Going into the Rules Laboratory

We fiddle with the rules a little bit every year, refining our popular Longpoint™ rules set as the community grows in size, skill, and resources. No rules set—competitive or otherwise—is perfect, and so every year has been a careful balance between priorities or emphases. Some experiments have been very successful (e.g., judges focused on a single color); others less so (e.g., our execution of the fully weighted afterblow). Our intention at every step of the way is to continue developing and refining a rule set that encourages technical fencing, rewards “canon” technique, demands physicality, and allows fencers to pressure test their skills under the broadest conditions possible. Each proposed change is tested extensively, first within xKDF training groups, then to a broader audience at Shortpoint, then to a broader audience still in at least one other full size tournament such as Fechtschule New York. Some of this year’s proposed changes won’t make it past the first tests; others will go all the way to Longpoint 2015 (and hopefully beyond).

The list below covers a number of modifications being tested for Longpoint 2015. We hope it fosters some interest and discussion, but we also want to be clear: we might not use any of these changes, we might use all of them, or we might end up doing something else altogether. It will depend on how they play out in the tests.

Proposed Changes for Testing Judging Format

Last year we used a five-judge format, with the Head Judge/Referee making all final calls and two ring judges assigned to evaluate each fighter. This format significantly reduced judge fatigue and reduced the number of bad calls. On the other hand, consistently establishing a priority of contact under this format was nearly impossible, forcing us to use a fully weighted afterblow. The inclusion of a “double without defense” call further muddied things. We intend to maintain the Head Judge role this year. We also plan on testing the following changes for ring judges: Keep one ring judge dedicated to each fighter, with the other two ring judges filling a more traditional role, calling for both fighters and establishing priority (i.e., who hit first, afterblows, and doubles). Afterblows would be subtractive as in 2012 and 2013, reducing the score for the fighter who landed the initial hit.

Maintain the two ring judges per fighter model, but do away with prioritization of blows altogether (e.g., as in Swordfish 2014). This means doubles and afterblows will be counted the same, as independently scored actions.

Always on the table, of course, is returning to previous models with four ring judges calling both fighters and flagging priority in the process, similar to Longpoint 2012 and 2013.


Ring Outs. The value of Ring Outs will be reduced from three to one or two.

Target Criteria. The Target criteria will be changed from any blow to the head or torso to any thrust to the head or torso and any cut to the head or upper openings (i.e., shoulders and neck). This would result in strikes to the lower torso being scored as limbs. We debated this rule change last year, but were reluctant to use it until we saw the successes with a similar rule used in the Nordic League and at Swordfish this year.

Mercy Rule Reduction. In 2013 matches were fought to 7 points. In 2014 matches were fought to time, with a 14 point lead winning automatically. For 2015, we will test automatic wins at a 7 point lead, otherwise played for time as in 2014. This will bring back some of 2013’s intensity (you can win in one blow if you are currently even with your opponent), but keep the matches longer and dynamic, as with 2014.

Mad Science?

Every year we get a few ideas worth playing with that are markedly different from what we've done in the past. These aren't little tweaks but major structural changes. Sometimes we end up keeping bits and pieces; other times they lead to new events. We’ll be testing some of those, too, but posting them on the blog would ruin the fun. You’ll need to come to Shortpoint to see them.


This is the Longpoint Rules’ fourth year. As we’ve modded and tacked on the rules set has gotten a little bloated. We’ll be cutting down, streamlining rules, and reducing the numbers of if’s and but’s. The testing part comes into figuring out what’s bloat and fluff, and what actually has a positive effect on fencer behavior. The final result will be something simpler, shorter, and easier to use.

What about Other Events?

Sword and Buckler rules and Rapier Rules will be posted in the coming months. We expect both to be simpler still than the current Longpoint rules, but not so different as to confuse multi-event judges. If you're familiar with Swordfish's Rapier rules, ours will be similar. We also anticipate a few minor changes to our other main events, including Grappling, Cutting, and Paired Technique. The draft rules for each will be posted throughout the winter, with final versions going up in the last two months before Longpoint actually kicks off. The source announcement for the Paired Technique will accompany registration’s opening next week.

Wait…Registration is in a Week?

Yeah! Registration opens in a week. We’re very excited. 2015 promises to be the biggest and best Longpoint yet, and we really can’t wait to share it with you all. We’ll see you there.


~Jake, Ben, and the Longpoint 2015 Crew