Getting Started in Rapier Combat

Did you grow up with swashbuckling stories and movies? Did you long to know what it meant to be, as Shakespeare called it, “the very butcher of a silk button”? Did you long to be a musketeer? Did you watch Game of Thrones, look in the mirror, and say “Not Today”? If so…

Welcome to Rapier Combat!


Rapier combat covers a great many activities. On the rapier field, you’ll be using steel weapons, predominantly against unarmored opponents. Rapier is a great way to learn about historical swordsmanship, from I.33 all the way to Capo Ferro and beyond. If period combat isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of room for swashbuckling of every stripe.

Your first step to getting started as a rapier fighter is to contact your local marshal. You can find you group marshal by contacting your local group (the local Hospitaler is probably your best bet). You can also check your local group’s website to see if they host a regular fighter practice, and – if rapier is a part of that practice – then just show up.

You’ll need to wear closed-toed shoes, and clothing you can move in. Bring water, as well. Most local groups have plenty of loaner gear, including swords, fencing masks, and protective gear. Loaner gear is great for letting you get a taste for the activity before you decide to invest in equipment of your own. However, if you need one, you’ll want to bring your own athletic cup and supporter.

Most local groups have someone on hand that can show you the ropes – basic technique (footwork, defense, and attack) and basic fencing concepts. It’s a good idea to start with these basics, and focus on those fundamentals when you’re new.

If you’re interested in period fencing, here are a few resources for you to investigate.

Guy Windsor’s YouTube Channel (Rapier, Longsword, Arming Sword, Dagger, etc.)
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3uq_HEjUMRpe8Rn3CWhYuw

Puck and Mary Curtis’ Destreza Restoration Project (Spanish rapier system)
http://www.destreza.us/

If the rapier isn’t your thing, but you’re still interested in fighting with steel, plenty of people practice Longsword, arming sword, and other earlier period arts under the umbrella of Cut and Thrust combat.

Finally, you’ll want to take a look at our rules. You can find them here (SCA rules), and here (Ansteorran Participant’s Handbook). Familiarize yourself with the Society and Ansteorran rules for rapier combat.

Most events include rapier combat as an activity, so come on out to a local event and watch the fun, and see if it’s something you might want to do.