Hussars On Foot - SoCal 2020 Experimental Saber Tournament

(Rules Inspired by Captain Alfred Hutton)

The goal of this tournament is to promote a style that is skillful, artful, and historical. This is an experimental ruleset based on a historical ruleset documented by Captain Alfred Hutton in Bayonet-Fencing and Sword Practice (1882). We understand that the weapon simulators (1796 Pattern Sabers) used in this tournament are an earlier period than those Hutton would have used. However, we feel an historically inspired ruleset from someone who used sabers for competition and earnest combat will lend the tournament the character and flavor that makes HEMA unique. Where needed, additional rules are added to accommodate the modern tournament format, safety, and time restrictions of the event. Our interpretation of the historical rules are included as a dashed mark beneath the original rule.

Rules for Independent Practice

with the Sabre or Stick

(original rules in bold and interpretation included as notes)

1.   No one to play, on any pretense whatever, without wearing a helmet.

  • Self explanatory

2.   Cuts and thrusts are not to be given too strongly; should men appear to be losing their temper, their play is to be stopped at once.

  • All fencers shall fence with control. Excessive violence will be penalized by the director at their discretion including point deductions, match losses, and tournament expulsion.

3.   No two cuts or thrusts are to be made on the same lunge.

  • If a fencer lunges they may cut only once and thrust only once from that lunge for it to be counted. For example, a fencer may lunge with a cut, and then thrust, but may not perform two cuts from the same lunge. Judges will do their best to discern these actions. 

4.   The opponents should not both strike at once; should this happen the cut or thrust given in the third position to be considered effective. But should both parties lunge, the hit to count to neither.

  • Doubles will not count as a hit for either fencer unless one fencer is hitting from a lunging position, in which case that hit shall be counted for the lunging fencer. If both parties hit each other with a lunge, it will not count as a hit for either party.

  • Afterblows will not be counted.

5.   The act of crossing (and touching) the blades is a guarantee that both parties are ready. Any hit given before this is done is not to be considered effective. The opponents should always engage out of distance.

  • Fencers shall salute and touch weapons and return out of measure before fencing.

6.   A disarm to count as a hit to the party effecting it.

  • A disarm shall be 1 point, or hit, for the person that performed the disarm.

7.   A hit is only considered effective when given with that part of the stick which represents the edge, or with the point.

  • This tournament is to be fought with steel swords so this rule on sticks is not-applicable. 

8.   In stick-play, no hit is to be made at the inside of the leg unless the players wear leg padding, a blow in that part being highly dangerous.

  • This tournament is to be fought with steel swords so this rule on sticks is not-applicable.

9.   When playing with the practice-sword it is necessary to wear full padding, that is, helmet, double-jacket, gauntlet, body-pad and leg-pad.

  • All fencers shall wear appropriate protective equipment. Refer to the longsword rules for the gear requirements.

10.   Players are strongly recommended to fence for a fixed number of hits, say, 3, 5, or 7; this increases the interest in the play, and tends to make the men more careful in their fencing.

  • This tournament will be fought to a total of 5 hits or match time of 90 seconds. Doubles will be counted as a hit. For example, Fencer A may score 3 hits, Fencer B may score 1 hit, and both have 1 double hit, this is 5 hits and the match is over.

  • Ring-out will reset the engagement. Fencers who excessively step out of the ring will have 1 hit deducted from their score.

  • Fencers with the most hits, followed by least doubles, will advance.

  • Tied scores in eliminations will be settled by a sudden death to first clean point.