Buddhist nuns from Katmandu, Nepal, are shaking up the world one kung fu slap at a time. Defiantly smashing acenturies-oldtradition that forbade them from participating in this ancient Chinese art of self-defense, this order of nuns from the Nepalese Druk Amitabha Mountain nunnery became the world’s first to practice the deadly martial art of Kung Fu for up to two hours every day.

One male leader breaks a kind of glass ceiling.

A double standard exists even among the most peaceful religious orders of the world. In the past, monks were perceived as superior humans and nuns were excluded from leading sacred prayer rituals.

Instead, they were relegated to performing thankless domestic chores in the kitchens and gardens of Buddhist monasteries.

Some twenty-five years ago, the caring leader of the 800-year-old Drukpa order Buddhist sect, His Holiness The Gyalwang Drukpa, formed this mountain nunnery with the goal of making it a place where women and men were treated equally.

In his own words: “When I was very small, I was already thinking that it was not right to suppress women in our society… But then when I grew up, I started to think what could I do for them?

Then I though, what I can do is to build a nunnery and then give them an opportunity to study and practice spiritually.” It was in this generous this spirit that he moved things up even one more notch when in 2008, he introduced the practice of kung fu to the nunnery.

The practice of kung fu is somewhat misunderstood in the western world.

The centuries-old art of self-defense known as kung fu was first developed in China during the Shang and Zhou Dynasties (17th century -256 BC). It became popular in the modern world during the Vietnam era when it was widely practiced among Viet Cong guerrillas.

It appeals to many diverse age groups and nationalities because it has developed its own standard, which consists of, among other things, the nurturing of self-confidence and the relentless drive to learn all there is to know about this martial art form.

The King Fu nuns are about saving the world one bike ride at a time.

News stories have surfaced over the course of the last few years following this incredible group of women on their amazing bicycle treks across some of the most grueling terrain in the Himalayan region.

There have been seven runs so far and in India last week, 300 nuns and monks riding bicycles finished another from Katmandu to Delhi, a journey of more than 1,553 miles (2,500km) on behalf of the Live to Love Foundation. Their efforts were intended to provide clean water to more than 8,000 people.

Breaking traditions take courage and mettle.

The cycle trips (yatra) are far reaching in both their intent and ramifications. They defy gender stereotypes, foster government awareness and action for environmental issues and celebrate diversity and the need for all humans to bond in the face of those matters of global importance that affect us all.

Here’s to you, dedicated women of the cloth. Remember always the words sung by Helen Reddy in her anthem to the power of the female spirit: “You can bend but never break me, for it only serves to make me more determined to achieve my final goal."

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