Dagger Tournament Rules

The IGX 2017 Dagger Tournament Rules has undergone several revisions and rigorous testing based on feedback received from 2016’s tournament. We would like to thank members from the Long Island Historical Fencing Society, Athena School of Arms, Forte Swordplay, and all of the other NESG clubs who helped bring the below rules to life. We think you’ll be pleased with the results.


This tournament is intended to test medieval dagger fighting techniques in a competitive context. To that end, the rules reward clean hits, committed attacks to vital targets, and defenses which prevent the opponent from striking back. Matches begin at close measure, with daggers held in the icepick grip, but grip changes are allowed during the course of the fight.

Points are awarded for the following actions:

  • A quality thrust to the head or torso is worth 1 point.
  • A thrust made while controlling the opponent’s weapon is worth 3 additional points, for a total of 4.
  • A throw with dominance is worth 4 points.
  • A ring-out is worth 1 point.

In the event of an afterblow or double, no points are awarded.


Matches will be fought Forte Swordplay-custom collapsible leather-covered daggers, which will be provided by IGX.

The following protective equipment is required:

  • Fencing mask with back of head protection
  • Throat protection
  • Gloves (light padded gloves or lacrosse gloves are allowed)
  • Groin protection for men, encouraged for women
  • A fencing jacket or equivalent torso protection
  • No skin is allowed to show.

The following actions are ILLEGAL and subject to the 3-tier penalty system:

  • Attacks to the groin or back of head
  • Ducking or turning one’s back in such a way as to expose the back of the head to a strike
  • Small joint locks (fingers, hands, wrists)
  • Striking with bare hands, elbows, knees, or feet
  • Chokes
  • High throws
  • Wrestling and/or tackling with excessive force
  • Jumping or leaping onto your opponent
  • Hiding or throwing the dagger



The Dagger Tournament will be divided into weight classes, with the number and weight limits to be determined depending on the number and weights of participants. Each weight class will be held in 2 stages: a qualifying stage with pools, and a single-elimination finals stage with the top 4 contenders.

Conduct of Bouts

Each bout in the pool runs until one of the following conditions occurs:

  • 90 seconds of fighting time has elapsed
    • Scoring time is excluded, the clock will stop on each “Halt.”
  • One fighter’s score exceeds 10 points
  • 6 passes
    • A pass ends when one or both fighters executes a valid strike or other scoring action.
      • Any scoring action counts as a pass, whether it is a strike, throw, or ringout.
      • If an afterblow or double hit occurs, it counts as a pass even though no points are awarded.
      • If “Point” is called but no strike counts for either fighter (“nothing done”), it does not count as a pass.
      • If a halt is called for safety or similar reason, this does not count as a pass.

Bouts will take place on a circular ring, approximately 10m in diameter on indoor turf. At the center of the ring will be a circle 2m in diameter. At the beginning of each pass, fighters are positioned as follows:

  • Standing inside the circle, with their rear foot on the edge of the circle
  • Dagger held in an icepick grip, in contact with the fighter’s hip, with the point down.
  • The off hand may be in any position but may not be touching the dagger

Once a pass begins, fighters may freely move around the ring and change grips on the dagger. The pass continues until a scoring action occurs, time expires, or a halt is called for safety reasons. If a pass is halted with no score and then resumed (e.g. for a safety issue), the fighters will reset to their original positions.

When a judge sees a scoring action, they should call “Point” and raise their hand. The referee will then call “Halt”. Any actions which occur before the call of “Halt” may score. In the event that one fighter executes multiple scoring actions, points are given for the first.


  • A quality thrust to the head or torso is worth 1 point
  • A thrust with control is worth 3 additional points (4 total)
  • A throw with dominance is worth 4 points
  • A ring-out is worth 1 point.

Disarms, slicing attacks, and light or low-quality thrusts do not stop the action.

Quality Hits

A quality thrust must make solid contact with the point (not necessarily hard, but not glancing or grazing), and should compress the blade of the dagger. It must be delivered with a movement from the shoulder or elbow. In particular, stabs executed by moving the wrist or forearm while the arm is pinned are not valid. Thrusts which merely touch the target but lack the reach to compress the blade do not score.

Placing the point against the target and pressing it in (as two separate actions) does not score. Neither does placing the point and then hammering the dagger with the off hand.

Judges should hold strikes to a high standard and avoid stopping the action for low-quality or incidental hits. If you are unsure whether a hit was good, err on the side of not calling it. It is better to miss some quality strikes than to award points for low-quality strikes. Successful fighters will be able to control their opponent’s weapon and deliver clear and decisive blows.

In particular, judges should look closely for hits that graze the target or slide along it. In such cases the attacker’s forearm will often hit the target after the strike misses, making some noise and creating the illusion, from some angles, of a quality thrust. Judges should strive to avoid awarding points for such actions.

Judges should also use care when judging flurries of attacks. No quantity of grazing hits can add up to a quality thrust. However, if a judge sees several hits in close succession which are probably good, but is not completely sure of any of them individually, it is reasonable to award a point.


The additional points for control are awarded when the opponent’s weapon arm (or the dagger itself) is securely grabbed, wrapped up, or pinned at the moment when the strike is delivered. Tying the opponent up in a clinch so that they are unable to deliver a stab counts as control. Merely blocking or pushing the weapon away is not sufficient, nor is controlling the opponent’s body by turning them or pushing them off balance. Control points should not be awarded is a situation when the opponent could have pulled their arm back and delivered another strike (even if they failed to do so).

Control points are also awarded if the opponent is disarmed before or during the strike.


A throw with dominance occurs when one fighter lands on top of the other, in such a way that the opponent’s weapon is controlled. If the opponent’s weapon is free, or there is no clear position of dominance, then no points are awarded for the throw.

Points for a throw are also awarded in any situation where one fighter remains standing while their opponent is on the ground. Judges will not attempt to distinguish intentional throws from slips and falls.

If a fighter is able to land a quality thrust on their opponent while being thrown, or immediately after, they receive points for the thrust and the throw does not score. However, thrusts made while falling should be judged stringently, as they will tend to have poor mechanics.

Point Refusal/Acknowledgement

If a fighter is assessed points but does not believe that he/she earned them, the fighter is allowed to refuse the points. Likewise if a fighter receives a good hit and it is not called by the Judges, the fighter is allowed to acknowledge the hit and the Judges/Referee shall take the fighter’s acknowledgement under consideration for scoring. A fighter cannot otherwise modify the Judges’/Referee’s decision in any way and must yield to the final decision of the Judges/Referee.