Mahiro Takano is real life “Karate Kid” In this Nov. 18, 2015 photo, 9-year-old Mahiro Takano, center, three-time Japan karate champion in her age group practices in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, north of Tokyo. (AP Photo/ Eugene Hoshiko)
Mahiro Takano is real life “Karate Kid”
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She has a soft spot for Duffy the Disney Bear and her favorite food is chocolate. She does her homework before dinner but really loves skateboarding, playing video games and bouncing on her trampoline.
 
If Mahiro Takano sounds like any 9-year-old, think again. The third grader from Niigata, a rice-growing region in Japan, stars in Sia's latest music video "Alive," the just-released single from the singer's upcoming album.
 
In a backdrop of stark gray, the girl, wearing a white and black wig evocative of Sia's hairstyle, performs a dazzling routine with quick fists and kicks. She also has adorably determined concentration of energy.
 
Mahiro is a three-time Japan karate champion in her age group.  She found making a music video was quite fun, and agreed she would do it again, especially if Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift offers.
 
The video shoot with Sia in a Tokyo suburb took about a week. She made a point to move to match the music. And "look cool," Mahiro said in an interview at her home. She was gulping down her dinner of curry and boiled eggs before heading to karate practice.
 
"She was nice," she said calmly of Sia. "She kept saying I was fantastic."
 
"Amazing" was the way her thoroughly impressed mother, Masayo Takano, remembers Sia repeatedly praising her daughter.
 
"I was so excited," her mother said, letting out a squeal not quite as fierce as the long throaty screams her daughter makes during her karate routines.
 
Mahiro's name means "ten thousand kindness, as well as ten thousand talents." She has a quick sweet smile when she isn't screaming.
 
Her kicks, turns and punches in the air are part of "kata" forms that are like choreography in the Japanese defensive martial art of karate. Kata competition is separate from combat matches, which are also part of the sport.
 
When doing kata, you slip into a focused character, Mahiro says. You imagine "a far more powerful enemy."
 
She lost a contest just once, when she was in kindergarten. She wept, she recalls, so painful was it to lose. The trick is to practice as though you are in competition.  And compete as though you are in practice, she said.
 
She practices with a ferocious frenzy. She works out every day after school with her older brother. She was 4 when she started karate, inspired by her brother, then 5, who began lessons with their father. He is a truck driver.
 
The moves must be powerful, precise and sharp, and getting better never ends, you can keep working at one detail after another, she added.  She sounded almost like a guru.
 
When asked about the appeal of karate, her reply is rather simple - being able to make friends.
 
"You get to play with them," such as tag, she said.
 
Her parents say they are grateful to karate. It teaches a child discipline, hard work, the resilience to perform under pressure and manners. Bowing and cheerful replies, as well as constant practice and respect to hierarchy, exemplified in the belt system signifying skill levels, are integral to karate.
 
Her teacher Takako Kikuchi acknowledged that some purists may disapprove of a young woman's participation in a music video.
 
"But this little girl did not compromise in the music video. She is doing her best, delivering, correctly and thoroughly, one by one, the moves that she knows, with utmost concentration. There is nothing false about it. Nothing made up. She is truly telling the world the way of karate," Kikuchi said proudly.
 
Mahiro has already been chosen an official "ambassador" for karate for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The sport is vying to be chosen for the games. Never mind that, even if that happens, Mahiro may not be old enough to compete. The age cutoff is still undecided.
 
"I want to go to the Olympics," she says, "and win a gold medal."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How is Mahiro’s karate related to performing in a music video?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (77)
  • jesusp-nar
    12/07/2015 - 10:34 a.m.

    She and Sia made a video

  • braidens-mci
    12/07/2015 - 11:25 a.m.

    that is cooc beacus they mit be able to mack a movie aboult here

  • Tims-Wit
    12/07/2015 - 12:24 p.m.

    Well I think this young girl has along life ahead of her. She is full of life and ready to succeed at whatever life has to throw at her. Now i just hope she keeps that kind of heart and leadership. When this little warrior gets into highschool she wont have to worry about being bullied because she will be the one everyone looks up too. She will lead a lot of people and help anyone she can.

  • coltens-ver
    12/07/2015 - 12:39 p.m.

    I like how Sia is using inspiring kids to use in her videos. It gives the kids more recognition.

  • annas-ver
    12/07/2015 - 01:24 p.m.

    its so cool that she was in Sia's music video. I do karate and this is very amazing and unbelievable because I know how hard it can be to master a certain form or move.

  • briannec-ste
    12/07/2015 - 03:13 p.m.

    Why couldn't I have done that at age four? After I read the music video part, I went and watched the music video. It would be so neat to go watch her in a competition.

  • kammyr-gon
    12/07/2015 - 03:57 p.m.

    She maybe makes some over there.

  • kammyr-gon
    12/07/2015 - 03:59 p.m.

    Maybe she dose karate in her video's and over there were she dose karate at.

  • sullmika386-hod
    12/07/2015 - 08:07 p.m.

    Mahiro's karate relates to music because it helps her move on a steady beat. I think it can help her with the motion, technique and concentration of her karate skills. One example is that if she counts the beats in her head (like music) she can move on the same rthyme when doing karate and have a smooth motion with great technique. It also will help a lot with her concentration. That is why I think Mahiro's karate can relate to music.

  • Eric0221-YYCA
    12/07/2015 - 08:41 p.m.

    I think that it is cool that Mahiro had been an real life karate kid because she had experience karate in her life time when she was just a young kid. The cool thing about Mahiro Takano's life experience because she had done some karate lessons even though that she is in kindergarten whom she can't learn violence in kindergarten. I think that Mahiro can be able to learn karate because I think that she can be related to the movie karate kid.

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