Etiquette - The Society for the Study of Swordsmanship



We prefer to give our students a great deal of freedom to choose what they want to do, but obviously there are some safety and conduct rules.

General Rules

As noted elsewhere, we do not have a lot of rules but the ones we do have are important. Some of the most notable rules are:

  • No bare skin when training or freeplaying
  • Full safety equipment must be used unless the instructor says it is not necessary for this activity
  • Do not turn your back on anyone who is freeplaying
  • Apply common sense when freeplay is in action. Wait for a safe moment to pass by; do not wander through the middle of a sword fight.
  • The instructors have the right to veto any activity on safety grounds
  • Freeplay is not permitted unless the instructors have agreed to it
  • Specific safety rules apply to certain weapons and must be followed


Our class is far less formal than many fencing groups, but we do have a basic etiquette. Common courtesy also applies – keeping instructors or other students waiting while you faff about is ill-mannered at best.  There are no special titles or modes of address for instructors, but a certain level of mutual respect is necessary. We prefer to keep the class informal, which means that instructions are usually phrased as polite requests. They still need to be followed, and of course students are expected not to behave in a way that makes it difficult for the instructors to teach and other students to learn.

Courtesy is part of fencing

Rather than trying to score points by any means and arguing about whether a given touch should count or not, we expect students to acknowledge hits against them fairly and to refuse to accept a hit that they think is too marginal to be valid. It is still possible to be highly competitive in this environment; we simply expect courtesy and fair play.

Courtesy also includes taking care not to hit hard, and following the agreed rules of a bout. Issues of this sort can become a safety matter for the instructors to deal with, but most problems simply do not happen if good manners are observed. Common sense and courtesy ensure that most safety rules are never needed.

The Salute

The class begins and ends with a salute led by one of the instructors.

Each fencing class has its own salute, and commonly the students salute the instructor. Due to the history of our group, our salute is mutual between all present. The salute is normally made with whatever weapon you are using that evening, though it is permissible to use any suitable weapon for the salute. It is better to salute with the wrong sword than to keep everyone waiting while you rummage through your kit for the right one.

A freeplay bout also begins with a salute and ends with a handshake.

The pre-freeplay salute is often simpler than the ‘academy salute’ but it is an important part of the courtesy associated with fencing.

Join Us

Our classes are every Wednesday, from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm. If you would like to join us, please contact us.

You can find us at the Penshaw Community Association, in Penshaw, just off the A19.