PHFL Ladder Tournament Challenge Rules


Piedmont League Boundaries

The league boundaries are defined as any location that is no more than 6 hours driving distance on Google Maps from both Raleigh and Atlanta. 


The Piedmont League has a set list of official primary events that count toward standard longsword rankings. In addition, ladder league fights may officially take place any secondary events in the area. Secondary events are any events in the league boundaries that are open to any participants and that include attendance from at least four different clubs. These need not be competitive events. Both primary and secondary events count toward minimum participation requirements in the Ladder League. Fights may also be resolved at any other venue where the judging requirements can be met, including in-house club gatherings, though these don’t count toward participation requirements. 


The ladder tournament's schedule will be divided into four quarters each year, each in three-month blocks (Q1 = Jan through March, Q2 = April - June, etc.). An RSVP will be sent out for each quarter so other fighters can know who will be available during the quarter.


Minimum Participation Requirements

Fighters in the ranking must commit to regular participation or else their inactivity may hold up the progression of fighters below them. To be considered active, fighters must respond to quarterly RSVP surveys. These surveys are a 30-second form letting us know which events you will be attending during the quarter. This allows us to coordinate challenge fights. If you do not respond to the RSVP, you will pulled out of the ranking and put on a leave of absence for that quarter. If you miss two RSVPs, you will be removed from the ranking altogether. At this point, to re-join you must start back at the bottom.

At the end of the season, fighters who have not received or made a challenge during the year will be removed from the ranking. If they wish to begin again, they will need to re-enter the league at the bottom of the ladder.


Fighters who aren’t interested in participating in the ladder league anymore are encouraged to let the league know so they can be removed from the ranking, as a courtesy to other fighters. 

Leave of Absence

Fighters are encouraged to take a leave of absence in any case where they may not be able to accept challenges due to extenuating circumstances (injury, life events such as a birth or marriage, extended travel, etc.). This will temporarily remove the fighter from the ranking and allow others to pass by. There is no penalty for taking a leave of absence provided the fighter still meets the minimal participation requirements listed above. If so, fighters returning from leave will resume their original ranking. However, fighters who have a bout scheduled when they go on a leave of absence will have to count that fight as a loss. 

Fighters in the top 5 ranks who take a leave of absence will need to win their way back into the ranking. Returning fighters get one challenge that can be made to anyone at their previous rank or below. If they win, they assume the rank of the defender, bumping everyone else down a place. If they lose, they will be placed in 6th place.  

Geographic Requirements

Provided that fighters meet the minimum participation requirements, they do not need to be from clubs located within the boundaries of the Piedmont Historical Fencing League to participate. 


The ladder league will initially be longsword bouts only. 

New Participants

New participants should contact us by email ( if they wish to be added to the Ladder League ranking. 


New Participants

New fighters not in the initial ladder seed will be added to the bottom of the ladder on a first-come-first-served basis. 


Challengers always fight those above them in the ranking. When a challenger wins a fight, he or she jumps ahead of the defender in the ranking, passing other fighters ranked between them, if applicable. When the challenger loses a fight, both righters remain at the same rank. 


Challenge Rules

The following general rules apply to challenges:
•    Fighters may challenge anyone up to three levels above them. 
•    Fighters may not choose to refuse a challenge. 
•    You may only issue one challenge at a time
•    You may only be challenged by one person at a time. Challenges against you are made on a first-come-first-served basis. 
•    No waitlists. If you are already booked for a fight, you cannot book a follow-up fight behind it. If you are challenged to a fight, you may not attempt to issue a challenge of your own until after you have resolved the first fight.


Immediate rematches are not allowed. If you lose a fight, you may not fight the same opponent again until you’ve fought at least one other fight. You also may not challenge the same person to a fight twice in a row, even if you defend your rank between those challenges (exception: the 2nd place fighter may re-challenge the champion after first defending his position).

Cool Down Challenge Rules

After each fight, there is a cooling off period where special rules about challenges are put into play for both fighters. 
•    If you were the defender, you cannot be challenged again during the cool down period. 
•    If you were the challenger, you cannot challenge again during this period. 

This cool down period allows defenders a time to issue a challenge of their own, and gives challengers a chance to in turn be challenged. The cool down period ends after one week, though it resets if another fight occurs. 

Challenge Fight Logistics

How to Issue a Challenge

For convenience, most challenges should be issued in the Ladder League Facebook group. This allows you to tag and notify the recipient, and provides a public record of the challenge. You may also directly contact your opponent through email (though if you do, please copy the league email: Either method keeps the League in the loop and allows us to log the challenge officially. Once a venue is settled, the League will send or post confirmation to let you know that it has been logged. 

Setting the Venue

Fights must take place at the next event (primary or secondary, see Definitions above) where both fighters are in attendance. Neither fighter is obligated to change their plans to attend an event, but if both fighters plan on attendance and the event has time for free sparring, the fight should be scheduled then. Fighters may also plan to meet outside of a Piedmont event (during club practices, at non-Piedmont gatherings, or other venues) provided both fighters agree to the venue. 

If there is no time within three months where both fighters plan to be in the same venue together, then the challenge is not valid and is cancelled without effect. The challenger is free to challenge someone else, or to wait to re-issue the challenge closer to a mutually attended venue. This ensures that fighters won’t be reserved for long periods of time stalling out movement in the ladder. 

Schedule Changes

Once both fighters agree to a fight venue and the fight is officially scheduled, that fight is permanently on the books and details can’t be changed. If one of the fighters has a change in plans and cannot make the fight for any reason, the fight will count as a loss for him as it applies to ranking and the post-fight cooldown period will begin at the time of cancellation. Because there are any number of unavoidable reasons why a fighter legitimately might have to miss a fight (injury, illness, family issues, finances, etc.) this policy seems harsh. However, in a league as diffuse as ours, rescheduling has a ripple effect down the ladder, stalling out fighters waiting for its outcome. Since the effect of any single loss (either no movement for the challenger or the loss of one place in the rank for the defender) is relatively minor, we believe this policy is the best overall option. 

Exception 1:  No ranking changes are made for fighters in the top 5 places when there is an unavoidable change. The League needs to approve this exception and has final say about what is considered unavoidable. If approved, the fight is immediately cancelled without effect.

Exception 2: Conditions that cause both fighters to miss the fight (event cancellation, natural disaster, etc.) with automatically cancel the challenge without effect. 

Event Surveys

Since many challenge fights will be settled at events, the Ladder League will help facilitate communication about who will be attending. Prior to the event, a League survey will go out to all Ladder League participants. This will be a short, 30 second survey asking all fighters to RSVP their status for the event. We will then post a list of fighters who plan to be at each event so challenges can be made. These surveys will be mandatory and are an essential part of coordinating challenge fights, so a few rules and considerations apply:
•    Surveys deadlines will be at least one month from the date of the event, if possible. 
•    Fighters will have at least one week to file their survey. 
•    Surveys are an essential part of the minimal participation requirements for the Ladder League, so they must be returned by all participants to be considered active. 
•    In case of technical difficulties, RSVPs may be sent to instead.

League Communication


All notifications, including event surveys, will be sent out through the Ladder League Facebook Page and email list. 


The Ladder League ranking, list of upcoming fights, and other material will be made available on the Piedmont Historical Fencing League’s website. 


Questions can be posted on the Ladder League Facebook Page or emailed to