Combat Saber Tournament 2016

The 2nd annual Combat Saber Tournament was held in Singapore at Liang Court, on 2 December 2016.

Faster strikes, more targets and longer duels! This was a big improvement over last year's setup. The action started at 6 pm as 12 combatants battled over 3 hours across 66 duels to win the top prize os S$1200 cash. 2nd and 3rd place walked away with S$800 and S$400 respectively. Tournament format was held in stages, round robin elimination.

First up, rules of the tournament.

2 combatants duel in an octagon arena 8 meters wide. The targets are the base of the hilt, weapon hand up to elbow plus head. Other targets were not allowed as the Combat Saber System is based on an unarmored blade combat martial art, so taking out the opponent's weapon hand is the first priority.

1 point is awarded for mutual hits on the hand. Consecutive strikes from hand to head are with 3 points. 1 point is loss when they step out of the arena for 3 seconds. 1 point is also lost when they hide their hand or hold chamber for 3 seconds. If they drop their saber, 3 points are loss. The combatant with the highest points after 45 seconds wins the duel.

How hits are scored.

Sabers and Gear

Standard sabers were provided, but at this level, all combatants came with their own sabers. 32" blade length, no hand or cross guards allowed. Ultrasaber, Vaders Vault and Sabermach sabers were the only sabers used in the tournament. Protective headgear is compulsory and lacrosse style gloves were used for the best flexibility and protection. Forearm and elbow guards are optional as they add weight and limit mobility.

Earning their right to compete. The Top 12.

The top 12 earned spot after 2 months of gruelling qualifiers from a larger pool of 25 combatants. The 12 were randomly split into 2 groups or 6, where they battled round robin style till the top 4 from each group advanced.

As the duels progressed, individual strategies began to surface, along with a variety of fighting styles. Combatants had to stay consistent to secure wins to progress to the next stage. Too many ties or losses meant being eliminated.

Top 12 battles (1 of 3)

Top 12 battles (2 of 3)

Top 12 battles (3 of 3)

Group A (Top 12) Scorecard

Group B (Top 12) Scorecard

The Crew of 2016

Most of the crew were combatants from last year, so it was a fresh experience for them to see the tournament unfold from a completely different perspective. The scorers had the most fun when it came to getting the results first hand. Shocking results were met very audible "WHAAAAAAAT".

As with all events it wouldn't be possible without the help and support not just the scorers, but the official time keepers, judges, referees, commentators, photographers, videographers, medical crew, and of course the fans and fellow combatants that came down to show their support. Huge thanks as well to Liang Court for hosting the tournament.

A glimpse of the random pre-duel starts seen throughout the tournament.

The Top 8, consistency wins!

As we got closer to the grand finals and combatants were eliminated, the duels became more deliberate and precise, no one wanted to make mistakes. Less points were won and the score lines became tighter.

You could score a lot of hand hits, but lose out if you offered your head. This new scoring mechanic made it important to focus on timing, precision and footwork to move around the tight octagon.

Quarter final battles Part (1 of 3)

Quarter final battles Part (2 of 3)

Quarter final battles Part (3 of 3)

Quarter finals (Top 8) Scorecard

Exhibition duels. The crew can battle too?!

Before the tournament, mini hourly workshops were held to let fans have a feel of saber combat. In-between duels, fellow members that weren't competing jumped in to battle other non-combatants as well. Even the MC and referee joined in the battles!

Exhibition duels, a diverse mix of styles.

Battle for 3rd place + epic Team Sarah vs Team Johnny.

Sarah, Mus, Daryl and Johnny made it through a long hard fight starting from qualifiers to go through 21 other combatants to get to the top 4. This year we added a 3rd place slot, which added even more duels before the finals. By that time they were operating on pure willpower and adrenaline.

The most anticipated match of night started around 8:30pm. Both bruised and battered, Johnny and Sarah faced off in the finals. Like true professionals, they stayed at proper range, did not let emotions get the better of them and respected each other's safety. Sarah managed to rack up a couple of hand to head bonus points but Johnny came up tops with his sneaky low-line attacks, taking the lead towards the end.

One amazing fact, Johnny never loss a battle and took the 2016 championship title with a flawless win streak. This is one record that will stand for many years to come. Or maybe not? ;)

Semifinals - Sarah vs Mus

Semifinals - Johnny vs Daryl

3rd place - Mus vs Daryl

Finals - Johnny vs Sarah

Finals (Top 4) Scorecard

Closing thoughts

As the combatants gain more skill with each passing year, more and more duels will start to become available. Watch out for team based tournaments, double saber battles and even saber staff duels! See you all next year and train like your life depended on it. The 3rd tournament will surely be bigger and better.