Midrealm Marshal's Handbook v6.0

Table of Contents


This edition of the Marshal's Handbook of the Middle Kingdom is a revision of the fifth edition prepared by Sir Alan Culross some two years ago. Sir Alan's edition was only meant to serve for a short time. At the time the fifth edition was printed, there were many changes made. However, even within this short two year period, many more changes have come about. So fast and so unexpected at times that editing this sixth edition became an ongoing project. With the completion of the Society Knight Marshal's Handbook, and the finishing of the combat archery rules, it is hoped that this edition is ready to serve for some time to come.

Many of the sections are here from the fifth edition. The changes in the rules from the fifth edition are my responsibility, taken in part from the comments I requested from the fighting community or directed from my superior, the Society Earl Marshal.

The combat archery rules come to us, with thanks, from Count Sir Lorell of Shrewsbury and the Kingdom of Calontir with only very slight modifications.

I reserve a special thanks to Sir Varian the Grey, without whose computer and compiling skills this edition may never have made it to press.

I remain in service to the Midrealm,

Duke Sir Palymar

Earl Marshal of the Middle Kingdom

The cover illustration is adapted from one in "The Life and Acts of Sir Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick", by John Rous, 1485."


This is the Sixth Edition of the Middle Kingdom Knight Marshal's Handbook. It replaces the Fifth Edition which was produced in A.S. XXV by Sir Alan Culross. It must be read in combination with the Marshal's Handbook produced by the Society Marshal (published in 1992) which is available through the office of the Society Stock Clerk. In particular, the Society Handbook provides S.C.A.-wide definitions of material which is not reproduced in this handbook.

This Kingdom boasts some 1,000 fighters. The vast workload of the Earl Marshal's office has been spread to other offices that report directly to the Earl Marshal. The Deputy Earl Marshals, all of whose names are now printed in the Pale, have taken on some of those tasks which were formerly performed by the Earl Marshal.

It is the purpose of this handbook to list the rules of the list and the conventions of combat for the Middle Kingdom as well as the standards for armor and weapons. It also spells out the duties and responsibilities of the various marshals. You will also find commentary on how to marshal tourneys and melees. It is NOT, however, the purpose of this handbook to articulate every situation or answer every question that may arise. At these times you must look beyond the written word. Society fighting is based on the subjective standard of HONOR and no amount of codifying will every encompass all of the various ways in which honor may show itself on the lists of the Midrealm.

With the increase in fighters comes the inevitable increase in bureaucracy. The creation of the Marshal's Court and the need for authorization cards is brought about because of the unfamiliarity that now exists between fighters that travel outside their home groups. There was a time when I felt like I knew most of the fighters in the Midrealm, now I can't recognize but a fraction of the fighters I see in my travels.

Trust between fighters is important. When I first started fighting, I was told my most important responsibility was to my opponent, and it is still true today. You need to trust that your opponent will hold your safety in high regard. That becomes more difficult in a kingdom where combatants may rarely see each other outside the lists. In order to increase that trust, fighters need to be aware of their actions and verbally communicate with their opponent, should any misunderstandings or hard feelings develop. In a martial art that has seen an increase in skill level and trains a person to "maim" or "kill" an opponent, only through courteous, chivalrous, and honorable behaviour can we participate with safety. If you have a problem with your opponent, it is your right and responsibility to discuss it with him or her in a courteous and timely manner. It is a primary concern of the marshallate to help ensure the safety of the combatants and this can often be most easily achieved by helping fighters to better communicate with each other.

The Marshal's Court is another form of communication. When normal channels do not produce the desired results, a Marshal's Court may be convened to investigate the problem more thoroughly. The Court is not the first action a person may take, but it should not be considered the last. It is simply another tool to help bring together concerns, ideas and problems that cross over regional boundaries. I encourage everyone to read carefully the information about the Marshal's Court contained in this handbook so that it can be understood. It is there for everyone's use, be they novice or knight. And while it may be that the court will, from time to time, dispense justice, it is more suited to resolving conflicts and opening ways for change than as an instrument of punishment.

I will leave you now with a few words from Duke Sir Laurelen's Fourth Edition:

"I want to foster the ideals of Chivalry, Courtesie, and Knighthood not as rewards for courtly noblesse; not as awards for prowess at arms; but as a state of being. One does not ACT honorably and courteously -- one IS. We should strive to make "MidRealm fighter" synonymous with "safest, most courteous, and best trained". It is very easy to do this if we all treat each other fairly in both fighting and marshalling."

If "rules" are enforced with tact and discretion then the Midrealm lists will always be the "Field of Honor."

Duke Sir Palymar

May 1, 1992, A.S. XXVII

Types of Marshals

The fundamental distinction between types of marshals in the Middle Kingdom is between those warranted to authorize new fighters and those who are not. Warranted marshals are the personal representatives of the Earl Marshal and, ultimately, the Crown of the MidRealm; an unwarranted marshal has no such authority.

The categories of warranted Marshals in the MidRealm are the Earl Marshal (EM); the Principality Earl Marshal (PEM); the regional Deputy Earl Marshals (RDEM); the other deputy Earl Marshals (DEM); Chivalry acting as Reserve Marshals (RM); warranted Group Knight Marshal (including Baronial Knight Marshal); and Knight Marshal of the Field.

Group Knight Marshals-in-Training are a special case. These individuals are warranted officers of the marshallate and may supervise local fighting practices. However, they may not authorize new fighters or conduct tournaments.

Only these marshals and the Sovereign (see Rules of the List #4) may authorize fighters to compete in SCA combat in the Middle Kingdom. All but the Sovereign must be warranted. They must also be authorized fighters within the Middle Kingdom, and currently an Associate, Subscribing, Contributing, or Patron member of the S.C.A. Inc. It is also desirable that they have certified First Aid training at least equivalent to the standard American Red Cross MultiMedia First Aid course.

The following types of Marshals are not warranted to authorize fighters to participate in SCA combat in the MidRealm, although they may perform other duties of warranted Marshals as is described in detail below: Group Knight Marshals-in-Training (GKMIT); Marshals-in-Training (MIT); Acting Marshals; Constables; and marshals from other kingdoms.

The Marshal-in-Charge of an official event must be a fully warranted marshal. The Marshal-in-Charge is responsible for all the marshaling activities at an official event where there are combat or combat-related activities and for preparing (or having prepared) all reports required. This person is always the Group Knight Marshal unless the Group Knight Marshal is a Marshal-in-Training. In that case, the Marshal-in-Charge must be a fully warranted marshal acceptable to the Group Knight Marshal in Training and the group Seneschal. The Group Knight Marshal-in-Training may assist in weapons inspections and in the conduct of the lists but the Marshal-in-Charge is the person considered responsible by the Earl Marshal. The Group Knight Marshal-in-Training must prepare the tourney reports but must have the Marshal-in-Charge check and sign the report.

The fully warranted marshal is the de-facto Marshal-in-Charge in the eyes of the EM, even though the group MIT actually did all the work and put their own name on the tourney report as acting marshal-in-charge.

The Marshal-in-Charge may select a marshal to supervise a list at any time. The person is designated the "Presiding Marshal". This person should be a warranted marshal or, at least, a Marshal-in-Training. If the Presiding Marshal is not warranted, the Marshal-in-Charge must carefully supervise the Presiding Marshal.

The Presiding Marshal is the only person allowed to start or restart fighting in that list, and is the authority in any dispute except where matters must be deferred to the Marshal-in-Charge or his/her superior.

All marshals must have a marshal's tabard bearing " Sable, two swords in saltire or" (two gold swords in saltire on a black field). Group Knight Marshals should have a tabard on which the arms of the group are displayed in addition to the marshal's badge. Marshals-in-Training should have a Marshal's tabard diminished by a label of cadency (contact your local pursuivant). This tabard is WORN ONLY WHEN ON DUTY. In addition each marshal should have a long staff finished in black decorated with a spiral band in yellow (for protecting themselves and fallen fighters), a whistle, and dowels and gauges for checking weapons and armor.

Warranted Marshals

The Earl Marshal (EM):

The Earl Marshal holds the final authority, under the Sovereign and the Society Marshal, to regulate Society Combat within the Middle Kingdom. Warrants for all other marshals in the Kingdom must be signed by the Earl Marshal and the Sovereigns. Decisions of other marshals may be appealed to him or her. It is the responsibility of the Earl Marshal to communicate with, and forward information required by, the Society Marshal; to maintain as far as possible a full complement of marshals at all levels throughout the Kingdom; to keep an accurate list of the authorized fighters in the MidRealm and to make this list available to the marshallate; and to supervise the offices of the Archer General of the Middle Kingdom, the Master/Mistress of Scouts of the Middle Kingdom, the Minister/Mistress of the Authorization Lists of the Middle Kingdom, and the Minister/Mistress of Crown Lists.

The Archer-General and Master/Mistress of Scouts are each responsible for supervising the conduct of the activities delegated to them by the Earl Marshal and of reporting to the Earl Marshal on a quarterly basis concerning their activities. These activities shall include training, selecting, and supervising their marshals (including the creation and maintenance of a manual); creating and revising the rules for archery and scouting; and such other duties as the Earl Marshal shall direct them to perform. The Archer General and Master/Mistress of Scouts shall rank as Deputy Earl Marshals co-equal with the Deputy Earl Marshals (emeritus); unless specifically warranted as marshals for SCA combat they may not act as such.

The Minister/Mistress of the Authorization Lists must be an authorized fighter. The Archer General and the Minister/Mistress of Scouts must be warranted as a marshal within their domain before assuming the office, although they need not be authorized fighters.

The Earl Marshal has the following prerogatives (all limited by the necessity of obtaining consent from the Crown of the Middle Kingdom and the requirement that these decisions be consistent with the decisions of the Society Marshal and the Board of Directors of the SCA, Inc.)

1. To determine the Rules of the Lists and Conventions of Combat of the Middle Kingdom.

2. To determine the armor and weapons standards of the Middle Kingdom.

3. To determine the qualifications necessary for warranting as a marshal.

4. To nominate suitable persons to fill vacant positions in the marshallate, and to replace those already serving with others.

5. To grant authorizations in the Middle Kingdom.

6. To revoke without limit authorizations and warrants and to ban persons from the lists, subject to the review of the Quarter Court and appeal to the Crown.

The Earl Marshal first serves a probationary period of six months; after that period is over it is customary to extend the warrant for a total of two years. The Earl Marshal may not serve more than three calendar years.

The next two classes of marshals have fundamentally similar duties and prerogatives, and are listed together; the Principality Earl Marshal has all of the duties, rights, and prerogatives of a regional Deputy Earl Marshal but may be given other duties, rights, and prerogatives as the Principality develops. In the sections below where a regional Deputy Earl Marshal is specifically named the Principality Earl Marshal must also be included.

Principality Earl Marshal (PEM):

The Principality Earl Marshal has a dual role. In the inception of a principality, the PEM's role is scarcely different from that of a regional Deputy Earl Marshal. When (if ever) the Principality becomes a Kingdom, the Principality Earl Marshal assumes the prerogatives of a Kingdom Earl Marshal. In general, the PEM has the duties and responsibilities of a regional Deputy Earl Marshal but as the Principality develops and takes on an increasingly unique character the Earl Marshal will delegate further responsibilities and authority to the PEM (with, of course, the consent of the Crown and the Coronet).

Regional Deputy Earl Marshal (RDEM):

These officers are an important link between the Earl Marshal and the Local or Group Knights Marshals. Each RDEM is responsible for an extended geographical area; within that area the RDEMs have primary responsibility for the day-to-day supervision of SCA fighting and the supervision and development of the marshallate. The RDEM also acts for the Earl Marshal in solving problems both directly and through the mechanism of the Regional Marshal's Court. The RDEMs have the discretionary power to act for the EM (and hence the Crown) in situations requiring immediate response. Deputy Earl Marshals have the responsibility of being familiar with all the local Marshals within their respective areas and with their training.

RDEMs will report to the Earl Marshal quarterly concerning the status of SCA fighting in the region; the status of the marshallate; any actions of a Regional Marshal's Court; and on any questions of special importance. The EM will rely on the RDEM for accurate information regarding the activities of the Marshallate within their areas. The RDEMs and their geographical jurisdictions are periodically listed in the PALE.

The prerogatives of the RDEM's (and the PEM) are as follows; they are, of course, subject to review by the Earl Marshal and the Crown and must be consistent with the rulings of the Society Marshal, the Corpora of the Society, and mundane law.

1. RDEMs may suspend authorizations for up to six months. Such suspensions must be immediately reviewed by the Earl Marshal and may be appealed to the Regional Marshal's Court.

2. RDEMs, as those charged with the primary responsibility for training and supervising the marshallate in their regions, have the right to veto the warranting of a candidate for advancement from the MIT status. The RDEM or PEM may be overruled by the EM or Crown; however, it the veto cannot be appealed to the Regional Marshal's Court.

3. RDEMs through their discretionary power to act for the EM and the Crown may make those decisions that they feel are warranted to insure safety at an official event. Those decisions must be immediately reported to the EM and the Crown.

The method of warranting a Principality Earl Marshal is defined in the laws of the Crown Principality. A Regional Deputy Earl Marshal must first serve a probationary period of six months after which the warrant may be extended for a total of two years. A second warrant may then follow the first, extending the RDEM's tenure to a maximum total of three years.

Other Deputy Earl Marshals (DEM):

The Earl Marshal's designated successor shall be warranted as a Deputy Earl Marshal in addition to being warranted as the successor by the Crown, the designated successor is equal in rank to other DEM's but subordinate to a PEM or RDEM.

The Archer-General and Master/Mistress of Scouts of the Middle Kingdom rank as Deputy Earl Marshals but may not act as fully warranted marshals for SCA combat activities unless they have been specifically warranted for that purpose.

The Earl Marshal may designate from time to time other deputy Earl Marshals; this may include (but is not limited to) designating the Earl Marshal of another Kingdom or Principality as a deputy Earl Marshal of the Middle Kingdom. The warranting of a Deputy who resides in another Kingdom must be approved in writing by the Crown of that kingdom. It is customary to warrant the Earl Marshal of the East and the Principality Earl Marshal of Aethelmarc as deputy Earl Marshals for the period of Pennsic War.

Group Knight Marshals (also called Local Marshals -- GKM):

Baronial Knight Marshals receive reports from groups within their Baronies. They also have the responsibility for fostering communication within the Barony, and between the Barony and the RDEM and EM. Otherwise their duties are the same as those for other Knight Marshals as listed below.

Knight Marshals (of Cantons, Marches, Shires):

These officers have the responsibility of training new fighters, or of insuring that a qualified, experienced individual is found to take over these duties. They supervise all fighting events hosted by their group and submit all required reports to the appropriate superior officers. Group Knight Marshals must also secure for their groups the services of an Archery Marshal or Scouting Marshal (if group interest warrants such), and should insure that the group obtains the services of an individual to act as Chirurgeon (warranted by the Kingdom Chirurgeon).

Knight Marshals of the Field (KMoF):

These individuals are fully warranted marshals who are not responsible for a specific group, but perform all the field duties of a Marshal. They do not submit reports unless they act as Marshal-in-Charge at a tournament or other fighting event.

Group Knight Marshals and Knight Marshals of the Field are warranted for a period of two years; they serve at the pleasure of the Earl Marshal.

Reserve Knight Marshals (RKM):

All members of the Chivalry of the Middle Kingdom are warranted as Knight Marshals of the Field when they accept either the belt or the baldric and are considered RKMs.as long as they are paid members of the SCA. They do not submit reports unless they act as Marshal-in-Charge. Non-MidRealm Chivalry may also help in all field duties, but not in authorizations unless they are familiar with Middle Kingdom standards and have been warranted.

All Group Knight's Marshal's, KMF's, or RKM's acting as Marshal-in-Charge of an event may suspend an authorization or warrant for the period of the event. If such action is taken the regional Deputy Earl Marshal and the Earl Marshal should be notified immediately.

All of the above categories of marshals may authorize fighters in weapons forms in which they themselves hold an authorization.

Other (not fully Warranted) Marshals

The following types of marshals may NOT authorize fighters to participate in SCA combat in the MidRealm:

Group Knight Marshal-in-Training (GKMIT):

All new marshallate personnel will be Marshals-in-Training for at least the first six months (two report periods). These officers are Marshals of Baronies, Cantons, Marches, and Shires, who are learning by gaining the experience and training to fulfill all marshallate duties. Group Knight Marshals-in-Training must take responsibility for training their group's fighters and running events advertised in the Pale as de facto Marshal-in-Charge (though a fully warranted marshal must supervise the GKMIT and must sign the Tourney report). In other words, GKMIT's do all the work of fully warranted marshals except that they may not authorize fighters to participate in combat and must be supervised by a warranted marshal when conducting events advertised in the Pale.

Group Knight Marshals in Training are warranted by the Earl Marshal as officers of the local group. These warrants are subject to a six-month probationary period; after that period the warrant extends for an additional one and one half years by which time they must have completed the MIT process or they will need to start over. A GKMIT must complete the same process as an MIT for advancement to full warranted status.

Marshal-in-Training (MIT):

A fighter who wishes to become a Knight Marshal of the Field may apply for MIT status. Unlike the Group Knight's Marshal the MIT has no duty to report and does perform the functions of de facto Marshal-in-Charge. A MIT must learn through example; by assisting warranted marshals at events during weapons inspections, watching authorizations, acting as a constable, and through the classes given at various sites (especially the RUM sessions).

An appointment as a Marshal-in-Training is made by the Earl Marshal or by one of the Deputy Earl Marshals. The Marshal-in-Training must accomplish the following over a period of at least six months before the MIT is eligible:

1. Assist the Marshal-in-Charge of a major official event in all the duties of a Marshal-in-Charge, including weapons inspection, marshaling, authorizations, and reporting.

2. Attend at least one of the training sessions offered by the Earl Marshal or an instructor designated by the Earl Marshal at a RUM session or other event.

3. Pass a qualification test administered by the Earl Marshal.

4. Be acceptable to the Deputy Earl Marshal of the region in which the MIT resides, the Earl Marshal, and to the Crown of the Middle Kingdom.

The period of time from becoming a fighter until one becomes a warranted Marshal is rarely less than one year.

Out-of-Kingdom Marshals

Out-of-Kingdom Marshals may not authorize fighters to participate in combat in the Middle Kingdom unless they are warranted by the EM to do so and are familiar with the conventions of the Kingdom, in which case they become warranted marshals.

Acting Marshals

These are fighters who are temporarily given charge of the lists. The Marshal-In-Charge of the Tournament must use discretion in choosing them (i.e.--not using raw novices), and must have them supervised by a warranted marshal. Acting marshals under supervision learn marshallate procedure and the finer points of fighting, especially the problems sometimes associated with blow acknowledgement.

Other gentles may be appointed by a Marshal-in-Charge to assist in the operation of a tournament, melee, or fighting practice. These appointments do not confer on the appointed person the powers of a warranted marshal, but they do carry specific responsibilities. These positions include acting marshals and constables.


Constables are Society members who supervise the list boundaries, and who may perform other duties at the direction of the Marshal-in-Charge of the Tourney. The Marshal-in-Charge should define clearly if and when the constables may call HOLD, and when they should gaff fallen fighters in melee. Constables should be authorized fighters whenever possible, and should be full marshals or experienced fighters during Crown Tourney list bouts. Constables must sign waivers before acting as such.


Writing reports is the most tedious and boring aspect of a Marshal's work. Nevertheless, reports are necessary because they give the EM and the DEMs their chief indication of the affairs of the groups for which they are responsible. If reports are not submitted, the EM has no idea whether the marshal's job is being done properly. Non-reporting marshals will be removed promptly. Therefore, one of the first duties of a group marshal is to find out the name and address of his/her superior officers (EM, DEM, and Baronial Marshal, if any) and when reports are due. Local marshals should keep copies of all reports submitted. Standard report forms make this procedure easy if the basic instructions are followed in filling them out.

Types of Reports

Regular Staff Reports

Regular staff reports consist of Quarterly Reports and the Domesday Report and must be mailed to the Earl Marshal, Regional Deputy Earl Marshal, and the Minister of the Lists.

The Quarterly Report is due on March 15, June 15, September 15.

The Domesday Report is due on December 15.

Quarterly Report

These should include a correctly filled out Quarterly Report Form with all changes in the local list of authorized fighters that ocurred in the last quarter. This will tell the Marshal's superiors when the Group loses or gains fighters, when a fighter authorizes in a new form, and should include any change in the Group Knight's Marshal. Any fighter who has not participated in an official S.C.A. fighting event for a year, or who quits the Society should be reported as inactive. If a fighter moves away, the name of his/her new group, if any, should be reported. Other descriptive information concerning training, problems, and injuries should be included on a separate sheet.

Incipient groups must report every quarter even if there are no changes. Full status groups need only to report the changes that have occurred since their last report.

Domesday Reports

Each Group Knight's Marshal is required to submit a copy of the Domesday report to the local Seneschal by December 15. The acceptable Domesday Report will cover the entire year's activity. It need not be long, just complete. This report is sent to the EM, the RDEM and Minister of the List.

Tourney Reports

These must be sent within a week of the event at which the tourney took place and shall be submitted using the standard forms for the appropriate information. These reports shall be mailed to the EM, RDEM and Minster of the List.

Required Tourney Reports:

Tourney Report

Marshal's Sign Up Sheet

Summary Authorization Report

List of Participants

Injury Report (if needed)

Optional Reports:

Sequential list of bouts.

Elimination Trees.

Crown or Coronet Tournament Reports must be filed with the EM and shall include all of the required and optional reports.

Injury Reports

A separate injury report must be filed for each instance of an injury involving combat. Preferably, these reports should be copies of reports generated by the presiding Chirurgeon. However, if that report is not available, the Marshal in Charge is responsible for describing the nature of the injury and the circumstances under which the injury occured. The report should be short and concise.

Authorization Forms and Reports

The Authorization Form should be completed by the Marshal-in-Charge of the event and given to the fighter along with their waiver before the end of the tournament. It is the responsibility of the fighter to send in the paperwork to the Minister of the Lists to get their authorization card.

Authorization Reports should be completed on the separate Summary Authorization Report form and shall include all information required as listed on the form. All information must be legible.

Authorization Reports should be sent to the Minister of the Lists, who will issue Authorization Cards when both an authorization report and a completed Combat Waiver have been received.


Authorization Cards and Waivers

It is now required that all participants who enter the list area must have an authorization card.

All authorized fighters must obtain an authorization card which must be presented to the inspecting marshals at an official event. All scouts must contact the Deputy Earl Marshal for Scouts and obtain a scout's authorization card. Anyone who will enter the lists as a participant (fighting in a tourney, sparring, helping with authorizations, marshalling, etc.) must go to the List Table and present their Authorization Card and another form of identification (Driver's License, etc.) and sign a Participant's List and whatever other tourney lists requested. Persons other than fighters, marshals, or scouts who must enter the lists (heralds, chirurgeons, water bearers) should either obtain an authorization card for that purpose from their superior officers or execute a temporary waiver before participating at an official event.


The only exception is when you are authorizing or reauthorizing.

Arbitration and Grievance Procedures

Any fighter, marshal, herald, or constable has accepted by signing the Combat Waiver the Society-wide system of arbitration established by the Board for that purpose. This section defines that system for the Marshallate.

The Marshal's Courts are set up for the sole purpose making decisions about infractions of the Rules of the Lists and the Conventions of Combat (plus the rules that support them contained in the Middle Kingdom Marshal's Handbook). This includes fighter authorizations, marshal's warrants, and the ability of a herald or constable to function within the lists. In the latter case, the Courts can only bar the individual from the lists.

This effectively standardizes and formalizes the current powers of the Earl Marshal (and, by delegation, the Principality Earl Marshal, the regional Deputy Earl Marshals, the Group Knight Marshals, Marshals of the Field, and Chivalry acting as reserve Marshals of the Field) has for dealing with problems.

Marshal's Court

The Marshal-in-Charge of an event may, from time to time, have to discipline an individual. As a representative of the Crown and the Earl Marshal, the Marshal-in-Charge may remove a participant from the lists; remove a warranted marshal from the lists, or prohibit the presence in the lists of other persons who have combat related activities (heralds, constables, etc.). The Marshal-in-Charge may also suspend a fighter's authorization card for the duration of the event; the Marshal-in-Charge in that case must immediately notify the PEM/RDEM and the Earl Marshal who would then treat it as a complaint under the section entitled "PEM/RDEM's Court".

The Marshal-in-Charge or an affected individual may request that a "Marshal's Court" be convened to examine the issues and determine what actions (if any) will be taken. The decision of the Marshal's Court then supersedes the decision of the Marshal-in-Charge (if different) unless the Marshal-in-Charge is the Earl Marshal or the Crown.

Marshal's Courts may be convened for the consideration of unchivalrous conduct, use of excessive force, violations of the Rules of the List and Conventions of Combat, use of illegal or uninspected equipment, etc. It may also function as a fact-finding body (for example, examining the events leading to an injury) and make a determination of who, if anyone, was at fault.

The Marshal's Court may remove a person from the Lists for the duration of the event and may confiscate the person's Authorization Card. If the Card is confiscated the PEM/RDEM and EM must be notified by telephone or Express Mail and the report of the Court and the Authorization card forwarded quickly to the Earl Marshal. The Court may warn an individual that these actions may be taken, or it may take no action at all. It may decide that the complaints were unfounded.

The Court is composed of the Marshal-in-Charge of the event, who shall preside and who is responsible for a Report of the Court; a warranted marshal chosen by the affected individual; and a member of the Chivalry chosen by the Marshal-in-Charge or the chivalry present. In the event the Marshal-in-Charge has a conflict of interest he/she shall select another warranted marshal to replace him/her. Should no members of the Chivalry be present or all have conflicts of interest the Marshal-in-Charge shall select one of the most experienced fighters present as a replacement.

The Court needs to reach a decision by majority vote, at a time to be determined by the Marshal-in-Charge (but it must meet on the day of the event). The Marshal-in-Charge must see that a Court Report is forwarded to the Earl Marshal; any action of a Marshal's Court is automatically reviewed by the Quarter Court (see below). Appeals of any decision by the Marshal's Court by either the defendant or the complainant would go to the Quarter Court; however, any decision of the Marshal's Court would stand until reviewed by the Quarter Court. The Earl Marshal may suspend the action of a Marshal's Court, however, until the decision is reviewed by the Quarter Court.

Report System and the Regional Marshal's Court

After receiving two or more unsolicited complaints about an individual's violations of the Rules of the List, the Conventions of Combat, or other rules and customs governing SCA combat or combat-related activities the Earl Marshal shall review that individual's behavior. If the complaints have merit but are not deemed by the Earl Marshal to be an immediate safety issue the individual shall be put "on report" for six months. The individual and the regional DEM will be privately informed by the Earl Marshal of that status; the local Group Knight's Marshal will not be notified. If no further complaints are received the Earl Marshal will remove the "on report" status after the six months period.

An individual "on report" may request the convening of a Regional Marshal's Court as in the case of the Marshal's Court so that the individual may view the evidence and confront the complainants. The Earl Marshal may cancel the "on report" status (for example, if the complainants decide not to participate in the Court); in that case the affected individual would then not view the reports or learn the identities of the complainants.

If additional reports are received or the Earl Marshal considers that there is an immediate safety issue the Earl Marshal can take the following steps:

1. Request that the Principality Earl Marshal or regional Deputy Earl Marshal convene a Regional Marshal's Court in the individual's home group. The Regional Marshal's Court would be composed of the Group Knight Marshal, the Principality or Regional Deputy Earl Marshal, and a warranted marshal chosen by the individual. The PEM/RDEM would preside. If the Group Knight's Marshal, PEM, or RDEM were interested parties the Earl Marshal would choose replacements. This Court would operate as described in the section called "Marshal's Court", and could suspend a fighter's authorization for one month or cancel a marshal's warrant for a similar period, warn the individual, or decide that there was no basis for the complaints.

The Earl Marshal could at his/her discretion affirm or reverse the decision of the Regional Marshal's Court. The decision of the Earl Marshal could be appealed to the Quarter Court (see below).

2. The Earl Marshal may investigate the complaints and then make a decision based on the facts discovered in that investigation. That decision could then be appealed to the Quarter Court by the affected party.

This course of action would be taken if the Earl Marshal felt that the delay in acting would endanger either the affected individual's safety or the safety of those around him/her.

3. The Earl Marshal may take some lesser action (verbal warning, letter of reprimand, or no action at all). This decision would also be subject to appeal first to the Quarter Court.

All decisions of the Earl Marshal would remain in force until:

1. The Earl Marshal accepts the decision of a Marshal's Court or the Quarter Court ,or

2. The Earl Marshal's decision were reversed on appeal to a Court of Chivalry , the Crown, the Society Marshal, or the Board of Directors of the SCA, Inc.

Quarter Court

The Quarter Court is the principal court of appeals for this system of arbitration. It is composed of the Earl Marshal, who presides; a member of the Chivalry chosen by his/her peers to serve for a period of one year; and a person appointed by the Crown at the start of the reign.

If the EM has a conflict of interest then they are replaced by a PEM/RDEM. If the member of the Chivalry has a conflict they are replaced by an alternate member of the Chivalry. If the Crown's appointee has a conflict of interest then the Crown must appoint an alternate.

The Court reaches a decision by majority vote; it meets quarterly (at both Crown Tourneys, Pennsic, and a winter event chosen by the Court's members. Decisions made by a Marshal's Court or a PEM/RDEM's Court will be automatically reviewed, as will all cases in which an authorization has been suspended or revoked or an injury has occurred.

The Court has the power to overturn, augment, or otherwise alter any lower court or administrative ruling, given the constraints below; it may clear a participant from any charges or penalty given by a lower unit or administrative fiat; it may bar a fighter from participation for a specified length of time; or it may recommend that a Court of Chivalry be conducted.

The Court may also consider issues (such as interpretations of the rules, fighting conventions, etc.) brought before it by any members of the Court; in this case the Court may only make recommendations to the appropriate office/body.

Minutes of all court proceedings are taken and passed on to the Crown and the Society Marshal. All decisions of the Quarter Court are considered final, but may be appealed to a Kingdom Court of Chivalry, subject to the provisions for those courts in Kingdom Law and Corpora. Any decision of the Quarter Court shall remain in effect in perpetuity unless reviewed and overturned, augmented, or otherwise altered by a Kingdom Court of Chivalry, the Crown, Society Marshal or the Board of Directors of the SCA, Inc.

Kingdom Court of Chivalry

The nature and function of this court has already been defined by the Corpora of the Society and the Laws of the Middle Kingdom and therefore will not be discussed here.

Equipment Standards

The standards, regulations, and requirements defined here are in compliance with those listed in The Marshal's Handbook published by the Marshal of the Society in 1992. Some terms are defined in that manual; a copy of those definitions can be found in Appendix B. Any modifications to these standards will be published in the PALE and should be added to your copy of this handbook so that the most current information is always available.

While safety and authenticity are both pursued in Society fighting, it is the policy of the Marshallate that safety comes first. Wearing the equipment specified in these regulations is no guarantee against injury, but it is required as the best precautionary measure we can devise.

COMMENT: The words -- "recommend," "urge," "encourage," etc. do not mean that one may say, "it isn't REQUIRED so I don't need it." Armor wisely enough to prevent the more vulnerable parts of your body from being battered. It only takes a little effort to lessen the odds of an injury. We should all insure that MidRealm fighters arm themselves INTELLIGENTLY, not MINIMALLY.


1. Helmets must be made of 16 gauge steel, minimum. (16 ga. = .062 inches).

2. No opening may be wide enough to pass a one (1) inch dowel.

3. The faceplate must extend one (1) inch below the wearer's chin line.

4. No metal part of the face plate may be pressed into touching the face nor should any metal part of the faceplate rest on the face.

5. Helmets must have an effective and safely wearable chin strap.

6. Helmets must be padded or have a shock suspension system to prevent the helm from being driven into contact with the wearer's head by a blow.

NOTE: The exclusive use of open-cell foam for padding is NOT permitted.

7. All rivets and welds must be intact. Rivets used must be at least solid mild steel or black iron rivets a minimum of 1/8 inch dia. space no more than 2.5" apart. Welds must meet one or a combination of the following standards:

a. Welded on the inside and outside.

b. Welded with a single bead that extends through both surfaces.

c. Lap joints welded or brazed at the edges of both pieces.

8. All metal edges must be dull. Projections must not be damaging to opponents or their weapons.

9. Freon-cans and helms made from U.S. Army or other mundane military helmets are forbidden.

10. Minimum bar diameter is 3/16 in. or 1/8 in. if the cross bars are less than or equal to 2 in. apart.

Eye Wear:

The lens of all eye wear shall be shatter proof safety glass or plastic. Ordinary glass lenses are prohibited. The wearing of contacts or "sports glasses" is strongly recommended.


1. Gorgets must be constructed of hard leather or metal over padding (this is the "hard-over-soft" standard).

2. Gorgets must be constructed so as to distribute the force of a blow to the neck area in such a way that damage to the neck is prevented.

3. The cervical vertebrae and the trachea of the neck must also be covered by the "hard-over-soft" standard.

4. No part of the neck may be exposed when the head is tilted forward and backward and from side to side such that a one (1) inch dowel, held horizontal to 45 degrees down from horizontal, may be put into contact with it.

5. Aventails or camails which rest against the neck without other protection, or are of light construction and cannot significantly impede the force of a blow, are not by themselves considered adequate protection. (This is NOT tested by slowly pushing the mail to the neck using one or two fingers, as no aventail or camail will pass such a test.

Hands and Wrists:

1. At a minimum, hands and wrists must be protected by hockey-style gauntlets, well constructed and in good repair.

2. Metal finger gauntlets must be constructed in such a way that the finger lames transfer the force of an impact to the surface grasped.

3. If a basket hilt does not cover the wrist area (this is true for most basket hilts) then there must be some other form of protection for the wrist such that a sword cannot come into contact with it.

4. The steel on the basket hilt must not cause injury to the user, the opponent or weapons. (i.e.. no projections or sharp edges.)

5. All welds and rivets on the the basket hilt must be intact.

6. The shield hand must be protected in the same manner as the weapon hand.


1. Elbows must be covered over the elbow point and sides of the joint using the "hard-over-soft" standard.

2. Persons wearing floating-style elbow cops must prove to the marshal that the cop stays over the critical elbow protection areas during normal arm movement.

3. Elbow protection is recommended for both elbows at all times; however, it is not required that elbow protection be worn under the shield.

4. Elbow armor extending from a vambrace must not expose the elbow when the arm is flexed.


1. The knee cap and both side points of the knee must be covered using the "hard-over-soft" standard.

2. Knee cops hanging from the leg harness must be anchored so that they do not come away from the leg while moving.

3. Knee armor extending up from the shin protection needs to be constructed in such a way that the top of the knee is not exposed while kneeling.


1. The groin area must be covered by armor. For males, the standard athletic protective cup is recommended and will NOT be worn external to the trousers. For females, some equivalent kind of "hard-over-soft" protection is required (ie. a Jill). The wearing of male athletic cups by female fighters is prohibited.


1. The kidney area, the short ribs, and lower spine must be protected using the "hard-over-soft" standard. For this area only, heavy chainmail may replace the standard hard material if it provides equivalent protection.

NOTE: The kidneys are located in the back at about the bottom of the sternum. The sternum is the large, flat bone connecting your ribs in front.

Breast Protection (Women)

1. Breast protection in the form of a gambeson shall be worn as a minimum.

2. Separate breast cups are prohibited unless connected by or mounted upon an interconnecting rigid piece, ie., heavy leather or metal breast plate.

This ends the list of the REQUIRED armor.


1. Shields must be similar in weight and handling to their authentic counterparts, and should not give any unfair advantage to their user. Shields must be opaque.

2. Shields must weigh at least eight (8) pounds for a 24-inch round or a 24 by 24 inch heater. Any other shield must weigh proportional to its size.

3. Shield rims must be at least 3/4 inch wide and be constructed in such a way as not to damage opponents or their weapons.

4. Unpadded metal projections of more than 1/4 inch are not permitted on the face of the shield, with bosses being the only exception.

Weapon Construction

Overall Standards:

1. The only material permitted in the construction of blades or shafts is rattan. Rattan is used because of its unique mechanical properties. Therefore, no swords may be stiffened, fiberglassed or constructed of laminations. Swords may be repaired with white glue or protected with leather or like material and any non-metallic tape.

2. No blade or shaft of a weapon may be less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter.

3. Weapons may NOT be laminated or have metal used in any way in the construction of the striking area. (This includes the use of lead tape as the core for a mass weapon.)

4. Weapons that are primarily used single-handed must be equipped with a attached, sturdy lanyard strong enough to secure the weapon to the fighter's arm should he lose his grip on the hilts.

5. Spears are limited to 9 feet in length. All other weapons are limited to no more than 6 feet in length.

6. Pike-mauls, thrusting shields, and ball-and-chain-style weapons are prohibited in the Lists of the Middle Kingdom.


Greatsword: Any sword with an overall length of 4 to 6 feet. The grip of a greatsword is limited to a maximum of 18 inches including the pommel weight. Any sword with a grip over 18 inches must be padded per the polearm standard.

Bastard and Single-Handed Swords: Swords of 48 inches or less. The grip is limited to a length of 12 inches or less, including the pommel weight.

Swordtips: Tips of all swords must be rounded.

Quillions: Any quillion that extends more than 1/2 inch beyond the hand, when the sword is held normally, must be 1 1/4 in. in diameter at the ends.

NOTE: The tsuba style guard generally does not violate this rule.



2. Polearms must be padded by at least 1 inch of flexible closed cell foam or its equivalent along any cutting surface. In addition, polearms must be padded for 1/3 of its length or 18 inches, whichever is less.

3. The weight of the total weapon shall not exceed one (1) pound per foot of length.

Mass Weapons:

1. Mass weapons include maces, axes and war hammers.

2. Mass weapons must be padded by at least 1 inch of flexible closed-cell foam, or its equivalent, along any striking surface. Spike-like projections on a mace may not be made of hard leather or rubber.

3. The maximum total weight of a mass weapon shall not exceed five(5) pounds.

Thrusting Tips:

1. Thrusting tips for all weapons except pultruded spears must be at least 2 inches in diameter and 2 inches above the end of the rattan.

2. There must be progressive give without it bottoming out on the rattan.

3. The tip may not bend over to the extent that the end of the rattan becomes the primary striking surface.

Pultruded Linear Fiberglass Spears:

1. The minimum outer dimension for the spear shaft must be no less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter.

2. The minimum inner diameter of the spear shaft must be no less than 1 inch.

3. The spear must have a Schedule 40 PVC cap under the thrusting tip.

4. The thrusting tip must be at least 3 inches in diameter and at least 3 inches above the PVC cap in addition to the other standards for thrusting tips.

5. Fiberglass spears may have only one splice in the spear, and it may be no closer than 2 feet to either end of the spear.

6. Splices for take-down spears must use a solid piece of fiberglass or nylon that matches the internal diameter of the spear and must be at least 12 inches in length. One-half of the solid fiberglass must be glued into one end of the splice and must fit very tightly into the other end of the splice. Duct tape or strapping tape must be wrapped over the splice to help ensure that the splice stays together.

7. Pultruded fiberglass may not be used in the construction of spears under 7 feet in length.

Middle Kingdom Authorizations

The authorization process is one of the most important safeguards in SCA fighting. Authorizations must be taken seriously. However, this does not mean that entire events must be held up by endless authorizations. Proper organization and a sense of priorities is the best way to insure that authorizations get done, without taking all the fun time.

Concentrate at the beginning of an event on authorizing new fighters, and on those from groups so distant that they have a hard time making it to events. Require authorizing fighters to be armored and ready; have a volunteered group of ready, EXPERIENCED, fighters to use as their opponents where possible. Other authorizations can be done throughout the day during the inevitable slow periods. Remember also that authorizations need not be done at an event. If several warranted marshals can be assembled at a practice, at least one of whom is not from the local group, many authorizations can be done at once. This can also be more effective since training problems can be dealt with immediately without holding up a tourney.

Fighters wishing to be authorized for the first time must:

1. Have attained the age of 18.

2. Have read and be familiar with the Rules of the List and the Conventions for Combat in the Middle Kingdom and the Society for Creative Anachronism and have been informed of the dangers of our sport and that it is a chivalric activity.

3. Have signed a Combat Waiver.

4. Have had some practice.

5. Be using at least a helm and shield he/she has used in practice before.

No unpracticed novices should be allowed to attempt to authorize; it is dangerous and a waste of time.

A copy of the Rules of the List and the Combat Conventions of the Middle Kingdom must be available at any official event at which authorizations may be conducted. Note that this includes a group practice if an authorization is to be attempted there.

The new fighter shall have his arms inspected, and when authorization bouts are announced, go to the list officer, turn in a signed waiver if he/she has not done so already, and complete the authorization form which will list the fighter's names (both modern and SCA), and have spaces for the marshals to list the outcome of the bout. The fighter will then present himself armed with sword and shield to the presiding marshal when called. The marshal will ask the fighter if he/she has read and understood the Rules of the List and the MidRealm fighting Conventions. If the fighter has not read them (which should not happen) he/she will be given a copy to read, and told to return when he/she has done so.

A marshal cannot authorize someone in a weapons style that the marshal is not authorized in.

Anyone who has not participated in SCA combat for a year or more must reauthorize. Normally a successful authorization bout for sword and shield will reactivate all the previous authorizations held, but the person may attempt to reauthorize in another weapons style instead of sword and shield if he/she prefers.

Authorization Categories:

 Abbrev.        Weapon Style                       Definition                

  S/SH    Sword and Shield          One-handed sword and shield.             

  W/SH    Mass Weapon and Shield    Single-handed axe, mace, or war hammer.  

   BS     Bastard Sword             Any two-handed weapon 48 inches long or  

   GS     Greatsword                Any two-handed weapon over 48 inches     

   DGR    Dagger                    All single-handed thrusting weapons.     

   PA     Pole Arm                  All two-handed mass weapons.             

   SP     Spear                     All two-handed thrusting weapons.        

   CA     Combat Archery            Bows and golf tube arrows.               

Overall Standards For Authorizations:

All fighters, unless excused by the Earl Marshal in writing for good and sufficient reason, must authorize first in sword and shield. Authorization is by the use of the weapon or technique; for example, a fighter authorized in Pole Arm may not use it to thrust unless he/she is authorized in spear (though these two authorizations may be done at the same time); one authorized in two-weapon may not not fight sword and axe unless authorized in Mass Weapon and Shield. Whatever the fighter is authorized in, the fighter is responsible to be competent with the weapon actually used. All Chivalry are assumed to be responsible enough to use only weapons they are competent in and so are authorized in all forms.

All out-of-kingdom authorizations are considered valid in the Middle Kingdom. However, marshals may require visitors or new residents to reauthorize for good cause. This applies to all Midrealm fighters as well.

TWO (2) warranted marshals are required to authorize a fighter, a third is preferable and, in any case, at least one should be unfamiliar with the fighter authorizing.

If there is only one full marshal at an event, s/he may NOT authorize new fighters. The fighter is required to go through a full authorization at another time in the presence of the required number of marshals.

Authorizations at practices are allowed with the following restrictions: You must have the permission of the EM or DEM first and there MUST be TWO full marshals from outside the group that holds the authorizations.

The opponent of the authorizing fighter needs to be experience and known to the marshals. (This is so the warranting marshals have a standard reference by which to judge the authorizing fighter.)

The first bout in a S&SH authorization is required to contain three separate parts:

1. A period of time where the fighter and opponent are fully armed and on their feet. Time wise, this bout should be conducted as the first bout of any other authorization.

2. A period of time where the fighter is on his/her knees fully armed and the opponent is on his/her feet fully armed.

3. A period of time where the fighter is off-hand single-sword on his/her feet and the opponent is on his/her feet fully armed.

An authorization will follow a set pattern of bouts. The first is a sparring bout. Fighters acknowledge blows verbally, calling out "good to the head", "good to the leg", etc., loudly enough for the observing marshals to hear, but do not act out the blow's effect. The sparring bout should demonstrate the full range of the authorizing fighter's skill in both offense and defense. A skilled opponent will spend some of the time "pressing" the candidate and some of the time retreating from him/her to encourage a full display of skills. The sparring bout is to last no more than five minutes. A candidate who does not have the endurance to fight in a normal authorization can be failed for this reason alone.

After the first bout, the attending marshals should meet with the opponent to discuss the performance of the fighter. Each marshal is given a chance to express an opinion on the fighter's performance. If it is decided that the fighter would benefit from advice before going on, one of the marshals may do so at this time. After the fighter has rested, then the fighter goes on to the second bout.

The second is as if for the Crown of the Middle Kingdom. All blows are acted out. Victory in the bout is not a consideration for authorization; this bout is held to demonstrate the candidate's ability to properly and safely act out the effects of the blows received and given in a manner befitting combat in the lists.

After the second bout, the marshals meet to decide if the fighter meets the minimum criteria for authorization. If the fighter passes, they are informed. If the fighter does not pass they should be advised of their deficiencies are how to correct them. Marshals are expected to deliver this advice in a helpful and instructive manner which will foster the growth of the individual candidate, whose emotional involvement at this stage of the authorization process is likely to be intense.

Minimum Criteria for Authorization:

1. Knows the Rules of the List and the Conventions for Combat in the Middle Kingdom and the Society for Creative Anachronism and exhibit that knowledge on the field.

2, Exhibit ssafe behavior on the field.

3. Begins in and maintains a proper stance and use the shield or weapon properly to guard.

4. Delivers blows from a proper range and at a proper strength and sustains an adequate offense.

5. Reacts correctly to pressure, with the ability to "fight back" without becoming confused, disoriented or losing control.

6. Feels and judges blows correctly, both those received and those given.


Does the fighter show some level of competence, as well as being safe, with the weapon style? Competence will always be a subjective area but can include such things as demonstrated familiarity with the unique characteristics of the weapon style and awareness of the tactics for both offense and defense with the style.

First Authorization (S/SH) Criteria:

1. Must have attained the age of 18.

2. Read and be familiar with the Rules of the List and the Conventions of Combat in the Middle Kingdom and the Society for Creative Anachronism.

3. Must have signed a waiver.

4. Must have had some practice.

5. Must be using at least a helm, shield and sword he/she has used in practice before.

NOTE: #5 does not require ownership, only familiarity. A person who performs poorly and uses equipment problems as a reason should not be authorized.

Please Remember:

Authorization is a public statement that the fighter know the rudiments of combat and that they do not habitually do anything that constitutes a hazard to themselves or others. Fighters need not be skilled enough to win fights, only enough to compete safely.

Additional Rules of the List for the Middle Kingdom

The following additional Rules of the List constitute those rules and portions of rules which have been traditionally followed in the Middle Kingdom that are extensions of the Rules of the List of the S.C.A., Inc. These rules have the same force within the Middle Kingdom as the Society Rules of the List, but they may not be adhered to in other kingdoms. In some cases the Middle Kingdom rules cover material that is covered in the Society Conventions of Combat, but those have been retained here.

1. No combatant may be less than 18 (eighteen) years old.

2. Fighters are expected to behave as though the weapons used in combat are real, and "injuries" sustained will be judged accordingly. In judging "injuries" all fighters are presumed to be fully armored unless otherwise stated.

This is the basic rule of realism. "Fully armored"is interpreted to mean light riveted mail over a gambeson and a closed IRON helm (some other kingdoms specify open-faced to justify certain techniques not used in the MidRealm) regardless of the ACTUAL armor worn by the fighter. Illustrations from the period when this was the actual type of armor used indicate that it could be penetrated by a solid, unimpeded, one-handed blow with the broadsword. "Behaving as if the weapons were real" means that a blow, to be counted, must be forceful and unimpeded in order to have penetrated the armor being worn. This also means that the nature of the weapon used must be taken into consideration; for example, blows with the very tip or flat of the sword are ignored; only blows with the cutting edge of an axe count, etc.

"Fully armored unless otherwise stated" allows for demonstration fights using specific weapon and armor combinations. "Injuries sustained" is the reason for fighting on one's knees, or on one leg, if struck on the leg, etc. The marshal observing a fight should insure that this is being followed accurately: that the leg with the knee on the ground is the one that was struck, that the "missing" arm is not used intentionally to block a blow, etc.; and he/she will make reminders, if necessary, of the injury that the fighter has sustained.

If a blow is blocked (as happens reflexively sometimes) by a "missing" arm, the blow may be counted as unimpeded; especially if the fighter has been previously warned about such action. If a blow lands on the hip or buttock, the fighter must sit rather than kneel. Marshals should also take into account the type of weapon here: Blows to the hip struck with two-handed weapons being wielded two-handed are deemed killing blows. This includes Bastard and Greatsword,axe, mace, and all Polearms (except spears) in two-handed use. Also, blows to the hip struck with mass weapons (either one-handed OR two-handed) are deemed killing blows. These include axe, mace, and war-hammer.

3. Each contestant fighting in the lists for the Crown shall have a prospective consort to receive the Consort's Crown should he/she be successful in combat, though the name need not be revealed (except to the Crown and the Kingdom Seneschal for membership verification) until the crown is secure.

"Fighters for the Crown must have a Lord or Lady". Marshals are not responsible for enforcing this rule, except for observing it themselves.

4. The head, face, and neck shall be protected from injury.

See "Equipment Standards" in the section on equipment inspection.

5. Any combatant may, without dishonor or penalty, reject the use of a particular weapon by his opponent, should he/she deem the weapon unusually dangerous.

6. Any weapons mutually acceptable to the combatants in a fight may be used on the field of battle subject to the approval of the Sovereign or his/her representative; when the combatants mutually desire to use any weapon previously barred by the Sovereign or his representative, they may present their cause to the Sovereign. The Sovereign shall, after receiving the advice of his representative, pass judgement upon the use of the barred weapon for a particular fight.

"Weapons mutually acceptable to the combatants". This is the rule that allows for demonstration fights with new types and designs of weapons. It allows weapons of non-standard types, of unusual behavior, or which give an advantage to the user, to be used under strictures. The consent of the combatants can be obtained by asking each time the weapon is to be used, or by demonstrating it to all fighters present at an event and getting their collective consent at the beginning of the event; this rule also allows the Earl Marshal to modify the interpretation of other rules for specific fights or events.

This is the appeals procedure for weapons rejected by the marshallate. The King has the final decision with the advice of the Earl Marshal.

7. No tournament weapons shall be made of metal and no metal shall be drawn in an offensive manner on the field at any Society event.

"No metal weapons." This does not prohibit hand guards or pommel weights on tourney weapons. Guards and pommels, however, shall have no protruding points or sharp edges which could cause injury, and no metal may be included on the striking surface. No combatant shall wear any real weapon into combat, and marshals are advised to leave swords and other major weapons off the field when on duty. This Rule prohibits fighting with real weapons, whether fast or slow, demonstration or real, at any SCA event.

8. A shield may not be used as a weapon, unless approved by the Sovereign or by the Sovereign's representative.

This does not prohibit the use of the shield to displace, immobilize, or deflect the opponent's shield or weapon, nor to oppose or deflect the opponent's motion, so long as the shield does not strike the opponent's body or limbs. However, control over shield technique is the responsibility of the user, and any combatant who consistently strikes the opponent's body or limbs, intentionally or not, may be banned from further use of offensive shield technique until such time as he/she can demonstrate proficiency at the technique. Shields intended to be used as weapons must be approved either by the King or the EM. See the sections on Marshalling fights and on Enforcing the Rules of the List.

9. There shall be no thrusting, except with weapons specifically designed for thrusting, subject to the provisions of Middle Kingdom Rule #5. Thrusts to the face with any weapon are prohibited.

This rule means that ALL thrusting weapons must be approved by a marshal. This rule also prohibits thrusting with weapons that have not been designed and approved for that use. This rule does not prohibit a hit to the face by a projectile weapon such as an arrow or javelin.

10. A bladed weapon may not be grasped as a means of stopping a blow.

"Bladed weapons cannot be grasped to stop a blow." This refers not only to grasping or blocking with the hand, but also to trapping the blade in contact with any part of the body -- for example, between the arm and side. However, catching a blade between one's shield and the ground or some other inanimate object is not prohibited; nor is a blade considered grasped if it becomes entangled behind one's shield, provided that no effort is made to keep it there, such as clamping the elbow against the side to hold the weapon. On the other hand, it is legal to grasp the shafts of maces, spears, and pole arms.

11. If a weapon is broken or dropped on the field, the combat shall stop while the fighter is rearmed. If a fighter slips, the combat shall stop until he is recovered. This rule applies only to tournaments. In melees with more than 10 persons per side a dropped or broken weapon does not stop combat; the person who has dropped or broken a weapon may continue to participate only if the loss of the weapon does not cause that person's armor to violate armor standards (such as lack of hand protection).

When a combatant drops or breaks a weapon, the combat stops, and the blow which involved the dropping or breaking is not counted. However, a weapon clearly broken on the opponent in a well-delivered blow is counted good. Blows started by a fighter before his opponent drops or breaks a weapon or shouts HOLD are counted as good. The same principle is applied when a combatant slips or stumbles.

The Sovereign or his/her representative may impose the tournament standard on melees with fewer than 10 persons per side.

12. No projectile weapons shall be allowed, and no weapons shall be thrown, within the lists of a tourney. All other uses of such weapons are subject to the provisions of Rule #9.

This rule bans projectile weapons (sling-stones, arrows, etc.), throwable weapons (javelins, axes), and the intentional throwing of weapons of any nature from a tourney list. This rule does not prohibet use of such weapons in a melee.

Middle Kingdom Combat Conventions


No fighter may deliberately strike at or below the knee or wrist (these joints being defined as starting one inch above the bend.) Any blows to those areas are not to be counted. No fighter may deliberately cause an opponent to strike these areas in order to avoid loss of a limb. Any fighter who does so (for example, lifting a leg) may lose the limb in question.

Fighters may not grapple with their opponents, nor may they kick or grasp an opponent or their opponent's shield. "Grasp" is defined as held securely with a closed hand for any length of time.

Blows which are solidly blocked by the shield or blocking weapon before, or simultaneous with, striking the opponent need not be counted.

No thrusts or thrusting feints to the face or throat with any weapon will be allowed.

Fighters must acknowledge blows according to the standards of the Middle Kingdom despite the actual armor worn. This includes armor that is ill-fitting or tabards and auxiliary weapons that may entangle legitimate blows. Marshals may require fighters to remove the offending weapons or clothes and/ or accept the marshal's decision of the effect of blows delivered to it.


Light riveted mail over a gambeson and a closed iron helm.

A blow which includes the releasing or breaking of a weapon is not to be counted unless, in the opinion of the marshal , a properly constructed and maintained weapon was clearly broken on the body of the fighter being hit, without any other contact.

A blow begun BEFORE the occurrence of an event that would stop the fight (such as a hold or a fighter dropping their weapon) will be counted if it lands on the opponent. If the blow is begun after such an event, it will not be counted.

A helpless opponent is not struck. However, a fighter in the act of acknowledging the effects of an earlier blow is not considered helpless (i.e. a fighter dropping to his knee after receiving a leg shot is not immune from being struck in the head as he is dropping.)

A fighter who makes himself "helpless" by repeatedly overrunning the borders of the list or falling over while on their knees may, at the discretion of the marshals and the opponent, be deemed to have been defeated.

A blow to a limb does not stop the progress of combat and may be followed instantly by any legal blow.

When a fighter is struck by a killing blow but has already begun a blow that is killing to their opponent, both are considered good. This results in a "Double-Kill" in which both fighters are defeated. In tourney combat, double-kills are generally refought. In wars and melees, both are defeated.

Any mass or two-handed weapon that strikes the hip is scored as a kill. A two-handed THRUST (i.e. a spear) to the hip is NOT scored as a kill.

If a weapon is broken on the field, it may only be replaced with a weapon of the same type, or by a worn auxiliary weapon. An auxiliary weapon that interferes with a fighter's ability to feel blows must be removed and given into the keeping of the marshal until it is needed. If a weapon is deliberately discarded in favor of an auxiliary weapon during a fight, the fighter is allowed to resume the use of the discarded weapon if they can retrieve it without delaying the fight. A fighter attempting to retrieve such a discarded weapon during combat, while still armed, is considered "engaged". Likewise, a fighter using two weapons who drops or discards one is still engaged. A hold is ONLY called if there is a clear danger caused by the dropped weapon.

A sufficiently hard blow struck with the end (tip) of the sword should be acknowledged as effective unless the blow could not have penetrated the body deeply enough (at least one inch) to disable or kill.

A weapon may not be braced against a helm or shield to block blows.

No one may deliberately strike a person with the ineffective part of any weapon.

A blow which is intentionally blocked with a wounded limb is scored as if the limb were not there.

A fighter who is attempting to keep a wounded limb out of the line of combat and has that limb struck, suffers no additional penalty.

No mention of religion, magic, superstition, or of supernatural powers in connection with combat is permitted. This does not prevent a proper respect for love, respect, or the loyalty of a fighter for a lord or lady, nor any battle cry of the period before 1600.

A call of "HOLD!" stops all fighting until the marshal commands combat to continue.

No fencing, kendo, karate, or other martial art shall be allowed in the lists or anywhere in the Kingdom or wherever the SCA may be held responsible for their supervision, without special permission from the Earl Marshal in writing. Boffing and other such sports must also be properly supervised and require waivers if these sports are a planned part of an official event.

The interpretations of the Rules of the List and Conventions of Combat may be modified for special events by obtaining advance written consent from the EM. At ordinary tourneys, the Marshal-in-Charge may with the knowledge and consent of the other fighters, enact such sanctioned modifications as are desired.

Melee Conventions


Participants in a melee situation must recognize the possibility of being attacked by any number of opponents (up to 4) and any combination of weapons and recognize as well the dangers of their own weapons and restrain themselves accordingly in the interests of Chivalry and safety.

An opponent in a melee who is unaware of one's presence is not struck. However, it is the responsibility of the fighter under attack to prevent the fighters legitimately engaged with him from gaining an advantage in position. When attacking an already engaged opponent, a fighter should take specific action to notify him of his presence (e.g a light tap on the shield) and receive acknowledgement before making a serious attack. Fighters may foul the weapons of opponents they may not strike; in doing so they should show restraint in the interests of safety. Fouling does not include grappling or reaching around an opponent.

When two opposing lines engage face to face, all fighters in each line are considered engaged with those in the other until the situation changes significantly enough to mix the lines. (e.g.. after a charge or sweep).

A fighter or group of fighters who deliberately charge into a group of opponents may be struck from any angle by those opponents during a charge. Care should be exercised by both sides to acknowledge blows and avoid unfair blows.

Fighters in melee killed or wounded by their teammates must acknowledge these blows in the normal manner.

Dead fighters should die defensively by hiding under their shields or weapons and then leave the field as soon and as safely as possible at the marshal's direction. Dead fighters may neither hand weapons or shout advice to the living.

Marshals and fighters alike should be aware of the dangers of melees in crowded situations where a great deal of pushing is likely, because proper acknowledgement of blows becomes difficult. Such situations should be avoided unless they can be be very carefully marshalled.

When "HOLD!" is called in melee, all fighters should drop to their knees until the marshals call "en garde". Holds in melees are not to be used to regroup or make plans. If a melee must be moved to the center of the field, the same relative positions must be maintained to preserve the tactical situation.

When a fighter loses any required piece of armor in a melee that fighter is considered dead and must leave the field. They may not take part in further combat until the situation that caused the armor to fail is remedied.

Running Tournaments, Melees, and Wars (at an Event)

Although the Autocrat is the chief person responsible for an event, the Marshal-in-Charge of the event, who is usually the local Group Knight's Marshal, is still charged with seeing that all fighting and dangerous sports are done in a safe and organized manner.

The Marshal's job begins when the event planning starts. The marshal should consult with the autocrat to see that the desired activities can be done safely at the proposed site. For example, a tourney can not be held in a ten-foot-wide, windowed hallway, nor in the desert in July if no water is provided. Non-fighters sometimes do not consider these things. The marshal should consult with others as well: the chirurgeon, the list officer, the Herald in charge, and the archery marshal.

The local chirurgeon should make plans to cover any medical emergency, including having a first aid kit at the tourney, finding the nearest hospital and the fastest route to it, knowing the local emergency phone number and the location of the nearest phone (and change to use the phone!), and assuring a water supply. It is also wise to know where the nearest toilets are (not as silly as it sounds). If there is no local chirurgeon, it is the responsibility of the Group Knight's Marshal to work with the autocrat to insure that all of the preceding things have been accounted for. The Group Knight's Marshal should contact the Kingdom Chirurgeon to see if a nearby chirurgeon is available.

Discussion with the list officer and the herald in charge should be held to clarify the lines of communication, so that there is never any confusion as to who fights whom when, or what activity is scheduled to occur. Even "relaxed" events need prior planning. Archery may only take place under the guidelines established by the Archery Corps. All groups doing archery should have a copy of the "Supplement to the Archer's Handbook," available from the Archer General. The safety of the range and the procedures of the shoot are very important. Archery is one of our most dangerous activities.

If any fencing, or non-S.C.A. martial demonstrations are desired, the permission of the EM and Crown must be obtained in writing. The Marshal-in-Charge should investigate carefully to see that such demos are to be carried out only by persons competent in the activity.

NOTE: It is law in the Middle Kingdom that firearms may not be fired at any MidRealm event.

Setting up the Lists

The size, shape, and condition of the list field have much to do with the safety and enjoyment of the fighters and the spectators. A readily apparent, safe barrier, reinforced by constables, is the best boundary. If a list must be set up in the middle of a field or in a large room without such boundaries, great care must be taken. It is often best to take one end of a room for the list field and use the walls for three of the boundaries, leaving only one rope barrier between the combatants and the audience.

If all the spectators are SCA members (and are accustomed to SCA combat) a single list rope is permissible. The marshals should be careful to watch for little children who may run onto the field with little or no warning; spectators should be kept about one body length behind the rope.

If the site is one at which many of the spectators might be expected to not be familiar with SCA combat (such as a demo) then a double list rope is necessary. The inner rope should be at about chest height (so that the fighters can see it) and the outer rope should be about three feet off the ground (in order to restrain children from running underneath). The distance between the inner and outer barriers should be about six feet. HOLD is called when the fighters reach the inner line, while spectators are not permitted closer than the outer line.

Barriers at sites where large melees or wars are to be held depend on the number of fighters, the size of the audience, and the number of marshals available. A double line is also highly desirable, but in this case the distance should be fifteen feet or greater. The setup at large wars can dramatically effect the outcome of a battle and should be discussed with the leaders of the armies well in advance.

Only those who have signed waivers are allowed within the lists. The conditions of the surface of the list should be closely investigated as well.


All competitors in the list, all archers, all tournament officers (i.e., marshals, constables, heralds, list officers, archery marshals, etc.) and all participants in boffing and all combative sports ("Red-Rover", "Clench-a-Wench", etc.) must possess a valid combat authorization card issued by the appropriate official of the Middle Kingdom - the Minister of the Lists for fighters, the Master of the Scouts for scouts, and the Archer General for archers - or execute a "Combat Waiver" before entering the lists.

Any activity that requires waivers must be supervised by a marshal or an autocrat, or a delegate of the autocrat. Collection of the waivers is ultimately the responsibility of the marshal in charge of the tournament and, though it is generally not the marshal who collects these himself, it is the marshal who must make sure that it is being done.

The Marshal-in-Charge at every official tournament that takes place in the Middle Kingdom shall insure that at least one copy of the Middle Kingdom Knight Marshal's Handbook is present and available at the list table for the duration of the tourney. Before any tourney begins, all MidRealm fighters shall be asked, "Have you read and understood the Rules of the List and the MidRealm fighting conventions?," If any fighter has not, he/she shall do so before being allowed to enter the list (THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE BY EVERY FIGHTER LONG BEFORE EVER GETTING TO A FIGHTING EVENT). Visitors from other Realms shall be similarly familiarized with the basic MidRealm conventions, as a group if need be.

Marshallate Duties at the Event

Before equipment inspection, the Marshal-in-Charge should summon all the marshals and Chivalry present to see how many are available to share the work. If marshals are in the habit of working part-time at the events they attend, everyone's workload will be lighter. There's no reason that marshals can't fight at the tourney if everyone helps in turn. If the local marshal is a MIT, this marshal-meeting is particularly important. Unless he/she is an absolute novice, the local marshal should run the event, even if there are more experienced marshals present, but it should be done with their active cooperation. If the Marshal-in-Charge is experienced, he/she should get any MITs present actively involved in running the tourney, especially so that they may learn how to inspect equipment, authorize fighters, and when and how to intervene in the fighting.

Equipment Inspection

Weapons and other equipment should be thoroughly inspected before any combat takes place. This is especially important for melee events such as wars where larger numbers of fighters may be participating. Familiar equipment should also be checked closely, for even the best built gear will eventually fail. A fighter who owns any defective gear is required to show any repairs or modifications to the marshal who failed the gear. Any badly defective gear that can not be brought up to standards may not be used that day and should be marked, if possible, to encourage its repair before the next time it is used.

Armor belonging to fighters visiting from other Realms must comply with the standards of their own Kingdoms, and is allowable, even if at variance with the MidRealm standards.

First Aid

It is not the responsibility of the marshallate to provide medical care for fighting injuries. The S.C.A., Inc. takes no responsibility for first aid or medical care provided by any of its members. It is, however, the responsibility of the Marshal-in-Charge of a tourney to know where medical care can be found if necessary. The Marshal-in- Charge, the Autocrat, and other event officials should know where the nearest hospital is and how to contact an ambulance quickly. Furthermore, the Marshal-in-Charge should work closely with the local representative of the Middle Kingdom Chirurgeon corps. The Chirurgeons are officers under the direction of the Kingdom Chirurgeon who volunteer their services at events. If the group sponsoring the event has no Chirurgeon of its own, the marshal should contact the Kingdom Chirurgeon to see if a nearby member is available to attend the event.

Marshals should obtain minimum first aid training to aid them in recognizing different types of injuries, so that they will know what kinds of injuries require more professional treatment.

There are some injuries and conditions which make it unwise for a fighter to enter or re-enter combat. These conditions include, but are not limited to:

Being knocked unconscious

Back injuries

Severe sprains

Suspected heatstroke.

However, no one may bar an individual from the Lists for medical reasons, unless the fighter cannot follow the Rules of the Lists and the Conventions for Combat.

Marshals in the Middle Kingdom should be very aware of the dangers of heat in summer fighting. Heatstroke is particularly dangerous. This is a condition where the body can not dispose of the excess heat properly and the body's temperature begins to rise catastrophically. Symptoms include dizziness; nausea; hot, dry skin; and a sensation of being on fire. If heatstroke is not treated immediately the person can die. The most qualified medical help available should be summoned immediately. The victim must be placed in shade, in a legs-up, head-down position, and cooled with wet cloths or liquids until competent medical personnel arrive.

Heat exhaustion is less dangerous but still unpleasant. It is caused by dehydration and usually comes on slowly. Symptoms include weakness and nausea. Treatment consists of getting the person out of the sun and having him/her drink water and fruit juices.

The key to a happy tournament in hot weather is a combination of taking it easy and elementary preparedness. Realize that a hot, humid day is a dangerous one; have plenty of liquids available, and watch active people closely for danger signs. Make sure people don't push themselves too far. Active people should drink plenty of NON-ALCOHOLIC liquids to prevent dehydration. Fruit juices and Gatorade (diluted to 50% strength) are very good because they replace minerals depleted by sweat; in general electrolyte replacements should be diluted. Salt tablets are unnecessary and sometimes dangerous; avoid them. Fighters should remove much of their armor when they are not fighting -- loose, light clothes allow proper cooling. Helms should be kept out of the direct sun when not being worn. Sunburn should be avoided too because it can cause dehydration. Sun hats or head veils should be worn by everyone who must stay in the sun for long periods, and everyone else should take advantage of the shade.

The dangers of summer heat are among the most serious faced by fighters, and marshals should strive to make all fighters aware of them. The Marshal-in-Charge must also take steps to assure that the marshals in the field are given liquids and rest when needed.

It should also be recognized that the cold has unique effects on armor, weapons, and fighters as well and proper precautions are wise.

Marshallate Authority to Halt an Event

In the event of a serious violation of the Rules of the List, the Marshal-in-Charge shall use his/her authority to stop the fight and/or take such other action as is necessary to correct the situation. If that authority is questioned, or if he/she is unable to stop the activity which is in violation, he/she shall summon the Marshal-in-Charge who, if he/she is also unable to stop the violation will use the following emergency procedure:

He/she will immediately go to the Sovereign and say, "Your Majesty (or Highness), it is my duty to inform you of a violation of Rule number ____ and to advise you to use Your authority to correct the situation. If this situation is allowed to continue, the SCA will be forced to withdraw its sanction from this event (tournament, revel, etc.) and you will be held legally responsible for any consequences."

If the authority is unavailable, unable, or unwilling to act, the marshal shall go to the Seneschal and say, "My Lord/Lady Seneschal, it is my duty to inform you of a violation of Rule number ____. In the name of the SCA I request that you aid me in correcting this situation, and if the situation cannot be corrected, I desire you to withdraw the Society sanction from this event." If this does not work, the marshal is instructed to summon a herald and require him to make the following announcement, "My Lords and Ladies, I regret to inform you that since the Rules of the Lists are not being obeyed, this event can no longer be considered an official event of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc., and is officially closed. Any activity taking place on this field from this time forward is a private affair, for which activity the individuals concerned will be totally and solely responsible." If no herald is available to make the announcement, the marshal shall make it himself. The marshal should then withdraw from the field, taking all SCA officers. He must immediately report to the EM by telephone, followed by a report in writing with copies to the Marshal of the Society and the B.O.D. This has never happened in the Middle Kingdom as of this writing (and NEVER should).

Marshalling Single Combat

In any marshalling situation a prerequisite for safety is having the lists cleared of nonessential people. This includes any tourney officers -- marshals or constables -- who are not paying attention to the proceedings. No one should ever stand near the lists with his/her back to the fighting.

The best way to observe fighting is to have three marshals observing the fighters. The marshals should be arranged (and should shift during the fighting) so as to keep the best view of the action. One of the three should be designated as the "Presiding Marshal", who is charged with signalling the commencement of the fight and its continuance after any hold.

Before a fight begins, several preliminaries, practical and symbolic, must be attended to. The marshals must look closely at the combatants to insure that they are wearing all the required armor. If they are not, then the fight must not proceed. Remember, fighters must wear full hand protection under their shields. Fighters should be encouraged to inspect each other's weapons closely so that they will realize fully what they are facing.

Prior to the start of the tourney all fighters should be asked if they have read the Rules of the List, the Fighting Conventions, and if they have signed a waiver. All must have done so before fighting. The ceremony of commencing a fight is generally split between the Presiding Marshal and the field herald. The marshal asks the fighters if they bear any offensive steel on the field and if they are wearing all of their armor (this question may be dropped after the first round and the first melee); the Herald tells the fighters to salute the Crown, those that "inspire them," and their opponents. The Presiding Marshal, and only the Presiding Marshal, asks if they are prepared and then commences the fight with "LAY ON," or the equivalent.

During the fight the marshals should look for: (1) any condition dangerous to the fighter or the spectators -- a slipping fighter, a broken weapon or shield, a dropped weapon, dislodged or broken armor, etc.; (2) blows being struck with the flat of a weapon, or repeated blows with the weapon haft or shaft. In such cases, a "HOLD" should be called and the condition corrected. The fight is continued with the commands, "En Garde -- Continue."

A "HOLD," once called, must be enforced, and all fighting must cease until the "Continue."

Judging blows is the primary responsibility of the fighters, but there are exceptions to this rule. When the blow is not good for reasons the fighters can not see -- i.e., it is flat or struck with the shaft -- the marshal must inform the combatants. Also, if the fighters ask for an opinion, the marshal should clearly give it as to the "cleanness" of the blow and what was hit, or state that he/she may not give an opinion (due to blocked vision, etc.). It must be strongly emphasized that the fighter who wants an opinion on a blow should ask the opponent involved first. To do otherwise is discourteous. If possible, the struck fighter should make the decision. If he/she decides that he/she was defeated, the fighters should square off, exchange blows and the defeated fighter should drop over dead. The announcement that the previously questioned blows did indeed kill, but death "didn't occur immediately," or some such honorable compliment to both fighters' prowess, should be made.

The effectiveness of blows struck during Society combat are judged by each fighter on the honor system. The honor system is a difficult one because of the many factors involved; even if two identical blows could be delivered to two different fighters, they would feel them differently. Judging primarily by the force of the blows has led in the past to rapid escalation of force, particularly among long-time or heavily armored fighters. Therefore, it has been the policy of the Middle Kingdom Marshallate that the first consideration in judging the effectiveness of blows should be cleanness, i.e., whether or not the weapon struck with the weapon's effective area without being impeded, glancing, or being partially blocked by the defender's shield or weapon. Blows must, of course, be struck with reasonable force, BUT A CLEAN BLOW SHOULD BE TAKEN UNLESS IT IS INDEED EXCEPTIONALLY LIGHT OR INHERENTLY INEFFECTIVE.

An inherently ineffective blow, for example, is a saber-style wrist flick, which is very fast but could not penetrate armor. A well-delivered blow which is unblocked should be taken. If an accurate sense of judgement prescribed by the Rules of the List seems to be lacking in a fight, the Presiding Marshal should recall three things:

First, that the marshal has an informal power to persuade the fighters to correct intentional or unintentional misconduct, and formal powers to enforce the rules through the powers delegated by the King.

Second, that the use of informal powers of persuasion is preferable, when possible.

Third, the marshal does have the power, in extreme cases, to award victory in a fight, eject a fighter from the lists or require his/her reauthorization, or even disassociate the SCA from an event where the Rules of the List are being ignored.

Marshals have a very limited ability to judge blows received by other fighters, but in some cases it is obvious that blows are not being acknowledged properly. The following guideline has been formulated:

If a marshal sees a fighter ignoring an apparently good blow, he should interrupt the fight to question the fighters. If a second such blow is ignored in the opinion of both the Presiding Marshal and the fighter's opponent, the Presiding Marshal should take action to correct the situation immediately. This means either warning the fighter that ignoring a third such "apparently good" blow will result in his being required to accept it as good; or, in extreme cases, being required to accept the blows already in question as good.

An apparently good blow is one that originates in such a way as to land unimpeded with reasonable force. If a fighter ignores two or more blows that are more doubtful (because they were possibly, but not apparently glancing, impeded, or extremely light) the Presiding Marshal should also question the fighters. A fighter who consistently ignores a certain type of blow should be closely questioned, even if such behavior takes place over several fights. Likewise, fighters who seem to consistently deliver ineffective blows should be questioned.

One reason for this guideline is that too often in the past marshals have not intervened when fighters were apparently being pounded into the ground because the marshals were convinced that the fighters must have SOME good reason for ignoring the blows, or because the marshals had no guideline to back up their own judgement. Meanwhile, the spectators and the other fighters drew their own conclusions. Under this procedure, if the marshal does not know why the blows are not being counted, he/she must find out quickly. An easily identified indication that a fighter expects a blow he/she has delivered to be accepted is his/her "hesitation" while waiting for the opponent to take the blow. The action to be taken varies with the situation. First it must be determined if a physical factor such as faulty offensive technique or impenetrable armor is responsible for the situation. If there is no physical factor, the struck fighter should be questioned about judgement standards (blow threshold), to see if there is any obvious discrepancy. If the discussion goes nowhere, or if both fighters are at fault, the fight may be postponed to let the fighters think about the problem and how they look. As a last resort the fight may be awarded to one or the other of the contestants, but such an award must be made on strong grounds with the concurrence of the other marshals.

Any marshal officiating in the lists may point out a problem initially, but thereafter it should be handled by the Presiding Marshal in that list. Any action stronger than awarding victory (such as ejecting a fighter from the list, or asking one to reauthorize) must be taken by the Marshal-in-Charge after consulting with the other experienced marshals.

Other problems that may require action by the marshal include dangerous offensive techniques and illegal defensive techniques. The latter are covered fairly well by the conventions of combat. Dangerous offensive techniques are more serious and deserve prompt attention. Any fighter who purposely strikes repeatedly at, or below, the knee (with the excuse of glancing off the opponent's weapon or shield), who strikes the opponent with the shield, or is otherwise not in control of the weapon or shield, should be dealt with in three steps. (1) Warning at the first offense; (2) Banning of the technique being abused at the second offense; (3) forfeiting the fight at the third offense.

Finally, the marshal should be alert for equipment failures. The most serious type is loss or failure of the helm. If a helmet comes off a fighter, or otherwise fails in the course of combat, the fighter is deemed immediately defeated. The reason for the occurrence must be carefully ascertained and steps taken to prevent reoccurrence.

Many specific points of marshalling procedure are covered by the Conventions of Combat.


If a fighter has complaints about the behavior of an opponent, the first response of any one hearing such, whether marshal, fighter, or otherwise should be, "Have you talked to your opponent about this?" If the answer is no, the listener should insist that such a discussion take place before any other outsiders are involved. Marshals brought into the matter when they did not witness or notice the action in question should refrain from prematurely taking sides. Instead they should get all parties face to face for a full discussion. If a tournament has been characterized by a high number of complaints, all the fighters should be brought together to bring problems into the open before they become permanent hard feelings.

There are many "Rules," conventions, and directives concerning fighting and marshalling. No matter how much we codify, fighting will always be (and rightfully so) a matter of subjectivity we call HONOR. There are three "matters of honor" that, if adhered to by marshals and fighters, will insure both safety and enjoyment:

1. Take care of each other on the field.

2. If there's a discrepancy or problem on the field, talk right there and then and straighten it out. Don't ever be afraid to call HOLD and tactfully - "ASK THE QUESTION."

3. Give your opponent the benefit of the doubt. This means:

If you're not sure of the blow that hit you -- accept it.

If you're not sure of the blow you threw -- let your opponent decide.

These simple "Rules" overridingly serve both honor and prowess.

Marshalling Melees and Wars

Melees and wars are among the Society's most dangerous activities. Marshalling them is more difficult than marshalling single combat. There are many reasons for both the danger and the difficulty. In a mass combat it is very difficult, if not impossible, for fighters to know what's going on all around them. Furthermore, noise, excitement, and confusion make the fighters less sensitive to the blows they receive. Finally, the conflicting desires to make the battle semi-realistic and yet not too dangerous have left us with a set of melee conventions which try to strike a delicate balance between the two desires. Even with the best will and perfect Chivalry, mistakes will be made. It is the Marshal who has the responsibility to maintain order and safety on the melee field.

The first step in preparing for a safe melee is to make sure that the melee field is large enough and well enough constabled to prevent intent fighters from overrunning the list boundaries, spectators, children, and the Throne. Next, the marshals must make sure that any special rules to be in force for the melee are understood by all marshals, constables, and fighters alike. HOLDs, to take a particularly important case, are called in different ways and circumstances in mass combats than in single combats. A broken weapon is always cause for a hold if its owner continues to use it; however, a dropped weapon does not halt the entire battle, so a procedure to deal with this situation must be specified. Generally fighters who drop a weapon have to acknowledge blows that result from a continued attack. Nor are HOLDs called to allow fighters who have lost an arm to find a gauntlet or vambrace; any fighter who is not properly armored to resume combat safely in a very short time after losing an arm must leave the field and not return. If a fighter loses a helm in the course of the melee, he/she must leave the field as if dead (melee convention #11). It is generally a good idea to keep those who have left a melee or battle from returning to it later. In such a case a marshal should use discretion in resolving the matter.

When a HOLD is called in a melee, all fighters must drop to one knee in position and stay there until the problem is resolved. This procedure, which should be strictly enforced, facilitates communication among marshals, allows them to find injured fighters quickly, and preserves the tactical situation of the battle. Fighters should be prevented from giving advice and/or instructions to each other during HOLDs, and reminded not to take unfair advantage of what is, after all, a safety break. If it is necessary to move a fight to the center of the list, the marshals should supervise the move to preserve the tactical situation. Fighters should be allowed to rise (those who have not lost legs) on the "En Garde" before the command "Continue."

In some cases an "Area HOLD" can be called for one restricted part of a large melee, while the rest continues. This should be done only when:

1. The area needing the HOLD is clearly defined.

2. There is no danger that the fighting will spill over into the "area HOLD".

3. The hold will not be so long that the outcome of the battle will be affected.

The marshals must be particularly careful to maintain safety when HOLDs are in effect. "Gaffing" of dead fighters is removing them from a dangerous situation under the cover of the marshal's staff or of the marshal's presence. All dead fighters need not be gaffed, but the marshals and constables should be aware of dangerous situations where it is necessary; such as when a fighter is about to be trampled or is unaware that he/she is endangered by rising. New fighters, who are usually the ones killed in the outset of the battle, should be closely watched if possible.

Melees on bridges, in castle gates, including small buildings or in any restricted space where shoving becomes an important tactic, are potentially very dangerous situations. It is often difficult for fighters to distinguish the shoves from the legitimate blows. Tempers can be easily roused as well. Such melees should not be allowed to proceed without special precautions. The fight must be well marshalled by as many experienced marshals as possible. The dangers must be clearly explained to the fighters, and the combatants must be especially careful to be aware of what's happening around them. Special rules may be devised, if necessary.

In this situation, or any other melee, if tempers get out of hand, the fight should be stopped until everyone cools down. Tempers are especially sensitive to situations of excessive rivalry, or high temperature and humidity.

The most important single convention of melee combat is the one that states: An opponent who is not aware of one's presence is not struck. The specific practices enjoined by this rule are many and complex, and cannot be taught to new fighters too carefully. It is the Group Knight's Marshal's responsibility to have the group's trainees read the following section closely and to make sure they understand it. It is the Presiding Marshal's responsibility that fighters about to engage in melee, especially out-of-Kingdom fighters, understand the MidRealm conventions concerning proper melee behavior before the fight begins.

Permissible Attacks and Engagements

The most important question that must be answered is: "How does one know if he is engaged during a melee?"

For fighters in the Middle Kingdom the answer is: If your opponent has acknowledged your presence by defending against your first light blow or by attacking you. If there is no acknowledgement, then you are not engaged and may not attack (no matter how many "taps on the helm" you've given to get your opponent's attention).

If a fighter has not been acknowledged then he may still actively foul his intended opponent's weapons to prevent him from striking (thus probably causing him to be "killed").

There are specific exceptions to the above acknowledgement requirements which occur during melees. These conditions do not require that combatants receive individual notification from fighters wishing to engage them during the battle (as outlined above).

One case is when two lines encounter each other face to face. All fighters in each line are considered engaged with ALL those in the other until the situation changes significantly (e.g., when the lines become well mixed after a charge or sweep).

Also, a fighter or fighters who deliberately charge into a group of opponents may be struck from any angle except from directly behind by those opponents during the charge.

Melee combat means that any one fighter must consider that he will be approached by an undetermined number of opponents from a variety of directions. Thus engagement doesn't necessarily rely on the concepts of "behind" or "in-front". Fighters should enter melee combat with the understanding that battle will occur all around them. The rules for engagement are rules of courtesy and safety.

Generally speaking, then, if a fighter strikes or defends against an opponent he is engaging that opponent, and is responsible for keeping track of him. If several fighters "gang-up" on another fighter, they may attack from all sides only after the presence of all has been acknowledged by their opponent.

It must be stressed that fighters are still responsible to make sure that they do not injure opponents with direct blows to the spine, kidneys, or neck as these vital areas still can not be protected from directly behind.

The next important question is: "When is one no longer engaged in a melee?"

The answer to this question is: A fighter who removes himself from weapons range (his AND his opponent's) is disengaged. If his opponents wish to continue the fight they must approach again and re-engage. The combatant must have retreated far enough from his opponents so as to turn his back without being hit. He need not turn but he must go at least that far away. Remember: Polearms reach further!

An exceptions is "Hot Pursuit". If a fighter is being pursued around the field by some number of opponents with flurries of blows and rapid retreat repeated over and over, any fighter in pursuit can strike without going through "engagement" procedure. Other fighters wishing to join the pursuit may do so but must first "engage" the fighter being chased so that he/she is fairly made aware of the presence of yet another opponent. Pursuing fighters must take care not to injure their opponent with direct blows to vital areas as mentioned previously.

Remember that if fighters are reminded that they may foul an opponent's weapons to prevent him/her from striking, they are less likely to initiate dangerous, unacknowledged attacks from behind. This also discourages fighters from ignoring opponents who are attempting to engage properly.

How A Fighter Shall Be Trained

A Commentary by Duke Syr Laurelen Darksbane

If there is any one thing that can be said of fighting it is that training is never completed. As long as an individual participates as a fighter, he/she is in training. This is true for all of us, from the newest novice to the battle-hardened Knights. We all continue training, honing skills, learning, throughout our lifetimes as fighters.

There are two reasons that the preceding statement is true. The first is, of course, that training increases our skill and prowess. The second is more important. It is that, as we learn, we pass on the knowledge and skill. We teach each other.

The face of SCA combat, the techniques and the technology, are continually changing. It is an endeavor characterized by the contributions of its participants. This applies to pure fighting skill, to armor (which is a far cry from the Freon cans and fencing gear of A.S. II), and to the type of training one must receive when one begins to fight (as well as the continued training so necessary to keep skills sharp).

There are many schools of thought concerning training for SCA combat. I offer the following as a view of my personal beliefs. It is therefore not so much a guideline as it is a description of one "school." It is offered with the hope that the written word can describe a framework upon which others might build to help fighters through the years.

The first thing the new novice WANTS to do is pick up a sword and FIGHT. The first thing the new novice SHOULD do is pick up the Rules of the List and the MidRealm Fighting Conventions and READ. The Middle Kingdom Knight Marshal's Handbook is the perfect device for communicating standard information on rules, regulations, and conventions. New fighters should be given the opportunity to read it, and the local marshallate should be prepared to explain just what it is that we're doing out there.

The novice must be given a thorough grounding in the ideals which lie at the root of SCA combat and, actually, at the very core of the Society's existence. We seek to foster skill as an extension of courtesy, honor, and chivalry. Fighting prowess develops an individual physically, but it should, above all,be based on the ideals which founded the SCA. This is the first and most important lesson to be taught to a novice fighter.

Once these amenities are taken care of, the novice must attend to the details. This means thinking about acquiring his/her own set of armor. It is true that most novices begin their training in borrowed gear. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as it fits and as long as the novice has taken steps towards assembling his/her own. The trainers should do all they can to insure that the novice is safe in borrowed gear as well as in his/her own new equipment. Help from experienced fighters and armorers is the most important thing at this stage.

Armor protects us. The new novice should be taught elementary lessons in arms and armor, what the pieces are called and where they're worn, and why. This should occur while they are in training. The novice must have explanations of the target areas, blow discrimination, and fighting etiquette we adhere to. The new fighter should be taught that no one should ever go into combat without some sort of warm-up, stretching-out, etc. Pulled and torn muscles are not fun. Experienced fighters should be reminded of this as well.

The training program follows a simple series of steps; Explanation, Shield work, Sword and Shield work, Sparring, Full Fighting, Authorization. The sequence begins with the introductory explanations previously outlined and continues into the phases where the armored novice faces his/her trainer. This where the novice is first "hit" and should come to realize that, as long as he/she is armored correctly and keeps his/her wits, getting hurt is unlikely.

SHIELD WORK: has to be the first and most important phase since an instinctive defense will later serve a fighter very well in combat. It generally follows this sort of scenario: The armored novice squares off with shield but without a weapon against the trainer. The trainer will deliver blows (the basics, at first, of course) to the novice. The trainer will adjust the stance, motion, and reactions of the novice. The trainer starts at slower speeds so the novice can see and understand what's happening around his/her body. The novice will learn to move the shield (whatever type it is:round,targe, heater, etc.) to block the blows and , as the novice builds strength and speed, so too should the trainer.

Trainers should NEVER think of the novice as a "pell" or as someone against whom to "try new tricks." This is embarrassing and discouraging. The novice must have confidence built by the trainer. Good trainers don't boost their own egos at the expense of novices.

The Shield work continues to the point where the novice can handle most of what he/she encounters. For some this only takes a few weeks, for others, several months. Everyone is different. The novice must learn to let the shield do the work (which only happens, by the way, with correctly built and maintained equipment). The fighter should block and keep protected, ideally, without having to think about it. Once the novice is reasonably proficient at this and feels that he/she can certainly defend against any half dozen Chivalry, then he/she should begin the next step in training.

SWORD AND SHIELD WORK: incorporates a new "thing" (the sword) into the physical construction of a new novice fighter. This will be confusing at first. It might make the novice feel, and behave, as if he/she were starting over again. This is, of course, very close to the truth. The novice's lament is that now he/she has to defend and MOVE at the same time. The task is to build the necessary coordination.

The novice is taught the basic blows. This is where the trainer gets to be a convenient "pell." The novice repeats blows, first slowly so as to learn the motions involved, then more quickly to develop accuracy, and finally at full speed to develop agility. The trainer should watch the novice's body closely. The shield shouldn't drop when a blow is thrown, and the blows should be accurate and of sufficient force.

The trainer must, at this point, be fully armed and armored. The trainer will not yet return blows to the novice but will block once the novice starts to attack correctly. Though the trainer must allow the novice to hit him during the course of training, no one wants to (or should) take continual pounding. The novice must learn what a blocked blow feels like, as well as what a good blow feels like when it lands.

The novice must be taught the necessity of multiple blow attacks. Simple combinations of motion build into a controlled offense that is very effective. When the trainer has satisfied himself that the novice can move a sword without dropping the shield, falling out of a good stance, or losing control of the weapon, it is time to try the next step in training.

It must be stressed here that once a novice holds a weapon he /she should be fully armored (with shield) and so should the trainer. There are certain instances of explanation of stance and position where a novice and trainer must be able to see clearly to understand and so must be, for the moment, helmless.These are rare instances, and care should be taken whenever either fighter is not fully armored. Nobody can predict all motions that might occur in training, so once the novice has a weapon, both he/she and the trainer are expected to behave as if on the field.

Once the trainer decides that SPARRING is in order, yet another new dimension is added to the novice's experience. He/she now has to contend not only with his own motion but with that of the trainer as well.The trainer takes on a new identity at this stage, for it is the first COMBAT the novice experiences. The trainer, or a fighter the trainer uses to face the novice, becomes an opponent.

SPARRING: is continual fighting which is conducted slowly at first, gradually building to full speed later. The novice and the trainer will attack and defend and tell each other the results while fighting. They will call out the good blows, glances, light, etc. The novice at this stage begins to develop a sense of perception which will keep him/her safe and will enable quick response to the actions on the field, whether that response is "death" or watching the opponent fall.

Light Sparring is conducted at less than full speed and is relaxed and instructive. It is an excellent warm-up, even for experienced fighters. Full Speed Sparring is "real fighting" except that no one falls. It is characterized by continual conversation between the fighters. When explanations are required, HOLD must be called. Novices should be taught to remain defensive until it is obvious that the opponent has ceased fighting. More importantly, the novice should, long ago, have learned that the HOLD stops the action dead.

The novice has now developed into a fighter. It has likely been some months since the novice began training. New confidence has been built and the novice now looks toward "authorization." The Sparring phase of training really blends into the Full Fighting stage since Sparring really IS just a modified and more controlled type of Full Fighting.

FULL FIGHTING: is the stage where the novice faces experienced fighters and perhaps other equally advanced novices in open single combat. This stage requires the full attention of the trainer whether he is the novice's opponent or not, so that any problems can be corrected and the novice can continue developing skill. The trainer should pay particular attention to the novice's posture and demeanor on the field. Winning fights isn't as important as staying alert and defensive without panic. The trainer must insure that the novice is able to withstand the pressure of combat. Control of the weapon and shield must be maintained, attacks must be positive and accurate (on target areas), even if blocked. Defensive moves must be made, even if they aren't fast enough to stop the blow. Speed and agility come with time and experience, but the attempts must be made without hesitation.

When the trainer is satisfied that the novice is safe and competent to enter combat, it is time for the novice to go to an official SCA tourney and attempt to authorize. With a little care and concern on the trainer's part, and a little attention on the novice's part the MidRealm should gain a new fighter who has passed through the final phase into AUTHORIZATION.

This overview of one training method as an ordered sequence is very general at best. There are many things that might be added in certain stages. The incorporation of sword-blocking techniques, opposite-handed opponents, and exposure to several shield styles, are examples of variations that may be introduced at any time. There are several additional "styles," however, in which the novice should be given training before ever attempting to authorize.

Single-sword, one-handed, is the first. This must be used if the fighter "loses" either arm in combat. The ability to use the sword alone in a safe manner is very important. The ability to win a fight when so disadvantaged will come with experience, but the ability to be safe must be instilled from the start.

Fighting from the knees and fighting against a similarly "wounded" (down) opponent are equally important. New fighters should be taught not to grapple with their opponents and the courtesy of not continually circling a "down" opponent.

Finally, a new fighter should be exposed to fighting against non-Sword and Shield opponents. This is for familiarity and safety. The new fighter should learn how to behave against Thrusting Weapons, Two-Weapon styles, as well as the other weapons styles used in the Middle Kingdom.

These stages of training as a sequence apply also to the advanced weapons styles. The object is always the same: to develop prowess by learning to defend oneself in order that a successful offense may be employed. The responsibility is again with the trainer to insure safety as well as prowess in the advanced forms.

New fighters should have the opportunity to train in melees while gaining experience in single combat.Melees are fun, but the environment is vastly different from single combat. New fighters should be exposed to melee in order to enhance the development of that sense of perception mentioned earlier in this essay. In melee, like single combat, there is nothing more important than being aware of what's happening around one's self. This lesson will allow the fighters to stay safe by being taught to pay attention and to be careful for themselves and for the others all around. New fighters should be discouraged from trying to authorize at the "deadline" to fight at the Pennsic War without getting melee experience prior to the War. It could be a harrowing, if not dangerous, experience, which no marshal should allow.

All the things that go into making a fighter can not be covered in a short article. The basic tenets are very simple, however. If the individual desires the discipline of a martial art, the exhilaration of competition, or sheer fun, SCA combat holds all these things. Its basis is safety and its object is enjoyment. These are easily accomplished with the continual training which occurs throughout the active fighter's life.

In this way we assure that we may always learn from each other peacefully.

The Last Word - One Fighter's Philosophy

It was previously stated that SCA combat has many aspects. It is practiced as a martial art, a sport, a good time, and even as "occasional exercise." That it holds many things for many people is borne out by the very diversity of the individuals who take up the sword. Men and women of all physical description and demeanor participate as authorized fighters. This one endeavor in the SCA provides an activity for these people to practice together and a common interest for folk who might never otherwise have come to know each other, even within the SCA. It offers, at the least, like the SCA itself, a place for people to meet and an opportunity for folk to come to see a little of each other's true identity. It is single combat that forces individuals, for a short time, to lay aside titles, external influences, and pretense in order that their physical skill and the depth of their conscience may be displayed.

The intimacy between fighters, the camaraderie and friendships that grow between people who show their mettle as honorable and courteous, as gentle and noble souls, is both satisfying and somewhat mysterious. No other endeavor is at once so exclusively competitive and so inclusively familial as SCA combat. It is the basis for the Feudal framework of the Society, and it is the forum through which many of us open ourselves for judgement. Not judgments of fighting skill, but rather to the judgments of our character made by observers and opponents alike. When we fight we open ourselves to intimate inspection. Opinions of the contents of our hearts are based on our own instinctive reflexes on the field. We can't fake our demeanor if we don't accept the blow we should. It's plain to see, and so fighting in itself becomes a test of an individual in his or her OWN eyes. He or she must be equal to the task of saying, "Here is my physical skill; here is how I use it; here is how I behave; here is who I am." Most fighters don't necessarily think of combat in terms of these vague philosophical ideals, and that's really quite all right. However, everyone who fights and who watches fighting should think for a moment how very much an individual tells about himself in the way he or she accepts defeat OR victory. We become comrades in arms, certainly, as MidRealm fighters, but we also become friends and brothers and sisters, for we strive against each other and ourselves for joy and exhilaration; for mutual skill; to share something unique. Perhaps it's not so odd, after all, that a field of mortal combat is a place where deep and lasting friendships can be born. This is the lifeblood of our Society. We should all do our best to insure that the field of combat never, under any circumstances, sees the shedding of any blood, either our own or the Society's. I urge you to carry on with courtesy and honor and have a wonderful time, for the SCA is magic and, above all, fun.

Duke Syr Laurelen Darksbane

Baron Cleftlands

Earl Marshal of the Middle Kingdom

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