What to Expect at Practice this Season (2018)

A Need to Be Organized

One of the best unforeseen results of the Fencing Survey everyone took a few weeks ago, was getting to hear everyone’s excitement to get back to practice. Whether it was to be with friends, get back to fighting, or having fun, you all expressed an excitement to get back to what you love about the group. I also really enjoyed hearing many of you are motivated to advance in rank towards becoming a Swordsman. I share in your excitement for what this season holds. The Officers Corps has been hard at work this winter to make sure your hopes are not only realized, but exceeded. 

Last season, both the Order of the Rose and the entire Shire of Terrasylvae experienced a growth spurt of members, guilds, and activities. As a group, we’re branching out into new territories and building something together. Something bigger than ourselves that we may not see the affects of for years to come. This growth is amazing to see, but with it comes the added responsibility to organize ourselves so that everyone may experience our group to the fullest.

As the group grows, things can become unclear or assumed to be understood and with just over a week left before the season starts I want to ensure that that is not the case. In this week’s Woodland Watch, I want to address many of the administrative topics of how the group works and what is expected at practice instead of assuming that these things are understood by all. My hope is that moving forward, members will understand how they advance from Newcomer to Master Swordsman, what practices will be like, and what standards we hold the Order of the Rose to.


Practices will still be held every week on Friday evening from 5:30 p.m. until about 9:00 p.m. They will typically be held at Woodland Park, but may vary based on availability. Our Fencing Season runs from the first Friday in March until the last Friday in October, which we keep up to date on the Terrasylvae Calendar.

Each practice will cycle through the following three themes: Dueling, Melee, or Open.

  • Dueling Practice: Practice will focus on the skills and trainings of fighting as an individual.
  • Melee Practice: Practice will focus on the skills and scenarios of fighting in a melee or group battle as a team.
  • Open Practice: Practice will focus on fencing with friends while resting from our regular training and lesson schedule. No lessons from the Training Manual will be taught on these days. Instead the first hour will be used as an Open Workshop, for students to work one on one with mentors or officers on the skills they have recently learned or are hoping to refine. Masters and Apprentices can also use this time to work together.

The first full hour of practice (6:00–7:00 p.m.) will be dedicated to lessons, unless it is an Open Practice which will be an Open Workshop. 

During lesson time, members in the Training Program (Newcomers, Initiates, and Novices) will receive a single lesson appropriate for their rank from an assigned Officer who may be assisted by a Swordsman. Taking multiple lessons or lessons after the first hour, will not be allowed.

Swordsmen who are not assisting in any lessons will work with the Master Swordsmen during the first hour. Training and activities for Swordsmen will be planned by the Master Swordsmen.

The Order of the Rose Training Program

We train all those who desire to become skilled swordsmen through the use of the Order of the Rose Training Program.

Participants in the Training Program will progress through the following ranks as they complete the rank advancement requirements:

  • Newcomer
  • Initiate
  • Novice
  • Swordsman

Progressing Through the Training Program

All students of the Training Program begin with the rank of Newcomer. Newcomers focus on gaining the basic skills of fencing, enough that they may participate in all the various activities held at practice.

Newcomers will be taught the following lessons:

Once a Newcomer has completed all of the Newcomer lessons, listed above, they may schedule a Newcomer Review & Test Match with a Sergeant, who will review and ensure the Newcomer has met the following criteria. If the Newcomer meets all criteria and passes the Test Match, the Sergeant will recommend them for advancement to the Captain.

  • Complete and Demonstrate understanding of all Newcomer Lessons
  • Know what the Four Levels of Importance are
  • Set a goal to obtain fencing gloves
  • Pass a Test Match with a Sergeant

Initiate → Novice

Newcomers who advance to the rank of Initiate will continue developing fundamental skills that we believe all fencers should possess.

Initiates will also be given a simple notebook that will be used as a personal Fencing Journal. This journal should be used to record lessons, thoughts, and progress of the student, by the student, through the rest of the Training Program.

Initiates will be taught the following lessons:

Once an Initiate has completed all of the Initiate lessons, they may schedule an Initiate Review & Test Match with a Lieutenant, who will review and ensure the Initiate has met the following criteria. If the Initiate meets all criteria and passes the Test Match, the Lieutenant will recommend them for advancement to the Captain.

  • Complete and Demonstrate understanding of all Initiate Lessons
  • Describe how to apply the Four Levels of Importance
  • Set a goal to obtain a gorget and, if applicable, a codpiece
  • Pass a Test Match with a Lieutenant

Novice → Swordsman

Initiates who advance to the rank of Novice will continue learning skills and tactics that will lead students into developing their own style and focus as they move towards becoming a Swordsman. Novices should focus on experiencing the breadth of what fencing has to offer, discovering what they have interest studying further, and developing the qualities expected of a Swordsman.

Novices will be taught the following lessons:

Once a Novice has completed all of the Novice lessons, they may schedule a Novice Review & Test Match with the Captain, who will review and ensure the Novice has met the following criteria. If the Novice meets all criteria and passes the Test Match, the Captain will approve their advancement to the rank of Swordsman.

  • Complete and Demonstrate understanding of all Novice Lessons
  • Describe why we hold ourselves to the Four Levels of Importance
  • Set a goal to obtain a fencing mask and sword
  • Review the Swordsman’s Oath
  • Pass a Test Match with the Captain

Swordsman → Master Swordsman

Upon completion of the Training Program and taking the Swordsman’s Oath, students will graduate to full members of the Order of the Rose. Under the direction of the Master Swordsmen, they will continue their journey, developing their own style and understanding of fencing.

A Swordsman’s journey can lead to Officership, Apprenticeship, or to further advancement by gaining the rank of Master Swordsman. The Rank of Master Swordsman was created to ensure the well being and longevity of the Order of the Rose. To become a Master Swordsman, one must meet the following criteria:

  • A person must exemplify the Four Levels of Importance
  • A person must have ten years of fencing experience
  • A person must have been a contributing member of the Order for the Rose for five total years
  • A person must have studied under at least two Masters
  • A person must have trained at least three Apprentices
  • A person must have their own personal kit
  • A person must have attended at least ten wars
  • A person must have participated in at least five tournaments
  • A person must have won at least one tournament
  • A person must be approved and selected by the other Master Swordsmen

If you have a desire to become a Master Swordsman after graduating from the Order of the Rose Training Program, work with one of the Master Swordsmen to set goals and push yourself in your training.

Additional Notes

We feel, as Officers, that with the added organization being clearly defined this year the Order of the Rose will run more smoothly and allow us to focus more on the members of the group than running practices. Here are a few smaller updates that may be of interest to the members of the group:

Two New Officers

This year we will be officially adding two new roles within the Officers Corps: the Exchequer and the Quartermaster. These roles have always been in the group and have been filled by various officers, but they will now be officially recognized as part of the Officers Corps. The Exchequer and the Quartermaster will work alongside the Sergeants and Lieutenants, under the direction of the Captain, to help run the group.

The Exchequer’s main responsibilities will be to track and record gear rental fees and expenditures. All group fees or donations should be given directly to the Exchequer.

The Quartermaster’s main responsibilities will be to oversee the loaner gear and ensure that all equipment is returned promptly and in good repair. Any issues with loaner gear or equipment should be directed to the Quartermaster.

Gear Rental Fees

As always, we would rather everyone be able to come and be a part of the group than charge a lot of money to participate. That’s why the first month of training is free. After the first month, we ask for a flat–rate of $5 on the first Friday of each month to use the loaner gear. All monthly fees are given to the Exchequer or a Lieutenant and then go back into the group to be used to fund activities or maintain and replace gear. While members with their complete kit are not expected to pay the rental fee, donations in any amount are appreciated and will be received with all due thanks.

If members are concerned with the monthly gear rental fee, members should talk with the Exchequer or the Captain. Monthly fees may be waived by providing service to the group, or by acquiring a personal set of gear (Sword, Helmet, Gorget, and Vest). Each fencer must be up to date on their monthly fees, before they are allowed to use loaner gear.

Scenario Planner

This season’s focus is on Melee. We want to train and learn, not only how to dominate on the field, but also how to create new, fun scenarios. If you have an idea for a Scenario, we are asking that any scenario is submitted through the Scenario Planner. If you need some help using the tool, review the How to Use the Scenario Planner Guide.

Code of Conduct

We believe that any person who has a desire to join us and is able to follow the rules and guidelines set by the Order of the Rose and its Officers, should be allowed to join. We believe that there is a place for everyone around our fire. We are a safe haven for outcasts, vagabonds, and misfits who need a family like group of friends. This is the very core of what the Order of the Rose and Terrasylvae is.

Because of that, we expect all of our members to help build Terrasylvae and any of its guilds up. Within the Order of the Rose specifically, we hold our members to the following Code of Conduct:

  • Follow all the guidelines laid down by the Order of the Rose and its Officers.
  • Play within the rules and respect officers and their decisions.
  • Promote the positive aspects of Order of the Rose.
  • Encourage participants to value their performances and not just results.
  • Set a good example by recognizing fair play and applauding the good performances of all.
  • Respect and properly use any and all loaner gear provided by Order of the Rose and others.
  • Pay any groups fees for gear rental or events promptly.
  • Publicly accept Officer’s judgements.
  • Use correct and appropriate language at all times. We believe in developing a family-friendly environment for all ages. Language, topic of conversation, jokes, and other public activities should be appropriate for all participants
  • Never condone rule violations, rough play or the use of prohibited substances.
  • Never punish or belittle a participant for losing or making mistakes.
  • Members are not allowed to consume or participate under the influence of alcohol or illegal/illicit drugs of any kind in or around the venue or whilst participating in group activities.

Every member of the Order of the Rose must fill out and return a completed Code of Conduct & Accident/Injury Waiver form before being allowed to fence. Guests from outside the Order need to provide proof of competency via authorization cards from HEMA or the SCA before they will be allowed to fight with the Order. For safety, members who wish to participate in fencing must be at least 14 years old. If you have not filled out a Waiver or need to update your waiver, please use the link below or ask an Officer for a copy.

Print Code of Conduct & Accident/Injury Waiver

Final Thoughts

With only a week left before the fencing season begins, we hope that many of you will join us again this year. We also hope many new members will come to share our fire and the joys of being in Terrasylvae and the Order of the Rose.

If you know of anyone who may be interested in the group and learning more about us, please tell them about it, ask them to come, or share the group on social media. Also make sure that you keep in touch with the group by joining the Texting Group or Facebook page!