HEMA Rules

Arnold Fencing Classic Rapier & Longsword Combat Rules

Welcome to the Arnold Fencing Classic HEMA Tournament hosted by Royal Arts Fencing Academy, the longest continuously running club for sport fencing, HEMA, combat lightsaber, and kenjutsu in Ohio. Following are the rules for the HEMA tournaments. They are based on Longpoint rules. By participating in the Arnold Fencing Classic competition, the fencers acknowledge that they have read and understand the rules of engagement and scoring outlined below. The following are strictly adhered to in order to provide a safe and fun tournament that is also spectator friendly.

The Festival

The Arnold is not your average tournament. Hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Arnold Fencing Classic is a part of the Arnold Sports Festival, the largest multi-sport festival in the world with 70 sports and events, 19,000 athletes, and 200,000 visitors. It is a four-day weekend unlike any you will ever see. Fencing has been a part of the Arnold since 2004. The sport fencing portion of the event runs 27 strips for 3 days and has events from youth under 7 to adults up to 105.

Don't just fence. Enjoy the whole weekend.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Will Arnold be there? Yes. Arnold comes to the fencing venue to present the scholarship. He visits many other venues during the weekend. We are not permitted to give you the day, time, or his schedule for security reasons. Other celebrities may also appear in the venue from time to time.

All events stop for Anrold's appearance or any other big name celebrity.

All fencers MUST leave their fencing gear, masks, bags, gloves, weapons, etc at their competition location. Weapons will not be allowed near Arnold. And, in case you get to shake his hand, you don't want to offer your stinky glove to him.

His time with us is brief and will not have much effect on competition. Events resumes after he leaves.


Wristbands are required for all fencers, coaches, parents, and spectators. In other words, everyone! As a part of your entry, you will receive a wristband that grants you access to most sports and events Friday-Sunday. You may want to come early to enjoy parts of the festival before your event and/or stay afterwards. There are very specific rules about the wristbands.

  • Each athlete is given 1 (one) wristband that is a three-day pass. You can and should shower with it.
  • There are no replacements if you lose your wristband, forget it, etc. You must purchase a new one if you lose it. Our staff are provided 1 (one) wristband per athlete and not permitted extras.
  • You can purchase your replacement or guest wristbands at booths outside the fencing venue. They are conveniently located nearby, but we do not have wristbands to sell.
  • Wristbands get you into all sports and events at the Arnold Sports Festival except the big ticket items.

Parking & Accommodations

Parking can be a bear at the Arnold. We encourage you to pre-book your parking or Uber your way to the venue from your hotel. Book parking and hotels early or you will have a long way to go to get to the venue.
Check the parking page or visit our home page for parking and hotel information.

Liability Waiver

All fencers are required to sign a waiver online here prior to competition. The waiver is included in your Registration Form.
Results of the tournament will be posted to this website.

Registration & Fees

All proceeds from the Arnold Fencing Classic supports the Rose & Gold Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization with the goal to improve lives through fencing -- all fencing whether it is Olympic Sport, HEMA, or other. We provide opportunities in the community to fence for those that would not otherwise be able to, have disabilities, or other hardships. All proceeds from the tournament go to the Foundation.

The fees for the Arnold Fencing Classic are graduated based on time. Fees increase the later you register and pay. There are two fees involved, the Registration Fee and the Entry Fee. The Registration fee is a one-time fee for entering the tournament. The Entry fee is per event that you register for. The refund schedule is below.

Registration Fee Schedule

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DeadlineRegistrationPer Event
Regular Fees End02/12/2018$40$35
Late Registration02/13-20/18$80$35
Scholarship Entry*02/15/2018 - -
Last Minute02/21-25/18$120$40
At the Door03/02-04/18$160$50
* Scholarship entries are restricted to Olympic Fencers that are US Citizens that are participating in the Arnold Fencing Classic.

Are Fees Refundable?

The refund policy for the 2018 Arnold Fencing Classic is listed in the table below.
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Request DateRegistrationPer Event
Before 12/31/2017$40 (100%)$35 (100%)
01/01-10/2018$0.00 - No Refund$31.5 (90%)
02/11-18/2018$0.00 - No Refund$17.5 (50%)
After 02/19/2018$0.00 - No Refund$0.00 - No Refund
Refunds are processed 4-6 weeks after the tournament. If you wish to cancel your registration, the request can be made here.
All fees must paid on-line.

You can register for this event here. Payment will be taken at the end of the form.


At the conclusion of each event, medals will be awarded to the top four. Those awards are gold, silver, and tied for bronze. We do not fence off for third.

The award ceremony is held in the Franklin Room, the main room for all fencing information, vendors, etc.

Tournament Format

The term tournament refers to the collection of individual events or age divisions. It can occur over a one or two day period. An individual fight between two fencers or combatants is called a bout. What follows is a summary of the rules. Detailed explanations of the more complicated items are marked and explained at the bottom of this document.

  • Announced start times represent the close of registration. Fencing will commence a few minutes later after the event has been seeded into pools.
  • All fencers will be assigned to a pool.
  • The relative strength of the fencers will be determined by the bout committee to provide balanced pool seeding.
  • Relative strength may take into account some of the following:
    • Current or previous sport fencing experience and level
    • Previous sport fencing experience
    • Combat based historical fencing
    • Martial arts experience with contact sparing
  • The pool is a round-robin. Each fencer will fence each person in the pool once.
  • Pools will be no larger than seven.
  • 100% of fencers from pools will be promoted to single direct elimination.
  • Seeding is calculated from a composite of the following:
    • Win ratio: Victories / Bouts
    • Indicators: Touches Scored - Touches Received
  • Fencers will be seeded into a bracket of best vs worst narrowing down to the finals.

Required Equipment

Safety is of utmost importance. Failure to comply with equipment and safety standards may result in warning penalties up to the possibility of expulsion.

  • All fencers must have an armoury inspection prior to competition.
  • You must supply your own weapons and gear. See list below for approved weapons.
  • Fencing masks with back of head protection must be worn by all competitors. The mask must be free of defects, dents, broken support pieces, etc.
  • All women must wear chest protectors.
  • Men are encouraged to wear a cup, but it is not required.
  • Fencing jackets or protective jackets are required. Armpit gaps are not permitted.
  • Gloves are required. They must have rigid and padded protection.
  • Some form of rigid neck protection that covers the larynx must be worn.
  • Elbow/knee protection is required. The items must completely cover the knee and elbow.
  • Fencers must wear closed toe shoes. Flip-flops, sandals, crocs, etc will not be permitted.
  • Long pants are required.

Approved Weapons

All tips must be lightly colored or have lightly colored tape. Our vendors can sell you tape if you forget. This helps the judges to determine the quality of the thrust.
Regenyei FedersArms & Armor Fechterspeil
Pavel Moc FecersComfort Fencing "Dobringer" Feder
Ensifer FedersDarkwood Armory Feders
Mac Arms FedersBaltimore Sword & Knife Works Feders
SGT Blade FedersCastille Armory Feders
Black Horse FedersChlebowski Feders
Albion Meyer


Each exchange is worth 0, 1, 2, or 4 points. See table for details.

Points Clean Hit Failed
Grapple Double-Hit
0 Contact Contact
Unresovled Closed*
1 Quality Target Ring-out
2 Target - Takedown
4 Control - Control
* A double where the swords are in contact is called as Closed and thrown out. A double where the swords are not in contact is called as Open and incurs a foul.

Point Refusal

If a fighter is assessed points but does not believe that he/she earned them, the fighter is allowed to refuse points by an appropriate indication to the director. The fighter may not request other changes. It is either accept or refuse.

A fencer may not argue the call against him. Excessive protesting may result in a yellow card penalty.

Match Details

  • A bout lasts 2 minutes or 9 points for pools and 12 points for eliminations.
  • The referee will call the fencers en garde. The sequence is "En garde. Ready? Fence or Begin."
  • Talking is not permitted during the bout except for when a referee needs to be addressed.
  • Blows must be controlled and properly delivered.
  • In the event that time expires and the score is tied the rules of Priority or sudden death apply.
  • Action Completion and Definition:
    • A fencer in the process of completing an action within one tempo when a halt is called for is allowed to complete their action. For example, one fencer attacks, halt is called but the other fencer was already in the midst of riposting. This is permitted. Likewise, if a fencer finished his attack as a fencer goes out of bounds, he is still permitted to score.
    • After-blows or "revenge strikes"
      • After an unsuccessful defense a fencer will often follow up with some form of continuation. In general, these do not count. If they are excessively violent or vindictive they will result in penalties.
      • If an after-blow is the continuation of an action the fencer may still receive points. The recipient of the after blow will lose 1 point.
    • Double hits or double kills
      • "Double without Defense" - A double with no defense, i.e. both fencers initiate attacks simultaneously or near simultaneous without regard for what there opponent does will result in no points.
      • A double hit with a defensive action that fails is graded as an after-blow.
      • Three double hits will count as a loss for both fencers.
    • Grappling
      • Fencers may make contact and use grappling that does not injure or incapacitate an opponent. For example, you could seize an arm or wrist in order to get a valid strike, but you cannot put them into a position that they are in danger of injury.
      • Disarms are allowed provided they meet all other requirements.
      • Kicking, punching, throws, and ground fighting are not permitted.

      Actions that Stop a Bout

      • A fencer makes a hit
      • A safety concern, which could be due to equipment, safety gear, unsafe conduct, spectator interference, etc.
      • Weapons with broken or loses pieces will result in a halt.
      • Failure of a blade to light WILL NOT stop a bout.
      • Anything that is of concern to the referee.
      • Anyone other than combatants and judges entering the ring
      • Arnold Schwarzenegger or other celebrity appearance.

      Warnings and Penalties

      • Warnings are issued as a yellow card.
      • No points can be awarded on the offending yellow card touch.
      • Two yellow cards = 1 red card.
      • A red card results in three points (3) against the violating fencer. That is the equivalent of a body strike.
      • A black card is an expulsion from the tournament.
      • Trash-talking or taunting opponents.

      Yellow Card Offenses

      • Both feet going out of bounds for any reason during the action.
      • Delay of bout.
      • Disorderly fencing, taking off the mask prior to a "Halt"
      • Touches done with brutality.
      • Touches made during or after a fall.
      • Covering or substitution of valid target.*
      • Refusal to obey the referee.
      • False injury / cramp complaint.
      • Anyone disturbing order on the strip.
      • Grabbing the blade, i.e. the cutting part of the weapon.
      • Throws, ground fighting, kicking, takedowns, or punching.
      • Tripping opponent.
      • Refusing to recognize the point.

      Red Card Offenses

      • Dangerous, violent, or vindictive action.
      • Dishonest fencing.
      • Receiving Second warning in a bout.
      • Direct hit to non-valid target with intent to injury, e.g., the back of the head or groin.

      Black Card Offenses

      Black card offenses are the most serious kind and generally represent actions that are blatantly dangerous or a complete violation of the rules. Black carded fencers are expelled from the tournament and the venue. Their results will posted as "FENCER EXCLUDED."

      • Throwing the mask or weapon for any reason.
      • Deliberate cheating.
      • Refusing to fight an opponent assigned.
      Whew! You got all that? Now it's time to register.

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