The Sparring Equipment listed below is for full speed, full contact free fencing. Please see individual classes for their equipment requirements.
There are four recognized sparring variations: Unarmed, Light, Medium, and Heavy.
- Unarmed includes wrestling, boxing, and knife/dagger work (although knife/dagger work requires a mask instead of padded head protection);
- Light Sparring includes rapier and smallsword;
- Medium Sparring includes sidesword, quarterstaff, and federschwert;
- Heavy Sparring includes longsword, greatsword, and polearms;
Please note that in most cases, wooden wasters can be substituted for weapons in intensives and workshops. Some safety gear will be available for purchase on-site.
In the following table a checkmark “✓” denotes required equipment, and an “R” denotes equipment which is not necessary for safety, but recommended for comfort.
The equipment listed is only required for full-speed, free form sparring. Each workshop has its own equipment requirements at the discretion of the instructor. Please see the individual workshop descriptions.
Mouthguard: A mouthguard is required at all times during unarmed combat. A mouthguard must protect at least the upper teeth.
Padded Gloves: Boxing/MMA gloves are required for any unarmed combat that involves strikes with the hands to the body or head.
Leather Gloves: Leather (or equivalent) gloves with a cuff protecting the wrist.
Rigid Gloves: Steel, hardened leather, or sports gauntlets that provide rigid protection across the back of the hand and along all fingers and both thumbs, as well as around the wrist. Many lacrosse gloves satisfy this requirement, although steel gauntlets are recommended.
Padded Head: Boxing/Olympic Wrestling-style padded head protectors are required for all unarmed combat that may involve the head being struck (including wrestling).
Mask: FIE-certified 3-Weapons mask, with a mesh front and attached bib. Back of the head protection is recommended, but not required, for light sparring, but is required for medium or heavy sparring. Be aware that although a mask will protect you sparring, it is likely to be damaged beyond use in just a few heavy sparring fights.
Helmet: Steel head protection with a mesh grill protecting the eyes. Helmets must be constructed with a minimum thickness of 16ga steel, and must either have a bib to protect the throat/neck, or be worn in conjunction with a matching bevor.
Rigid Throat: A protective collar made of hard leather or metal is required for your throat and upper vertebrae when engaging in any weapons sparring. A hockey throat protector or those from other sports are inadequate for sword combat.
Rigid Collarbone: Hard leather or metal protection for your collarbone, either as part of your throat protection or attached to your breastplate.
Groin: An athletic cup or jock strap is required by all males participating in any sparring. Female participants are not required to wear groin protection, although a padded “jill” is recommended.
Covered Torso: The torso is considered covered when there is no exposed skin. Although covered torso is the requirement for light sparring, following the guidelines for padded torso is highly recommended.
Padded Torso: Torso padding should be the equivalent of four (4) layers of a tight weave fabric such as trigger or broad cloth. This can typically be conveyed by two (2) t-shirts and a sweatshirt or four (4) shirts. An Olympic fencing jacket fulfills this requirement.
Any combat that requires torso padding also requires that all other parts of your body be covered by at least a single layer so that not skin is exposed. This protects you from the remote danger of a puncture wound from a blade breaking or a tip (on a metal sword) coming loose.
Rigid Torso: A layer of metal, hardened leather, or hard plastic covering the lower ribs and the kidneys. This protection is afforded by lacrosse kidney protectors as well as a breast and back plate.
Rigid Sternum: A layer of metal, hardened leather, or hard plastic covering the chest, and specifically the sternum. Rigid sternum protection is required to prevent damage from thrusting with stiff weapons such as longswords and polearms.
Rigid Elbows: A layer of metal, hardened leather, or hard plastic covering the point and both sides of the elbow. It is recommended that the front side of the elbow protection flare or protrude in such a way as to reduce the probability of a strike to the inside of the joint.
Full-Arm: A layer of metal, hardened leather, or hard plastic covering the entire arm, from the top of the shoulder to the wrist. The underside of the upper arm does not need to be protected, but the forearm must be fully protected. Upper arm protection may be provided either by extension of the shoulder protection (spaulders) or extension of the elbow protection (rarebrace), or both.
Rigid Knees: A layer of metal, hardened leather, or hard plastic covering the point and both sides of the knee. It is recommended that the outer side of the knee protection flare or protrude in such a way as to reduce the probability of a strike to the inside of the joint.
Full-Leg: A layer of metal, hardened leather, or hard plastic covering the entire leg, from the top of the thigh to the middle of the shin. The underside of the thigh does not need to be protected, but it is recommended. Thigh protection may be provided either by extension of the knee protection (cuisses) or extension of the torso protection (tassets, faulds, or some kind of skirt), or both.