Rules for the Longsword Tournament at Vasaslaget 2015

N.b. this document is partially based on the rules used at the Nordic Historical Fencing League and Swordfish.

General regulations

  • The competition is open for everyone over the age of 18 who has not reached a top-8 position (reached the quarter finals) in a longsword competition with at least 20 participants during the past three years.
  • Matches will be fought to 9 points, or to the duration of 2 minutes. 10 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 during those 10 seconds 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 fights 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 or four judges for each match.

Points are awarded for:

  • Hitting, thrusting or slicing with the blade.
  • Creating dominance in wrestling (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.
  • Pommel strike to the mask of the opponent.
  • Disarming the opponent.

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.

  • Cut, thrust or slice to the opponent’s head = 3 points.
  • Thrusts to the opponent’s torso = 3 points.
  • Cuts, thrusts or slices with the weapon to the rest of the body (allowed target areas) = 2 points.
  • All one-handed blows scores only 2 points (that is with only one hand holding the sword) regardless of target. Excluded from this is if a one handed grip is used during a grappling situation, where the fighter is manipulating the opponents body or weapon. Half-sword attacks, with one hand on the blade and the other on the grip, scores as two-handed blows.
  • Forcing the opponent out of the fighting area = 2 points.
  • Pommel strike to the mesh of the mask = 2 points.
  • Dominance by grappling = 3 points. Grappling with the sword is scored as above.
  • Disarming the opponent = 3 points. A fighter is considered disarmed if he or she has losed control of the weapon and not closed to wrestling within one tempo. Remember that you should not hit a disarmed opponent, so making it clear that you are threatening is enough. Hitting an opponent that is closing to wrestling is perfectly fine and will score as a regular hit.

Afterblows and double hits

Afterblows (being hit within one tempo of hitting the opponent) and double hits (hitting the opponent with an attack that was initiated during an attack by the opponent and both being hit) are treated the same. In these cases the judges will show and the referee will call out the scores for each fighter, but only the difference in the score will be noted.

Illegal techniques

  • It is forbidden to attack the back of the head, the neck, the groin, the hamstrings, achilles tendons and the spine.
  • Throws may not be done where both the opponents feet lose contact with the mat. Lifting the opponent is allowed, and will be scored as wrestling dominance. Tripping is allowed.
  • 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.
  • At least one hand has to be on the grip of the sword at all times (i.e no Morthschlag techniques).


Bouts end after 2 minutes or when one contestant gets 9 points, whichever comes first. When there is 10 seconds left 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. The finals (including fights for third place) will be fought for three minutes with no upper limit for points. If an exchange is in progress when the time is up the referee will break when the exchange is finished.

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. This also applies if someone has to cancel an ongoing fight or gives up. The result will be the most favourable for the winner and least favourable for the loser of these two alternatives:

  • The winner wins the fight 1/0.
  • The winner wins the fight with the average point and double hit results from his/her other fights in the pool (determined after all fights in the pool are finished). The loser loses the fight with the average point and double hit results from hit/her other fights in the pool.


  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” or ”fence”.
  6. A bout will last for the duration of 2 minutes, or until one contestant gets 9 points. There is no point limit in the finals (including fights for third place). If the time ends during an ongoing exchange that exchange will still be concluded before the match is finished.
  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 one tempo (approximately) after any judge calls “point”. The judges then raise their flag to indicate hit, double hit or afterblow or grappling dominance.
  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 10 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.

Wrestling, disarm and stepping out of bounds

If a fighter creates dominance in wrestling, disarms the opponent or forces the opponent to leave the fighting area with both feet the referee calls ”break”. The referee will then call out the score, and the judges will not participate in the process.
The referee can also decide that after a judge calls ”point” there will only be points awarded according to the procedure above. The judges will in that case not be asked to show their flags.

Afterblow and double hits

We do not make a distinction between afterblows and double hits. An afterblow is a counter done within one action of being hit. A double hit means that the fighters hit each other simultaneously or near simultaneously.

  • The referee can warn one or both fighters if fighting without defending and thus causing many double hits and/or afterblows.
  • Afterblows and double hits will be recorded and will be counted when determining results from pools.

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 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.


Each fighter or coach has the right to object to a ruling made by the ref and/or the judges by calling ”protest”. If such a call is made the time is stopped and the objecting party explains to the ref how he or she interprets the situation. The ref then talks individually to each judge and after that announce whether or not the ruling stands. If the ruling stands the fighter and his or her coach can no longer call protest for the duration of the current fight.

The spirit of the rule set

The longsword 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. 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.
  • Metal gauntlets are not allowed
  • Cup for men. It is recommended the women wear groin protection too.
  • Hard protection for shins.
  • Padding for hip bone (usually covered by the padded jacket).

Breast protection (worn under the jacket) is suggested for everyone. In the longsword 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 responsiblefor 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 sight to check your equipment. You are allowed more protective equipment as long as they follow our rules.

Publicerad i Vasaslaget