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”
Lexile

Assign to Google Classroom

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."

Filed Under:  
Assigned 223 times
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)
  • John0724-YYCA
    12/07/2015 - 08:43 p.m.

    I think that it is good for this little girl to be making friends in her karate lesson. Also I think that it is really cool for her to be in one of Sia's music video which I watched and the whole video doesn't show Sia. All it show is this little girl busting karate moves for the whole video. But still she really did do a good job displaying the moves in the video which looked like the moves could have beaten anyone up.

  • william1108-yyca
    12/07/2015 - 09:31 p.m.

    WOW! She looks so young but she is good at those kind of stuff. I wish that I was that good at karate when I was young. But I think that karate is the same as teakwondo. But I am not sure. If it is then I have become better. I do well that I have a black belt. Maybe if I do much more better I will become the best.

  • natef-har
    12/07/2015 - 10:01 p.m.

    Mahiro's karate is related to performing in a music video because you need to have 100% concentration for both. For a music video, if don't have full concentration, you might mess up the words. If you don't fully concentrate in karate, you might screw up on a move and possibly hurt yourself. Evidence from the text to support this answer is "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."

  • nairmayo406-hod
    12/07/2015 - 10:33 p.m.


    These are my two reasons why I think Mahiro's karate skills is related to performing in a music video. Reason number Maybe Mahiro's karate skills must be really related to dancing and it might look like she is dancing but she is doing karate. Reason number 2: Mahiro and Sia made a music video together and maybe has her karate skills. And those are my reasons for this critical thinking question.

  • simonak-3-bar
    12/08/2015 - 10:02 a.m.

    Mahiro practices a form of karate called "kara" which is more like choreography than karate as stated here, "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." Therefor she can relate to when in a music video there is a choreographer so she knows what it is like.
    My opinion on this article is that this girl is very talented,

  • osajis-pay
    12/08/2015 - 11:11 a.m.

    This is really creative and cute i like to do martial arts myself.

  • dianniem-pay
    12/08/2015 - 11:17 a.m.

    Because her karate is similar to dancing which makes her eligible to be in a music video. When doing kata, you slip into a focused character, Mahiro says. You imagine "a far more powerful enemy."

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    12/08/2015 - 11:44 a.m.

    I think it is so cool that she had this opportunity. It just goes to show that doing what you love and really putting effort into being good can open up so many interesting doors.

  • evanterrell-bak
    12/08/2015 - 06:19 p.m.

    I really love this story and I am inspired to do karate from this story and play in the Olympics and win in them too!!!

  • indra1-dun
    12/09/2015 - 08:01 a.m.

    On a video shoot she has to try her best, on her karate class she has to try her best.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT