All fencers, bearwards, common players in interludes and minstrels, not belonging to any baron of the realm or towards any other honourable personage of greater degree … which … shall wander abroad and have not license of two justices of the peace … shall be judged rogues, vagabonds and sturdy beggars.
Rapier Combat - also called Fencing or the Art of Defence - as practiced in the SCA is the recreation of various styles of combat from both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The focus is on civilian, unarmoured combat with the sword, though other weapons are used. SCA fencing has gone beyond the rapier to include various other types of period weapons, like the sidesword, the longsword and even the spear. Fencers also use secondary weapons and parrying devices in their off-hands including daggers, bucklers, cloaks and sticks.
The term fencing has replaced rapier in the official documents of the SCA, including the rules that govern fencing.
A number of fencers have studied period manuals in an attempt to bring to life the art of defence as practiced in the past. These manuals range in date from the 14th century, such as MS I.33 (also known as the Royal Armouries Fechtbuch) and the works of Fiore dei Liberi; through the 15th century works of Masters like Hans Talhoffer and Paulus Kal; and into the 16th and early 17th century writings of Masters Achille Marozzo, Giacomo di Grassi, Joachim Meyer, Camillio Agrippa and Nicoletto Giganti. There are many other manual sources now coming to light.
Many SCA events will have fencing tournaments where fencers can try their skill against their fellows. Fencing usually takes place within a defined area called a List. The fencers have freedom of movement within the list unlike in modern fencing where combatants are limited to a narrow strip. Fencers are supervised by marshals who are responsible for the safety of all those participating. While the emphasis is on single combat, fencers can also participate in melees with dozens of fencers involved or even battles where hundreds are involved. There are strict rules for protective equipment, which is regularly tested and inspected by the marshals. Weapons are blunt, and the their tips are covered to prevent injury.
Fencers come from all strata of the SCA, including Peers and Royalty. Fencing is open to all over the age of 14, and there is a Youth Fencing program for those under the age of 14. Links to the fencing rules can be found above. Fencers are happy to provide information about their Art when asked, and are not known to bite.