By Bunzo Takamatsu
Whenever I meet an obstacle in my work, I wish for a mentor to consult with. It has been 35 years since I started practicing acupuncture. Though I am busy enough, my skill level could still be much better. I recently came across the phrase: the “Tao (Way) cannot be learned, only pursued.” This made me think the path (Tao) to mastering Oriental medicine never ceases to stretch out ahead of us. If it’s all about learning, I can study by myself. If it is more than that, like pursuing the Tao, it’s a different story. Shouldn’t I learn with a teacher who has mastered the Way? I tend to think that in order to master the Way, you have to study with a master and breathe the same air to get the knack of something you cannot learn from books. Or is this just the fantasy of one who has never had a master teacher?
I do envy acupuncturists who have a master to confer with. I was not fortunate enough to have someone like that. I did meet some excellent acupuncturists, but those meetings never developed further for some reason or other.
Am I in despair? No, not really. There are some excellent books written by the masters! Among them and the one I refer to the most is Fukoyo Kyuho (Illustrated Fukoyo Moxibustion Method) by Seiji Irie. Though I bought this book 23 years ago, I still refer to it quite often. There are no explanations of pulse taking, nor acupuncture theories, only instructions on moxibustion, such as how many so (number of moxa cones) on what point. It’s too simplistic for an expert but very handy for a novice because there is no knowledge required.
Often we can say, “the simpler it is, the more powerful it is.” For example, on treating cystitis: “many moxibustions on SP-6 and on Zekkotsu (the counter point on the lateral side). Two or three so on Kyokkotsu (CV-2) or Chukyoku (CV-3). There is no failure by treating this way.” How many times have I been empowered by his definitive tone! The author says he can treat a fibroid tumor the size of a fist. I myself successfully treated a fibroid the size of a grapefruit with his method.
Any page you open, you can almost hear his voice, “It’s OK. Go ahead and do it.” Often wanting to listen to his voice, I still open this book- which I credit for the fact that 70 percent of my treatment consists of moxibustion.
There are times, though, when the Fukaya method is not enough. Then I refer to Toyo Igaku Ken- bunroku* (Notes on Oriental Medicine) by Koichi Nishida, MD, an internist. This title consists of three volumes. As the subtitle -Practical acupuncture and moxibustion that can reproduce the same results- says, it really works when you do exactly as he suggests, sometimes to an unbelievable degree. The author explains why and how it works, which helps a lot. He uses many techniques with ease, such as Yin-Yang Crossing Point Selection, Keikin (Meridian-Tendon), Kikei (Extraordinary Vessels), Oketsu (Stagnant Blood), Cupping, etc. Even though he’s an MD, an acupuncturist couldn’t be better versed or enjoy practicing Oriental medicine any more. I even envy him for this, but as I have access to all these techniques there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to do the same!
Many times I have been helped by this book. One incident I remember very well is the case of a middle-aged male who endured a severe rash for many days. It covered his body and conventional medicine couldn’t help him. It was so itchy that it kept him awake all night and he was on the verge of losing his mind. I gave him the treatment exactly as Dr. Nishida outlined and the next day the rash was gone. That definitely made him a believer. Other odd examples are treating gum disease and getting rid of warts- all very helpful. When my 11-year-old daughter got appendicitis, I referred to his book as well. Even though what helped her most was the standard macrobiotic treatment (ginger compress and albi plaster), his moxibustion technique did help to some extent. Above all, I got assurance from him that I didn’t have to take her to a hospital, which was a big relief. His being an internist was very persuasive.
These four books (one by Fukaya and the three volumes by Nishida) will do. I guarantee you. I said I don’t have a master teacher, but I do have books written by master teachers, and they have been helping me all these years. To me they are like mentor books. I know I will continue to struggle, but it is a great comfort that I have these books I can count on.
*Note: These books are not available in English.
Takamatsu Bunzo was born in 1956. He graduated from the Kototama Institute in 1983 and from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2005. He maintains a practice in Dallas.