Our facility is closed but you can still register for an online membership and get access to livestreamed classes and other exclusive content!
Updates will be posted on our News Page.
FREEPLAY SAFETY POLICY
To participate in freeplay at Ottawa Swordplay, you must agree to abide by this safety policy.
Ottawa Swordplay’s salute words are: “The Tower’s Vigilance, The Gate’s Defence, The Ox’s Endurance and the Boar’s Advance.” These words carry important meanings for swordplay and form the foundation of our Freeplay Safety policy and Code of Conduct..
At Ottawa Swordplay our number one priority is the safety of our students. We believe wholeheartedly that those who love to play with swords will want to continue playing with swords for many years. This can only happen when we all choose to play safe.
Safety in swordplay is dependent on our behaviour and our equipment. Of these, behaviour is the most important. Two vigilant practitioners can fence with minimal gear at a high intensity and walk away safely having had a remarkable experience and a tonne of fun, because of the attention they pay to keeping themselves and their partner safe. Two negligent practitioners can be wearing “state of the art” protection and both walk away injured and unable to fence for days, weeks, months or even years. Lists of acceptable protective gear are available (see Freeplay Gear Requirements). This document will focus on attitude and behaviours.
Styles of Freeplay
Ottawa Swordplay recognizes 5 styles of freeplay: Low Gear Slow, Face and Forearms (Restricted Targets), Full Gear Controlled, Low Gear Controlled and Full Gear Tournament. The training exercise labelled stop-motion freeplay is considered equivalent to other training drills and as such is not covered in this document.
Low Gear Slow freeplay is characterized by slow, smooth actions without sudden changes of speed or percussive strikes and can be done with reduced protective equipment.
Face and Forearms (Restricted Targets) freeplay is characterized by changes of pace during the exchange, an increased intensity in the delivery of attacks but limited to only three targets: front of the mask (face) and forearm protectors.
Full Gear Controlled is characterized by changes of pace during the exchange, an increased intensity in the delivery of attacks including percussive blows and must be done wearing significant protective gear. The increased intensity involved in this style of freeplay does not preclude us from utilizing the control defined below.
Low Gear Controlled is characterized by a level of intensity and pace that allows the fencers to always ensure they will not strike their partner with excessive force even when wearing reduced protective gear. At Ottawa Swordplay, we consider the ability to fence with Low Gear and maximum control to be the epitome of fencing skill and the best demonstration of use of the art in a modern context.
Full Gear Tournament freeplay may not be for everyone. The broader HEMA tournament community has accepted a level of impact to their blows that carries an extra risk of injury. For those who would like to train for tournaments outside of Points North Tournament and Workshops, we will make time and space available for training at this intensity outside of normal class times. This freeplay tends to be characterized by rapid, forceful exchanges with a modest attempt at controlling the impact of blows. As such, maximum gear protection is required with no compromises. Judges must be present to score exchanges and to provide a safety monitor. Both parties must agree to this level of intensity explicitly. We discourage fencing at this intensity on a regular basis due to the increased risk of injury. We consider Full Gear Tournament freeplay to include related but separate skills from those that we consider vital to the art.
We will never pressure anyone to participate in a level of freeplay that they do not feel prepared to engage in or at a time when they do not want to.
Each student who agrees to participate in freeplay agrees to take responsibility not only for their own safety but also for their partner’s safety. That means you are responsible for a number of items.
Approved safety monitors have the authority to implement the following corrective actions.
Students who have received a warning may appeal that warning to the Directors of Ottawa Swordplay.
If any student demonstrates egregious lack of control or fences in an aggressive manner that appears to be intended to cause injury, they will immediately be removed from the activity they are participating in and receive a lifetime ban from training at Ottawa Swordplay or participating in any events hosted by Ottawa Swordplay.