Non-Combativity Rule Has Changed

The International Fencing Federation (F.I.E.) has changed the Non-combativity Rule and US Fencing has implemented the change beginning February 14, 2019.

The rule only affects direct elimination bouts and team matches.  The old Non-combativity Rule was as follows:

If there was approximately 60 seconds without a touch being scored the referee would progress the direct elimination bout to the next 3-minute period without a break, or if the non-combativity occured in the last period of the direct elimination bout, the referee would award priority randomly to one of the fencers and continue the direct elimination bout for a 1-minute overtime period.  At the conclusion of the 60 seconds of overtime, the fencer in the lead would win or, if the score was tied at the end of overtime, the fencer with priority would be declared the winner.

The new Unwillingness to Fight Rule is completely different from the Non-combativity Rule.  When there is one minute of unwillingness to fight, the Referee sanctions one or both fencers with a P-card as follows:

  • If the fencers are equal: the Referee sanctions both fencers with a P-card.
  • If the fencers are not equal: the Referee sanctions the fencer who has the lower score with a P-card.

P-card sanctions are as follows:

  • For a fencer’s first P-card sanction, the fencer receives a P-yellow card.
  • For a fencer’s second and third P-card sanction, the fencer receives a P-red card.
  • For a fencer’s fourth P-card sanction, the fencer receives a P-black card. If the fencers are equal and receive P-black cards simultaneously, the fencer with the higher initial seeding wins the bout, as determined at the start of the competition.

P-Cards are not cumulative with other penalties. P-Card penalties exist independently of other penalties incurred during a bout. For example, a fencer with a P-Yellow Card and no other penalties who commits a Group 1 offense should be sanctioned with a Yellow Card.

For more information see the following references:

  1. US Fencing Announcement of Unwillingness to Fight Rule
  2. Unwillingness to Fight FAQ
  3. Rules Commission Blog re. Unwillingness to Fight Implentation