Safety

Safety is everyone's first responsibility. What follows is a description of the practices which we use so that we can enjoy what is - admittedly - a risky hobby and still go to school or work the next day.

A successful class is one where everyone participates without injury.

The "Hold" Command

Any participant or observer may stop an Activity (drill, sparring match, demonstration, etc.) at any time with the "hold" command, should something unsafe (or potentially unsafe) occur.
The "Hold" command should be made loudly and clearly.
Upon hearing "Hold" called, it should be repeated loudly and clearly by all observers, the Line Judges and Marshall.
Those who are engaged in the Activity are to cease all movement as quickly and safely as possible, and remain motionless until the "Return" command is given by the Marshal.

Controlled Strikes

What is it?
When we strike at an opponent, we do not use full force. We may swing quickly, but we "pull" our strikes; slowing down at the last second to minimize the impact.
Benefits
Reduces injury from hard hits and allows participants to wear lighter protective equipment.
Reduces risk of equipment breakage.
Reduces risk of weapons being thrown.
Allows for sparring to be a contest primarily of skill, not of strength, so that you are not limited to sparring against others of similar physical capabilities.
Exceptions
Sport Fencing, which is designed to be performed at full speed.
Stage Combat, in which little or no contact is made.

Sparring

The Marshal

Role
The Marshal is in charge of the sparring match. He/she is responsible for safety, scoring, conduct of the participants.
Responsibilities
Establish the type of match, pointable areas, and the types of weapons being used.
Start and end the match.
Ensure that all participants are conducting themselves in a safe manner.
Ensure that all bystanders are safe.
Judge points and fouls. Give warnings as necessary.
Ensure that the match proceeds at a reasonable pace.

Line Judges

Role
The Line Judges provide another perspective on the sparring match, to catch things that the Marshal is unable to see: points, fouls, and Responsibilities
Stop the match if a potentially-unsafe condition is observed.
Indicate points and fouls.
Respect the Marshal's judgments.

Participants

Role
To attempt to score against the opponent, without being scored upon.
Responsibilities
Conduct yourself in a safe manner.
Respect the Marshal's judgments.
Show good sportsmanship.
Do your best to utilize the skills and techniques being taught.

Equipment

Detailed equipment information by class.

An important contributor to safety is for every participant to be held to the same standard of equipment. This applies to protective equipment, but is critical for the safe use of weapons. Use of weapons (even safety weapons) built to widely different specifications creates an imbalance of speed, weight, rigidity and padding that not only puts the participants at risk, but can put bystanders at even greater risk.

Mindset

Our focus is on safety, enjoyment, technique, and self-improvement so that all can participate. To this end, we approach our craft with a non-competitive outlook.

Why? We find that the first thing to be sacrificed by a competitive mindset is safety. For us, injuries are failure, so we do all we can to avoid them. On a practical level, the more of us who get hurt, the fewer people we have to practice with, spar with, and make us better. Less variety of opponents is less fun. Not to mention, if you're the one who gets hurt, that's time that you are not able participate, which is no fun at all.

It is a thrill and a privilege to do what we do. Most people only dream about it, pretend to do it, or simulate it in video games. We want to share it with as many people as we can, which we can only do when the risk - and fear - of injury is as small as possible.