Is This 7-Year-Old Girl the Future of Karate?

What does the future of Karate look like?

Bright, if you ask me.

At least if you watch this new video of Mahiro-chan, a 7 year old Japanese girl performing kata Kanku Dai in a way that puts top Karate “athletes” to shame.

Don’t believe me?

Check it out for yourself:

What do you think?

PS. Watch her brother Masaki (10 yrs) perform JionHe’s not too shabby either.


  • Jaime
    Faith in humanity restored! Greetings from Mexico!
    • These performances indicate to me that these kids love karate. If they hated it, they would never put in the effort required to perform like that. I lived in Japan for 8 years and saw about 1800 kids at various national primary school championships of different style groups. I have also trained with kids during those years. Some loved karate, some liked it, some disliked it, and their attitudes were reflected in their performance. I have seen a 12-year-old 3rd dan run a class and all the kids respected him and did what he asked them to do. I also saw many compassionate, technically brilliant instructors of children in Japan too. What I never saw was a pushy parent. Mums would sit on the floor throughout classes where I trained, chatted quietly amongst themselves and were available for hugs and thermos flasks of tea when their kids wanted an excuse for a break, which was often. And that was just fine with the instructor. Did he produce children similar to these two? You bet he did. But....I strongly believe that no country has a monopoly on the potential for excellence. Oh and by the way, I have never actually seen on a dan examination list the words "life experience" or "worldliness". So how do they get to be a black belt? By showing that their kihon, kata and kumite meets the technical standards of the style... for a kid. My style association in Japan calls this a junior black belt. The maximum they can reach is 3 dan. When the junior reaches the age of 16, their rank is changed administratively into a senior black belt. This is becuase when a person who passed shodan exam and age of 7 is suddenly 20, is still training and wants to try 2 dan, it makes no sense to consider that they are still a junior black belt. It also means that the person will undergo the 2 dan test as an adult. Also, being able to perform a kata is nothing to do with self defence. It is art. Does every junior national swimmer start swimming because they might drown? No. They just like swimming and if you love swimming, all you want to do in your normal life is swim. So little Mahiko likes to stamp her tiny feet. A lot of adults like to stamp bigger feet during kata performances. Why? They think that kata judges (competition and examination) will be fooled into thinking they have power. Mahiko might not know that. But her performance indicates that her instructor does. But he might not know that little Mahiko stamping her tiny feet is unnecessary because, a) she has no power 'cos she can only weigh between 20 and 25 kg, b) she doesn't need power and c) hopefully by now, even Shotokan judges are no longer fooled by unnecessary embellishments to performance. So thumbs up to Mahiko, I hope she becomes whatever she hopes to become.
      • Suzanne
        Hear hear! Very well said!
  • Felician
    Well... They are pretty good. I have to admit that. However, WHY AND HOW IN THIS DAMN WORLD is it possible for these CHILDREN to have a BLACK BELT? For each belt, you also need to reach a certain mental level, to wear it. You cant just be 6 and wear a black belt. These children know very little about this world and Karate. Also, they look quite unhappy doing their Kata(s). And despite that they are doing great, I really doubt that they do it happily and with their own, FREE WILL. I bet their parents set them under such pressure, like, 3 Karate sessions à 2 hours a day. I dont think they came to their parents and said: "Mommy, daddy, I want to wear a black belt in Karate within 2 years!" As I said: they are doing good. But I bet they can't live a nice and normal childrens live. PS: I usually do not stamp in a Kata as they do, except I do a Fumikomi (found in Heian Sandan or Jion). And btw, nothing of their actions is perfect. You can ALWAYS improve. And seriously: they are not that likely to get in a real fight. And they are small. If another person with, say 10kg more, they will certainly dont have a good chance. Except with their agility and being fast.
    • RDavey
      Not sure if you're aware, but this is the norm in Japan/Okinawa. The training regimen for the average martial artist begins much earlier and is much more frequent than in other parts of the world. In Japan/Okinawa, karate is like P.E. in many schools, and then they practice afterschool, so they start very young and train 3-6 days a week. Many of the old masters were involved in martial arts from age 5, some even age 3. Some would say, well a lot of the masters didn't train in karate until they were in their teens or early twenties, which is true. But remember, karate was a brand new thing in mainland Japan back then, so many of them didn't train in it until after it was introduced to the Japanese. As a matter of fact, in the Japanese karate scene, if you're like 20 yrs old and still a shodan, you're considered a slow beginner. On average, karateka in Japan reach shodan by age 9, nidan by age 16. To us Westerners, we think getting black belt means we've achieved some level of proficiency, which is totally opposite to the Japanese mindset of any budo/bujutsu. To them, shodan is just the beginning. As far as these two children are concerned, I've been following them on YouTube since she was a 4-year-old white belt doing Heian Shodan. Their basics have always been good, and they've been in several kata and kumite competitions. Those things only serve to improve one's karate. They have a 4-year old sister, Chitose, who's a white belt but she's absorbs information very well. She did Kanku-Dai one day on a whim without anyone having taught her the kata; she learned the moves just from watching her big brother do it...she wasn't half bad either, for a pre-k aged kid. And by the way, since when is one supposed to look happy during kata? You may see sadness, but what I see is intensity. They're just locked in, that's all. To give you an example of what I'm talking about look up this video of an 11-year-old girl performing Bassai:
      • RDavey
        Sorry, the video didn't post, it's titled, "11 Year Old Girl Karate Champion in Japan." She's 11, she's a black belt, and she's performing very well...and with a smile on her face at the end! So I would respectfully suggest that we not jump to conclusions about their upbringing. These are well adjusted children, they're involved in other things (Mahiro, the girl is in cheerleading too, Masaki is in sports). The level and type of training in Japan in just different from what Westerners are accustomed to. They start their kids younger than we do, that's all. I've had my son come to class with me since he was 2, just sitting in the stroller watching me. My sensei ususally doesn't take kids until age 8, but when my son turned 5, he made an exception, saying he would be under my supervision. After about a year, my sensei noticed that his basics looked better than the bigger kids and people older than me who've been there longer! That was a result of one simple rule I have: I don't talk to my son about incapabilities, only possibilities. I don't allow to say, "I can't do it." Can't is not an option. I let him know he can accomplish something, teach him how, and eventually he accomplishes it. A lot of times in Western cultures kids don't excel because we've spent too much time telling them they're too young, they're too small, too weak, too slow, it's not their time yet. And lo and behold, they end up not excelling, because they believed everything we told them. If we started raising and training our kids as if there is no tomorrow, then they would be better prepared for tomorrow.
      • Ralf
        Of course Shodan is the very beginning. But there is one thing i ask myself: If it is like you describe it, WHY did so many organisations stipulate an age of at least 18 years to receive Shodan? Finally an episode i've been told from someone who travelld to Japan several times. In Japan the technicial requirements to receive Shodan are far less challenging. He said, a Shodan in Europe is worth more than a Shodan in Japan if you compare the technicial levels of a Shodan in Japan with a Shodan in Europe.
        • RDavey
          I can't speak to all of the reasons why a certain dojo would make 18 the minimum age. For many outside of Japan/Okinawa that's what it needs to be, given the culture and maturity level of children in that area. Some dojo like mine will only take a child at age 8, because where I train, kids younger than that have lower attention spans and less patience. As far as the requirements for Shodan, a lot of time we in the West are more impressed by a curriculum that is more lengthy and complex. We want to be able to say we can do a lot more at a certain level. We've placed a certain mystique onto the black belt. We also want to know we're getting our money's worth. For example, I was at a party once, and my wife told one of her mom's friends I was black belt (thanks honey!), and the lady asks, "Oh, so then you must be a master then, because black belt is the highest belt, right?" I tried to explain to her, that there's even further to go, up to 10 levels of black belt rank. All she could say was, "Oh well I didn't know about all that, all I ever heard was black is the highest." At the school where I teach (history, not karate), kids always ask me what rank I am. It's because we tend to be more impressed by those things. Such things are not that impressive in Japan. If you're 18 and just getting Shodan, they'll wonder what took you so long to just understand the basics. In Japan, the training is much more focused and repetitive. In a class in Japan, you'll see them covering maybe 5-15 techniques or kata, but doing them hundreds of times. Let's be honest, that's boring to most of us in the West, it would require a tremendous amount of discipline from us to endure that over years of training. Even Bruce Lee favored this type of training when he said, "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Now he's Chinese, but that philosophy of quality over quantity can be seen in many far Eastern cultures. But the topic of the video you mentioned, when that man said a Shodan in Europe is worth more than a Shodan in Japan, he's really giving his perspective on the matter. It brings up another question, which can have different answers based on who you ask: If a dojo's syllabus has less requirements for shodan, does that mean their shodan test is less challenging? Take for example Uechi Ryu, which has the fewest kata of any karate system, a total of 8 kata, 5 of which you need for Shodan. If one were to think that their Shodan test is easier they'd be wrong. They have to demonstrate techniques, combinations and bunkai which are derived from those kata. So to say one's Shodan test is better or worse than another because of the length of requirements, that's more of a subjective reality than an objective one. How you see is how you see, but that alone doesn't make it true. In the Japanese mindset, you could have 10 things or 100 things to cover in the Shodan test, doesn't matter. The outcome is the same: as a Shodan you've only scratched the surface to real karate, which is more than how much technique you can pull of or how many people you can take on. That's great for short-term, but that's just one side to it. It's less about who has the more demanding curriculum, and more about our own perceptions and worldview of karate in general. I want to thank you for your questions, they were good ones. Like I said, they're not really a wrong or right approach to this, perhaps in the West we need to have a more complex and lengthy test in order to appreciate what it means to be a black belt. But one thing I've learned in my few years of karate: Anybody can be beaten and in many ways, given the right circumstances.
          • Sui Takahashi
            RDavey, that was good and well thought out. OSSU. Thank you especially for commenting as to the culture differences and that a black belt doesn't make you a master. At least one person who commented here thought that it did. LOL REI ~Takahashi
          • Peter G.N, GRIFFIN
            Dear RDavey and Takahashi Sensei's, Osu ! good article - however UFC , provided the fight ends by KO, TKO, and or Submission; defines one's true abilities. And the most successful UFC / MMA fighters are Yudansha's which is keeping in line with the true essence and ability a functional fighter who must possess in order to pay respect to those who were/are true warriors in every sense of the word. I think the world has dropped the ball on standards, and that has effectively created openings for true warriors (special forces / elite police members) to build and bring to the fore Krav Maga, etc.; or the self defence system created by Commander Mark DIVINE (US NAVY SEAL). Still Mr RDAVEY, your articles are nice to read. Keep up the good work ! OSU ! Kind Regards,
          • RDavey
            Dear Peter G.N. Griffin, I thank you for kind response. I will agree that many in the traditional martial arts have dumbed down the quality via the McDojo, and indeed it has resulted in people who know how to do techniques and forms in the air, but not so much against a real, live individual. And I do believe there needs to be more balance and more real-life application in training, especially in karate. However, I believe you may have missed my point. My point was never about MMA, I have no issue with MMA. I love UFC just as much as the next man. Neither is my point about Krav Maga, MC-MAP, BJJ, Muay Thai, Savate or any other combat system being better than the rest. Combat is combat, and people find different ways to go to battle which, as a former Army man, is something I celebrate. If you train in any fighting discipline on a consistent basis for 1-2 years, you'll be able to handle yourself in a fight...IF that is the focus of your training. Yes, many of the fighters in UFC are Yudansha...and many are not. Some of them only have a brown belt or purple belt in BJJ, but they can still fight. When Lyoto Machida was on that 16-0 streak, he was a purple and brown belt in BJJ..he hadn't gotten his black belt until after the Rashad Evans fight, or thereabouts. So having a black belt alone isn't the thing that says you can fight. But tell me, when and how did the subject become about fighting?No one ever said these kids were ready, or even getting ready for UFC. The subject of the blog was simply of a pair of two grade-school children and their proficiency in kata. This would be good showing if they were white belt, green belt, brown belt, and I'm sure at least several people would agree. It's only when people saw the black belt around their waist that they started to flip, responding and doubting their ability to fight...that's when the subject of fighting and UFC came into it. Besides, who said the goal of these children's training was to get ready to fight competitively? They do practice fighting and self-defense, yes, but maybe they don't care about being the next Lyoto Machida or Ronda Rousey, or maybe they do. Maybe they just want to be the next Rika Usami or Antonio Diaz. Maybe they train for different reasons than you or others in here would take up the martial arts. And that's the beauty of the martial arts, especially today: you can train in so many disciplines for so many reasons. I'm sure an Olympic archer or marksman could pick me off from a distance with their bow or firearm, but I doubt that's the ultimate reason why they train. If you train so that you can fight competitively, that's great, indeed you should find a school that specializes in that. But if we were be perfectly honest, you don't really need to spend money at a school to learn how to fight for your survival. You can learn that just by growing up in the rough parts of town. My point has always been this: the mindset of the Japanese/Okinawan culture is different than that of other Western countries when it comes to the minimum age, intensity, frequency and progression for training children in martial arts. In the West, we're concerned about it getting done, results, and that works for us and our concerns. Over there, they're concerned about getting right, seeking perfection in everything they do and that works for them and their concerns. Different mindset, that's all...doesn't mean it's better or worse. Lyoto Machida, whose father/sensei is Japanese, started in Shotokan at age 3 (same age these two kids started) got his black belt at age 13. There are some who may disagree with a 13-year-old getting a black belt, or even a 3-year-old starting martial arts. Whatever one may think about the age requirement, can't argue with the results. In terms of the kata performed here, these two young kids are already better than some adults at what they do, and they're competent enough to perform it well, that's why they have that belt around their waist. Can they fight?
      • Ben Rashid
        Damn right. I have never smile or seeing anybody smile doing kata. Smiling are not taking it seriusly.
    • Sui Takahashi
      "WHY AND HOW IN THIS DAMN WORLD is it possible for these CHILDREN to have a BLACK BELT?" Simple. The Japanese mind set is not the same as a westerner's. Where westerners see black belt as the end, we Japanese see it as only the beginning. Not to mention that they probably started at 3 years old and train every day. "For each belt, you also need to reach a certain mental level, to wear it. You cant just be 6 and wear a black belt. These children know very little about this world and Karate." And there you are wrong. They have been raised from birth in that culture that is theirs by right, not just borrowed. Not meaning to sound harsh but after all, it was ours to begin with. Ossu ~Takahashi
    • chump
      are you kidding me? do you know the original meaning behind the black belt? black belt only means you know the fundamentals. it is the beginning to be proficient in all techniques. i'm sorry didn't know you were supposed to smile in martial arts. you make no sense felician. go home.
      • Norma Foster
        FOF LOL
    • Djrtmum
      Must say I do agree. The school trained at the Sensi set minimum age as 18. I had a brown belt for 2 years and earnt tags. I thought at the time it was unfair, however as an adult now, I realised why. Under 14 maximum green or equivalent and minimum 18 years for black. Is my opinion. Her kata was sensational, however real life application would not work for her due to her age and more than likely innocence.
    • Karateka1
      Felician, They are Japanese; that's how it's done over there. Unless you think that "Westerners" know best when it come to Karate, or any Budo training for that matter. Samurai training started usually by age 5! Please,try a little thinking prior to posting non-sense.
  • Goodness, this is quite incredible and thank you for sharing! I agree they don't look too happy and I also wouldn't want to assume anything based on a short clip. What comes up more for me is what kind of training they do, how their practice will evolve and if karate will become a lifetime art they can enjoy and share. Does starting this young really make a long term difference? But really I'm just in awe of their timing and execution!
    • gerad
      Claire, you are pretty. As for the little girl in the video - she is brilliant. Imagine how amazing she will be when she is older. Reminds me very much of Rika Usami. So why not treasure this prodigy? I wish I could be capable of that when I was her age. To me, that kata shows dedication and maturity equal to that of an older karateka. Imagine if that little girl could read how people shoot down her upbringing or belt rank - it would hurt. She trained hard to get there - and that is remarkable. I wish we could all be a 7 year old little girl.
  • MR. Smith SENSEI
    Having taught children for years, What these 2 are doing is very uncommon. "Back in the day" when alot more children were in it, competing etc, Some would become very good. My guess is with these children,as young as they are,with their "mean face" expressions either the parents run a dojo,or are heavily involved in the arts. Perhaps they are always at a dojo. Just like in other sports training. If the children live it daily they could do as is seen. Downside is with that training intensity,that young, they'll probably burn out sooner than later. Hope not,They're good now. If they stay with it,WOW!
  • RDavey
    Jesse-San, I've been following these kids for a while, since she was a 4-year-old white belt. They're actually brother and sister, and Daddy is the Sensei.
    • RDavey
      CORRECTION: Their father is not their Sensei. Their Sensei's name is Takako Kikuchi, Yukukai Dojo, she is a long-standing member of JKA Shotokan.
  • bailey simpson
    I have to admit, that human isn't as bad as I thought. But I'd still like to take her on in a karate match! BUT NO SHE CAN'T BE THE NEW KARATE MASTER BECAUSE I HAD MY HEART SET ON THAT GOAL! Nah, I'll just switch to kendo.
  • Ramil Javier
    Been following these kids on youtube since I found them doing heian shodan.
  • Luna
    It was a brilliant performance. But children of these ages are not mature enough to know what is minimally concerned there, do that because they order, many intensive training, a lot of pressure. Yes it's amazing, but I think that is a little exploration. A child of those ages should not have so much pressure on it...
  • Dear Diary, Daddy still won't let me play outside. But everyone says I'm awesome! :)
  • Julia
    Everyone seems to be assuming that this is a little girl under the influence of "tiger parents" that will burn her out by the time she's ten. I started karate when I was six, and while I certainly didn't look anything like her when I was seven, I trained often and with appropriate intensity. Why? Because I loved it. Not because my parents wanted me to do it, or because I wanted to win medals. I think sometimes we assume that young children can't love karate with the same depth and intensity that adults can, that if they're training five days a week it must be for some ulterior motive. While some kids are certainly in it for the bling, others simply love the martial arts are therefore spend quite a lot of time training. Young children in dance conservatories are the same way, yes, there are some that are forced there by their parents, but most of the kids train five days a week because they love their art.
  • Benjamin K
    Have to laugh at some people's idea of what they think a black belt should or shouldn't be, or how these kids must have no lives. If you've been to Japan, you'd know that every kid that trains the 2-3 times a week - as we do - is almost as good as these two. They all compete. And they all look synchronised and in unison as if they are one. A black belt is not about how tough you are. Or how mentally capable you are. If that were the case then you should look amongst yourselves as some karateka I have met should not be wearing a black belt, if it were solely based on these assumptions. And why don't they smile? They are performing kata, on video, as if in a competition. Check out some of their other vids. They do smile.
  • AlexN
    I do not understand why people are so amazed by by such a sight that is extremely common in Japan. Have you ever seen what goes on there? This baby girl is about as normal as Japan gets. Do you know how they solve their disagreements there ? No ? Here's an example of the REAL Japan:
    • utarasone
      It's interesting to see this comment a year later. Since this post, Mahiro has won the national championship for her age group multiple times and has become a representive, along with Rika Usami, for the committee to get karate added to the 2020 Olympics. So...not so common after all.
      • RDavey
        Also, she was recently on a jeans commercial and marketing tour, performing Enpi in jeans.
  • Dr. Donald Miskel
    Westerners do have a different outlook on rank. I started training in martial arts at 10 Y.O. I attained my shodan at 18 Y.O. while serving in the military. That was the norm in the fifties and sixties. many schools wouldn't give a student a shodan below the age of eighteen. To some extinct I follow the same criteria. I may have to do a reassessment after viewing these young karateka however.
  • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
    Konbanwa to all, Osu ! I agree, that MAHIRO-Chan is strikingly sharp with her KATA. One need only read up on a Psychology Study done by NISBETT which addressed the boundaries between West and Eastern perception and cognition. NISBETT found from his study regarding a small fish tank with three orange carp, and one black carp, that westerners viewed the tank and responded by stating "Look at the Black fish"; where the Japanese Asian students in Japan viewed the tank and responded with "Look at the three orange fish". This just epitomizes the disparity between west and east. Westerners view the world as a single entity before viewing anything outside of themselves. Whereas the Asians view the world as a whole, more collectivist approach (a group). MAHIRO-Chan's KATA and her ability must also be viewed in this same light. MAHIRO is Japanese, NOT of western origin; and therefore her exposure to the arts is the same as western children's exposure to baseball or even basketball. YES, there are children the same age with the same abilities. Just look at the Toronto Blue Jays Development program. In fact if you travel to HAWAII you'll witness children of both genda surfing as young as three years old. so HOW is this KATA performed by MAHIRO-Chan any different ?, It isn't ! I empathise with those whom are of western origin and have difficulty viewing such a performance any differently, however remember - the Kuro-obi IS the beginning of one's journey; NOT the end as so many westerners see. The other point I must make is that Asian students are far more evolved and academically astute than western students. This is a fact, not an opinion. You need only read the thousands of medical research journals based in perception and cognition. So long as the student develops meta-physically in all areas to become a decent, courageous, and honourable human being, such an effort and ability to perform any sport, art form with such precision should be embraced. So many young people grow up with parents that simply IGNORE them; and those problems can never be mended. To MAHIRO-Chan's parents, well done on supporting your daughters ability to learn focus so early on - we all know this to be a fundamental attribute lacking in so many adults nowadays. Arigatou gozaimasu Osu !
  • Ian
    In America, they have a television show "Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?", where average adults lose trivia quizzes to kids from elementary school. Now, we have a karate version, where we all have to put our own kata up against hers and prepare for ... you know ...
  • martin
    really nice thing to see those kids performing kata like that. I remember when i was that age i was just just told to throw a ton of oi tsuki, mae geri and all blocks, that lasted quite a while. So again, it's really nice to see those kids learning and being taught at this pace. Probably most of you do not agree with me, but i remember my first years as really tedious years.
  • Adorable, committed and technically competent. Nice reminder that anything can be accomplished at any age with the right mind and the right teacher. Oh, and since technical competence in modern karate bears little if any relevance to life and death in any battlefield, I see no reason not to give a competent, committed, adorable wee girl/boy their just rewards...
    • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
      Dear Norma, Read your response, "Oh, and since technical competence in modern karate bears little if any relevance to life and death in any battlefield,.." Nice try at transcribing the Sandwich effect ! This is what we refer to in Psychology. Modern Karate has every relevance to the Battlefield - especially those living in Syria who study Shotokan and Kyokushin, and those throughout the Middle East (any war torn state). Your response encapsulates typical Western mentality which is EXACTLY what my article on NISBETT states ! These young children regardless of their current abilities MUST be made conscious of WHAT they ARE learning !, as it IS the responsibility of the adult / teacher to instill this also ! Otherwise - two things will happen : (1) You'll advocate Carte Blanche to use such abilities without understanding consequence, and (2) set young people up for being over-confident, resulting in being targeted which always results in the demise of their Self-efficacy, self-confidence, and destruction of their self-esteem. I do agree your comments on "anything can be accomplished at any age with the right mind set and right teacher"...however please be mindful of Karate is not old, nor modern, IT IS A HAND TO HAND WEAPONS SYSTEM - PERIOD ! I say this with the utmost sincerity as I lived enough life to see both sides of the same coin (good and bad). I embrace such ability and talent however we as the teachers owe it to the Masters of old to make sure anyone, and everyone studying any art form understands WHAT it IS meant for ! Again, another forum ending on the topic of 'Functionality'.
    • Wasn't aware I was attempting to transcribe, "the sandwich effect". I do not know what that is. I am not a psychologist. I have not read your articles or those of Nisbett. I do not live in a war-torn environment. I have simply studied karate for 45 years and fail to see its relevance in terms of survival against nuclear bombs, sub-machine guns, genetically engineered biohazards,chemical agents and other tools of modern warfare. But then again, I have had the good fortune to have lived all my life in a (relatively) peaceful environment. I see no reason to assume that the ability of a child to perform a kata or any other skill with competence should have such dire consequences. I cannot imagine "setting up anyone up to be over-confident". I respect an instructor who can fill a child with so much enthusiasm for karate, the focus and commitment of a child who chooses to practice karate for years and that such a child is not penalized for being... a child.
  • Lauren
    I have been out of the karate loop for 10+ years but was very surprised to see these children wearing black belts. When I was fifteen, I passed my black belt test after three days of rigorous training, SIX YEARS after beginning at white belt. And even then, I was not allowed a full black. I wore what came to be known as the "skunk belt" because it had a white stripe. It signified that I was young and still had things to learn maturity-wise, even if I was knowledgeable in karate. Only later, when I was a little older, was I awarded full black.
  • RDavey
    What's really interesting about comments in here and on Youtube is many of those who disagree with children attaining shodan are commenting almost exclusively on the 7-year-old girl. Hardly anyone has said anything negative about her 10-year-old brother. Some may disagree with either of them being black belts, but people are REALLY speaking out about the girl, saying she's too innocent, too sweet, not knowledgeable enough about the world...don't see the same level of disagreement about the young man, who's only 3 yrs older and has the same teacher. Anyone else notice this, or is it just me?
  • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
    Dear Norma, and Ando, Thank you for confirming my previous articles. You both illustrate exactly the typical naïve western mentality. Ando, you say Norma's comment was "Nicely said". This isn't the case. Norma's comment are, "Naively said" ! Lucky for you Norma if you have been training in Karate for 45 years - that's 45 years you have been fortunate to never use what Karate is designed for - although it was and is a FIGHTING SYSTEM designed which is to KILL one's opponent ! I am glad you have never had to go down that road. Nor you Ando, but please - for the love of life - wake up ! Be conscious and more aware that Martial Arts correct translation IS 'Military Science'. Martial Arts ARE a study of the exchange in urban warfare and how best to construct and combat an opponent with or without a hand held weapon (sword, spear, firearm is irrelevant). One doesn’t need any understanding nor need to be a Psychologist to KNOW what the Sandwich Effect is. And to NOT know anything about NISBETT is like not knowing who Tom Sawyer was. Does anyone here actually READ ! ??? ! One doesn’t need to live in a war torn territory to understand what my article states. All one needs is an appreciation. You say, “I have simply studied karate for 45 years and fail to see its relevance in terms of survival against nuclear bombs, sub-machine guns, genetically engineered biohazards, chemical agents and other tools of modern warfare. But then again, I have had the good fortune to have lived all my life in a (relatively) peaceful environment”. You are clearly not only contradicting what you yourself say, but also believe. These things you mention are NOT tools of Modern Warfare. They have been around and utilised in and of war for thousands of years – in fact before Christ himself walked the earth. One need only access Published Research History Journals in the university libraries to see and read for themselves this to be true. Modern Warfare particularises the Urban Warfare component of Hand to Hand Combat (CQB). Which is exactly my next point. Karate has every relevance in Modern warfare as it did in previous theatres; which is WHY young children need to understand EXACTLY what the Arts are for. Thus not attending classes thinking anything other than this is a cardinal mistake and grave error in Judgement by both the teacher and the student ! This way young people with a REAL teacher will more likely mature / develop an understanding never to use such skills unless life threatening to themselves , their family, and or friend(s). Furthermore you say, “I see no reason to assume that the ability of a child to perform a kata or any other skill with competence should have such dire consequences”. YES , they should ! Teaching young people blindly shows the ignorance and naivety of a foolish teacher. And there is NO excuse when the teacher is supposed to be a competent ADULT ! This scenario always ends in either tragedy or near disaster for the student and their family (parents). One should never see everything as pristine, and perfect; but view the world by preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. This of course is what Martial Arts are designed for – otherwise why train for so many hours a day, and or even years just to say, “I train to stay healthy”; and then get mugged and find your skills don’t work because you never trained as close to real as possible. I pray this never happens to anyone – but it does. The whole purpose of KATA was and is to ingrain the TRUE concepts of Bunkai so upon responding to any attack the response would be AUTOMATIC, and sudden; thus stopping the attacker. Next you go onto say, “I cannot imagine setting up anyone up to be over-confident”. But you are. Anything outside of training anyone within any Art form should have their primary tenet as “Train hard, fight easy” !, or you significantly decrease the chances of one’s own survival. And to wear the Kuro Obi and NOT have this mindset just bolsters my next point regarding TOLLE. Here you say, “I respect an instructor who can fill a child with so much enthusiasm for karate, the focus and commitment of a child who chooses to practice karate for years and that such a child is not penalized for being… a child”. This doesn’t quantify nor have any real significance regarding anything within this forum. I agree with you that children should not be penalized for being a child; but you have completely missed what my response was and is about which again just proves my current research in Case and Point !; The overwhelming majority of Westerners truly are not AWAKE ! Eckhart TOLLE travels the world assisting in people (Westerners) to rethink their lives, and to be more mindful of what things they’re actually saying, and or do. Hence developing the skill to ‘just be’ – being one with the environment. The Samurai referred to this as Mushin (No mind); the ability to ‘just be’. All in all both of you completely missed what my response was and is about – which is ‘functionality’ ! If something is not functional then it is obsolete whose sole purpose serves only to be photographed and splayed across magazine covers and on Youtube. Which of course is the conclusion upon watching this 7 year olds KATA. It looks great, sharp, etc; but again – the only way this persons KATA will become FUNCTIONAL / REAL is ‘if’ they maintain this standard to adulthood whereby having the ability to actually make these techniques work should they ever find themselves being ambushed and or attacked on the street or in their own home. Please LISTEN to what it is that I am typing here. I say this with the utmost respect in the hope people will become more mindful of experiences outside of themselves thus resulting in a more true and firmer understanding of what the Arts were designed for. This is now a dead issue !
    • Hi Peter, I supported Norma's comment because in response to your rather aggressive tone, she responded with respect and restraint. Which, to me, is a perfect demonstration of the true spirit of karate. And that's all I have to say about that. :)
    • The opinions of me expressed by others based on minimal data are not important.
    • Ralf
      Honestly, i'm reading. I'm reading alot. Nevertheless, i've heard/read the Name Nisbett for the first time in my life while reading your comment. I had to start a google-search. Richard Nisbett is not standard-literature, especially not in Europe!!!
    • Jean Loic De Jaeger
      Okinawan Karate has been designed for self-defense purposes. However Japanese Karate has been imported to Japan to make a Budo out of it with wider stances and Kata less practical in order to build the characters and the fitness abilities of its practitioners. The objective of Japanese Karate (the most practiced worldwide) is NOT self-defense, it's not WAR.
  • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
    Ando, Thank you for proving, YET AGAIN, my point !
    • Sorry, I evidently misunderstood your point.
    • noobian
      Peter G.N. Griffin - what on earth are you on about man?!
      • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
        Your response SAYS IT ALL !; thank you for confirming my point !
  • Benjamin Kwan
    I think Peter and Norma are talking from the perspective of two totally different worlds, where unfortunately, the two will never meet if you cannot accept that karate offers a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I am grateful my instructor taught me to accept both with an open mind and grateful to have experienced a lot of what I believe karate has to offer - having trained with world champions in sport karate & knockdown karate, grappling arts, CQC arts and traditional historians who's 80 year old senseis from Okinawa can break your arms in a blink of an eye. Karate has a lot to offer everyone, but please remember to respect all - after all we are from the same family. Your neighbour's karate may not be your karate in the short term, but we are all still striving for the same end-game in the long term!
    • You are assuming that Karate is malleable, which is a perfectly reasonable stance to take. In fact, it is verifiable. Step into any Dojo and there's your proof. I think the problem here is that we have parties involved in the above discussion that do not agree that a Martial Art can serve several purposes and in fact changes over time.
  • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
    There's nothing more to say - I stated this earlier - THIS-IS-A-DEAD-ISSUE ! Grow up ! All you and or or anyone is doing by responding further just proves what I have been saying all along ! It has ALWYAS been about "TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS" - The Western Philosophy vs. The Middle-eastern / Asian Philosophy. My goodness.
  • Peter G.N. GRIFFIN
    Dear Alex M, You are completely missing what I have said about NISBETT which encapsulates the primary Tenet of WHAT any ART form was and is designed for. Unarmed Combat - plain and simple. In order to make any significant contribution in dialogue within this forum , one's response MUST be viewed and stated with an Asian (JAPANESE) Ideology otherwise what anyone is saying outside of this , is Null, and Void ! However what you have mentioned is also true for those who train in McDojo's, and or have the misconception that they will never ever face a situation of conflict on the street. Maybe they won't - lucky them; but As JESSE mentions in one of his postings, "If You Want Peace, Be Ready For War !",...true in the extreme but also true on the other end of the same scale. One may simply just be attacked verbally on the street at a bus stop which is enough to frighten and intimidate many Yudansha because of their naïve attitude within their Art. I merely hope people to "PLEASE" be aware that bad things happen, not because we wish it - but because their ARE elements within society that slip through the cracks and rear their ugly heads every so often. The 7 Year Old performing her KATA was the ORIGINAL centre for this forum, and to me - remains just that ! I have already embraced this young persons ability however KATA is the key to being competent in the REAL world with one's Bunkai. Such a young person hopefully will not be attacked - however having such skill at such a young age is a good thing provided its embraced, nourished by the love and support of their parents, and maintained into adulthood; resulting in a formidable practitioner. If anyone else is going to respond on WHAT I have stated; please FOCUS on the ORIGINAL discussion which was about this 7 yr old and the 10 yr old performing their respective KATA. Thank you !
  • Dz
    My first thought: That is a bit different than the way I learned it. My second thought: I wonder if they know what the techniques are supposed to be, I mean behind the mere choreography. (Wait for it...) My third thought: My Kata does not look so well. My final thought: I might be to jealous to actually have an objective opinion.
  • These kids are great! Ive taught for many years and rarely do you see kids that have that intensity in their training.
  • I dont see any problem with kids earning Junior Black Belts, after age 16 they should test again for a full or more mature black belt with more advanced curriculum.
  • Fernando
    It never ceases to surprise that society accept and applaud such high levels of dedication and exhaustion at such young ages, levels that should they occur in the workplace would be not only completely rejected but also legally punished. Childhood is such a beautiful and unique stage and so important for further development that it should never be sacrificed for sport achievements.
    • RDavey
      What makes you think anything is being sacrificed? This level of training is par for the course in Japanese culture, and the have the highest health-related mortality rate in the world, meaning their health and longevity is among the best in the world. Besides, Karate is a commonplace activity there, it's part of P.E. in most of their schools. Many countries do the same thing with football(soccer), they train their kids early and have them competing before they're 10 yrs old. Now it's true, you do have the crazy overbearing sports dad/mom in every sport, but let's not assume that this is the case here simply because of what we're seeing here. These two kids actually have very well-rounded lives. They dabble in cheerleading, they watch cartoons and play with dolls like all other kids. They're just a very meticulous culture, seeking perfection in literally everything they do. They start their kids young in everything, not just karate, and that system works for them. For example, these two kids have a younger sister who's just started a year ago at age 3, and she's already memorizing kata like Kanku Dai, which nobody taught her yet - she learned it all just from watching big brother and big sister do it. It's not black belt level by any means, she is only 4...but the fact that she picked it up so quickly shows that what they're doing over there is producing good results. Western countries see and do things differently, and that's okay, not everyone is meant to do things the same way. But we shouldn't condemn what they simply because we don't understand it.
  • Chuck
    Looks: 10/10 Practicality and Usage: 4/10 Hopefully by the time they're in their teens this'll become instinct for them.
  • Hapkidoka
    The problem is that in karate/self-defence/martial arts its not only hitting and fighting like in box/thai-box/K1. You also need to feel the psycological part of it. Kind a feel power in. Having black belt meaning strong principles and understanding your power/real life. I think its not for children. Its kind a giving AK-47 to a good shooter whithout asking what he is going to do.
    • Ian
      Well, an AK-47 is a tool designed to kill. A belt is a tool designed to keep your pants up, regardless of the colour. A karate-ka is only as good as her skills, regardless of belt colour. If the young lady in the video were sporting a BROWN belt instead, or a GREEN one, would anyone here have made a big fuss? Or would we simply be admiring her kata skills? Yes, the mythical "black belt ... oooh!!" can seem like something of a talisman both within and outside the karate world. but I think that is far overblown, and we ought to try to avoid that.
  • i have seen her some years ago. I like so she practice the kata! When she 'll do official tournament, she'll be the best, i hope :D
  • Our dojo is in Astoria, New York City. We have some students who are quite young and very strong as well. Please see this video of one of our students (Aidan Lok) who is 7 years old and performing the Shotokan kata Kanku Sho: He is very strong in traditional kobujutsu is also just as strong, which I think is even more impressive. Look at this video, he is also 7 years old and performing the traditional Yamanni-Ryu kata Sakugawa no Kun: It is amazing what we can accomplish with children these days. With children like these, I agree with Jesse, that the future is very bright.
  • Onokiah
    This little girl is amazing! Earning his/her black belt (shodan) means that as he/she is a serious student of his or her style of Karate. The student shows a significant amount of focus and accuracy when performing his/her art along with the knowledge acquired. In a good school, Karate is regarded as a way of life, a system of defense, not a sport as it is much today. "Karate do" literally means the "way of empty hand." We believe one is always a student and always a teacher. One learns much from teaching. Develop a chip on your shoulder, and a senior sensei will remove the chip.
  • Taya
    In my dojo there are many junior black belts (me being one) some are even junior nidan black belts. Yes, there are some who lack vital technique and train once a week with 50% effort. They are likely to quit Karate as soon as their parents don't really care anymore. But, the vast majority of our junior black belts are truly dedicated training 4/5/6 times a week. Yet, most of our junior black belts have gave up completely or reduced their training massively by the time they are 15/16. This shows that the ones who truly love karate are very few in numbers regardless of whether they are black belts or not.
  • Matthew
    I think it fair enough that they are gaining coordination, and perhaps discipline too. But its a bit much to mention the future of something(karate at large) that has already been so transmogrified by exactly this type of spectacle. Check out the economy of an 80 year old karateka - thats where you might seek to point yourself to find any meaningful and personal "future" of what people call karate. Kids without body mass mimicking kata on youtube... Thats pretty sad if that is what you can be bothered rambling about and defending. Cultural stuff aside(and dont talk about japa-;especially not okinawa- like its one homogenous karate factory- at 26 i was the youngest in the okinawan dojo i trained at by far...) stop watching children on your computer and train yourself; or become a soccer coach... And Leave karate alone to mend itself if ever possible.
    • Kiwidan
      Go back to the the dojo matthew! your negativity must be a reflection of your own skills! I can understand your jealousy that a 7 year old can probably do kata better than you but to make it public, golly gosh! You dont have the attitude of real kareteka, the kids are the future of karate, its the only way! and this is a good example of really young kids using relative good technique and spirit, something you may want to try to achieve Matthew!

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