UTRECHT, NETHERLANDS – The Dutch Lions Cup tournament, hosted by Zwaard & Steen, concluded its third year on August 25th, 2018. The tournament drew competitors from 14 different countries, including Europeans and North Americans. The women’s longsword division had 18 competitors, some of which were high profile names such as Michela D’Orlando, Majken Roelfszema, Carla Huvermann, and Jane Johnston who were all ranked in the top 25 of women’s longsword on hemaratings.com as of August 22nd, 2018. All of the semifinals and medal finals can be viewed on YouTube.
Jane Johnston was the only woman representing North America at the Dutch Lions Cup. This would be her first time fighting in a European tournament, making her one of the few women to cross over and start combating the “island effect” seen in the rankings on hemaratings.com. Hemaratings.com acknowledges the limitations of their rankings such as the “island effect”. In their own words “The ‘Island Effect’ is what happens when you have a division with little or no overlap between subgroups. For example: imagine that there’s a large group of active sabreurs in Norway, South Africa and Australia. All three scenes oranize multiple tournaments over many years, but never travel abroad to compete with the two other nations. All scenes have a fighter who sticks out as the best beating everyone else in their country…The question now is, who’s better, the Norwegian, the Australian or the South African sabre champion? The truth is that without “cross-polination” between the scenes it’s impossible to know because the three scenes are essentially “islands” in the sea of sabre with independent ratings”.
Women of HEMA asked Jane what she thought of fighting in Europe for the first time against new opponents under a new ruleset. She said “It was exciting! I love playing under different rules with different people, it really tests me and helps me find weaknesses in my fencing. I found a few at the DLC and I’m really looking forward to getting back home and starting to train them out. It was especially interesting to finally get a better taste of the European HEMA scene, because stylistically it is quite different from what I’ve experienced in North America. I’m also really looking forward to going back to Europe for Swordfish this year” .
The semifinals decided the match placement for the medal finals. The winners of the semifinal matches would advance to face one another for the gold medal, while the defeated women would go on to fight for the bronze medal. The first semifinal match was between Tosca Beuming of De Zwaardkring and Jane Johnston from Blood and Iron Martial Arts. Jane utilized the bread-and-butter technique her club and fellow clubmates, are most well known for. She covered herself above in left ochs and followed through with an offline step to deliver a hard left oberhau, again and again, to eventually defeat Tosca 11 points to 4.
The second semifinal match was fought between Michela D’Orlando of Ordine delle Lame Scaligere and Carla Huvermann of Grün-Weiß Holten. The two women had plenty of exchanges but many points were negated by the afterblow rule utilized by the Dutch Lions Cup. If a fighter lands a blow but is unable to defend themselves afterwards, the points they would have earned from the initial strike are negated and no points are awarded. After several exchanges, Carla Huvermann was able to claim the victory over Michela with a 4-1 final score. Carla advanced to the gold medal match to fight Jane Johnston, while Michela and Tosca would fight for bronze.
In the bronze medal match between Tosca Beuming and Michela D’Orlando, there was a distinct stylistic difference between the two fighters. Tosca remained in guard positions to cover her upper openings which paid off a few times when the point of her ochs guard
slipped through for a thrust or set her up to cut Michela’s arms. However, Michela managed to use a strategy that looked similar to that of Jane’s fight with Tosca earlier, where Michela was able to force Tosca’s sword into a high position allowing Michela to step offline and cut around to Tosca’s head or upper arm. Michela’s strategy allowed her to accumulate the points needed to win the match with a final score of 7-5. This bronze medal for Michela counts as her 22nd medal win overall in her HEMA career.
Carla Huvermann and Jane Johnstone fought a very technical match for the gold medal. Swords crossed back and forth multiple times before a decisive blow was made. Carla said “with Jane being the first Canadian I’ve ever fought against, she really surprised me
with her vivid and quick style of fencing. I really didn’t know what to expect but I enjoyed every exchange and would love to meet her again!“. Despite being unfamiliar with Jane’s style, Carla managed to keep Jane’s go-to techniques at bay and showed no lack of confidence. Carla had even self called a strike against her in the gold medal match. The judges originally declared that Jane landed a strike to Carla’s arm, but Carla conceded saying the strike had actually hit her head thus awarding extra points to her opponent. It didn’t phase her though as she went on to score plenty of her own points, eventually winning the gold medal with a victorious 12-7 finish.
Besides winning the silver medal, the highlight of the Dutch Lions Cup for Jane was being able to wear the infamous ProGauntlet prototype through her elims and finals matches. Yes, you read that correctly. Jane gushed to Women of HEMA about her experience saying “I can’t even begin to express how exciting it was to use the ProGauntlets – I was like a kid on Christmas and it was honestly the best part of the DLC for me. It’s a big moment for their production to have Arto Fama use them in his pools and eliminations, and I had been checking them out along with everyone else during the day. The hype was super real. They weren’t allowing anyone to try them on or anything, so I was completely taken by surprise when Maarten asked if I’d be interested in wearing them for my eliminations matches. After some warm up sparring I decided I’d be good to fight with them, and they worked wonderfully”.
After wearing the ProGauntlets in her matches she came to the conclusion that they afford a great deal of protection and movement, despite them not being made for her at all. “The prototype model they have is designed and fitted specifically for Arto, so they are too big for me. But even with that, I was able to move really well in them and it wasn’t much of a limiting factor – the mobility is amazing, it actually felt like I wasn’t wearing anything. Which is probably more due to the fact that my go-to gloves are the SPES Heavies, but even so I was impressed. I was also really happy with the level of protection, they’ve put a lot of thought into every possible way to protect the hand and especially the fingers. Having used them and taken some solid hand shots, I can definitely say that I trust them to keep my hands safe”