Messer Rules Vasaslaget 2019

General regulations

  • Fencers must be associated with a club. Fencers from Swedish clubs must have a valid licence to compete in a martial arts competition (Tävlingskort).
  • Fencers will start each match with 6 match points. Instead of gaining points in an exchange a fencer will lose match points, e.g., if they are hit. A match ends when at least one fencer reaches 0 match points. There is no general time limit.
  • After a match the resulting score will be registered as match points plus a bonus of 4 match points to the winner and 2 to each fencer in case of a draw. Match points are used for ranking the fencers in the Swiss system. That means that a fencer can get between 0 and 10 match points from a match.
  • If the referee thinks the fencers are too inactive there should be a verbal warning/notification. If the fencers still do not fence more actively the referee can stop the exchange and the result will be recorded as a 2-2 double hit. A rough guide line is that after 45 seconds of no attempts of hitting the opponent the referee should warn the fencers and if there is no clear offensive attempts after an additional 15 seconds the exchange should be stopped.
  • Messers will not be provided and must fit these requirements:
    • Is intended to be used with one hand.
    • Has a nagel or a ring on one side of the cross guard.
    • Has a tip that is safe for thrusting (e.g., rolled or spatulated or with a rubber tip).
    • Is no more than 100 cm long. We recommend approximately 90 cm in total with a blade no more than 75 cm.

Judges, referees & judging

There will be one referee and one judge on each mat. The judge is assisting the referee in awarding points, but the referee has the final decision. The mats will be in a 4×8 m format.

Points are awarded for:

  • Hitting, thrusting or slicing with the blade. The blade is considered sharp on one side (long edge) and approximately 1/6 of the blade from the tip on the other side (short edge). Only hits with those parts of the blade count.
  • Creating dominance in a grappling situation (a few seconds of clear dominance for example by pinning or by lifting the opponent) or getting the opponent to tap out (three claps at whatever you can reach).
  • If your opponent steps outside the arena with both feet.
  • Disarming your opponent or if your opponent loses their Messer.
  • Pommel strike to the mask of the opponent.

It is allowed to deflect a thrust with the off-hand. It is also allowed to grab a blade that is stationary, but if the opponent attempts to slice the hand when the blade is grabbed it will count as a slice to the hand, even if the blade is held fast. Protecting a 2-point target area with a 1-point target will result in the higher point being awarded (e.g. catching a strike to the head with the arm or off-hand).

Weighted Scoring

Weighted scoring means that different target areas are worth different points. All of the scoring situations can be ignored by judges if they consider them harmless. This is not to encourage striking hard, but striking clearly. Slices should warrant points only if they are performed with good structure and some force behind them. Slices with the weak of the blade or short edge are difficult to perform with enough structure and force. After an exchange the fencers are awarded points for that exchange and the awarded points are subtracted from the other fencer’s match points. I.e. if both fencers have 6 match points (the starting situation) and blue fencer hits red with a 2 point hit and is in turn hit with a 1 point hit (see Afterblows and double hits) the result of the exchange will be that red fencer will lose 2 match points and blue fencer will lose 1 match point.

  • Cuts, thrusts or slices to the opponent’s head or neck (not the back of the neck) = 2 points.
  • Cuts, thrusts or slices with the weapon to the rest of the body (allowed target areas) = 1 points.
  • Forcing the opponent out of the fighting area = 1 points. Please not that this must be performed under control. Forcefully pushing, or bull rushing, the opponent out of the fencing area may instead warrant a warning.
  • Pommel strike to the mesh of the mask (marking a pommel strike to the mesh of the mask is enough) = 1 points.
  • Dominance by grappling = 2 points. In grappling hits with the sword are scored as above.
  • Disarming the opponent (or if the opponent drops their sword) = 2 points as soon as the opponent is not in grappling distance. After being disarmed a fencer has one tempo (one step) to enter grappling before the exchange is stopped.

It is not possible to upgrade a hit by hitting a higher point target. However, if the same action of attack would give two different points the highest point is awarded. I.e., if a fencer strikes and hits the arm of the opponent and then right afterwards (in the same attack) also the head 2 points will be awarded.

Afterblows and double hits

There will be no difference between an afterblow and a double hit. One attempt at an afterblow attack is valid and no more than one step is allowed, to warrant an afterblow, after being hit.

Illegal techniques

  • It is forbidden to attack the back of the head, back of the neck, the groin, the hamstrings, back of the knees, achilles tendons and the spine.
  • It is forbidden to turn the back or the back of the head to the opponent. This limits the opponents possibility to hit and increases the risk of damage. Running past the opponent can have the same effect, but must be judged on a case-by-case basis.
  • Bull rushing is not allowed. It is not allowed to push the opponent out from the fencing area using so much force that the fencers cannot control where they end up.
  • Hand/foot techniques are not to be carried out against the natural direction of the joint (e.g. front kick to the front of the knee). It is forbidden to grab the opponent’s mask.
  • No techniques are to be carried out towards an opponent if the mask has fallen off.
  • No punching or striking is allowed with the cross guard.

Tournament structure

Vasaslaget 2019 will be a Swiss-system tournament. In the first round fencers will be randomly paired, trying to avoid bouts between competitors from the same club. In subsequent rounds competitors will be sorted according to performance to meet another competitor with the same score or as similar score as possible. Exceptions can be made to avoid that competitors meet each other more than once. After four rounds (could be decided to be increased to five if there is enough time) the top four fencers will meet in semi finals and finals (including match for third place).

The match point results from each match is recorded (between 0 and 10, included including bonus points for wins (4) and draws (2)). Match points (average from all matches) are used as the primary sorting criterium for making the ranking.


Bouts end when one (or both) fencers reach 0 match points. There is no time limit.

Giving up

If a fencer is not present when the bout is about to start the bout is considered forfeit and the present fighter will win the fight. This also applies if someone has to cancel an ongoing fight or gives up. The result will be:

  • If a match is already in progress the present fencer keeps their current points and wins the match. If the match has not started the winner wins the fight 6/0, i.e. 10 match points are awarded to the winner.


  1. At the start of the bout, the referee will call the fighters into the ring and announce their names/colours to the scorer and judges (and audience if present).
  2. The referee will check that the secretariat is ready to begin.
  3. The referee will check that the judge is ready.
  4. The referee will check that both fighters are ready.
  5. The referee will call ”fight” or ”fence”.
  6. A bout will last until one contestant reaches 0 match points. The referee may stop an exchange due to inactivity if the fencers do not attempt to attack. A guide line is that if the referee thinks the offensive attempts are too low a verbal warning should be issued after 45 seconds. If the offensive activity is still low after an additional 15 seconds the referee should stop the exchange and record it as a 2-2 double hit exchange.
  7. An exchange is a period of fighting that starts with the fighters out of measure and ends when the referee calls “break”. “Break” will be called after any judge calls “point” and there has been one attempt at an afterblow (one step and/or one attack). The judge then raise their flag (or otherwise signal to the referee) to indicate hit, signalling the first scoring hit by each fencer.
  8. Judges signal points using a red and a blue flag (or by other signals to the referee) and the number of points awarded are indicated by directions the judges points the flags. Pointing to the side means 1 point, pointing up means 2 points. The referee reports the awarded points to the secretary. The referee may override the points signalled by the judge, possibly after a brief discussion with the judge. The awarded points are not subtracted from each other, i.e. a 2-2 exchange means that both fencers will lose 2 match points from the exchange. The awarded points are subtracted from the other fencers match points. E.g., if red is awarded one point blue will lose one match point.
  9. When “break” is called, both fighters return to their corners and wait for the referee to call “fight” or ”fence”.
  10. The scorer will announce the final score to the fighters (and audience) and record it.

Wrestling and stepping out of bounds

If a fighter creates dominance in wrestling or forces the opponent to leave the fighting area with both feet the referee calls ”Break”. In case the referee does not call break the judge may call ”Point”, after which the referee will call ”Break”. The judge will in that signal the score as usual for the situation and the referee will award points.

Penalty system

Warnings, disqualifications and penalties can be handed out against the fighter if he/she or his/her coach break the rules. The normal procedure for breaking the rules is: warning, point reduction, loss of match, disqualification from tournament.

It is, however, possible for the referee to skip steps and immediately hand out harsher punishments if the action is to be considered of a serious and malicious nature. In reality it is up to the referee to decide on a suitable action. It is also possible for the referee to hand out several warnings if he/she deems the transgressions to be mild and of different kinds. A fencer can also be warned for clearly and repeatedly neglecting defence as that increases the risk of injury. In that case match point reductions of one or two points is in most cases the most severe punishment handed out, but will be in addition to any hits received. If the behaviour is considered very dangerous a fencer can be disqualified for not attempting to defend.

Disrespecting the referee and/or the judges (including not stopping when ”break” is called), unsportsmanlike behaviour, foul language during a bout and dangerous behaviour are grounds for warnings, but not the only reasons for warnings.

Apart from what has been mentioned above the following actions can give warnings:

  • Talking to judges or the secretariat during or between bouts.
  • Trying to influence a judging call (e.g. by shouting or marking on their body where they were hit).

The spirit of the rule set

The competition is a full contact tournament but fencers are encouraged to show restraint and not use unnecessary force. A full force strike to an unarmed or downed opponent can be deemed as unnecessary by the referee and result in a warning. The same can apply to fighters that deliver multiple afterblows.

This is hard to articulate in a specific rule. It is to the referee’s discretion to deem what counts as unnecessary force and we urge fighters to remember that these rules are founded on ideals of sportsmanship and gentlemanly behaviour.


There will be a coordinator on sight to check your equipment. If some part of a fighter’s equipment is not deemed safe by the coordinator we will try, as good as we can, to help to replace that piece of equipment.

  • No bare skin is allowed.
  • Fencing mask (at least CEN level 1, i.e. 350 N) with protection for the back of the head and neck. The fencing mask must not have any large dents or damages.
  • Separate throat protection.
  • Padded fencing jacket tested for at least 350 N penetration protection. The penetration protection is not required for the back of the jacket and regions covered by gloves. It is allowed to wear an unclassified jacket if wearing a long-sleeved 350 N (or more) plastron underneath. The jacket must not rise above the trousers so that the jacket does not protect the torso.
  • Trousers tested for at least 350 N penetration protection and with a high waist.
  • Hard elbow and knee protection that also protects side of joint.
  • Good, thick, padded gloves with no, or limited, gaps at the fingers.
  • Metal gauntlets are not allowed.
  • Cup for men. It is recommended the women wear groin protection too. The cup or groin protection must be worn under the trousers.
  • Hard protection for shins is recommended, but not required.
  • Padding for hip bone (usually covered by the padded jacket) is recommended but not required.

Breast protection (worn under the jacket) is suggested for everyone, but is not required. In the sword & buckler tournament, off-the-shelf lacrosse gloves are not allowed (lacrosse gloves need to be reinforced and cover gaps). A few pairs of gloves might be provided to lend.

Remember, a steel tournament is full contact with a high risk for injury if the fighters are not properly protected. Every fighter is responsible for his/her own safety and you should make sure that you not only meet these requirements but also that your gear can take a good hit. There will be a coordinator on site to check your equipment. You are allowed more protective equipment as long as they follow our rules. Participation in the tournament is at one’s own risk and all participants must have a valid insurance (this is their own responsibility).

Publicerad i Vasaslaget