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)
  • richardp-wes
    12/09/2015 - 09:12 a.m.

    Because it migh look like dancing some what or it might just look cool

  • dremonieb-wes
    12/09/2015 - 09:14 a.m.

    Maharishi karate relates to the music video because someone was inspired by her and they did a music video about her.

  • jeffreyb1-sch
    12/09/2015 - 12:40 p.m.

    Mahiro's karate is related to music because it helps her focus when she is practicing.Focusing helps mahiro with her technique and moves so she is a better fighter.

  • summerm-6-bar
    12/09/2015 - 06:31 p.m.

    Mahiro's karate is related to performing in a music video because she practices a form of karate called "kata" which is fast pace and precise moves. "Kata" is more like choreography rather than karate. Therefore, her karate is more like performing in a music video rather than real karate. I find this article very interesting because she must be very talented because being in a music video is a great accomplishment. So if Mahiro is doing karate that is like being in a music video then she is very talented.

  • sydneym-3-bar
    12/10/2015 - 08:25 p.m.

    Mahiro's karate is related to performing in a music video because in a music video, some people dance and move their body in multiple different ways, almost like in karate. As said in paragraph 10, she practices a form of karate called "kata", that is like choreography, which is like when people practice choreography for a music video. I found this article interesting because it amazes me how young Mahiro is and how good she is at karate.

  • olgan-4-bar
    12/11/2015 - 12:56 a.m.

    Mahiro's karate is related to performing in music videos because it is very entertaining to watch so artists like Sia ask her to star in their videos. " In a backdrop of stark grey, the girl, wearing a white and black wig evacotavive of Sia's hairstyle, performs a dazzling routine with quick fists and kicks ". I think Mahiro is incredibly talented and has a bright future ahead of her.

  • carolinev-2-bar
    12/11/2015 - 01:45 a.m.

    Mahiro is the real karate kid. She practices a type of karate called "kata". And "kata is like the stuff in a music video because there are quick powerful and perches moves. As the article said in paragraphs three "dazzling routine with quick fists and kicks. She also has adorably determined concentration of energy." Then in paragraph fourteen Mahiro said,"The moves must be powerful, precise and sharp, and getting better never ends". This shows that Mahiro's karate is related to a performing in a music video because you have to do everything perfectly. My opinion of this article is that it was very interesting but at times confusing.

  • clewi-wim4
    12/11/2015 - 12:53 p.m.

    this little girl has so much pride in karate but there is still time to do homework and to be a kid. when she does karate I think she is so focused and was taught at AGE 4

  • jeffreyb1-sch
    12/11/2015 - 01:02 p.m.

    Who:Marhio
    What:music and karate
    When:Dec.07,2015
    Where:Tokyo
    Why:Make knew friends
    How:By competing in tournaments

  • tbook-wim5
    12/11/2015 - 01:53 p.m.

    This is amazing! I love people who train for so long to do hard, but awesome things. One of my favorite movies is "The Karate Kid"! So I would love to meet Mahiro Takano. I think that is it amazing that Mahiro got the chance to hang out the amazing Sia. When it the article said that she could be an ambassador for the Tokyo karate Olympics, that shows how talented on strong that girl can be. Also, when the article said, ""There is nothing false about it. Nothing made up. She is truly telling the world the way of karate," Kikuchi said proudly." This shows that she is changing the world for the better. Soon, she will become the most known and famous Tokyo "Karate Kid" in the world.

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