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Styles of acupuncture


Hey. Im currently in college studying TCM style acupuncture with herbs and tuina. I have found myself getting very attracted towards the japanese style of practice. Rather than treating symptoms with the points related to that symptom, it seems to make more sense, to me personally, to treat the root excess/def first, bringing the pulse into balance, THEN treating the main complaint with the points that go along with the symptoms in the tcm style. In TCM style we arent really thought about keeping track of the treatment effectivness through pulse etc...also alot more needles.

I guess my question is, can you/do you think its possible to use the 2 different modalities together effectively? I have already switched my .25mmgauge needles to much thinner japanese style .18mm guage.

I have also been observing someone practicing in clinic in a chinese/ japanese style. The abdominal palpation and the amazing INSTANT effect it has on the pulse balancing under my finger tips has made my jaw drop and ask myself, is Japanese more effective? Also the HuaTo points are very impressive.

It seems more logical to me to bring the body into balance, then treat the complaint??



First I think it is important to distinguish between the sort of rote post-communist TCM that is taught in schools and Chinese Medicine which is the lifeblood for all of the systems. Japanese acupuncture, for example, is the growth of Chinese Medicine as it was offered to them in the early 1000 ad&#39s and then brought up through their own culture with their special skills and talents and further honed by multicultural exchanges with professionals around the world. The same with French, Korean, various microsystems, even our own Tam Healing System.

While we call what we do "TCM" out of convention, we use nearly all palpatory diagnosis (abdomen, points, areas, etc.) and rarely use the tongue, pulse, etc. And from my sense of it, this is still Chinese Medicine.

With regards to treating the root first, etc. - I believe that this is part of all systems it&#39s just better articulated and preserved in Japanese systems - particularly at the level everything is taught in schools. That said proper "TCM" is pattern oriented not symptom oriented which depending on how deep you look for the patterns it should be the same as treating the root. Don&#39t forget that Japanese systems also have local, "i.e. symptomatic" treatments as well which are generally performed after the root deficiency treatment. In TCM you are often mixing root and local "ashi" points at the same time - one of many reasons for more needles. It is important to note, however, that many "TCM" practitioners use very limited numbers of needles - so that&#39s not a fixed difference between the two systems.

All that said, I agree with you that there is an incredible amount of finesse and beauty in the Japanese system. And learning from all of these systems and using techniques from each is a good goal. In the beginning, however, it is often best to simply stick to an entire system so you can learn it deeply before you start pulling in techniques from anywhere.

With regards to needling, as evidenced by other posts I&#39ve made, I&#39m a huge fan of simple, painless needling. While I was trained extensively in Japanese acupuncture, I now use the Tam Healing System in nearly every case. From the Japanese system I brought the skills it offered in palpatory diagnosis and light needling technique primarily. I do use 36 gauge Chinese needles for the most part but with Japanese insertion techniques, depth, and palpatory feedback.


Absolutely great and detailed reply as always Chad, thank you.

Im wondering does the needle guage impact the treatment effectivness in your opinion? Iv began to see quicker and more immediate results in the pulse with the more subtle painless needling. Although iv swithched to the thinner 38gauge, my needling depth approach is still the same. with anything upto 1cun depth on common systemic points. It seems to be FAR more comfortable for the patient with the thinner needles. Is there a reason you stick to the chinese guage in treatment?

I havent studied much on the Tam Healing system. I am also very intrigued by it. I find there is so much out there that its difficult to not bring them together at this moment in time. Although i know whilst studying in college to give my full attention to that style.

Thanks again Chad.



No I don&#39t think the gauge has much to do with effectiveness. For the most part I use the Chinese needles simply because they are inexpensive when compared to seirin or other Japanese needles.

My general feeling on the matter of stimulation is drawn from the principles of Tai Chi and goes as follows: If your patient is relaxed the chi will flow smoothly if they are tense it will not, if they are scared or feel pain it will scatter. So even if someone could make the argument that you need strong needle sensation to be effective when you weigh in what naturally happens to the qi under stress you would lose any possible advantage (my opinion). As you are finding, the Japanese practitioners get tremendous results, some without even inserting the needle just holding it at the point. So I don&#39t think strong stimulation is necessary and in many cases I feel it can be detrimental to the patient.


Hi. Regarding this sentence, why do you make reference that you "rarely use the tongue, pulse?"

Just curious. I know you use all other methods...



While we call what we do "TCM" out of convention, we use nearly all palpatory diagnosis (abdomen, points, areas, etc.) and rarely use the tongue, pulse, etc. And from my sense of it, this is still Chinese Medicine.


Do you personally use no manipulation and just insert the needle into the point? Do you needle relatively shallowly? In this case and in your style Chad, do you see good results without inflicting De Qi on a patient? I personally find the electric shock feeling to be energy draining. I suppose my own personal negative feeling towards and intense qi sensation makes me reluctant to enflict it on a patient. My ideal idea of treating would be to simply insert a very thin 1 inch needle into the point about 1/4 to a 1/2 cun deep at the most, no manipulation, simply a clockwise/anticlockwise turn to direct tonification or sedation, enflicting no pain, and still having the KNOWING that its contacted the Qi.

Iv noticed some people spining the needle constantly in the same direction till it becomes "grabbed"? im presuming this is just the tissue being wrapped around the needle tip. Once its stuck, they take it as qi grabbing, and move to the next point.

I guess with so many different ways in approaching it, its hard to adapt the style that will work for you the best. Its all in the confidence of Knowing, and trusting its connected.

It confuses and boggles me :-)


I&#39m not sure what you are really asking. The statement is just that, a statement. If I can read into what you are saying (always a bad idea on internet forums...) you might be asking why that is important. It isn&#39t, it&#39s just not something we rely on. If I had a motive behind the statement other than just describing what we do, it would be that in my opinion far too many practitioners rely too heavily on the pulse particularly and have limited grasp of the hundreds of other avenues of diagnostic information gathering.


For the most part, yes, I use nearly no manipulation (although it&#39s important to note that we rely heavily on medical qigong and tuina to accomplish some of what people may rely entirely on the needles to do so we can use more "basic" needling techniques and still get very consistent results). In some pain cases I may use some minor manipulation but that is rare.

Yes the whole "grabbing" and "de qi" concepts are largely misunderstood and (again in my opinion) hardly uncovered by practitioners who always use strong techniques. It&#39s just like tai chi, 4 ounces to deflect a 1000 pounds.... You don&#39t obtain qi by making your patient uncomfortable, or by forcing it, period. There is the sensation of qi, there is at times a pulling/grabbing sensation but spinning the needle to wrap the tissue around the needle is not what I believe is the grabbing sensation the ancients talk about and what we can go for today. But to each there own I suppose. I do what I do simply because after school and private training with any number of accomplished people this is what I saw to be the most effective, most consistently, on the broadest range of cases (and the most complex I might add). And certainly patient comfort and ease was always a priority - tied in first place with results.

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