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

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, as well as displaying an 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, as she gulped 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, sounding 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 because 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 63 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 (22)
  • yasming-wal
    12/09/2015 - 12:10 p.m.

    She uses her moves she learned in practice of karate to put it in the video like her kicks,and punches so everybody can be inspired by her in the music video with sia.

  • gracier-wal
    12/09/2015 - 12:14 p.m.

    It is relate because she was doing karate in the music video.

  • fabior-wal
    12/09/2015 - 12:28 p.m.

    Because you both have to have talent to do both.

  • oliviaw-4-bar
    12/09/2015 - 08:01 p.m.

    Mahiro's karate, much alike to her appearance in a Sia's music video, requires concentration, skill, self discipline, and talent. When she practices karate, Mahiro focuses solely on what she is doing, "The trick is to practice as though you are in competition. And compete as though you are in practice" Mahiro states. She also possesses an immense amount of skill, especially for her age.

  • maggiec-3-bar
    12/09/2015 - 10:59 p.m.

    Mahiro's karate is related to performing in a music video because she is performing her karate talents which is similar to a singer showing their singing talents. Her kicks and punches are choreographed to go to the lyrics that Sia is singing in the song. Both of these very different talents are put into one video to create something unique that will catch viewers attention. In the article Mahiro says "She kept saying I was fantastic." This is definitely true because in the video you can clearly see how much practice Mahiro puts into her skill. I hope that Mahiro will get to go to the Olympics in 2020 and that she will win the gold medal that she has always dreamed of.

  • maddiei-orv
    12/11/2015 - 12:44 a.m.

    Thats really awesome that Sia let her be in her music video, Sia is such a good artist and helps young people get their start in their career. I think they should make Karate a sport in the Olympics, it would be very entertaining and cool to watch.

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

    wow, I wonder if she has to practice every day. That must be amazing to take part in since she is very young. Makes me wonder if they will make Karate Girl.

  • chloee-hor
    12/12/2015 - 10:37 a.m.

    The authors purpose in writing this article is to imfrorm people on Mahiros karate talent. What I learned is that Mahiro is a three time Japan karate champion for her age group. Also that she was in a Sia music video and that she wants to do another one with possibly Justin Beber or Taylor Swift. I agree with Mahiros karate teacher Takano Kikuchi that he disapproved the young woman's partisapation in a music video. I think Mahiro should be in the 2020 Olympics even though she may be to young.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    12/21/2015 - 12:45 p.m.

    I think this is cool because I never knew that Mahiro's karate skills would reach out to a celebrity like Sia. With the success of the music video she is in, she is guaranteed to have another celebrity ask her to make another music video. I am very impressed with her skills.
    How is Mahiro’s karate related to performing in a music video?
    Answer: Mahiro's karate is related to performing in a music video by being in one.

  • Brandon1231-YYCA
    12/30/2015 - 01:55 p.m.

    I think that it is really cool to have this little girl be the karate kid in real life. I think that it would be cool to have the famous Jackie Chan teach them for real so that it would be the more realistic karate kid. I think that it is pretty cool to have them write a news article about this little girls. I hope that nobody messes with her because she will kick your butt, literally. I hope that she can become the grand master and teach other kids so that she will be able to make he karate generation last longer and better. I hope that she can become a better master than her master because that it what the masters want from them. I hope that some day she can change the world and help people when they see that people need help.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT