Unified International Rules


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1.1. Historical Medieval Battle (HMB) is a full contact sporting battle, where historical protective and offensive arms of the Middle Ages, specially made and adjusted to this kind of competition, are used. HMBs are held on the lists of a standardized size and shape, with different types of authentic weapons, depending on the kind of a battle.

The concept of HMB includes all kinds of full contact power fight with the use of items of Historical Reenactment of the Middle Ages (HRMA), namely historical fencing, buhurts, melee, duels, small group battles, mass field battles, professional fights, etc.

HMBs are always held in full contact, but are represented by different categories with various authorized and prohibited techniques. In addition, victory conditions, battle regulations, tournament schemes and other parameters are different.

The following rules apply to buhurt categories of Historical Medieval Battle.

1.2. All HMBs are held under control and observation of a marshal’s (referee’s) group, including one knight marshal (main referee), field referees, linesmen and referees monitoring the video observation. The number of members of the marshal’s group is set separately for every event, depending on its format and content. The presence of the knight marshal and field referees is always required.

1.2.1. The knight marshal is chosen by the organizers of the event. In case of any disagreement the knight marshal has the final decision authority.

1.2.2 The records of the combat process and combat results are made by the secretariat.

1.3. HMB buhurt competitions vary, in particular, the number of fighters can be different: each category has approved combat regulations.

1.4. The conditions of victory can also vary depending on the battle regulations of a certain category.

1.5. The main criterion of victory in buhurt HMB categories is a “removal” of an opponent or all members of the rival team from the battle.

In the buhurt categories a fighter is “removed from the battle”, when:

1.5.1. He touches the surface of the lists with the third point of support (body, buttocks, arm, knee, shield, etc.). The rule applies if a fighter falls down together with an opponent.

a) Important! Two basic supporting points for a battle are feet.

1.5.2. His legs leave the territory of the battleground or he falls outside the lists.

1.5.3. Element of protective equipment, used to protect joints, head, hands, groin, or neck, and also serves to protect a large area, broken or lost.

1.5.4. He touches the lying fighter with his body or buttocks.

b) Important! When the fighter falls on his opponent and touches with the third supporting point (except for body and buttocks) only his opponent, who lies under him, the fighter is not considered as fallen.

1.5.5. Continues attacking actions without a weapon in his hand (shield is not a weapon).

c) Important! In case the fighter lost his weapon, he has the right:

  • - to use a spare weapon he has;
  • - to cease fighting sitting down on one knee;
  • - to take a spare set of weapons from the reserve fighter of his team standing at a special place beyond the fence of the lists. The fighter has a right to protect himself from opponents’ attacks without making attacking or blocking actions;
  • - take a spare set of weapons from a team member who is engaged in battle (only in case if that team member is not out of battle).

d) Important! It is strictly prohibited to take the weapon from the surface of the lists, from fighters who are out of the battle or take the weapon from not a reserve fighter who is standing at a point designated for spare weapons giving.

e) Important! The fighter with two-handed pole weapon must hold it firmly at least with one hand. If the weapon is not held at least with one hand during a fight with a rival the fighter is considered to be unarmed and has to cease attacking actions until he has a weapon in his hand.

1.6. To get the admission to the HMB, a fighter has to:

1.6.1. Be of age in terms of the law of his country, as well as the country hosting the event.

1.6.2. Sign a statement of voluntary participation in full contact battles (in the statement a fighter confirms his acceptance of any risks associated with participation in the battles, declines any claims and assures he knows the rules and agrees to follow them strictly).

1.6.3. Have a medical health certificate issued by a specialized medical institution, confirming that he has no restrictions to participate in the competitions.

1.6.4. Be accredited by the organizers of the event. 1.6.5. Have an admission for arms and armor, provided by the Authenticity committee.


2.1. Only those arms and armor, which have analogues of a certain historical period, confirmed by scientific research, are allowed in HMB.

2.2. A fighter has to rebate his weapons before the participation in an event and bring them into conformity with the specifications stated in this regulatory document.

Rebating is a process of rounding of the peak and the percussion edges of any bladed or pole weapon used in HMB competitions. The radius of rebating is about 10 mm (note: it has to match the radius of a coin 20 mm in diameter).

2.2.1. The edges of all the striking parts of any weapon are to be rounded as a bevel and be not less than 2 mm thick (including any possible chips and notches).

2.2.2. The edges of shields are to be trimmed with thick (not less than 2-4 mm) leather or three or more layers of fabric attached with glue.

a) Important! All wooden, wicker or leather shields have be made only on the basis of reliable historical analogues and correspond to the form of the analogue in all three planes. A shield can only be used with a set of armor of the same epoch and region.

2.2.3. Edges of the iron shields have to be carefully forge-rolled and be no less than 4 mm thick.

a) Important! Allowed metal shields must have only round shapes, made on the basis of reliable historical analogues corresponding to the form of the analogue in all three planes. A shield can only be used with a set of armor of the same epoch and region. The weight of any metal shield shall not exceed 5 kg.

2.3. All responsibility for the quality, safety and reliability of the elements of protective arms is on a fighter who uses them.

2.4. Below is the list of allowed weapons, as well as technical requirements for them.

a) Important! The maximum weight of all weapons fully assembled and ready for battle is given. The permissible upward error is +100 for single-handed and +300 grams for two-handed models of arms.

2.4.1. Bladed weapons:

  • - single-handed swords, sabers, broadswords – up to 1,600 g;
  • - falchions – up to 1,800 g;
  • - long (total length is up to 1,400 mm) swords, sabers, broadswords – up to 2,500 g;
  • - two-handed bladed weapons of the XIV-XVIIth centuries – up to 3,500 g

2.4.2. Polearms: - single-handed: axes – up to 1,300 g, maces and six-flanged maces – up to 1,000 g

a) Important! The length of a cutting part of an axe blade should not be less than 7cm!

b) Important! All the maces and six-flanged maces can have ONLY wooden handles and no sharp edges!

  • - long axes and other similar weapons (with a total length of not less than 1 m) - up to 2,300 g.
  • - two-handed: halberds, glaives, poleaxes and similar weapons (with a total length of more than 1,400 mm) - up to 3,000 g.

c) Important! Heavier weapons or only thrust weapons are not admitted for use in historical medieval battles.

2.5. The approved protective arms for HMB competitions must be a reconstruction of medieval armor (must have the exact proportions and general appearance of historical analogue) and correspond to such characteristics:

  • - compliance with scientifically proved originals of the XIII- XVIIth centuries.
  • - authenticity of used materials (metal, leather, fabric, tow, batting, felt);
  • - availability of configuration that completely covers the vital organs and joints of the fighter;
  • - good condition;
  • - thickness of protective material has to meet the requirements (stated below);
  • - size and proportions of all the protective elements have to meet the requirements;
  • - aesthetic appearance.

2.6. All items of armor have to meet the technical and aesthetic requirements, and represent a complete set of one time period within 50 years.

a) Important! Only in rare cases, due to the lack of information concerning the material culture of certain periods and regions, stylized armor elements are allowed. In this situation, a fighter can replace these items with the authentic elements, relating to the neighboring regions and periods, but only if everything looks aesthetically and proportionally. Concepts that require further interpretation and explanation:

  1. Authentic means material or object that corresponds to a certain historical original, found during the research. The use of authentic materials and items, coming from the original, is approved by the community of historical reenactors of the Middle Ages.
  2. Stylized item is an object that has no specific historical analogues, but is made in compliance with the general style of armor, its proportional, aesthetic and operational characteristics.
  3. Scientifically proved original is text and visual material (pictures, sculptures, and other documented archaeological sources or their combination), on the basis of which a belonging of a particular object to the group of authentic ones is determined. Scientifically proved original is needed in case a reenactor has an intention to start usage of anything radically new or little known in the community of HRMA. Only the scientifically proved original can help to determine whether an object is authentic or not, to make a decision about the possibility of its use in the HRMA circles.

2.6.1. The fighter’s head has to be protected with a metal helmet, safety features and specifications of which comply with the same parameters of a helmet made of steel ST3 2 mm thick.

2.6.2. The fighter’s helmet has to be equipped either with a well quilted padded cap, or leather suspension, a “parachute” with a quilted padded cap. The thickness of these elements should be not less than 3 mm for quilted and 5 for padded in a condensed form.

2.6.3. The fighter’s helmet must have a chin strap, which does not allow it to fall off the fighters head.

2.6.4. The fighter’s body, legs and arms are to be covered with at least plate armor. The chainmail can be only used as an extra protection in addition to plate armor or as the linking elements of plate armor.

2.6.5. In addition to body armor, the fighter’s body is to be protected with underarmor padding, which covers the whole torso. The minimum allowed protection is woolen (cloth) and linen material sewn together.

2.6.6. The neck and base of the skull are to be protected with steel plate-armor element, supplemented with damping quilted or padded protection, such as a pelerine of the padded cap, a special collar or a filling. A riveted chain-mail element, with the plate protection and a protective damping layer located under it, is allowed.

2.6.7.The spine and tailbone should have metal plate protection with quilted or padded protection. The thickness of these elements should be not less than 3 mm for quilted and 5 for padded in a condensed form.

2.6.8. The fighter’s hands are to be protected with gloves or mittens made of steel plates or riveted chainmail. If the hands protection is made of riveted chainmail only, a damping layer not less than 5 mm thick in a condensed form has to be under it.

2.6.9. Hands and forearms of a fighter using a shield with the elbow grip can be protected with steel armor elements. Then, if a fighter loses the shield, he’ll be able to continue the fight. They can be protected minimally (only with underarmor padding and cloth gauntlets), but from all the sides, which may be under attack. The minimum level of underarmor protection includes layers of woolen and linen cloth sewn together.

2.6.10.The fighter’s elbows and knees must have a steel plate protection. If the plate protection doesn’t fit the fighter’s armor, it should be hidden under the authentic element of the set. The minimum level of underarmor protection includes quilted or padded protective layer not less than 10 mm thick in a condensed form.

2.6.11. The fighter’s shins and hips are recommended to be protected with metal armor elements at each side. The minimum level of underarmor protection includes layers of woolen and linen cloth sewn together.

2.6.12.The fighter’s groin has be protected with armor elements or hidden protection (an athletic supporter for contact sports).

2.6.13.The protective complex has to provide a complete and reliable protection to the head, neck, spine and joints in any body position.

2.6.14.In case a fighter represents a time period, when certain parts of the body weren’t covered with protective elements, these zones are to be safely covered with a hidden protective elements (Eurasia region of the XIII-XVIIth centuries), which aren’t registered visually.

2.6.15.If the level of safety of the authentic protective arms does not meet requirements of these regulations, a fighter should use extra protection made of other kind of materials (worn only under authentic armor and underarmor).

a) Important! Modern protection, having its own fastening system, can be used only as the third protective level.

2.6.16.The fighter needs to be sure of his armor protective characteristics and check the accuracy and safety of any protective parts before a battle.

2.6.17.The fighter is responsible for the offensive and protective arms he uses in battle, monitoring of their authenticity, aesthetics, and compliance with the requirements stated in this regulatory document.

a) Important! The fighter can use in battles only those weapons that are authorized by the authenticity committee.


A battle conducted on the lists is regulated by the list of the authorized HMB techniques, which include:

3.1. Any strikes, pushing, press with arms, hands, legs, shield (flat part or rim), head, shoulder, body on the opponent’s accepted zone.

a) Important! The accepted zone excludes the feet, back of the knees, groin, back of the neck, skull base and open face.

b) Important! Any actions (strikes, pressure, etc.) with a leg aimed at the knee joint (on either side) are prohibited.

c) Important! The fighter can strike with a free hand, but only in case he holds weapon in his other hand.

3.2. Strikes on the opponent who lost his balance until he falls on the ground.

3.3. Holds of non-combat parts of the weapons or shields of the opponents with free hand.

3.4. Attack on the opponent who has lost his weapon.

3.5. Wrestling techniques, throws, back heels, etc.

a) Important! Painful grips, suffocating techniques, arch throws, fighting in the stalls are prohibited.

3.6. Holds of the body of the opponent with weapons from the front and from the sides. The holds with direct pressure on the neck are prohibited.

3.7. Blows delivered by ridge or body of a shield at kill zones.


Any prohibited strikes or actions against the opponent are serious breaches of rules which lead to sanctions, from rebuke to disqualification. It doesn’t matter whether a breach was made accidentally or on purpose. The sanctions are to be imposed anyway.

Each fighter should avoid usage of the prohibited techniques, among which are:

4.1. Any actions which are not listed in section 3. Only the actions stated in these rules are allowed.

4.2. Any thrusts with weapons.

4.3. Any blows delivered with arms, hands, legs, shield (flat part or rim), head, shoulder, torso at prohibited zone. The prohibited zone includes the feet, back of the knee, groin, back of the neck and skull base, open face.

4.4. Twisting against natural direction of a limb flexing and any painful holds.

4.5. Pressure or holding the edges of a helmet with a hand, as well neck twisting caused by these actions.

4.6. Deliberate attempts to remove any elements of the opponent’s armor (except shield).

4.7. Punches with weapons’ hilts or fists, aimed at the face of the opponent (if the gap between the hilt and fist in combat mitten or glove is more than 3 cm).

4.8. Any holds, hold-downs, suffocating with hands or weapons around the neck.

4.9. Any strikes on a lying, or standing on one knee fighter.

4.10. Deliberate injuring of the opponent after he loses a part of his equipment.

4.11. Any thoughtless or uncontrolled actions with a weapon.

4.12. Any attacking actions towards the fighter who has raised one hand with an open palm.

a) Important! A raised hand with an open palm is a sign of voluntary leaving the battle. Having raised his hand with the open palm and/or kneeling on one knee (if there is such opportunity) the fighter automatically takes the position “out of the battle”.

4.13. Inactive clinch that lasts more than 10 seconds. In this case a field marshal can pull the fighters, who are in the clinch, apart, giving a command “Break!” and hanging a yellow marshal flag attached to a baton, between the opponents’ helmets. The fighters have to stop fighting in a clinch immediately and step aside 2 steps from each other. An additional command “Fight”, given by the marshal who has stopped the clinch, serves as an additional signal that the battle is still in progress, both in general, and for the fighters who were in clinch in particular.

a) Important! The local commands “Break!” and “Fight” are only for fighters in clinch. After the command “Fight” a fighter can continue the battle against his opponent or attack another opponent.

4.14. Grasping of a single-handled pole arm when the metal part of the pole arm is less than 30 cm from the index finger.

4.15. Any strikes in the opponent’s face, if one of the opponent uses an open-face helmet. It does not matter whether the second opponent uses a closed or open-face helmet, the strokes are mutually exclusive.

a) Important! If a fighter, preserving a normal position of the head and neck, can be punched in the face with a clenched fist without the hand protection, his helmet is considered to be the “open-face helmet”.

4.16. The fighters who are out of the battle (due to their falling down or decision of a referee), but are on the lists, are strongly prohibited from standing up on both legs before the command of the knight marshal “Stop the battle!” If a fighter is out of the battle because of falling, losing equipment or because of marshal’s decision, he is to take a comfortable sitting or lying position on the lists and wait for the end of the round, without interfering in the battle. With his comfortable position the fighter shows that he is not injured.


Management and control of battles is done by using the following penalties, depending on the situation on the lists, fighters’ actions and referees’ decisions.

5.1. Rebuke is a sanction applied to the fighter for insignificant rules violations, which aim is to draw the fighter’s attention to his actions. It’s not to be put in the record.

5.2. Warning, or the Yellow card is given to the fighter for rules violation and it is to be stated in the record. The Yellow card affects the rating of the fighter and his team. The Yellow card can be given only by the knight marshal of the tournament.

5.3. Disqualification or the Red card is the sanction applied to a fighter for serious or recurrent (the second yellow card) rules violation, which is to be stated in the report. After the fighter gets the Red card he is removed from further participation in the competition, and is replaced by a substitute fighter of the team. A fighter can be disqualified ONLY by the knight marshal of the tournament.

The application of each of the above stated sanctions is regulated by the rules for every specific category.

These Regulations develop by HMBIA® Marshals Committee.


2015-07-28 11:25
:-? When I saw this sport for the first time, I was really interested on it. but when I saw the rules of prohibiting Ground fighting, Joint locks, Chokes and limb strikes (Ex. Leg kicks). I was disappointed, I can't use any of my grappling skills here. So bye, and give me some feedback.
2014-05-06 19:11
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Last Comments 

  • 28.07.2015 11:25
    Title: HMB Rules for BUHURT ...
    :-? When I saw this sport for the first time, I was really interested on it. but when I saw the rules of prohibiting Ground fighting, Joint locks, Chokes and limb strikes (Ex. Leg kicks). I was ...
  • 06.05.2014 19:11
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  • 02.05.2014 10:05
    Wow, amazing blog format! How lengthy have you been blogging for? you made running a blog glance easy. The whole glance of your website is great, let alone the content! My blog ...
  • 08.03.2013 07:12
    What thickness does the steel for hand protection need to be? Is the thickness requirements the same for riveted maille and steel plate?
  • 04.03.2013 03:13
    I just translated the new version for my (Czech) team and compared with the old version of the rules and I found two important changes. There are no mentions anymore about to not do a verticall strike ...
  • Does International Association of Historical Reenactors of the Middle Ages have a web site?





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