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At MASHS, we recognize the importance of bouting in the development of good swordsmanship.  The main emphasis in our bouting is Tactics and Techniques, and not competition.  We take a duelist approach, or to paraphrase our colleagues in the Classical Fencing Community, “What would we do if these things were sharp”.  Thus we focus not on how many points are scored, or who wins or loses.  Instead we concentrate on hitting our opponent without getting hit, that is, how do I survive the fight .... but all within the context of good esprit de corp, and the safety of the participants.


There are essentially two forms of bouting at MASHS.  The first is based on some historic prototypes that have seen recent resurgence in the major HEMA events and their associated tournaments.  For the longsword there are several precedents, the more ritualized being the Behourd, or the formal unamoured tournament of the 13th and 14th centuries, and the Pas D’Armes which serves as the other  medieval  test of skill at arms for amoured combatants. In the German language the word Fechterspiel is translated as “an assault of arms”.  The term assault (assalto) was used for rapier bouting and for most later period dueling weapons. 


Historically, these forms of competition were designed to test one’s skills in a “friendly” atmosphere.  That same spirit carries through to the present. Today, at MASHS, these tests of skill at arms take the form of controlled bouts, undertaken typically during the course of a training session. But unlike the historical precedents, bouting at MASHS are tools for learning, not for competition.  Within this context, they are in all cases, adjudicated by an instructor.


The second form of bouting at MASHS is the freeplay.   This is much more informal.  Here the objective is to test one’s own skills by taking the opportunity to fence with other MASHS participants.  These are not adjudicated and can be initiated by any fencer with the simply invitation to another member to fence.  These are not a part of any structured lesson.

And just for a change of pace, occassionally we endulge in our version of the game "KING OF THE HILL'.  Our version is with swords and other assorted weapons.  It's both challenging and a lot of fun.





Regardless of whether it is bouting or freeplay, the following protocols are to be followed:


  1. Safety First.  If any action is deemed unsafe by any instructor, or by any participant in the bout or freeplay, or by any MASHS member observing the bout or freeplay, a HALT shall be called.  Once a HALT is called, all action stops immediately, and any problems are corrected before combat resumes.

  2. In Bouting, the commands of the instructor directing the bout will be followed without question.

  3. In Bouting and in Freeplay both, a salute is given.  In Bouting, the salute is first given to the bout director, then to participants who are observing, and then to your opponent. 

  4. Once the salutes are given, both combatants should go on guard, and masks are donned (if not so already).  Once the director observes that both combatants are on guard, he/she will ask if they are ready.  Both combatants must reply with the word, READY.  Fencers commence upon the command, BEGIN. 

  5. In Freeplay the participants salute each other and immediately go on guard.  Fencing begins when both fencers acknowledge to one another that they are ready.

  6. In Bouting, touches are awarded against the fencer that received the hit.  Each fencer is obliged to acknowledge a touch against him/herself.  At that moment, action stops.  The director/instructor may take this pause in the action as an opportunity for discussion and/or analysis.  When action is ready to resume, both fencers are placed back on guard, are asked if they are ready, and once acknowledged the action commences upon the command BEGIN. 

  7. In Bouting, the bout ends after one fencer receives a predetremined number of touches.  The limit is established by the instructor, but usually the number is five.  In that way, all participants in the class has an opportunity to bout.

  8. In Freeplay, touches against one’s self are also acknowledged.  However, there typically is no set number of touches, so fencers continue at their own discretion.  For convenience, both fencers can agree at the beginning of the bout to set a limit on the touches (again, five is the usual number).  In that case, touches are awarded against the fencer hit.

  9. Fence with intent but in control.  Combat can be with full speed, but the hits should never be without control.

  10. At the end of the bout, a salute is again given.  In Bouting, this final salute is given first to your opponent, then to the observers, and then to the director.  The combatants remove their masks and acknowledge each other for combat well done.  In Freeplay, the fencers salute each other, unmask and acknowledge each other.

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