HEMA Game Archive


How the game is played/scored. This should be information about WHAT to do, but please save WHY for the "Design" field.

Additional rules could be added because:
- You've decided that the game is better in every way with the new rule.
- You found a *slight* tweak that makes a small difference in a meaningful way. (If it's a big enough change just make a new game and tag it as a variant of this one.)


Why the rules are designed the way they are. What are the core skills targeted, and possible weaknesses.
Descriptions of the design iterations, failed attempts, or changes in thoughts are also helpful to other coaches.


Notes on what coaches have noticed playing this game with their students.


Video or article links

Finnish Chicken

Uploaded by Sean Franklin on 2021-04-09
Tags:   decision_to_commit | measure | ballistic_passing_step | finnish_chicken |


Both fencers start out of distance in right Vom Tag. As they move closer to each other they are allowed to pick one of two actions:

  1. Direct cut to the head from the right*.
  2. Parry against the cut to the head from the right**.

This can be played with either free movement, or starting a fair distance out of range and not allowing any retreat.

*If they both attack, look at who was moving forward and who was standing still. In just about all cases one person didn't move their feet and thus were clearly attacking in response to their opponent instead of parrying. Auto-lose.

**If you can't tell if someone was parrying or attacking it is also an auto-lose. Make it clearer. This isn't sparring, it's a game with rules that you need to follow.

(added 2023-01-20 by Sean Franklin)
(added 2023-01-20 by Sean Franklin)
(added 2023-01-20 by Sean Franklin)
(added 2023-09-16 by Nathan Weston)
Note (added 2023-01-05 by Sean Franklin)

As you can see from the articles linked, I have spent a lot of blood sweat and tears trying to get people to do a good job playing this game. It seems people really want to swing out of measure and lose to their opponent parrying them.

Note (added 2023-02-22 by Stephen Cheney)

This game is called "Finnish Chicken" because it was introduced to us in the US by Finnish longsword coach Kristian Ruokonen. The way I initially understood it was that you were not allowed to retreat, I don't know if that was an original rule or not, but because of that the game became a game of chicken, seeing how close you can get before pulling the trigger on an attack or defense. Allowing retreats takes reduces the "chicken" aspect, and you can even play it like soviet foil if you want. 

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HEMA Game Archive
Developed by Sean Franklin
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