Gemma Nguyen is just 4 feet 9, which makes that dragon puppet look even bigger.

If you don’t get a kick out of Gemma Nguyen, something’s wrong. The 24-year-old is a specialist in fast foot action, capable of performing an 18-kick combo while standing on one leg (and then doing a backflip).

“You know Chun-Li in ‘Street Fighter’? That’s what I do,” says Nguyen, who’ll be demonstrating her prowess as Astrid in the “How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular” at Verizon Center this weekend.

And it all started around here. Nguyen was raised in Fairfax County and was just 5 years old when she began studying martial arts at Charlie Lee Karate in Herndon. She found her niche in sport karate, racking up more than 100 national and world titles.

Since moving to L.A. to become a Hollywood stuntwoman, she’s appeared in several national commercials that have showcased her tricks. But until this show, Nguyen had never flown around on the back of a dragon, something that took a little getting used to.

Nguyen’s now just thankful her rides give her legs a break from Astrid’s constant lunging and squatting. “She’s jumping all of the time, and running from one lunge to another,” Nguyen says. “Every show I do, by the end, I’m drenched.”

She’s also sore, which is why Nguyen takes stretching seriously

— before and after every performance. Her favorite way to loosen up? The splits, which she does to the middle and both sides. Even though she’s never in those positions on stage, the improved flexibility helps her add height to her kicks.

It’s one more reason to watch her in action — but from a safe distance.

Get more info about the show at