Longsword Rules Vasaslaget 2018

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).
  • 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. This year women’s competitions are exempt from this rule, which means that high placement in a women’s tournament does not disqualify from participating in the longsword tournament at Vasaslaget.
  • Matches will be fought to 8 points, or to the duration of 3 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 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 one 3 minute round with no point limit.
  • Simulators will be provided.

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.
  • 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.

It is allowed to grab a blade that is stationary. If holding the blade tight it will not count as a slice to the hand. Protecting a 2-point target area with a 1-point target will result in the higher point being awarded (e.g. blocking a cut to the head with the arms).

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 or neck (not the back of the neck) = 2 points.
  • Thrusts to the opponent’s torso = 2 points.
  • Cuts, thrusts or slices with the weapon to the rest of the body (allowed target areas) = 1 points.
  • All one-handed blows scores only 1 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, when the fighter is manipulating the opponents body or weapon. Half-sword attacks, with one hand on the blade and the other on the grip, score as two-handed blows.
  • Forcing the opponent out of the fighting area = 1 points.
  • 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. Grappling with the sword is scored as above.
  • Disarming the opponent does not award any points. Points are awarded for marking a hit or according to the previous scoring criteria. Remember that you must be very careful when attacking a disarmed opponent, so making it clear that you are threatening is enough and will warrant two points if it is clear that a two point hit could be landed. Hitting an opponent that is closing to wrestling is perfectly fine and will score as a regular hit.

Afterblows and double hits

An afterblow is when being hit and after that initiating an attack to hit the opponent. Afterblows will not be awarded points by the judges if they do not think there was an attempt to defend against the initial attack, i.e. when sacrificing oneself to hit the opponent directly afterwards. In that case judges will only signal points to the one who initiated the first attack. If the first attack is so quick that the other fencer could not react (sometimes when ”sniping” hands and legs) the afterblow can still score points.

A double hit is when hitting the opponent with an attack that was initiated during an attack by the opponent and both being hit. It is the referee that signals if a hit was a double hit – the judges show their flags as normal indicating the points of the respective target that was hit. In some cases the judges might signal an undefended afterblow (i.e. only showing points for the initial hit), but the referee can still call a double hit. A double hit will not award any points at all regardless of point difference of the attacked targets and every second double in a match hit will result a reduction of 1 match point for both fencers. Double hits will in most cases not be punished at close distance, where it is often difficult for the fencers to read the actions of the other fencer. That means that both fencers can sometimes be awarded points (as if it was an afterblow with an attempt to defend) at short range.

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.
  • 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).
  • Punching with the cross guard is not allowed.

Tournament structure

Vasaslaget 2018 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 six rounds the top four fencers will meet in semi finals and finals (including match for third place).

Match points are used as the primary sorting criterion for making the ranking. Our goal is to use strength of schedule (the one who lost against a more high-ranked fencer gets a higher ranking) as the second criterion, followed by point difference in the matches.

Match points are awarded as follows:

  • Winning: 9 pts
  • Draw: 6 pts
  • Loss: 3 pts

1 match point is deducted for every second double hit in one match.


Bouts end after 3 minutes or when one contestant gets 8 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 time limit, though if the referee deems the fighters passive he may at any time end the match by calling break. The finals (including match for third place) will be fought for 3 minutes without any point limit.

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 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:

  • The winner wins the fight 1/0.


  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 for the duration of 3 minutes, or until one contestant gets 8 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 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 to indicate hit, signalling the highest scoring hits of each fencer.
  8. Judges signal points using a red and a blue flag 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.
  9. When “break” is called, both fighters return to their corners and wait for the referee to call “fight” or ”fence”.
  10. 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. If the referee thinks there is a long period of inactivity after calling ”Last exchange” the match will be terminated.
  11. 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 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 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 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, 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 longsword tournament at Vasaslaget 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 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 made for HEMA fencing. The jacket must not rise above the trousers so that the jacket does not protect the torso.
  • Trousers, made for HEMA fencing and with a high waist, preferably of thrust resistant material.
  • 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.
  • Breast protection for women.
  • Hard protection for shins.
  • 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. In the longsword tournament, off the shelf lacrosse gloves 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. 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