Rapier Marshal 101 Class Outline

Last Modified: 2018-05-16 Revision: 2ab86cf

Introduction and Course Goals

The goal of the Rapier 101 class is to provide individuals with the basic background required to begin a successful journey toward a marshal’s warrant. While we do touch on many rules, it is not an instruction in all rules of rapier combat. This outline, in fact, assumes that the instructor and students are thoroughly familiar with the most recent edition of the Society Marshal’s Handbook and Kingdom Policy as it relates to rapier combat. Prospective MITs are required to complete both Rapier 101 and Field 201 before taking the field as MITs.

Please send comments to the Deputy Earl Marshal for Training.

Marshal in Training (MIT) Program


  • Attempt to ensure a uniformity of training and experience among the marshallate such that rules are being enforced in the same way across the Kingdom.
  • Provide new marshals with the mental toolkit necessary to manage fights and uphold armor and weapons standards in potentially stressful situations


  • This class
  • Field Marshal 201
  • A sponsoring marshal
    • Provide guidance and practical instruction to the MIT.
    • Certify the competence of the MIT.
  • 4+ events, two outside your local group, one outside your region, one with melee activity.
  • MIT Form
  • A copy of the rules
  • When finished, request a rapier marshal warrant with the completed MIT form via the Kingdom Warrant Website
  • Renewal of the class is required every three years.


  • A Marshal in Training (MIT) is not a marshal.
  • An MIT cannot, on their own, monitor fights, inspect weapons, or sign off on paperwork.
  • An MIT is expected to perform the tasks of a marshal but under the direct supervision of a warranted marshal and with the approval of discipline-marshal- in-charge.
  • Warranted marshals supervising an MIT should be performing the task of a rapier marshal with the MIT, either directly supervising their work or having the MIT shadow the rapier marshal. The intent is that the supervising marshal and MITs observe the same exchanges, weapons, and interactions. If any such issues arise the supervising marshal needs to be able to immediately step in and correct the mistakes of the MIT.
  • MITs should not be used to fill marshal positions in order to complete necessary marshal tasks during any activity.

Protective Gear


  • Abrasion-resistant material: material that will withstand normal combat stresses (such as being snagged by an unbroken blade) without tearing.
    • Nylon pantyhose and cotton gauze shirts are examples of unacceptable materials.
  • Puncture-resistant material: any fabric or combination of fabrics that will predictably withstand puncture.
    • These materials are required to be tested every two years and must be tested the first time new gear is used or if no marshal on the field knows a given piece of gear to have been tested. They may also be tested at the marshal’s discretion.
      • Fabric testing for protective gear should be done as described in the Society Rapier Rules in Appendix 1.
      • UnderArmour, Spandex and other similar stretchy materials are not suitable as puncture-resistant materials. In addition, Kevlar is not an acceptable material as it degrades rapidly.
      • Chain mail shirts are legal armor provided they pass the punch test. When you inspect them be sure there are no holes (missing links).
  • Rigid Material: puncture-resistant material that will not significantly flex, spread apart, or deform under pressure of 12 Kg applied by a standard mask tester, repeatedly to any single point.
  • Marshals should acquire and bring appropriate armor and mask testing equipment to practices and events they run.

Armor Standards and Inspections

How to Inspect

  • Remember, inspections are pass/fail first. Ensure that the fighter knows that they have passed or failed, and provide the reason for any failure. A fighter should be given the opportunity to remedy the failure and return to the marshal who failed the item for re-inspection.
  • If you wish to provide an opinion on an item, such as one that may be legal, but close to failure, be clear in your language so that the fighter understands that the information that you are offering is your opinion, not a requirement.
  • Conduct the inspection in the same order every time as this will help you avoid making errors
    • Have you signed in with the MOL?
    • Are you wearing groin protection as required?
    • Has your armor passed a punch test in the last 2 years?
    • Armor first, head to toes, then weapons
  • Checking masks and helms for fit, wear and padding. Mask and helms should be inspected both on AND off the combatant at every event. “It is the mask I always wear” is NOT sufficient.
  • Masks and helms must be inspected at each event and each day for multi-day events. Combatants with masks and helms that do not meet society minimum requirements should be given the opportunity to correct the issue, but if they are unable or unwilling, they cannot be allowed to fight in that mask or helm.
  • Must be secured as to not be dislodged or removed during combat.
    • Specifically, a snug-fit mask and spring-tongue is not sufficient to meet this requirement.
  • They must have either padding or a suspension system sufficient to prevent internal components of the mask that may cause “injurious contact” from contacting the combatant’s head, neck or body during normal combat. The interior of fencing masks and helms without a suspension system must have a minimum of 1/4” (6mm) open-cell foam or equivalent resilient padding to create separation between the mask and the wearer.
    • A FIE/USFA approved fencing mask in good repair is sufficient to meet this requirement.
  • They should not show signs of rust, broken welds, spread open mesh, internal protrusions, or sharp edges that could injure the wearer.
  • Helmet faceplates must not have holes larger than 1/8” in diameter, with a minimum offset of 3/16”
  • If there is concern about the face mesh of a modern fencing mask, it should be tested using a standard commercial 12kg mask punch. Marshals doing the testing shall be trained in the use of the punch.
  • For CUT & THRUST – the back of the head must be covered by rigid material lined by at least 1/4” (6mm) of closed cell foam or an equivalent padding.
  • All other areas of the head and neck must be covered by puncture resistant material.


  • For heavy rapier and cut and thrust rapier, additional throat protection is required; it shall consist of rigid material, covering the entire throat, and shall be backed by either puncture resistant material or the equivalent of 1/4” (6 mm) of open cell foam.
  • The cervical vertebrae must be protected by rigid material, provided by some combination of gorget, helm, and/or hood insert.


  • The entire torso (the chest, back, abdomen, groin, and sides up to and including the armpits) must be covered with at least puncture-resistant material.
  • Acceptable minimum armpit coverage is provided by a triangle extending from the armpit seam, covering the lower half of the sleeve at the seam, and extending down the inner/under arm, one-third the distance to the fighter’s elbow
  • Ask the fighter to step forward and lunge. Make sure that the torso is still covered by least puncture-resistant material
  • Male fighters shall wear rigid groin protection.

Legs & Arms

  • All other areas not discussed previously must be covered in abrasion-resistant material, including feet and hands.
  • No bare skin should show.
  • For cut and thrust, elbows must be further protected by a minimum of an athletic pad or equivalent materials.

Weapon Standards and Inspections


  • Blades must be no longer than 48” as measured from the tip to the top of the tang (i.e. where the tang and forte meet)
  • Blades must flex to the standard as defined in Society Rapier Rules.
  • Steel blades will not be altered in way that could significantly alter their temper, flexibility or durability. Exceptions include, tang modification, cutting down heavy rapier blades, wielding a blunt tip on so long as it does not affect the temper of the blade.
  • Light rapier blades must be a foil blade, epee blade, or similar variant from an established commercial manufacturer.
  • Light rapier blades are not allowed in Heavy Rapier, nor Cut & Thrust combat.
  • Flexi-daggers are not allowed for Cut & Thrust combat.
  • Rigid steel “parrying-only” daggers such as those made from cut down blades will not be allowed.
  • All blade ends must be capped with rubber, plastic, or leather
  • All blade tips must include adequate protection against punch-through of the blade. Examples include, but are not limited to:
    • A metal disc (such as a washer) placed between the end of the blade and the tip.
    • A nut or other blunt metal object welded to the end of the blade in compliance with the Corporate Rules for Rapier in the Society for Creative Anachronism, Incorporated.
    • Exception: The Darkwood heavy rapier tips are allowed, as long as they are installed per the manufacturer’s instructions and do not need a washer or nut.
  • Tips must be firmly taped or glued in place. The tip must be of a color contrasting with the blade so that the tip’s absence is readily apparent. If tape is used, it must contrast with both blade and tip
  • Any blade with kinks, sharp bends, or cracks fails.
  • All burs on a blade must be removed prior to use.

Rigid Parry

  • Rigid parrying devices will be made of sturdy, lightweight materials, resistant to breakage & splintering and does not have any sharp edges.

Soft parry

  • Soft parry devices shall not be weighted with any rigid material nor with materials which are heavy enough to turn the device into a flail or impact weapon.

Overall appearance 10’ rule

  • Intention is to improve the appearance of the field, not prevent people from playing
  • Fighter’s kit shall look medieval at a distance of 10’ or greater
  • In general, this means no obvious sports logos, fluorescent colors, etc.
  • Sports armor should be completely covered, with the exception of fencing masks.
  • Be especially polite and helpful in enforcement of this rule, but firm. This also applies to authorizing fighters. This is something that should be first addressed at the local practice level.
  • If an authorizing fighter does not meet this standard find out who is running their practice and talk to that marshal.


The process to authorize in rapier is defined on the marshal’s website. Rather than iterate over the procedure in detail, the following are important items to take into account when running an authorization.

Selecting an usher

  • Try to select a fighter with at least three years of experience
  • They should be unflappable in personality and controlled in their fighting
  • Confirm with the usher that they must be willing to be struck by the authorizing fighter, to deliberately leave openings
  • The usher should not regularly practice with the candidate.

Selecting marshals

  • Authorizing marshals should be experienced individuals who know rapier combat well
  • They must be willing to let the authorizing fighter stand on their own merits and be willing to fail an individual
  • At least one marshal must be from a group outside of the authorizing fighter’s local group.
  • The marshals should not regularly practice with the candidate.


  • Authorizing fighter must have read the rules of the list and must demonstrate a command of them.
  • Marshals will not answer questions for fighters, nor provide hints
  • Authorizing fighter should be encouraged to demonstrate a point (of say, how to obtain engagement) if they cannot express the requirements clearly verbally
  • Authorizing fighter will not proceed to the fighting phases unless the fighter has demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the rules of the list.
  • These three questions should be asked first in every question section of an authorization.
    • Have you gone through event check in?
    • Have you signed in the MOL?
    • Have you read the rules for rapier combat?

Criteria for passing for light rapier and heavy rapier

  • Comprehension and application of the SCA Rules of the List, SCA Rapier Marshal’s Handbook, and the “General Policies” and “Rapier Combat” sections of the “Policies of the Kingdom Earl Marshal” in the Atlantian Book of Policy.
    • The fighter must know the intent and spirit of the law. They do not need to know the letter of the law.
  • Ability to properly execute and acknowledge various valid blows.
  • Safe and competent execution of offense and defense during actual combat. Fighter should be able to adjust defense to protect different parts of the body as blows are thrown to those areas.
  • Authorizing fighter must behave and fight in such a fashion as to not be a danger to themselves or others
    • Examples of unacceptable behavior would include:
      • failing to stop on the call of Hold
      • cringing or dropping of defense when not in hold
      • striking the usher repeatedly with something other than the striking surface of the weapon
      • striking the usher repeatedly with excessive blows
  • The level of skill required and described above should be considered: “competence”

Criteria for passing for cut and thrust combat authorization

  • “Competence” as described above
  • A higher standard applies as the addition of percussive cuts requires a greater degree of skill to ensure safety for the fighter and opponents
  • Authorizing fighter must demonstrate the ability to conduct attacks in series, incorporating multiple blows and/or feints
  • Authorizing fighter must demonstrate a defense capable of protecting against complex attacks such as described above
  • Must show control over the weapon and the power generated when throwing percussive cuts


  • It is the responsibility of the authorizing fighter to obtain all appropriate signatures on paperwork upon conclusion of the authorization

Injuries on the field

  • Marshals (generally speaking) are not physicians, but do have a responsibility to the safety of fighters under their management. Fighters should be allowed to monitor their own level of injury and gauge their ability to engage in combat activities. Some special cases, however, are mentioned below:

Bloodborne pathogens

  • Fighters with freely flowing wounds must be removed from the field until the wounds can be dressed in such a way to prevent blood (or vomit) from coming into contact with other participants.
  • Marshals should seek to identify the root cause of any cut or bloody injury to confirm that the armor and weapons of the participants continue to meet Society standards.


  • Fighters who are rendered unconscious may not return to the field that day and should be encouraged to seek professional medical care.
  • Some signs and symptoms of a concussion are:
    • Blank stare, dazed look
    • Changes to balance, coordination, reaction time
    • Delayed or slowed spoken or physical responses
    • Disorientation (confused about time, date, location, game)
    • Loss of consciousness/blackout (occurs in less than 10% of cases)
    • Memory loss of event before, during, or after injury occurred
    • Slurred/unclear speech
    • Vomiting

Excessive Impact

  • Combat in the Society poses risks to the participant. This recognition, however, does not excuse fighters from exercising control of their techniques. If a fighter throws blows which force their opponent to retire from the field, from a real injury (even one which only causes brief incapacitation), the marshal responsible for the field shall take such steps as are appropriate to stop the problem from recurring.
    • If this occurs it will be included in the event report.

Marshalling a fight

How to watch a fight

  • As the fighters are entering the list, visually inspect them to confirm that there is no obviously missing or defective armor.
  • A marshal should be able to notify call hit location and whether a blow was delivered edge-on or flat. A marshal may NOT call whether a blow is good or not.

Showmanship and field presence

  • Marshals will conduct themselves in a calm and chivalrous manner at all times.
  • Marshals will hold themselves to the same level of conduct or higher that we expect from our fighters. Any behavior unacceptable in a fighter is unacceptable in a marshal.
  • Marshals cannot both marshal and fight in the same activity. If an event has multiple rapier activities occurring at a given event, they marshal one activity and fight in a separate activity.
  • At the end of each bout, the Marshals will ask each fighter if they are satisfied with the conduct of the bout.


  • In melees, fighters are engaged with all opponents immediately upon the call to lay on.
  • Fighters may strike any opponent with any legal blow if they are within the 180 degree arc of the opponent’s front. A fighter who approaches an opponent from behind shall not deliver a blow until the fighter is within that frontal arc. A fighter may never deliberately strike an opponent from behind.
  • Killing from behind is allowed if it has been announced beforehand. Per society rules for “death from behind” in melees shall be: a fighter does so by laying the rapier blade over the opponent’s shoulder, to at least a third of the blade, while calling “Dead, my lord” (or other short, courteous phrases) in a loud, clear voice. The opponent will be deemed “killed” the instant the blade touches his shoulder.

Event reporting

  • Anyone can file a report using the form on the marshal’s website for any marshal activity. You don’t have to be the MiC, or even a marshal to bring things to the attention of the Kingdom marshallate.
  • File reports within 10 days of the event.
  • If there is an injury you must fill this out within 24 hours.
  • Discipline MiCs should file the report and then inform the overall event MiC that it has been done; event MiCs should make sure all discipline reports are filed.
  • Please be certain to report any of the following events:
    • Equipment failure (armor, weapon or other)
    • Report and failed mask/helm and why it failed.
    • Injury (any event that requires the fighter to leave the field)
    • Conflict issues (disrespect for, or arguments with, any fighter, marshal or support staff)
    • Rules confusion (misunderstanding of or disregard for any rule)
    • Please give us details on both good and bad things so we can detect patterns if things occur at multiple events.
    • It’s a good habit to take pictures and you are able to attaches pictures to event reports

Support Staff

  • MoLs are responsible for authorization paperwork and managing tournament rosters.
  • MoLs, waterbearers, chirugeons, heralds, & marshals etc are all giving of their free time so we can play. Rudeness will not be tolerated & is against Kingdom and Society law


  • Become familiar with the earl marshal website
  • Be sure to go to earl marshal page and use “request a new warrant” to tell KRM you took this class
    • You are required to have an AEL account
    • Specify if you are starting your MIT process or completing your training requirements
  • Print the rules, keep them with you at every event your marshal.
  • Print a copy of your MIT form, a copy can be found in the paperwork section of the earl marshal website.
  • To stay current, sign up for the Atlantian Marshal’s mailing list and read the ACORN

Open for Questions and Discussion