Czech And Slovak Feder League 2014

The Feder League has finished its very first year. This report describes our experience, shares some interesting data from the League and outlines the outlook for following year(s).
At the end of January 2014, the biggest Czech HEMA School Digladior invited most of HEMA schools and clubs from Czech Republic and Slovakia to the meeting about Feder tournaments. This very productive meeting proposed aims of the Feder tournaments in Czech and Slovak Republics, the framework of the rules and criteria of equipment (Photo from the meeting on January 25, 2014). However, we agreed that all regulations should be first tested further in tournaments during the following year. Our opinions evolve as we speak, depending on the outcome at these tournaments. The list of the most important aims of Czech and Slovak Feder tournaments is as follows:

  • To find the best fighter in HEMA (sport-like)

  • To motivate and inspire practitioners of HEMA

  • To support education of HEMA techniques (verification of some fighting principles)

  • Tournaments must be safe and fun for the participants as well as for the viewers

  • Socialization

  • The rules must be simple to understand (for competitors, judges as well as viewers), they must support fair-play, safety, and the last but not least it must be possible to change them and develop them accordingly

We found it difficult to agree on rules so we decided for transitional period (circa 1 year) instead. In the afore-mentioned period tournaments can differ from each other slightly, which will be defined and agreed by their organisers. However, there are still some mandatory requirements that must be observed regardless:

  • Hits above ankle are permitted (depends on the required protective gear in each tournament), except for hitting the back of the head or back of torso

  • Each counted hit has the same value (1 point)

  • Kicks, punches, hits by crossguard are prohibited

  • No afterblow

  • No wrestling or grappling

  • The fencing mask must have additional protection on the rear and sides

Digladior also suggested a long-term ranking system, – the Feder League -, to establish the most consistent fencer in the agreed period of assessment (similar to ATP, F1 etc.). Our aim, apart from finding the best amongst us (winners of most tournaments etc.) is to put the same value on every match to motivate fencers to win every match they fight in. Also, the system awards points for participation in tournament to encourage newcomers and established fencers alike to participate in competitions regularly. Last year 2014 should have tested the effectiveness of the proposed system. The overall results of the Feder League will be introduced in the future article on “Czech Tournaments in 2014”.  In the meantime, we would like to share the most significant observations and experiences arising from the last year’s competitions.

Observations from the 2014 competitions – Equipment

Feders: In five Czech tournaments of 2014 there were used five types of federschwerts – made by Luděk Kalný (http://bit.ly/1wDbDR7), Hugo Vobořil (http://bit.ly/1aIu3G8), Jaroslav Bureš (http://bit.ly/1DJfknL), Pavel Moc (http://bit.ly/1BwS3q4) and Péter Regenyei (http://bit.ly/1B0U7. In our experience (including our participation in SKUNKS, where we met other broadly used feders – e. g. Jan Chodkiewicz´s) the best federschwerts are made by Luděk Kalný.  The top third of the blade is very flexible with a flat point (rounded stamp-like), while the rest of the blade is hard, which increases its safety. Also, their wear hardiness is very good, comparable to Pavel Moc´s feders (and better than e. g. Chodkiewicz´s or Regenyi´s feders used widely internationally).

Masks: We allowed in our tournaments 350 N masks (though we recommended certified FIE 1600 N) with additional protection of the back of the head and neck (cervical spine). The 350 N masks (http://bit.ly/1FNdNwZ) proved very effective – the only minor head injury in 2014 was experienced when using the 1600 N mask (http://bit.ly/1GatYb5) by deflection of the mask grid after a very hard thrust. The so called “weaker” masks showed us very similar qualities to 1600 N mask. To sum up, in actual fact it not only depends on the type of the mask but also its manufacturers and concrete individual experience.

Gloves: Generally, the best gloves used in our tournaments proved to be kendo gloves (kote) with additional 5 mm leather cover of the thumb and back of the hand (http://on.fb.me/1vS78Bx). They are, in our opinion, the safest type and comparatively flexible as any other type of gloves (lacrosse, hockey gloves, SPES gloves). Especially, some lacrosse gloves provided incredibly insufficient protection of hands and fingers. Luckily we experienced only minor hand injuries during tournaments in 2014. Despite that, we do not consider lacrosse gloves to provide an adequate protection and would not recommend their further use in the future.

Important observations – Rules

Although the rules were slightly different in each tournament, we were able to draw some general conclusions:

  • Simple scoring of hits (1 point per countable hit) is good for the competitors as well as for the viewers of event. Also, scoring doublehits as point for both opponents seems to be a good choice for the viewers: they see impacts on both and it is very clear to them that both fencers will get the point. From the fencer´s point of view, scoring doublehits is not a suitable long-term solution in honing their craft, however, we have not been able to identify a better and fairer way of scoring at this time.

  • In every tournament, we used the Engarde programme to establish a match order, and it proved to be a very useful system. It was also a key tool for the overall ranking in the Feder League, to manage all necessary statistics.

  • The duration of one fight (in most tournaments 2 minutes, time is stopped after each hit) is sufficient even for the highest possible score (7:6 = 13 counted hits during the fight). Approximately only 8 out of about 200 tournament matches needed to have an extra time to determine a winner.

  • In the last tournament of the year we tested a 5 m wide arena. Based on this experience, we agreed that minimum width should be 6 m (recommended minimum is now 8×6 m).

 

Summary and outlook for 2015

The year 2014 was, from our point of view, very successful. We managed to create mutually agreeable rules, to organise 5 tournaments, to involve new people in Feder tournaments and hopefully to learn some valuable lessons that would enable us to grow bigger, better and more entertaining.

We intend to arrange a meeting in 2015 in order to revise current rules, mandatory equipment and Feder league ranking. We would also like to discuss the system of the training of new tournament judges.

This article has been in preparation for a long time, so the very first tournament of 2015 is no longer something you can look forward to. Kubelíkův kord 2015 alrea found its winners and we have to congratulate to Martin Tibenský of Trnavský šermiarský cech on his great performance at the tournament.

Having said that, there are still bigger events ahead. Bratislava Fecht organises the massive rapier and longsword tournament in Bratislava in the middle of April. This will be followed by Czech knight tournament in May, organised by club Bellátor, at the castle Polná near Jihlava. This event is going to draw attention of local and national media alike (newspapers, radio, TV). Both of these tournaments promised to award the best fencer not just with a medal, but also with a new federschwert. The second half of 2015 will be occupied by tournaments in Prague organised by Digladior (October 2015) and tournament in Pardubice organised by PSA (December 2015).

You are welcome to visit these great events. We are looking forward to experiencing new things and meeting new people as well as old friends. See you at the 2015 events!

(We would like to thank Natalie Nera for her help with English version of this article.)

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