Kung Fu Nuns: Champions Of Women Empowerment And Environment

The Kung Fu Nuns of the Himalayas are changing norms across the world as they use martial arts to empower themselves and multiple women across boundaries.

Akanksha Gupta
Dec 14, 2019 16:10 IST

The Kung Fu Nuns are the nuns of the Drukpa lineage, a thousand years old Buddhist tradition that began in the Himalayas. They are passionate about no one but multiple causes. They are known for going against societal stereotypes.  They have also mastered the Chinese martial arts form gaining physical strength. They stand up for sustainable development of the environment and do their bit to save the world. They have gained self-confidence and a vision in life.


Their founder, Gyalwang Drukpa is a strong believer in gender equality. It was the lack of educational opportunities for girls that forced him to think about their empowerment in the region. “If the girl has no opportunity, then even the parents think that the girl is useless,” Gyalwang Drukpa told Global Citizen in 2017.

“Don't feel awful for being a girl. Being a girl is the same thing as being any other gender.”

Most of them are from the Himalayas. More than half of them are from Ladakh. They mostly stay and train at Druk Amitabha Mountain Nunnery in Nepal, but many also live in Ladakh, Delhi, and beyond. Each of them have a unique story about why they wanted to become a nun, but they all share the common belief that they are here to help others.


Key Takeaways:

  • Kung Fu Nuns have defied the norms and gained immense physical strength through martial arts.
  • Environment Sustainability and self-defence are at the core of their practice.
  • Everybody needs strength and confidence to gain anything in life, they believe.

Self Defence Classes

Self-defence is at the core of what they do. In the wake of growing crime against women in India, the Kung Fu Nuns are doing a great job to empower women. One of the nuns says to all the girls, “Don't feel awful for being a girl. Being a girl is the same thing as being any other gender.”

Read Also: Kung Fu Nuns Train Girls In Self-Defence In Ladakh


Aid During Nepal Earthquakes

They are mentally very strong and believe in working for the humanity. When Nepal was hit by the earthquake in 2015, the Kung Fu Nuns refused to leave the place and instead helped in the relief work. They delivered medical aid amongst the affected people. They worked towards the building of shelters and homes for the homeless.

Working For The Environment


Kung Fu Nuns have relentlessly worked for the environment. They recently started taking bicycle tours and started from Nepal going to Ladakh. In between they stopped over at villages, explaining to people the importance of sustainable ways of living.

They speak about non-violence, peace and promoted women empowerment in the regions. Each year they go for Eco-Pad Yatras wherein they go on foot to pick up plastic litter. Jigme Migyur Palmo, a Kung Fu Nun, says “We believe that if we can clean the Himalayan region, we can help the lower water bodies to be more pure.”

“If the girl has no opportunity, then even the parents think that the girl is useless,”


The nuns are also trained to organise and assist doctors in the Live to Love Eye Camps, where people are provided cataracts surgeries free of charge. Many of them are also trained technicians for solar panel work. Some of their other activities include animal rescue and care, music, dance, and theater. They do their own choreography, and sometimes even compose their own music.

Read Also: Ladakh’s Kung Fu Nuns Challenge Stereotypes

Performance in Olympics


The Kung Fu Nuns performed at the 2012 Olympics in London, and since then have performed in many places. They use swords, machetes, and namchuks to train.

Recently, they were awarded by the Asia Society's prestigious Game Changer Award in New York followed by a moving speech asking all people to “become your own heroes.” We need more Kung Fu Nuns, and many more strong women in this world to make it a better place. Let’s not lose hope and continue to strive harder each day.

Akanksha Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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