Grappling Experiment

The SCA, Inc. has not included grappling or wrestling within its martial activities, although techniques of grappling or wrestling are documented to the combat arts of pre-17th century Europe. Outside of the SCA, there are groups that study the martial arts of medieval and renaissance Europe that safely use these historical grappling techniques. There are also similar techniques have a long history of safe use in modern martial systems derived from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. We believe that, with appropriate training and oversight (especially utilizing individuals who have experience in one or both of these domains) grappling actions can be safely incorporated into some of the martial activities of our organization, specifically Cut and Thrust combat.

– If you have questions about this experiment, contact Master Donovan Shinnock at
– We recognize that we have only two initial trainers – Donovan Shinnock and Anastasia da Monte – and they are both located in the Central Region. Our goal is to make ourselves as available as we can, and get at least one trainer in each region as quickly as possible!
– If you’re interested in authorizing or becoming a trainer, by all means email Donovan and work out when good events for practice and authorization will be.
– We’ll be running classes and demos of varying formality at events that we’re at which have suitable space, but seriously if you’re interested, just ask.
– This is explicitly an addendum to Cut and Thrust. Cut and Thrust authorization is required to authorize in Grappling, including appropriate armor. That said, we can certainly show people what it’s all about before you get that C&T auth.
– Note the specific gorget requirement. Basically, we’re looking for a gorget that has a part that rests flat on your collarbone, and doesn’t only have a vertical part that covers your throat.

Current Rules:1. Grappling and Wrestling

a. Grappling and wrestling will occur within the context of SCA cut & thrust combat, and all rules of authorization, equipment, and behavior associated with that activity apply. In addition, all grapplers must meet additional equipment requirements (see “Equipment”, below).

b. Prior to beginning an individual (single-opponent) bout of cut & thrust combat, the participants may agree to include grappling and wrestling if and only if both combatants are authorized grapplers. This explicit agreement is required at the beginning of any new series of bouts. Once grappling and wrestling is agreed upon, either combatant may unilaterally revoke permission to include grappling and wrestling from further bouting, with a simple verbal indication.

c. Permitted grappling and wrestling techniques will include pushes, throws, and locks, within the constraint the safety of the combatants must be maintained at all times. Participants are permitted to engage in techniques with a hand that is holding equipment, but must take particular care when doing so to avoid striking the opponent with unapproved equipment. NOTE: Blade grabbing is explicitly permitted solely while grappling and wrestling are in effect, due to the fact that a combatant whose blade is grabbed now has permissible responses to the grab. If the blade that is grasped moves or twists in the grasping hand, that hand is deemed disabled. Grasping techniques shall be used only to immobilize a blade, not to bend it or wrest it from the opponent’s grip.

d. Pushes to the opponent’s limbs or torso are allowed; these do not necessarily end the engagement themselves, though they may be used to position an opponent in such a way as to allow a blow or subsequent grappling technique.

e. Locks should be attempted only by participants who have significant prior experience in these techniques. All locks end the bout as soon as they are successfully engaged: the lock should not be forced to the point of causing pain. The participant who is establishing or controlling the lock is encouraged to liberally call hold upon engaging locks, to allow both participants to discuss the martial efficacy of the technique. Any technique which is likely to result in a joint dislocation or broken joint or limb is strictly forbidden.

f. Throws end the bout as soon as they are set, unless combatants have previously agreed upon further continuation of the play, such as situations that continue on the ground. In most cases completing a throw will be safer than attempting to halt the action prior to the execution of the throw. Therefore, completion of throws is allowed, and the combatant initiating the throw should aid the partner in executing a safe fall.

g. Other fight enders shall as be considered as valid victory conditions. These include, but are not limited to, choke holds, pushing an opponent’s head into the ground, or otherwise immobilizing them.

h. Participants may indicate a hold to end an engagement (to signal a lock, to signal a throw, or for any other reason) using a non-verbal cue, such as tapping their opponent or the ground. This shall be considered equivalent to calling “hold”.

2. Equipment

Grapplers must comply with the following rules, which supplement the equipment rules for cut & thrust:

a. The gorget must be constructed such that it rests upon the shoulders, with at least semi-rigid material (such as unhardened 8 oz. leather). The gorget must not terminate perpendicular to the clavicle, as is the case with “dog collar” style gorgets.

b. The helmet shall be secured to the point where it will not likely come off in the midst of grappling.

c. In order to prevent unintended hooking or catching, rigid armor pieces must not include any unnecessary protrusion longer than 3”.

3. Authorization

a. Before attempting to authorize in grappling, a fighter must first already be authorized in cut & thrust combat.

b. Before attempting an authorization, a fighter must have first worked with a warranted trainer. The fighter must receive approval from that trainer indicating the fighter’s sufficient understanding of the rules of the grappling list. The authorization must then be conducted by a different warranted trainer

c. During the authorization process, fighters will first demonstrate the ability to safely execute falls and techniques without helmet, gorget, or weapons. If successful, the participant will then demonstrate falls and techniques with a partner, including at speed in free play, while wearing and wielding weapons and armor legal for cut & thrust combat. These falls include falling backwards, falling to the right, falling to the left, and falling backwards.

d. A fighter must demonstrate their ability to safely discard their weapon while they themselves are being thrown in such a fashion as to avoid having the weapon exit the list, or be in the way of either of the grapplers falling.

e. A fighter must demonstrate the recognition of the moment at which a throw becomes inevitable (based on the relative balance of both participants), and the ability to aid their opponent in the safe completion of a throw.

f. A fighter must be able to initiate locking techniques, without continuing them to the point of painful submission.

g. A fighter must respond to an opponent tapping them with an empty hand, weapon pommel, or other equipment, exactly as they would respond to a verbal cue of “hold”.

4. Marshallate

a. There shall be a two tier system in regards to grappling marshals.

b. The first tier shall comprise of already warranted cut & thrust marshals who have successfully authorized in grappling. These marshals shall have the authority to oversee any bouting within the purview of grappling.

c. The second tier shall be referred to as grappling “trainers.” These trainers shall have, in addition to being able to oversee bouting, the authority to conduct grappling authorizations. In order to be certified as a trainer, one must already be a grappling marshal. At that point, they will be required to help run four different grappling authorizations. For each of these authorizations, the grappling deputy must be notified for recordkeeping.

d. Any and all authorizations will require the oversight a warranted trainer, as well as either a second trainer or a grappling marshal.