Rules and Guidelines

Rules and Safety Guidelines for Wolin in America (W.I.A.) Combat


Hello, my name is Will Grant and I will be the First commander for Slavic Invasion at W.I.A. “Wolin in America”. The goal here is to bring together as many Eastern style fighters as we can find in North America and beyond into one event for everyone’s fun and benefit. As the author of these rules and guidelines, I am relying on many years of experience fighting in Eastern style, and these rules match my understanding of technique and good practice within this style.


1. Preface:


a. This guide assumes that the reader has basic familiarity with Viking/Early Medieval reenactment combat and equipment terms, if something is not clear, please bring it up at the safety briefing or any calibration before a combat, questions are always welcome, and I hope we can all enjoy the fight as safe as we can, with good sportsmanship and mindset.


b. The main rules for “Wolin in America”(W.I.A) are at their core Eastern style combat, but this term does not necessarily mean the same rules in every organization so the purpose of this document is to specify the expectations for every participant, in order to establish a baseline of safety and quality to combat.


c. Western style is permitted, for practice and secondary combats, and in general any combat outside of the main combat event times can abide by the rules set by the individual participants, these rules and safety guidelines are set to cover the main combat events set in the schedule. Therefore any forms of full target/Huskarl combat are permitted as well, but not during main scheduled combats and are the purview of their own respective participants.


  1. Basics:


a. Every scheduled fight will be a one hit ‘kill’ in order to win, participants are encouraged to wear historical armor and hidden modern protective equipment, but no armor gives the participant any game advantage, a solid slash or cut on a maille-clad shoulder will still count as a ‘killing’ hit as if the blade were sharp and the maille weren’t there. We can discuss the historicity or lack thereof until dawn, but at the end of the day we must keep things as simple and fair for every participant, and easy for marshalls to judge.


b. Hits must be intentional and made with the blade or ‘point’ of the weapon, accidental or glancing hits, such as slapping an arm with the flat of the blade for instance, or a hit from the wooden shaft of a spear or haft of an axe do not count as a ‘kill’. However, if you opponent turns their back to you for one reason or another a courteous intentional slap from a blade or haft on the back of the legs, or backside of your opponent, is a good way to let them know you got the ‘kill’ without encouraging injury to the spine or stabbing someone in the backside. 


c. Intention is key, secondary to that is the person receiving the blow, I would encourage that when in doubt, take the hit, you will have many more chances to fight and compete, it’s sportsmanlike conduct, and your opponent *will* remember if you’re the type of person who doesn’t acknowledge when you’ve been hit.


d. The final say always lies with the marshall(s) in attendance to the combat, if they say you’ve been hit, you accept it and move on. We can discuss afterwards, not on the field, anyone who takes up an argument with a marshall during combat may be removed from combat altogether.

    1. Targeting


    1. In discussing targeting, in simple terms, legal hit areas that constitute a ‘kill’ or a ‘win’ are different whether the blow is a slash/cut, with the edge of the weapon, or if it’s a thrusting/stabbing blow, with the tip, or point of the weapon, so we will discuss each separately.


    1. Slashing or cutting with a weapon should ideally be downwards, either straight down(90 degree angle) or at a diagonal downward strike approaching a 45 degree angle; horizontal strikes(a 0 degree, or 180 degree depending on reference) are strongly discouraged, for safety concerns we will discuss in a later section centered on how to receive a blow. Think of an X going across the center of your opponent’s body, and try to angle your cuts along this X.


    1. The legal hit areas are above the elbow, but not including the elbow, above the knee, but not including the knee, the whole torso except the collarbone and above, i.e. no cuts to the collarbone or neck area are legal hits, turning around, the spine is not a legal target zone, nor are the backs of the kidney area, the back of the shoulder blade is legal, but keep the hit lighter in force if cutting here, furthermore I would recommend again if your opponent’s back is turned, a courteous slap with the flat of the blade across the backside is encouraged. Thighs and upper leg and waist, including the groin and abdomen are valid targets, here I would encourage upward cuts, going back to the imaginary X, a diagonal cut to the thigh is less likely to bounce into your opponent’s face, and more likely to go around their shield than a horizontal cut to the waist.


    1. Cuts to the head, must be strictly targeted at the crown of the head, and angled such that they are straight down or between 90 to 45 degree angle relative to the crown, and must make contact with the helm itself, and not hit the maille aventail or arming cap. Horizontal strikes to the head are strictly prohibited, and anyone making this kind of cut, will be removed from combat by a marshal. Gliding, drawn or glancing cuts to the head, will not count as a ‘kill’, but this is left to the discretion of both the receiver of such a hit, and ultimately the purview of an attending marshall. Cuts to the head, must be intentional, but should be lighter in force, compared to a similar hit to the shoulder or other parts of the body, no one wants a concussion.


    1. A fighter who is seen to make horizontally angled strikes to the upper arm, or shoulder will be warned, and in the case of these warnings ignored, may be asked to change weapons, or removed from the combat, horizontal strikes to the upper body and head could lead to serious injury, keep the angle of your cuts to the upper body downward.


    1. Thrusting or stabbing is more limited in targets, and safety is even more of a consideration when practicing these techniques, as the risk of serious injury is generally seen as much greater. 


    1. Thrusts to the torso are limited to the mid chest and abdomen, more broadly from the middle of the pectoral to above the knee, but not including. Thrusts to the upper arm, but below the shoulder are permitted, but this is a discouraged target area, and with a spear particularly, should not be made above an opponent’s shield, but we will discuss more on that in the section on proper weapon usage. 


    1. Thrusts should ideally be downward in motion, and at the very least, never start a thrust where the weapon point goes upward toward your intended target, a fighter who is seen to repeatedly(more than three times) thrust upwards with a weapon, may be asked to either switch to a non thrusting weapon, or be removed from the combat, at the marshall’s discretion, as upwards thrusts are a very serious safety concern. Therefore if you wish to thrust at your opponent’s abdomen, ideally you will start with your spear point higher than your intended target, say in the mid pectoral area, but on it’s way the downwards thrust carries the spear point to the intended target, this is so that when he or she defends the blow, it is less likely to accidentally travel further upwards, since the momentum of the point is already going lower on the body.


    1. Lastly we will discuss a third targeting concern, with targeting shield to the body, while hitting your opponent with any part of your shield will never constitute a win in and of itself, in Eastern style effective active shield techniques will likely involve attempts to manipulate your opponent’s weapon and body, and one should anticipate regular contact, especially around the area of the weapon wielding shoulder and arm. 


    1. When “throwing” a shield edge, or shield “bashing” the movement must be made so that the edge of the shield, nor the face, nor boss of the shield should ever come in contact with the head, neck, throat or collarbone areas, these techniques are intended to manipulate weapons and the hands controlling them, and not to intentionally injure one’s opponent. A marshall who views a fighter intentionally engaging in this behavior, after a first warning, if it continues, the marshall may remove that fighter from the combat field at their discretion.
    2. When making any strike or thrust, hits to the face, front or back of the neck, spine, or back of the head, must be called out, and may result in immediate removal of the attacking fighter from the combat by a Marshall, at their discretion, and depending on severity may result in the cessation of combat.
    3. These are basic graphics to illustrate valid targeting zones, based on whether you are thrusting or cutting, shown in green, off targets are red:

    1. Weapon Standards


    1. Here we will discuss different weapon types and definitions, all weapons should have a corresponding typology or a named specific find from the early medieval/viking age, in broad terms representing an archaeological find, or other source material, dated from between the 8th century, until the end of the 11th century, basically if you have an unordinary weapon, be ready to defend its use in a constructive academic way, this includes weapons that are exceptionally heavy, or light, extra long, or large, and all of these factors will be considered during the safety check and during pre-fight calibration. Remember always that if your weapon causes an injury, it is your fault, not your opponents’, use only a weapon that you are confident in your skill and attention to safety. I do not want to hear “this is my first time using this type of weapon” from anyone.


    1. Every weapon intended to be used is subject to a general safety check prior to combat, at the beginning of each day’s events. If the weapon is not brought to safety check on the day of use, it will not be permitted, and marshals will remove either the weapon or the user from the field at their discretion. There will be chosen a Chief Safety Officer, selected at the safety briefing at the beginning of the event, in addition each attendant group is invited to nominate a safety officer, or choose to defer to another group’s officer, so that all weapons from all combat participants must be inspected by each group’s safety officer. In the event of disagreement or a lack of consensus between officers over an individual weapon’s safety, we should defer the weapon as unsafe, ultimately deferring the judgment of the Chief Safety Officer. The specifics and expectations of what determines a safe weapon may be discussed in more detail at the briefing, and therefore may be held to a higher standard than what is mentioned in.


    1. All weapons must have their edge, or ‘point’ be at least 2 mm in width, with a rounded profile, so that the metal cannot ‘catch’ the skin or fabric as it is glided across. Minor damage to the edge profile may be permitted, the edge of weapons should be free of rust, and should ideally be regularly oiled, and show signs of care and maintenance.


    1. What follows are the generalized weapon typologies, and a brief overview of how they should be used and what they are intended to simulate in W.I.A. combat scenarios: Swords and swordlike weapons, Axes, both 1-handed(1h) and 2-handed(2h), and spears, both 1h and 2h.


    1. Swords: i.e. Langseaxes, seax, scramaseax, sabres, both single edged and double edged swordlike weapons. These are usually among the more common weapons amongst reenactors, are diverse in their expression, and in many ways are often seen as the safest weapon type, if principally because the weight of the weapon tends to be closer to the user’s hand, and often concentrated in the pommel. They can both thrust and cut, double edged weapons may cut with the reverse edge as well. In the case of single edged weapons, the edge of the weapon must be easily discernible from the non edge portion. As blunt replicas they should be relatively close to the length, width, and weight of the historical piece they are meant to simulate and represent, generally speaking, the intended use of swords, and swordlike weapons in our time period were as side-arms, meant to be used with one hand, and ideally with a shield in the other hand, that isn’t to say one may not use them without a shield, or with another weapon in the other hand, this is just not recommended from the standpoint of safety, but permitted nonetheless. Otherwise, the guidelines to strikes, both cuts and thrusts as mentioned previously, are retained, straight down towards diagonal angled cuts are preferred, as well as downward thrusts aimed towards the center of mass are ideal. Drawn cuts to body or limbs are permitted, but may not always register the impact to the receiver of such a cut, especially in armor, so it’s best to make these types of hits dramatic and easy to see, feel and hear against the armor, in Eastern style it is almost always better to make the hit-cut with the broad side of the blade, so that your opponent will feel the impact and register that they have been hit.


    1.   Axes: We divide these between 1-handed and 2-handed and can cover many shapes, sizes and typologies, the main differences between a 1 handed axe and a sword is that impact hit-cuts are more preferred, and extra care must be made so as to not “hook” limbs. That is to say when you are pulling the axe from a missed hit, the beard, hook, or the underside of an axe blade may pull on the back of your opponents’ arm or leg. In this case, the best action is to drop the axe and draw your sword, or other backup weapon, in order to prevent injury. For this reason it is highly recommended that if you use an axe that you have a safety-checked sidearm. 1-handed axes can thrust in order to push away a shield, weapon or an opponent, but the thrust of a 1h axe will never count as a ‘kill’. 2-handed axes may thrust with the horn or tip of the top of the blade of the axe blade, not with the wooden haft coming through the eye, this would be bad form. As with all thrusts, it is best to angle the thrust downwards, either to the abdomen, waist, or thighs. When using an axe, due to the weight distribution being greater at the end of the weapon, it’s even more important to consider striking with a vertical 90 degree angle to your cut, especially when targeting the helmet. Marshalls may remove any fighter should they ignore any warnings towards striking with horizontal or perform limb hooking without dropping the axe. Another feature of using axes is their ability to hook a shield, usually in order to open the defenses for another attack, either your own, or an ally. When hooking a shield it is best to angle the attack as if you were striking the body, imagine an ‘X’ going across the shield and attack at the diagonals, this reduces the risk of your opponent pulling their shield back to fight you and busting themselves in their face with your axe, especially if you follow up the hook with the thrust of your 2h axe horn.


    1.   Spears: Divided broadly into smaller spearheads that are commonly used with 1 hand and a shield, or wielded with both hands, spears with “wings” and spears without, spears in our rule system are almost strictly thrusting weapons. There are other rulesets where they can be used to Draw cuts, like a sword, where the edges glide across the target; this is discouraged at W.I.A. as this is relatively hard to register, and relatively difficult for a Marshall to enforce in the midst of combat. Spear points are meant to be kept down, either when defending from other attacks or when attacking, a Marshall may insist on a fighter changing weapons, or remove them from combat if the spear point is kept high or hits the upper chest after an initial warning, at their discretion. When “hooking” with a winged spear, the wings will be treated as the same as the beard of an axe, limbs should not be hooked, and in the case of hooking a limb the weapon should be dropped when in doubt. When hooking a shield, one should hook at a diagonal angle, ideally under the shield, as in most cases, hooking the top of the shield would constitute a “high spear” and a Marshall will warn the fighter if the spear is too high. A common spear technique is to hit the opponent’s shield in order to shock or flinch the fighter, or open the shield up in some way, when striking at the shield, one should not hit any area above the boss, or centerline of the shield, this reduces the risk of the spearpoint sliding upwards across the shield, which could cause the thrust to travel towards the face.


    Create Your Own Website With Webador