The first newsletter of Swiss HEMA is officially out !
If you haven’t registered yet, you can access it on the website.
Swiss Hema wishes a happy new year 2016 to all practicants in Switzerland and abroad !
As for the latest actuality, we are pleased to announce you that Swiss Hema now has its own Youtube channel. The videos for last Swiss-Gathering semi-finals and finals have just been uploaded.
Photos are also available here : Link
Etienne Von Gunten is the king of the franco belgium tournament at the International IFHEMA Cup. Congratulations to him and the rest of the team for their achievement.
From left to right : Etienne Von Gunten, Daniel Jaquet, Jack Gassmann, Vincent Deluz
The IFHEMA International Cup will take place in Hungary from 26th to 28th of June. Swiss Hema wishes best of luck to our delegation !
Competitive sparring is one aspect of practicing a martial art.
The emphasis put on this aspect varies widely between disciplines and schools, say,
on a scale from ‘boxing’ (all training is essentially aimed at improving performance in competitions) to ‘Aikido’ (competitions, if any, focus the execution of forms, not on free fighting).
De facto, most possible attitudes towards competition are found among HEMA practitioners.
Most HEMA-ists will take an intermediate position (intermediate, that is, between the pure ‘boxing’ and the pure ‘Aikido’ schools of thought), essentially along the lines that competitions are fine, offering an opportunity to test the efficiency of the techniques you have trained against somebody who is seriously trying to beat you, but they shouldn’t become all-important, in order to avoid HEMA turning into just another combat sport, all about world rankings and winning medals, losing touch with the aspects involving reconstruction and historical accuracy.
In any case, the reality is that tournaments have become significantly more important within HEMA in a development that started around 2007. It is even possible that something like a ‘tournament subculture’ has developed within HEMA.
There are so far no internationally recognized rules for such tournaments. This is possibly a good thing and should remain this way, as variation between rules makes it more difficult to ‘study to the test’ as it were, i.e. to try to optimize one’s skills relative to the tournament rules instead of the historical art. This is of course the case in any sport practiced on a professional level, and inasmuch as HEMA is becoming a sport in this sense, it is very important to select rulesets that encourage practice of the historical techniques as much as possible.
SFHEMA as of today has no official stance on any of these questions. In what follows, we merely aim at presenting an overview of known existing rulesets which have been tried out in HEMA tournaments. For the time being, here is a list known rules for HEMA tournaments either applicable to individual events or published by HEMA federations.
Included in the list are rules for competition in the following disciplines: sword and buckler, longsword, dussack, rapier, basket-hilted sword, backsword / sabre, smallsword, unarmed (grappling / ringen). Also, there are some events that offer competitions in cutting (i.e. solo demonstration, not contact sport). There is no fundamental reason to exclude competitions in demonstrations of forms or choreography, but no such competitions seem to be held at HEMA gatherings (there are separate competitions in show fighting which judge the execution of historically accurate techniques, but these also tend to judge elements such as historical costume and dramatic expression; e.g. Furor et Ferrum).
The following table compares a dozen tournament rules for longsword.
Most are intended for either Feder or nylon wasters. The HEFFAC rules are the only ones to allow for a sidearm (wooden dagger).
The most “versatile” or complex rules (HEFFAC, Longpoint) make for more accurate judgement of fighters’ performance, but they are also harder on the judges. In general, the level of ‘granularity’ with which exchanges can be scored depends on the competence and the number of available judges. The complex scheme used in HEFFAC is intended to reward impressive, complex, fluent series of techniques, one of which which may amount to ten times the score (or more) than a simple hit scored by hand-sniping.
The “Franco-Belgian” rules are a special case, being the only historical ruleset listed, first presented by
Matt Galas in 2007 on swordforum.com (c.f. 2012 guidelines); these rules were apparently used for “historical sports fencing” in the fencing guilds of Belgium and Northern France from the mid 16th until the late 18th century.
On tournament formats, see also this 2010 article by Matt Galas.
|ruleset||weapon||arena||bout duration||scoring hits||double hits||afterblow||tournament|
|Swordfish (2012)||Feder||overstepping counts as being hit||10 exchanges, or max. 2-3 min, finals 2×3 min||1 point per valid hit, incl. pommel strikes to the mask, dominance in wrestling||elimination on third double hit||afterblow applies, except where the first blow was to the head.|
|ÖFHF (2012)||Feder||14m x 14m, or 10m x 10m, overstepping counts as being hit||first to score 5 hits, max. 3 min, finals: first to score 15 hits, max. 3 x 3 min||no hits to hands or feet. 1 point per solid hit, incl. pommel strikes to the mask, dominance in wrestling||point for the fencer in the vor|
|HEFFAC (Lopes Cardozo 2012)||Feder + wooden dagger||overstepping awards 1 point to opponent||3 min||Hits with either sword blade or dagger: head: 4 points; upper body / upper arm: 3 points; legs: 2 points; hands and lower arm: 1 point. Points awarded for “lethal or incapacitating” hits only. Pommel-strike, half-swording punch or kick awarded 1 point if followed up by a hit (or subtract one point from opponent if these actions are followed by a hit scored by opponent). Points are cumulative for two consecutive hits. Only 2 one-handed attacks per bout per fighter.||on 4th double hit, bout ends zero points to both fighters||score for afterblow subtracted from score given to main hit||preliminary round: winning a bout is worth 2 points (draw: 1 point each).|
|Fightcamp (Easton 2012)||nylon||3 points’ lead, finals: 5 points’ lead||judge’s discretion, any hit deemed to “would have wounded”||elimination on third double hit||afterblow counts as double hit||pure pyramid / elimination|
|BFHF (2011)||steel||First “killing blow”, or third “wounding blow”||illegal: hits to knee or below, fingers and back of head, throws||double hits count||fixed number of bouts against random opponents, top four go to finals|
|FEDER (v. 1.1)||Feder||7m x 7m to 14m x 14m||first to score 3 hits, max. 3 min||any “clean hit”||no points awarded|
|Arts of Mars (2012)||overstepping counts as being hit||10 exchanges, max. 3 min||any “good” hit, including throws||no points||afterblow counts as double hit||number of hits received recorded for ranking|
|Hammaborg(?)||any||first to score 6 points||hands: 2 points, torso, upper arms or legs: 3 points, head: 6 points.||count both hits; a double hit which brings both fencers above 6 points results in both losing the bout.||as double hit||‘unharmed’ win: +4 points, ‘wounded’ win: +2 points, loss: -1 point. One bout in all possible pairings (if feasible), then rank by points total (no finals necessary)|
|Hammertertz (2012)||nylon||circular, 10 m diameter||first to score 3 hits, 3 min max.||1 point per valid hit, incl. pommel strikes to the mask, disarmament, throw/takedown||no points, elimination on third double hit||no points||round-robin pool, elimination finals|
|BSG VIII (2012)||nylon||circular, 10m diameter. overstepping: 1 point to opponent||first to score 10 points, max. 3 min||hit to head or torso, disarm or throw: 3 points; hit to other area, pommel strike to the mask: 1 point.||no points, elimination on third double hit||1 point||1. qualifying stage with Swiss pairings; 2. single-elimination stage; 3. single-elimination finals with top 4 contenders.|
|Longpoint (Norwood 2012)||nylon||circular, 10m diameter.||7 points (2 judges) / 11 points (3 judges), max. 3 min||each judge may award up to 4 points for every exchange:
1 point: contact; 2 points: good hit; 3 points: good hit to head or torso; 4 points: good hit to head or torso while controlling opponent’s weapon.
|elimination on third double hit (no score in finals)||reduces max. score of opponent to 1 point||1. pools; 2. top 16: single-elimination phase using a bracket system; 3. top 4: finals|
|PNWHEMAG (2012)||nylon||overstepping awards 1 point to opponent||3 clear strikes in 2 min or 5 clear strikes in 3 min||one-handed blows illegal. no points for “hand sniping”. No kicks or closed-hand strikes.||point to the “more lethal” hit||double elimination format|
|“Franco-Belgian”||Feder||first valid hit||only cuts with the flat of the blade, only above the elbows and above the waist. “Rising target”: only hits above the level of last hit against King. In-fight illegal.||point to King||counts only for King||series of “Challengers” vs. “King”. Challenger to successfully hit the King becomes King in turn. Fencers eliminated on losing third bout.|
From the above comparision, the main points to be decided when coming up with a ruleset for a given tournament are:
Safety and prevention of injuries is an important concern in any martial art. Injuries will happen, but if practiced responsibly, HEMA need not be any more dangerous than any comparable contact sport. Safety measures need to be tailored to the type of exercise one wishes to undertake. Light sparring with shinais does not need anywhere near the amount of protective gear as does full contact with steel swords. It is up to practitioners to make sure they are always on the safe side of the safety vs. comfort tradeoff.