Meet the real "Karate Kid"

NAGAOKA, Japan -- She wears a lot of pink, and has an infectious giggle, but there's another side to Mahiro Takano.

Mahiro has a black belt in karate, and is a three-time national champion in Japan.

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Mahiro Yakano

CBS News

When she's competing, she transforms from a sweet young girl to a serious and sometimes scary competitor.

"When I'm training or competing, I'm concentrating," she told CBS News.

There's a lot at stake for the 9-year-old, who stands about four feet tall. "I'm an ambassador for karate," she said. "Hopefully it'll become an Olympic sport."

She has raised karate's profile ahead of Japan's 2020 Olympics. She appears in commercials, in a music video, and is a fresh face for this sport of warriors which dates back centuries.

At a competition outside Tokyo, she showed off her poise, power, and precision.

She's even nailed the "ki-al," the guttural noise which shows strength. Even her coach says Mahiro scares her from time to time.

Takako Kikuchi, who also coaches Mahiro's older brother, says Mahiro has boosted karate's popularity.

"When she just started at my Dojo she was only four years old, but she was different from the start."

If karate gets a slot at the 2020 Olympics, Mahiro would be too young to participate. But that's alright, she still wants to compete at the Olympics after that.

She may wear a lot of pink, but her favorite color is gold.