Hi everyone,

Here at the Cateran Society, we were recently asked to design a new bouting ruleset for use in a tournament. The ruleset we were asked to design was to have the following characteristics:

1- As combatively realistic as possible.
2- Interesting and exciting for spectators.
3- Suitable for staging bouts between styles.
4- Fast-paced, with bouts under three minutes.
5- Not easily gamed.
6- Not too many double hits.
7- Safe.
8- Simple.

The ruleset we came up with is based on the traditional 5-touch fencing match, with the following modifications:

1- Any strike to the head counts like a knockout, immediately raising the victor's score to 5 points and ending the bout. This represents the tradition of the “broken head” or “red flower.”
2- All other touches count for 1 point. We considered making strikes to the torso 3 points, but decided against it as we were unconvinced that a torso strike is really more likely to end a fight than a solid wrist strike, especially when wearing heavy clothing. We also wanted to keep the rules as simple as possible.
3- Doubles are not counted. We considered every other possible variation but concluded they were all more easily gamed or too complicated or both.

Here are the results:

1- We fought under this ruleset for about two hours on two separate days. During that entire time, there were only two double hits. I'm not sure why this is, but I want to see if anyone else gets the same results.
2- All the bouts except one ended with a head hit. In one bout we had one fencer try to win one point at a time with no head attacks, and he pulled it off. So, it should be possible to fence successfully under these rules without targeting the head.
3- Although we had no time limits, no bout lasted more than three minutes.
4- As you can see, the bouts are pretty fast-paced and the action is clear. I think this ruleset has the simplicity and clarity needed to be interesting for non-expert spectators.
5- Safety is a question. We had two hand injuries in just two hours. Normally we get one every few years. Both injuries were with the synthetic broadswords, and the injured hand was the sword hand in both cases despite the basket-hilt. Some kind of protective glove seems necessary even for the hand protected by the basket-hilt.

We're now asking the HEMA community, and especially all broadsword and saber fencers, to help us out by testing these rules and sharing your opinions. We'd love to see bouts using this ruleset with various weapons, but we're also interested in the possibility of using this ruleset for broadsword tournaments.

Your thoughts?