Nuns display their kung fu skills

The uplift of women and gender equality are the causes close to my heart. And the world needs gender equality. I introduced Kung fu as part of my nuns’ training regime to give them strength, both inner and outward. Moreover, martial arts are also about meditation,” says the Gyalwang Drupka, head of the 1000- year-old Drupka order.

“Kung fu is just a means to allow women, who have been standing behind the men for thousands of years, to come out to the front. I believe that instead of talking too much, let’s do something now! So, Kung Fu Nuns, is my little action and contribution to support women and gender equality,” he says in a programme at the Indira Gandhi Centre for National Arts (IGNCA) where Kung Fu Nuns performed.

Swirling a dragon flag, more than 40 girls referred to as nuns enter the ground jogging. Arranging themselves in different formations, these nuns give a glimpse of their agility, concentration, grit and determination. They demonstrate their strength by showing stunts through swords, spears and rods.

What came as a surprise was when two nuns bent the iron rod with their neck. They did not flinch or show any signs of pain when a 20 kilogram slab was placed on their knees and was shattered into pieces with a sledgehammer. Similarly, bricks kept on the shoulder, arm and head were also broken.

“It’s a kind of meditation,” says 20-year-old Rupa Lama, a nun. She has been learning Kung fu from the last five years. “We won’t be continuing with Kung fu throughout our lives. We have to leave it and go for higher level of meditation exercise. But
till the time we are a part of it we have to practise this martial art for atleast two hours a day.”

The history of Kung Fu Nuns dates back to Buddha Shakyamuni age, the founder of Buddhism, who talked about equal rights to man and woman. From his teachings, Gyalwang Drupka  started Druk Gawara Khilwa Nunnery, a spiritual community for female practitioners. In 1992, 15 young Ladakhi girls came to the Gyalwang Drupka in Tia, Ladakh. They become the first group of nuns and dedicated their entire life to spiritual practice.

Today, 500 Drupka nuns at the nunnery are trained not only in spiritual development but in the complex practice of higher Tantric yoga. They are also involved in humanitarian activities such as being actively involved in sapling plantation, assisting nurses and doctors at various cataract eye camps and health camps, protecting natural resources and cleanliness drive. In an effort to promote self-empowerment, the Gyalwang Drupka introduced Kung fu five years ago for health improvement and self-defence.

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