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Fencing Authorization in the SCA

Greetings good Gentles,
If you have ever wondered what it means to become an “Authorized Fencer” in our fair Kingdom of Ealdormere, read on to find out!
When I attended my first fight practice in the Barony of Rising Waters I heard many new things that I did not yet understand. After going through the process myself, I bring you what I have learned about what Authorization is, how to become an Authorized Fencer, and the privileges that come with it.

What is an Authorized Fencer?

In short, an Authorized Fencer is someone that has demonstrated that they understand the rules of fencing and how to fence safely with others. In the Kingdom of Ealdormere, fencers are expected to follow the rules laid out in the Society-wide “Fencing Marshals’ Handbook” as well as those included in the “Ealdormere Fencing Handbook“. These documents also provide information on the minimum requirements for armour and what weapons may be used. Through practice, fencers also learn “calibration” so their hits will be hard enough to be considered valid but not so hard they risk injuring their opponents.

How do I become an Authorized Fencer?

After familiarizing yourself with the rules of fencing and attending fight practice to learn calibration, fencers can attempt to earn their Authorization. This can take place at a regular fight practice or an event, as long as there are two Fencing Marshals that you do not practice with regularly.
First the Marshals will ask the fencer some questions about fencing, allowing the fencer to demonstrate their understanding of safety and the rules. After, the fencer will be asked to fence with one of the Marshals or an experienced fencer to demonstrate their ability to fence safely and follow the rules while in combat. This also allows the Marshals to assess the fencer’s calibration by feeling their hits and observing which hits received the fencer calls “good”. Marshals will also ask the fencer to fight from the ground and against an opponent on the ground.
Initial authorization is done with a single weapon (usually a rapier) but fencers can also authorize secondarily with a parrying device, two weapons, or a spear.
A fencer that demonstrates verbal understanding and practical application of the rules to the Marshals will then become an Authorized Fencer.

What can Authorized Fencers do?

While Unauthorized Fencers can participate in practices and pick-up bouts, Authorized Fencers are also allowed to enter tournaments and participate in combat demonstrations at events. Some fencers wish to Authorize as fast as possible so they can jump right in to providing demonstrations for the public and competing at events, but others may be happy to fence at practice and for fun. Authorization is not an indicator of skill, but safety. Not all Authorized Fencers are masters of the sport, and plenty of Unauthorized Fencers are quite good at it.

With all that said, I hope to see you on the list soon!
Crespin le Fae