en garde!
A number of nonprofit and professional organizations study and practice period swordplay. The Society for Creative Anachronism is but one such nonprofit organization and possibly the one most easily accessible by the average population.

An enjoyable and personally fruitful activity to engage in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is the study and reenactment of rapier combat. The term used to describe this activity is fencing. Yet, what is fencing? The most commonly recognized version of fencing to come to mind for the average individual is that of standard collegiate/Olympic style fencing practiced in modern sports. The modern form of fencing has three forms based on weapon types and is conducted in linear fashion between two lines on a strip with electronic equipment signaling the registration of scoring touches and mediated by judges. In the SCA, the pursuit of rapier combat is fought in a fashion that is referred to as "in the round." Instead of having the activity limited to a back and forth movements of modern fencing, historical fencers are permitted to circle each other in attempts to create openings in the defense of their opponent and to avoid attacks. This constitutes changes in footwork, parries, and attacks from the modern version. There is also the incorporation of the use of the offhand in course of blade deflection, which is held out of the way behind or at the side of the collegiate/Olympic style fencer. In addition, there are variants forms of weaponry studied for use in the offhand such as the buckler (a small shield), the cloak, the main gauche (represented by a flexible practice version similar in construction to the practice swords used, essentially equating to be a small 25 inch foil blade), and the use of two blades in simultaneous concert. The appearance of the equipment reflects the goal of reenactment, as does the point scoring system. A blow that would constitute a kill with a real sword is acted out as a kill in tournament, and an incapacitating wound is treated in similar fashion. Instead of the utilization of electronic scoring and the calls of judges, SCA fencing relies upon an honor system of blow recognition between participants.

The weapons of SCA rapier combat are similar to that typically familiar to modern fencers. Both commonly available foil and epee blades are used for sparring and competition, and there is also the variant usage of schlaeger blades. Schlaeger blades are practice blades developed for use in the German fencing form known as the Mensur and have a remarkably realistic look and feel to them. They are extremely durable blades; however, the stiffness of the blade requires greater control on the part of the fencer. One notable difference in weapons is that Olympic sabre blades and sabre fencing blows are prohibited for use by SCA standards. The guards, grips, and other blade effects used in SCA rapier combat reflect the attempts at emulating the appearance Renaissance and Elizabethan weaponry.

If your interest is piqued, please refer to any of the sites below for further information.

These statements are wholey the interpretation of the author of this page and in no way are intended to be interepreted as official policy or statements of the Marshal of Fence of the Society for Creative Anachronism or as representation of the Kingdom of AEthelmearc.

For more information on the Society of Creative Anachronism, please refer to these pages:

Some Writings on Rapier from the SCA perspective

"SCA Fencing Notes 1"
by Don Pierre de Tours
Etude One for Single Rapier
by Monsigneur Christian Amaury deLauney
"Fencing Melee:
Theories and Thoughts"

by Don Yngvar the Dismal, KSCA
Earl AEthelmearc
"Palus Nova:
The Rapier at War"

by Don Quinn Kerr
"A Study of the London Masters of Defense"
by Don Dylan ap Maelgwyn, OP, OGR
The Primrose Path
by Don Ian Muir Keyard
"Footwork in Fencing:
Gaining and Closing Distance"

by Don Corwyn Montgomery
"Basic Bladework Maneuvers"
by Don Corwyn Montgomery
"A Study of
Rapier and Cloak"

by Don Ian Muir
"Nice Boots"
by Don Diego Miguel Munoz de Castilla
"The Mindset for
Personal Combat"

by Don Pierre de Tours
"Reflections On Blow Acknowledgement
for the Honorable Duelist
in the SCA"

by Don Giovanni
Cyrano for the
Short Fellow

by Corwin
Converting an epee
or foil rig to an
oval schlager blade

by Corwin

Fencing Marshal Resources

AEthelmearc Policies of the Marshal of Fence
Timing Tips for Planning Tournaments
Eight Man
Double Elimination
Nine Man
Double Elimination
Round Robin Pools

Other Resources for Historical Fencing

In Ferro Veritas
Martinez Academy of Arms

Sussex Rapier Society

The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts
The Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts (AEMMA)