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Why Saoirse is getting fighting fit for new role

HOLLYWOOD starlet Saoirse Ronan is being put through her paces by one of LA's top martial arts experts.

Globetrotting Saoirse is back in Ireland after a whirlwind tour to promote her latest movie, The Lovely Bones, but rather than take a well-earned break she has taken up martial arts.

John Koyama, who starred in The Last Samurai, is helping her to develop some self-defence moves.

Now she has swapped glittering dresses and red carpets for fighting ropes and mats.

The stuntman is spending a month in Tullow to help prepare the Carlow girl for her next role in movie Hanna, as a teenage assassin.

In the movie she teams up with Atonement director Joe Wright to star as a daring young killer.

"John is a top-notch trainer," said Saoirse's father, Paul.

"I've a background in martial arts so I trained Saoirse for a while before John came on board."

Although Saoirse has been subject to a strict training regime, her diet is still regulated by what her family prepares.

"She eats very healthily anyway -- lots of greens and protein and spuds," said Paul.

"I do most of the cooking for dinner anyway, and my wife Monica cooks too."

Paul says the young actress feels most at home in Carlow and that the family would be staying in the Midlands for the foreseeable future.

"When we are home, Saoirse does normal things. she keeps in contact with all of her old friends. They are the best of friends and all hang out together."