By Sophia Rahman
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Videographer / director: Terushi Sho
Producer: Nora Hakramaj, Sophia Rahman, James Thorne
Editor: Marcus Cooper
Child prodigy Ryusei Imai amazed his parents when they saw him start to swing his kid-sized nunchucks in time with his idol on screen when he was only four years old.
Now, Ryusei, from Nara City in Japan, is throwing fists and high kicks like a mini master.
“I’ve watched his movies since I was one year old and tried to be like him. I made a lot of mistakes at the start, like I couldn’t get the exact timing. Sometimes I was too fast, sometimes too slow, but I’m getting better and better,” Ryusei told Barcroft TV.
“Now I can imitate his moves along with the movies. As for training, I go for runs outside, but mostly I do train inside the house.”
One handed press ups, walking on his fists, pull ups and forward flips are just some of the moves in Ryusei’s repertoire - as in order to achieve speed, agility and control akin to that of the iconic fighter, Ryusei must train like few other eight-year-olds.
“Basically, we train every day. On a school day, before school starts, we do stretches and some muscle training,” Ryusei’s dad Ryuji said.
Ryuji’s own father was a karate fighter, and passed his passion for the ancient art form, and practicing with nunchucks, down to his son.
“I love Bruce Lee and so does Ryusei. We’ve always played music and movies to him, but when we saw him playing nunchucks along with a movie scene, it certainly surprised us.”
“The moment I realised his talent was when he’s appeared on the TV and stage - he never got nervous and looked like he was having fun.
“He was performing well and showing what he loves to do in front of a lot of people, without any fear.”
Ryusei’s schoolmates haven’t only spotted his martial arts talents, but the honed physique their pint-sized friend has developed through training.
“When I go to junior school, in PE class, whenever I change my clothes, my friends tell me ‘Your muscles are great!’,” he said.
To move with such rapid reflexes when tackling opponents, Bruce Lee had a motto, and Ryuji sees this embodied in his son.
“The phrase he used to say, ‘don’t think, feel’, I can see that coming out of Ryusei’s face. I think that is the coolest thing,” Ryuji said.
“I can tell Ryusei also feels the greatness of Bruce Lee. He has a certain vision of how he wants to be.
“I want him to devote himself to what he loves, with an honest heart, and never give up, and to remember that and enjoy himself.”