1. The Calpe Rules aim at making the singlestick the cutting equivalent of the epee. The use of the point in sabre tends to restrict play with the cutting edge, to encourage the stop thrust in preference to the time hit with the edge. Furthermore, the modern basket hilted stick is dangerous as a thrusting weapon. With the old hide hilt. the stick passed through a leather tube in the hilt so that in the case of a strong thrust, the hilt would slide forward along the stick. As the stick itself is now gripped directly by the hand (within the basket hilt), this no longer happens. Hence the Calpe Singlestick Rule which treats the use of the point as dangerous play and penalises it by counting it as a hit against the offender, even when he offended purely by negligence in leaving his point where it was accidentally run on to.
  2. A sound fencing motto is “Toucher sans l’etre.” ‘ To hit without being hit,’ is the foundation of sound play. To evolve play on that basis these rules have been framed.
  3. The joy of fencing lies in the art itself.
  4. The discussion of judges not only interrupt play and waste time, but interfere with full enjoyment. Just as in verbal debate, no man is fully pleased with an argument he has put forward if his opponent does not admit its force or if he knows it is based on a fallacy, even so no hit is satisfactory to the fencer to whom it is adjudged, if he does not believe it good, or if it does not convince his adversary.
  5. By making essential elements of each hit. first its acknowledgement by the recipient and then its acceptance by the striker. and by cutting out the talkers, minimum waste of time and maximum enjoyment are made possible.
  6. Hearty loud acknowledgements add enormously to the pleasure of both players and make their play enjoyable to watch.

  8. As in the sabre, cuts should be either vertical or horizontal: but unlike sabre the point is dangerous in line and must not be held there or used at all. It follows that parries should be horizontal (to meet the vertical cut at head), or vertical in all other cases.
  9. With a good vertical parry, it is often possible to catch the feeble end of the other stick with the base of one’s own just outside the basket hilt. If it is held there colossal leverage is obtained making the riposte immune from remise or redoublement.
  10. For this purpose and in order to obtain best shock effect from the parry, the parry should be made with a well bent arm as near the body as possible. This also avoids hitting the other players on the wrist bones (painful) with what is intended for a sharp parry.
  11. The best way to meet a low line attack is to withdraw the leading leg (without straightening it), and stop hit high. The parry by distance is always the safest parry, but it only allows a good counter attack at arm in this case.
  12. In sabre, the direct riposte prevails against the remise or reloublement. Here it does not. Therefore the riposte must be made with opposition when fencing a novice or fanatic, or while the other stick is still so widely deflected or so shaken by the parry that there is no remise.
  13. In this sense “opposition” does not necessarily mean contact of sticks: it means the riposter holding his stick or basket during and just after his riposte in such a position as to screen himself from remise or redoublement.

  14. The only safe attacks against novice or “wild man” are done in the same way as the riposte just explained, or are stop hits accompanied by a “retire by jump,” or time hits.


  15. Impress on the pupil:-

    (a) Danger of hitting short at head or body, e.g. if the opponent counter-attacks slightly later, there is danger of the latter running on to the point with chest or abdomen.

    (b) Danger of hurting by hitting hard vertically on point of shoulder, through opponent dodging and receiving there a cut intended for his head.

    (c) Danger of hurting by parrying hard on to the opponent’s wrist instead of on to his stick, owing to having the arm straight (instead of bent).

    (d) Primary importance of not being hit. No use hitting the other man, if it does not stop his hitting you! It would be small consolation in a real fight to say, “Ah! but I hit you half a second first,” or “You had no business to hit me: I was the attacker.”

    Consequently the attacker must either:
    (i) launch his attack by surprise; e.g. when opponent is startled and tries to parry (but too late), instead of instinctively counter-attacking.

    (ii) fool the opponent into parrying in one place, while hitting him in another;

    (iii) by an action on the blade, gain sufficient time to get home a hit and avoid a simultaneous (or even a slightly late) counter-attack;

    (iv) by obtaining a mastery of the opponent’s blade and retaining it till well after the hit scored;

    (v) a combination of the above.

    A direct parry and riposte, as a combination of (i) and (ii) is usually sound; a parry with riposte by the disengage is usually sound when the opponent is an experienced fencer. (iv) is, however the only sure way and a riposte retaining mastery of the opponent’s blade from the parry is ideal.

    It follows that the fencer with the singlestick is guilty of a bad error of judgment if he risks being hit through attacking in such a way as to risk being hit himself.

  16. 1st Phase instruction should be based on teaching parry and riposte, the pupil being told to go on parry, riposte, parry riposte till he hits the instructor. The determination to hit is essential and even in late 2nd Phase, each phase should normally finish by the instructor being hit.
    • Hit: see Rule 6.
    • Riposte: a counter-attack made after parrying the attack.
    • Counter-riposte: ditto, but after parrying the riposte.
    • Time-hit: a counter-attack made in such a manner as by its execution to parry the attack.
    • Stop-hit: a counter-attack unaccompanied by a defensive movement of the stick or guard, delivered during the development of the attack.
    • Reprise: tile renew of an attack in the original line after it has been parried, instead of parrying the riposte (if any).
    • Redoublement: ditto. but not in the original line.
    • Prise de fer: a player executes a prise de fer when he dominates the extremity of his opponent’s stick with the hilt end of his own profiting by the colossal leverage he has thereby attained.


January, 1931.

  1. Judges There shall be no judges and no referee.
  2. Ground. Unlimited, preferably out of doors and not very even, but without any deep holes or large loose stones.
  3. Dress. Vest, shorts, gym shoes, sabre- (or bayonet-) mask, any glove. An elbow pad is good; knee pad may be desired.
  4. Play. Is started by both players engaging sticks, thus showing they are both ready. After any stoppage of play it is re-started in the same manner.

    This ceremonial engagement of sticks is not to be a prelude to an indecently precipitous surprise attack. There should be time to come peacefully back to an “on guard,” or resting position before having to face an onslaught.

  5. Hard hitting, using the point, or holding the point in line are forbidden.
  6. Hits. A hit is a cut cleanly delivered with the stick on any part of the opponent without its force having been broken by his stick or guard-hilt. A bayonet-glove used instead of a guard-hilt will be regarded as one.
  7. Acknowledgements All hits will at once be audibly acknowledged by their recipient, whether he is fully satisfied or in any doubt. If the other player is not satisfied that the touch acknowledged was a good hit as defined by Rule 6 it is for him to say so, he must disclaim it; it will then be deemed not to have arrived at all.


  8. Claiming hits is forbidden. If an apparent hit is not acknowledged, it must have been too indifferent or too light for the recipient to feel; he is right in not acknowledging what he is satisfied is not a hit.
  9. Stoppage of play. The recipient of a hit will stop as soon as he can after feeling it. If before he succeeds in stopping he delivers a hit, both hits count, even though one arrived very late; this constitutes a double-hit; should either hit, however, be disclaimed, as not satisfying Rule 6, the other only will be scored. It is ‘not done’ to make a ‘double hit intentionally.

    With this exceptions acknowledgement stops play.

  10. Scoring. Every hit acknowledged that satisfies the other player will be scored, unless too hard or made with the point. If either player becomes unintentionally impaled on the point, a hit will be scored against his adversary. No hit will be scored that does not satisfy both players.
  11. Method of conducting competitions:
    • Knock-out. Duration of each bout normally best of 19 hits exclusive of double-hits.
    • Pool. Normally of about 8 competitors, all of whom fight each other, the winner being the one with fewest defeats, or defeats being equal fewest hits against him. Each bout normally best of 9 hits exclusive of double-hits.
    • Hits-pool. Each bout lasts until a total of (say) 18 hits has been scored; no ” wins” or ” losses,” only hits are recorded; the competitor who totals fewest hits received wins the pool. A double-hit counts one hit received against each, but only as one towards the total of 18.
    • Railway Pool. Loser stands down, winner fences next player in rotation. The pool is won by the fencer who survives a complete cycle of adversaries. One hit decides, Double-hit, both players stand down and the next two take their places.