it is said that Ngoh Mei P'ai has a women's sect.
"My Gung-Fu may not be Your Gung-Fu.
"I will not be part of the generation
that killed Kung-Fu."
...nevertheless, Tibetan nuns doing dragon dancing sounds like fodder for a decent half hour doc.
BBC World News to air Kung Fu Nuns documentary
September 1st, 2011
New Delhi: “Kung Fu Nuns” is the intriguing title of a documentary film which will be telecast on BBC World News on Saturday, 3rd September at 10:00 am and 11:00 PM with repeat telecasts on Sunday 4th of September at 4 p.m and 11 p.m. Directed by Indian documentary film director Chandramouli Basu, this 22 minute film by 24 Frames is produced by Arjun Pandey and Ambica Kapoor. The documentary is a part of the TVE (Television for the Environment) Life series on the BBC World News.
This is the story of an incredible transformation taking place among Buddhist nuns in some Himalayan communities. The film shows the struggle of a group of nuns of the Drukpa lineage who break centuries of tradition to cross barriers of male dominance which have excluded them from some practices and learning, and kept them secondary to the monks.
Their cause has been decisively pushed by one man - His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of the Drukpas. No other master of Tibetan Buddhism has done what he has - given nuns a status equal to monks in his order– through training them personally in higher scriptures and a range of secular skills, including Kung Fu. While Kung Fu may be a familiar sight in China or in martial arts movies, it was never before a part of the practice of Buddhist nuns. His Holiness has encouraged the nuns to perform ceremonies that have been the exclusive domain of men so far including the ‘Dance of the Dragons’. This dance has typically been performed only by all-male teams in the Himalayan traditions.
The film is told through the eyes of Kunzang, a 29 year old nun. They are rehearsing to perform a spectacular Dragon Dance. For the 10 nuns who have to move each unwieldy, tubular dragon in coordination with the beating drums, the task requires technique, concentration and determination. For the Drukpas, the Dragon Dance is more than just an auspicious dance. It is a way to showcase their commitment to women’s empowerment.
Talking about the film, Arjun Pandey, Producer and CEO, Twenty Four Frames said, “Women have always been the neglected lot across the globe. But the scenario is now fast changing. There is a rapid transformation taking place. This transformation of the Nuns in Ladakh is history in the making. The hitherto male bastion is fast witnessing a positive change and we are glad to be the ones bringing it to the entire world.” Speaking further on the film Arjun said, “it’s a poignant story through Kunzang, the protagonist brought alive by the amazing colors and visuals of Buddhist culture and tradition.”
Besides this, the nuns must paint and prepare their nunnery to receive thousands of visitors who would be coming in just a few weeks for a huge event – the Annual Drukpa Council. People from all over the world and top masters of the Drukpa Lineage attend the Council. The nuns have to show all the visitors that despite the held belief that women cannot achieve this, they are more than equal to the task.
Set against the starkly beautiful Ladakh mountains, in the crown of Indian’s Himalayan state of Jammu & Kashmir, the film follows Kunzang and her friends as they count down the four days they have to do a full performance for their teacher. They need to convince him that they can pull it off; otherwise this just might be the last Dragon Dance that they perform! Will they be able to do it?
To find out, watch Kung Fu Nuns on BBC World News at 10:00 am and 11:00 PM India time on Saturday, 3rd of September or 4:00 pm and 11:00 PM on Sunday, 4th of September 2011.
There's an amazing documentary or at least a decent kung fu film in this story....Buddhist nuns embrace the power of kung fu
Nepalese monastery is enjoying a surge in popularity after spiritual leader introduces martial arts classes
Syed Zain al-Mahmood in Kathmandu
guardian.co.uk, Monday 26 September 2011 08.56 EDT
Kung fu nuns
Nuns practising kung fu at the Druk Gawa Khilwa Buddhist nunnery in Ramkot, Nepal. Photograph: Simon De Trey-White/Eyevine
A Buddhist monastery near Kathmandu is enjoying a surge in popularity after its spiritual leader directed its 300 nuns to use martial arts techniques.
Enrolment is rising and Buddhist nuns as far afield as the Himachal Pradesh in India want to become kung fu instructors.
The Druk Gawa Khilwa (DGK) nunnery near the Nepalese capital teaches its nuns a mixture of martial arts and meditation as a means of empowering the young women. In Buddhism, like many religions, the voices of women have traditionally been muted. But the leader of the 800-year-old Drukpa – or Dragon – order, to which DGK belongs, is determined to change all that.
"As a young boy growing up in India and Tibet I observed the pitiful condition in which nuns lived," says His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of the Drukpas.
"They were considered second-class while all the privileges went to monks. I wanted to change this."
Although nuns have usually carried out only household chores in Buddhist monasteries, the nuns of DGK, who come from places as far apart as Assam, Tibet and Kashmir, are taught to lead prayers and given basic business skills. Nuns run the guest house and coffee shop at the abbey and drive DGK's 4X4s to Kathmandu to get supplies.
But for many, the breakthrough was the introduction of kung fu three years ago, shortly after the Gyalwang Drukpa visited Vietnam and observed female martial arts practitioners there.
"Spiritual and physical wellbeing are equally important for our nuns," says the leader.
Sister Karuna, a soft-spoken young nun from Ladakh in the north of India, says kung fu has given the nuns self confidence and also helps in meditation. "We love kung fu," said Karuna, as she prepared to swap her maroon prayer robe for a martial arts suit with a bright yellow sash. "Now we know we can defend ourselves. We also have the fitness for long spells of meditation."
Jigme Thubtem Palmo, 32, who left her family and a career as a police officer in Kashmir six years ago to join the monastery, says young women in the region are now more interested in becoming nuns than before. "We will soon build facilities for 500 nuns," she said.
The shaven-headed DGK nuns recently stunned an audience with a colourful martial arts display at the third annual Drukpa council summit held in Ladakh.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, a former librarian at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, says she will introduce kung fu at the nunnery she has set up in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
"It's excellent exercise, good for discipline, concentration and self-confidence," says Palmo. "Also, when any young men in the area know nuns are kung fu experts, they stay away."
Interesting how this story gains traction every once in a while.
The Kung Fu nuns of Ladakh
Published: Sunday, Oct 2, 2011, 8:45 IST
By Apoorva Dutt | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
The Drukpa nunnery in Ladakh is home to a self-empowered branch of feminist Buddhism
The early-morning peace of Ladakh, says Tenzin, a local shopkeeper, is broken every morning by them. I follow the wave of his arm. You would expect perhaps a noisy neighbourhood, a boisterous bunch of hoodlums, or a gaggle of over-enthusiastic tourists. Tenzin is, in fact, waving towards the Buddhist nunnery of His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, a majestic array of buildings with thousands of prayer flags fluttering around it. The culprit?
“The nuns,” he says vehemently.
Every day at 4am in the Drukpa nunnery, the thin, tinny silence of Ladakh is shattered by the shrill haee-yas and huuus of the nuns practicing their kung fu. Over a hundred under-25 Buddhist nuns, far from the fabled birthplaces of kung fu, spring kick and punch into the thin mountain air. They are taught by Jigmet Gendum, a surly Vietnamese monk who barks orders and walks amongst the ranks, straightening legs and correcting postures along the way.
The fact that they are Buddhist nuns — a religion known less for its acceptance of violence and physical combat, and rather more for its relentless misogyny in limiting women to only a certain level of enlightenment, makes these nuns an unusual sight: like something Hollywood might dream up. But the kung fu nuns — as they are known throughout the world — are only the most public manifestation of the Drukpa leader’s attempts at female emancipation.
‘I wanted to be like Jackie Chan’
Migyur Palmo, 20, has been at the Drukpa nunnery for four years. She loves kung fu, Jackie Chan movies, has her own email id, but doesn’t understand the appeal of Facebook. “It’s a waste of time,” she says, crinkling her forehead disapprovingly.
It has taken me an hour to get her to open up: for the first forty minutes, she answered questions with the rehearsed ease of a beauty contestant. Migyur is attractive, well-spoken, and unfailingly devoted to the life she has chosen. No, she never wanted to be anything other than a nun. No, she was never persuaded to become a nun. No, she doesn’t miss her old life. All she wants is enlightenment. So does she want to become a Buddhist guru herself one day? No, no, she corrects me quickly. She means in the next life. In this life, serving the Drukpa and helping people are her goals.
It is when I ask her about kung fu that she opens up. “I saw Jackie Chan movies when I was younger,” she giggles. “I wanted to fight like him, and do all the fancy moves. I love that the most. Of course,” she adds quickly, “Kung fu for us is just exercise, not for fighting. It makes us healthy and we even meditate better.”
She occasionally misses her family, Migyur finally admits. “I can’t leave the nunnery for longer than a week per year. But they had also felt that it was important for every family to have a nun, as a sort of representative.”
Ayee Wangmo, a good friend of Migyur’s, is an 18-year-old nun who ran away from home to the nunnery after the Drukpa gave a speech at her Ladakhi village. “I had never heard anyone talk about such things,” she says wonderingly. “It changed me, from the inside, you know?” Ayee says that in her first year, she was desperately homesick. “I missed my sisters. I would get distracted and my mind would wander. I was too talkative. But the other nuns mentored me.” Ayee concludes, “Coming here was the best decision I ever made.”
‘My father didn’t understand’
Carrie Lee, the president of Live to Love NGO, which works with the Drukpa in the Ladakh region, believes that the Drukpa is not exactly progressive, but in fact, returning Buddhist women to the stature that was given to them many centuries ago. “I call the Drukpa lineage the ‘get-off-your-ass-and-do-something lineage,’” she laughs. “Most Buddhist nuns are treated as servants. At the Drukpa’s nunnery, they consider themselves to be mentally and physically stronger than the men. I remember one occasion when the nuns and monks were on a trek together, and the nuns complained the monks would slow them down as they don’t work as much as the nuns do!”
The Drukpa nunnery might be the only instance in the world where there is a waiting list to get in. Kanchok Wangmo, 19, had to fight her family to come to the nunnery. “I wanted to help people. They told me to stay at home and become a teacher. But anyone can become a teacher, only a few can study under guruji’s tutelage,” she explains. Kanchok, who is from a small Himachal village, is more forthcoming about her transition from layperson to nun. “I was a little disappointed when I came here, because I expected there to be a college,” she says sadly. “But it’s basic education, which I’ve already had.” She talks freely about how her father, a rice farmer, was unable to accept her as a nun and cut off ties with her for two years. “Oh, he just missed me,” she says affectionately. “He didn’t understand.”
Despite the time I had spent with these nuns, I too, didn’t understand. From a city-bred atheist’s point of view, I questioned them persistently: but why? Why, when you could help people as a doctor, a teacher, or as a good mother does? Kanchok answered patiently. “I wanted to be a doctor once, like my elder sister is now. But why fix the body, which only manifests symptoms of the sickness, when you can fix the source of the problem — a fault with the soul?” But you must miss something? Kanchok hesitates, and it is clear she has thought of something, or someone, before she answers: “In this life, we have no money or power. By becoming a nun, I hope to achieve a better spiritual status in my next life [that is, be reborn as a man] and help more people.”
“Seeing nuns doing kung fu is a beautiful thing,” says His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa. “I want to help women, and my own nunnery is the best place to start. I also make sure that I teach texts to the nuns directly. Then, if the monks want to know these teachings, they have to learn from the nuns.” The Drukpa explains that these women have faced a lot of oppression. “They suffered with their families and a backward lifestyle. Now, after centuries, they are being trusted with ancient secrets and texts.”
Many of the nuns who come to the nunnery are orphaned or homeless. But many others have chosen this life, despite having all the opportunities the ‘other’ world had to offer. “One nun used to be a J&K counter-terrorism agent. Another one was a week from leaving for Canada for a marketing job when she joined the Drukpa nunnery,” points out Mary Dorea, a volunteer with Live to Love. “An increasingly self-empowered branch of feminist Buddhism is emerging.”
Chandramouli Basu is the director of the BBC documentary Kung Fu Nuns, and he was in Ladakh to show the film to the Drukpa nunnery on the occasion of the Annual Drukpa Council 2011, a meeting of religious leaders and followers from across the globe. The movie tells the story of Kunzang, a 29-year-old nun, as she and her fellow nuns prepare to perform the ritual of the Dragon Dance, which was previously only meant for monks to perform.
Anxious to prove themselves, the nuns sweat it out in preparation.
“The rapid transformation at the nunnery is inspiring,” says Basu. “Especially seeing it happen against the setting of religion, which is perceived as being the last pillar of conservatism,is a source of hope.”
The film was screened in the same courtyard at the nunnery where the nuns practice their kung fu every morning. Thousands of nuns sat on the stone floor, cross-legged, cheering wildly under the clear, starlit Ladakhi sky, whooping when they recognised a nun on the screen, oohing sympathetically as one broke her ankle during rehearsals. Kanchok, sitting next to me, squeezed my hand happily as the movie ended with the successful performance of the Dragon Dance. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
I've been a Buddhist monk before (hence Fa Xing, once Shi Fa Xing), nuns are vicious WITHOUT kungfu, I don't even wanna go near those ones).
Nun of the above. I would imagine them being manish anyway. And being bald and dressed that way any broad would need to know how to fight. On the other hand, it does sound sort of kinky. I bet I could hold one of them and pull her robe up. Maybe even squeeze her booty.
Last edited by Lee Chiang Po; 10-06-2011 at 06:36 PM.
So hey Gene Delete it if it's old...but otherwise, it's still NEWS!!!
Nepal's kung fu nuns practise karma with a kick
Yeah go figure eh?
"O"..."Some people believe that you need to make another human being tap out to be a valid art. But I am constantly reminding them that I only have to defend myself and keep you from hurting me in order to Win."
"O"..."The Hung Style practiced solely in methods of Antiquity would ultimately only be useful versus Similar skill sets"
I know, I know....needs pix.
Kung fu nuns teach cosmic energy to CERN scientists
By Robert Evans
GENEVA | Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:28am EST
Nov 16 (Reuters) - A dozen kung fu nuns from an Asian Buddhist order displayed their martial arts prowess to bemused scientists at CERN this week as their spiritual leader explained how their energy was like that of the cosmos.
The nuns, all from the Himalayan region, struck poses of hand-chops, high-kicks and punches on Thursday while touring the research centre where physicists at the frontiers of science are probing the origins of the universe.
"Men and women carry different energy," said His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, a monk who ranks only slightly below the Dalai Lama in the global Buddhist hierarchy. "Both male and female energies are needed to better the world."
This, he said, was a scientific principle "as fundamental as the relationship between the sun and the moon" and its importance was similar to that of the particle collisions in CERN's vast "Big Bang" machine, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
The nuns, mostly slim and fit-looking teenagers with shaven heads and clad in flowing burgundy robes, nodded sagely.
But the 49-year-old Gyalwang Drukpa, head since the age of four of one of the new independent schools of Tibetan Buddhism centred in India and Nepal, stressed that their visit to CERN was not just scientific in purpose.
By taking the nuns around the world and letting people of other countries enjoy their martial displays, he told physicists and reporters: "I hope to raise awareness about gender equality and the need for the empowerment of women."
The nuns themselves -- who star on Youtube videos -- have benefited from this outlook, he said.
For centuries in Tibet -- incorporated into communist China since 1951 -- and its surrounds, women were strictly barred from practising any form of martial art.
In his homeland Himalayan region of Ladakh, the Gyalwang Drukpa said, women were mainly servants, cooks and cleaners to monks.
About three years ago he decided to break out of this pattern and improve the health and spiritual well-being of women by training them in kung fu and even allowing them to perform sacred rites once also restricted to men.
"And a very good thing too," declared CERN physicist Pauline Gagnon, who recently wrote a blog study pointing to the low, although growing, proportion of women in scientific research around the world.
The visit to CERN, whose director general Rolf Heuer recently sponsored a conference of scientists, theologians and philosophers to discuss the tense relationship between science and religion, was not the first by a top religious leader.
In 1983 the sprawling campus on the border of France and Switzerland hosted the Dalai Lama, Buddhism's most revered figure, who argues that most scientific discoveries prove the truth of the view of the cosmos expounded by his faith -- sometimes dubbed by outsiders an "atheistic religion."
Pope John-Paul II preceded him in 1982 and the present Pope Benedict has a standing invitation from Heuer. (Reported by Robert Evans, edited by Paul Casciato)