Tuesday, January 3, 2006, 01:04 PM - Health & HealingThe package insert is often thrown out with the packaging or the print is so small and the language so unintelligible that the average consumer could not make heads or tails out of it. Often pharmacists don't have the time to consult you on all aspects of medication when they have long lines of other customers waiting.
Also if you're shopping around and always looking for a lower priced pharmacy, or following the popular trend of ordering online, going to Canada or Mexico to save money, you may not have access to a pharmacist to advise you. Medical Doctors (MD's) are not the authorities on medications in the health care industry, but pharmacists are. The ultimate say so regarding medications and interactions amongst multiple medications are pharmacists.
The ultimate say so amongst nutritional supplements, foods, herbs and medications is still ultimately the pharmacist, however, few pharmacists can know the biochemistry of all foods, nutritional supplements and herbs. In this case, it is still up to the consumer to be ultimately responsible for his or her health.
A good herbalist can help you make informed decisions about herb and drug interactions, but you must be upfront and detailed about what herbals, nutritional supplements and medications you are currently taking, the dosage, and the frequency. To be detailed with a list is to be prepared anytime you see a new healthcare practitioner.
I never offer herbal advice unless I have met with a prospective patient in person and know their entire health history. The reason is because I have to know their background and what they are taking now.
For example, if they take Viagra, a common drug for erectile dysfunction, I have to be careful not to give herbs that have a function of blood thinning, as that can cause an adverse effect. One has to be aware of possible adverse or "side" effects that can result from wrongly prescribing any form of medication. I want to stress that I am not against the use of medications because I am a labeled a "Complementary/Alternative Medicine" practitioner.
I feel that all medicines have their proper time and place, have their proper dosage, and will have a great effect when used specifically for an ailment. The problem is only when one paradigm of medicine seeks to outlaw or diminish another paradigm of medicine because they are threatened or worried about money.
One doctor that I admire, Alex Chen, OMD, PhD, once said, "It doesn't matter if the medicine is eastern or western, what counts is that it works." I firmly believe in that statement.
If you're taking Lipitor or Atorvastatin, a common drug for people with high cholesterol or high trigycerides, there are many side effects of this medication. Not all people will experience adverse effects, nor will they experience all of the adverse effects. Properly used, Lipitor can save lives and help keep people healthy. However, a close look at the warning label suggests you contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following: skin rashes, blisters, peeling and swelling; chills; dark-colored urine; diarrhea; fever; itching; joint pain; red irritated eyes; redness, tenderness, itching, sore throat; sores, ulcers, or white spots in mouth or on lips, Headache; hoarseness; lower back or side pain; painful or difficult urination; pain or tenderness around eyes and cheekbones; stuffy or runny nose, Abdominal pain; back pain; belching or excessive gas; constipation; general feeling of discomfort or illness; heartburn, indigestion, or stomach discomfort; lack or loss of strength; loss of appetite; nausea; shivering; sweating; trouble sleeping; vomiting.
It makes me think wouldn't it be better to do some dietary and lifestyle changes than be on a medication with that many side effects?
Lipitor is supposed to be prescribed only when additional help is needed and is effective only when a schedule of diet and exercise is properly followed. It does not mean when you are taking Lipitor that you can freely eat what you want without a care in the world. The Drugs.com website writes, "Remember that this medicine will not cure your condition but it does help control it. Therefore, you must continue to take it as directed if you expect to keep your cholesterol levels down."
You should also be warned that you should avoid taking Atorvastatin with grapefruit juice or other grapefruit products because these may increase the concentrations of Atorvastatin in the body. Atorvastatin has also been linked to problems in the liver, such as jaundice, and increased liver enzymes. People who take Atorvastatin should also avoid alocohol. That in itself is warning enough to make changes in diet and lifestyle.
Warfarin (Coumadin) is another common medication that is necessary for the prevention of heart attack, stroke or obstruction of the blood vessels.
Basically it is an anti-coagulant, which thins the blood and prevents formation of blood clots, Unfortunately, this medication has numerous side effects and patients making a change in diet, adding supplements or vitamins and minerals have to be very careful when on this medication.
Problems include signs of unusual bleeding, such as bleeding while brushing teeth, urinating blood, unusual nosebleeds, small red spotting on the skin, easy bleeding or bruising, unusually heavy menstrual bleeding and the like. The risk is also for hidden bleeding internally in the internal organs such as the stomach or intestines, back pain, dark, tar-like stools, vomiting blood, chest pains, mental fugue, coughing up of blood and the like.
You are advised to see your MD immediately if you are having any of these side effects. It would be best for you to check the Advanced Consumer information on Warfarin at www.drugs.com for more detailed information.
Warfarin is one of those drugs that needs to be monitored closely. If you're considering going on a diet, or changing lifestyle and eating habits, it's best to check with a health care professional.
Taking common things like vitamins, minerals, other nutritional supplements like nutriceuticals or herbs like Dang Gui, Dandelion, Licorice, Nettles, Ginseng, Pau D'Arco, and Ginko Biloba can be hazardous to your health if you take Coumadin. Eating liver, broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, grapefruit juice, pineapple, garlic and onion can also be hazardous to your health if you take Warfarin/Coumadin. Because of the many adverse effects of this medication, I am often reluctant to advise any herbals, supplements or dietary changes to people on this medication. I strongly advise any one on this medication to discuss with their pharmacist and MD for any other safe alternatives to this medication.
Glucophage or Metformin is also a common medication for sufferers of diabetes, particularly Type II, Diabetes mellitus. Diabetes is better controlled through a strict diet, eating at regular intervals and maintaining a healthy lifestyle of frequent exercise.
Many side effects may include, cramping, diarrhea, shortness of breath, tiredness, low blood sugar, blurred vision, cold sweats, mental confusion, excessive hunger, tachycardia, headache, nausea, and lack of appetite.
These signs and symptoms may also indicate that Metformin is not working for you, and that your diabetes is getting worse. I strongly advise anyone with diabetes to visit with a nutritionist or registered dietician and make radical changes to the diet, avoiding excessive intake of carbohydrates, and balancing diet with complex carbohydrates, protein and fats.
There are herbal alternatives to the medications above, but each has to be balanced with diet and exercise and are to be diagnosed carefully on a case by case basis. It is best to consult with a licensed Acupuncturist/herbalist, Professional Member of the American Herbalists Guild (AHG), or Doctor of Naturopathy for this.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2005, 07:25 PM - Health & HealingEveryone needs downtime to relax and just do nothing. It’s a way of recharging ourselves and a way to help us reflect on life and time to heal. In this column, we will examine the best way to give yourself a short 20 minute vacation. Use it when you’re feeling stressed out, emotional, tired, confused, or for a brief break after the holiday parties. Perhaps you just need a recharge, or a calm moment. This practice involves allowing yourself to completely relax and breath and guide your attention at various areas of your body. You can even use this method to reduce pain, or discomfort from a chronic disease.
First of all, you are going to lie down in the yoga asana (posture) called Savasana or “corpse pose”. If you’re offended by that, we’ll call it the “final resting position”. We lie on a mat, carpet, bed, or even the couch will do. All you have to do is lie down and close your eyes. Start breathing deep from the abdomen – you slowly inhale fully, pause, slowly exhale fully, then pause, and then cycle again. Try this for at least six breaths.
Next, bring your attention to your toes and allow them to relax totally. If you have to wiggle, crunch them, snap, or pop them, now’s the time to do it. Then relax totally for six more breaths.
From here, we move to the heels, bringing our attention there. We may relax, wiggle, adjust ourselves into comfort, then relax for six complete cycles of inhale, pause, exhale, pause.
We then shift our attention to the ankles, allowing ourselves to rotate, shake, stretch the ankles, then complete a cycle of six full breaths.
Bringing our attention to the lower leg, we relax completely, allowing the calf muscles sink into the ground (bed, floor, etc.), and complete six cycles of breathing.
Moving to the knees, we adjust ourselves and allow the articulation of the knee to completely relax and feel the space. Breathe for six more cycles.
Our attention then shifts to the thighs, allowing each muscle to first tighten, then relax completely. Breathing all along for six complete breaths.
Coming to the buttocks, we feel the gravity pulling us into the ground. The tailbone tucked and feeling fully relaxed. We breath and hold our attention here for six complete cycles.
Shifting to the lower back, we can feel the small of our back and realize the curvature there. We dissolve all our tension and tightness there, releasing that breath by breath for six breaths.
It is at the midback where we feel a sense of our breathing massaging us into the ground (bed, floor, etc.), and breath by breath feeling the embrace of Mother Earth. Six breaths and we feel revitalized.
Now at the upper back, we completely relax and feel our chest relaxed and sink. With every breath, the shoulder blades melt into the ground and we feel our tensions and frustrations melting away. We maintain our attention here for six full breaths.
Reaching the shoulders, we realize we have no burdens to shoulder right now, allowing ourselves ease of spirit. Breathing deeply, we completely relax for six complete cycles.
Our upper arms sink into the ground, as if a weight has been lifted off our shoulders. Completely flaccid and relaxed, we continue for a full six breaths.
At the elbows, we feel the space of our joint, and breathing deeply and slowly, we feel completely relaxed for six cycles of inhale – pause – exhale - pause.
Coming down to the forearms and wrists, we let go of any tension, any desire for control, and completely allow ourselves to relax. In and out, we breathe, fully for six cycles.
When we reach our hands, we realize we have to let go completely. Our hands are not stiff and straight, neither clenched and closed. In letting go, we erase all tension trying to control things in our lives. Be breathe and practice letting go for six complete breaths.
We bring our attention to the neck now, allowing all tension to be erased. Our head feels so heavy – as heavy as a boulder and we struggle to maintain our consciousness. We have not felt so completely relaxed in months. Six breaths.
Our scalp is completely relaxed. Our brows unfurrowed. There is no face to maintain, only the bliss of our relaxation. Our face is completely serene, reflecting the calmness within us. We breathe in and out, inhaling good thoughts, exhaling bad thoughts. Inhaling good energy, exhaling bad energy. Inhaling the good, exhaling the bad. Calmly breathing in and out…
You can get up when you wish to…
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Wednesday, December 28, 2005, 07:22 PM - Health & HealingDr. Li Dong Yuan of Jin Dynasty propagated the principles of the tonify Spleen and Stomach school of Chinese Medicine. Li’s theories expounded that chronic diseases are largely a part from improper diet and malnutrition. His solution was to treat the Spleen and Stomach organs through herbals and acupuncture for chronic diseases. I regularly use Li’s herbal prescriptions and principles in my acupuncture, as I practice the Tung style of Acupuncture, and heavily treat the Spleen and Stomach channels to prevent disease, as well as treat chronic diseases like asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and cancer. In Chinese Medicine, Earth is representative of the Spleen and Stomach and is believed to be in the center. As such, it is believed that by treating the Spleen and Stomach, one can treat everything.
As of late, I have been paying attention to my diet and nutrition and have been regularly exercising when I have time. Often, with my schedule, I do some exercise between my patients and clients. Eating late at night is a taboo and I try to stay away from it. I also avoid excessive consumption of cold beverages and sweetened soft drinks like soda or bottled ice teas, preferring to take unsweetened ice tea (without ice) and room temperature bottled water. This is because the Spleen does not like the cold in Chinese Medicine, and cold inhibits the Spleen’s function of transformation of food into energy and transportation of energy in the body. As such, a diet of cold foods can surely affect your energy with weight gain, edema, lethargy, abdominal bloating, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea. It is better to avoid them, or at least, balance when you eat something cold like a salad or sandwich, accompany your meal with a warm beverage or hot soup.
Of course, foods prepared with ginger or cinnamon can also help warm the body and help with tonifying the Spleen and Stomach functions. This is why Chinese food is almost always cooked with ginger. Ginger also acts as a detoxicant and is particularly helpful to cook with foods like seafood and vegetables.
When eating, never eat to the maximum of being full – always aim for two thirds full. It is important to chew your food well before swallowing. Eating should be done at a leisurely pace, and not rushed. In the Chinese tradition, not too much talking should be done at the dinner table, as it can upset the Spleen’s digestive function, particularly if strong emotions such as anger, fear, fright, and grief are the result of too much talking. Also too much thinking or pensiveness is bad for the digestive function, so it is best to not do work, watch television, or video games when one is eating. The idea of television and dinner is a poor one. Sex and eating also are not good companions for the very same reason.
Of course, on rare occasions, it is okay to go to a salad bar or buffet, but even then, restraint is necessary. Eat warm foods first, perhaps a soup to start with, then eat salads, your entrees and then a small dessert. I believe it is a strategy for certain restaurants to bring ice water to your table and offer cold salad first, as you tend to get full faster on these items. As for dessert, only a bit of fresh fruit is better than ice cream, pies, cakes, cookies or other sweetened items. A small piece of watermelon can help move the bowels, relieve thirst and provide the Spleen with the craving of the sweet it desires. It is said in Chinese Medicine that the Spleen craves sweetness, and that the sweet flavor tonifies the Spleen. Overeating and abnormal consumption of sweets can inhibit the Spleen’s normal function.
After eating, rubbing the abdomen in a clockwise manner thirty six times can help settle the meal and stimulate the body’s natural energy for digestion. It was said that if one takes 100 steps after you eat, you can live to be 100. Of course, taking a short walk after eating a meal can help digestion, help move the bowels, promote circulation and burn off some the energy from the calories you ingested.
Followed properly, these little pearls of wisdom can certainly help you live to a ripe old age.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2005, 07:20 PMHypnotherapy is a wonderful healing art and offers a great method of reaching goals, motivating oneself, as well as eliminating many problems. Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy as terms are often used interchangeably. There are several methods of hypnosis, and these include stage hypnosis for entertainment purposes; Self Hypnosis, which is a form of inducing yourself to hypnotized state and offering yourself suggestions; guided meditation, which is essentially the same thing as hypnosis, but generally taught or led in groups; and lastly hypnotherapy, which is using hypnosis to bring about a change or therapeutic benefit.
The late Charles Tebbetts, a famous hypnotherapist in Seattle, defined hypnosis as, “All hypnosis is self-hypnosis, and the power is in the mind of the person being hypnotized.” I think very much this is a true statement, as the power is in you to induce changes. Thoughts often turn into action, then snowball into results. Proper thoughts will only lead to proper action, leading to proper results.
Hypnotherapy basically consists of someone guiding your thoughts, ideas, beliefs and then you are lead into a trancelike state, offering you thoughts that you wish to follow. This trancelike state is like a focused concentration, such as when you feel enthralled in fascination by something. Others may describe it as somewhat like a “blanking out”, just as when you drive a long distance on a long stretch of highway.
Roy Hunter, a well known hypnotherapist in the Pacific Northwest, states that hypnosis is basically a form of “guided meditation”. Once you are into this state, the hypnotherapist guides you into a deepened state and offers you a suggestion to your subconscious mind. It is natural for the human mind to focus concentration such that one is able to access and control the subconscious. These 3 steps are the major key to hypnotherapy. Once these are done, repeated sessions may assist in anchoring a suggestion in the subject. One might think that basically hypnosis is a method of uploading new programs in to the mind.
Many of the modern disciplines and forms of alternative medicine are derived from hypnosis. NLP, psychotherapy, sports psychology, life coaching, advertising, communication all use hypnosis principles to bring about a change. Many self-help books all employ hypnosis methods. Even many of the Tibetan vajrayana and yogic practices make use of similar techniques to bring about changes to the mind.
One can’t be hypnotized against their will, or be made to do some foolish things like jumping up and down and quacking like a duck as most Hollywood movies and television shows would have you believe. The hypnotically induced state is relaxing and comfortable.
I have creatively combined acupuncture and hypnotherapy to treat certain patients and have experienced great success in depression, anxiety, weight loss and smoking, as well as reaching goals. My “Acuhypnotherapy” is a great development in combining these 2 different but useful arts. Basically in my method, I use the acupuncture to induce the trance state, then offer indirect or direct deepening methods, followed by the implanting of a suggestion. For example, if a person want to lose weight, I interview them as to their goals, plan, and steps to reach their goal, have the entire goal time bound and simply plant all the steps that will lead a person to success. Once known, these are written down to coincide with the patient’s beliefs and goals. I then induce them by inserting needles into certain points while they are lying down relaxed, then allow them to rest briefly. I may test the level of the trance or use methods to deepen the mental focus, then simply repeat to the patient what they were wanting to overcome or change.
Properly done, hypnotherapy can benefit one in bringing about changes in behavior, anxiety, eliminate poor habits, problem solve, overcome strong negative emotions, bring about healing to the body, control pain, and deal with substance abuse. The list can be endless, as many problems of the body begin in the mind.
If you’re seriously considering hypnotherapy, do so with a person that you have rapport with and check for their qualifications through certification. Many life coaches, psychotherapists, MFT’s, psychologists, and psychiatrists have some experience with hypnotherapy or can refer you to a reputable one.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2005, 06:17 PM - Health & HealingI am a practitioner of Master Tung’s Acupuncture, which differs greatly from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture that is typically taught in schools here in the USA and in China. Many people might wonder who Master Tung was, and my information here will introduce him to readers here.
Master Tung Ching-chang was probably the greatest Acupuncturist in the last generation in Taiwan. So great was his fame, that he literally had over 100 patients per day which he saw in his small clinic. His fame was due to his extreme efficacy with acupuncture needles, and he only used a few per treatment.
Master Tung arrived in Taiwan after the Communists took over in China in 1949 along with Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist party and began a successful practice in Taipei, Taiwan. He was an Acupuncturist in Taiwan for 26 years, and throughout that time, he allegedly treated over 400,000 patients, with about a fourth of them treated at no charge. For these humanitarian deeds, Master Tung was decorated with an award of “Representative of Fine People and Fine Deeds” in Taiwan.
As the personal acupuncturist to Taiwan President Chang Kai Shek, his reputation was so great that he was asked to visit Cambodia between 1971 and 1974 to treat Cambodian President Long Nuo, who suffered from hemiplegia due to a stroke.
Master Tung was also decorated by President Chang Kai Shek with a “Certificate of Honor” in the field of Chinese Medicine, which is an amazing accomplishment because initially the Nationalist Party was not responsive to Chinese Medicine, due to the fact that Sun Yat Sen was a Western trained physician.
Master Tung’s Acupuncture is truly a living treasure and storehouse of Chinese Medicine, untouched by modern TCM, and a glimpse into the family systems of Chinese Medicine as taught in previous generations. It is itself a conglomerate of classical acupuncture and pricking methods, flexibly applied, and proven clinically with practical, often with quick and dramatic results. Currently many practitioners of acupuncture may use a lot of needles and needle around the local area. Not so with Master Tung’s Acupuncture. For example, if a person has neck pain, a TCM trained acupuncturist would typically needle the neck area. But a Master Tung acupuncturist will apply a few needles to either the wrist, ankle, knee, shoulder, hip, or thigh to treat the pain. The advantage is very clear, as you can give feedback immediately to your acupuncturist upon insertion. When needles are in the neck, one has to wait until they are removed to give feedback! For the acupuncturist, the flexibility of the method is extremely attractive.
Done properly, Master Tung’s acupuncture is painless, quick, efficient and requires only a few treatments if problems are acute. A full range of problems are treated, including allergies, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, back pain and sciatica, Bell’s Palsy, bronchitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, high blood pressure, colitis, common cold and flu, constipation, diarrhea, ear pain and ringing, eczema and other skin problems, edema, frozen shoulder, GERD, headaches, IBS, impotence, insomnia, laryngitis, menstrual problems, menopause, nausea and vomiting, numbness and neuropathy, pain of all types, PMS, prostate problems, rheumatism, stress, stroke, tennis elbow, TMJ, and Trigeminal Neuralgia with just a few needles. It is almost inconceivable as to the efficacy of this form of acupuncture. In my own daily practice, I am still amazed at the immediate results I see with this system of acupuncture.
Master Tung’s Acupuncture in the USA is practiced by Young Wei-chieh of Rowland Heights, CA, Esther Su of San Jose, CA, Jim Maher of Oklahoma City, OK, and myself. I had the fortune of learning from Young Wei-chieh and Esther Su, and did extensive research in this system of acupuncture and practice it daily in Pasadena, CA. Currently, I am sharing with this great system with acupuncturists and Medical Doctors nationally and internationally through my organization called ITARA - International Tung’s Acupuncture Research Association. We seek to preserve, educate, research and pass on the legacy of Master Tung’s work through seminars, private trainings, and other mediums.
As students and practitioners of Master Tung’s Acupuncture, our practice is to benefit others in a practical, simple, direct, economical manner and it is hoped that the reader can use seek out a Master Tung Acupuncture practitioner to experience these amazing points - the same points I use daily in my clinic with amazing results!
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Wednesday, December 28, 2005, 05:09 PM - Health & HealingWhy Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy for Cancer patients?
Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy can help those suffering with cancer to prolong life, enhance quality of life, and aid in recovery. In China, Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy are used as primary treatments for the treatment of cancer, in this country there are legal ramifications with this approach, so most western cancer patients often choose to combine their biomedical treatment with alternative therapies. They are not quite sure where to turn to and may try any treatment alleged to treat cancer, or even self medicate with herbs and other substances. Often chemotherapy, surgery and radiation cause damage to healthy tissues, as well as diseased tissues, and weakens the immune system. This is where Chinese medicine can be very helpful. Chinese herbal medicine is the therapy of choice in treating the side-effects experienced by oncological treatments, and is proven in its effectiveness.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, cancer is caused by the stagnation of energy and blood in the body due to strong emotions, poor exercise, poor diet, inadequate rest and hereditary factors which are triggered from poor health. Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy eradicates disease through the balancing and moving stagnant energy and blood. .
How Does Acupuncture Work?
According to the principles of TCM, energy flows through the body via 12 primary meridians and 8 extra channels. To strengthen the flow of energy , or remove blockages in the meridians, acupuncturists insert a few disposable tiny, sterile, flexible needles just under the skin at certain specific points (called acupoints) along these channels. These acupoints are associated with specific body function, and when stimulated, they trigger the immunity system to provide almost instantaneous pain relief and cessation of symptoms ailing the patient. For example, if you are suffering from nausea and vomiting from radiation or chemotherapy, a few carefully selected points might be stimulated on your ear, scalp, hands, feet, wrist or ankle. TCM practitioners believe that acupuncture stimulates the body's internal regulatory system to nurture a natural healing response without having to directly treat the site of injury.
Acupuncture stimulates the body's internal regulatory system to nurture a natural healing response.
Centuries of empirical observation indicate that acupuncture leads to real changes in the body. The insertion of acupuncture needles has an effect on the autonomic nervous system and homeostatis. Recently, numerous studies have shown that acupuncture stimulates nerves, send a signal up the spinal cord to the brain, leading to the release of endorphins and monoamines, which are natural chemicals in the body that block pain signals. This may be one explanation why acupuncture is so good at stopping pain, but does not fully explain the healing response one has with other disorders. More research is needed to fully explain the acupuncture mechanism.
What To Expect
When first visiting a practitioner, there will be a thorough medical history inquiry, the pulse is taken on both wrists, the tongue is examined, and the body may be palpated to check the site of disease or pain. A treatment plan will be discussed. Depending on your ailment, you may also have your first acupuncture treatment and Herbal Therapy prescription at that first visit. In general, visits occur initially two or three times a week until therapeutic results and stabilization have occurred. After that, follow up visits will be scheduled as needed. Therapeutic exercise and meditation may also be prescribed to aid in overall well being.
Does it hurt?
Acupuncture needles do not hurt like hypodermic needles used to give injections or draw blood. The needles are hair-thin, and may feel like a tiny prick or pinch upon insertion. Sterile disposable needles are always used. Once the needles are inserted, the practitioner may manipulate them manually or send a weak electrical current through them to increase the energy flow. The needles are typically retained for 20 - 45 minutes, depending on the ailment. Different people experience sensations of a "tingling", "distended", "electrical" or "full" feeling, whereas others may feel numbness or nothing at all. Most find the sessions relaxing, and fall asleep during the treatment, waking up refreshed and feeling great.
Herbal Therapy in a nutshell
In our society, herbs have now come into vogue, but there are dangers. Although herbs are natural substances, they can be dangerous if wrongly or self prescribed. Herbs are combined with other herbs of similar function to reduce the danger of toxicity and increase synergistic effect. In our clinic, we use the finest Herbal Therapy formulas in pill and powder form for convenience. There is no need to be inconvenienced by the taste, smell and time preparing raw herbs. There are also herbal lotions, liniments, herbal wraps, patches and pastes that may be used externally, depending on your condition.
Other Physical Medicine
Practitioners may also use moxibustion, a form of heat therapy on acupoints, to stimulate healing, depending upon the ailment. Other techniques include cupping, Gua Sha (scraping), massage and manipulation therapy, often complimented with dietary advice.
How soon can I expect results?
Some patients notice rapid improvement after just a few sessions. In acute pain cases, one or two treatments may lead to dramatic results. In chronic conditions that may have taken years to develop, treatment may take longer.
Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy effectively treats:
Back Pain and Sciatica
Chemo and Radiation therapy Side Effects
Ear Pain and Ringing
Eczema and other Skin Problems
Nausea and Vomiting
Numbness and Neuropathy
PAIN of all types
Does my Insurance Cover treatments?
Currently many insurance carriers cover treatments. If your insurance company has acupuncture benefits, you may qualify for treatment.
Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy can help prevent cancer by strengthening the immunity system, insuring adequate rest, balancing strong emotions, promoting proper diet, and avoiding hereditary triggers that can lead to developing tumors.
During oncological treatments of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy can be a safe adjunct for an already taxed immunity system. We can boost immunity, help dissolve nodules, reduce anxiety, stop headaches, treat nausea, vomiting, dizziness, lack of energy, prevent peripheral neuropathy, treat chemo induced menopause, and restore hair loss to maintain quality of life and give you time with your loved ones and put your business in order.
After you've gone through treatments of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, we can restore you to good health and help you recover from whatever symptom is ailing you.
In summary, Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy can help you before during and after treatment of cancer.
About Robert Chu, L.Ac., QME, MSOM, PhD:
Robert Chu (Chu Sau Lei) began practicing the martial and Chinese healing arts since childhood. Robert is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist, specializing in the Master Tung Acupuncture and Optimal Acupuncture methods in which he effectively treats pain, industrial injuries, sports injuries, and neuromusculoskeletal disorders. Dr. Chu also treats a wide variety of internal diseases including hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, psoriasis, thyroid disorders, gynecological disorders and side-effects from cancer treatments. He is appointed by the Industrial Medical Council as a Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME).
Dr. Chu was formerly affiliated with the St. Vincent Medical Center , as the first fulltime Acupuncturist on staff and treated cancer patients with Acupuncture, Herbal Therapy, Qigong and Tai Chi. Dr. Chu is a former faculty member of Samra University of Oriental Medicine in Los Angeles, where he taught acupuncture. He has also taught Tai Chi and Qigong at Loyola Law School . Dr. Chu volunteers at Pasadena's Wellness Community , where he does monthly lectures for cancer patients and a weekly lifestyle/nutrition and Qi Gong class. He is occasionally featured as a speaker for the American Cancer Society . In July of 2004, Dr. Chu was selected as the Acupuncturist to Olympic athletes at the Olympic Trials held in Sacramento, CA.
Dr. Chu also lectures nationally and internationally on Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to provide continuing education to MD's and Acupuncturists. In 2003, he founded the International Association of Optimal Acupuncture and Clinical Chinese Medicine to spread his effective clinical system. He also serves as President of the ITARA - International Tung's Acupuncture Research Association, which he founded in 2005, to preserve, standardize, educate, and research new applications of the Tung family system of Acupuncture with integrity, open sharing, and a goal to help end suffering in fellow beings. He has been decorated as an honorary member of the Finnish Traditional Chinese Medicine Society of Acupuncture and Herbs and a therapist member of the National Register of Acupuncture Therapists in Finland. Dr. Chu is also listed as a Master Practitioner of Oriental Bodywork Therapy and Master Practitioner of Tui-Na Manipulations, awarded by the International Association of Tui-Na Therapies in London, England. He has lectured at Emperor's College of TCM , CSOMA , and other functions as a dynamic and entertaining speaker.
In 2004, Robert was awarded a Ph.D. in Buddhist Ayurveda from the non-profit college Ayurveda Healing Arts Institute in Berkeley, California.
Currently, 40 - 60% of Dr. Chu's practice is devoted to treating breast and prostate cancer patients. He may be contacted at:
Robert Chu, L.Ac., QME, MSOM, PhD, AHG
Oasis Vitality Center
2502 E. Washington Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91104
Cell/Voice Mail: (626) 487-1815
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Wednesday, December 28, 2005, 05:07 PM - Health & HealingWhat led me to a study of TCM was a lifelong practice of martial arts. In martial arts, aside from the artistic perfection of strikes, kicks, joint locking, throwing and ground fighting, the health giving benefits of opening up the channels and collaterals for qi flow, learning meditation to calm the mind, we specialize in trauma, both healing and inflicting. My sifu said, "it's easy learn how to injure someone, but is difficult to learn how to heal someone." How correct he was. A punch to Ren 17 can have devastating effects, a kick to UB 40 can bring an attacker to his knees in practice. As a consequence, in order to survive the training, many martial arts teachers specialize in die da shang ke - literally "fall and strike traumatology", which are overlapped by TCM's wai ke (External diseases) and gu shang ke (Orthopedics and Traumatology). I was fortunate to be able to study the rudiments of die da shang ke under my Wing Chun sifu, Kwan Jong Yuen and my Hung Ga sifu, Yee Chi Wai. Through the years I also met other famous martial artists and TCM doctors like Kenny Gong, Lui Yon Sang, Chan Tai Shan and others. My study of martial arts was interspersed with the study of traditional formulas for traumatology, including powders, wines, pastes, decoctions and pills, their applications, modifications and processing. Many martial artists are also known for their specialty in tui na, as basic exercises to develop the body in the tui na like Shaolin neigong (Internal training) or yi jin jing (Sinew Changing Classic) are part of the traditional martial arts. These exercises develop the limbs so that a martial artist trained in tui na can produce better results and a martial artist would probably know the body better than a non martial artist in movement and cause of injury.
In this article, I would like to introduce how to create a basic die da jiu (fall or strike wine) which can be used as a topical liniment for common contusions and bruises. Here is a list of herbs you will need:
Ru Xiang (Gummi Olibanum) 12 g
Mo Yao (Myrrh) 12 g
Chi Shao (Radix Paeoniae Rubra) 12 g
Mu Xiang (Radix Saussureae seu Vladimiriae) 12 g
Hong Hua (Flos Carthami Tinctorii) 9 g
Tao Ren (Semen Persicae) 9 g
Dang Gui Wei (Radix Angelicae Sinensis)12 g
Pu Huang (Pollen Typhae) 12 g
Da Huang Tan (Rhizoma Rhei - Charred) 9 g
Tian Qi (Radix Pseudoginseng) 12 g
Xue Ji (Sanguois Draconis) 9 g
Ding Xiang (Flos Caryophylli) 9 g
Those of you who know your Bensky Formulas, might recognize this Rx is very similar to qi li san (seven thousandths of a tael powder) from Liang fang ji ye (Small collection of fine Rx) or even the die da wan from Quan guo cheng yao chu fang ji (Collection of Country's Prepared Herbals) but addresses pain, blood movement and stop bleeding more. The measurements of the herbs is also different because this is more of an external use liniment. This Rx is fine for bruises, minor contusions, and sprains, but to make it a better Rx, we should modify the Rx according to our uses. For example, if there are broken bones, we should add Xu Duan (Radix Dipsaci Asperi), Wei Ling Xian (Radix Clematidis), and Tu Bie Chong (Eupolyphaga seu Opisthoplatia). If our focus is pain, add chuan xiong (Radix Ligustici), yan hu suo (Rhizoma Corydalis), yu jin (Curcumae), jiang huang (Rhozoma Curcumae Longae), ji xue teng (Radix et Caulis Jixueteng), san leng (Rhizoma Sparganii Stoloniferi) , mu tong (Caulis Mutong), di long (Lumbricus), su mu (Lignum Sappan), or wu ling zhi (Excrementum Trogopteri seu Pteromi) according to what your needs are. If there is pain in a certain area, we should add in Qiang Huo (Rhizoma et Radix Notopterygii) for the upper back, Du Huo (Radix Angelicae Pubecentis) for lower back, Bai Zhi (Radix Angelicae Dahuricae) for front of head, Tan Xiang (Lignum Sappan) for the chest, Niu Xi (Radix Achyrathis Bidentatae) to guide to the lower extremities, Xuan Fu Hua (Flos Inulae)to guide downwards, and Ma Huang (Herba Ephedrae) to guide upwards to the skin. We can even get more specific to use the guiding herbs enter particular channels by simply choosing herbs that go to that channel. For internal bleeding, add Di Yu (Radix Sanguisorbae Officinalis), Da Ji (Herba seu Radix Cirsii Japonici) and Xiao Ji (Herba Cephalanoploris). To make the Rx more fragrant to stop pain and open the orifices, add bing pian (Borneol) she xiang (Secret
Io Moschus Moschiferi) su he xiang (Styrax Liquidis), and to address wind, cold or damp Bi, you can also modify it with expel wind damp herbs, such as fang feng, gui zhi (Ramulus Cinnamoni) bai hua she (Agkistrodon seu Bungarus), hu gu (os tigris), lou shi teng (Caulis Trachelospermi Jasminoidis), hai feng teng (Caulis Piperis Futokadsurae), wu jia pi (Cortex Acanthopanacis Gracilistyli Radicis), and kuan jin teng (Flos Tussilaginis Farfarae). For more traumatic swellings, add Ban Xia (Rhizoma Pinelliae Ternatae), Chuan Wu (Radix Aconiti Carmichaeli), Cao Wu ( Radix Aconiti Kusnezoffii) and Tian Nan Xing (Rhizoma Arisaematis).
I caution the person who is not knowledgeable in herbology to not put all the ingredients together to form one "super die da jiu"! I'm not sure what he or she would create! Look up the proper dosage of the herbs to use, and choose what you need and for what specific use in mind. Just for some background information, sometimes herbs are substituted for one another based on local availability and for financial reasons. Be wise in choosing what you need. For example, Hu Gu (Os tigris) may not be available because it is illegal. Wu Shao She (Zaocys Dhumnades) and Bai Hua She make fine substitutes (and no, you don't need both) and whichever is less expensive will work fine. Pregnant women should not touch or use this medicine.
All in all, one small Rx can turn into literally thousands of variations from one functional base of herbs in a Rx. When others boast their secret die da recipe is the original or more secret, they're simply blowing smoke and trying to say they're the best. It depends on what the function of the formula is for. I have a saying, "Let application be your guide; let function rule over form." It is applicable to medicine or martial arts.
You will also need a clean glass gallon bottle or jar and enough gin or vodka to fill a gallon. If you prefer a more traditional approach, of equal parts alcohol and water, you may use 50% spring water and 50% Everclear grain alcohol to make one gallon. Traditionally, mi jiu tou (rice wine head) is used - again, a gallon's worth, but the alcohol content is weaker than vodka or gin. One prepares the herbs by parching them through pan frying (no oil) in a wok or simply toasting all the herbs in a toaster oven to enhance the blood moving effect. No need to char them excessively, lest you lose all the active ingredients. Place the herbs in the container and pour the alcohol over the herbs. The alcohol used is always of a good drinking quality (ethyl alcohol), in cases where traumatic injury may be also internal. (Of course, if your die da jiu has poisonous ingredients, it would not do well to ingest it internally.) Beware of going the cheap route with isopropyl alcohol, you are simply making a poison batch of die da jiu. Traditionally, we never use isopropyl alcohol. Seal the container so that it is air tight and date and mark the bottle, and store in a dark place. Shake the bottle occasionally. In about 3 - 4 months, your die da jiu will be ready and will be superior to any on the market because you made it and you know specifically what you designed it for.
The herbal wine you created can be used simply by massaging it in to the affected area, or for use with tui na. You can also use the wine in the technique of fire cupping (hou guan), by placing a small amount in a cup, just enough to wet the bottom, spread it evenly and ignite it, then apply to the affected area. In doing this, I would caution that practice and common sense be your guide - lest you burn and scar your patient and have a nice liability lawsuit on your hands.
This is a brief introduction to die da shang ke and the common herbs used. In future articles, I will focus on plasters, pills, decoctions, their applications and modifications and how to create them.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2005, 05:05 PM - Martial ArtsMichael Guen holds a Ph.D. in psychology, is a physician of Oriental medicine and a practitioner of various natural therapies. He is a 5th generation disciple of the Yin Fu ba gua quan lineage under Grandmaster Gong Baozai, and a thirty year student of Yang family tai chi chuan. An author, he resides in Santa Rosa, California, where he practices clinical medicine, teaches life practice and martial arts.
Can you give us a little background on your Chinese Martial arts training and experience? How long have you practiced? What have you studied?
I have been studying martial arts for thirty years. In 1973 began practicing Wu style tai chi chuan in Boston Chinatown. A year and a half later I began studying Yang style tai chi with Ginsoon Chu, who is Yang Shouzhong's second disciple. In 1977 I lived in Taiwan for two years, where I sought out instruction from many teachers. I was studying xing yi quan from the wife of Chang Chunfeng and from a disciple of Chen Panling, when I met Gong Baozai. After that initial trip to Taiwan, I went back to Asia nearly every year until 2000, when Gong Baozai and his wife passed away.
For ten years after I met Gong Baozai, I continued to study other styles in Hong Kong and Mainland China, mostly Yang family connections. During that time I met and received instruction from Yang Shouzhong as well as briefly from Chen Longxiang, the lineage descendant of Yang Chengfu's disciple in Sichuan, Li Yaxian. My other brief exposure has been to Five animal Shaolin, Wing chun, Aikido, Shuai jiao, and more recently Brazilian jiujitsu.
The martial arts I have sampled and fought against has been quite wide. But the steady reference point throughout has been the two orthodox internal teachers I met-Gong Baozai of Yin Fu ba gua quan and Yang Shouzhong of Yang family tai chi chuan. Each impressed on me completely different aspects of mastery. Grandmaster Yang possessed the marvelous dong jing , understanding force, and tai chi power; Gong Baozai brought me to a complete comprehension of the inner and outer mechanism of internal arts, which included a mysterious highest attainment called hou qi ba gua "latter steps of ba gua" otherwise known as, sheng ren zhi lu , "way of the saint."
I understand you traveled throughout Asia, would you tell us about some of your experiences?
What I didn't mention was another major influence that radically affected my orientation towards martial arts; from age twenty-one to thirty-five I had frequent encounters with xiu dao de ren , representatives of several orthodox Daoist lineages in Taiwan and the Mainland, where these masters invited me to ru men and join their sects. Some even invited me to chu jia (leave home) and renounce the world. In addition to teaching me meditation, philosophy, medicine and spirituality, I learned from them a certain perspective on martial arts-that it was a natural preparation to letting go of all worldly desires to transcend the wheel of karma.
The spiritual influence bestowed by these Daoist teachers and teachings has had a huge impact on the course of my life, as for years I struggled with the decision to stay in the world or leave the world. Imagine me, a suburban Asian American kid contemplating the renunciate path, and the confusion it brought? Therefore, from early in my training, I had been introduced to an aim for martial arts that went beyond technical mastery alone. Even though I love fighting, I never since meeting these people viewed fighting as the end all accomplishment of martial arts.
What was the great Yang Sau Zhong like?
As a student of Yang Shouzhong's second disciple from the age of nineteen to thirty, I had the opportunity to visit Yang Shouzhong three times. For accuracy sake I need to qualify my relationship with the great grandmaster of tai chi chuan-it was not as a formal student. The first was upon introduction of Master Chu; the second was on a group trip with Master Chu; and a third was a private trip to visit Grandmaster Yang.
In the brief yet intense interactions I had with Yang shouzhong, he was extremely generous to me. From direct physical contact and detailed corrections and instructions, he gave me an entirely different view of tai chi than found in the mainstream. Everything was different: its temperament, the nature of the extraordinary power, and a standard for practice of the forms that I have not seen rivaled by any practitioner of tai chi.
The standard of authenticity I hold for the internal arts thus comes from having for years compared and weighed the methods, styles, character and dispositions of these two pure line masters. I saw that the original schools of tai chi chuan and ba gua quan known today were developed and preserved for generations as independent inquiries. All Gong Baozai and Yang Shouzhong ever did was one style their entire lifetime; which means that if it is actually true that they were both fourth generation lineage holders of the original traditions, each system held a reality that was complete and self-sustaining unto itself. This is a big statement. For one thing, it implies the systems in being self-sufficient, were originally resistant to blending.
Throughout my twenties I fought Gong Baozai's recommendation to develop my character and scholarship; at the same time, I was so taken by the internal power of Yang's tai chi, that for those years I invested most of my energies into training in tai chi chuan. However, the principles Gong Baozai imparted never left me.
Regarding Ba Gua, I know that you have studied different lineages of the art. Why did you feel the need to study various versions rather than sticking to one?
I actually had only brief exposures to other ba gua styles, most before I met Gong Baozai. Like many of my tai chi colleagues in the 70's, I was fascinated with ba gua and took various workshops offered by different teachers. Until I met Gong Baozai, none of the styles I studied put me in conflict with other internal styles. I could keep practicing ba gua zhang, tai chi chuan, qi gong, xing yi quan, all with no disagreement. However, the open body style Gong Baozai taught was so different from what I call the "turtle back" posture. Opening my chest, pulling in my abdomen and sticking out my buttocks seemed contradictory to what I had learned was "internal," and it at first made me feel weak. This is the reason I didn't practice his style seriously for many years; I didn't possess the emotional strength to hold my body open that way. Another reason was that because it was practiced so radically different from other internal styles, dedicating myself solely to ba gua quan would have alienated me from the greater martial arts community.
Even as I delved into other styles, it always clung in the back of my mind that there was something special about the method Gong Baozai taught; the entire feeling and flavor was different. Later I discovered that my training in other systems built up my body in a way that made it "armor plated." I resisted Gong Baozai's entire teaching approach of family style and the physical method because it threatened me. It was too open and intimate, making me feel vulnerable with my feelings; all of which I was not yet ready to face until I matured emotionally in my thirties.
Confucius said, "At thirty one stands up." Gong Baozai interpreted this as meaning that one first has a sense for living for the sake of oneself. Before one has matured sufficiently in this respect, no matter how hard he or she may try, they are unable to embrace living beyond one's own self-interests. In my late twenties I fell quite ill from incorrect practice: fighting too much, taking too many blows, and indiscriminately abusing people. There was a passive anger I wasn't in touch with that was inverting inward and destroying me. Gong Baozai was the only martial arts teacher whose system, in offering an equal balance of warriorship, scholarship and medicine, could save me from my violence.
What is unique about the training that you received under Gong Baozai? How is the application different from Tai Chi? How do you choose what system you use for application?
The tai chi chuan I learned was very authentic. As a martial art it is supreme. Gong Baozai said that his teacher Gong Baotian acknowledged the superiority of tai chi chuan. Yet he also commented that present day tai chi has lost the thread of the balancing element in medicine. When I refer to medicine here, I am speaking of a sophistication of knowledge that goes way beyond qi cultivation, acupuncture and herbs. These, Gong Baozai said, are surface manifestations of a deeper root in medicine, whereby one understands the nature of change. The sole emphasis of the tai chi training I received was on developing rooting and power. For quite a few years I practiced eight to twelve forms a day, then in the evenings practiced pushing hands, sparring, and the other two-person training. I learned that even though one might have lousy technique and form, with all the qi and strength building in tai chi it would be hard for another to hurt your body with their bare hands.
Exposure to Gong Baozai however, changed my perspective on all of this. Tai chi and ba gua turned out to be like apples and oranges. Because of differences in purpose and approach to practice, they cannot be blended. Not wanting to lose either, I tried for years to find the common link, all to no avail until just recently. I describe this experience in detail in my book Way of the Saint: Missing link between Chinese medicine, mysticism and martial arts.
The system Gong Baozai taught is impossible to study with the same spirit as other martial arts. Everything about it causes one to have to let go of old preconceptions of what martial arts is, especially the value of strength. This is a very extensive question you ask, but I can answer it at the root, which is how the philosophy is used. I am aware there are many versions and interpretations of tai chi, some coming from temples with extensive theoretical frameworks and ties to Chinese medicine, qi gong, and I Ching. But my criteria for authenticity are the families such as Yang, and Chen from where the Yang came. The people that popularized tai chi in the public arena were martial artists, not monks. I do not know the temple styles of tai chi. In the terms of the Yang family, I know that the main application of yin and yang is as directly applied in exercise and practical application. It is principally a martial art, only secondarily a system of therapy or medicine. With training one develops dong jing , interpreting force, fan tan jing , repelling power, someone touches you and in an instant they lose their balance or are bounded away. This is what I learned from the Yang Shouzhong style. No excessively round circles, no winding up, no whipping; the real practical thing that is based on merging body and mind. That is the marvel of the in-the-door Yang family training I caught a glimpse of. You can't get near them; the strength in the hands and body are so great that they could crush you with little effort at all.
Despite this appeal, something was wrong with my tai chi training. I feel the system either lost or never had the medicine. Maybe by the time the families got them the medicine and mysticism was lost already. If Zhang Sanfeng did create tai chi in the Song dynasty and was a monk, it might have been a more elaborate and extensive in terms of medicine and mysticism. What the families I feel mainly got were its fighting aspect and a little of the self-cultivation, which though extraordinary, did not likely include the spiritual aspect.
By comparison, a version of an original temple martial art system was, I feel, retained in the transmission received by Gong Baozai. He claims to have learned it from Gong Baotian, who got it directly from Yin Fu. The depth of this orientation can be summed up by what Gong Baozai once said to me when I asked him how ba gua can be applied to life and self-defense. He said "ba gua cannot be applied to life, ba gua IS life!" That says it right there. The goal is not to find something-that will only kill it-but to seek the principles that already exist within you. This might seem Daoist but it is not. It is just natural and common sense, and the way to allow the body's full potentials to come forth. The more you pursue physical strength, the less you truly have it internally; the more you want to beat someone the less effective you will be in other aspects of your life. You might win a bout, but the effort you put into getting those skills may leave you short-sighted and handicapped in the bigger scheme of your life. Just look at the private lives of many successful pugilists as an example of chi kui , losing out in larger respects. The lives of many students of internal martial arts I have taught, even though not as extreme, are not much different in the lack of balance and true fulfillment.
At this point, my tai chi and ba gua can be practiced together, but only because I've given myself over to the principles of ba gua. The open body posture of ba gua can encompass tai chi; but the closed turtle back posture of tai chi, for all its effectiveness in fighting, is unable on the physical, emotional and mental levels, to embrace the expansive consciousness of ba gua. I agree with Gong Baozai that tai chi must have once had the medicine-emphasis on separating out the organs with movement-maybe even to a greater depth of profundity than ba gua quan, but this knowledge may have since been lost.
What is the resultant sum of physical martial arts training?
I think you are talking about power. I used to have enormous rebound power-I would give demonstrations for my club holding five men on my shoulder and pushing them back into a wall. But it was external and eventually made me sick. Maybe it was because I had not learned the complete tai chi method from the Yang's. But I'm not sure if I want to now, because of the bondage to power; it bred a restlessness and spirit that masked by politeness and propriety was always challenging and testing. One's world becomes very small-who is more powerful, who can push who, who is superior based on this criteria alone? This is the underlying dialogue I see masters promoting to their student's today. It has to be; power is the martial artist's basic claim to self-worth in this modern era. Gong Baozai did not call that martial arts, but "pugilism." True martial arts, he claimed, embodies medicine, mysticism and character, which as a consequence curbs.the tendency toward imbalance in the strength realm. His saying "employ principle above strength, rather than strength above principle" sums it up.
There is never any guarantee that practicing a superior system will lead to great accomplishment, but the general ambition of ba gua quan is higher than most martial arts. Engaging in self-inquiry under the guidance of Gong Baozai I came to understand many things about Chinese culture and spirit, about human nature and the natural course of life. It is the development of a strong intelligence that makes the body strong and capable, of a caliber above the norm. This is what makes one superior as a fighter; not the endless conditioning of body parts and killer techniques. Superiority as a human therefore has nothing to do with fighting or training. Those who need to prove their self-worth by fighting are in many respects like adolescents.
In contrast, Gong Baozai offered an "art," a path to freedom rather than a technical craft. He hardly met others who were willing to take up this kind of bid-that is why he had so few students. Few had the faith or patience to try to understand where he was coming from. Gong Baozai's idea of formlessness was essentially to be able to walk into any culture and be so well rounded, well read, and capable and resourceful intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, that you not only feel comfortable, but have no points to defend. One must possess mature self-understanding before form can be relinquished; one needs the courage to let go of one's own culture and open oneself up to others. Aside from the supreme fighting abilities of Gong Baotian and Yin Fu, they needed to be worldly in their perspective to hold such esteemed positions in the Imperial Palace.
This expanded awareness is reflected in ba gua quan's style of fighting as well. Gong Baozai taught one to follow the opponent and use softness to overcome hardness just as tai chi; but the approach taken to develop skills is slightly different. In ba gua training there is more incremental breakdown of the joints from head to toe, and more focus on mastering the footwork. As it came from Lohan it has preserved the full array of techniques one would find in Shaolin, including pressure points, sweeps, jump kicks, throws, locks, flying takedowns, etc. Strong rooting is developed, and so is the ability to be generous and forgiving in word and action. All tolled, this expanded versatility of repertoire offers a broad range of social and physical options when dealing with an attack.
Tell us a little about the training/principles/concepts of the Gong Baozai Ba Gua system.
Some main concepts are chiefly: principle above strength (form); three essential standards: the principles of structure, medicine and technique; the six correspondences; inner and outer unification; self-propagating growth, one-effort, following the natural course. The method for developing strength is very profound, as one learns movement and strength in relation to oneself rather than first learning strength by applying it to an outside body. Integration of the mind with one's own body, character and conduct with one's teacher, tradition and other relationships in one's life, are all vital to gaining unwavering mind-based strength. Most essentially, the movements and postures need to be in accordance with physiology. The inner organs and outer body regions have close functional correspondence with each other. The invisible barrier separating movement of the limbs with the internal organs must be transgressed.
I've heard He Jinghan is the inheritor of this system? What is his relationship to you?
He Jinghan is my lineage brother, and one of the inheritors of this system. I began training with Gong Baozai several years before him. For ten years we intensively researched this ba gua quan system together. Much of the teaching that came out of Gong Baozai was stimulated by us working together. Regarding a sole inheritor, Gong Baozai never declared one person as his sole cloak and bowl descendant. He may have wished it to be that way, but by the end of his life it was obvious that our circumstance made it impossible. None of his disciples had the opportunity from a young age to go deep. He Jinghan and I came into relationship with Gong Baozai having studied other styles; there was thus a bias he had to trouble shoot in order to align us with the pure ba gua perspective. When you look at the reality of our modern situation and lifestyle, in the face of such challenging aspects of this esoteric system that are so elusive and difficult to grasp, it is ridiculous to make such a claim. We are just struggling to preserve the pieces that we learned. Gong Baozai did manage to pass onto us practically the complete framework of the root ba gua quan system; but even he did not learn the qing gong (lightness skills) - the flying art, that his teacher had. In terms of embodying the principles fully in knowledge, skill and character-that is the only thing, in my opinion, that would entitle one to claim inheritorship. None of us has fully achieved to this level.
Gong Baotian told Gong Baozai that ba gua quan can never learned to the end. I am not talking about external forms, but the grasp of the three essential standards-principles of physiology, medicine and technique-to be able to fight in perfect adherence to these principles, living the mystery of change within the eight trigrams, five elements, and yin yang, in every moment of one's relationships.
Regarding our strengths, I would say that He Jinghan, Tu Kun-yii (another disciple of Gong Baozai in New Jersey), and I have each excelled in different respects. Gong Baozai named a total of twelve disciples. To get a well-rounded grasp of Gong Baozai's teaching it would be worthwhile to get to know more than one of us.
What do you think martial artists can gain through the study of this martial art? What do you think this means for western martial artists and their students?
Martial arts can stand to learn a true state of self-reliance and self-sufficiency, to a point that one's learning becomes so full that the concern for qi cultivation is transcended. Within the ba gua quan methodology is a distillation of the most essential elements of martial arts as a complete system of life practice. The ultimate attainment is a direct experience of inner outer unity in handling all of life's affairs. Once you feel the impulse arising from inside the organs, and how it is effortlessly connected with body mechanics through the five elements and eight palms, there is no going back to externalized strength. Thus in general this discipline can help to elevate the standard of martial arts with the highest potentials human beings are capable of. That foremost includes the natural graduation to service for community, the basis of a spiritual life, as an expression of superior scholar-warriorship attainment.
The benefits to western martial artists and their students can be great. It may help give martial arts a chance to be restored to the respectable position in society that it once was in Asia. It is because of a narrowing of scope that it is presently relegated to a special interest or hobby today. In fact, martial arts represents among the highest level of integration possible by humans.
Would you go so far as to make a comparison of the effectiveness of your Ba Gua Quan and what is commonly known as Ba Gua Zhang?
We need to define "effectiveness." In fighting, I feel individual talent is a bigger factor than any system, regardless of the system one practices. For health, there are also many individual factors such as hereditary and social background that play significant roles. Regarding the difference between ba gua quan and what is commonly known as ba gua zhang, I feel ba gua quan, with the attention paid to separating out the body parts, enables one to gain more self-awareness, and ultimately to be able to change and deal with the stresses of life very effectively.
Do you think different 'schools' (styles of the same method) are important?
I think every school has something valuable to offer; assuming that each most likely embodies at least some memory of the essential system. Studying them can bring us more clarity about what the original possibly looked like.
The challenge for all practitioners from lineage holder to student, in this respect, is to transcend the form of one's practice. I do not know what Yin Fu learned from Dong Haichuan. There is no proof whether it was Dong Haichuan or Yin Fu who brought in the Lohan aspect to ba gua. Gong Baozai himself told me that ba gua quan is only a li, principle. So I don't really know what the original system was. What we do know for certain, however, is that the system Gong Baozai received is so extraordinary and all encompassing of the essence of philosophy, medicine, mysticism, martial arts from ancient Chinese civilization, that it seems impossible one person could have created it. It's simply too vast in scope-for instance, the 64 posture pao chui "cannon fist" form, and the reason it is done on the post-heaven diagram, each trigram representing one of the eight internal organs and body regions, with change between them based on the five element diagram overlaid on top of the eight trigram template-this was likely the product of generations of collective research. The only place it could have been developed, I feel, was in ancient temples.
What do you think is the goal of Ba Gua training?
To become a complete well rounded human being, equipped with the physical prowess, intelligence, wisdom and abilities, to deal with the world without fear, anger or prejudice, and if one is special, to contribute revolutionary advances.
Do you feel that you still have further to go in your studies?
Absolutely! From twenty-four years with him, Gong Baozai prepared me in the fundamentals, the relationship between character and movement, the expression of internal energy to outward strength, all based on development of the intelligence, and how this is not restricted to martial arts but extends to all the relationships and endeavors of one's life. Now it is time for me to take it deeper in my body. The fact that I am in my forties has brought about another concern I didn't have when I was younger, which is health and longevity, and passing the right idea to the next generations. Overall, I would say I've reach 70% of my potential; there's a long way to go.
Dr. Guen, how would you sum up the changes in martial arts that you've seen over the years?
In the thirty years I've practiced, there has been a move away from pure tradition to more synthesis of different styles. I think this evolution is good. There is a part of me that is saddened by the fact that in spite of the greatness of orthodox traditions, they in some way need to be let go of. A good example is Chinese medicine. Acupuncture needs to establish as a profession in its own right, but at the same time must defer to more effective modalities of treatment where it is not strong. This is the current complementary medical view of integrative treatment for illness.
How has your personal martial art (kung fu) changed/developed over the years?
It has changed from restless, insecure, with the need to intimidate people and force my will on them, to more ease, acceptance, following and contentment. I feel I'm finally getting a handle on how to take care of my health and life. The after effects of fighting used to stay with me constantly, getting trapped as tension in my emotions and physical body. I have since learned the correct way to train and harness great powers without as much negative side-effects.
Martial arts are nowadays often referred to as a sport. would you agree with this definition?
I share the same view as Gong Baozai that there is a marked distinction between sport martial arts and orthodox martial arts. Martial arts can be used as a sport; I was a full contact competitor in my twenties; the experience was invaluable. But the sport mentality is limited. As a life practice, I do not advocate the sport mentality. Gong Baozai taught that authentic martial arts absolutely cannot be used to compete, because the original techniques and philosophy are designed for life and death survival.
What general advice would you have for the martial artist?
To channel the warrior force inward and upward for development of the higher intelligence, in addition to outward and downward. Open the body and release repressed anger and fear, nourish the brain and open the mind. Use the powers one garners to heal one's relationships and seek deeper insight into life. The original temple standard of being a master meant far more than being a proficient technician or healer.
Who would you like to have trained with that you have not (dead or alive)?
In ba gua quan, Gong Baotian, Yin Fu and Dong Haichuan, of course. In tai chi chuan, Yang Shouzhong and his family predecessors. Any master of complete authentic systems.
What would you say to someone who is interested in starting to learn martial arts?
Look for a teacher who has definite martial art (fighting) skill, but who also fully embodies the principles of an authentic path. Quality teacher and method are required to teach you how to move the organs. If you can find the connection between the internal organs and external movement, then everything you do is in harmony with your higher wisdom; no matter what style you do, your practice will be correct.
What is it that keeps you motivated after all these years?
What motivates me these days is the feeling I get from practice, when all parts are operating together at once, this enables me to figure out ways to use the ba gua quan knowledge to heal my body and solve problems that come up in daily life. Another motivation is having the opportunity as a teacher to guide others on the path to fulfillment, knowing these strides are being taken to improve the future.
Do you think it is necessary to engage in free-fighting to achieve well ?
By all means. free fighting is essential to know martial arts. However, the losses are more important than victories. Street skills are important as well; where we don't have experience, we hold unconscious fear. At the same time, one shouldn't go out looking for trouble. I'd suggest that people allow the natural events and relationships of one's life to create one's lessons. That should be enough. This speaks of a core revelation of what Gong Baozai taught, that you cannot go out toward knowledge, but best let the opportunity for knowledge to come to you.
I feel the most important attribute for a fighter depends on their starting disposition. If you are of a kind disposition you must lose fear of hurting people. If you like to hurt people, you must acquire the capacity to hold back and feel compassion. If you are naturally crafty in personality, you must also master straight line force. If you are naturally straightforward and direct, you must learn how to be flexible and changeable.
What is-was your philosophical basis for your martial arts training?
For self-defense and self-cultivation: Chinese medicine and the philosophy of change. For community and service: knowledge that comes from study of the religions and spiritual practices of the world. Given the modern age, the traditional Chinese worldview alone is too narrow and limiting for me as a complete life path.
How do you think a practitioner can increase his-her understanding of the spiritual aspect of the arts?
A practitioner can increase his-her understanding of the spiritual aspect of the arts by cultivating mental and emotional awareness and self-control. The traditional way proposes such attainment can be gained through learning the correspondences between behavior, posture and the movement of the internal organs. Quite paradoxically, spiritual illumination and the capacity to render devastating force are the product of the same effort.
What do you consider to be the most important qualities of a successful martial artist?
Character. Living a life that is even, balanced, open and fluid.
Why would a person want to study Yin Fu ba gua quan today? What does it offer?
I personally feel that Yin Fu ba gua quan, even the complete the system, is not necessarily a discipline a modern person would want to learn. The world is different today; whatever we invest our time and energy in always needs to take into consideration the benefits and the costs. On the one hand it is fulfilling and romantic to experience the rigors of a real tradition under an orthodox teacher. On the other, the old ways in general have become obsolete. While original methods still uphold eternal principles, transmitting the shell of rules and techniques alone risks distorting one's energies, throwing one's judgment and perspective of life and relationships off track. The relationship between teacher and student must change above all, not to one of equality, because then a teacher merely becomes an information vendor rather than a harbinger of ancestral power and wisdom. The "feminine" principle is what I feel is missing in even the most upright traditional arts. Transmission of the live essence of Yin Fu ba gua quan in my generation already risked becoming forgotten. This has forced me the past ten years to examine in-depth the nature of community and relationships and differences in training approaches for women and men. Much of my writing and instruction on martial arts is about bringing forgotten material back out into the light.
Michael, could you begin by giving us some background on your book, "Way of the Saint", what prompted you to write such a book?
My main objective for writing Way of the Saint: The missing link between Chinese medicine, mysticism and martial arts , was to present the highest principles and standards of martial arts as presented by the original Yin Fu ba gua quan system. I wrote it for several reasons: as an exercise to get more personal clarity about the system, to fulfill my obligation as a lineage holder of this tradition, and for my students. It tells of my life with Gong Baozai, and the trials and tribulations of our relationship, as he endeavored to transform my beliefs from that of an ordinary martial artist to a more conscious feeling human being.
The book spells out the essential principles he taught. I tried to portray the keys underlying the methods in a way that would be understood by a diverse audience: people interested in Chinese culture, medicine, spirituality, martial arts, Asian-American studies, cross-cultural studies, and for both practitioners and non-practitioners alike.
How do you tie in your work in Acupuncture and the field of psychology?
It's been a rough road assimilating all these endeavors together. My greatest challenge has been to gather the insights from these various fields in a single presentation. Chinese medicine as applied to life practice is the subject matter of the first two chapters of the Yellow Emperor's Classic on Chinese Medicine . This is where I feel the insights from the ba gua quan tradition taught by Gong Baozai most aptly apply. The power one accrues in self-cultivation indirectly leads to effectiveness as a diagnostician and therapist. It opens the range of how one can heal; for instance, I teach my patients simple yet profound things about their posture, movement, personality, character and relationships, and their association to their illness. I counsel them on how to release deeply entrenched blockages and substitute old patterns with new ones to achieve their greatest personal potential.
I also teach that illness is delusion; that delusion is denial of fulfillment of one's higher dream of service. I know this goes beyond martial arts and even traditional Chinese medicine, but this is where I feel medicine needs to go in order to evolve to its next level of really be useful to humanity beyond symptom identification and reduction. Acupuncture and psychology today remain in my opinion "middle class" because they chase behind the symptom and have little means to help one bring an individual, much less humanity, out of the deep seated fear engulfing the planet. The only way for people to effect real change in their personal lives, I feel, is to connect with the world cause. For that the patient as well as adept must have a means to develop "actualized" repertoires that do not have fear at its base. To do this requires a deep understanding of 'change,' as compared to working from familiar conditioned response patterns to merely cope with the world. Yin Fu ba gua quan above all else, establishes the criteria for living from faith and hope, rather than resignation and fear. Imagine this spirit permeating the health professions and martial arts!!
Thank you, Doctor Guen for interviewing with us. You've certainly given us some great insights!
The pleasure has been all mine, Robert. Thanks for inviting me.
How may we reach you?
A website, www.vertical-force.com , will be up soon with seminar schedule, products, and other information. In the meantime,
email address: email@example.com
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