High School Girls

March 16, 2011

Lifestyles: Micayla Johnson

Florida laxer also is a championship martial artist

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com

Micayla Johnson packs quite a punch into her day, doubling as a midfielder at Boca Raton (Fla.) High and a black belt in karate.

© Robert McClory

Sophomore midfielder Micayla Johnson is a second-year varsity player for Boca Raton (Fla.) Community High School. She's also a second degree black belt in kenpo karate, and the winner of the International Sport Karate Association world championship in the weapons category at the 2010 US Open International. Johnson recently laid down her weapons for a chat with LM. Read up on how karate helps her to be a better laxer, and then check out her martial arts routines on YouTube.

How did you get into martial arts?

I was 7 years old and my best friend did karate, and I went with her one day just to try it out. I cried the first day. But my mom told me to keep doing it.

How many MA events do you compete in?

Four. The first one is Musical Weapons. You can do any flip you want — backflips, 540s — and you use music to add choreography to the routine. Then there's Extreme Weapons, where there's no music, but you can still do the flips. In Creative Weapons, you can't do any flips past a 360 — it's about the weapons maneuvers, using your hands. Then there's musical form, where you have no weapons but you can choreograph your moves to music.

Which one is your favorite?

Musical Weapons. I tend to do the best in it, and I like the music and weapons together, and I like doing the flips.

What weapon do you use?

I use kamas, which are knife-type things. I used to do traditional weapons that were larger, and on the lacrosse field sometimes I'd spin my stick like I'd be doing with a bow and my coach would yell at me because I'm not supposed to do karate on the field.

How did you get into lacrosse?

The first year my middle school had a lacrosse team was when I was in sixth grade. I wanted to win this award where you had to play all the sports — volleyball, basketball, soccer and either lacrosse or softball, because they were the same season. Softball wasn't really my thing so I tried lacrosse.

Do you have athletes that you emulate in either sport?

Kalman Csoka. He does double sword and it's amazing. You can find his videos on YouTube. He wins all the time. In lacrosse, I actually watch more guys' lacrosse than girls. I like Duke.

Do MA skills cross over into lacrosse?

Yeah, they definitely do. If I didn't do martial arts, I probably wouldn't be as good at lacrosse. You're using your hands kinda the same way. We just started conditioning for lacrosse and we had to run the bleachers at our school, and I was the most in shape because karate helps so much. Leg strength is important. If I didn't do karate, I'd probably be walking half the time, since midfielders run up and down the whole field.

Do you have any good stick tricks?

I have a few. I do this thing where I can throw the ball between my legs and catch it and then do it again and then catch it again behind my back...I can't explain it too well, but it looks cool and is fun.

How do you make time for two sports and school?

My school ends at 3:20 and when the lacrosse season starts I have lacrosse from 3:45 to 6. I get home and eat a quick dinner and get my homework done and go to the studio and train from 8 to 10ish. If I have a lot of homework, I'll cut it short, maybe 9:30 or so. I get back home, I study and I shower and I go to bed.

What's your proudest martial arts moment?

The US Open in Orlando. It was broadcast on ESPN2, and there were people from all over the world at the competition.

What's your proudest lacrosse moment?

Probably making varsity as a freshman. And I scored two goals in my first game in high school, which was fun.

Lacrosse is an adapted war game; martial arts come from a military tradition. Do you have a lot of aggression to get out?

[Laughs.] Yeah. I like that about lacrosse and karate — a lot of girls' sports are not very physical. I'd rather take out my anger in a sport than in school or something! If I could play boys' lacrosse, I would.

Which sport is more physically taxing?

In practice, probably a day at the dojo, especially with team training and stuff. It's pretty intense. But I'm definitely more tired after a lacrosse game than I am after an MA competition.

What's your next big goal in MA?

Probably to win at the US Open again. That's in July, but you start training for it in March. And I would love to win it again, because that would awesome. There's a tournament in Daytona coming up and I've always wanted to win that one.

What are your lacrosse goals for 2011?

I definitely want our team to go undefeated and I want to make it to the state championship. Those are my two goals.

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