What is Antagonistics?


Antagonisitcs is an old fashioned word that covers the myriad of ways that you can deal with someone who is antagonising you; or to put it simply the practice of dealing with an opponent. During the Victorian era this became specifically applied to the use of archaic weaponry and so turned into the beginnings of the historical fencing or historical European martial arts (HEMA) movement of today. So when we use the term antagonists we mean training the martial art of historical weapons.

Of course, like Bartitsu, there is no unbroken line of tuition from when these arts were used in earnest and so we must relearn them from material written at the time. The revival of antagonistics really began in the late 19th century with men like Alfred Hutton and Egerton Castle. Initially as presentation pieces for demonstration purposes but over time developing into actual research and combative training. Over the last hundred years there has been growing interest in these lost martial forms and many people have done great work unearthing material and interpreting it.

When Hutton and Castle started out there group they used to train at the Bartitsu club in London. At one side of a hall would be men training to fight like gentlemen whilst at the other side would be those studying the fighting of knights and musketeers. Cross pollination occurred and many studied with both groups and that is something we wanted to emulate and encourage at the Bartitsu & Antagonistics Forum.

Further Information


To find out more about hsitorical fencing please visit the Historical European Martial Arts Alliance website.


For more UK based information then please check out the British Federation of Historical Swordplay website.

Current Weapons Taught

The main weapons currently being trained in the Bartitsu & Antagonistics forum are:

Walking Cane & Umbrella – This is mostly covered in the Bartitsu side of the syllabus and almost exclusively focuses on the works of Pierre Vigney and Barton-Wright.

Suffrajitsu Demonstration 2015

Shillelagh – Prominently focusing on the Doyle style of Irish stick fighting but incorporating techniques from some other family styles.

Sabre / Single Stick – Based largely on the work of Alfred Hutton this for of sabre is a training weapon in preparation for war. This allows us to focus on technique for good fencing or on realistic manoeuvrers as the need arises within the same system.

Cutlass – Naval cutlass was never really documented as a fighting style so single source exists on which we base our work. It comes instead from naval exercise drills and anecdotal references from maritime diaries to piece together a working system.

Bayonet / Pool Cue – Based again on work done by Alfred Hutton this is adapted from military use to provide a practical self defence method.

We are constantly evolving and researching new areas of study and as such the range of weapons studied will change depending on the collective interests of the group.