I. International Rules of the Historical Medieval Battle

Battle of the Nations1. GENERAL REGULATIONS

1.1. Historical Medieval Battles (HMB) are full contact sporting battles, where historical protective and offensive arms of the Middle Ages, specially made and adjusted to this kind of competition, are used. HMBs are held on the lists of a standardized size and shape, with different types of authentic weapons, depending on the kind of a battle.

1.1.1. The concept of HMB includes all kinds of full contact power fight, namely historical fencing, buhurts, melee, duels, small group battles, mass field battles, professional fights, etc, where items of historical reenactment of the Middle Ages (HRMA) are used.

1.1.2. HMBs are always held in full contact, but are represented by different categories with various authorized and prohibited techniques. In addition, victory conditions, battle regulations, tournament schemes and other parameters are different.

1.2. All HMBs are held under control and observation of a marshal's (referee’s) group, including one knight marshal (main referee), field referees, linesmen and referees on video monitoring. The number of members of the marshal's group is set separately for every event, depending on its format and content. The presence of the knight marshal and field referees is always obligatory.

1.2.1. The knight marshal is chosen by the organizers of the event. In case of any disagreement the knight marshal has final decision authority.

1.2.2 The records of the combat process and combat results are done by the secretariat.

1.3. To get the admission to the HMB, a fighter has to:

1.3.1. Be of age in terms of the law of his country, as well as the country hosting the event.

1.3.2. Sign a statement of voluntary participation in full contact battles (in the statement a fighter confirms his acceptance of any risks associated with participation in the battles, declines any claims and assures he is familiar with the rules and agrees to follow them strictly).

1.3.3. Have a health certificate issued by a specialized medical institution, confirming that he has no contra-indications to participation in the competitions.

1.3.4. Be accredited by the organizers of a specific event.

1.3.5. Have an admission for protective and offensive arms, provided by the technical and historical committees.

1.4. Only those offensive and protective weapons, which have analogues of a certain historical epoch, confirmed by scientific research, are allowed in the HMB.

1.5. A fighter needs to rebate his weapons before the participation in an event and bring them into conformity with the specifications stated in this regulatory document.

Rebating is rounding of peak and percussion edges of any bladed or pole weapon used in the HMB competitions. The radius of rebating is about 10 mm (note: it should match the radius of a coin, 20 mm in diameter).

1.5.1. The edges of all the striking parts of any weapon are to be rounded as a bevel and be not less than 2 mm wide (including any possible chips and notches).

1.5.2. The edges of shields are to be trimmed with thick (not less than 2-4 mm) leather or fabric put in three or more layers, joined with glue.

a) Important! All wooden, wicker or leather shields should be made only on the basis of reliable historical analogues and correspond to the form of the analogue in all three planes. A shield can only be used with a set of armor of the same epoch and region.

1.5.3. Edges of the iron shields have to be carefully forge-rolled and be minimum 4 mm thick.

b) Important! Steel shields of only rounded shapes, made on the basis of reliable historical analogues corresponding to the form of the analogue in in all three planes are allowed. A shield can only be used with a set of armor of the same epoch and region. The weight of any steel shield shall not exceed 5 kg.

1.6. All responsibility for the quality, safety and reliability of the elements of protective arms is on a fighter who uses them.

1.7. Below you will find a list of permitted weapons, as well as technical requirements for them.

a) Important! The maximum weight of all weapons fully assembled and ready for battle is given. The permissible upward error is +100 for single-handed +300 grams for two-handed models of arms.

1.7.1. Bladed weapons:

  • Single-handed swords, sabers, broadswords – up to 1,600 g;
  • Falchions – up to 1,800 g;
  • Long swords (total length is up to 1400 mm), swords, sabers, broadswords – up to 2,500 g;
  • Two-handed bladed weapons of the XIV - XVIIth centuries – up to 3,500 g

1.7.2. Pole arms:

  • Single-handed: axes – up to 1,300 g, maces and six-flanged maces – up to 1,000 g

b) Important! The length of a cutting part of an axe blade is to be not less than 7cm!

c). Important! All the maces and six-flanged maces should have ONLY wooden handles and no sharp edges!

  • One-and-a-half handed: axes, poleaxes and other similar weapons (with a total length of not less than 1 m) - up to 2,300 g.
  • Two-handed: halberds, glaives, poleaxes and similar kinds of weapon (with a total length of more than 1,400 mm) - up to 3,000 g.

d). Important! Heavier weapons or only thrust weapons are not admitted for use in historical medieval battles.

1.8. The approved protective arms for HMB competitions must be a restoration of medieval armor (the restoration must have the exact proportions and general appearance of historical analogue) and correspond to such characteristics:

  • compliance with scientifically proved originals of the XIII - XVIIth centuries.
  • authenticity of used materials (steel, leather, fabric, cotton waste, batting, felt);
  • availability of configuration that completely covers the vital organs and joints of the fighter;
  • good condition;
  • thickness of protective material should meet the requirements (stated below);
  • size and proportions of all the protective elements should meet the requirements;
  • esthetic appearance.

1.9. All items of protective arms have to meet the technical and esthetic requirements, and represent a complete set of one time period.

a). Important! Only in rare cases, due to the lack of information concerning the material culture of certain periods and regions, stylized armor elements are allowed. In this situation, a fighter can replace these items with the authentic elements, relating to the neighboring regions and periods, but only if everything looks esthetically and proportionally.

Concepts that require further interpretation and explanation:

  1. Authentic – a material or object that corresponds to a certain historical original, found during the research. The use of authentic materials and items, coming from the original, is approved by the community of historical reenactors of the Middle Ages.
  2. Stylized item is an object that has no specific historical analogues, but made in compliance with the general style of armor, its proportional, aesthetic and operational characteristics.
  3. Scientifically proved original is text and visual material (pictures, sculptures, and other documented archeological sources or their combination), on the basis of which a belonging of a particular object to the group of authentic ones is determined.

Scientifically proved original is needed in case a reenactor has an intention to start usage of anything radically new or little known in the community of HRMA. Only the scientifically proved original can help to determine whether an object is authentic or not, to make a decision about the possibility of its use in the HRMA circles.

1.9.1. The fighter’s head is to be protected with a metal helmet, safety features and specifications of which comply with the same parameters of a helmet made of steel ST3 2 mm thick.

1.9.2. The fighter’s helmet is to be equipped either with a well quilted padded cap, or leather suspension, a “parachute” with a quilted padded cap. The thickness of these elements is not less than 10 mm in a condensed form.

1.9.3. The fighter’s helmet must have a genial strap, which does not allow it to fall down from fighter’s head.

1.9.4. The fighter’s body, arms and hands are to be covered with lamellar armor; the chain mail can be only used as an extra protection in addition to lamellar armor or the linking elements in lamellar armor.

1.9.5. In addition to armor, the fighter’s body is to be protected with under armor padding, which covers the entire torso. A layer of linen and cloth sewn together is the minimum acceptable under armor protection.

1.9.6. The back of the neck and base of the skull have to be protected with steel lamellar armor element, supplemented with damping quilted or padded protection, such as a pelerine of the padded cap, a special collar or a filling. A riveted chain-mail element, with the lamellar protection and a protective damping layer located under it, is allowed.

1.9.7. The spine and tailbone should have steel lamellar protection with quilted or padded protection not less than 10 mm thick in a condensed form.

1.9.8. The fighter’s hands are to be protected with gloves or mittens made of steel plates or riveted chain mail. If the hands protection is made of riveted chain mail only, a damping layer not less than 5 mm thick in a condensed form has to be under it.

1.9.10. Hands and forearms of a fighter using a shield with the elbow grip, can be protected with steel armor elements. Then, if a fighter loses the shield, he’ll be able to continue the fight. They can be protected minimally (only with under armor padding and cloth gloves), but from all the sides, which may be under attack. The minimum level of under armor protection includes a layer of woolen and linen cloth sewn together.

1.9.11. The fighter’s elbows and knees must have a steel lamellar protection. If the lamellar protection doesn’t fit the fighter’s armor, it should be hidden under the authentic element of the set. The minimum level of under armor protection includes quilted or padded protective layer not less than 10 mm thick in a condensed form.

9.1.12. The fighter’s shin and thighs are to be protected with steel armor elements at every side. The minimum level of under armor protection includes a layer of woolen and linen cloth sewn together.

9.1.13. The fighter’s groin is to be protected with armor elements or hidden protection (an athletic supporter for contact sports).

1.9.14. The protective complex has to provide a complete and reliable protection to the head, neck, spine and joints in any fighting position.

9.1.15. In case a fighter represents a time period, when certain parts of the body weren’t covered with protective elements, these zones are to be safely covered with a hidden protective elements (Eurasia region of the XIII - XVIIth centuries), which aren’t registered visually.

1.9.16. If the level of safety of the authentic protective arms does not meet requirements of these regulations, a fighter should use extra protection made of any kind of authentic materials (worn only under authentic armor and under armor).

b) Important! A modern protection, having its own fastener system, can be used only as the third protective level.

1.9.17. The fighter needs to be sure of his armor protective characteristics and check the accuracy and safety of any defensive parts before a battle.

1.9.18. The fighter is responsible for the offensive and protective arms he uses in battle, monitors their authenticity, esthetics, and compliance with the requirements stated in this regulatory document.

c). Important! The fighter uses in battles only those weapons that are authorized by the technical and historical committees.


2.1. HMB competitions are held in different categories, each of them having approved battle regulations. Special editions of the common international rules, adapted to certain categories, are possible.

2.2. The conditions of victory can also be changed depending on the battle regulations of a certain category.

2.3. The main criterion of victory in team battles is a “removal” of an opponent or all members of the rival teams from the battle.

In the category “Group Battles”, a fighter is “removed from the battle”, when:

2.3.1. He touches the surface of the lists with the third point of support (with torso, buttocks, arm, knee, shield, etc.). The rule applies if a fighter falls with an opponent.

a). Important! Two basic supporting points are feet.

2.3.2. Leaves the territory of the lists with both legs or falls out of the lists.

2.3.3. Any element of his protective equipment, compulsory for admission to the fighting in accordance with these rules, is broken or lost.

2.3.4. The fighter touches the lying fighter with his torso or bottom.

b) Important! When the fighter falls on his opponent and touches with the third supporting point (except for body and bottom) only his opponent, who lies under him, the fighter is not considered to be fallen.

2.3.5. Continues to fight without a weapon in his hand.

c) Important! In case the fighter lost his weapon, he has the right:

  • To use a spare weapon he has;
  • To cease fighting sitting down on one knee;
  • To take a spare set of weapons from the reserve fighter of his team standing at a special place near the fence of the lists. The fighter has a right to protect himself from opponents’ attacks without making attacking or blocking actions;

d) Important! It is strictly prohibited to take the weapon from the surface of the lists, from fighters that aren’t in battle or take the weapon from not a reserve fighter standing at a point of arms giving out!

e). Important! The fighter with two-handed pole arms must hold it firmly at least with one hand. If the weapon is suppressed between a fighter and his opponent, sets against the lists or if it’s held not by hand, but by other body parts, the fighter is considered to be unarmed and, naturally, out of battle.

2.4. The main criterion for winning in the HMB duels is scored points. The points are awarded for successfully delivered blows, techniques and other activities, considered to be productive according to the rules of the category.


A battle conducted on the lists is regulated by the list of the authorized HMB techniques, which includes:

3.1. Any punches, strokes with a weapon's striking edge, or shield on the opponent’s kill zone.

a). Important! The kill zone excludes the feet, back of the knees, groin, back of the neck, skull base and open face.

3.2. Strokes on the opponent who lost his balance until he falls on the ground.

3.3. Pushes or strokes with head, shoulder, elbows, knees and body.

3.4. Holds of non-combat parts of the weapons or shields of the opponents with free hand.

3.5. Attack with free hand: strokes, holds, pressure on the allowed zones.

a). Important! The fighter can strike with a free hand, but only in case he holds weapon in the other hand.

3.6. Attack on the opponent who has lost his weapon.

3.7. Kicks to on the kill zone.

a) Important! Any actions (strokes, pressure, etc.) with foot aimed at the knee joint (on either side) are prohibited.

3.8. Wrestling techniques, throws, back heels, etc.

a) Important! Painful holds, suffocating techniques, “windmills”, arch throws, fighting in the stalls are prohibited.

3.9. Holds of the body of the opponent with weapons from the front, from behind and from the sides.

a). Important! The holds with direct pressure on the neck are prohibited.

3.10. Overlapping of a shield, blocking of the opponent’s hands with a shield, and putting a shield’s edge under an armed hand.

3.11. Blows with ridge or body of shield in kill zones.


Any prohibited strokes or actions against opponent are serious breaches of rules which lead to rebuke, warning or disqualification. It doesn’t matter whether a breach was made accidentally or on purpose. The sanctions are to be imposed anyway.

Each fighter should avoid usage of the prohibited techniques, among which are:

4.1. Any pricks with weapons.

4.2. Strokes with a weapon, shield or arms in non-kill zone.

The non-kill zone includes: the feet, back of the knee, groin, back of the neck and skull base, open face.

a) Important! Any strokes on the feet, back of the knee, groin, back of the neck and skull base, open face are strongly prohibited.

4.3. Strokes with a weapon, shield or arms at the back of the knee.

4.4. Any vertical strokes with weapons or shield along the spine.

4.5. Twisting against natural direction of a limb flexing and any painful holds.

4.6. Pressure or hooking the edge of a helmet with a hand, as well as actions aimed at twisting the neck by pressing on the edge of the helmet.

4.7. Deliberate attempts to remove any elements of the opponent’s protective kit.

4.8. Punches with weapons’ hilts or fists, aimed at the face of the opponent (if the gap between the hilt and fist in combat mitten or glove is more than 3 cm).

4.9. Any holds, hold-downs, suffocating techniques with hands or weapons around the neck.

4.10. Any strokes on a lying, or standing on one knee fighter.

4.11. Any strokes in the neck or the head of the opponent who is bending 50° or more.

a) Important! When the opponent is bending 50° or more, for whatever reason, it is allowed to strike, punch, push him or back heel, but it is not permitted to strike him in the neck or the head.

4.12. Deliberately injuring of the opponent after he loses a part of his equipment.

4.13. Any thoughtless or uncontrolled strokes and motions with a weapon.

4.14. Any attacking actions towards the fighter who has raised one hand with an open palm.

a) Important! A raised hand with an open palm is a sign of voluntary leaving the battle. Having raised his hand with the open palm and kneeling on one knee (if there is such opportunity) the fighter automatically takes the position “out of the battle”.

4.15. Inactive clinch that lasts more than 10 seconds.

In this case a field referee can pull the fighters, who are in the clinch, apart, giving a command “Break!” and hanging a yellow referee flag attached to a baton, between the opponents’ helmets. After this the fighters have to stop fighting in a clinch immediately and step aside 2 steps from each other. An additional command “To the battle”, given by the referee who has stopped the clinch, serves as an additional signal that the battle is still in progress, both in general, and for the fighters who were in clinch in particular.

a) Important! The local commands “Break!” and “To the battle” are only for fighters in clinch. After the command “To the battle” a fighter can continue the battle against his opponent or attack another opponent.

4.16. Any attacking or blocking actions with no weapon in the hands.

4.17. Grasping of a single-handled pole arm when the metal part of the pole arm is less than 30 cm from the attacker’s index finger.

4.18. Grasping feet of opponent with both hands.

4.19. Any strokes in the opponent’s face, if one of the opponent uses an open-face helmet. It does not matter whether the second opponent uses a closed or open-face helmet, the strokes are mutually exclusive.

a)  Important! If a fighter, preserving the normal position of the head and neck, can be punched in the face with a clenched fist without the hand protection, his helmet is considered to be the “open-face helmet”.

4.20. Any actions which are not listed in chapter 3. Only the actions stated in these rules are allowed.

4.21. Fighters who are out of the battle (due to their falling down or decision of a referee), but are on the lists, are strongly prohibited from standing up on both legs before the command of the knight marshal “Stop the battle!” If a fighter is out of battle because of falling, losing equipment or because of marshal’s decision, he is to take a comfortable sitting or lying position on the lists and wait for the end of the round, without interfering in the battle. With his comfortable position the fighter shows that he is not injured.


5.1. A rebuke is a sanction applied to the fighter for insignificant rules violations, which aim is to draw the fighter’s attention to his actions. It’s not to be put in the record.

5.2. The warning is the Yellow card given to the fighter for rules violation and it is to be stated in the record. The Yellow card influences the rating of the fighter and his team. The Yellow card can be given only by the knight marshal of the tournament.

The fighter gets a Yellow card in the following cases:

5.2.1. For use of any prohibited actions stated in chapter “4. PROHIBITED Techniques”.

5.2.2. For use of any actions that are not listed in the chapter “3. AUTHORIZED Techniques”.

5.2.3. For rising and standing up on both feet after falling on the lists before the command “Stop the battle!”

5.2.4. For poor quality, dirty, rusty, dented or not authentic gear.

5.2.5. For unsportsmanlike behavior, boorishness, foul language, shouting at the referees, opponents or spectators.

5.2.6. For starting the battle before the command “To the battle!”

5.2.7. For keeping to attack after the command “Stop the battle!” and a yellow flag hanging before the face.

5.2.8. For ignoring the knight marshal’s or field referees’ commands.

5.2.9. For the continuation of the battle without an important element of the protective arms.

a). Important! For all the violations mentioned above the fighter can get one or two yellow card(s) for one violation, depending on the seriousness of the violation and decision of the knight marshal.

5.3. If a fighter gets two Yellow cards he is removed from the competition. Two Yellow cards are equal to one Red card.

5.4. Disqualification (the Red card) is the sanction applied to a fighter for serious or recurrent (the second yellow card) rules violation, which should be stated in the report. After the fighter gets the Red card he is removed from further participation in the competition, and is replaced by a substitute fighter of the team. A fighter can be disqualified ONLY by the knight marshal of the tournament.

Grounds for disqualification of a fighter:

5.4.1. For systematical rules violation when the fighter gets two cards within the event

5.4.2. For injuring his opponent with a prohibited stroke or technique.

5.4.3. For rude and systematical dissent, not reasoned objections of referees’ decisions, insulting opponents and other participants of the event, or treating them in disrespectful maner.

5.5. Disqualification of a fighter affects the rating of his team. The battle, in which a fighter got the Red (or the second Yellow) card, and the next fight of the event, the team has to conduct with not full membership (one fighter less in comparison to the opponents).

a) Important! The next battle, after a fighter got the red card, his team has to conduct with not full membership, one fighter less in comparison to the opponents.

5.6. In the case two fighters of the team are disqualified (got two Red cards) and any fighter of the team gets a warning (Yellow card), the knight marshal of the tournament can disqualify the entire team.

5.7. Team disqualification is the sanction applied to an entire team in the following cases:

5.7.1. The team gets more than two Red cards within an event + one warning to a team fighter.

5.7.2. The team and its captain enter into dissent with referees and contests their decision, insults opponents or behaves disrespectfully with them, as well as other parties in the competition.


6.1. In case of a disagreement with the decision of the referees and the knight marshal, the team captain can make a protest. The protest is to be written in an “Appeal form”, which can be given to the team captain by event organizers. The number of these forms is brought under regulation and decided by organizers of every event.

6.2. The protest is to be well-grounded and can be made on the following occasions:

6.2.1. Removal of the fighter out of the battle with violation of the rules.

6.2.2. Continuation of actions by a fighter of the opposing team after he was removed from a battle.

6.2.3. Improper removal of a fighter out of the battle by the field referee.

6.2.4. Unregistered by the referees a rule violation made by the fighters of the opposing team.

6.2.5. Deliberate injuring.

6.2.6. Application of prohibited techniques to a fighter, which strongly influenced the balance of forces in a battle.

6.3. The protest should be made by the team captain after the battle is over and the results are announced. The protest is to be made in a calm and well-reasonable form, personally to the knight marshal and has to be written in the special “Appeal form”. The protest is to be considered within 30-45 minutes.

6.4. Possible outcomes of the protest consideration:

6.4.1. General repeated round.

6.4.2. Repeated round with different membership.

6.4.3. Imposition of a Yellow or Red card to the fighters.

6.4.4. Disqualification of the team.

6.4.5. Reconsideration of the round score or battle result.

6.5. If the team is not satisfied with the decision of the knight marshal, made after consideration of the first appeal, its captain has the right to file a second appeal to the Supreme Appeal Commission, which consists of the organizers of the event.

To re-appeal, the “Appeal form” has to be filled in and submitted directly to the organizers of the event, supported by verbal reasoning of the intention. The re-appeal is to be considered by the Supreme Appeal Commission within 3 hours, it includes watching the video materials and interviewing of the panel of referees, after that the final decision is to be taken.


Above rules were originated by "Battle of the Nations" - World Championship of full contact historical medieval battles and adopted for North America by Scallagrims Medieval Martial Arts Centre. Scallagrims Medieval Martial Arts Centre does not take any liability for any use of above rules outside of its training sessions and events.