Sakura in Full Bloom

Sakura in full bloom when Grandmaster Wong arrives

The writing below is reproduced from Scattered Sakura Petals in our Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.

There are few sights in this world that compare to that of Japanese sakura (cherry blossoms) in full bloom. In Japan, the flowers blossom before the leaves appear, so that all one sees is thousands of different shades of pink. There is no ordinary expression in English to describe this sight, and the Japanese expression for it is used only during this season. This seasonal term, hanagumori, literally "flowers clouding the sky", captures it most accurately - in certain places where sakura have grown or been cultivated on hillsides, one will see nothing but the pink blossom contrasting with the blue of the sky. Sakura blooms are short, lasting no more than two weeks, and are considered by educated Japanese to be the epitome of the transient nature of all phenomena. The poignancy of this is underscored whenever one is lucky enough to catch the sight of dozens of individual sakura petals whirling and dancing in a breeze before falling to the ground to slowly dissolve and return to their origin.

In the beautiful south that is my home, the Sakura began blooming more than three weeks ago, and had nearly withered completely by the time I left for Kawasaki to take Sifu's courses. This was unusually early; most of the time the blooms begin at the beginning of April. The early bloom left many Wahnam Japan members concerned that Sifu might miss the opportunity to see the splendour of sakura at their peak. True to form, Sifu's timing was perfect. The week before Sifu came, Japan was hit by an unseasonal cold snap, which managed to delay the sakura blooms for a week in most of eastern Japan. Consequently, Sifu, Taisiheng Chun Nga, and Alice arrived just in time to drink deeply of the sight of hanagumori.

Just as the sakura explode into beauty only to quietly dissolve away in a short span, so, too, have Sifu's courses come and gone. It is now the ninth and final day of Sifu's teaching tour de force here in Kawasaki, and "tour de force" as an expression does little justice to the depth and wonder of the work that Sifu (assisted by Taisiheng Chun Nga, Emiko Sije, and Yumi Sije) has been doing here. There has been so much to take in - six courses in all - and what memories I have are vivid and beautiful, but scattered: like sakura petals on the wind. Since some of them may be of interest to some of you, and since I have been asked to do so by both Sifu and Emiko Sije, I will post some of those recollections here. I ask you all to trust the story rather than the storyteller, and to take comfort in the fact that, like the sakura (and quite unlike the majority of my posts), the ones that will follow here will be brief.

Grandmaster Wong, Sifu Emiko and Sifu Yumi

Grandmaster Wong with Sifu Yumi and Simu Emiko