Guidelines for Conducting Historic Swordsmanship Study in the Society for Creative Anachronism
Statement of Intent: The intent of Historic Swordsmanship Study (HSS) is not competitive re-creation (as with fencing or heavy fighting) nor is it a process for experimenting with new techniques for use in competitive re-creation; it is the study of documented medieval martial techniques in a controlled and non-competitive environment for the purpose of gaining a greater understanding of how individual combat was conducted in medieval Europe during the time period covered by the SCA.
Scope of these guidelines: These guidelines establish minimum safety standards and procedures for the conduct of HSS (as defined in the Statement of Intent) within the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). All HSS conducted in the SCA, except for those activities covered by other rule sets, will conform to these guidelines. These guidelines are minimums; individual kingdoms are free to enact more restrictive guidelines. Kingdoms which do not wish to allow HSS are not required to implement these guidelines.
Process for obtaining permission to hold a HSS session:
1. The organizer of the session will notify the local Knight Marshal, in writing, of his/her intentions. Be sure to include:
-The date, time, and location of the practice.
-The expected number of attendees.
-A rough outline of the material to be covered.
-The name of the Marshal in Charge (MIC) at the event.
Be sure to allow at least 30 days lead time prior to the day of the event to allow the marshallate time to process and respond to your request.
2. The local Knight Marshal will pass the request up to the Kingdom Earl Marshal.
3. If permission is granted by the Kingdom Earl Marshal, the organizer will conduct the HSS session according to the guidelines below.
4. After the HSS session, the organizer will submit a report to the local Knight Marshal which includes:
-The date, time, and location of the practice.
-The number of attendees broken down by members and non-members.
-A rough outline of the material covered.
-A summary of any incidents you feel should be brought to the attention of the marshallate.
Guidelines for the conduct of a HSS session:
1) No free-sparring or competitive combat. It must be impressed upon participants at the beginning of every HSS session that this is a cooperative exercise; the goal of the victim is to help their partner successfully execute the technique being studied, not to resist or deviate from the agreed upon choreography.
2) All actions will be done at very slow speed; i.e. no more than 30% of full speed. All actions will be choreographed beforehand; i.e. I will execute an overhand attack with my dagger, you will use the 1st remedy and execute the disarm.
3) No real or metal weapons of any sort may be used or carried by participants.
4) No equestrian activities.
5) No armor is required. Eye protection, leather gloves, and forearm pads are strongly recommended. Heavy helmets (such as those used in heavy fighting) are strongly discouraged. HSS participants may occasionally fall to the ground and heavy helmets can contribute to neck injuries. Wearing rigid limb armor can contribute to injuries when grappling techniques are being studied. The wearing of rigid limb amor is strongly discouraged.
6) Blunt weapons simulators constructed of wood, plastic, or fiberglass may be used. The Marshal in Charge at the event where the HSS session is being conducted will inspect the weapons to be used. The weapons should be free of sharp edges or points.
7) Participants are allowed to engage in slow-work for the purpose of studying documented techniques and principles.
8) Participants must present proof of waiver (as per the Society and Kingdom rules regarding Heavy Fighting) or sign a site waiver.
9) At any event where HSS is to be conducted there must be a Marshal in Charge (MIC). This marshal shall be an authorized marshal (Heavy or Light) approved by the local Knight Marshal. The MIC may end the HSS session for any reason. If the MIC finds it necessary to cancel or suspend an HSS session they shall include the details in their event report to the Knight Marshal.
10) Any injuries or safety violations will be reported to the Knight Marshal and Kingdom Earl Marshal within 5 days (preferably the same day the incident occurs).
Guidelines for marshals supervising a HSS session:
1) Your job is to ensure safety standards are enforced. Many HSS techniques involve grappling and throwing. These techniques are inherently dangerous. It is up to the session organizer to convince you that they have taken reasonable safety precautions. If you feel the organizer of the sesssion is competent and trustworthy you may leave it to them. You may assign another authorized marshal (heavy or light) to monitor the session. You many monitor the session yourself. The goal is to make sure that safety standards are enforced. If you feel the session is becoming unsafe, for any reason, you may end it. Some concerns, and associated safety measures, are:
-Throw techniques will be taught. Organizer should arrange for a suitable surface for participants to fall on. I.e. soft dirt or sand, padding, or thick carpets.
-Class size is too large. In general an HSS session should not exceed 10 participants per marshal. It is the responsibility of the session organizer to make arrangements for the participation of suitable marshals.
-Limb-locking techniques will be taught. Organizer should preceed the session with a safety briefing that includes discussion of the non-competitive nature of the study and the tap-out safety measure.
2) Nothing that looks remotely like free-sparring or competitive combat (i.e. they are actually fighting) is to be permitted. Slow-work only.