This woodcut provides an encyclopedic overview of physical exercise in the British Army…
The Illustrated London News of March 28, 1868 illustrates the main exercises and equipment used to keep British Army troops in peak fighting condition at Aldershott in Surrey. Of interest to the fencing historian is the pair of fencers engaging in the broadsword practice.
Sword instruction in the British Army was firmly controlled by the London-based and well-connected fencing master dynasty of the Angelos, who sign responsible for the instruction manuals from the Napoleonic Wars to the end of the 19th century.
Both fencers are protected by sturdy fencing helmets and plastrons not unlike those used by the Royal Navy. The system is a late derivative of Angelo’s Highland Broadsword Exercise of 1798/99 (here put in motion by the Cateran Society) and rooted in old European cut fencing systems.
Of particular interest to connoisseurs of European martial arts is the presence of a quarterstaff man to the left.