Introducing the inaugural HEMA tournament for
Columbus Saber Academy and the Ohio River Valley League

Our goal for the event is to
present an environment that supports the personal growth of the fighter, as
well as the growth of our HEMA community throughout the region.

To support that goal and as part of the first place award for each tournament, CSA will pay the winner’s registration fees for their next ORVL event!

Good luck to all our competitors!


  • Initial Registration – All Participants: $25
  • Tournament Registrations – Longsword and Sabre: $20 each event
  • Event T-Shirt: $20
  • Event Patch: $5

Register Here!

The longsword and sabre
tournaments will follow the same general structure:

  • 3min continuous fight clock
  • Valid strikes to the head and torso will score 2 points
  • Valid strikes to the arms or legs will score 1 point
  • First to 5 points or time expiration
  • Strikes must of be good martial quality – excessive force is not allowed, insufficient force will not be awarded
  • “Flicky” strikes to any target will not be scored
  • Take-downs are NOT allowed
  • Point differential scoring during pools will determine advancement to single elimination finals
  • Top 24 fighters will advance to single elimination finals

of Point Differential Scoring

If fighter A wins the match 5-2, fighter A will receive 3 points for that match.  Fighter B will receive -3 points for the match. 

The expectation here is
that this scoring model will promote and reward proper defensive actions and
discourage simultaneous strikes.


All fighters will present
themselves and their equipment to the equipment inspector prior to the
beginning of the tournament for compliance inspection and approval. Loaner gear
MAY be available, we recommend contacting us in advance if you need something.


  • Sabers should weigh between 1.2lb – 3lb with no more than 36” blade and minimum of a simple D guard
  • They will be inspected for acceptable amount of flex
  • Tips should be rolled OR covered with plastic/leather/rubber blunt
  • Should be free of nicks and burrs that would tear fabric or skin
  • Fighters wishing to use a sword not on this list must inquire with us at least one week before the tournament date – the tournament staff and administration will not review off-brand/off-model weapons on-site at the tournament unless previous arrangements have been made

makers and models for Sabre:

  • Regenyei
  • Darkwood
  • Castille Armory
  • Alchem
  • Arms & Armour
  • SGT
  • Viktor Berbekucz (VB)
  • Kvetun Armory
  • Ensifer

Approved makers and models
for Longsword:

  • Regenyei Feders
  • Pavel Moc Feders
  • Ensifer Feders
  • Chlebowski Feders
  • Albion Meyer (longsword)
  • Arms & Armor Fechterspiel or Fechtbuch Sword
  • Comfort Fencing “Dobringer” Feders
  • Neyman Fencing Feders
  • Castille Armory Feders
  • Blackhorse Blades Feders
  • Viktor Berbekucz Feders
  • Kvetun Armoury Feders

Mask w/ Back of Head

3-weapon mask in good
condition with no discernible rusting, breaches of the mesh, tongue, or bib.
The mask must completely cover the participant’s ears and be neither too large
nor small to snugly fit the competitor. Other headgear (i.e. steel helmets) will
be allowed pending inspection for similar criteria as above.

Neck Protection

Some form of rigid neck
protection that covers the larynx must be worn.


Fighters must wear gloves
or gauntlets which protect the hand, fingers, and the portion of the wrist
nearest the hand. Rigid demi-gauntlets paired with a basket hilt or other fully
protective complex hilt, such as a swept hilt or pappenheimer, may be
acceptable, depending on the coverage of the hilt. Gauntlets that are used
without the added coverage of a protective hilt must have rigid or heavy protection
on the hands and fingers. Unpadded gloves alone are not sufficient.

Groin/Breast Protection

Groin protection is
mandatory for men, and strongly recommended for women. Rigid chest protection is
highly recommended for all participants.


Fighters must wear a padded
jacket that completely covers the torso, back, and arms. Fencing jackets or
padded reproduction gambesons are recommended. Unpadded jackets (such as the JF
fencing jacket) must have a padded undershirt.

Elbow/Knee Protection

Use of rigid elbow and knee
protection is mandatory. The protection must completely cover the knee and


Fighters must wear some
kind of enclosed toe footwear. Historical reproduction footwear is acceptable,
as are “five fingers” style shoes.

Forearms & Shins

Rigid or equivalent of 8oz
hardened leather shin/forearm protection is mandatory for the weapon arm and
both legs.

Tournament Roles


The Director starts and stops the fight, communicates with the fighters, ensures all participants are ready, controls safety in the ring, and interprets the Line Judges’ calls for the Fight Table and the audience. The Director may also overrule the Line Judges in some situations. The Director may halt action for any reason including grappling stalemates, immediate safety hazards, injuries, equipment failures, Ring-Outs, or any other reason. 

The Director carries a
staff as a symbol of office and to separate fighters as necessary. The Director
is the final authority in the ring and will coordinate with the other ring
officials to resolve any problems or issues arising from concerns of the
competitors and may call point if they feel the judges have missed a call.

All competitors, coaches,
and spectators will obey the Director at all times. Violations of this rule are
punishable by ejection from the tournament and/or the venue.

Line Judges

The role of the Line Judges
is to observe, identify, and indicate valid scoring techniques performed by the
competitors in accordance with the tournament rules.

There will be four (4) Line Judges for each match. They will each have a red baton and a blue baton. At no point should anyone but the Fight Table, Tournament Administrator, or Director address the Line Judges or otherwise communicate with them. Any fighter or coach attempting to communicate directly with the Line Judges will receive a warning.

During a match Line Judges
will call “POINT” when they witness a valid scoring technique during the match.
Line Judges will raise their batons or flags to indicate votes after the director
calls “HALT”

  • Abstain/Nothing Seen (0 pts) – Batons crossed low in an “X” pattern.
  • No Quality (0 pts) – Action was seen but did not have quality. Batons crossed in an “X” pattern in front of the face
  • Scoring Action – One or both fighter(s) performed a scoring action with quality in tempo. The appropriate baton for each fighter will be raised straight overhead for a head or torso hit or out horizontally for an arm or leg hit


There will be two fighters for every match. Each fighter SHOULD be attended by a coach/squire. The coach/squire may enter the ring when invited by the Director but must otherwise stay outside of the ring and may not interfere with the Line Judges, Director, other fighters, or any tournament staff. The coach/squire is expected to help the fighter with any needs that may come up during the match. Fighters must report to the ring when called. Any fighter called to the ring three times in a one-minute period without reporting will forfeit the match.

Fighters are expected to conduct themselves in a mature and sportsmanlike manner throughout the tournament. There will be no derogatory insulting, back-talk, or baiting of other fighters, coaches, Director, Line Judges, staff, or spectators by any fighter or coach during the tournament. Violators will be given an Administrative Warning.

Fight Table

The Fight Table assists in organizing the queue of fighters for the ring, designates colors, fields any ring-specific questions from the fighters, tracks the time and action of the match as reported by the Director, and updates the score for the match. The Fight Table also informs the Director and Fighters of the points awarded for any exchange.

Any fighter or coach attempting to communicate directly with the Fight Table during a match will receive a warning.

of Matches

Gear Check

All fighters will report to Gear Check as instructed by your ring director prior to the start of pools. If you have any questions or concerns about your gear, please reach out to our staff prior to the event if possible, or as early in the day of the event as you can. Loaner gear may be available with sufficient notice.

Match Logistics

  1. The Fight Table will announce the immediately scheduled fighters as well as the names of those fighting in the following bout (e.g., “On deck”)
  2. Fighters competing in the bout must check in with the Fight Table to verify names and color assignments
  3. Fighters will enter the ring, dressed to compete, and take positions at the appropriate starting marker in accordance with their assigned colors. The Director will invite the fighters forward to shake hands or touch swords at the center of the ring. Only the Director and two fighters will be within the ring during each bout. One coach/squire per fighter is expected to stay outside the ring near their fighter’s starting position.
  4. Fighters must begin each exchange with their weapons in their hands and all equipment up to the standards given in Required Equipment, above.
  5. The Director will signal to the fighters, Fight Table, and Line Judges that the bout is about to begin. The Director will call “FIGHT” to signal that the bout has begun.
  6. If the fighters are not engaging each other the Director will start a verbal ten (10) count-down at their discretion, if the fighters do not start engaging their opponent by probing, striking, or grappling by the end of the count both fighters will lose the Exchange and receive one point against.
  7. Upon witnessing a valid scoring technique, Line Judges will call “POINT”. The Director will call “HALT” and separate the fighters with his staff. Both fighters are to return to their starting marks. If the Director sees a valid scoring technique that the Judges do not, he/she should allow a beat for the Withdrawal and then call “HALT”. 
  8. When the Director calls a halt, the line judges should immediately look down and not at either the fighters or the other line judges. 
  9. The Director will then poll the Line Judges by calling either “JUDGES?” or “SCORE?” At which time the Line Judges will semaphore for the appropriate quality scoring actions.
  10. The Director will then call “FIGHT” to signal the resumption of competition.
  11. The Fight Table will call “MATCH” indicate that the bout has reached the planned outcome in either time or points awarded.
  12. The Fight Table will announce the winner, and the Director will reiterate.
  13. The Fight Table will then call the next competitors.

Equipment Failure during a Bout

In the event that
competitor-provided equipment fails in some way during a bout, the Director or
any other person may call a “Safety Halt.” The Director will assess the equipment
failure. The match may resume immediately if the issue can be corrected
immediately. Fighters who have frequent equipment issues (three or more in a
bout) or whose equipment issues take longer than 1 minute to resolve
(cumulative across all issues within a bout) may be penalized with a yellow or
red card (Director’s discretion).

Administrative Warnings

All fighters and coaches
are subject to a three-warning system for actions made in or out of a match.
Any fighter to receive two formal warnings in a single match will lose the
match, and all exchanges in that match will be recorded as a loss. Any fighter
to receive three warnings over the course of the tournament will be eliminated
from the tournament, and all exchanges in the tournament (prior to and
scheduled to be completed) will be recorded as a loss. Any warning issued to a
coach is applied to that coach’s fighter. Warnings may be issued by the
Director or a Tournament Administrator. These warnings are specifically for
outside-of-match conduct, separate from the penalty system for in-match actions
described in Role of the Director.

Safety Halts

After any safety halt (ring-out, equipment failure, or grapple five (5) count), the Director will ask the judges if there was any scoring action before the halt. If there was none, then the fighters will reset to their corners.  The fight will then resume.

Injuries during a Bout

Fighters must act in a
prudent and reasonable manner at all times in order to avoid injury to
themselves, their opponents, tournament staff, and spectators. Any fighter who
acts in an unsafe or malicious manner may receive a red card or be disqualified
from further participation in the tournament at the discretion of the
Tournament Administrators.

No fighter, coach, or
spectator will enter the arena to assist with an injury unless called for by
the Director or Tournament Administrators.

If a fighter injures his
opponent to such an extent that he is unable to continue participating in the
tournament following a five (5) minute recovery period, the bout will be
recorded as “incomplete due to injury”. In evaluating such cases, the Director
and will ask the injured party if he can continue; however, the ultimate
decision to allow the injured fighter rests with the Director, Tournament
Administrators, and the on-site medical personnel.

If the competitor later
feels they are able to complete the match, AND if opportunity exists within the
tournament schedule, as determined by the Tournament Administrators, the
completion of the match will be allowed. If for any reason the match cannot be
completed, it will be recorded as a Loss for the injured participant.

In all cases of injury, the
judges and tournament administrator will make an assessment as to whether the
injury was inflicted maliciously. A fighter who injures his opponent
maliciously shall be disqualified from the tournament.

Injury inflicted on any
other party (Director, judges, administrative staff, spectators), accidental or
otherwise, may result in disqualification, depending on the circumstances and
at the discretion of the Tournament Administrator in conference with the match
Director and the match Line Judges.


The Director may assess
penalty points to a competitor, after a warning, for any disallowed technique.

  1. Yellow Card. The first time a fighter uses a disallowed technique, the Director shall issue a penalty warning.
  2. Second Yellow Card. If the infraction is repeated, the Director may disqualify the fighter from the match.
  3. Red Card. For gross misconduct, example – intentionally endangering competitors, you may be given a red card and immediately disqualified from the match or the event.

In the event that the Director, in conference with the Line Judges, determines that a competitor has egregiously and intentionally used one or more disallowed techniques, the Director may escalate such penalties immediately to point penalties (second yellow card) or disqualification (red card). Fighters who are identified by the Tournament Administrators as consistently using disallowed techniques across multiple matches may be ejected from the tournament.

If a fighter is Disqualified from a Match, their score will reflect losing every exchange in that match.

If a fighter is
Disqualified from the Tournament, every exchange they already completed, and
are scheduled for, will be recorded as a loss and their opponents get the win.
We do not want to see anyone get disqualified, from either a match or the
tournament. We are all friends and competitors, but we will not tolerate
intentionally breaking the rules or endangering other competitors.

Exchange and Scoring Criteria

There are Four (4) types of possible situations that can result in a scored exchange : a Clean Hit, an After Blow, Actions during a Grapple, or a Disarm

Clean Hit

For this exchange, at least two (2) Judges (including the Director) must agree that a fighter hit their opponent, and that the hit was made with quality. To earn this point, the blow must have been delivered with sufficient authority, force, stability, balance, and poise. This does not mean that the blow needs to be “hard”. To earn this point the fighter must be in full control of his/her movement―balanced or grounded, not stumbling, falling, or wildly lunging.

Sufficient Force and Quality is defined by the following criteria:

  • Cuts: The blade must travel approximately 45 degrees or more and strike the target with obvious intent. The blow must hit with the weak (schwech) of the weapon. Light snips that travel little distance, lazy blows, and strikes with the strong or flat will not score points
  • Thrust: Any touch with the point with forward motion of the blade (motion towards the opponent with the point) that obviously makes contact – bending the blade is not necessary
  • Slice/Press: Drawing cuts must be clearly demonstrated, drawing or pushing at least half the length of the blade

Strikes that do not have Quality:

  • Blows that are sloppy, wild, twist in the strike, or otherwise
    fail to show authoritative control, angle, and blade presence.
  • Weak blows made blindly against an opponent in a grapple, such as
    “wrap shots” around the opponent’s back or over one’s own shoulder with the
    back edge.
  • Strikes that ever-so-barely scrape an opponent’s clothing or mask
    but make no significant contact.
  • Blows made wildly from “Hail-Mary” leaps, rolls, stumbles, etc. If
    it does look like it would have hit with presence and placement, it should not
    be awarded a point.

After Blow

An after-blow will be considered a scored action if the action is completed within one tempo from the opponents strike. Any attack thrown more than one tempo after being struck will be considered a ‘revenge blow’ and will not be scored. Competitors repeatedly delivering revenge blows will generally first be given a warning, then a penalty, and any further infractions will be ejected from the tournament. The procedure shall remain at the discretion of the director.

Actions during a Grapple

Valid scoring actions during a grapple include clean and intentional strikes with the blade, show of intention and preparation for a pommel strike, or show of intention and preparation for a takedown/throw.  Actual pommel strikes and actual Takedowns or Throws are NOT ALLOWED and if completed will result in a warning for excessive contact and may result in a point awarded to the opponent and/or disqualification.  Grapples which do not result in a scoring action will be halted by the Director after a verbal five (5) count.


A disarm is any technique
that ends with one fighter without a weapon and separation of the fighters.
Losing your weapon or buckler during a grapple is not considered a disarm until
the fighters separate.  As long as the
fighter that performed the disarm shows intention for a follow-up strike, a
point will be awarded.  As the opponent is
unarmed and cannot defend themselves, caution should be made and completing the
actual attack after the disarm is not required to score a point.

Self Calls and Refusing Points

Fighters are able (and encouraged) to interject with a “Self Call” by raising their hand and calling for the director’s attention when it is safe to do so (Between exchanges or when there is a natural break.) A Self Call is when you believe you have been struck by your opponent but the judges did not see it, or to correct the judges’ target only when it is at your detriment. Eg: If the judges are calling a arm strike on you, you may Self Call that it was a head strike instead as the head is worth more points than an arm. Or if the judges missed an afterblow on you, you may call that your opponent got the afterblow.  Another example would be the hit you landed on your opponent. But again, only when it is to your detriment. Eg: The judges are calling a head strike, but you struck them in the arm. You are allowed (and encouraged) to call that the strike was to the arm since it is worth less points.

If the judges have called a strike that you have landed on your opponent, but you do not believe that it was of sufficient quality (please read “Valid Strikes” above) then you may (and are encouraged to) refuse points for that strike as it was not of quality.

Allowed and Disallowed
Targets and Techniques

Penalties for using
disallowed techniques are covered in the role of the Director, above.

  1. Invalid target areas include the groin, back of the head, neck, and spine. Strike delivered to non-valid target areas will result in warnings or penalties (yellow card).
  2. The point and edge are valid striking surfaces of the sword over the entire target area. Pommel strikes are only valid when delivered to the front or top of the mask. They should be pulled and never land with full force.
  3. Short edge rising strikes are valid, as are all short edge and true edge techniques, providing there is good edge alignment and sufficient force/movement.
  4. Only “straight” kicks above the waist and below the neck are allowed. Kicks are not scoring techniques but may be used to set up follow-on techniques to create space, or to push an opponent out of bounds.
  5. Closed-fist punches are forbidden. Open-palm strikes, “straight-arms,” pushes, traps, and checks are allowed (though non-scoring) hand/arm-based techniques. Fighters wearing metal gauntlets may not strike with their hands in any fashion; violators will be penalized at the director’s discretion.
  6. Blade grabbing is allowed provided the weapon’s energy has dissipated or the weapon is generally static.  For example, grabbing a blade immediately upon parrying is acceptable; grabbing a blade as it executes a cut is not. Grabbing a thrusting blade is acceptable provided the grab is performed in fashion consistent with the thrust. Judges have discretion in determining whether a blade-grab has been performed or whether to score a hit against the grabber for the blade contact.
  7. Fighters who lose their weapon for any reason before, during, or immediately after a strike are considered disarmed and do not score a point. Fighters may discard their weapons when performing grappling techniques with no penalty.
  8. Fighters who fall to the ground repeatedly will be warned and then penalized as with other disallowed techniques. If the Director perceives that a fighter is falling to the ground to exploit the rule against hitting fallen opponents, he/she will be penalized immediately and may forfeit the match at the Director’s discretion. The opponent is “on the ground” when any part of his/her torso, hips, head, or shoulders touch the ground.
  9. Ring-outs are non-scoring actions that trigger a reset to the middle of the ring
  10. Striking with the cross of the sword is forbidden, including punching with the cross and “mortschlag” type techniques.
  11. Throwing the sword, or other equipment is forbidden.
  12. Intentionally striking a fallen or incapacitated opponent is forbidden. Opponents on the ground are already considered down and points will be awarded appropriately. 
  13. Any means of intentionally delaying the action via the tournament administration processes are forbidden – Examples include, but are not limited to, walking slowly back to the corner between exchanges, communicating with anyone other than the fighter’s own coach who is outside of the ring during the bout, and excessive celebration. Violators may be given a yellow card or an Administrative Warning at Director’s discretion.
  14. Grappling is allowed in all competitions covered by these rules. All grappling will be halted once the Line Judges or Director identify a scoring technique, or after a verbal ten-count, whichever comes first. 
  15. Submission grappling techniques whose inherent nature is serious injury (fractured bones, dislocated joints, suffocation, and the like) MUST be stopped short of full application by the competitors. Failure to do so will result in ejection from the tournament.
  16. All throwing techniques whose inherent nature is to deposit an opponent onto their head are forbidden – Regardless of the intent, throwing an opponent onto their head will result in ejection from the tournament.
  17. Neck-wrenching and small-joint manipulation techniques are forbidden.
  18. At no point shall action continue after a fighter is down. Any further action could result in Disqualification.