Rapier Combat is a fighting form that simulates civilian combat, primarily the thrust oriented forms of the European Renaissance. Rapier fighters use approved steel simulators based on the Authorization Forms under which they are fighting, and combat is fought to a 'touch calibration', where very little pressure is needed to score a valid hit with a thrust; the edges of the sword may also be used to strike 'cutting' blows.
The term Rapier generally refers to a single handed sword with a complex hilt (i.e. with sweeps and bars to protect the hand). These sword types became popular during the 16th Century in Renaissance Europe, and evolved into longer, thinner versions of themselves, as the prominence of thrust-oriented swordplay rose. The rapier reached it's height in the early 1600's, after which fashion started shifting to the smallsword, a lighter, shorter thrusting weapon. The fighting forms of the rapier era eventually set the foundations for the evolution of the classical and modern fencing forms.
The words Rapier in English, and Rappier in German, were used in period to refer to "foreign" weapons, generally of Italian or Spanish design. Though there are many manuscripts from these areas in period detailing combat with these types of weapons, there are no specific words in Spanish or Italian that distinguish this sword type from any other, they are simply referred to as "swords".
The Kingdom of Caid separates the authorizations of Rapier combat into three forms, based on the weapon simulators allowed on the field.
- Light Rapier - This form uses modern epees and foils as sword simulators. These were the first simulators allowed for rapier in the SCA, but this authorization is pretty rare with the evolution of heavier and more accurate simulators.
- Heavy Rapier - Often grouped under the misnomer of "schlagers", Heavy rapier simulators have evolved as groups of swordmakers who cater to the SCA have been able to make safe and more historically accurate rapiers for use within our fighting forms.
- Cut & Thrust Rapier - Using some of the heavier and/or more accurate Heavy Rapiers, as well as some additional simulators more suited to cutting actions, participants in this advanced authorization form are allowed to use percussive cutting techniques to land valid edge blows. Additional armor is required to protect the head, collarbones and elbows of the fighters.
Participants of Rapier Combat in Caid can be recognized by two kingdom level awards;
- The Order of the Duellist of Caid - AoA level recognition for fighting well and looking good on the field, and being a solid part of the community
- The Order of the Argent Blade - GoA level recognition for for outstanding ability in SCA-sanctioned rapier combat
- (before May 2015) The Order of the White Scarf of Caid - GoA level recognition for the top rapier fighters and leaders in the rapier community
Additionally there are three non-armigerous awards that are open to multiple combat forms, including rapier.
- Corde de Guerre - Granted for acts of extreme valor upon the war battlefield.
- Crossed Swords - Granted to such fighting units as have demonstrated exceptional skill at arms, valor, and chivalry upon the battlefield.
- Vanguard of Honor - Granted for recognition of outstanding honorable and chivalric actions upon the tournament field.
Below the KRM, are Provost Marshals who are responsible for authorizations, as well as regional deputy Provosts that oversee specific regions to assist in communication and continuity between groups.
Some Caidan Traditional Rapier Games;