Longsword Cutting Competition Rules

Tournament participants must follow the directions of the tournament director and staff at all times. Any participant exhibiting behavior that places themselves or others at risk of harm will result in immediate disqualification and possible intervention by local law enforcement.

Rules are subject to change up to the commencement of the tournament.


Tournament Goals

The goal of the SoCal Swordfight cutting tournaments is to:

  • Showcase/evaluate/reward sword skills that can not be tested in a sparring environment.
  • Promote an integrated training regiment, with good cutting mechanics in sparring and good fencing behavior in cutting
  • Be creative, educational, and enjoyable for both participants and spectators.

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Safety Regulations

All competitors will be required to assume proper safe-handling procedures for sharp swords. This includes, but is not limited to, swinging the sword when there is the possibility of others in the vicinity, losing control of the weapon, or approaching the cutting area before being explicitly instructed to do so by the tournament staff. Should the tournament officials perceive that there is any safety issue, they retain the right to remove individuals from the cutting tournament or cutting qualifiers at their discretion.

Competitors are forbidden to cut toward their lead leg with Descending Cuts.
(Competitors in Tier-A Cutting are free to cut in any direction.)

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Cutting Qualification

All participants competing in Open Longsword must complete a cutting qualification.

If you completed the cutting qualification at SoCal 2022, or have competed (with some degree of success) in a cutting tournament at any event in 2021 or 2022, you are already qualified. If not you must attend a cutting qualification on Friday or you will be moved into synthetic longsword. Even if you think you are pre-qualified you are responsible for checking the cutting qualification list to be sure.

Even if you think you are pre-qualified you are responsible for checking the cutting qualification list to be sure.
(when the roster is published)

Cutting qualification shall consist of 6 cuts on a hanging sheet construction paper. 4 must be successful in order to qualify.
(Quality Standards)

The paper is quite wide, approximately 2 feet, so you will need to maintain your sword in the cutting plane for a relatively wide arc. While the paper will not stop your blade like a tatami mat, if you cut poorly it will rip apart rather than cutting.

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Tier C (Beginners) Cutting Patterns

Round 1 - Descending Cuts

Target 1 - Single Tatami Roll

Competitors will perform 3 descending cuts on each side, in any order. (6 total cuts)

Target 2 - Hanging Paper

Competitors must perform 6 descending cuts, 3 on each side.

Top ~50% by score will advance to the next round. (Exact number to be finalized when number of competitors is known.)

Round 2 - More Cuts

Target 1 - Single Tatami Roll

Competitors will perform 3 ascending cuts on each side, in any order. (6 total cuts)

Target 2 - Hanging Paper

Competitors must perform 4 descending cuts, on the same side, in a continuous motion. This will be repeated on both sides.
The recovery between swings need not be fast, but should show no signs of hesitation.

Top 4 by cumulative score advance to the Final Round.

Round 3 - Reactive Cutting

Target 1 & Target 2 - Single Tatami Roll

Competitors will perform cuts as prompted by the tournament staff. (Single tatami mat).
Eligible cuts:

  • Descending Right
  • Descending Left
  • Ascending Right
  • Ascending Left

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Tier B (Open) Cutting Patterns

Round 1 - Continuous Cuts

Target 1 - Single Tatami Roll

Competitors will perform 6 descending cuts, alternating sides, in a continuous and smooth motion. Competitors must step with every cut, and alternate their lead leg. (which they are, of course, not cutting towards.)

Target 2 - Single Tatami Roll

Competitors must perform 6 ascending cuts, alternating sides, in a continuous and smooth motion. Competitors must step with every cut, and alternate their lead leg.

Top ~50% by score will advance to the next round. (Exact number to be finalized when number of competitors is known.)

Round 2 - Reactive Cutting

Target 1 & Target 2 - Single Tatami Roll

Competitors will perform cuts as prompted by the tournament staff.
Eligible cuts:

  • Descending Right
  • Descending Left
  • Ascending Right
  • Ascending Left 

Top 4 by cumulative score advance to the Final Round.

Round 3 - Cutting Feats

Feats to be announced after the completion of Round 2.

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Tier A (Advanced) Cutting Patterns

Round 1 - Cutting Angles

Target 1 - Avenger Single Tatami Roll

Target 1 will be a single tatami mat oriented at a 45-degree angle. The competitor must perform as many of the eligible strikes as possible, with each cut only being attempted a single time. These cuts are intended to be performed in a vertical line, and large deviations from vertical will be penalized. 

Eligible Cuts:
  • Krumphau* (R/L)
  • Shielhau (R/L)
  • Schietalhau (Single)
Krumphau must be performed with the point angled forward (not directly to the side).

Target 2 - Free Hanging Paper Roll w/ Feder

Perform the following 6 cuts:
  • Descending (R & L)
  • Ascending(R & L)
  • Horizontal* (R & L)
*Participants may either do a right & left zwerhau OR a true edge right mandritto at shoulder height and a false edge right mandritto.

Top ~50% by score will advance to the next round. (Exact number to be finalized when number of competitors is known.)

Round 2 - Reactive Cutting

Target 1 & Target 2 - Dowel + Tatami Roll

Competitors will perform cuts as prompted by the tournament staff. (Tatami with dowel).
Eligible cuts:

  • Descending Right
  • Descending Left
  • Ascending Right
  • Ascending Left 

Top 4 by cumulative score advance to the Final Round.

Round 3 - Cutting Feats

Feats to be announced after the completion of Round 2.

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Quality Standards

Base Point Value: A cut with no deductions will be awarded 10 points.
Deductions: Any of the following will deduct from the final score. In the event that multiple infractions are recorded, only the highest value will be applied.

Tatami Deductions

Preparatory Motions (No Points Awarded)

Measuring distance between yourself and the target prior to the commencement of the cut is considered a preparatory motion.

Cocking back the sword before a cut is considered a preparatory motion.

Scallop (No Points Awarded)

A scallop is defined as a cut which clearly curves its trajectory in the tatami mat. This also applies to any parallel mat cuts which do not have the two cuts in the same line.


Mountain (-5 or No Points Awarded)

A mountain is when a cut intersects a previous cut or cut attempt. This is penalized because the competitor no longer needs to cut through the full width of the target, and also because it demonstrates poor targeting and control. Small mountains will be assessed a point deduction of -5 points, and cuts with mountains of greater than 1” (25.4 mm) will be awarded no points.

Tatami Surface Not In Line With Cutting Plane (No Points Awarded)

This is a phenomenon that can occur with extremely sharp swords which are highly optimized for cutting. If the tatami ends up cut on a different plane than the one on which the sword was swung, it indicates that the competitor performed a ‘failed’ cut, but that their sword was able to overcome this and still pass through the thin tatami targets.


Excessive Tatami Distance

‘Landing Zones’ will be used to assess cutting quality. These zones will be clearly marked on the ground around each cutting stand.

  • The zone deduction is assessed based on the position at which the tatami first comes into contact with the ground (i.e. rolling after contact does not impact the score).
  • In the event that a clearly defined piece cannot be identified, the cut will be assumed to have landed in the red zone.
  • Should a cut spray debris, it will be assumed to have landed in the red zone.
  • Should a piece land straddling two zones, it will be assessed as landing in the lower deduction zone. 
Green Yellow Red
Tier C No Deduction -3 No Points Awarded
Tier B No Deduction -5 No Points Awarded
Tier A No Deduction -8 No Points Awarded

 

Cut Below Limit (No Points Awarded)

The lowest rubber band on the tatami mat will indicate the lowest height a competitor may cut at. Any cuts that pass below this line will receive no points. Should the competitor hit the stand or floor, they will receive no points for the cut and instead have a value of -10 applied to their overall score.


Other Deductions

Failed Cut No Points Awarded
Wrong Cut No Points Awarded
Stepping Head of Cut* -3
Leaving Waiting Area Ahead of Signal
(Reactive cutting rounds)
No Points Awarded
Entering Waiting Area as Singnal Period Ends
(Reactive cutting rounds)
-5
Not In Waiting Area When Singnal Period Ends
(Reactive cutting rounds)
No Points Awarded
*foot is firmly planted as sword is still accelerating to the target.

Paper Deductions

Paper cutting will be performed on a vertical hanging paper. This is construction paper, and the difficulty of this is expected to be similar in difficulty to cutting a tatami mat. (The paper offers lower resistance, but can rip more easily and tests for a much larger cutting line.)


Qualification Tournament
Small Scallop Ok -5
Large Scallop No Points No Points
Roughness Ok -2
Small Rip Ok -5
Ripped Paper No Points No Points
Sound of impact or strong paper flutter Ok -5

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Competitor Conduct

Competitors shall not begin cutting until instructed to do so by the tournament staff. Following the completion of each cut, the competitor must wait for confirmation from the cutting judges before beginning their next cut. After assessing the quality of a cut, the cutting judges will hold up a color-coded card to provide feedback to the cutter and the audience and to indicate that the competitor may make their next cut. A competitor may not address the table to inquire about a score which has been awarded. These cards will be:

  • Green - No point deduction on cut
  • Yellow - Point deduction on cut
  • Red - No points awarded on cut
  • Verbal Warning - Penalty assessed

Should a competitor request a mat straightening (provided the round allows for it), they must first step out of the cutting area with the tip of their sword pointed toward the ground. The competitor must not move until instructed to do so by the tournament staff.

Competitors that take excessive time to begin after they have been signaled to cut will be warned by the tournament staff, and may be subject to penalties if there are repeated infractions. While it is not necessary for a competitor to rush after they are prompted, it is intended that they perform the cut in a short period of time without spending considerable time ‘fidgeting’ or ‘psyching themselves up.’

During reactive cutting rounds, the competitor must wait in an area designated by the tournament staff. Only once the cut has been signaled may they move forward and execute their cut. The competitor must then return to the waiting area before the signaling period has concluded or be assessed a point deduction on the cut.

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Equipment

There will be a loaner longsword available.

European longswords only. No zweihanders, no messers. If you are using something that isn't sold as a longsword by a reputable European sword manufacturer you must get approval for the sword.

The tournament is under no obligation to let you use a sword that you've brought.