The difference between "SCA Rapier" and "Period Rapier" ("English Sword") is obvious at a glance and even more so when you pick them up; the typical SCA weapon being about half the weight.
The "SCA" is the Society for Creative Anachronism, an international non-profit organization based in Milpitas, California. Many are familiar with its general rules of play for lightweight rapier-like weapons, which vary by region but still provide a convenient reference point. But while we fence in roughly similar techniques, there are two big differences. First, we do not follow the SCA's conventions of "acting out" wounds or "fighting down a leg." Second, we use period techniques such as grappling and strong grasping of the opponent's blade, which the SCA prohibits, ironically, based on modern fencing!
The Sword Club accepts virtually any weapon the SCA allows. An "SCA rapier" has a blade between 25 and 40 inches long and has a straight grip. It usually has quillons forming a cross guard. Its hilt may resemble that of any sword from 1450 to 1650. Its tip is blunt – typically a bowhunting "bird blunt" – under a safety tip of rubber or plastic with a metal nut or washer inside it. The blade must bend to cushion the blow of a "normal" impact on a person.
Defensive weapons include daggers (flexing, safety-tipped), bucklers and various parrying devices. Defensive clothing such as the SCA requires is recommended, but we often simply use modern fencing jackets. The SCA requires a gorget to protect the throat; we recommend it. The SCA requires a hood covering the back of the head; we do not. For us, costume is neither a goal nor requirement: our members might fence modern foil and change to SCA Rapier and then German Longsword.
Manner of play
While we do not employ the SCA's unrealistic, conventionalized acting out of losing the use of legs or hips (??!), we do find it useful and instructive to switch hands when the sword hand or arm is hit.
We accept a light touch similar to the SCA's as a valid scoring hit, but do not require you to hit lighter than modern foil. The equipment system allows us to play competitively while attempting to adopt the teachings of period masters. This is not to say we either require period manners or techniques, nor even set a great example of them, but we do encourage these as we can.
Because we crosstrain with modern athletic fencing, our techniques are usually more footwork-intensive than usually seen in the SCA. We are also more likely to use quicker disengages and other blade moves drilled at modern-foil speeds.
Among the period sources we follow are Liechten- auer and di Grassi, and, in the future, a bit of Fiori dei Liberi. Painful experience and a hard floor keep us from going too far into wrestling, throws, forcing things and high impacts.