Tournament combat in the Society is fought with weapons of rattan rather than steel. Rattan weapons have the approximate weight, balance and handling of their steel counterparts, but they are not nearly as dangerous. Any fighter will tell you of his bruises, one or two of broken bones, but very few have been cut.
Other than the rattan weapons, however, all the rest of a fighter's equipment is as accurate and authentic as he can make it. Steel helms, chain mail armor, leather and steel hauberks and gauntlets -- the possibilities are limited only by a fighter's imagination, craftsmanship, and finances. Fighting in the S.C.A. is as close to Medieval tournament fighting as we can make it and still keep it a safe sport. This is part of what creative anachronism is all about.
Some conventions of S.C.A. tournament fighting are:
Yes, women are allowed to fight as well as men. References herein to "he" can be read "she" just as readily.
Judging of blows is ultimately up to the person struck. If it felt hard enough to cut through armor, he will accept it. If it is to an arm or leg, he will lose the use of that limb. If it is to the head or torso, he will die, probably dramatically. Naturally he is more likely to feel, and accept, a blow where he is poorly armored or unarmored.
The combatants will cease fighting at the call of "HOLD", usually from the Knight Marshal. They may only begin again when the Knight Marshal restarts the match.
Usual causes for a temporary halt in fighting are: one combatant drops or breaks a sword or piece of armor; one combatant loses use of an arm and must adjust his equipment and stance; one combatant falls over, or is otherwise helpless; the fighting comes dangerously close to the spectators, or vice versa. However, strikes begun previously or simultaneously with a killing or disabling blow will be counted. This means that if a fighter follows up a blow to the arm or leg with a fast killing blow, both strikes will be counted, and as his opponent begins or lands a blow while being killed, both will be counted, and may result in a double kill.
Blows which strike the shield and are diminished are ignored on the theory that the force necessary to penetrate armor would be lost. The exception to this is an axe blow, where the head can strike with force while the haft hits the shield.
No mention is made is religion, magic, or the supernatural in challenges, nor is the outcome of a combat attributed to deities, magic, or supernatural intervention. The reason being that there is enough emotion in combat already and many fighters take such things seriously, giving an unfair advantage if one attributes skill or success to such causes.
Spectators may congratulate the victor, but should not cheer, boo, or shout advice or warnings during combat. It is not a football game. Blows will not be struck at or below the knee or wrist, since it is too easy to break a bone, and blows like this are relatively simple to land.
An opponent will not be struck from behind, or when he is not expecting an attack.