The Hindustan Times reported last week that the second year of kung fu self-defense training for Ladakhi girls and young women has just concluded at the Hemis Monastery near Leh. The news story, and the reports on Facebook by the organizer of the event, Live to Love India, provided information about the purposes of kung fu training for Ladakhi females.

Kung Fu nuns of the Drukpa Order
Kung Fu nuns of the Drukpa Order (Photo by Drukpa Publications Pvt. Ltd. in Wikimedia, Creative Commons license)

Not much has changed from the event held a year ago, at least so far as can be determined by comparing the current story with the news report from last year. The training session by the kung fu nuns of the Drukpa Order during the first week of August in 2017 was a five-day program held for about 100 girls; the current session was expanded to seven days, from July 25 – 31, and it was conducted for 40 girls.

The goals and procedures at the training workshops both years seemed, from the different accounts, to be virtually the same. Ms. Rigzin Angmo, the program executive for Live to Love India, told the Hindustan Times last week the same things as were reported last year: that incidents of harassment and violence against women and girls in Ladakh were increasing. The kung fu training program in self-defense is a good way for people to learn how to protect themselves.

“Since many years, we have seen an influx of tourists in Ladakh. Ladakh is not a peaceful and safe area anymore,” said Ms. Angmo. She went on to tell the newspaper that violent crimes and sexual molestations are increasing daily. She argued that when females know how to properly defend themselves, they can do better to confront unpleasant situations. “At least, girls can feel safer in our homeland,” she concluded.

A Ladakhi girl from the Zanskar Valley
A Ladakhi girl from the Zanskar Valley (Photo by travel photography on Flickr, Creative Commons license)

At the opening ceremony, Ms. Avny Layasa, Deputy Commissioner for Leh, spoke to the participants about the importance of Ladakhi girls maintaining their self-respect and self-esteem. On the last day of the workshop, Ms. Sargun Shukla, the Senior Superintendent for Police for Leh, inspired the participants as she interacted with them. She emphasized the importance of good mental health for girls and urged them to curb self-inflicted acts of violence. She said that if anyone acts against them and they allow that to happen, it shows their weakness. She also suggested the importance of being careful of one’s speech and conduct. Both Ms. Layasa and Ms. Shukla are becoming widely known in the Leh District as important young community leaders.

The girls who participated in the self-defense workshop happily admitted they were pleased to participate—the workshop has helped boost their feelings of self-worth. One of the participants, Padma Youron, told the newspaper that since their society is no longer safe for girls, the boost in self-confidence that she has gained from the kung fu training will help her cope if difficult situations arise. “We were taught a lot of techniques to tackle social miscreants,” she said, so her “confidence level has increased.”

The Live to Love India Facebook page features an album that includes scores of photos taken during the workshop.