Kung Fu nuns of Ladakh where spirit meets strength
Kung Fu nuns
Buddhist nuns

Kung Fu nuns of Ladakh where spirit meets strength

Ladakh these days has been on everyone’s minds. More and more people have been travelling to the ‘Crown of India’ to explore the hidden beauty of the place. Despite being a state belonging to a plethora of Buddhist monks, women yet do not feel safe.

In Ladakh, the nuns to aren’t spared of the horrors of torture committed towards women. Rape, molestation and human trafficking have been on a rampant. Even the Buddhist nuns are now a victim of the prying eyes of men.

In regards to this, the Buddhist nuns, of the Drukpa lineage have started learning the martial art of Kung Fu. This martial arts practice began in the context of self-defence. This is how these nuns are called as the ‘Kung Fu Nuns of Ladakh’.

They belong to the Drukpa lineage, which is a thousand-year-old sect led by Gyalwang Drukpa. This unique name derives from the orders’ skill in Chinese martial arts. The nuns began their training in 2008.

The centuries-old Buddhist laws that ban any kind of exercise for the nuns. Thus, the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa made it a law for self-defence of the nuns. Now, this has created a revolution in the field of Buddhist laws.

The idea germinated when the Gyalwang Drukpa sought ways to expand the horizons for the nuns. He got frustrated with women’s lack of access to educational opportunities and inequality in Ladakh. Cases of human trafficking began growing the region. This is why the seed of the nuns’ self-defence in the form of martial arts was sown.

The seeds have now bore its sweet fruits wherein the Drukpa Monastery 400 nuns practise Kung Fu. Once this martial art was only limited to the Buddhist monks but has now seeped towards the nuns. These nuns have inculcated this practice in their daily regime.

They are also teaching the same to the other girls, in a bid to spread awareness towards one’s own safety. The martial arts of Kung Fu keeps the nuns strong as well as mentally focused. This allows them to concentrate better during their meditation sessions. The nuns have been expanding their horizons by taking up activities like driving and leading prayers.

They are also mastering basic skills like cycling, typing, plumbing and learning English. Kung Fu has restored so much self-confidence in the nuns that most of them have even achieved a black belt in the same. The nuns are promoting gender equality, environmental sustainability and intercultural tolerance as community activists.

The role of community activists

After the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, the nuns trekked from Amitabha Monastery in Kathmandu to nearby villages, providing relief to the affected people. They also assisted the ‘Waterkeeper Alliance’ aiming to provide clean water access in the Himalayas. They have led ‘eco-pad yatras’ aiming to clean the toxic waste. This includes the plastic litter, polluting the freshwater in the Himalayas

Kung Fu put to use

As per the Indian National Crime Records Bureau, more than 34,000 rapes were being reported in India in 2015. Thus, in 2017, the Kung Fu nuns hosted their first self-defence training organized for women in the Himalayas. 100 women participated where self-defence skills were being taught at the Hemis Monastery. Such a kind of second self-defence workshop was organized by the nuns in July 2018.

Bicycle Yatra for Human Trafficking Prevention

The Kung Fu Nuns gained worldwide recognition in 2016. They completed a 5,000 km round trip bicycle journey throughout the Himalayas. They cycled from Kathmandu, Nepal to Ladakh. In every village, they offered prayers, discussed the importance of environmental sustainability and promoted women’s empowerment. This yatra was born after the 2015 Nepal earthquake, which led to a 15% increase in a human trafficking case. Recently in 2018, a second bicycle yatra was organized for the same cause. Spanning around 3,000 miles, the nuns went through Nepal to South India to Delhi and concluded in Darjeeling.

Buddhism practised in the Himalayan region is not limited to meditation. Buddhism has also spread its wings to other sectors, such as empowering the Buddhist nuns. The nuns are now a living testimony of vigour that they showcase through their teachings. This includes Kung Fu as well as other community services that they provide. The meaning of religion is being expanded by the Kung Fu nuns who now aim towards gender equality.

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