Martial arts expert Keiko Wakabayshi, nicknamed the “Samurai Granny”, has been hired by the country’s military to train recruits in hand-to-hand combat.
Miss Wakabayshi, who stands exactly 5ft tall, looks tiny compared to her charges who are mostly over 6ft.
But the pensioner is a trained master in an array of martial arts disciplines including jujitsu, jojitso, kenjitso, judo, kendo and karate.
She wipes the floor with soldiers of the Folgore brigade at their barracks in Livorno on a daily basis.
Miss Wakabayshi was born in Japan but now lives in Northern Italy.
She tells her students to look at her and believe that nothing is impossible.
After flooring an opponent she tells them: “Don’t think it’s unbelievable. The physique doesn’t matter.”
Sparring is regarded as the most effective method of teaching martial arts and senior Italian military officers hope the experience of being humiliated by Miss Wakabayshi will toughen up their soldiers.
Miss Wakabayshi trained for many years to achieve her level of expertise and believes she can carry on defeating brawny soldiers for years to come.
The term martial arts is synonymous with the Far East, but actually derives from Mars, the Roman god of war and literally means the “arts of war”.