Kung Fu sis­ters ba le stereo­types

The Citizen (KZN) - - City -

Meet the Hi­malayan Kung Fu nuns us­ing their mar­tial arts skills to chal­lenge stereo­types about women’s roles in the re­gion’s pa­tri­ar­chal so­ci­eties.

“In the Himalayas, girls are never treated equally and girls are not given equal chances – that’s why we want to push the girls up,” prac­ti­tioner Jigme Kon­chok Lhamo, 25, said.

“Kung Fu has helped us in tak­ing a stand on gen­der equal­ity as we feel more con­fi­dent, we feel strong phys­i­cally and men­tally.”

The Kung Fu nuns are from the 800-strong Druk Amitabha Moun­tain Nun­nery in Nepal and be­long to the cen­turies-old Drukpa school of Ti­betan Bud­dhism.

In 2008 as part of his mission to bring about gen­der equal­ity in Bud­dhism, spir­i­tual leader His Ho­li­ness Gyal­wang Drukpa en­cour­aged them to learn Kung Fu and take on tra­di­tional norms that for­bid women and girls from leav­ing the con­fines of the nun­ner­ies, lead­ing prayers or be­ing fully or­dained.

Em­bold­ened by their fight­ing prow­ess, the nuns travel across South Asia to teach self-defence classes and pro­mote aware­ness about hu­man traf­fick­ing in a re­gion where vi­o­lence against women is rarely re­ported. They also em­bark on gru­elling moun­tain walks and cy­cling cam­paigns to reach out to re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.

Most re­cently, they com­pleted a three-month, 8 370km “bi­cy­cle ya­tra (jour­ney) for peace” from Nepal to the moun­tains of Ladakh in north­ern In­dia, where they passed through vil­lages and spread their mes­sages of gen­der equal­ity and em­pow­er­ment.

Lhamo – who was in New Delhi in early Novem­ber af­ter pick­ing up an in­ter­na­tional award in New York for the nun­nery’s ef­forts to in­spire young girls – be­came a nun at just 12 de­spite strong dis­ap­proval from her fam­ily. – AFP

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