Who *owns* acupuncture?

Last weekend I went to a seminar in Phoenix with Dr. Young, a foremost authority on Dr. Tung’s acupuncture, and one of the foremost authorities worldwide on TCM.   It’s a rare opportunity.  It was great, lots of great info, etc etc.  I recommend further study with him.  He has two of 30 books currently translated into English,  but already by looking them over it’s easy to see the treasures contained within.  (but please if you go, study your basics, someone, an AZ licensed acupuncturist, asked in response to his talking about how to treat Dai Mai pain — they asked, and I quote “what is the Dai Mai?”   needless to say, there was utter freaking disbelief in the room of 100 LAcs.  that moment passed quickly, and we went on to learn some very cool things)

But part of the whole weekend experience, a discussion regarding disciples and sanctioned teachers of certain knowledge streams,  got me to thinking – who owns acupuncture?  does anybody?  who has the right to say if someone is teaching the “true” or “correct” knowledge or application thereof.

I’ve run into some interesting similar thoughts in Qigong and Martial Arts circles, like a friend of mine says, the old ‘my master/way is better than your master/way’, ‘my master can beat up your master’…

Recently there was a clinic name flareup in Ocean Beach, someone owns one name and someone wishes to have a similar name, although the target markets are like night and day.  I can see both sides.  There was a time someone else in Portland (not WCA) registered the domain name workingclassacupuncture.net .

At the heart of what we are trying to do is spread acupuncture to the masses and help people,  yes?

The answer that i keep coming back to time amd time again when I ask myself this question “who owns acupuncture?” or “does someone own acupuncture?”  is *us*.  the people.  everybody. i believe it’s “hard wired” in our DNA.

what are your thoughts on this?

Author: keithananda

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  1. It’s changing

    Sadly, I think the schools mostly “own” acupuncture right now.  It certainly isn’t the majority of acupuncturists who are ineffectual due to cost or the majority of “civilians” who can’t get it. 

    But isn’t that why we do this? Every time a new CA opens that ownership shifts to our patients. 

    And our patients can kick your over-priced master’s *ss!



  2. This reminds me of when Bikram

    tried to take people to court for using *his* yoga without paying him royalties.  A long time ago I heard something that made a great impression on me: that nothing is invented; it’s already there, for us to discover.  Which explains the Hundredth Monkey phenomenon, when one monkey who was taught to wash his food before consuming it seemed to teach it to his colleagues in his geographical area, but researchers soon discovered monkeys on the other side of the island engaging in the same behavior.  I don’t know how true this story is, but I believe the principle is true.  Weve all heard of discoveries in science being simultaneously developed in far-flung parts of the globe long before the internet came into being.  Well the real Internet was already in use: intuition, telepathic communication.  Nothing wrong with that until some one person tries to claim credit for the whole thing.

    And those schools of acupuncture where ear or ankle or wrist or nose or abdomen or sternum or hand can all be used to treat the entire body!  Those are all based on the principle of the homunculus (any representation of a human being) which exists all over the human body and most likely, if I dare say so, in each cell.  Knowing this, any diligent soul can map out another human body part to use for acupuncture.

    Lisa and Skip know this, which is why they challenge every single acupuncturist to “do the math” and come up with a better sustainable acu practice.  They don’t pretend to *own* CA; they’ve just been doing it systematically longer than almost anyone here.

    I agree with you.  We, the People, own it.  I believe that all people should have access to our information if it will help them get well.  I teach a community college class is which I give the students a broad outline of our medicine, then spend the rest of the classes teaching them the micro-systems they can use to treat themselves.  I focus on the most common pain complaints and introduce them to several systems that they can use to address this problem.  They get a few simple diagrams, then some instruction, and we all practice together.  They return to the next class with stories about how they used this information on themselves or someone else.

    Many of us have grown up with the concepts of ownership and territory drilled into our consciousness, along with good unhealthy doses of fear.  I think this is where the Ocean Beach problem originated.  I’ll tell you one more story to illustrate how this kind of protecting your turf can hurt you more than the person you’re chasing off your turf.

    I moved into a space upstairs from a sushi restaurant.  My husband and I immediately introduced ourselves to the owner and his wife, and told them of our intent to create “community” in that building.  We became their customers immediately to ascertain the quality of their food.  Good enough to recommend, so we did, to friends and patients.  We wanted to see them prosper along with the clinic. We took free treatment coupons to their place, informed them of our promotions, etc.  Though they smiled and bowed, they never really “got it”.  They kept their distance, except when we stopped in for a meal.  Two months ago the owner came up one afternoon to complain that my customers’ cars were parking in the lot where he wanted his customers to park.  he wanted to make sure that my customers parked on the far side of the lot, or in the more distant upstairs lot.  He said that his dinner hour was being hurt by my customers parking on his side (he counted three cars).  Of course I tried to comply, by giving notices to my afternoon patients.

    But ever since that day I notice that his business has dropped, and there’s always more than enough space for more cars in that lot, because he simply isn’t serving as many people anymore.  Coincidence?  Or karma?

  3. .

    Nice topic. This is an issue that has come up with me on a lot of different levels through out my life. walking that thin line of “owning” something in a selfish and ostracizing way, and protecting something that contains deep seeds of truth. you can see something like clans holding their medical secrets or a spiritual tradition doing the same in both lights. another example would be a punk rock band signing to a major label and being called sell outs. is it just exclusive arrogance or is it preserving a vital essence that shouldnt be freely handed out? it also sounds a lot like the issue with CA these days as more people are becoming interested in it because of the economic situation. are we better off letting EVERYONE decide the way CA will look in the future with the potential that we may not be happy with it, or are we better off laying down stronger foundations of a medicine based in social justice and inherently challenging to the status quo by sticking to our guns? can we let go of control of our individual vision or need for control enough to watch it flower in a way maybe we werent expecting? should we? seems like an especially thin line here since really the long term goal with CA is to make this stuff the most widespread and accessible as possible. purity often has to go out the window for that. i guess i feel we need to do both really, and a lot of it as history ahs shown is really out of our hands anyway.  i am very happy about the new red book though, i think its a brilliant idea to build a more solid base and vision of what CA can do as well as raise some money to keep building.

  4. good reminders

    Fear and small mindedness brings a bleak harvest. I can’t imagine a restauranteer who wouldn’t want to build community with you Lumiel. That’s sad they are stuck on parking spaces when the big picture is more humaniChi driving to their front door.

    I am going over to our bulletin board right now to post flyers for the new CA clinic which opened up across town. Win-win.


  5. Scarcity and ownership

    are myths and fear based.  If we continue to hold the intention to serve everyone but the truely impoverished – continue our sliding scales as we have defined them – we will serve these folks.  Others can do what they want.  There’s room for all since at this point, 1% of the population have gotten acupuncture…

  6. i’m looking forward to being

    i’m looking forward to being your neighbor here in SD one day, lumiel. your posts are so kind, thoughtful and provocative. being in this group is the beginning of a very good education… on how to work ethically, and be morally.