Bartitsu and more at CombatCon 2012

Dedicated to the intersection of Western martial arts with pop-culture, the CombatCon 2012 event will take place between July 6-8 at the Tuscany Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Instructor Tony Wolf will be teaching a two-hour introduction to E.W. Barton-Wright’s “Victorian mixed martial art”, concentrating on the art of blending between techniques and styles as may be required by the needs of the moment. He will also host a special screening of, and Q&A session in connection with the documentary Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes.

Other 19th century antagonistics classes at CombatCon 2012 include:

Bowies, Brawling and Cane: Fighting in the Old West
The Game of Little Papers
Gentlemen’s Pugilism: A Brutal Art in Refined Society
Advanced Dueling Sabre
Navaja: The Original Folding Bowie
The Footpad & The Cane

… and more besides, not to mention classes in fighting zombies and duelling with longswords, lightsabres and Klingon bat’leths!

There will also be a full programme of panels and demonstrations covering a huge range of martial arts, fight choreography and pop-culture genre topics.

CombatCon 2012 – where history and fantasy meet!

Bartitsu at CombatCon 2012

Bartitsu instructor Tony Wolf (left) will be teaching an introductory class among the many attractions of CombatCon 2012 at the Tuscany Suites hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada (July 6-8).

A confluence of Western martial arts with pop-culture entertainment genres (horror, pirates, science fiction, steampunk etc.), CombatCon offers a very wide assortment of hands-on classes, demonstrations, panel discussions and vendor’s booths. 19th century antagonistics were well-represented at last years’ convention, which also included a large “museum” room devoted to steampunk artifacts … who knows what else CombatCon 2012 has in store?

More from Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture and Martial Arts

The new Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture & Martial Arts center in Chicago’s Ravenswood area is a unique 5000 sq. ft., c.1900 facility, with classes  in historical swordplay, 19th century antagonistics and ‘old school’ fitness training.

Beginning in late January 2012, Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture & Martial Arts will offer:

* a fitness studio combining functional fitness training with modern nutritional counseling

* 19th century “physical culture” – workouts using calisthenics, Indian clubs, medicine balls, therapeutic gymnastics, body-weight exercises and games designed to create natural strength and grace with athletic performance

* the Midwest’s only full-time school for the study of traditional Western martial arts including historical swordplay – the art of the longsword, rapier, arming sword, as well as Bartitsu – the martial art made famous by  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved character, Sherlock Holmes

* classes with Chicagoland’s only licensed instructor in Martial Blade Concepts (MBC) self-defense – a nationally renowned system of hand, stick and knife defense designed for modern people with limited training time

* a “Gymuseum” of antique exercise equipment and 19th century prints portraying combat sport athletes in training

* an international center for education on the rich, sophisticated martial traditions of Western Civilization

* an innovative, eclectic series of workshops, lectures and unique social events.

New to historical swordfighting? Forteza Fitness, Physical Culture & Martial Arts will offer the Chicago Swordplay Guild’s ever-popular introductory classes in the medieval longsword and the Renaissance rapier! The C.S.G. will also continue to provide Introductory Classes at the Chicago Park District-Pulaski Park location as part of the CPD Arts Partners Program.

The website is coming soon; in the meantime you can contact the organizers for updates on classes, seminars and special events!


A tip of the hat to the Barton-Wright/Alfred Hutton Alliance for Historically Accurate Hoplology and Antagonistics (name explained here). A branch of the Seattle-based Lonin historical martial arts group inspired by E.W. Barton-Wright and by Captain Alfred Hutton, who taught both Elizabethan and contemporary (Victorian) fencing at the Bartitsu Club, BWAHAHAHA offers a comprehensive cross-training programme in 19th century physical culture as well as armed and unarmed antagonistics.

“Antagonistics” classes in Fife, Scotland

Announcing a new course via the Black Boar Swordsmanship School in Cupar, Fife, Scotland:


“Antagonistics” is the catch-all name for the art of self-defence in the 19th Century, comprising elements of Pugilism (boxing), French Kickboxing, Grappling (wrestling, jiujitsu, “dirty tricks”), Physical Culture (fitness), Stick (walking canes, umbrellas) and Weapons (knife, truncheon, swordstick).

Each aspect will be taught primarily according to the theory and techniques of Emile Andre, a noted French fencing master, who combined these Arts into a simple, yet effective, system of practical self-defence that any Gentleman who has knowledge of the sword arts can learn and apply easily.

The class will be taught as a mix of technical practice in pairs and pad-work for practical application.

The instructor will be Phil Crawley and the first class is free, thereafter £5 per session.

Equipment Requirements

Loose, practical clothing/Black Boar uniform, fencing mask, forearm protection.

Groin/chest protection is recommended.

All other equipment will be provided.

Victorian Antagonistics and more at the Black Boar Swordsmanship School (Edinburgh)

Black Boar North Edinburgh: First Class at 7pm, June 30th.

Black Boar Swordsmanship School’s North Edinburgh Chapter will have its opening session from 7pm to 9pm at the Calton Centre, Montgomery Street, Edinburgh. This opening session is completely free to attend by anybody of the age of 18 and over. It shall include an introduction to historical swordsmanship and the styles taught within the school followed by an introductory lesson in Smallsword.

The session is open to anybody interested in learning about historical swordsmanship over the age of 18. No previous experience is necessary.

Equipment is available to borrow for new students so the only things you need are clothes suitable for physical activity. Our venue also asks that all students wear non marking soft shoes, such as a clean pair of trainers, to protect the floor.

Black Boar North Edinburgh

Black Boar North Edinburgh is a new chapter of the Black Boar Swordsmanship School that has been running successfully for 2 years in Fife. The school is run by Ian Macintyre, a BFHS Certified Instructor, and historical fencer of 13 years experience. Ian is assisted by school Provost, Phil Crawley, who has over 2 decades of experience in European sword arts.

The North Edinburgh Chapter will follow the Black Boar curriculum of Military Sabre of the Leith School, Victorian Antagonistics and Smallsword of the early French style. The first course shall be in Smallsword from June 2011 and the third term will focus on Victorian walking stick systems:

Walking Stick – Cunningham / Bartitsu / Macintyre/ Rickeard

This style is as much of a street defence art as a duelling art and is based upon a number of styles from the late 19th and early 20th century, particularly the work of Cunningham. Walking stick in this style provides a sound foundation for principals, footwork and body mechanics that students will be able to apply to many other styles. It is also a very accessible art and a lot of fun.

Equipment required

* A wooden walking stick of approx 3 feet length
* A fencing jacket with body padding or a padded jacket
* A 1600N fencing mask
* Sturdy gloves, such as cricket gloves
* Forearm protection

The school will meet every Thursday from 7pm to 9pm at the Calton Centre. The Calton Centre has recently been fully refurbished and contains changing rooms, lockers and showers. It is convenient for public transport from London Road and Elm Row to most parts of the city and is only 10 minutes walk from Waverly Station.

For more information please see this site or look for The Black Boar Swordsmanship School’s page on Facebook.

Counting down to CombatCon …

A full list of CombatCon martial arts classes, demonstrations and panel discussions is now available online here.

Events and activities of special interest to Bartitsu/19th century “antagonistics” enthusiasts will include:

Manly Arts of Self Defense

In the late 19th Century certain activities were often classified as “manly arts”. This class will look at three of them: singlestick, pugilism and wrestling. The instructors will work together to show the similarities in a short presentation to begin. Then participants will choose between singlestick with Maestro Paul Macdonald, pugilism with Tim Ruzicki or wrestling with Ken Pfrenger. The class will culminate in a demonstration of these arts.

Class Length: 2 Hours

Instructors: Ken Pfrenger, Maestro Paul Macdonald, Tim Ruzicki

Bartitsu: The Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes

In the year 1899, Edward William Barton-Wright founded Bartitsu as a process of cross-training between walking stick fighting, boxing, kicking and jiujitsu. It was the first eclectic self-defence system blending Asian and European combat styles, intended to beat hooligans and street gangsters at their own game.

This introductory class will focus on classical Bartitsu defenses against an unarmed attacker via the use of jiujitsu and stickfighting, with a look at “combat improvisation”.

Please bring a crook-handled walking stick or strong 36″ dowel, with any edges smoothed away.

Class Length: 1 Hour

Instructor: Tony Wolf

19th Century Defense Against Thugs

Demo by: Tom Badillo and the Botta Secreta Demo Team

Catch-as-catch-can wrestling

Demo by: Ken Pfrenger & Dan Kanagie

Sword Feats

Demo by: Maestro John Sullins

Radaellian sabre

Calling all duelists, airship pirates, mechanized cavalry troopers, and others fond of carrying a sabre, come learn to do more than pose with that fine weapon! In this class we will learn a simple set of actions that will serve you well in your adventures. We will learn attacks, defense, counter attacks, as well as a number of special actions to get you out of those sticky situations you keep finding yourself in.
Equipment- If you want to practice with full contact, then thick padded protection for the hand, torso, upper legs, groin, weapon arm, neck and shoulder protection, cup, chest protectors, are required. If you want to practice without contact then thick clothing is required. A curved sabre is highly recommended, a straight bladed weapon will not be able to do many of the actions we will be studying.

Class Length: 1 Hour

Instructor: Maestro John Sullins

1904 Singlestick

The year is 1904 and Singlestick is the fourth fencing weapon at the Games of the III Olympiad, held in St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America. We will explore this expression of the martial sport as we have researched its use during the late 1890’s through 1910. Here is a sample video of our recreation.

Fantasy: Calling all sky pirates and Airship captains . . .
We will explore singlestick as a safe training weapon for your crews to learn how to defend and protect their airship. The wooden waster called the singlestick was also used as a training weapon on board naval ships when the officers wished to train their crews against boarding actions. “No need to blunt the cutlasses, Captain, when we have these perfectly good singlesticks. Save the steel for the pirates” cried the Master of Arms on the Airship Kalakaua.


Full fencing kit is recommended: Mask, gorget, fencing jacket, chest protector, left and right handed gloves, shin and elbow pads, and personal male and female protective gear. Required equipment, Mask, padded jacket, glove for weapon hand.

Class Length: 1 Hour

Instructor: Tom Badillo

Speak softly and carry a big stick …

The stick has been used as a training tool for different weapons as well as a weapon in its own right.

Participants can choose to study Garrote Larense stick and Machete fighting of Venezuela with Professor Bruno Cruicchi, Stick fencing with Maestro Jeannette Acosta-Martinez, Quarterstaff with Maestro Paul Macdonald or Bartitsu walking stick defence with Tony Wolf.

Class Length: 2 Hours

Instructors: Professor Bruno Cruicchi, Maestro Jeannette Acosta Martinez, Maestro Paul Macdonald, Tony Wolf

Creating your Steampunk universe

We will explore a process whereby an individual may construct their own personal storyline and context within the Steampunk world through story development, character creation, technological assessment, and the integration of actual places, people and wonders of the real world in which we live. The adventures of Major Vostok and the founding of the Pacifica Air Fleet will be used to illustrate how to create a niche for your character that fits into the surreal world of Steampunk fashion and technology.

Panel will include: Chris Villa and Tadao Tomomatsu.

Panel Length: 1 Hour

Film festival screening: Bartitsu – The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes

A documentary shot in Switzerland, Italy, the USA, and the UK that reveals the fascinating history, rediscovery and modern revival of the original mixed martial art, Bartitsu.

Theory and Practice of the Navaja

The instructional objective of the Theory and Practice of the Navaja workshop is to provide participants with a practical overview of the cultural knife arts of Andalusian Spain. The weapon that will be focused on is the navaja sevillana, a folding clasp-knife whose blade is believed to be the inspiration for the bowie knife that evolved in the American Southwest (a region originally populated by Spanish colonists).

Participants will be exposed to a hands-on familiarity with a dozen variations of Spanish fighting knives, including navajas (clasp-knives), puñales (stiletti), and salvavirgo (chastity knives). They will also learn the tactical rudiments of tirar la navaja, the methods of knife-play that evolved in Spain, including grips, guards, basic attacks, basic counter, and dexterity drills.

NOTE: Practice navajas will be provided for the class. There will also be trainers and navaja books available for purchase.

Victorian cane

Class Length: 1 Hour

As the ratio of police officer to general population of Victorian London was about 6000 to 1, it was wise for a Victorian of station to carry some sort of weapon for protection. Carrying a sword was no longer in fashion so, his or her walking stick or cane or parasol, a very common fashion accessory was the de facto choice of weapon.

“The stick is an excellent weapon, and in the hands of a good spadroon swordsman especially, wherefore I have frequently urged you to extend you fencing lessons . . . to spadroon . . . a straight sword, lighter than a Highland broadsword, and made to cut and thrust . . . fencing with a spadroon is a combination of Highland broadsword practice with that of a small sword.” Baron de Berenger page 57 – Defensive Gymnastics.


We will be exploring the tactical and strategic concepts and tactics for personal defense from the book Defensive Gymnastics by Lt. Col. Charles Random, the Baron de Berenger. This work was published in 1832, three years before Victoria was crowned Queen.

Present day:

How we, in the 21st century, can benefit from these early 19th discussions of situational awareness and fundamentals of personal defense.

One example: from page 47: “Wanton Assaults, either to gratify vulgar insolence, or to lead to a quarrel, perhaps to facilitate robbery, are practiced mostly under the guile of assumed intoxication. When you see a fellow staggering towards you whether really drunk or pretending inebriety, give him all the room you can; take no notice of anything he may say or do, not stop even to look but proceed on as if you had not even seen him.“


A simple cane or hook/crook cane that will with stand impact of cutting drills.

Class Length: 1 Hour

Instructor: Tom Badillo

Antagonistics: Bartitsu seminar in New York City

Announcing the Antagonistics Weekend, a two-day long Bartitsu seminar with Professor Mark Donnelly in New York City:

Learn to fight like Sherlock Holmes! London’s Bartitsu Club was all the rage in 1899, but only recently has this lost martial art been rediscovered. Learn the “gentlemanly art of self-defense” at workshops taught by Professor Mark Donnelly, a world-renowned expert on historical combat.

Be part of history at Bartitsu’s NYC debut!

* Learn to use a walking stick, parasol, jacket, and other accessories for protection
* No martial arts experience required.
* A study in self-defense and in history.


Saturday and Sunday, July 23-24, 2011
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
34 West 28th Street
Fifth Floor
New York, NY 10001

Check out the NYCSteampunk website for further information!

Edwardian Antagonistics at SWASH 2010

Advance notice of SWASH 2010, the flagship conference event of the British Federation for Historical Swordplay. The 2010 conference will take place on February 20 and 21 and will be held at the magnificent Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, UK. The programme includes a significant emphasis upon the “antagonistics” (martial arts and combat sports) of the Edwardian period, as well as classes in the swordsmanship of the Medieval, Renaissance and Regency eras.

The Saturday schedule includes a lecture by Bethan Jenkins entitled Apaches, garrotters and roughs, oh my! – Ruffianism panics and their relation to historical defensive arts.

This will be followed by A caution to the gentleman about town – a demonstration of various dastardly night attacks, in which Dr. Milo Thurston, Ian MacIntyre and James Marwood will present various techniques of robbery attributed to the Apaches (Parisian gangsters), based upon the writing of French self defence author Emile Andre.

Muggers in London colour

This presentation will followed by A brief introduction to Edwardian antagonistics – cane, savate, pugilism and ju-jitsu presented by Dr. Milo Thurston, Ian MacIntyre and James Marwood.

On Sunday Mark Donnelly will present a lecture entitled Kernoozers and Antiquarian Antagonistics being an informative discourse regarding Hutton, Castle, Burton, Allanson-Winn, Barton-Wright and the Victorian foundations of contemporary researches.

Surely a conclave not to be missed!