To help promote knowledge and excellence in our local fencing group, I’ve taken up posting what will (hopefully) be a periodic series of posts on SCA/Ealdormere fencing rules… The SCA rules are the core rules that we follow, with our local Ealdormere Rapier Handbook including minor, generally more restrictive, rules variations. When looking at these rules, I will try to deal with both the overall SCA rules as well as our own kingdom variations of those rules (where applicable) within my personal capacity as an Ealdormere fencing marshal. By all means, please forward any corrections or input on these discussions to help develop a useful resource for our fencers.
The acknowledgement of blows (section 4 of the SCA Rapier Handbook) is a key, basic component of SCA fencing. What counts and doesn’t count as a valid blow (from section I) when it comes to the timing of blows?
“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. “
Unpacking that, a key part of this rule is that even if you should happen to be killed by your opponent’s attack, if you have thrown your own attack on or before being struck by the opponent, that attack is still a valid blow against your opponent in determining whether they were also killed (or had part of their body disabled). Vice versa as well for blows received from your opponent after striking them.
This is important, as it can certainly lead to double kills and may warrant some strategic thought on whether an attack that will risk your own ‘death’ or ‘disabling’ is worth making or not. Trading a killing blow to your opponent that results in being legged or armed may certainly be a good exchange. Although, if you’re in a larger fight where you will be retaining wounds…maybe not so much…
If I were to boil down all the modern and historical thought on fencing technique as a means to two end goals, they would be:
1) Don’t get hit by your opponent(s), and,
2) Strike your opponent(s) without breaking point 1.
Keep strategic in your fencing! Be mindful in whether your attack can be timed and placed in such as manner that it will not expose you to a reciprocated attack within the context of section 4(I) of the rules. Most importantly of all… Fight with honour and safety, and enjoy art of fencing!