Thu, 24 Jun 2004 15:23:50 -0500
Links: Rapier Combat

What-ho, good readers!

This issue of the Links List is about Rapier Combat, or fencing as us old-timers are wont to call it. In this issue you will find information about combat for a great many weapons forms, however, so please don't turn aside if you fight heavy---there's plenty here for you as well. Heavy Wepsfighters should see the section on historical fighting manuals.

Not being a practitioner of this particular art, I recommend that if you don't know that what you're reading about Rapier Combat is good information, please run it past someone who DOES know. Many of these pages look terrific to me, but are a few years old.

This year there are Rapier Warpoints to be fought at Pennsic. At present, the Champions Battle is scheduled for Monday August 16th at 3 PM. There are three rapier battles (sponsored battles, not warpoints) on Tuesday the 17, Wednesday hosts three including a war point battle. Thursday the 19th brings yet another sponsored battle with rapier. There are three on Friday the 20th. And Saturday Brings an additional battle. Some of these are YOUTH or NOVICE battles, as well. See the battlefield fighting schedule (All weapons forms)at:

Please, if you find it pleasing, use this information to update your own webpages, and as always pay it forward to those who like to read about this stuff (but don't forward it to those who don't like it, as they will get mad at Me :).


Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon, OL
m/k/a Lisbeth Herr-Gelatt

Techniques of making Rapier Combat Armor
From "I Simply Must Be on the Field this Weekend"
to "I Simply Must Be Absolutely Dashing"
by Rolanda Rossner (A PDF file)
see webbed version at:

SCA Rapier Combat Rules (Handbooks are download-able)

Rapier Armor/Weapons Inspection Checklist, Kingdom of Caid

Rapier Combat (for beginners)
By Lady Kisaiya Zingara
Menu Items include: Getting started, Things you will need, Rapier Armor Fighter Practice, The Academie d'Espee (Site Excerpt) To get started in rapier, attend a local fighter practice. Go to that and ask who the marshals are. The marshal is there to help people learn the rules of fighting. This is the person who can help introduce you to the wonderful world of fencing. If you have never fenced before, ask to try it out. The marshal and the other rapier fighters can lend you their equipment the first time you fight. Once you have the gear on, do a practice fight. Don't worry, no one will judge you on how you fight, this practice is just so you can decide if you want to fight rapier.

Italian Rapier Combat (A Book Review)
(Site Excerpt) For hundreds of years Capo Ferro's work has been considered as one of the most comprehensive and concise books on the art and science of fencing to ever be written. It was first published in 1610, in an age when a man's life depended on his skill with the sword. It was so popular that it was republished many times over the centuries. Italian Rapier Combat is the
first translation of Capo Ferro's work ever to be published.

Renaissance Rapier (A Book Review)
(Site Excerpt) Antagonistic combat requires a warrior's ruthlessness and single-minded will to eliminate his opponent as quickly and efficiently as possible. It's a job for the fighter rather than the fencer, the warrior rather than the martial artist. HF contributor John Clements recaptures the way of the Renaissance warrior in his recent book Renaissance Swordsmanship. He does not concern himself with the folkloristic elements that permeate most re-enactment swordplay efforts today. His focus is the reality of fighting rather than that fleet phantom of "authenticity".

What is Rapier Combat?
(Site Excerpt) Rapier is a martial art whose origins can be traced to the Renaissance. It was developed to provide training in an efficient and deadly form of personal defense devised in Europe for the sword. Rapier combat is the one of the final developments of European swordsmanship. Its history extends from the beginning of the 15th until the last half of the 17th
centuries. It is the culmination of centuries of theory and practice.

Historical Re-Creational Combat by John Clements (Article from Renaissance Magazine)
(Site Excerpt) For safe sword and shield sparring, today's medieval and Renaissance combat enthusiasts have a wide variety of approaches from which to choose. Some enthusiasts seek a simple diversion with the spirit of historical combat but without the brutality. Others attempt to reproduce historical battles without actually coming to blows. Then there are those who train in the authentic techniques of historical arms and armor. Whatever the group, historical combat can be categorized in one of four ways: Performance, Re-Creational, Martial-Sport, and Fantasy Gaming; and each method offers the enthusiast a myriad of combat opportunities.

Giacomo Di Grasse
His True Art of Defense
A Video-Enhanced Rapier Tutorial (Online)
(Site Excerpt) Plainly teaching by infallible demonstrations, apt figures, and perfect rules the manner and form how a man without other teacher or master may safely handle all sorts of weapons, offensive and defensive; with a treatise of deceit and falsings, offering a way by private industry to obtain strength, judgement and acuity. First written in Italian by the fore-said author, 1570 Englished by I.G., Gentleman, 1594 Americanized, abridged and interpreted by Rick Orli, 1994
? Richard J. Orli, 1994, 2000 credits

Association for Renaissance Martial Arts (ARMA)
This page is a a menu page with links to other ARMA pages. Good to explore.
See especially: Viking Fighting Notes from 23 Sagas
Saxo the Dane
German Sword and Buckler Manual
MS 3542: The Harleian Manuscript Analysis Project - Part I Interpretation of a 15th century English text on the Two-hand or Great-sword
A 15th Century English Sword Text - MS 39564
Fiore Dei Liberi's Flos Duellatorum "The Flower of Battle", c. 1410
Images from 15th century Fechtbuch, "Gladiatoria"
Talhoffer's Fechtbuch: 1443, 1449, & 1459 Editions
Master Sigmund Ringeck's Commentaries on Johann Liechtenauer's Fechtbuch - c. 1389 to 1440
Images from the Codex Wallerstein - c. 1470
Images from 15th century Fechtbuch, "Goliath"
The Solothurner Fechtbuch, c. 1423
Hans Wurm's Ringbuch c. 1507 - A Translation and Commentary By Keith P. Myers
Albrecht Duerer's Fechtbuch Art - c. 1520
Images from the early 16th century Fechtbuch of Paulus Hector Mair
Achille Marozzo's Opera Nova (1536)
Images from Fechtmeister Joachim Meyer's Kunst des Fechten - c. 1570
And much much more at:

Stefan's Florilegium Rapier Messages
(Site Excerpt from one message)
A while back I mentioned that armor was commonly expected to be worn in a duel in the 1500's. The source that I am using is Dr. Frederick R. Bryson's THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY ITALIAN DUEL, published by the University of Chicago Press in 1938. On page 48, I quote: "...In the sixteenth century, some of the writers {on the code duello} regarded armor as generally necessary...It was not sufficient, moreover, that the armor should consist merely of a helmet, a shield, a cloak, etc..." So it is possible that the mask would have been seen as part of a normal, respectable, settlement of a dispute between honorable men using rapiers.
See also:

Rapier Combat: A Practitioner's Thoughts
by Baron Henry the Fox (AA, OGR, Provost West Kingdom Guild of Fence, Lochac Order of the Rapier)
(Site Excerpt) Rapier Combat within the SCA is an attempt to recreate one of the civilian forms of combat that existed in the Renaissance period. This form of combat is centred on the rapier and its companions. It is important to realise that it is the rapier that is being focused on otherwise a great deal of confusion will be created. In recreating this form of combat we use simulated weapons in a semi-competitive combat form. The weapons only differ essentially from the real weapons in that they have a blunt edge, and a rolled tip, which has a rubber stopper over it. The metal blades are very close to the actual weapon in weight and handling characteristics. The fibreglass blades are much lighter than real ones, but can be made in such a way that they do simulate a rapier in a reasonable fashion. Importantly the fibreglass weapons are cheaper to purchase, and are great for starting students.

Primary Sources (For Rapier Combat)
(Site Excerpt) Although not a primary source, Egerton Castle's Schools and Masters of Defense (London, 1892) has a useful bibliography and overview of the works of fencing masters from the 15th to 18th centuries, although it also betrays the authors prejudices as a late Victorian gentleman. It is long out of print, but can be ordered in photocopy form from Patri J. Pugliese. All the quotes below are taken from it. The following does not describe all the extant or interesting works on fencing -- it focusses on those which are on-line. However, a few seminal works that are not yet electronically available need to be mentioned in order to provide context for these on-line works.

The Arte of Defense, A Manual on the use of the Rapier
First Edition March 1993 William E Wilson
Copyright 1993,1994 William E Wilson
(Site Excerpt) The true Art of Defence (fence) arose during the decline of the Middle Ages and the resultant decline in the usage of heavy armor and weapons. Previously, it was believed that during the Middle Ages, offense was based on brute force and the strength of ones' arm versus. the quality of an opponent's armor. However with the discovery of medieval manuals of fence we know that this was not true.

Henry the Fox--Rapier
(Site Excerpt) Below is a basic introduction to the weapon itself, the period in which it was most used, and some of the schools and masters who used it. As has been stated, this is a basic introduction. Do not expect to find everything that there is to be known about the weapon below. More information about this particular subject can be found on the Articles page. As more links and information comes to light, these will be added to this website for the benefit of those enthusiastic about this weapon and its combat form and for those who may grow such enthusiasm.

The Rapier's Point (A Rapier Newsletter from an SCA group),
This newsletter lists sources for fencing supplies.

Swordsmanship Magazine's Arming Yourself for Rapier Class
A Quick Guide to Sparring Equipment
(Site Excerpt) What type of blade should you use? No single blade type serves as the only accurate rapier simulator. Surviving rapiers from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries sport a surprising variety of blades. As A.V.B. Norman has pointed out, the term rapier appears to have been applied generically in the early sixteenth century to most any sword worn with civilian dress. The Italians did not differentiate between rapiers and other swords at all - they used the word spada just as freely to describe the weapon of Saviolo as that of Silver. The argument over what exactly constitutes a rapier is too complex to recount here, but variations in length and cross-section make the search for a single, exclusive rapier simulator - if you'll pardon the pun - pointless. With that in mind, let's consider the most common options available to rapier fencers today.

Netsword Discussion forum: What is involved in Rapier Combat?
(Site Excerpt, one message) In my honest opinion, and this from a novice rapier fencer who comes to it from a classical/modern fencing background, there is only one way to approach rapier fence. Regardless of where your roots are, the only true way to learn rapier play is to study the masters of the 16th and 17th century, get a good replica rapier, and find someone you can learn, train, and spar with. Modern fencing is so far removed from rapier combat, that anyone coming from that background needs to purge himself of the tactics, techniques and etiquette of sport fencing.

Ice Weasel (!) Rapier Combat Resource Page
A terrific page of resource links, a must-see.

Dona Elisa inn Rau Hara's
?thelmearc Rapier Combat Page
Also see: Aethelmearc Youth Fencing Homepage

East Kingdom Rapier Combat website
(Site Excerpt: The Articles section shows these menu items:) The Three Hour Fencing Doublet, A Beginners Guide to Fencing in the East Kingdom, Construction of a Simple Armor Hood, Tournament Etiquette.

SCA Rapier (A Georgia-based newslist)

Aethelmearc Fencing e-list:
To subscribe to the AEthelmearc Fencing list send an email to:
and in the body of the email put:
subscribe ae-fencing

Atlantian Rapier Rules
These rules are current as of the October, 2002 Acorn printing

Caid Rapier Combat Rules

Midrealm Rapier Commbat Page

Trimaris Rapier Rules

Ealdormere Rapier Page

Atenveldt Marshall/Fighter Rapier Handbook

An Tir Book of Combat

Rules for Ansteorran Rapier Combat

Malagentia Period Rapier Combat (East Kingdom)
(Site Excerpt) Period rapier combat is often described by those who first see it as "Three Musketeers" style of fencing, or "fencing in the round", but it is really the study of a style of rapier combat that predates the Musketeers by several hundred years. There are currently no SCA sponsored period rapier combat practices held in Malagentia, however the USM Blade Society offers instruction in forms of historical rapier combat that are very similar to those used in SCA combat (plus instruction in modern sport fencing). The Blade Society provides access to a number of skilled and experienced instructors (including SCA-affiliated instructors Robert Tupper and Jean Fujikawa) who teach men and women historical rapier style as described by renaissance fencing masters such as Silver, DiGrassi, Agrippa, and others.

Barony of Marinus
The Art of Defence
(Site Excerpt) For people who are not interested in being beaten about the head and torso (see The Arts of Battle), the SCA also has the Art of Defence, or Rapier Fighting. This style is from the last century of the SCA period, from 1500 to 1600, and emulates the skill in personal defense that eventually evolved into modern Olympic style fencing. In the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, heavy armor and weapons (the "Knight in Shining Armor") began losing their charm due to the efficient use of pole arms and crossbow bolts, both of which could pierce the heaviest armor. When guns came along late in our period, armor became completely ineffective. People stopped wearing armor that didn't protect them, stopped carrying a heavy weapon that was only good in battle against heavy armor, and started carrying a much lighter sword for personal protection.

Aethelmearc Pennsic Rapier Warlord Webpage
(Site Excerpt) As many of you know, this year marks a first for the Rapier community at Pennsic. In addition to the Rapier Champions war point, there will be two additional melee rapier war points. At this time there is a broken field fencing melee battle scheduled for Wednesday the 18th and a woods battle (schlager) on Thursday the 19th. This is the first time that the general rapier population will have a chance to influence the outcome of a Pennsic War, and we would like to do our part to bring glory to these Sylvan lands of AEthelmearc!