Vasaslaget 2014 Sword & buckler rules

General regulations

  • The competition is open for everyone over the age of 18

  • Matches will be fought to 5 exchanges, or to the duration of 2 minutes. If there are exchanges left 20 seconds from the end the timekeeper yells “Last exchange” and the fighters are allowed to fight the last exchange without a timelimit, though if the referee deems the fighters passive he may at any time end the match by calling break. If that last exchange ends with a ”no exchange” judgement (the judges could not agree on what happened) the match is still ended.

  • Finals (including fight for third place) will be fought for 3 minutes with no point limit.

  • Simulators will be provided.

Judges, referees & judging

There will be one referee and three judges for each match.

Points are awarded/deduced for:

  • Hitting, thrusting or slicing with the blade.

  • Creating dominance in wrestling (a few seconds of clear dominance for example by pinning) or getting the opponent to tap out (three claps at whatever you can reach).

  • If your opponent steps outside the arena with both feet.

  • Pommel strike to the mask of the opponent.

  • Striking with the face of the buckler to the mask.

  • Disarming your opponent.

Weighted Scoring, Point stealing.

At the start of the pools each fighter is given 20 points. Each fight throughout the pools adds and/or reduces points from this amount, resulting in an overall score that is used to determine advancement.

Weighted scoring means that different target areas are worth different points.

  • Cut, thrust or slice to the opponent’s head, as well as thrusts to the torso, give +2 points to the attacker and a -2 points to the defender. Judges should ignore hits if they consider them harmless (without good edge alignment etc). This is not to encourage striking hard, but striking clearly.

  • Cut or slice to the opponent’s torso and any hits to the arms, hands or legs give +1 point to the attacker and -1 point to the defender.

  • Forcing the opponent out of the ring = +1/-1 point.

  • Pommel strike/buckler strike to the mask = +1/-1 point.

  • Dominance by grappling = +1/-1 point. Grappling with the sword is scored as above.

  • Disarming your opponent and stepping out of range = +2/-2 points.

Afterblows and double hits

Afterblows is defined as being hit within one tempo of hitting the opponent. A strike is only counted as an afterblow if the first attack was unsuccessfully defended. Double hits (hitting the opponent with an attack that was initiated during an attack by the opponent and both being hit) are treated as -1 point to both fighters regardless of targeted area. If one or both fighters are considered reckless, i.e., too often attacking without defending thus resulting in many afterblows or double hits, the referee can issue warnings. Two warnings will result in point reductions (1 or 2 points). Additional warnings will result in further point reductions.

Illegal techniques

  • It is forbidden to attack the back of the head, the neck, the groin, the hamstrings and the spine.

  • Throws may not be done while only gripping the neck or against the natural direction of the joints (locks are allowed though).

  • 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 unprotected head if the mask has fallen off.

  • At least one hand has to be on the grip of the sword at all time s(i.e no Morthschlag techniques).


Bouts end after 2 minutes or when one fight reaches 5 exchanges, whichever comes first. The finals (including fights for third place) will be fought for three minutes with no upper limit for exchanges.  If there are exchanges left 15 seconds from the end the timekeeper yells “last exchange, No time” and the fighters are allowed to fight the last exchange without a timelimit, though if the referee deems the fighters passive he may at any time end the match by calling break.

If fighters have the same score in elimination rounds and finals, the match will go to sudden death. There will be a 30 second break before the sudden death round.

Giving up

If a fighter is not present when the fight is about to start the fight is considered forfeit and the present fighter will win the fight and the result will be +5 points to the winner and -5 to the one who gave up. If someone has to cancel an ongoing fight or gives up the result will be at least +5 to the winner and -5 to the loser. If either fighter already has more absolute points than that that score is retained instead.


  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 time keeper and scorer are ready to begin.

  3. The referee will check that all judges are ready.

  4. The referee will check that both fighters are ready.

  5. The referee will call “fight”.

  6. A bout will last for the duration of 2 minutes, or until 5 exchanges. There is no limit of exchanges in the finals (including fights for third place). If there are exchanges left 20 seconds from the end the timekeeper yells “Last exchange” and the fighters are allow to fight the last exchange without a timelimit, though if the referee deems the fighters passive he may at any time end the match by calling break.

  7. An exchange is a period of fighting that starts with the fighters out of measure and ends when the referee calls “break” and judge agree on an outcome. “Break” will be called after one tempo (approximately) after any judge calls “point”. The judges then raise their flag to indicate hit, double hit or afterblow or grappling dominance. Referee calls out the result of the exchange and the positive points allowing the scorekeeper to note any additional negative scoring.

  8. When “break” is called, both fighters return to their corners and wait for the referee to call “fight”.

  9. The time keeper will call “Last exchange” when there is 20 seconds left. The current exchange will be finished before the referee calls “break” and declare the fight over.

  10. The scorer will announce the final score to the fighters (and audience) and record it.

Afterblow and double hits

An afterblow is a counter done within one action of an unsuccessful defence.

A double hit means that the fighters hit each other simultaneously or near simultaneously without any defensive action.

  • Afterblow scoring. Initial attack will score as usual. What a successful afterblow can accomplish is nullifying the point reduction to the fighter that was initially hit.

  • Double hits will cause a point reduction of 1 point to both fencers regardless of where the hits landed.


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 and finally disqualification from tournament.

It is however possible for the referee to skip steps and immediately hand out harder 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. When warning a fighter for neglecting defence point reductions of one or two points is in most cases the most severe punishment handed out.

Disrespecting the referee and/or the judges, unsportsmanlike behaviour, dangerous behaviour are grounds for warnings, but not the only reasons for warnings.

The spirit of the rule set

The tournament at Vasaslaget is a full contact tournament but fighters 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 or loss of match. 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 2 or 1600 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 or gambeson that covers the full arm and has no gaps in the armpit.

  • Hard elbow and knee protection that also protects side of joint.

  • Good, thick, padded gloves with no or limited gaps at the fingers. Buckler hand may be slightly less protected. Gear will be cleared on site.

  • Metal gauntlets are not allowed

  • Cup for men and breast protection for women. It is recommended the women wear groin protection too and breast protection is suggested for men as well.

  • Hard protection for shins.

  • Padding for hip bone (usually covered by the padded jacket).

  • Bucklers can be of any materials as long as they hold no sharp edges or protrusions. Wooden bucklers should be covered in some way as not to allow any splinters. Bucklers should be no wider than 40cm in any direction. All bucklers will be cleared at the equipment check

In the sword and buckler tournament, off the shelf lacrosse gloves except Brine Supercross are not allowed (lacrosse gloves needs 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.

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