NYBL Official Rules


These are current standards and this document is being refined.


  1. Safety and adjudication
  2. Equipment classifications and definitions
  3. Gameplay
  4. Equipment specifications and checking
  5. Clothing

Each player is expected to treat each other with respect and participate in fair play with fun, safety, and sportsmanship in mind. Actual violence, threats of actual violence, cheating, and arguing with referees or other combatants disrespectfully are just a few examples of unacceptable behavior and are not allowed.

  1. Referees: Referees are responsible for rule enforcement, encouraging acceptable behavior and the inspection of both the field and equipment used.
    1. A referee has the authority to remove anyone from the field of play for reasons listed in rule 1.0.
    2. Referees may call tag determinations at their discretion.
    3. Referees oversee the safe conduct of games and therefore have the power to declare “STOP PLAY” whenever a safety concern arises.
    4. Referees enforce the rules enumerated in Section 4 (Equipment Specifications and Checking), and determine the classifications of equipment.
    5. Referees shall not be used in such a way as to gain protection or advantage in a game.
    6. The equal use of black and yellow in a design as well as the word “Referee” signify that a person is a referee or a non-participant. Players are forbidden from wearing such.
    7. Non-participants on the field must be approved by a referee (e.g. photographers.)
    8. Intentional illegal acts by a participant may result in immediate removal from any game, until a referee allows them re-entry. Referees are the arbiter of intent.
    9. Unintentional illegal acts that re-occur frequently shall be treated as intentional.
  2. Stop Play: In the event that a participant notices an unsafe situation or an injury that endangers another participant in a game. They MUST shout “STOP PLAY!” to begin a ”Stop”. All activity must cease while a referee assesses the situation. The game will resume when the referee calls “Positions” to prepare combatants for resuming and then “Play on”.
    1. Players must drop to a knee immediately when a “Stop” called and call “STOP PLAY!” as necessary to make all participants on the field aware. They should not move or re-equip during a “Stop” unless told to do so by a referee.
    2. It is illegal to call a “Stop” or use a “Stop” called by someone else to gain an advantage over a fellow player.
    3. Players must avoid using phrases that contain the words “STOP PLAY” or any words that could be misinterpreted as “STOP PLAY!” during a battle.
  3. All equipment must be inspected and properly marked according to the guidelines outlined in Section 4.4 before it is used in a game.
  4. The target of a hit has the authority to make tag determinations, but must defer to the discretion of referees.
  5. Creative interpretation of the rules to gain any advantage is illegal. The referee settles all disputes.
  6. Playing near the edges of a field, equipment piles, onlookers, or unsafe locations is discouraged.
  7. A player may choose to call themselves ‘Out’ and/or leave the field at any time by displaying being ‘Out’ in an appropriate manner, rule
    1.  Players may not re-enter the field until game-play has ceased or a referee has allowed re-entry. This must be done in a safe manner to get clear of the playing field boundaries and should not interfere with the ongoing game.



        1. Offensive equipment is hereafter called ‘Swords’. Swords can score valid hits on an another player hereafter called ‘Tags’. All swords must meet the requirements outlined in Section 4, Sword Specifications and Checking.
        2. Defensive equipment is hereafter called ‘Shields’. Shields give an in-game advantage to its wielder by preventing Tags. They should not be used to make contact with other players and cannot Tag. All defensive equipment must meet the requirements outlined in section 4.11.
          1. Shields are rigid objects that are padded on the front and sides and are equipped with handles or straps.
          2. A shield may not be constructed in a manner that would confer the advantage of unbreakable armor.
            1. Unbreakable armor is defined as a worn shield that shapes/forms closely to more than one target area, wraps around a limb unreasonably, and/or shapes/forms closely to multiple planes of the torso.
        3. ‘Protective Equipment’ is defined as equipment worn by the player for comfort or for protection against injury but gives no in-game advantage or protection from Tags. All protective equipment must meet the requirements outlined in section 4.12
          1. Protective Equipment is safety glasses, helmets, knee pads, shoulder pads, shin guards, groin protection, protective sports bra inserts, and all other padding.
        4. No single piece of equipment can be classified as both offensive and defensive equipment, (e.g. A sword cannot also serve as a shield or Protective Equipment).
        5. Miscellaneous equipment includes, but is not limited to, items such as: costumes, props, belts, pouches, boots, straps, scabbards, and non-padded clothing and headwear.
          1. While conferring no special rules advantage, miscellaneous equipment may be checked for combat safety at the referee’s discretion.
          2. Miscellaneous equipment cannot serve as offensive or defensive equipment regardless of the material(s) used.


      1. GAMEPLAY:

        1. Allowable contact:
          1. Sword to Sword contact is allowed.
          2. Sword to body contact is allowed on valid target areas using Tag-Legal surfaces.
          3. Body to Sword contact: Pushing, grabbing, or sweeping a combatant’s strike-legal surface results in a valid hit to the body location used for contact. Additional rules may be found in 3.12.
          4. Sword to Shield contact is allowed
          5. Shield to Sword contact: Shields may be used to deflect another player’s Sword.


      1. Disallowed contact:
        1. Head contact from any Swords or Shields.
        2. Shield to Shield contact: Shields may not be used to strike, move, or pin another player’s shield.
        3. Shield to Body contact: Shields may not be used to strike, move, or pin another player’s body.
        4. Body to Shield contact: Players may not manipulate another combatant’s shield with their body, including feet, knees, shoulders, hands, and elbows.
        5. Body to Body contact: Players may not make contact with other players. This includes grabbing, wrestling, punching, or kicking.
        6. Non-Tagging surfaces of a Sword to any Body, Shield, or Sword is not allowed.
      2. Target area definitions:
        1. ‘Body’: Area bounded by the base of neck (inclusive), shoulder-arm joint (inclusive), hip-leg socket (inclusive), groin, and buttocks (inclusive).
        2. Arm(s): Area bounded by the wrist (inclusive) and the shoulder-arm joint (exclusive).
        3. Leg(s): Area bounded by the ankle (inclusive) and hip-leg socket (exclusive). A foot is a legal target area. Any hit to the foot is considered a hit to the leg.
        4. Head: Area above the base of neck (exclusive).
        5. Hand(s): Area below the wrist (exclusive).
          1. An empty hand is a legal target area. Any hit to the hand is considered a hit to the arm.
          2. A hand on a Sword or Shield is considered part of that Sword or Shield.
        6. Feet: Area below the ankle (exclusive). A foot is a legal target area. Any hit to the foot is considered a hit to the leg.
      3. 3.4. Scoring a Valid Tag:
        1. A ‘Tag’ is valid when a Swords tagging surface makes Solid contact and an Audible Pop on a valid target area of another player.
          1. ‘Solid’ is defined as a successful hit to the area. Taps, grazes, significantly obstructed hits, and hits that come in contact with clothing only, do not count as ‘olid.
          2. An ‘Audible Pop” is defined as the sharp sound of boffer impact that should be easily heard by both participants of an exchange regardless of ambient noise. A swish, woosh, or tsssk, does not count as a Pop.
          3. Tags that are not Solid or Audible shall be communicated as insufficient by saying “light”, “graze”, or “clothing’ as appropriate.
        2. Players may grab their Sword any way they wish, including the blade/striking surface.
        3. Gripping the tagging surface of another player’s sword results in the disabling of that limb.
        4. Sheathed or otherwise worn Swords cannot block Tags.
        5. Players using protective equipment must take every tag to the protected target area. They are not allowed to call light or graze.
      4. Getting Out:
        1. A Player is Out When:
          1. Out by Referee: A referee may declare a player Out for any reason.
            1. The referee should inform the player there reason if the situation allows. Or else after the game.
          2. Body: If a player is tagged on the body they are out.
            1. A tag that hits both the body AND a either an arm or a leg is assumed to have hit the body.
          3. Disabled Limb: If a player is tagged on a limb that is already disabled they are Out.
          4. Second Limb: If a player is tagged on a limb and one of their limbs is already disabled they are Out.
            1. A single strike can only tag two target areas at once. If each contact could be considered a valid Tag. (e.g. If a sword hits across both arms, and each is solid and makes an audible pop.)
          5. Assasination: If a player touches a sword to another player’s back and says “Assassinate” loud enough for the unaware player to hear, the assassinated player is Out.
            1. This is to be used in field games where it is likely a player can be hit from behind without knowing its coming. Assassinate is a kindness that should be observed and failure to do so could result in removal from the field.
            2. Assassinate should not be used or taken in duels and situations where opponents are clearly aware of each other’s presence.
        2. 3.7.3. Out: When a player gets out they must call “OUT” and kneel, placing their sword or arm on their head. Players are only allowed to move if instructed by a referee or in order to move away from a potentially unsafe situation, when moving they should keep their sword on their head to signify they are out and moving off the playing field.
          1. Attempting to gain an advantage over other players by appearing dead or declaring they are out and then returning to play is illegal. (e.g. placing your sword on your head and waiting for someone to draw near.)
          2. Players cannot return to life or otherwise undo a bad call unless otherwise specified by a referee to do so. (e.g. if you call out and then realize you were only tagged on a limb.)
          3. Players may communicate “late” when their tag lands after they are out, nullifying the tag from their hit to other players.
          4. ‘In Motion’: If a player begins a swing before they get Out or their arm, that is swinging, is tagged then their Sword if making contact with a valid target area is considered to be valid. The swing may not change planes once the is hit (e.g. a fake on the player).
          5. Dropping equipment is not a valid show of being Out.
          6. If a player is Out, they must display and make it clear to those around them.
          7. Players that are out must not talk to those still in the game unless it is to indicate a potential safety hazard.
        3. Respawn:  Anytime you are joining a game you must announce “alive” before you can enter. Your tags do not count if by hopping into the game without announcing alive you gain an advantage over an opponent.
      5.  Disabled Limbs:
        1. All disabled limbs must be accurately portrayed at all times and tags truthfully reported when asked.
        2. One tag to a limb (arm & legs) disables that limb.
        3. Disabled Arm: A disabled arm may not hold anything and must be placed behind the back.
          1. ‘Magic Switch’: It is permissible to move a Sword or Shield from the ‘Disabled’ arm to the good arm immediately after a player’s arm is tagged.
        4. ‘Disabled’ Leg: When hit on a leg, the player must immediately do one of two things: Take a Knee or verbally declare they are Posting.
          1. ‘Taking a Knee’: Means the player kneels down on one or both knees. They are allowed to either shuffle on their knees or move in any way that doesn’t involve standing on one or both feet.
            1. Examples of legal non-shuffling movements include crawling, rolling, or lunging.
          2. Players who verbally declare they are ‘Posting’ may continue to stand. If their ‘Posted Foot’ moves after they have begun Posting, they are Out.
            1. Movement of the posted foot is considered the lifting of both the ball and heel of the foot at the same time, or sliding the foot from its original location along the ground.
            2. Rotating on your disabled leg’s foot is permissible unless the rotation causes a player’s posted foot to move a significant distance from their original location in any direction.
          3. When one of a player’s legs are disabled both legs are considered to be disabled, and a hit to either leg is considered results in an Out.
        5. Blocking with a Disabled Limb: If a tag is blocked by a Sword, Shield, or other protective equipment that is being held by or is attached to a disabled limb. The tag should be considered a tag to the player’s body.


      1. Additional Things
        1. Playing Field. Keep all fighting on the field. Do not hit parents or anyone who has not agreed to fight with you.
        2. Boundaries. Stay within the play area during games. Respect Hard and soft lines
          1. If a HARD line is crossed the player is defeated.
          2. If a SOFT line is crossed they must cease fighting and get back to the play area.


      1. 3.10. Shields:
        1. 3.10.3. Shields may be used in any reasonable manner and still be considered a shield.
        2. 3.10.4. Only one shield may be used by a player at a time.
        3. 3.11.3. Intentional shield contact to another player is illegal.
          1. It is illegal to use a shield in any offensive manner such as shield bashing, checking, edging, bumping, or pinning another player.
            1. Shield bashing is defined as a player charging another player and using the face or edge of their shield to make contact with their shield or body.
            2. Shield checking is defined as a player using the face or edge of their shield to make contact with another player while stationary or charging from two steps away or less, such that the combatant is able to stop their forward momentum within two steps.
            3. Shield bumping and edging is defined as a player using the edge or face of their shield respectively to make contact with another player’s shield or body.
            4. A shield brace is when a player plants themself in front of a moving player while holding or placing their shield in front of themself.
            5. A shield pin defined as a player pressing their shield into another player with the intention of restricting their motion. Or ability to use their equipment.
        4. 3.12.5 It is illegal for a player to use their body to try to move another player’s shield in any way. Such as shouldering, manipulating with your arm or hand, or kicking.
          1. Shield Kicking is when a combatant makes contact with another combatant’s shield with their foot.



        1. Definitions:
          1. Tagging surface: Padded surface of a weapon designed to make contact with a combatant during combat. Only the striking surface of a weapon may score a hit.
          2. Non-striking surface: Any padded surface of the weapon that is not a striking surface.
          3. Handle: Non-padded portion of the weapon designed as a handhold.
          4. Pommel: Non-striking surface that covers the end of the handle.
          5. Crossguard: Non-striking surface that separates the striking surface from the handle and is perpendicular to the striking section of the weapon.
          6. Hilt: The combination of the handle, pommel, and crossguard.
          7. Core: The center of the weapon used to provide rigidity and flexibility to the striking and non-striking surfaces attached to it.
          8. Sword: Any weapon approximating a medieval sword, constructed using either an edge/flat or cylindrical design.


      1. Padding and cover requirements:
        1. Padding on the tagging surface must have sufficient cushioning to prevent the core from being felt during a full-force hit.
        2. A minimum of 1 inch of 1.8 pound closed cell microcell polyethylene padding, or equivalent, is required.
        3. A minimum of 1.5 inches of foam is required between the top of the sword and tip of the core.
        4. Padding on the striking surface must have sufficient cushioning to prevent excessive stinging or bruising during a full-force swing.
        5. Tagging surface must be in good repair with no tears or indents.
        6. All striking surfaces must be covered by an opaque cloth. The cloth covering must be in good condition with no serious rips or holes, especially near the tip of a weapon.
        7. Cloth grip tape is not an allowable substitute for covering striking surfaces.
      2. Handles must be contiguous. It is not allowable to have a handle, tagging surface, and then an additional non padded handle.
      3. Tape may be used on striking surfaces under the cloth covering. However, the tape may not cause the weapon to hit too hard as determined by a hit test.
      4.  Template rules:
        1. Two and one-half inch rule : No surface on a  tagging surface may readily pass more than one-half (1/2) inch through a two and one-half (2 1/2) inch  hole.
          1. The weapon tip is exempt from the two and one-half (2 1/2) inch rule, rule 4.5.1, if the weapon has a semicircular tip with a minimum one and one-half (1 ½) inch radius.
            1. The template should be applied perpendicular to the end of the weapon. (ie: place the template flat on top of the end of the weapon.)
        2. Weapon pommels and other protrusions, such as the ends of crossguards, may not readily pass more than one-half (½) inch (1.3 cm) through a two (2) inch diameter hole.
      5. The maximum allowed flex of any sword is forty-five (45) degrees.
      6. All swords must be built to the following specifications:
        1. A sword must be no more than 34” in total length.
          1. Overall length is measured from the bottom of the pommel to the tip of the blade.
          2. The maximum handle length for a sword is eight (8) inches or one-third (1/3) of the overall length, whichever is greater. This cannot exceed one-half (1/2) of the overall length.
          3. The minimum overall length of a Class 1 is twelve (12) inches of contiguous tagging surface padding plus the length of the hilt.
        2. A single sword has no minimum weight.
          1. The maximum overall weight of a sword is 9oz.
          2. A sword can weigh up to 13oz as long as the tip weight does not exceed 4oz.
        3. The head referee of the field makes the determination on whether a sword can be used on the field
      7. Shields:
        1. Shields must be padded on the edges and face so as not to cause injury when struck with a forceful blow of an arm/hand.
          1. A Minimum of 1” of foam is required between the core of a shield and the surface.
          2. All-foam shields do not require any additional padding so long as the foam itself would be considered padding.
          3. Two and one-half inch rule: No surface on a  tagging surface may readily pass more than one-half (1/2) inch through a two and one-half (2 1/2) inch hole.
        2. Shields must not be constructed with a metal core.
        3. No part of the shield should have any sharp or pointed edges that could harm a user. Hard edges may not be exposed on any surface which can reasonably come into contact with another player or their equipment.
        4. The maximum width of a shield is 27 inches. Concave/curved shields will be measured along the curve of the face.
        5. The maximum height of a shield is eighteen (18) inches  less than the height of the wielder.
        6. The minimum dimension on the face of a shield is twelve (12) inches .
        7. Shield spikes are allowed for decoration but may not form any rigid protrusions.
        8. Shields must be reasonably rigid which is defined as the edges not bending towards each other excessively when attempting to bend the shield in half.
        9. Shield must have a fabric cover.
        10. A player may only wield one shield at a time.
        11. Must be gripped in a hand in order to be considered wielded. (no back shields).
      8. Prohibited Equipment:
        1. Entangling weapons (nets, lassos).
        2. Unmanned weapons (traps).
        3. Non-compliant double ended weapons (e.g. nunchaku, double-ended daggers, pommel spikes).
        4. Punching weapons (punching daggers, tonfas).
        5. Any weapon that, when used as intended, violates the rules stipulated in the Book of War or grants an excessive advantage.
      9. Protective Gear Checking:
        1.  Definitions:
          1. Composite: Armor of metal, leather, or both that is attached to another material backing and/or covering.
          2. Cops: Rigid knee and elbow armor.
          3. Gauntlet: Armor for the hands.
          4. Gorget: Armor specifically for the neck.
          5. Helmet: Armor for the head and neck..
        2. Armor must be inspected for safety by referees.
        3. Any piece of equipment or clothing required out of medical necessity should be checked by template
        4. Armor must not catch appendages such as fingers. This includes articulated plates and large diameter chains.
        5. Armor may not have ridged protrusions that rise more than one-half (½) inch (1.27 cm) from the surface.
        6. Prohibited Armor:
          1. Rigid metal knee or elbow armor (cops).
          2. Rigid metal full helmet. Rigid metal full helmet is defined as being composed of large metal plates that are attached together in a fashion that the helmet acts as a solid object. Partial rigid metal helmets as well as full helmets made of any other armor materials are allowed.
          3. Rigid metal hand armor.


    1. CLOTHING:

      1. Clothing is defined as the clothing to be worn on the playing field.
      2. During tournaments your team’s jersey is required to compete in awarded categories.
      3. A jersey is not required to play at practices and open field days, but is encouraged.
      4. Minimum clothing is the basic requirement for all participants. Minimum clothing is defined as:
        1. A shirt covering the torso.
          1. Wearing nothing on the torso is acceptable, so long as it does not violate any applicable laws, including laws of local municipalities, states, provinces, territories, or federal governments.
          2. Wearing undergarments, base layers, or gender affirming wear (including but not limited to: sports bras, binders, or compression shirts) is acceptable so long as it does not violate any applicable laws, including laws of local municipalities, states, provinces, territories, or federal governments.
        2. Pants, shorts, or sportswear..
          1. Skirts, Kilts, and Dresses are acceptable as long as appropriate shorts or sportswear is worn underneath.
        3. Footwear should fit properly. Bare feet or Sandals are acceptable.
      5. Forbidden items:
        1. Any clothing with offensive logos or designs.
        2. Accessories with sharp edges that could cause injury to any player or equipment on the field. Referees can ask players to remove accessories if they deem them dangerous.
        3. Any realistic swords.
        4. Cleats and spike shoes.