What is a Marshall?
A Marshall is the person or persons on the field who are responsible for the safety of the
participants and spectators. A Marshall should be familiar with the rules of the Field, know the
armor requirements, use of the "HOLD" command, proper stance to protect oneself and the
fighters, safety issues on the field, and protocol of the bout.
1. -A wooden staff, 5 to 6 ft long, for controlling fighters. NO WEAPONS!
2. -A whistle for large melees
3. -A hat the sun gets warm,
4. -A mask (optional) may be handy in melee situation where you arc close to the action. Should be differentiated from the fighters, for your own protection.
5 -Knee Pads when on hard surfaces in case you need to drop to one knee.
6 -Gloves or gauntlets (optional) to protect the hands from inadvertent slaps or glances.
7 -Groin Protection for males (optional) may be a good thing to have in a close quarter's melee situation
Basics of Marshalling:
Before fighting begins:
Check the field for any ground hazards. Spot-check the fighters as they enter the field for
armoring or weapons problems (NO LIVE STEEL). Make sure the fighters have calibrated.
Inform the fighters of any hazards on the field (ants, mud, holes, etc.)
Starting the fight:
Let the Herald announce the fighters and direct the salutes. If working without a Herald,
announce the fighters yourself. If using a Herald, make sure he has left the field. Put your staff
horizontally between the fighters- Ask each if he is ready. Wait for a verbal response from both.
Then call "Lay On!" in a loud voice and step back, checking over both shoulders for any last-
During the fight:
Ideally, there should be four marshals in a square. Do not plant yourself in one spot to watch:
Rather, keep moving to spot problems. This also allows you to move fast in case of trouble. Do not
focus on just one area of the fighting or just one fighter. Do not lean on your staff.
Specifics to look for:
Loose or faulty armor, broken weapons, dropped or lost weapons or armor, people who don't
belong on the field. Violation of rules of combat- where and how blow's are landing, and any other
problem as can arise Watch for children wandering onto the field, spectators crowding the ropes-
and keep an eye out for broken blades.
When to call "HOLD":
Any of the above mentioned situations which constitute a hazard to the fighters, or any other
threatening situations, such as a fighter tripping or falling, injuries on the field.
Fighters moving slowly toward the edge of the field, or a potentially hazardous situation in
which either or both fighters have realized there is a problem and have stopped fighting anyway.
Fighter at the edge of the field: Call Hold, call Center, or give a specific distance coupled with
the fighter's name. Questions from the fighters for you to answer or mediate, warnings to
fighters for rules violations.
If you perceive a fight to be unsafe:
a) A "Caution" to one or both fighters may solve the problem. If there is significant risk of injury
to either fighter, issue one or both fighters a Warning or Removal.
b) If there is minor grappling, the fight should be interrupted with the violation pointed out in
the form of a Caution. If the action appears to be deliberate, or the fighter can't control his
actions, the offender should be given a formal Warning. This action is a violation of the rules of
Combat and must be treated as such.
Where or with what force did the blow land? Never reply, "You are dead." Try "It seemed
to me as if..." or "If his sword had been a real rapier, what would it have done to you?"
Re-calibration is always an option.
Warnings to the fighters:
For persistent or deliberate misuse or violation of the rules of the list. Up to three warnings before
expulsion from the field (and the tournament).
Ask the fighter if he is hurt- if he says yes ask if he wants medical attention. If he doesn't, get him
what he does want: if he does, get one out there fast. Keep the crowd on the field to a minimum.
This includes the fighters, the medics, the fighter's lord or lady, and you to keep everyone
else off. Your job is to keep others out of the way.
After fighting ends:
If there is a problem, fix it right then, even if it means fighting the whole thing over again. If
they are both satisfied, call the herald to announce the victor. Make sure the field is policed up
for the next bout. Make sure if you are changing off with another Marshall to note to them any
changes in field condition (turf loosening up. etc.) that might have happened during your bout.
More Marshall's are needed because there are more fighters to watch. Watch areas of fighting, not
specific fights of fighters. No hold is called if a weapon is dropped or if armor or a weapon fails
(unless it would constitute a hazard to the fighter or his opponent). A whistle is recommended for
large melees to signify a general Hold on the field.
Stops only a part of the whole melee to fix a smaller problem, such as a bent blade that needs
replaced, or armor which has come loose. Then the fighter may be readmitted to the fight if the
problem is fixed to the Marshall’s satisfaction.
Dead on the Field:
There are three options -
1. Remove them as they fall, when other fighters are out of the way.
2. Let them lie as they fall.
3. Cover them with your staff or your body if other fighters come too near.
Behavior of the fighters under Hold:
All fighters must drop to one or both knees, if able. They may not move about, discuss tactics, or
change weapons. If the Hold looks to be a long one, have water-bearers bring the fighters and the Marshall's drinks.
Engagement of fighters:
Whereas a fighter is always engaged with his opponent in tournament (as he always knows the
other is there), a fighter in melee may not be engaged with anyone, or may be engaged with a
whole line of fighters. If it is possible for a fighter to legally strike another, they are both
Striking an opponent whom is not aware of your presence. This is not legal! Nor is it honorable!
Know The Rules:
Controlling Marshall's should be familiar with the "Rules of Combat" and the "Conventions of
Rapier Combat". These rules exist for the safety of all participants and should not be taken lightly.
Your first duty is to protect the spectators (they are not armored), then the fighters, then yourself.
Staying alert and moving means that there is much less inertia to overcome if you need to move
fast to cover a problem. Do not stand with knees locked or use your staff as a leaning slick.
Watch areas of fighting rather than specifics.
Call Hold rather than let an unsafe situation slip by. Better wrong than hurt! If you feel that there
is a serious problem- CALL "HOLD" IMMEDIATELY and LOUDLY! If the fighters do not
respond, repeat the command and physically separate them. Anyone failing to respond to this
command should immediately be given a Warning. This is an emergency command, and not
merely a request to interrupt the fight. If a fighter claims not to have heard the command, the
Assistant Marshall's should verify whether the "HOLD" command was loud enough. Extreme
violators should be removed from the field. (All combatants should verify that their armor does
not impair their ability to hear this command.)
It should be noted that there are a very small number of fighters who are deaf or hearing-impaired. Marshall's should be aware of this and take extra precautions during bouts that include
these individuals. When calling a "HOLD", the Marshall's staff should be carefully interjected
between the combatants. This draws bold attention to the marshal and his "HOLD".
If you must interrupt a bout, try to keep the interruption to a minimum. Lengthy discussion on
the field disrupts the tournament and disturbs the spectators. If the fighters need to discuss a
blow, it should not exceed 30 seconds on the field. If more discussion is needed, take it outside
the list ropes and allow another bout to proceed until a resolution is reached; then, if need be, re-
enter the field. Blows should not be over-analyzed by either the fighters or the Marshall's. If a
Rules violation or a Safety problem occurs, the Marshall's should confer briefly and the
Controlling Marshall should issue any Cautions, Warnings or Removals.
a) Talk discretely with both fighters or separately, if need be.
b) Ask questions like, "What do you think happened in the last exchange?" or
"Would you like my opinion on what happened''"
Be prepared to offer assistance to the fighters in identifying blows. This assistance should be given only when requested by the fighters. The decision as to whether the blow was sufficient
must be left to the fighter who received the blow.
If you and the opponent agree that a problem has occurred and it is not voluntarily resolved, a
Caution or Warning must be given.
At the end of a bout, if a fighter is dissatisfied with his opponent's blow calling, the Marshall's
should confer to determine whether any valid blows were witnessed. If not, the fight is over. Not
every fighter will be completely satisfied with every bout and opponent. The Marshall's are
available to arbitrate, but they are not responsible for solving personality conflicts. If, however, the fighters' behavior warrants it; Cautions, Warnings or Removals can be used.
Whether or not there were problems on the field, the Marshall's will not indulge in any post-fight
DO NOT CALL A FIGHTER'S BLOWS.
Safety always comes before fun or authenticity.
Caution or Warn any fighter who misuses the Rules to his advantage (excessive blade dropping,
running into the ropes, etc.), that he is violating the Rules. Care should be taken to understand
whether the action is purposeful. (A fighter may be running into the ropes because his opponent
is attacking aggressively.) Warn or Remove any fighter who appears to be deliberate in this abuse.
Less formal and structured, but more mundane to watch, and more fighting going on around you.
Inspection of Armor and weapons:
A good Marshall does not necessarily a good inspector make. Learn the rules (memorize them if
possible) before you try to inspect. If you forget something, it's the fighter that suffers.
THE MARSHALLATE HIERARCHY
Executive Committee of the Club: Final appeals come to the EC for vote.
President of the Club: enforces and interprets the Rules of Combat.
Marshall in Charge: responsible for conducting a tournament.