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24June2017

Get Thee to a Fighting Nunnery

by Vera H-C Chan at The Buzz Log, 21st April 2010 - Kung fu nuns. Enough said.

Okay, maybe a little more. The Nepalese nuns, who hail from high up on the mountain of Druk Amitabha in Kathmandu, are getting trained in the lethal Chinese fighting arts. (Check out the BBC video here.)

The nuns started practice back in 2008, thanks to their spiritual leader, His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa. He was visiting a Vietnamese nunnery where he saw the women practicing kung-fu. His Holiness thought back to his Nepalese nuns, and how some mean mountain people would harass them by throwing stones or teasing, according to the Hindustan Times. That made the nuns scared to venture out too far from home base.

Now, they're ready for folks to bring it on. Turns out that the daily workout doesn't just help self-defense, posture and meditation: Kung fu classes have turned out to be a recruitment tool of sorts. Educational programs like English language classes, computer skills, and of course martial arts have helped boost the incoming nun population.

The kung fu has also boosted their overall confidence - helpful, considering the BBC reports that "Buddhist nuns in the Himalayas are normally seen as inferior to monks." All the positives means more feisty fighting nuns on the way: The practice will be spreading next to an Indian nunnery.

Nuns and martial arts actually have a long history. Buddhist nun Ng Mui has been credited with inventing Wing Chun (which Bruce Lee studied) about 300 years ago, and named the system after her first student, Yim Wing Chun. And, the origin story behind the invention of martial arts (Shaolin Kung Fu) has been attributed to Bodhidharma himself, who thought the monks looked a bit flabby and enervated. With these nuns, looks like kung fu's coming back to its roots.