Grappling is a form of combat that has touched many cultures and civilisations. At empire it is allowed but it is restricted to one on one combat while in anvil. If you step outside for a quest or any such thing, then you may not grapple.

Something I wasn’t sure about was whether or not you could just do it on the spot or if you had to have planned it out in advance. I decided to contact PD and they told me that and I quote: ‘The ref will then check that both parties know what they’re getting themselves in for’. This means that as long as everyone is fine with it, you can just have a grapple with a random person in any safe location as long as a referee is present.

If anyone reading this has martial arts experience, feel free to reply to this topic, it might be useful for people to know who they can approach if they want to do some grappling. My current character would not be interested but my next one might.

Thank you for reading.


When they say grapple i think they mean like the description picture on the wiki, combatants are armed and trying to stab each other with short weapons, i.e. dagger or wand, while stopping the other from stabbing them, not wrestling, judo or aikido grappling.

As much as i love aikido i couldn’t and wouldn’t trust people on the field to do the sort of things i do in the dojo, ground conditions the way they are, inexperienced people and adrenaline all ask for injuries on a Larp field.


My experience of grappling at Empire and other larps is similar to theSwordGuy; two people who know each other and with clear intentions ‘slow fighting’, rather than using actual martial arts moves.


Could one of you email PD to find out. I would but I think they may be sick of me as I keep emailing about various things.

If what you say is true, knowing martial arts can still make it easier to stop a combatant from stabbing you and make it more visually interesting. I’m sure some of you have done some defence against knives (and before anyone goes: ‘ah that explains it, he one of those crazy guys who think they can fight anyone and I way to in to martial arts’, I do understand that it is a last resort thing).

Of course there is the kneeling grappling which is a lot more safe an informal. You can’t leave you knees so there is no throwing involved and as long as you don’t go to crazy, you aren’t going to get hurt. I would trust almost everyone to do this.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so hasty but the only reason I assumed it was all kinds was that first started this picture under a picture of two orcs fighting with unarmed combat and when I asked if it was staged, I was given a response about grappling.

I don’t know, I think I’m more confused now but thank you both for your reply.


If you go and watch an Orc pit fight you’ll see that it’s pre arranged stage fighting akin to WWE or something coreographed from a film, looks amazing and it’s because the orc players involved spend time practicing to do so safely.


Okay, so do they plan it out before hand then or do they just practise the moves they may use and see where it goes from there?


I am a trained fight director and my wife trained in choreographed wrestling, but I am still working from photos and anecdotes rather than first hand experience here.

Everything I have seen from the Orc pit screams choreographed, as in fully planned and hopefully rehearsed but with contingencies. In these fights, you know which moves will happen in which order. If something goes wrong, you know how to either get back on track or how to bring it to a quick end. Yes, things go wrong and some of the blood is real, but that’s the risks you take and a big part of the reason why you keep other people away from the fight.

The advantages here are that you can make big and impressive attacks, you can hide blood pouches in the right place for the wounds you have planned and you can have healers prepped to do their best work because they bring the right props and tools. Most of all though, you make it as safe as possible and don’t get some twonk slamming you into a wooden palisade that nobody checked for nails, splinters and thorns. In theatre, I have had fights go wrong, but the rehearsals and the prep work meant that people pulled blows in time to leave bruises rather than broken bones.


Well that is good to know. I have done a bit of choreography myself but nothing serious. I learnt how difficult it is to get someone who isn’t trained in martial arts, to do something simple, so I definitely wouldn’t try grappling someone who I knew had no clue (unless of course we were kneeling as I mentioned above but maybe you aren’t allowed to do this at empire, I’m not sure, maybe I should send them another email).

What I do know is that ref and the participants have to check the area to make sure it is safe. This means, if you know what you are doing, you are just as likely to get hurt doing that then someone is in one of the battles. I don’t know, maybe I am the crazy guy I said I wasn’t, I don’t know any more.


The orc pit isn’t always choreographed, from the experience I had. You are buddied up with an experienced player before you go in and have a chance to talk OC about any OC injuries or concerns before you go, with a vague overall expectation of how the fight will go.

It’s all very much blows pulled but you can still fall hard even if you can break fall so it’s not without risk.

I bloody loved it though, I would totally do it again with another character if my physical health improved.

I don’t know what the experienced players do between themselves, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do a lot more.


So is there a limit on what you can do? I assume you can’t do any throws using wrist or finger locks or anything like the rice bail (that is what we call the throw anyway) but is striking, chokes, regular locks, throws and such things all okay? There is a lot of mystery surrounding it. One day I would like to do it and so I don’t want to expect one thing and find it is something else.


The aim is to not really touch your opponent, but let them instead roleplay the act of taking the blow. I certainly wouldn’t apply any locks or try any throws. You go for the punch, sure, but you’d never do more than lightly touch them. It’s nothing like martial arts where you punch through.

At point when the opponent ran at me I dropped to one knee and let them roll over my back. We did do some struggling on the floor with my arms pinned but it wasn’t a lock. If nothing else, endless floorwork is boring to the audience.

It’s difficult to take your blows because you have to rely on seeing your opponent do it and react accordingly, it’s sometimes hard to remember that had they really punched through it you’d be screaming with a broken nose, or if they’d really thrown you against the wall (rather than you hurling yourself backwards at it) you’d be properly winded. Learning to fake your response to ‘hits’ is a really big part of the showmanship and it’s the losers that really make the show worth watching. Noises help, uttering guttural grunts and shouts help!


Sounds great. I really enjoy grappling, it is something I can’t get enough of but I think it would be better knowing I’m not hurting the other person. I can see some of the people around me just suddenly switch when they grapple and become a lot more aggressive but I find that I never do. It means I don’t like to go as far as they do because I feel bad about it.


Don’t confuse ‘grappling’ in Empire with the martial arts term. A better terms might be ‘play fighting’.

I would advise that if you end up in a grappling situation at Empire, don’t use any martial arts knowledge. No locks, holds or throws. It’s contactless fighting intended to look good, not be accurate.

If you use a martial arts maneauver, even at a slow speed, you risk injuring your opponent.


I think I’ve been confused from the start, it might be a good idea if I delete this topic and let someone else start a new one who understands what is going on.


Nah you’re good, you’ve had some useful stuff explained so hey I’m sure it’ll be useful for someone in the future who reads this :slight_smile:.


True and my username covers me as well. I still don’t completely understand but hopefully someone will.