Gladiatorial combat

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Gladiatorial combat
Highest governing bodyGuild of Gladiators
First playedAncient Caphiria
Team membersSingle competitors
Mixed genderSeparate competitions
TypeHybrid weapons-based combat blood sport
VenueIndoor court/arena or outdoor court/arena
GlossaryGlossary of Gladiatorial terms
Country or regionCaphiric Latin world

Gladiatorial combat is a hybrid weapons-based full-combat bloodsport which participants using smart technology in a protective carbon-fiber armored suit compete in individual combat tournaments. The sport is a full-speed, full-force, full-contact competition with all major vital points of the body being covered and protected by the advanced armor, known as “The Lorica suit”, completely protects its user's body while electronic sensors record an opponent's strike position and power on the body. Opponents use a variety of martial arts and weaponry to attack each other and software keeps score of the damage that would have been done to an unprotected body. The official rules of gladiatorial combat have allowed non-lethal - but equally dramatic - combat since the mid 21st century. Matches can be won a number of ways, ranging from gaining 3 "points" on their opponents armor, which has hundreds of sensors and monitors that allow for impact velocity and blade direction to be taken into account. Another popular form of gaining a victory is the knockout, which allows for the armor to send an electromagnetic shock through the body and lock-up the fallen competitor.


Gladiatorial combat is regulated by the Guild of Gladiators, which defines the rules of the sport, specifies the equipment and facilities required, organizes international competitions, and regulates the transfer of athletes. The Guild also acts as the labor union for gladiators, and it owns and operates the Gladiatorial Combat League (GCL) which is the largest gladiator combat promotion company in the world and features on its roster the highest-level fighters in the sport.

The Gladiatorial Combat Regulatory Commission is the main body of the Guild that deals with the actual regulatory issues, maintaining and updating the rule set, and providing guidance across the sport.


The rules for gladiatorial combat are set by the Gladiatorial Combat Regulatory Commission of the Guild of Gladiators and are codified in the Codex Belli, literally Laws of Battle. Every gladiatorial organization and promotion, professional and amateur has to adhere to the Codex Belli.

Classes and divisions

Per the Codex Belli, Gladiatorial combat is divided into 7 weight classes and combat divisions. The official weight classes are: Featherweight (up to 145 lb), Lightweight (up to 165 lb), Middleweight (up to 185 lb), Crusierweight (up to 205 lb), Light Heavyweight (up to 225 lb), Heavyweight (up to 245 lb), and Ultraweight with no upper weight limit.

Gladiators are able to compete outside of their weight class in the Open Combat Division.

Weight class Upper weight limit
Featherweight 145 lb (65.8 kg)
Lightweight 165 lb (74.8 kg)
Middleweight 185 lb (83.9 kg)
Cruiserweight 205 lb (93.0 kg)
Light heavyweight 225 lb (102.1 kg)
Heavyweight 245 lb (111.1 kg)
Ultraweight N/A

There are 7 combat divisions, each with a specific focus and these arts may be trained to improve in that area. It is common for a Gladiator to train with multiple coaches of different styles or an organized fight team to improve various aspects of their game at once. Cardiovascular conditioning, speed drills, strength training and flexibility are also important aspects of a Gladiator's training. Some schools advertise their styles as simply "Gladiatorial combat", which has become a style in itself, but the training will still often be split into different sections.

The current combat divisions are:

Combat division Allowed weapons
Unarmed Combat Division No weapons allowed; only mixed martial arts disciplines allowed
Melee Combat Division Any legal melee weapon is allowed (Pointed weapons, Edged weapons, Blunt weapons)
Pointed Combat Division Exclusively for spears, pikes and almost all pole weapons
Edged Combat Division Exclusively for swords, axes, fighting knives and daggers, etc.
Blunt Combat Division Exclusively for clubs, maces, war hammers, staves, and flails, etc.
Ranged Combat Division Exclusively for bows, crossbows, slingshots, shurikens, etc.
Open Combat Division Allows for a mix of weight classes and combat divisions


Victory in a match is normally gained either by getting 3 "points" on their opponents armor, which has sensors that allow for impact velocity and blade direction to be taken into account, by the judges' decision after an allotted amount of time has elapsed, a stoppage by the referee (for example if a competitor can not defend himself intelligently) or by knockout which allows for the armor to send an electromagnetic shock through the body and lock-up the fallen competitor.

Pinfall: As soon as a gladiator is receives 3 hit points on their armor due to legal strikes, his opponent is declared the winner.

Knockout (KO): As soon as a gladiator receives a critical blow, the armor will send an electromagnetic shock through the body and lock-up the fallen competitor.

Technical Knockout (TKO):

  • Referee stoppage: The referee may stop a match in progress if:
    • a gladiator becomes dominant to the point where the opponent cannot intelligently defend them self and is taking excessive damage as a result
    • a gladiator appears to be losing consciousness as he/she is being struck
    • a gladiator appears to have a significant injury such as a cut or a broken bone or malfunctioning armor

Retirement: a gladiator is so dazed or exhausted that he/she cannot physically continue fighting. Usually occurs between rounds.

Decision: if the match goes the distance, then the outcome of the bout is determined by three judges.

Forfeit: a gladiator or their representative may forfeit a match prior to the beginning of the match, thereby losing the match.

Disqualification: a "warning" will be given when a gladiator commits a foul or illegal action or does not follow the referee's instruction. Three warnings will result in a disqualification. Moreover, if a gladiator is unable to continue due to a deliberate illegal technique from his opponent, the opponent will be disqualified.

No Contest: in the event that both gladiators commit a violation of the rules, or a gladiator is unable to continue due to an injury from an accidental illegal technique, the match will be declared a "No Contest", except in the case of a technical decision in the unified rules. A result can also be overturned to a no contest if the gladiator that was originally victorious fails a post fight drug test for banned substances.

Fighting area

According to the Codex Belli, an gladiatorial competition or exhibition may be held in a ring, fenced area, or enclosed space. The fenced area can be round or polygonal, and cages may have a metal fencing or mesh net. The rules only state that the contest must be held in an enclosed space that is isolated from spectators for safety reasons.

Leagues and tournaments

The Gladiatoral Combat League (GCL) is the largest professional gladiatorial league in the world, and since the its acquisition by the Guild of Gladiators in 1991, no companies have presented significant competition and the GCL is regarded as having most of the top ranking talent. Gladiators usually get contracts in the GCL after competing successfully in other gladiatorial promotions from around the world.

Some gladiatorial promotions tend to exist more to build up prospects while others have a good mix of prospects and veterans. Some exist only to be feeder leagues to the bigger promotions, others exist to try to be the best in the world. Some promotions only do four shows a year while others are doing them monthly.


Despite the advanced technology, protected armor, and numerous safety preparations available, a recent systematic review concluded that the injury incidence rate in gladiatorial combat appears to be greater than in most, if not all, other popular and commonly practiced combat sports.

A meta-analysis of the available injury data in gladiatorial combat, the injury incidence rate was estimated to be 378.2 injuries per 1000 athlete-exposures (one athlete-exposure is defined as one athlete participating in a single fight). This incidence rate is greater than in other full-contact combat sports such as judo (44.0 injuries per 1000 athlete-exposures), taekwondo (79.4 injuries per 1000 athlete-exposures), amateur boxing (77.7 injuries per 1000 athlete-exposures), and professional boxing (118.0-250.6 injuries per 1000 athlete-exposures).

In preliminary results reported in April 2032 as part of an ongoing study of 109 professorial gladiators, fighters with more than three years of combat experience were observed to have reductions in size in their hippocampus and thalamus, while fighters with more than seven years of ring experience were observed to have both reductions in size and symptoms such as memory loss (the hippocampus and thalamus deal with memory and alertness).

A recent report in 2035 found that 41% of all active gladiators have sustained at least one concussion and 19% have received repetitive play-related head blows, which have been shown to be the cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which has led to player deaths and other debilitating symptoms after retirement, including memory loss, depression, anxiety, headaches, and sleep disturbances

The list of former gladiators who either been diagnosed post-mortem with CTE or have reported symptoms of CTE continues to grow, and 27% of all retired gladiators suffer from mental health issues such as dementia, Parkinson's disease, and depression.