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An Unofficial Glossary of Combat Terms
compiled by Hirsch von Henford
As Used in the SCA
Last updated: March 15, 2009 (AS XLIII)
Note that this is very much a work in progress ...
This list is similar to the Unofficial Glossary ..., but is aimed specifically at fighting/combat terminology as used in the SCA. Not being a fighter myself, this glossary relies heavily on input from those who are fighters. Some of the terms are pure slang, and are likely to vary from region to region ... Also note that some of these are meant in jest, and are not to be taken too seriously.
Like the Unofficial Glossary of Terms ... (noted above), this is likely to be sort of West Kingdom-centric, but also like the original Glossary, I am more than willing to accept corrections, updates, and new terminology from other Kingdoms -- see the contact information below. Items that have a specific regional spin on them will note that in red/italicized text, and the same for something that should be taken as a joke ...
Regarding the humorous entries, I would like to remind folk of the following: "There's the real world and the joke world. The joke world is tough. Wear a cup!" -- Dennis Miller, Dennis Miller, Live! Fighters in the SCA have their own form of humor, and to some folk some of it may seem particularly crude or nasty. If you don't like it, well, just move on ...
Fighters in the West Kingdom should be familiar with: West Kingdom Combat Standards (This is an Adobe Acrobat file). Of course, other Kingdoms will have their own rules that will likely differ ... you should check your Kingdom's Marshallate pages, if any for local rules and regulations.
Alden War -- a war in which the scenarios are strung together quickly, with very short (if any) breaks between them, and a LOT of scenarios in one day. (West Kingdom)
Allez! Fence! -- (Ah-lay! Fens') an un-official but sometimes used equivalent to lay-on! (Rapier)
Alpo -- a beginning fighter - just dogmeat, "he's a can of alpo". Also generic dogmeat - really beginning fighter. See also Baby Harp Seal. (HUMOR)
Angry Pill Box -- fighting defensively from one's knees. (East Kingdom)
Anvil/anvilling -- Anvilling is when you allow your weapon to block blows while resting against a solid object such as your shield or helm. A no-no.
Aooga Moment, the -- sometimes called the "Oh, Sh*t Moment". It is that moment when you realize that your opponent has just faked you out of your socks and you know you are about to get nailed. Usually accompanied by the eyes getting very large and bugging out a bit. Name taken from the sound effect you normally see in cartoons under similar circumstances.
Armor -- Armor is worn to protect the body of a fighter. The restrictions on what is required to be worn is defined by a combination of tradition, and trial and error (someone getting hurt) over many years. There is a minimum set of requirements for armor that must be met for a fighter to be approved to fight in a tournament or war; and it varies depending on whether the fighter is a "heavy" fighter, "rapier" fighter, or a "light" fighter. For details, check with the Marshal of your Kingdom ...
Ash Leaf, Order of the -- the West Kingdom's mid-level fighting award, equivalent to the Rose Leaf (arts) and the Leaf of Merit (service), it carries an Award of Arms if the recipient does not already have one.
Authorized -- An individual who has been formally recognized as trained to an adequate level of safety in a combat or combat-related activity (i.e., an "authorized fighter", or "I've been authorized!").
Baby Harp Seal -- New Defenseless fighter. They look up at you with those BIG eyes, trusting you NOT to club them. Also: Cannon Fodder, List Meat, Dungeon Munchie (HUMOR)
Ballista -- a type of siege (missile) weapon, a ballista is a box frame with two arms sticking out the sides that throws seige bolts. Basically a really big crossbow. Normally uses two torsion skiens to power the arms, but occasionally the arms bend like a bow. Normally used as direct fire (non-ballistic). See also Catapult, or Trebuchet.
Battered Helm, Order of the -- A recognition given for the most unusual death on the field of honor, given in the West Kingdom. The recipient gets to hold onto an old freon-can helm which has been marked with live steel by each recipient before them, and they must mark the helm themselves in front of others ...
Bear Pit -- see List Styles.
Belted Fighter -- A belted fighter is a member of the Order of Chivalry, the term refers to the white belt worn by a Knight or the baldric worn by a Master of Arms.
Bhaltar -- A headless pike or any other useless weapon. Named after a marshal who, after citing the "no live steel in the Eric" rule, refused to allow a non-combat, ceremonial pike demonstration to be performed between combat events, insisting on pointless poles instead. (Caid)
Blew / blow a strap -- to either break a strap or have whatever's holding it to the item break.
Board -- shield. See also Bored.
Boots and saddles -- put your armor on and get ready to fight
Bolt -- the type of arrow that is used in a crossbow. Shorter than an arrow used in a longbow.
Bored -- description of how a non-fighting spouse feels after listening to hours of fighter talk.
Breaking the Plane -- Standing over an opponent who is on his knees and not allowing him to be able to return to an upright position. A no-no.
Breaking the Wrist -- relaxing and flexing the wrist to reduce the impact of a landed thrust and take the blade off the line of the opponent. (Rapier)
Broken Wing -- Slang for an arm out of action due to real-life injuries. (Oertha)
Broomsticking -- what happens to rattan that is old and worn - the end starts to split and look like a broom head
Brute -- a heavy fighter who uses mass and size to overwhelm the opponent, rather than finesse and/or skill. Derogatory. sometimes used as a verb to refer to doing so. Also, a rapier fighter lacking calibration, and hence leaving burises. (Oertha)
Bucket -- A Helm
Butt spike -- thrusting tip on the back end of a weapon.
Cadet -- Students of a fencer, in a manner similar to squires to knights. (Rapier - Non-Western)
Camail -- A "skirt" of chain mail hanging from the bottom of a helm to protect the neck.
Can -- Refers to a suit of armour. (Lochac) -- Andre de Montsegur
Can Up! -- Instruction to put your armour on. (Lochac) -- Andre de Montsegur
Canned Ham -- award for the best death in a tourney. It was taken out of use because it scared the Chirurgeons. (Caid)
Cannon Fodder -- see Baby Harp Seal.
Carpet Armor / Carpet Man -- Carpet armor is armor made out of what it sounds like -- old used carpet. It's often starting armor for a new fighter. The term can also be used for someone who has barely legal armor. Carpet Man was also a short-lived cartoon strip in The Page (West Kingdom newsletter) many years ago (March, A.S. XVI (1982) through December, A.S. XVII (1982)).
Case - Case of Rapier: two-rapier fighting style, using one in either hand. Rapier equivalent to Heavy fighting style called Florentine. (Rapier)
Cat Food -- Easily Digestible and comes in a can. Usually in reference to a very new / inexperienced fighter. (Wolfscairn)
Cat Toy -- tennis balls on a flexible spring-wire post, used for rapier target practice. (Rapier)
Catapult -- a type of missile weapon. A Catapult is a single vertical arm that throws rocks (normally on a ballistic trajectory) using torsion for power. See also Ballista or Trebuchet
Center / Center Up -- move back to the middle of the field.
Charge and Scream -- An Tir's primary war tactic. Also "Scream and Charge" and "Charge While Screaming." (An Tir)
Chivalry, Order of -- The Order of Chivalry consists of those who have been recognized for their fighting skills on the field of honor, as well as other skills required to make a "well-rounded" individual. This order consists of Knights and Masters of Arms. Historical Note: The first Knight of the SCA was created at the first event, but subsequently others were made Knights during a ceremony at Twelfth Night, AS II (January 6, 1968), as well as those who could/would not swear fealty (for whatever reason) who were made Masters of Arms. This was done by [King] William the Silent. Note that members of the Order of Chivalry are equivalent in rank to the members of the Orders of the Laurel, the Pelican and the Order of the Rose.
Clear! -- A word called to indicate that someone is about to draw a steel weapon, so passers-by should watch where they step.
Codpiece -- a genteel term for the protective gear worn to protect a fighter's crotch or groin area. See also Cup.
Coif -- (1) A hood made of chain mail, worn under a helm for additional
protection or for appearance.
(2) A cloth hood or cap, sometimes padded, worn under a helm for comfort and/or additional protection – and/or to keep the hair and sweat out of the wearer’s eyes.
Consort -- One whose favor a fighter carries into a tournament. In a Crown or Coronet tournament, should the fighter win the tournament, the consort would be co-ruler with that fighter.
Corkscrew -- forcing an opponent who is on his knees to turn in circles. This is a no-no.
Counted Blows -- a challenge fight when good blows are counted aloud rather than acted out. (Lochac) -- Peter du Gant Noir
Cowboy -- a fighter in a war scenario that goes off on their own, ignoring their unit and any commander that they may have. Not generally a good idea ...
Crossbow -- a hand-held missile weapon that fires bolts. A crossbow is made of a piece of wood with a short bow mounted cross-wise. The bow is fired by use of a trigger, in much the same manner as a modern firearm (rifle, shotgun).
Crossing the Plane -- Standing over an opponent who is on his knees and not allowing him to be able to return to an upright position. A no-no.
Crucifix -- A shot that strikes directly down the chest and while you struggle to wheeze out "good" they return across the jaw-line to bash you in the head.
Cup -- protective gear worn to protect a fighter's crotch or groin area. See also Codpiece.
Cup shot -- a blow (always accidental) to the fighter's crotch or groin area.
Cup check -- usually said in jest, a playfully threatened cup shot (reminds people to be sure they're wearing the appropriate protection).
Dance -- fight.
Decision Point -- the point (various) in the execution of a blow where there is a minimum of effort required to change the point of aim and hopefully impact :). -- Peter du Gant Noir
Death from Above -- usually used to refer to killing blows from very tall fighters such as Uther Schiemann der Hount and Hauoc Bender. (West Kingdom)
Death from Behind -- When a fighter is caught from behind and easily could have been killed without him realizing anyone was there. "Melee combatants will kill other melee combatants from behind or by surprise by placing a single-handed weapon across the faceplate of the opponent, or placing a polearm or spear on the shoulder of the opponent, and saying "you are dead from behind, my lord" or an equivalent phrase. Killing from behind will not be done at a run, and the attacker must exhibit CONTROL over their opponent. However, as with killing from the front, it is up to the opponent whether the kill from behind was good or not. This action must be repeated for every opponent to be killed from the behind or by surprise." -- West Kingdom Combat Standards, Section 5.3.2 a2
Deer in the Headlights -- used to describe a fighter whose eyes go big in shock in a fight when their opponent does something totally unexpected, similar to the look of a deer looking at the front of a car as it comes straight toward it. In both cases, the 'deer' usually gets hit ...
Demo / Demonstration -- when the sca goes to schools, parks, etc. with the intention of telling folks about us and history. Can involve a fighting portion where the fighters explain why we do what we do and then proceed to do it.
Double Elimination -- see List Styles.
Double-kill -- when both fighters in a one-on-one bout kill each other at the same time
Dungeon Munchie -- see Baby Harp Seal.
Edge of the world -- you are approaching the edge of the fighting field and can be automatically killed if you take one more step.
En garde -- a "ready" position, with the blade online, and directly between the wielder and target. (Rapier)
Eric, The -- The markers around the List field, hence often used by extension for the area within the markers. Camping "on the Eric" is not "balanced upon the markers", but is phrased in the sense of a "cabin on the lake" (i.e., at the shore). Historical Note: The following quote is from Sir Robert of Dunharrow: "Marynel [of Darkhaven] did indeed make the fabric portion of the first Royal Pavilion and all of us who gave $4 or $5 toward the materials got to put our devices on one of the dags. She cut & sewed the leftover scraps into long strips and dyed them red for a field marker to replace the clumsy stakes & ropes I used to haul around. Master Beverly [of Hodghead], who also invented portable holes for banner poles, devised the little wires with loops on top that went thru sewn pockets in the red cloth strips and were pushed into the ground to hold up what came to be called 'Eric' since it was RED!" (As in "Eric the Red" of Viking fame ...) This dates to approximately May of AS IV (1969). The use of the term "The Eric" is mostly found in the West Kingdom. In Caid the "Peril" is often referred to in reference to the yellow version of "Eric the Red" which came later, called "The Yellow Peril". This name didn't stick in The West, but appears to have, at least for some time in Caid.
Execution -- is where an archer closes behind someone on their knees and shoots them in the back. (Lochac) -- Jochen Schwalbe
Face Shot -- what it sounds like -- to get hit in the face by a weapon. Unless called "light" or invalid in some other fashion it's pretty much a "killing" blow.
Favor -- A ribbon or other personal token given (usually to a fighter) as a mark of esteem. Favors may indicate simple friendship or a commitment to serve as consort.
Fiddle Bits -- those fancy little armor do-dad things that don't add any more protection but make the armor look pretty. (Credit Steven of Norham)
Fiddly Bits -- all the little things necessary to put something together, in the case of combat gear, probably armor -- straps, duct tape, etc.
Field (noun) -- In general, the List Field as a whole. However, also refers to the individual segment of the List Field on which a fight may take place. Each field is identified by a heraldic color argent, or, gules, vert, azure, purpur, or sable. A fighter may be called to fight on "field gules". The fighter would report to the portion of the lists field that is marked by a herald holding a gules (red) pennant.
Field (verb) -- To place fighters in a fight, war, or tournament. "Our war unit will field fifteen fighters."
Field hold -- or general hold when all fighters on the field are asked to stop fighting
Fighting Arc -- a 90 degree arc extending out from the centre front of a fighter where they are able to effectively deliver all their blows. -- Peter du Gant Noir
Fighting with a left-handed can-opener -- fighting with an unusual weapon.
Flat -- the side of the blade as opposed to the edge, or to be hit with same.
Flat snap -- see Snap
Florentine -- fighting with two weapons (usually swords) and no shield.
Flurry -- a fast series of blows, often seen when two fast fighters are going at it, or when a fighter is fighting 'florentine'.
Footwork -- the use of your feet to manouvere yourself to your advantage and the disadvantage of your opponent, e.g., out of their fighting arc. -- Peter du Gant Noir
Freon can -- a term used by an old timer for a helmet, usually in jest. However, one must keep in mind that early helms in the SCA were often made from old freon cans ...
Gallery -- spectators, or where the spectators are.
Gambeson -- A padded jacket or vest worn under plate, leather, or mail for comfort and protection, or a more heavily padded version worn alone as body armor.
Get ready to run -- usually to the marshals, a fight in which the fighters move around a lot and cover a lot of ground.
Get stick on -- To hit, i.e. "I have never been able to get stick on Duke Whateverhisnameis."
Goofy-foot -- fighting the opposite foot forward from the usual.
Grape Wader or Grape Stomper -- any fighter from Vinhold. (HUMOR)
Guildmaster of Fence -- Grant level award for fencing. Western equivalent (sort of) to the White Scarf that is recognized in some Kingdoms. This is denoted by a black sash or black glove bearing the badge of the guild (not yet registered). (Rapier -- West)
Gorget -- (Pron. Gor-JAY) – a metal or leather collar worn to protect the neck.
Gumby / gumby-neck -- the ability to duck a shot by some weird contortion of the neck that should be physically impossible ... seen done by Jade [of Starfall] and Veniamin [Nafanovich Medvednikogotev] on a regular basis. (West Kingdom)
Gumby / gumby glove -- Refers to an ice hockey glove, usually worn behind a shield -- i.e., "Does anyone have a spare left Gumby?" (Lochac) -- Jochen Schwalbe
Gunch -- v) to fight with heavy weapons as in "I'm going gunching." In the past-tense, gunch usually referrs to the results of being hit in combat as in "I really got gunched." This term was more common when rattan diameters were 1 1/2 to 2". (Caid)
Guncher -- A heavy weapons fighter, or a very heavy rattan sword. (Caid)
Gunching Suit -- Heavy weapons combat armor, differentiating it from light weapons armor or parade armor. (Caid)
Gunslinger -- fighters who usually fight throwing single shots rather than combinations trying to beat their opponents defense with speed.
That term was also applied to a style of polearm fighting whose basic stance was to hold the weapon cocked over one’s head, both hands near the lower end. Like a high guard with great sword. It was so called because it relied on speed, having no static defense at all. It was very popular in the East and Atlantia about 15 years ago. It’s very intimidating to an opponent, until some cagey fighters figured out how to counter it. -- Donal Mac Ruiseart
Harp Seal -- see Baby Harp Seal. (HUMOR)
Hat -- helm.
Hats and Bats -- put on gear and go.
Hats On -- A command given by marshals for fighters to put on their helmets and prepare for combat.
Hats Off -- Permission given by marshals, usually at war during an extended hold or between combat scenarios, allowing fighters to remove their helmets on the field. Generally, this permission is given to prevent overheating.
Heavy Fighter -- A normal tournament combatant, or a fighter in using "heavy weapons" in a war scenario.
Heavy Weapons -- These are the usual tournament and war-weapons (sword and shield and other weapons such as mace, axe, polearms, and more) which, in order to be used, require the use of armor, and training. A fighter must be authorized in the use of these weapons for his or her own safety, as well as the safety of his or her opponents.
Helm shot -- a blow to the helmet
Hip Shot or "Hipped" -- When a sword blow strikes the hip or buttocks, rendering the legs useless -- this differs from being "legged" because a legged fighter can rise up on his/her knees while a "hipped" fighter must remain seated and can not use any portion of their legs. NOTE: this does not apply to "Mass Weapons" such as a mace, hip shots from a mass weapon are fatal.
HOLD! -- A cry meaning "Stop whatever you are doing and freeze in place until you see where the hazard is!" The basic use is in combat, but it's been extended to cover all forms of activity. If on the field of combat, the norm is not only to stop, but to drop to one knee ...
Home Game -- a corruption
of the historic Norse "Holmgang", which was a specific type of fighting
in a small area. I seem to remember it first arising down in Calafia,
for Leif Erickson day, maybe as far back as 1976.
A Holmgang tourney was fought in an extremely small area, sometimes with people 'lashed' together. (Caid)
Hoopty -- same thing as Wooga only in front of the shoulder. (Hauoc Bender) (West Kingdom)
Iffy -- a blow whose strength or wounding/killing ability is questionable
In the pan/Hit in the pan -- (archaic Caidan) a cup shot. From Duke Martin the Temporate who used to wear a cast iron skillet as a groin protector - only to have it cracked and broken in combat. Mostly out of usage now. (Caid)
Iron Chicken -- An extremely defensive combat stance often used to wear down an aggressive opponent.
J-hook -- a blow that goes down and then up
Javelin -- a type of spear that is thrown by hand without the use of a bow, ballista, or other firing weapon.
Kiniggit -- slang for Knight (NOT how it is spelled, but how it is pronounced) (HUMOR)
Kit -- your set of armor.
Knight -- A Knight is a peer of the realm, named so for his or her capability on the tournament field. A Knight is a member of the Order of Chivalry, which also includes Masters of Arms. A Knight is entitled to wear as regalia a chain of large open links (to signify his/her fealty to the Crown), a white belt (to signify his/her prowess) and a pair of spurs (to signify his/her rank). Note that a Knight must swear fealty to the Crown and Kingdom when they are made a Knight, a Master of Arms does not. A Knight is styled "Sir <insertnamehere>". There are a variety of Title Language Equivalents that can be used for those who wish to use a specific language for their persona. Historical Note: The first Knight of the SCA was David the Herald, named so at the first tournament (May 1, 1966), by [Duke] Siegfried von Hoflichskeit. More details on the history of the Order of Chivalry can be found here: Order of Chivalry. Note that members of the Order of Chivalry are equivalent in rank to the members of the Orders of the Laurel, the Pelican and the Order of the Rose.
Landing Pad or Helipad -- The top of a Barrel/Great helm where fighters try to land their scorpion shots. (East Kingdom)
Lanyard -- the strap that attaches a one-handed weapon to the fighter's wrist or hand, to keep it from flying into the gallery if it comes loose.
Lay On! -- A command by the marshals signaling the beginning of a round of combat.
Leg/Legged -- to hit someone in the leg, causing them to have to fight from their knees (the blow is considered to be hard enough that if the weapon were real they would not have the use of the leg in question ...).
Leg 'em & Leave 'em -- Cut off an opponent's leg in a war and run away so they have to wander over the field on their knees.
Let's ride -- let's fight
Light -- cried out by the recipient of a blow if he/she thinks the blow was not hard enough to cause damage/kill/etc.
Light Fighter -- A fighter who wears lighter armor and uses, in a war scenario, bows and arrows, javelins, crossbows, etc. Can also refer to a Shinai fighter in some Kingdoms or a fencer in most.
Light Weapons -- A light fighter is someone who does not use "heavy" weapons (sword and shield, etc.), but instead uses missle style weapons, which can range from bows and arrows to javelins. Light fighters don't usually get to "play" except in war-time scenarios. Light fighters need to be authorized, and wear armor, but the restrictions are different from "heavy" fighters. Note that in some other Kingdoms, this term refers to folk who fight in other forms of combat, such as shinai (Caid) -- bamboo swords in a form of armed judo-style combat.
List Meat -- see Baby Harp Seal.
Listen-up -- when the fighters are given instructions by the Marshal in Charge, or other authority, usually for a war scenario
Lists -- "The Lists" refers to the lists (paper listings of combatants) used to run a tournament. Other uses of this term include the field on which a tournament or combat activity is taking place. (In the West, it is synonymous with the tournament itself as well. ie "join the lists", "fight in the lists", etc.) See also "List Field" and "List Table" below.
List Field -- The list field, or tournament field -- this is where the offical martial competitions at SCA events takes place. The list field is usually in the center of the event site, and usually has the Royal Pavilion as well as other pavlilions around it. This area is defined by ropes, often with flags hanging off of them at a tournament. See "Eric" above.
List Styles -- there are several different types of lists or tournaments. Note that this is not an exhaustive list:
List Table -- The place where the Minister of the Lists keeps track of the paperwork necessary to actually run the lists. This is usually a spot on the eric or tournament field, usually in a pavillion or under a sun shade.
Lists, Minister of -- The Minister of the Lists is an SCA officer whose job is to administer the lists/make sure that the tournament is handled in a proper fashion as far as pairing fighters and such.
Local hold -- when only the fighters in the immediate vicinity are asked to stop fighting
Lock and load -- put your armor on and get ready to fight
Longbow -- a bow made of a solid piece of wood, that is usually about as long as its user is tall. May fire target arrows, or war arrows which are made of sturdier materials and have blunted and/or padded tips.
Low / Low-blow -- a shot stuck on or below the knee. Not a valid blow and is a no-no to try to strike there.
Marshal -- A specially trained person who oversees combat activities. (The SCA's version of a referee.) The Kingdom office is usually called "Earl Marshal".
Master of Arms -- Is a member of the Order of Chivalry along with those who are Knights. The only difference between a Master of Arms and a Knight is that a Knight is required to swear fealty when they are made a Knight, and a Master of Arms is not. A Master of Arms does not wear a chain to signify an oath of fealty, and rather than wearing a white belt, they wear a white baldric to signify their prowess. See Knight for more information. Note that members of the Order of Chivalry are equivalent in rank to the members of the Orders of the Laurel, the Pelican and the Order of the Rose.
Maverick -- see Cowboy.
Meat Grinder -- see List Styles (specifically "Bear Pit").
Melee -- (pronounced may-lay) a battle for all fighters, where there are no sides and anyone can fight anyone. Ends when there is only one fighter left alive.
Merry Rose -- From the name of King Henry's ill-fated Flagship, the Mary Rose, it is the nickname of a "burning" bruising, especially in the area of the buttocks as a result of heavy weapons combat - often accompanied by dancing. Usage "... and he handed me a merry rose." (Caid)
MIC or Mick -- Marshal in Charge - the head marshal for the day
Missile Weapon -- a weapon that is thrown either by hand or with the use of a launcher. Missile weapons include bows and arrows; crossbows and bolts; catapults and rocks; ballista;, and javelins.
Molinet -- a circular motion with a weapon starting at the wrist. Originating in sabre style fencing, this maneuvere can be used for a) flash (it looks really cool when it works); b) to add power to a blow ...
Muckin' Great Clubbe, Order of the -- A recognition given in the West for aggressive fighting (above and beyond the call of stupidity). The 'token' for this is a huge club with a six-inch (or longer) spike through it, into which the current holder must rub a pound of wax. It is then passed on to a new recipient ...
Norse Stickball -- Played in armor, and with everything from duct-taped balls to foam fake skulls as the ball. The prize is generally beer. The winner is expected to share with the loser. In An Tir, historically, the prize was five gallons of Athel Brose. (Caid, An Tir)
"I've never seen Stickball played in armor. I've never even heard of one being played in armor here in An-tir. Every game I've been in was shirts vs. skins. (I've been in about 6 games over the last 3-4 years)
"Two, we play with a chainmail ball about the size of a baseball because the game will destroy almost anything else.
"Three, the last few years the game has tended to end with a victory celebration with both sides splitting some form of drink. (almost always Apple Pie of late)" -- Ulf Stormson, January, 2005 (AS XXXIX)
One-shot -- a fight which is over with only one blow thrown. Almost always a helm shot.
Off-line -- a blade or tip which is not pointed at the target. (Rapier)
On-line -- a blade or tip that is pointed at an opponent, especially at the upper torso or head. (Rapier)
Pad Boy -- someone who is fighting with the bare minimum of armor that is legal. Usually due to having a padded or quilted gambeson and not much else. The equipment can be of high quality.
Palatine Barony -- A "Palatine Barony" is one where the Baron or Baroness is chosen through heavy combat like in a Principality or Kingdom tournament. There are some exceptions, such as the Palatine Baronies of the Far West in the West Kingdom, and Western Seas in Caid, where the title alternates between a heavy tournament and an Arts and Sciences competition.
PandyBat -- A weapon of more danger to the wielder than to the opponent. In the West Kingdom, a Pandybat tournament is often held at Purgatorio Coronation. These tournaments are ones where the ingenuity of the creation of the weapon is more important than the outcome of the fight.
Pas d'Armes -- Literally a "Passage of Arms", this is a 'themed' tournament - may be called a Challenge at Arms if a less formal occasion, or if you do not like the use of "french terms".
Essentially the pas d'armes is a "challenge a plaisance", meaning "of peace". One or more defenders, known popularly as the 'tenans', would make it known that they would hold a particular place on a particular day 'tel place tel jour...'. Such challenges were designed to showcase the prowess, courtesy and in general to celebrate the office of knighthood with a demonstration of arms. -- Brion Thornbird, from his website Chronique, article titled "What is the Pas d'Armes?"
Pell -- A practice dummy or stake most often used by heavy fighters, not to be confused with the shorthand 'Pel' for Pelican. Sometimes used in derogatory reference to a particularly unskilled fighter. See also Screaming Pell.
Pezzing -- a hard upper face hit in rapier, followed by "Checking for candy" (Checking for facial injury or equipment failure). Also, an improperly secured mask will tilt back like a pez candy dispenser's head ... (Cynagua, Oertha) (Rapier)
Piano Keys of Death -- A row of halberds. If you've ever seen them in action, you'd understand. (Caid)
Pike -- a long-handled weapon with a thrusting tip; also, to be struck with a pike
Pin cushion -- a rapier fighter who doesn't parry effectively. (Rapier)
Play -- fight
Playing with his / your food -- when an experienced fighter extends the length of a fight with a newbie, (usually by failing to capitalize on obvious openings) either for instruction or his own twisted amusement (the last part is, of course, said in jest) Example "Stop playing with your food and just kill it!"
Pokie -- see thrusting tip
Pole-arm -- a type of long-handled weapon, or to be struck with a pole-arm
Pole-axe -- a long-handled axe, or to be struck with a pole-axe ("I was pole-axed by ...").
Poodle Scoot -- A strike that makes a newbie yelp with either pain or fear. A Poodle-Scoot is generally administered via low-wrap-shot. Usage: "Have you ever fought in the SCA? Okay, well, have you ever been poodle-scooted?" (Gleann Abhann, specifically Vogleburg) -- Donated by Hothrom of Wulfholm
Pop Your Hat / Pop Your Helm -- permission to take off your helm usually during a long hold on the warfield.
Postage Stamp -- another term for a buckler posing as a shield.
Potato -- Very solid defensive style of fighting with very little movement. A potato defense is one where the fighter spends about 75% on defense waiting for a mistake on his opponent's part. Then a well timed, well aimed, simple blow takes his opponent out. This was exemplified by two fighters in the West at one time: Gaius Marcellus Liberius Auklandus ("the dark side of the potato") and Cealmhain Realt Dubh ("the light side of the potato"). The inventor of this style was Duke William of Houghton. (West Kingdom)
Progressive Give -- The resilence of the padding either in the helm, or on a weapon or padding. ie, if you have 1/2" of open cell, it'll have less progressive give than 1/2" of closed cell, or insulite. The amount of resistance to total compression.
Pummel -- multiple storches all seeming to arrive simultaneously -- sort of like a regimental artillery time-on-target. Often happened to Wiglaf in melees and wars. (Sir Wiglaf Wilfriding, formerly of the West Kingdom, now in Drachenwald.)
Pulling a Phelan -- Breaking a borrowed sword, which was borrowed due to breaking one's own. (A reference to how Phelan Swordbreaker, Now KSCA, Viscount, etc, recieved his surname) (HUMOR) (Oertha)
Put on your track shoes -- usually to the marshals, a fight in which the fighters move around a lot and cover a lot of ground.
Rad Pad -- a pad worn in your back pocket or to cover your (usually left) butt cheek because that's where (lo' these many years ago) Duke Radnor [of Guildemar] would hit you - similar to the spinal tap only on the meaty part of your backside. (West Kingdom)
Range -- The distance where fighters can engage - hence "in range", "out of range" ...
Rattan -- The stem of a climbing palm, used in the SCA for Heavy Weapons because its weight and handling properties resemble steel while its overall resilience and other properties permit it to be used with relative safety.
Ready --may be asked by the marshals after a hold in a tourney of each fighter. "NB Invariably in my experience, when answered in the affirmative by a newbie fighter when in range, it appears to mean the opposite unless the experienced fighter uses a wake up call as opposed to a slot shot to the face." -- Peter du Gant Noir
Resurrection / Resurrection Point -- Resurrection battles are ones where when a fighter dies, he heads off to a designated spot called Resurrection Point, where he sits and cools off (usually in the shade, with water bearers ...), and then after a specific amount of time, he returns to battle resurrected.
Rhino / Rhino-hide -- a fighter who doesn't acknowledge good, solid blows. This is a no-no.
Rig -- your set of armor.
Riposte -- (sometimes pronounced ree-po) to thrust from a parry with out having returned to the En garde position. (Rapier)
Rising Snap -- see Snap
RMIC -- (Ar-mick) Rapier Marshal in Charge. The MIC for rapier activities. (Rapier)
Rock -- large chunks of foam rubber covered with duct tape (to increase weight and durability), made to look like a rock, and usually fired from a catapult. May also refer to similar, smaller ammunition fired from a hand-held sling or slingshot. Also a warning that said rock has been fired and is heading toward you.
Rock! -- Called as warning of incoming siege munition, particularly those which kill through shields.
Rock and roll -- put your armor on and get ready to fight
Rock and roll -- fight
Round Robin -- see List Styles.
Rug Rat -- Name given to those persons, usually new to fighting, who make their first armor from used carpet and bits and pieces of others' cast offs. The name is sometimes generalized to any truly ugly or hodge-podge armor. (Caid)
Salute -- A gesture of respect. The formal salute called by heralds before a round of single combat is threefold. It includes a salute to the Crown (sometimes Throne), a salute to the fighters' consorts, and a salute recognizing the opponents as honorable and worthy adversaries.
Screaming Pell -- a new fighter (credit to Steven of Norham). Use: Screaming Pell of Guildemar (SPOG). See also Pell.
Scorpion -- same as Sky Hook in the East Kingdom because it resembles the strike of a scorpion tail. (East Kingdom)
Seed the List -- The Crown or the Coronet may, at Their discretion, invite fighters who are not members of the order of Chivalry to stand with the Chivalry in the invocation line. The process by which the Lists Minister decides on which field each unbelted fighter will begin the tournament is called "Seeding the Lists".
Sexy Legs -- shiney new leg armor.
Sheep Shagger -- A Wolfscairn fighter. (HUMOR)
Shield Hook -- a fighting maneuvere that pulls an opponent's shield out of the way, done with your own shield. It's tricky and some folk don't like it very much.
Siege Weapon -- See Ballista, Catapult and/or Trebuchet. These are the only three active weapons currently described in the SCA seige rules. Passive seige devices (towers, bridges, ramps, shields, and so on) are rarely used in the West, and hedgehogs and the like are in a rules grey area. (A hedgehog is basically a wagon with a lot of crossbows all hooked to the same trigger used like a riot shotgun to clear an area. Takes a really long time to reload. If coordinated with a charge is occasionally useful.)
Site Token -- A commemorative bruise given or received during the course of a fight. Useful for remembering what happened at the last event.
Skipped -- a blow that did not hit solidly, but "skipped" off, usually a helm shot
Sky-hook -- a wrap that goes straight up into the air and the tip wraps back into your opponent - works better the taller you are or if your opponent is on their knees. See also Scorpion.
Slappy -- a rapier strike where the blade arcs into the target; not valid. (Rapier)
Sleeve / Shirt / Cloth -- terms used to indicate a strike that did not land on flesh, but made enough contact with the clothing worn tho' appear that it might be a landed strike. (Rapier)
Slot -- also "Slot Shot" -- a vertical shot, generally to the helm, between the left and right guards (ie, edge of the shield and tip of the sword).
Snap -- Flat Snap, Snap - Both refer to a technique pioneered by Duke Paul of Bellatrix, wherein the blow comes in on a horizontal plane, generally to the helm. "Flat snap" usually refers to onside, whereas "snap" can refer to either straight or offside shots. Not unlike a horizontal Slot, q.v. A "Rising Snap" (one of the most famous of His Grace's forms) is one in which the blow began as a body shot and then was redirected to hit the helm.
Soured Honey Drinker, or Bee Juice Drinker -- any fighter from Windymeads ... (this is a reference to Mead ...) (HUMOR)
Spear -- A weapon with a thrusting tip only. It has different requirements from other weapons. Most kingdoms allow spears nine feet long, and some allow 12-foot spears. Spear shafts can be made of heavy fiberglass tubing, but only for nine-footers or greater. Shorter spears must have rattan shafts. A specialized weapon, seen mostly in wars or melees, though there are some who use them in single combat.
Spinal Tap -- When Gemini de Grendel fakes you out of your socks and hits you with a wrap in the middle of your back. (West Kingdom)
Sprinter -- an opponent who runs away whenever you engage - often greatsword or glavemen fall to this to get their range.
Squire -- A fighter who has been accepted as a student by a member of the Chivalry. (In the West, squires may wear red belts in token of the association -- this does not reserve red belts as regalia that only squires may wear, nor is it required that squires wear red belts.)
Stick -- usually a sword, the fighter's weapon.
Stick Jock – SCA member who pretty much focuses on Fighting as their only activity (90%) and who probably only owns 1 T-tunic or maybe 2. (Humour) -- Peter du Gant Noir
Storch -- Sir Wiglaf Wilfriding's term for a calamitous, decisive, Hiroshima/Nagasaki-level blow. Similar to "gak", but whereas "gak" has connotations of deriving from a thrust, "storch" connotes devastation wrought by the "edge" of a rattan sword. Most effective word in the English (sort of) language for describing a blow as referenced above, when accompanied by Wiglaf sound-effects and body-language.
Stupid marshal tricks -- things marshals do in between bouts or scenarios when they're bored. May involve things such as balancing the marshal's staff on the forehead.
Sword and Board -- A sword and shield. Usage "He is fighting sword and board" (in other words, he is using sword and shield).
Tabling a Shield -- Usually a mistake, tabling refers to fighting with the lower edge of the shield held high, thus reducing the shield's effective area of protection.
Tent Stake / Tent Peg -- a fighter who has been hit on
the top of the head by one of the taller (and stronger) fighters (such as Kylson Skyfyre,
Uther Schiemann der Hunt, etc.). The recipient of such a blow often complains
of feeling a bit shorter for awhile after the fight. Also works for an opponent who
is on their knees ...
A person wearing a barrel great helm -- because when they are hit with a scorpion on their landing pad, you drive their head into their shoulders like driving a tent stake into the ground. (East Kingdom)
Thrusting tip -- the end of a weapon that has been padded and taped to allow it to be used as a thrusting (stabbing) weapon
Torvald -- As in "He pulled a Torvald" -- he hurt himself in some odd, inexplicable way. The term comes from a specific fighter (Torvald Torgarson) in the West Kingdom who during his early fighting career constantly hurt himself -- he didn't wait for an opponent to do it ... (HUMOR) (West Kingdom)
Tippy -- to hit or be hit with just the tip of the blade, not a wounding or killing blow.
Tourney -- Originally a verb meaning "to take part in a tournament," the word is now often used to mean the event itself (i.e., "Are you going to Crown Tourney?" and phrases of that sort).
Tournament -- An event wherein a tournament takes place, often a list. Some are very specificly defined events, such as a Crown or Coronet Tournament, where the next set of rulers for the Kingdom or Principality are determined. Others may be for prizes, other titles for local branches, or just for the fun of it.
Trebuchet -- A siege weapon. A Trebuchet is a single vertical arm that uses a counterweight (or people acting as a counter weight) to throw rocks. The Treb that uses people is frequently called a perrier as its rules are considerably different. See also Ballista or Catapult.
Trigger or trigger lanyard -- a lanyard that goes over only the fingers, as opposed to one that goes around the wrist
Turtle / Turtling --
the tactic of holding a shield
overhead to fend off missile weapons and/or overhead blows.
Turtle means to stop and cover completely. There is no offense (intended
or real) with a turtle. Can also refer to when a fighter is on the ground and
covers herself with her shield to prevent injury during a melee or war scenario.
Another explanation for this term is for those fighters who manage with minimal body movement to avoid a shot that should have landed, especially a head or face shot.
Twig Jock – Rapier Fighter. (Humour) -- Peter du Gant Noir
Two Cheek Sneak / Two Cheeker -- wrap shot that strikes both butt cheeks; usually elicts a howl of protest/pain.
Unbelted Fighter -- A fighter who has not been "belted" -- i.e., is not a member of the Order of Chivalry. This term does not mean that the fighter doesn't wear (or cannot wear) a belt, just that they have not been made a Knight or Master of Arms, with the white belt that is part of the regalia ... see also Belted Fighter.
Wack a Knight -- usually referring to a demo activity involving handing the children your sword, instructing them not to hit you below the knees, and giving them a chance to "Whack the Knight"!
Waiting for air -- (from a herald) waiting until another herald has finished his/her shout.
Wallet -- in place of a Rad Pad, some folk make sure that their wallet was in the appropriate location to provide some protection ... (Cynagua)
Wake Up -- A term used to to describe an intimidating and noisy strike to an opponent's shield, usually at the start of battle.
War -- A gathering at which the main event is one or more fighting competitions for large groups of participants, involving the use of woodlands or other broken terrain and sometimes a mixture of Heavy Weapons and Light Weapon combat. Wars usually feature other activities, such as a Merchant's Row and Court.
War Unit -- a group of fighters who fight as a team in wars; may include both "heavies" and "lights".
'ware the edge / 'ware the bounds / 'ware the boundaries -- you are approaching the edge of the fighting field
Whippy Stick -- A marginally legal thin piece of rattan used to make a very fast sword. It is usually very flexible and is often seen flexing over shields to hit helmets otherwise protected. Until recently, this was a derogatory term.
White Scarf -- A recognition in some Kingdoms for a fencer "equivalant" to a Knight. This award is not recognized in all Kingdoms, and is not recognized or condoned by the Board of Directors. (Rapier)
William Marshal -- see List Styles.
Wire Weenie / Wire Wiggler -- Derogatory term for fencers by heavies. Used by fencers in humor. (Rapier)
A blow that begins it's power high and generates centrifugal force behind the
shoulder by dropping down and back up before launching into the opponants tender
bits. (Fabian Arnett von Schwetzingen and Conor Weisszahn) See also Hoopty.
OR -- a general term that tends to apply to any waving of a sword for any purpose. It is used to describe how a fighter waved their sword at an opponent to destract them or to set them up for a fake. Also used to distract an opponent at a war from the fact that your friend/ally is sneaking up on them. (West Kingdom)
Wrap -- a blow that wraps around the opponent and hits the other side.
Corrections, Questions ...
Questions, corrections, suggestions, additions can all be sent to:
Special Thanks, Misc. Notes ...
Special thanks to the folk on SCA-West who got this started, including Leah Raedulf of Pagham who requested a fighter glossary of some sort, and Alison Gray of Owlwood who compiled the starting-point list ... In a very short time (a few days) this list has grown to fairly substantial, and it will likely grow more over time, much like the original Unofficial Glossary of Terms Used in the SCA.
About the author/maintainer of this Glossary: Hirsch von Henford is a member of the Orders of the Laurel and the Pelican, and a Baron of the Court of the West, has always lived in the West Kingdom (about half of his time in the SCA in the Principality of Oertha (Alaska)), has been an active member of the West Kingdom's College of Heralds for most of his 25(+) years in the SCA. He has helped create an Annotated History of the West Kingdom (first 12+ years), and is constantly updating the History of the West Kingdom website with photos and event descriptions, and generally keeping quite busy ...