Sonoma State Classical Italian Fencing Track

The Sonoma State University Fencing Masters Program was founded by Maestro John P Sullins in 2004. Students learn traditional Italian Fencing Pedagogy as well as special topics in Italian historical weapons and theatrical fencing.

At CombatCon 2017 you will have an entire track of programming available from the Masters and Teachers of this Program.

Friday August 11th:
9-10am: Intro to Italian foil (Maestro Greg Hicks and staff)
10:30am-Noon: Intermediate Italian Foil (Provost William Byrne, and staff)
1pm-3pm: Advanced Italian foil (Maestro John Sullins and Staff)
3:30-5:30pm: Dueling Sword (Maestro Eric Myers and staff)

Saturday August 12th:
9-10am: Intro to Italian Sabre (Maestro Eric Myers and staff)
10:30am-Noon: Intermediate Italian Sabre (Provost William Byrne and staff)
1pm-3pm: Advanced Italian sabre (Maestro John Sullins and Staff)
3:30-5:30pm: Heavy Dueling sabre (Maestro John Sullins and staff)

Sunday August 13th:
10am: Warmups & Equipment check
11:30am-3:30pm: Emperor Norton Invitational 3 weapon tournament
4:00pm-5:30pm: Special Class – Surviving a knife fight, Maestro Greg Hicks

The Classical Fencing Tournament will consist of:
Foil, epee, sabre with two flights max, 15 fencers each flight max; Random assignments

Participation in this tournament will be by invitation only. If you would like to compete please contact Maestro John Sullins at


Rules for Combat Con Classical Tournament

General rules:

We will follow the USFA rules for foil with the following modifications. Note this event is standard foil and only the classical Italian or French grips are allowed.

Time: Bouts will go to 3 min or 5 points unless scores are tied and then a sudden death overtime round will be used to determine the winner.

Touches: A strike with the sword must be a controlled and properly delivered to the foil target area. Since this is standard foil, the point must stay on the target for .5 or more seconds and bend the blade 3-4 inches. Judges and Directors will be instructed to ignore ‘Insufficient Thrusts’ or ‘Incidental contact’.

Judging is by the standard foil rules. Se AFLA rules from 1965 for guidance. When a point is scored, judges with raise their hands which will signal the director to call “halt!”. Judges have one vote and the director has 1.5 votes. The director will make the call and then poll the judges.

The judges are allowed to say, yes, no, yes of target or abstain. They are not allowed to make any other comment unless asked for it by the director. If it is determined a point has been scored the director will alert the score keeper or call out the updated score tally themselves


• Thrusts

o Covered and controlled thrust to target area 1pt.

Other scoring actions:

• Run off the end of the strip – 1 pt.

• Opponent is disarmed by an intentional action of your blade— 1pt.

• Note, in the rare occasion that a fencer is disarmed while being run off the strip or hit in a valid target area while being run off the strip, then their opponent will receive 2 points. If the fencer is hit off target while being run off the strip, the attacker is only awarded 1 point.

Double hits: The score goes to the attacker if the defender is one tempo behind with their defense or counter offence. The score goes to the defender if the attacker continues with a poorly executed renewed attack disregarding the priority of the defense. The score goes to the counter attacker if the attacker continues with a poorly executed attack or second intention attack disregarding the priority of the counter attacker.

Prohibited actions:

• Punches and kicks are not permitted.

• Hand parries will count as a point to the defending fencer, as if they had been struck in valid target areas.

• Target Covering – deliberately covering a target to stop an attack with non-target areas such as hand, leg or head, will result in full points being awarded to the attacking fencer, and a warning from the officiating staff.

Fencer conduct:

• In all of the following, offenders will be first verbally warned, second offence results in 1 point removed from the fencer’s total score, third offence results in the fencer being removed from the tournament.

o All fencers will comport themselves with proper decorum on and off the strip.

This includes not raising their voice to their opponents, judges and jury; saluting your opponent, judges and jury before and after each bout; shaking your opponent’s hand after the bout.

o All fencers will be expected to fight with both skill and control.

o Any fencer that is deemed to pose a danger to themselves or others.

o Fencers are expected to act professionally, and respectful to the officiating staff.

o Fencers are expected to follow the commands of the tournament staff at all times.

Required Protective Gear:

Fencers must wear appropriate fencing gear including helmet, jacket, gloves, pants/knickers, heavy socks, and athletic shoes. We will follow USFA safety rules as much as possible, all helmets and other equipment must be FIE approved or of equivalent quality.

Protective gear specific requirements:

• Groin protection is essential for male fighters.

• Breast protection is essential for female fighters.

• Shin and forearm protection are not essential but recommended.

• No exposed skin will be allowed.

Optional for foil

• Masks with back of the head protection.

• ‘That guy’s products’ style masks.

• Trachea protection, that protects the throat from a direct thrust.

• Heavy padded HEMA jackets (i.e. SPES), or Padded Gambeson

• Hard elbow protection, that covers the 3 points of the elbow.

• Hard Knee protection that covers the knee.

• Ensifer / AF gauntlets / lacrosse gauntlets restrict the hand in this weapon but if the fencer wants to use them, they may.


Classical Fencing allows weapons that are not seen on modern fencing strips that often. We want to encourage people to use the growing number of weapons that are available now so we do not have strict limitations on the weapons allowed. Italian weapons with crossbars are encouraged and the cross bar can extend beyond the bell. Wrist straps and martingales are encouraged and allowed. Traditional Italian blades were often a bit longer than what we find in modern fencing and they are allowed if you have one. French blades were often a bit shorter than what is allowed today and fencers with such weapons are encouraged to use them. There is a wide variety of bell types allowed but fencers who use weapons with smaller classical French style guards must also use thicker gloves to protect their hands.

Tournament organizers are allowed to prohibit the use of any item of equipment they deem unsafe or in ill repair. Equipment must be free from rust and all sharp burs on the blade must be removed with a file prior to competition.

Competition Format

Fencers of all genders are encouraged.

The competition will consist of one round of 5-6 person pools. Results will be tallied with indicators scored. These results will seed the final single elimination round of the top eight fencers. After the round of four, the two fencers that lose will contest for third place followed by the top two fencers who will contest for first place.

Ribbons will be awarded to the top 4 finishers and donated prizes may be offered as well to the top fencers.