engaged in a grapple.

  • Takedowns/throws are explicitly forbidden in any tournament which does not award points for them. This includes synthetic longsword.


All participants for Open and Advanced Steel Longsword must pass a cutting qualification before being eligible to compete. The qualification is valid for 2 years from the time it is completed. Participants who do not pass the cutting qualification are still eligible for competition in Open Synthetic Longsword.

Individuals who have not pre-qualified based on cutting at previous events must attend the scheduled cutting qualification time slot. For more information on the cutting qualification please refer to the cutting tournament rules. (Entry in the cutting tournament is not required)


The following point scoring will be used for the longsword tournaments.


*See the rule for controlled cuts/thrusts below*

**The upper opening includes the entire area from shoulder seam to shoulder seam, and thrusts landing in the area above the crease of the armpit. This replaces the traditional “head” target area. **

***Note that the standard for a cut to the hand follows the same requirement for martial validity and control as other blows. Flailing tip-taps to the hands and uncontrolled swings will be monitored closely by the judges and attempts to game the rules or endanger the opponent will be penalized according to the director’s discretion.***

Takedowns / Disarms

A controlled takedown is defined as a wrestling action that deliberately and safely puts the opponent on the ground with the dominant fighter remaining standing. The amount of time permitted for a wrestling action is a 5-count from the director. This count may or may not be verbalized at the directors discretion. 

Takedowns are not permitted in any synthetic longsword tournament at this time.

Should a competitor be disarmed, fall, or get thrown without control, their opponent must demonstrate “martial intent” to be scored points. “Martial intent” is simply indicating through motion how you would have struck your opponent. No contact is required. You don’t win just because they dropped their sword!


The afterblow deducts one point from the score of the attacking fighter.


A cut or thrust delivered in a manner that actively inhibits  the opponent’s ability to attack’s blade will be awarded an additional point score. For the sake of the SoCal Swordfight longsword tournament a controlled action is defined as a blow which either seizes control of the opponent’s blade or primary weapon arm (as in a grapple) at the moment of impact, or has positioned their blade to intercept the opponent’s afterblow while having the sword remain engaged. No controlled action can be scored in the event of an afterblow. Essentially, if the blades are touching each other at the time the thrust/cut is made on your opponent, you have control!

It is possible to score a controlled cut/thrust to any valid target area outlined by these rules.


One- handed blows are not permitted except when the hand is removed as part of a grappling technique executed against an opponent.

Ring Out

Should a fighter place both feet outside of the ring (through their own action or if pushed by their opponent) the fighter who left the ring will be penalized with one point.


Both fighters will begin the match with 9 points, and have points deducted when they are struck. The match will be concluded once a fighter’s score has decreased to zero.

In the event of a tie, sudden death will be fought and the match shall be determined by first clean exchange with no afterblow.

In the event of disagreement from the judges on the target area struck the point value will be decided at the discretion of the director. Typically this will take the form of an average point value.


Feders / SwordsAlbion Meyer

  • Regenyei (All)

  • Arms & Armor Fechtbuch

  • Comfort Fencing Dobringer

  • Darksword Feder

  • Ensifer Long & Standard

  • Mac Arms Feder

  • Pavel Moc Feder

  • SGT Blades Feder

  • Black Horse Blades

  • Castille Armory

  • Blackfencer (by director’s discretion)

  • Aureus

More feders from different manufacturers may be added later on with the approval of the tournament organization staff. Other makers feders can be considered, but may be disallowed and are up the the standards of the officiating staff. Due to safety and quality concerns, the use of any Hanwei feders will be prohibited during this tournament. SOME blunt (non-feder) swords will be allowed, however they will be assessed on a sword-by-sword basis. They will be checked for edge thickness (at least 2mm) and flexibility (director’s discretion). The event is under no obligation to allow you to use the sword you have brought.

Protective Gear

All of these tournaments are considered to promote an environment to encourage ‘blossfechten’ techniques, and in the interests of promoting a professional HEMA image and to encourage fighters to respect the weapon simulators, heavy armor (breast plates, etc) or fantasy-styled armors are not permitted.

All armor will be inspected by the tournament staff prior to competition.

  • Appropriate head protection: fencing masks with back of the head protection.

  • Hard trachea protection, that protects the throat from a direct thrust.

  • Heavy padded HEMA jackets

  • Hard elbow protection, that covers the 3 points of the elbow.

  • Hard knee protection that covers the knee.

  • Heavy HEMA Gloves (Sparring Gloves, SPES, Koning, Etc). Lacrosse & Red Dragon Gloves explicitly not allowed.

  • Groin protection is required for male fighters.

  • Breast protection is recommended but not required for female fighters.

  • Shin and forearm protection is recommended but not required.

  • No exposed skin will be allowed.