Any questions regarding gear and weapons should be sent to info [at] irongateexhition [dot] com. If you are unsure, we recommend you contact us beforehand. Tournament management, including ring bosses, reserve the right to disallow any gear or weapons deemed unsafe at any point.
All weapons shall be from a recognized HEMA-specific vendor and be purpose built for HEMA tournament sparring. Weapons intended only for drilling are not permitted. Tips shall be rolled, swelled, flared or have a button or blunt which brings the tip width to at least 1cm. Blunts or buttons, if removable, shall be made from metal, rubber, or leather and be secured with strong tape.
Weapons shall only be used against weapons made from the same material – steel shall be used against steel, nylon against nylon, etc. Aluminum is not permitted. Edges shall be in good condition, free of burrs or deep knicks which may catch/tear gear or otherwise break skin. Unless otherwise noted, all tournaments/sparring games are fought with steel weapons.
Certain models of weapons and certain manufacturers are prohibited:
- Hanwei feders and blunts
- Albion Lichtenauer
No home-made weapons are permitted for tournament fighting/sparring games. For sparring, certain weapons may be permitted with prior approval, such as padded spears. Home-made metal weapons are not permitted.
All gear must be in good working order and free of holes, cracks or other damage which may impair function.
All jackets used in fencing must be purpose built for HEMA. Olympic fencing jackets are too thin to provide adequate protection (unless for small sword engagements). They must be long sleeved, completely closed in the front, and have a high collar. Ideally, they will also incorporate a blade catcher into this collar. For this reason, padded gambesons used for sports like Buhurt are not recommended.
IGX does not require a newton rating, but 800n is recommended.
Fencing-specific pants are recommended, but not required. They may be intended for Olympic fencing or HEMA. If the pants, regardless of purpose, do not cover the lower legs, then knee socks shall be worn. No exposed skin is permitted.
Shoes shall be intended for athletic use and shall be completely enclosed. Sandals, boots, dress shoes and similar footwear is not permitted.
Masks shall be intended for fencing. Steel helmets that one would use with armor are not permitted without prior approval. Masks shall be tight fitting and shall not be easily removed by a sword blow. If a mask is repeatedly removed under normal bouting conditions, it will be disallowed.
Masks shall be free of dents or other deformations or damage which may compromise their integrity. If the mask is secured in the back with Velcro, the Velcro shall be in good order and securely hold the mask in place. Masks shall have a bib made from puncture-resistance material which covers the neck. Bibs which repeatedly curl upwards exposing the neck may be disallowed.
Back of the Head Protection
All masks shall either provide rigid back of the head protection or a separate protector shall be used. Soft hoods are not permitted.
For the purposes of this section, “rigid” protection refers to plates made from plastic, dense rubber (styrogum) or hardened leather. Steel is permitted, but is subject to the rules in the “Steel Gauntlets” section below. Hand protection not manufactured by a recognized gear manufacturer (i.e. home-made) is permitted with prior approval.
Swords with cruciform hilts, or ones that do not full enclose the hand, shall be considered simple hilts. This category includes longswords, arming swords, messers, stirrup or d-guarded sabers or any other weapon which meets the above definition. Gloves with rigid (not foam) plates shall be worn. These gloves shall completely enclose the fingers, back of hand and wrist joint. If the gloves do not cover the palm, and underglove shall be worn. Not exposed skin is permitted – a sword grip does not count as adequate covering.
The only exception to this rule is when fencing with smallswords, foils or similar against like weapons where the likelihood of cuts are minimal. Soft gloves may be worn in this case.
Swords which fully enclose the hand in a basket, bowl, bell, cup or similar shall be consider complex hilts. This includes most rapiers (e.g. swept hilts, cup hilts or pappenheimer), broadswords and later-period sabers. Rings on the guard and/or a knuckle bow do not, by themselves, count as complex hilts. See “unclear cases” below. For the purposes of this section, bucklers larger than the hand shall be considered complex hilts. Softer gloves may be worn. It is recommended that rigid, or at least padded, wrist protection still be worn.
In the case of a single-handed weapon, the off-hand shall be protected in accordance with “simple hilts” above.
Some weapons may not explicitly meet the above categories. These include complex hilted longswords (e.g. swiss sabres), three-bar sabres, or other such weapons. The most protective glove which can reasonably fit shall be worn. If this does not meet the requirements given for “simple hilts” then approval shall be obtained for competition. It is permissible to augment soft gloves to cover deficiencies in the guard. This may include finger-tip protectors, plates on the back of the hand or thumb, or demi-gauntlets which, when combined with the guard, would produce a fully protected hand. Such augmentations must still be approved.
For the purposes of determining the level of protection given by a hilt, consider the likelihood of a strike reaching the hand. Knucklebows protect from strikes in-line with the blade, but not to the side. Similarly, rings on a longsword protect from descending blows, but do nothing against strikes delivered directly at the hands. However, a combination of the two may provide sufficient protection.
Steel gauntlets are permitted pending the following criteria:
- The gauntlets shall fully enclose the hand and fingers, meeting the requirements for “simple hilts” above
- The gauntlets shall be made from at least 18 ga steel if tempered/spring, 16 ga if mild
- Titanium is not permitted
- The gauntlets shall be in good condition, with no loose plates or holes
- The gauntlets shall be made by a reputable smith and the source must be stated
- If you cannot state who made the gauntlets, or at a minimum where they were purchased from, they may not be used
All steel gauntlets shall receive prior approval. No striking is permitted with gauntlets. Steel gauntlets do not count as armor, and may not be used in a defensive role (i.e., as a buckler). Strikes to a gauntlet shall be treated as valid.
All fencers shall wear dedicated throat protection that fits securely to the neck, an item known as a “gorget.” If the gorget is not rigid, then it shall be thick enough that any impact is similarly blunted as with a rigid gorget. For this reason, soft gorgets are not recommended. Additionally, it is recommended that the gorget provide protection to the gap between the collar bones and the base of the neck in the back.
At a minimum, knees, shins and elbows shall be covered with rigid protection. Protection shall fit securely to the jacket or pants. Protection which repeatedly falls off during regular bouting shall be disallowed. Additional rigid protection for forearms is strongly recommended.
Limb protection not manufactured by a recognized gear manufacturer (i.e. home-made) is permitted with prior approval.
Steel protection is permitted, providing it meets the relevant requirements for steel gauntlets. Steel protection is expected to be limited to knees and elbows. Fencing is assumed as unarmored, and excessive metal protection violates this assumption.
Anatomically appropriate protective equipment shall be worn. This includes an athletic protector, or “cup” for external genitalia and a chest protector for breasts. Cups must be worn under the pants, external groin protection is not considered sufficient. Chest protectors are recommended for all fencers, regardless of anatomy.
In the event of a case not covered above, the resolution shall be at the discretion and judgement of tournament organizers.
Approval in all cases shall be given by the ring boss, tournament management or designated individuals. It is recommended that approval be obtained prior to the event where possible.
Ring bosses have first say in the disapproval or disallowal of any weapon or gear. In the event of a disagreement between the ring boss and a fencer, an appeal may be made to tournament management. Tournament management’s say is final.