OBERHAUSEN, GERMANY – Europe’s much anticipated Dutch Lions Cup came to a close on August 25, 2018. Carla Huvermann, of Germany, won the gold medal in the women’s longsword division after defeating her Canadian competitor, Jane Johnston. Carla was the silver medalist in the women’s longsword tournament last year at the Dutch Lions Cup. Carla first hit the European tournament scene in 2016 when she was just 18-years-old. She was the dark horse who surprised everyone by claiming both the bronze medal in women’s longsword and the technical award that year at Swordfish, in Sweden. ‘Women of HEMA’ caught up with Carla after her Dutch Lions Cup victory to get some insight on this young competitor who is steadily making waves at Europe’s biggest tournaments.
Women of HEMA: Thanks for giving us your time, Carla. You are an easy fighter to identify simply because of the wings you have on the back of your jacket. What is the purpose or meaning of the wings?
Carla Huvermann: I feel very honored to be part of your blog. Thank you for the opportunity. Oh the wings were originally kind of a joke. Next to HEMA I like to do costumes as a hobby. I had the patterns for the wings due to my Daryl Dixon Costume. My best friend then told me to put them on my “boring black jacket” as well. It was a simple adjustment because it’s just cloth with the lines of the wings drawn on with edding that I glued on the jacket. At Swordfish 2016 one of the photographers there took a picture of me with the wings on and suddenly everyone knew me by the wings. They became my sigil. Things went so far that I even got them as a tattoo on my left arm, together with my sword.
You started competing at 18. Now, at 20, you have 4 medals from Europe’s largest tournaments. Where do you see yourself in 5 years within the HEMA community?
I don’t know. Maybe as a coach for one of the girls in my club. I love teaching HEMA as much as fighting so this would be very nice. I hope to carry on with my fencing as successful as it is at the moment and that the fun level stays that high haha.
You made a very honourable call in the gold medal match against Jane at the Dutch Lions Cup. You corrected the judges when they called a strike hit your arm, and you indicated that it hit your head instead. That level of honour is hard to expect of fighters when the stakes are just as high as the adrenaline. Were you concerned at all that making that call could change the outcome of the fight?
Well to be honest I didn’t really care whether that could change the outcome of the match. I really enjoyed the fight and I’d rather lose while being fair than win due to a wrong call. I went into the match not to win but to give my best and see how it works out against Jane.
How did you prepare for Dutch Lions Cup with your club, Gruen-Weiss Holten, in terms of training?
Haha to be honest our preparation this year was a lot worse than every year before. I had some issues with an irritated tendon in my knee so I could only start preparing for DLC one month before the event. We trained three times a week on basic techniques and movement. And we did a lot of sparring to get back to shape. Two weeks before the event I thought I’d drop out before the eliminations so the final result really surprised me.
Was the tendon injury to your knee HEMA related or something that happened outside of HEMA?
I actually don’t know how it happened. My knee suddenly started to hurt while walking. My doctor told me that the tendon was simply irritated and that I should give it some rest. So I stopped doing sparring for that time and tried to do technical training instead. Some things didn’t work properly but at least I was able to do basic techniques and get back to sparring as soon as the knee stopped hurting.
What is the competitive HEMA scene like in Germany?
I fear, I can’t give you a good answer on that one. To be honest I don’t have a good overview over the German scene at all. We’ve some clubs we’re friends with but that’s all. I know that there are some smaller events all over Germany and that there are some clubs with bigger tournaments in the South of Germany but we mostly prefer the Dutch and Belgian events which are much closer to us than southern Germany.
Will you be competing at Swordfish 2018 and how do you intend to prepare for it?
Yes, I will be there and participate in the Ladies Longsword again. I’ll try to work on my movement, stamina and variety of techniques. We’ll see what my coach finds out haha. But first I’m on vacation now!
There is talk that Jane Johnston will be at Swordfish 2018 as well. Perhaps you will meet one another in the ring again. Now that you’ve fought her once already, is there anything you would do differently the next time around if you fight her at Swordfish?
Yes, Jane and I already talked about it. I would be very happy to meet her again! Sadly I can’t tell you what I’m going to do there. To be honest I mostly don’t know what I will do in the next fight, so I can’t really tell you what I will do in November haha. I mostly just walk in and see what happens and do what seems right to me and my coach.
Tell me about some of the other matches you fought at Dutch Lions Cup. Which of your fights stand out to you?
My poolphase… I had a really hard fight against Tosca [Beuming] because both of us did weird stuff haha. I was really surprised by Cindy Boer, who first said that I won’t have to fear her and then offered a tough and demanding fight. But my highest respects go to Linde Gille who kept fighting all the time even though her shoulder was hurt. Sadly she didn’t get points for disarming me in the last bout.
If you could fight anyone in HEMA, who would it be and why?
Oh that’s an easy one. Julia Yli-Hukka. She was the first woman that I’ve seen fighting when I watched the livestream of Swordfish 2014. She really impressed me and became my role model. I’d love to test myself against her one day. And Anders Linnard is on that list as well. He visited my club when I was into HEMA for five months. He wanted to spar with me. I had absolutely no chance but I’d love to see how that would end now!
Thank you, Carla! Congratulations on your gold medal and enjoy your time off before your next tournament!