In the old days when the Toriatal was used, two warring Vulcan nations that fought over a land that was already devastated by conflict, would choose champions to represent them in battle. These warriors met in single physical combat to the death with the victor gaining the land and the loser forced to abandon their find.
As part of the challenge, a truce was maintained between the warring parties until the champions fought in combat which prevented others of the faction from engaging in hostilities. As part of the tradition, one was not capable of refusing the challenge. Those who envoked the rite had the right to choose which weapon for the battle.