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Thread: Cross-Straps Illegal?

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    Cross-Straps Illegal?

    I went to a sabre tourney in Ohio today and had an interesting issue occur, both with the same ref, about the legality of cross-straps on masks. PS, if YOU are the ref in question (or the head ref, for that matter), no worries here, dude. I am not complaining here about what you did nor trying to misrepresent you; I only want a definitive answer.

    He ruled that the cross straps on my mask were illegal in both pools and DE's. A horrible MSPaint drawing of my mask is attached, but it's a Blue Gauntlet sabre mask with two crossing straps from the top to opposite middle, forming an 'X,' and a single horizontal middle one.

    For pools, since I didn't have a rule book on hand and didn't want to be ornery, I removed the two straps that formed the 'X,' leaving the horizontal one.

    This was not desirable as it not fit very loosely on my head. When pools ended, I went to call a good friend and rated ref on the subject. He said my mask was good and texted the rule back to me with citation, quoted below.

    M.25.7f:
    The mask must contain a horizontal safety strap at the rear of the mask, with the two ends of the strap firmly affixed to the two sides of the mask. This strap may be elastic or of any other material that may be approved by the S.E.M.I. Commission.

    Redoing my mask with the cross strap, I went to my first DE bout, with the same ref. Again informed that this was illegal and I appealed (risking a red card for removing a yellow was a trade I was willing to make for my mask to fit comfortably).

    Head ref was summoned and explained to me two things:
    1) Only one horizontal strap across the back of the mask is allowed, according to the text of the rules, BUT
    2) If the mask bears an official inspection mark, the ref must accept it as is (it was).

    So, now the only reason my mask was allowed was, following from the head ref's pronouncement, the armorer did not check it properly. This unfortunately leaves me with a quandary in all future tournaments. So, does anybody here know of the current USFA legality of cross-straps? Is this just a misapplied rule or is this how the high-level referees and armorers interpreting this rule?

    Pictured below is my crappy MSPaint drawing, the key is:
    Gray = Mask (1 total)
    Red = velcro the starps attach to (4 total)
    Blue = the elastic straps (3 total)
    Yellow = the tongue (1 total)
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Quote Originally Posted by Birdman1011395 View Post
    I went to a sabre tourney in Ohio today and had an interesting issue occur, both with the same ref, about the legality of cross-straps on masks. PS, if YOU are the ref in question (or the head ref, for that matter), no worries here, dude. I am not complaining here about what you did nor trying to misrepresent you; I only want a definitive answer.

    He ruled that the cross straps on my mask were illegal in both pools and DE's. A horrible MSPaint drawing of my mask is attached, but it's a Blue Gauntlet sabre mask with two crossing straps from the top to opposite middle, forming an 'X,' and a single horizontal middle one.

    For pools, since I didn't have a rule book on hand and didn't want to be ornery, I removed the two straps that formed the 'X,' leaving the horizontal one.

    This was not desirable as it not fit very loosely on my head. When pools ended, I went to call a good friend and rated ref on the subject. He said my mask was good and texted the rule back to me with citation, quoted below.

    M.25.7f:
    The mask must contain a horizontal safety strap at the rear of the mask, with the two ends of the strap firmly affixed to the two sides of the mask. This strap may be elastic or of any other material that may be approved by the S.E.M.I. Commission.

    Redoing my mask with the cross strap, I went to my first DE bout, with the same ref. Again informed that this was illegal and I appealed (risking a red card for removing a yellow was a trade I was willing to make for my mask to fit comfortably).

    Head ref was summoned and explained to me two things:
    1) Only one horizontal strap across the back of the mask is allowed, according to the text of the rules, BUT
    2) If the mask bears an official inspection mark, the ref must accept it as is (it was).

    So, now the only reason my mask was allowed was, following from the head ref's pronouncement, the armorer did not check it properly. This unfortunately leaves me with a quandary in all future tournaments. So, does anybody here know of the current USFA legality of cross-straps? Is this just a misapplied rule or is this how the high-level referees and armorers interpreting this rule?

    Pictured below is my crappy MSPaint drawing, the key is:
    Gray = Mask (1 total)
    Red = velcro the starps attach to (4 total)
    Blue = the elastic straps (3 total)
    Yellow = the tongue (1 total)
    Good lord what a cluster...

    Firstly, yes, lots of fuss over the cross straps has been made in the past; they do not meet the letter of the rules and while I'm not sure I've ever heard a good argument for disallowing them on the basis if safety but they've generally been deemed illegal as is. IIRC there's no rule against having the crossing straps in addition to a regular horizontal one as additional safety or whatever just because you want to. I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure that part is ridiculous. Lastly, nothing about an armored approving illegal equipment which is later found to be illegal means it's acceptable. If it's illegal on the strip and found to be so it's illegal unless there's some sort of house rule/force majeur exception (e.g. there are no blue markers, vendors or stencils available so we won't require names this event because there's no practical way to get them). You don't rule something illegal and then say, "but they missed it so it's fine" any more than you'd allow a lane b/c the fencer turned it in with a dead spot that the armorer somehow missed.
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    Posting Hound Purple Fencer's Avatar
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    *sigh* another ref not understanding the intent of the rule.

    The purpose of the mask strap is to help keep the mask on your head. Using only the cross-straps is not going to work, since the point at which they cross is so high up on the skull as to be utterly worthless...really crappy design there....about as good as wearing the strap across the tongue instead of actually on your head.

    However, all you have to do is move one of those strap to the horizontal position and you're good to go.

    Ruling a mask illegal because of innefectual straps in ADDITION to the one that's good is just dumb.

    The head ref was also wrong about the rule....saying that the make must have "a" safety strap is not the same as saying is must have only ONE safety strap.

    Did no one ask the armorer about this?? From your description, probably not.
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    Are the cross straps, used in tandem actually ineffectual? I've heard a few armorers say this and others disagree but I've never heard of anyone actually showing it or proving it*.


    *Legit question.
    I now dangle to the left....my tassle. Get your minds out of the gutter.
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    Posting Hound Purple Fencer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigdawg2121 View Post
    Are the cross straps, used in tandem actually ineffectual? I've heard a few armorers say this and others disagree but I've never heard of anyone actually showing it or proving it*.


    *Legit question.
    Next time you see one of those on someone, look at where the crossing straps his the head. It tends to be more across the corners of the head than across the back...there isn't a lot of good contact to to the job compared to a single strap across the back.

    I'm really amazed that a ref would claim it was illegal to have too MUCH in the way of safety straps.....
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    Senior Member SJCFU#2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Purple Fencer View Post
    Next time you see one of those on someone, look at where the crossing straps his the head. It tends to be more across the corners of the head than across the back...there isn't a lot of good contact to to the job compared to a single strap across the back.
    Of course since m.25.7.f doesn't say a thing about where the horizontal elastic strap is to be positioned it would be possible (albeit unlikely) for a mask with a horizontal strap to provide less protection than the diagonally crossed straps on the BG mask (IIRC the word "horizontal" wasn't even added to the rule until after a certain SEMI chair saw diagonal straps on a BG mask).

    However a judgement that only a horizontal strap is permitted simply boggles the mind.
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    The answer I got from Dan DeChaine at a NAC is that as long as there is one horizontal strap the mask is legal. I asked because I ran into a similar problem at a tournament shortly before the NAC.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Purple Fencer View Post
    Next time you see one of those on someone, look at where the crossing straps his the head. It tends to be more across the corners of the head than across the back...there isn't a lot of good contact to to the job compared to a single strap across the back.

    I'm really amazed that a ref would claim it was illegal to have too MUCH in the way of safety straps.....
    Soooo the answer to my question is that no one actually knows? Saying "hey look at it, I don't think it would work as well" is not the same as actually saying "we tested it and it doesn't work as well". Even given odd angles might the two strap configuration work as well as one horizontal strap? If the location of the horizontal strap on the head matters (and I'd agree it probably does), shouldn't we specify that too so that the strap is placed horizontally across the lower of the two attachment points rather than the upper or vice-versa as the case may be (you know, once someone actually bothers testing the various configurations for their efficacy instead of relying only on intuitions however good or bad they may be)?
    I now dangle to the left....my tassle. Get your minds out of the gutter.
    "Martin was not an optimist; he was a prisoner of hope." Optimism is about assuming there's evidence that justifies your outlook while hope is about creating the evidence and procuring your own happiness or vision of the world. - Professor West

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigdawg2121 View Post
    Soooo the answer to my question is that no one actually knows? Saying "hey look at it, I don't think it would work as well" is not the same as actually saying "we tested it and it doesn't work as well". Even given odd angles might the two strap configuration work as well as one horizontal strap? If the location of the horizontal strap on the head matters (and I'd agree it probably does), shouldn't we specify that too so that the strap is placed horizontally across the lower of the two attachment points rather than the upper or vice-versa as the case may be (you know, once someone actually bothers testing the various configurations for their efficacy instead of relying only on intuitions however good or bad they may be)?
    36-standback.png Please don't confuse me with any facts. My mind is already made up.
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    What if you fence with your head at an angle, so that one of the cross straps becomes horizontal?

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    What's wrong with the normal strap you get supplied with on a mask?

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    That IS the strap that came supplied with the mask.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carlos View Post
    That IS the strap that came supplied with the mask.
    Oh. I've never seen a mask with a strap like that. BG aren't big over here. If it's a well known manufacturer then you probably got on the wrong end of officiousness.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Purple Fencer View Post
    *sigh* another ref not understanding the intent of the rule.

    The purpose of the mask strap is to help keep the mask on your head. Using only the cross-straps is not going to work, since the point at which they cross is so high up on the skull as to be utterly worthless...really crappy design there....about as good as wearing the strap across the tongue instead of actually on your head.

    However, all you have to do is move one of those strap to the horizontal position and you're good to go.

    Ruling a mask illegal because of innefectual straps in ADDITION to the one that's good is just dumb.

    The head ref was also wrong about the rule....saying that the make must have "a" safety strap is not the same as saying is must have only ONE safety strap.

    Did no one ask the armorer about this?? From your description, probably not.
    As I watched the scene unfold from afar, it all happened in front of the bout committee and the armorer was not brought in. And yes, I removed the offending straps so that only the horizontal remained.

    As an anecdote about the effectiveness of the cross strap design by BG, I put on my mask just now and realized that the cross-straps were the only ones firmly gripping the back of my head and horizontal actually didn't even touch my head. Worried that I now could tell my mask was unsafe, I tried to take it straight off and, yes, the cross-straps quickly lost hold. But I wasn't unable to remove my mask because of the third and horizontal strap that effectively blocked in my head. So, anecdotally, yeah, the three strap design used by BG is effective for me.

    I should also mention that the cross strap design is actually an alternative for the BG mask I have, but have sense lost the padding that you had to remove cause I preferred this style.


    Oh and for Gav, and others, here's a picture of my mask because I forgot that we now have the technology to do this.

    EDIT: Oh, and as another interesting bit, the head ref said that the whole "horizontal strap" thing was instituted because of Leon Paul masks that only had cross straps and were falling off of people heads at NAC's. So, who knows? I do find it interesting that I've never noticed high-level sabreurs using cross-straps or that silly plastic bowl that Leon Paul masks have...
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Birdman1011395; 02-12-2012 at 07:38 PM. Reason: Forgot about Leon Paul
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    Oh and for Gav, and others, here's a picture of my mask because I forgot that we now have the technology to do this.
    Cheers!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Birdman1011395 View Post
    EDIT: Oh, and as another interesting bit, the head ref said that the whole "horizontal strap" thing was instituted because of Leon Paul masks that only had cross straps and were falling off of people heads at NAC's. So, who knows? I do find it interesting that I've never noticed high-level sabreurs using cross-straps or that silly plastic bowl that Leon Paul masks have...
    Err, The LP x-change masks (both visor and normal) seem to only come in "contour fit". I suppose they COULD retrofit one to be non-contour fit, but why would they? It's much more comfortable, safe, easy to get on and off, and replace if it breaks.

    Which is to say, I think you're probably just not noticing, but they are being worn.

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    IIRC Tim Morehouse and pretty much the entire GB team wears LP comfort fit masks. That should satisfy your high level fencer wearing them criteria.
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  18. #18
    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    There's also mariel2_2.jpg


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    Ok, I'm not noticing it because of how the big horizon strap (like in Inquartata's picture) just looks like a simple single strap while they fencing. Also, gives further credence to my mask being A-OK, which saves me from laying down another 90 bucks for a new one (I lost the equipment to switch it around).

    EDIT: Also, thanks for answering my questions, cats!
    Last edited by Birdman1011395; 02-12-2012 at 08:50 PM. Reason: My manners

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJCFU#2 View Post
    Of course since m.25.7.f doesn't say a thing about where the horizontal elastic strap is to be positioned it would be possible (albeit unlikely) for a mask with a horizontal strap to provide less protection than the diagonally crossed straps on the BG mask (IIRC the word "horizontal" wasn't even added to the rule until after a certain SEMI chair saw diagonal straps on a BG mask).
    I saw one exactly like that at the scholastic today...there was a horizontal strap in a decent position, and a 2nd one up under the tongue...almost midway between the ears and the top of the head! No WAY that would do the job! I didn't see the make.
    However a judgement that only a horizontal strap is permitted simply boggles the mind.
    Agreed.
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