Fighter Handbook

Fighter Handbook

This is a guide to being a fighter in the Grey Company. All information contained in this manual was current as of May 2021. This information is intended for new members who wish to become a fighter in The Grey Company. However, visitors may find it interesting to see how we approach this topic.

It is recommended that you try and get your fighting outfit together as soon as possible. At first you may wish to make a generic Western European costume.  Typically every fighter will need their own gloves, helmet and eventually weapons and shields. Costuming is also very important, as we are a display group after all. You must have an acceptable Dark Ages fighting outfit before working on gear for another historical period.

The Grey Company has members that can help advise you to get a costume made. We also run regular workshops to help you make your own equipment and can point you to suitable online suppliers.

Simulated Combat in the Grey Company (inc.) involves the use of blunted weapons. Safety is the most important thing to be remembered by all combatants. Below is a summary of the rules for standard competition-style combat.

  • Minimum armour requirements must be met before combat occurs (see below).
  • Weapons must meet minimum safety requirements before combat occurs (see below).
  • A combatant may refuse to fight at any time for any reason.
  • Nobody may fight if under the influence of alcohol or intoxicating substances.
  • At the cry of “Hold” all fighting will cease. Only a Marshal may call for combat to resume.
  • All blows must be “pulled”- no full force blows can be delivered.
  • No thrusting with the point of a weapon is allowed in standard, competitive combat.
  • Any blow to the neck or groin will not be counted and is strongly discouraged.
  • Any blow to the forearm, hands, and lower leg may not be counted.
  • An unimpeded blow to the head, chest or abdomen is deemed a kill.
  • An unimpeded blow to the arm (between the elbow and shoulder) incapacitates the arm.
  • An unimpeded blow to the leg (between the knee and hip) incapacitates the leg.
  • An impeded blow has been parried in such a way that the “force” has been taken out of the weapon.
  • Impeded blows cannot kill or incapacitate.
  • In melee combat you must always engage the opponent before delivering a blow.
  • Never lose your temper on the field.
  • Standard combat rules apply except for the following modifications.
  • Legal hit locations include the torso and upper arms only.
  • There are no impeded blows in this style.
  • Helmets may be optional in appropriate circumstances as described below.

The Company takes a part in theatrical or “show” fighting. Unlike the competition style combat the emphasis is on presenting a display of combat to an audience. Although all safety rules are maintained it is not mandatory to accept all killing or wounding blows. In show fighting we are trying to entertain an audience with theatrical combat and fighters are encouraged to fight with this in mind.

Some experienced (Warrior level) fighters may take part in combat using non-standard weapons, armour or techniques. This is called “alternative” or “advanced” combat. Such combat may only proceed with the express permission of the Captain or Chief Marshal who must be satisfied that safety standards are not compromised on a case by case basis.


A leather glove with additional padding. The additional padding can be closed cell foam, thick leather, woollen undergloves or some form of metal covering over the glove. All fingers, and the back of the hand, must be protected. Do not wear rings when fighting.

A standard spun bowl or conical with nasal bar of 1.5 mm steel. The rim of the helmet must cover down to the eyebrows across the helmet front and cover the top 1cm of the ears at the sides.

If a standard spun bowl is not used, then the helmet crown must be built from 1.0mm steel (minimum) or suitable equivalent.

The nose must have some form of nasal bar or equivalent protection from a face shield/face plate. The protection must extend below the tip of the nose when worn with appropriate padding in the helmet. The nasal must be able to resist bending by hand.

All additions to helmets for purposes of coverage must be made of 1.0mm steel (minimum). If alternative metals are used, they must be strong enough to resist easy bending by hand. At least 1.5mm (minimum) is recommended for Bronze, Brass or Copper used as structure of the helmet.

Decorations may be in any gauge of metal. Leather and other alternatives may also be used for decoration. All sharp points must be secured on the helmet so that they cannot injure anyone.

Helmets with face guards (eg. Viking spectacle) rather than nasals must be of minimum 1.0mm steel, with the nasal area at least 1.5mm thick. Multiple layers that build up to 1.5mm or thicker are acceptable.

All helmets must have a leather or equivalent chin strap. This strap must be capable of holding the helmet on the head in case of the fighter falling over or being up-ended in battle.

All helmets must have padding around the crown and across the brow and temples. This padding should be of at least 10mm sheepskin, felt or approved equivalent.

Gloves and Helmets must be worn at all times during standard combat.

Remember that all new equipment must be cleared by a Marshall before it can be used on the field. In all cases, marshals should be contacted to discuss any unclear points before making any helmets.


The use of ANY weapon is at the discretion of the Captain and Chief Marshal.

All weapons should be of a design suitable for the period.

All weapons must be free of sharp points and edges including the hilt.

For standard combat edges must be a minimum of 3mm thick (including the hilt) and the point must show a diameter of at least 10mm. We will also accept weapons with a 1.5mm edge and 20mm diameter tip (an Australian 5c piece may be used as a guide for edge and tip).

Where possible the weight of weapons should be kept as low as possible.

All weapons should be kept in a clean and serviceable condition. They should be kept free of rust and routinely de-burred.

Hafted weapons must be kept free of splinters and should be regularly serviced. This service should include sanding, oiling and/or varnishing. Sockets should be checked for secure attachment.

Shields must also be kept in a serviceable condition. All nails must be firmly seated with no points exposed. Splintering wood should be covered and all sharp protrusions covered or removed. Metal edged shields must have their edges routinely de-burred.

Grey Company has an active Armourers Guild that can assist you in making your Weapons and Armour. Workshops are run regularly. They can also advise where weapons and armours can be purchased online that is already suitable for club use or will require minimal modifications to be suitable.

You must first sign a waiver and pay for full membership before you can begin basic training. New fighters are first allocated a training coordinator and this person will be responsible for giving you personal training as well as organising training with other Warriors until you reach Fyrdsman status. Swords and helmets may be loaned to new fighters for training but you should try to get your own gloves as soon as possible.

The length of time taken to train someone varies considerably. It depends on many factors and no fighter should be discouraged if they feel they are learning too slow.

A new fighter is called a Novice. The Novice fighter is first taught to use a Longsword and must know the following before they can be cleared.

  • How to hold a Sword.
  • Combat safety.
  • Five basic attacks and parries.
  • Body Hit Locations
  • Pulling blows.
  • How to hit an opponent and how to receive blows.
  • Basic body movement and footwork.
  • Etiquette on the field.

When your training coordinator feels you are ready they will ask the Chief Marshal arrange a clearance fight for you. You will be assessed on your ability to use the longsword with confidence, competence and safety. Marshals will observe the clearance fight and offer comments. If you are successful the Chief Marshall and Captain will be informed and a general announcement will be made at messages. After clearance you will be encouraged to fight other skilled fighters (Fyrdsmen and above) before being introduced to melee combat.

You will continue to be trained in one-handed sword, sword and shield and dagger fighting.

To progress from novice to Fyrdsman status you must;

  • Be cleared for safe combat in Longsword, sword and shield and dagger fighting.
  • Show that you are a skilled fighter.
  • Have a suitable fighting costume.
  • Show commitment by attending training and participating in displays.

When you become a Fyrdsman you may learn to use other weapons and combinations. If you wish to use non-standard weaponry the Chief Marshal will arrange a suitable trainer for you. You will be cleared for each new weapon or combination that you learn.

As a Fyrdsman you will be able to assist in the basic training of Novices under supervision by a Warrior. You may fight a Novice if they have been cleared in the chosen weapon or combination; once again under supervision. Fyrdsmen may fight other Fyrdsmen without requiring marshalling.

At the Midwinter and Midsummer Banquets, the Captain awards Warrior status to those Fyrdsmen that have shown exceptional skill, safety, and commitment. If you wish to become a Warrior you should;

  • Develop your weapon skills.
  • Show that you are a safe fighter.
  • Show a good attendance at training and displays.
  • Have acquired your own equipment.

When you become a Warrior you will be expected to help train new fighters.

To be considered for this award you must have been a Warrior for at least a year.

You may be elevated to Huscarl status when your arms, equipment, costume and combat skills are high enough. You should own heavy armour (or elaborate costume) and several different weapon types. You must be highly skilled in at least three weapon combinations and your whole outfit must be of a high standard. You must also show continued commitment to the company by being an active member. The Huscarl awards are presented each year at the Midsummer banquet by the Captain after consulting with the other Huscarls. A vote of peers is held before the Midsummer banquet and at least 50% of attending Huscarls must support a candidate for the award to be granted.

These are warriors who have given exemplary service to the group, both as fighters and in supporting the group’s various activities. They must be skilled fighters, well equipped and costumed, and committed to improving the image and performance of the Grey Company.

The Steersman award is granted at the Midsummer’s Feast. It is a permanent award and only one or two are given each year. This represents the highest award currently available in the group. A vote of peers is held before the Midsummer banquet and at least 50% of attending Steersmen must support a candidate for the award to be granted.

Grey Company has a first aid officer. The first aid officer is appointed yearly by the Captain and must have a current first aid certificate.

If you have a medical condition that could effect your safety or the safety of other members you must discuss this with the first aid officer.

  • Always ask before you borrow equipment. Return gear in good condition and say “Thankyou”.
  • Never strike an opponent from behind unless you are POSITIVE they are aware of your presence. If you are unsure move to where they can see you.
  • It is considered good manners to strike an opponent with the flat of your blade.
  • If you land a blow on your target, give them time to acknowledge the wound. If you press on regardless, they are entitled to ignore the wound until they have a free moment.
  • If an opponent is in the process of acknowledging a wound, or more importantly in the act of “dying”, be careful how you press any further blows. When prone or falling, many helmets slip and expose bits they shouldn’t.
  • Always check your weapon for burrs even in between bouts with your sparring partner.
  • If you have an opponent down on their knees, or in fact prone, do them a courtesy and attack from one direction only. Circling them is easy- show some skill and take them the hard way.
  • Be gentle with smaller or less experienced fighters. Bowling people over is easy for big fighters, but is very poor etiquette.
  • If your favourite blow is causing discomfort or even injury to an opponent, just stop doing it. Some techniques work well on some people, but just cause injuries to others.
  • Use common sense and try not to annoy or injure your opponents. You can’t have a fight without them.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility. If you see anything you believe to be unsafe do not be afraid to speak up.

If you feel you have been hit too hard by an opponent you must let them know as soon as possible-while they can still remember the event. If you say nothing then someone else may get hurt.

If someone tells you that you are hitting too hard you must take the comment seriously and try to correct your technique accordingly.