This year there will be four competitions at The May Melee a synthetic single hand sword, a steel sidesword, synthetic longsword and a steel longsword. The rules for the competitions are the same with the exception of weapons and protective equipment. Each competitor may only enter at most ether synthetic single hand sword or sidesword and one longsword competition. We encourage the more competitors experienced to enter the steel competition.

Structure of the Tournament

The tournament will consist of two phases;

  1. The Pool Round
  2. The Finals

The first phase is a League round where each participant will fight all the other participants in their pool. The number of pools will be decided at the event but, normally, this is one large pool. If there are a large number of participants then the tournament manager will split the participants into two or more pools. At the end of the round the scores from all the bouts a participant took part in are added up to give them an overall score (see below). The four highest scoring participants will go through to the semi-finals. The first ranked participant will fight the fourth ranked participant and the second will fight the third. The losers of the semi-finals will fight for third/fourth. Then winners of both semi-finals will fight to determine the winner of the tournament. The principles of scoring in this tournament

  • The referee is the only person that has a say about who lost a point in a given exchange, though participants are welcome to volunteer hits against themselves. It is within the referee’s power to ignore a hit (conceded or otherwise) if they believe it wasn’t of sufficient quality. Quality does not necessarily mean hard but certainly means with intent to strike with the edge or tip of the weapon with good mechanics.
  • If the referee is uncertain about the outcome of an exchange they may ask for it to be re-run.
  • An exchange runs from when the referee commences the fight until they believe a blow has been landed, at which point the referee will call a halt to that exchange.
  • If a contestant is hit by either a thrust or a cut, with sufficient edge alignment, during the exchange the contestant loses points. All cuts and thrusts to the limbs or cuts to the torso lose 1 point. A thrust to the torso or a cut/thrust to the head will lose 2 points.
  • If both contestants are struck during the exchange then both contestant loses a point/points (appropriate to the scoring above). i.e. Fencer A thrusts Fencer B in the torso whilst Fencer B strikes Fencer A with a cut to the arm. Fencer A loses 1 point and Fencer B loses 2 points.
  • The fight ends when one or both contestants have no points remaining.
  • After the bout both contestants must report the bout score to the designated score keeper before finding another opponent. You cannot go lower than 0 points.
  • The judge will allow a short time for an ‘afterblow’ that must occur immediately after a scoring hit. Normally allowing for a single action.
  • In Longsword a scoring technique must either be a two handed strike or a one handed strike whilst the other hand controls either the opposing fencer or their blade (whilst avoiding any wounds that result in this).

The Pool Round

  • This stage will last approximately one and a half hours.
  • It is the responsibility of the contestants to complete as many fights as possible within their pool.
  • Contestants may only fight each other contestant once and only contestants from the same pool will count for scoring.
  • Each fight will be run by one of the appointed referees.
  • The referee for the fight should be from a different club to both of the contestants. If this is not possible then it must be to agreement of both participants.
  • At the start of each bout the contestants will have 5 points.
  • To report your score give the score keeper your name, then your opponents name and then your remaining points.
  • At the end of the league stage the sores for contestant are added up and the 4 highest scoring participants will go through to the finals.
  • If the scores are tied the participant who won more bouts without being hit will be ranked higher. If this still results in a tie, which ever participant won their bout will be ranked higher. Should this result be a tie they will fence a match under the ‘Sudden Death’ rules.
  • Should a competitor withdraw from the competition all of their further results will be 5-0 to the opponent. Bouts before withdrawal will still stand.

The Semi-Finals & Final

  • The contestants both start with 10 points.
  • Each match will be officiated by a referee who will be assisted by a judges. The referee will have the final say on all scoring but should listen to the opinion of the judges.
  • The referee/judge may stop any exchange for safety reasons (equipment needing replacing/repairing, suspected injury or similar)
  • Should both fighters be eliminated simultaneously (both reach 0 points) then ‘sudden death’ will be fought. Sudden Death
  • Should sudden death be required then both fencers will begin with no score.
  • A bout will be fought with both fencers attempting to land a clean blow without double nor afterblow.
  • A fencer will score ‘advantage’ if the win an exchange with a clean, scoring blow (these blows are unweighted) even if their opponent had advantage at the time.
  • A fencer will lose advantage should they lose and exchange or an exchange results in a non-clean blow.
  • Sudden death is won by the fencer who can score cleanly whilst having ‘advantage’ Additional rules that apply to all the rounds Scoring hits
  • A slice will score as a cut but must be of sufficient quality/force, cut with the edge of the blade or thrust with the tip of the weapon. Other strikes will not count.
  • Hits may be discounted it to if it is just a flick hit or tap with the blade and it could not have been delivered with more force. Although a light hit that could have been delivered with force will count. (i.e a blow that was delivered lightly for the benefit of safety).


  • Contestants must not hit their opponents in such a way that it courses injury in excess of minor bruising. As such when striking their opponent a contestant must take into account the level of protection there are wearing and the intended target area of the attack.


  • Grappling may take place but should lead to a strike with the blade within about 10 seconds. If the grappling is prolonged the exchange should be reset by the referee.
  • Grappling should not lead to throws or ground work; if one or both contestants are off their feet the referee will reset the exchange.

Throwing equipment

  • No equipment may be thrown.

Inappropriate conduct

  • If a contestant uses excessive force, arguing with a ref/judge, repeatedly hits late, tries to game the rules or acts dishonourably the referee/judge should deduct a point from that contestant.
  • Repeated offences will result in disqualification from the tournament at the discretion of the tournament manager


  • Fencers must not strike intentionally to the back of the opponents head, their back, groin or feet. These are illegal strikes and will not score. Should an opponent show their back, judges and referees will score if the attacking fencer shows the scoring action without connecting. If a fencer strikes an illegal target intentionally or shows illegal targets they will be given a warning. Further incidents will be treated as ‘repeated offences’.

Rule Changes

  • These rules may be amended or changed before or during the event if deemed necessary by the organiser.
  • Rules will be reiterated on the day for clarity before the tournament

HEMA Ratings

  • There is an intention to submit the results to HEMA ratings


  • No fencer will be allowed to compete (or continue within the tournament) should they have broken/inappropriate equipment. It is each fencer’s responsibility to ensure their equipment matches the equipment list. The tournament manager will withdraw any participant who cannot meet these equipment standards as a matter of safety whether the fencer is happy to take the risk or not.

Synthetic gear Protective Gear

Competitors must were a sturdy fencing mask and protective gloves as a minimum. It is recommended that additional protection is worn.

Steel gear Protective Gear:

Note that there must be no exposed bare skin, including at the nape of the neck, the back of the shins, the palms, and the wrists.

Fencing Mask: FIE 1600N masks. Masks must not show signs of distress/damage that will impact on their use, like dents or rusting. Mask top/side covers are not required, but are recommended.

Back of Head Protection: The back of the head needs to be covered by a solid, rigid protector, without significant gaps.

Gorget: We require a solid throat guard covering the front of the throat.

Jackets: Either a well padded HEMA jacket, or a sport fencing jacket over significant other protection (motocross padding, solid chest guards etc.). The jacket must cover the points of the hip – if not then padded fencing trousers or a SPES skirt must be worn. No gambesons with gaps allowed, including potential gaps at fastening points.

Elbows: Solid protection Knees: Solid protection including the sides of the knee is required for all weapons.

Shins and Forearms: Solid protection is required for longsword and recommended for sidesword.

Gloves: For longsword, thick fencing gloves with no or very limited gaps at the fingers – such as SPES heavy gloves, Koning gloves or Sparring Gloves. Metal gauntlets are not allowed. Unmodified Red Dragon are not suitable for Longsword.  For sidesword the gloves must protect all fingers, the back of the hand and the wrist.

Chest protector: Required for women, recommended for men.

Groin Guard: required for men. Recommended for women.

Weapons: All tournaments are conducted on a “Bring Your Own Sword” basis. Weapons are to be checked for flexibility, signs of damage etc. You may not use a sword which has previously suffered a serious deformation and been re-straightened! Where we give example manufacturers these are merely examples of makers whose products we have experience with, not guarantees that any particular weapon will pass examination.

Longsword: “Federschwert” type sparring longswords with either widened tips, rolled tips or an attached rubber tip. Maximum length 140cm. Maximum weight 1800g. Side rings of reasonable size are allowed. Cross-guards and schilts must be well rounded. Red Dragon federschwerts are not allowed due to history of failures and design/manufacturing defects. Example makers: Regenyei, Danelli, Ensifer, Pavel Moc, Szymon Chlebowski, Castille.

Sidesword: Tips should end with either widened tips, rolled tips or an attached rubber tip. Cross-guards and side rings/hilts must be well rounded. Maximum blade length of 90cm.

Synthetic swords: An unmodified Rawlings (Knight Shop) synthetic. The sword my have any of the standard fittings including the metal fittings