Rapier and Dueling Saber

Nebraska Rapier and Dueling Saber Tournament Rules

(Rules are subject to change at organizer's discretion)

The goal of this rule set is to promote a style of fencing that is skillful, artful and martial, as well as the 17th century rapier treatises that the vast majority of the HEMA community currently studies. We wish to accurately present the techniques described in the treatises for dueling with sharp rapiers. (rules are subject to change)

Required Protective Gear

Please Note

All of these tournaments are considered to simulate ‘blossfechten’, 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.

Protective Gear Requirements

  • Appropriate Head protection: Fencing Masks with back of the head protection.
  • Leather fencing gloves or equivalent for the hands. Padded gloves are recommended for the off-hand.
  • Trachea protection that protects the throat from a direct thrust.
  • Heavy padded HEMA jackets (ie SPES), Padded Gambeson, or Fencing Jacket, min. of 350 newtons.
  • Groin protection is essential for male fighters.
  • Breast protection is essential for female fighters.
  • Elbow, Knee, Shin and forearm protection are not essential but highly recommended.
  • No exposed skin will be permitted.



All swords (and daggers) will be inspected before use. Only rapier and dueling saber blades may be used, epee, foil, and other blades meant for classical or Olympic fencing are prohibited.

Allowed Rapier Blades

Rapier blades from the following makers will be allowed, other blades will be assessed on a case by case basis and approved by the tournament director. This list may be updated as time goes on.

  • Deltin
  • Hanwei
  • Angus Trim
  • Castille Armory
  • Darkwood Armory
  • Zen Warrior

Blade Length

Maximum rapier length from pommel nut to tip may not exceed 48". Dueling sabers may not weight any less than 625 grams.

Fencer Conduct


  • All fencers will be expected to fight with both skill and control.
  • Any fencer that is deemed to pose a danger to themselves or others will be first verbally warned, second removed from the match, third removed from the tournament.
  • Fencers are expected to act professionally, and respectful to the officiating staff.
  • Fencers are expected to follow the commands of the tournament staff at all times.

Violating the Rules of Conduct

Violating the rules of conduct can and will result in:

  1. A verbal warning and a point(s) deduction at the discretion of the fight director.
  2. Forfeit of the match.
  3. Expulsion from the tournament.


What's Counted

Both thrusts and cuts will be counted, (cuts must incorporate a controlled drawing/slicing action.) however the ankle/foot is strictly off-target for safety.


  • Committed Thrust/Cut to Head– 3 pts.
  • Committed Thrust/Cut to Torso –2 pts.
  • Committed Thrust to all other targets, arm and leg – 1pt.
  • Pommel to the mask – 1 pt.
  • Ring out – 1 pt. taken from fencer that left the ring.
  • Afterblow – The afterblow negates 1 point from a scoring blow. (ie, Fighter A lands a blow in time to the head of fighter B, however fighter B lands the afterblow, Fighter A is awarded 2 points rather than 3).
  • Double kills (Open Double) – 3 double kills and both fencers will lose the match. Fighters simply showing no intention to defend, or clearly gaming the rules to eliminate another fencer along with themselves, will be both warned and penalized. An open double is an action where both fencers strike each other in the same tempo, with out any attempt to control the opponent's blade.


Bouts will be 3 minutes or 10 points unless scores are tied and then a 'sudden death' round will be used to determine the winner.


What is a Blow

A strike with the sword must be a controlled and properly delivered blow to the allowed target areas. Judges and Directors will be instructed to ignore ‘Tip Taps’, ‘Insufficient Thrusts or cuts’ (ie pokes at full extension) “Blade Flailing” or ‘Incidental contact’. In saber the point must be delivered with the tip, and cuts must be delivered with the upper 12" of the blade. In rapier, cuts must be delivered with the upper 4" of the blade.

When a point is scored, “Point” will be called. Judges will show flags. If it is determined a point has been scored (2 of 4 flags to one combatant) then the Director will say “Target area”, judges will take the non-scoring flag and show where they viewed the blow to have struck.

In the case of non-agreement on the target area from the judges, the director will take the average or lower point value of the disputed target area. accordingly.


  1. There will be four judges, and one director.
  2. Fencers may be required to act as judges while not fencing.
  3. All four judges will watch each fencer. Each judge will be situated opposite the other judge watching the fencers, and 180 degrees around the ring from either judge watching the other fencer. The judges are not required to move.
  4. Each judge will have 1 vote. a. They may vote, yes (+1), no (1) or abstain (0).
  5. The director will call the priority of the action (i.e. double hit or afterblow). He will also have 0.5 votes in order to break a tie.
  6. Combatants may acknowledge blows to their own person, and have the right to waive any blow awarded to them.


  1. Field of Combat: The field of combat shall be a ring 28’ in diameter or a 7 meter square.
  2. Tournament Organization: The tournament will be run with a pools and direct eliminations format.
    1. Pools
      • Fencers will be divided into pools of between 4 and 8 fencers.
      • Each pool will be a round robin.
      • Pool bouts will be to 10 points, with one 3 minute period.
    2. Direct Eliminations
      • All fencers will advance to direct eliminations (single elimination).
  3. Additional rules:
    • Punches, kicks and takedowns are not permitted.
    • Destreza style movements of conclusion and arm-checking is permitted but scores no points without a valid blow from the sword.
    • Hand parries are permitted if they are performed martially, in rapier only.
    • Blade grabbing, with open hand, if performed martially, is permitted for 1 fencing tempo. If a valid strike is not delivered in this time, and the fencer continues to hold the opponent’s blade or struggles over it in any way, 1 point shall be awarded to the opponent.
    • Hand covering: Putting your hand in the way of a higher point value target as a way to decrease the score against you is not acceptable. Full Points will be awarded as if the attack hit the higher value target.

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