•         Bout lasts three minutes, or until 10 point cap
  •         Wins and small amount of doubles matter for pool progression
  •         3 points for thrusts to head and torso with the rapier, 1 point for other hits
  •         Grappling is prohibited

Tournament structure

Stages in the tournament

The structure of the tournaments depends on the number of participants in the particular tournament:

  • Tournament with 7 or less participants will be fought in one stage, with every competitor fencing every other competitor once. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place will be determined based on their ranking after all fights
  • Tournament with 8-16 participants will be fought using Swiss system, followed by eliminations.  
  •         A round consists of each fencer having one fight (in case of odd number of participants, someone will have to skip a round, but no more than once per tournament). After the round the competitors are rated based on their performance in all the rounds so far. In the next round everyone gets the competitor with as close ranking as possible (subject to prohibition of fencers fencing each other more than once at the swiss system stage).
  •         Swiss system will go for 4-5 rounds, after which 4 or 8 top ranked competitors will proceed to elimination.
  •         Winner of an elimination fight proceeds to the next round, until semifinal. Winners of semifinal fence for the gold medal, and losers of a seminal fence for bronze medal.
  • Tournament more than 16 participants will be fought in pools, followed by eliminations.  
  •         Everyone has one bout with everyone else in their pool.
  •         After the pool, a ranking in the pools and ranking overall will be constructed. Top ranked fencer in each pool proceeds to eliminations. Also, fencers who are high in the overall ranking proceed further, making the total number of competitors in eliminations 8 or 16.
  •         Winner of an elimination fight proceeds to the next round, until semifinal. Winners of semifinal fence for the gold medal, and losers of a seminal fence for bronze medal.

Bout result- pools

During the pool stage a fencer will get 3 match points for a win​, while a draw gives both fencers 1 point​. As mentioned below, every second double in a bout decreases match points by 1 point. For example, if each fencer scored 6 points, and there was one double, 1 match point is awarded to both (only every second double results in penalty). If fencer A scores 2 points, fencer B scores 1 point, and there were 5 doubles, the match points awarded are: 1 to A, -2 to B.

The match points serve as a main criteria for ranking the opponents after the pool/ Swiss stage

Bout result- elimination

The fencer scoring higher after the end off elimination bout wins the fight. If the score is equal, the fight continues until one of the fencers gets advantage (sudden death).

If during the elimination stage the fencers reach 3 doubles​, the fight stops and the fencer with the higher score will proceed through the bracket (in case of a draw, the fencers fence a sudden death) but the opponent in the next stage will begin with three points.

Bout outline

A bout is fought for 3 minutes or until one fencer has reached the score cap of 10 points. Timekeeping is not paused during the scoring; in case there is a longer break in the bout for any reason, the referee will call a time-out.

Ten seconds before the time limit is reached the table will call “last exchange”. That exchange will be allowed to be run to its end, as long as the fencers are actively trying to fence. If the exchange becomes too passive, the referee will break it up, ending the bout. After this the table will announce the score to the referee, who will officially announce the winner of the match and the final score.

Exchange rules

Exchange Outline

Each exchange will begin with the fencers in their corners and the referee and assistant referee in the other two corners. The referee will confirm that they are ready to begin, then call “Fence!”​to begin the exchange. Upon observing a scoring hit, other scoring technique, or other reason to halt the match, the referee will call “Halt!”​or “Hit!”​. Both fencers must then cease offensive actions ­ parrying late attacks from the opponent is permitted but continuing to attack the opponent after halt is called is a foul.

A fencer of their coach may also call “Halt!”​ if there is equipment failure or injury. These are the only reasons for calling “Halt!”​ by someone who is not a referee.

The referee will then consider the exchange. If unclear, he will consult the assistant referee, if still unclear he may consult the fencers for their recollection. He will then describe ​the scoring exchange, and the score ​resulting.  Examples:

  • “Cut to hand, no return. 1 points.”
  • “Attacked with thrust, fell short, hit to head, parry failed, afterblow late. 1 points.”
  • “Attack to hand, parried with thrust to mask, afterblow cut to leg. 3 points to 1, overall 2 points.”


Any grappling is prohibited.  In a grappling situation the referee will call “Halt” and reset the exchange. Dangerous grappling, including kicks, punches or throws may result in a warning.

Scoring in the exchange

Only attacks with the edge or point score points. So don’t punch with the guard or quillons! All strikes must be executed in a controlled fashion. Incidental strikes, cuts with questionable edge alignment, very light cuts with the point and cuts made with a very small arc does not score. It is up to the fencers to demonstrate “good” hits. Slicing cuts​ require the edge of the sword to move across the target area (pushed or pulled), with positive pressure onto the target. “Percussive” cuts may score if: ​they are properly controlled, the sword rotates at least ¼ circle, and the sword does not “bounce” off the target. Thrusts must fix the point​onto the target with positive pressure.

The following targets are illegal, and are worth no points:

  • Back of the head
  • Spine
  • Groin
  • Back of the knee
  • Toes

Rapiers score by cut, thrust, or slice with the blade. The referee may disallow hits he considers too minor to have any significant effect even with a sharp, but the goal of the rules is to discourage harder (and therefore more dangerous) hits as unnecessary. Blade hits will score:

  • 3 points for thrust with a rapier made to the head or torso.
  • 1 points for other valid hits with the rapier (any hit to a limb​ or cut/slice to head and torso) or any hit with the dagger

Other ways to score points:

  • 3 points for disarm. Disarming ​an opponent will score if the opponent’s control of both rapier and dagger is removed and control of one’s own weapon is kept, and grappling distance is broken.

If one of the opponents losses one of their weapons, the bout continues if it is safe to do so, or is reset of the lost weapon is on the fencers way.

  • 1 point for ring out. It ​will be scored when one fencer leaves the ring with both feet, and the other remains within the ring. If both fencers

After­blows and Doubles

After a scoring hit with the weapon, there is an opportunity for the hit fencer to attack back. Afterblows must be made within one tempo after the initial attack. Double is scored when attacks by both fencers are made and arriving at the same time. Doubles and afterblows score the same, and double is also noted by the secretariat.

In case of double or afterblow points will be deducted with no favouritism to a ‘first’ hit. In other words, better hit scores a single point, or no score if the hits score the same.

If a fencer performs several strikes in one tempo, only the first one scores.

As these rules apply to other means of scoring: ​you cannot “afterblow” a disarm or ringout, nor may they be used to “afterblow” a hit.


Fouls may be incurred by:

  • Failing to obey ​or ignoring a referee’s instructions, including continuing to attack after a halt is called.
  • Deliberately or negligently injuring an opponent (or dangerous actions ​likely to do so) ­ this covers not just banned techniques such as joint locks, but also uncontrolled strikes with the weapon
  • Deliberately hitting illegal targets.
  • Throws, kicks and other dangerous grappling
  • Interfering with the conduct of the bout​­, calling halts without reason, repeated protests against referee’s calls without reason etc.
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct,​­ verbal abuse of opponent or officials, displays of disrespect etc.

Referees are given wide powers of discretion​in both deciding what is a foul and what the punishment is appropriate. A more severe infraction (whether in result or malice) will incur more severe repercussions. As a rough guide: accidental or procedural fouls (prolonged delays due to kit failures, repeated unfounded protests, a severe strike that was not intentionally so) will be given a warning, potentially dangerous or unsportsmanlike conduct will be punished by deduction of a point, and fouls resulting in actual or near­ miss injuries or obvious malice will be punished by forfeit of the bout (and potential expulsion from the tournament).

Protests and Discussions

If a referee has given their verdict after an exchange and a fencer disagrees with it materially, they may protest by raising a hand (or having their corner signal also). They will then be given a chance to explain their version of events to the referee, who may in consequence discuss with the assistant and the opponent if they judge it necessary. A referee may also, of course, initiate such discussions on their own initiative. Note that abusing this to raise spurious objections to every point scored against oneself is very likely to be considered a foul as unsportsmanlike, disruptive or both!