The Acupuncture of Master TungDans Articles in English
By Robert Chu
I am a practitioner of Master Tung’s Acupuncture, which differs greatly from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Acupuncture that is typically taught in schools in the USA and in China. Master Tung’s Acupuncture predates the current TCM Acupuncture (created in the early 1950’s), which is largely based on herbal theory of 8 principles (Ba Gang Bian Zheng), Zang Fu diagnosis, and relies more on a set method of acupuncture prescriptions. The difference is that Master Tung’s Acupuncture is very strong in the use of the channels, the classical functions of the points and Five Elements diagnosis, as well as palmar and facial diagnosis. We are also left with a tradition of acupuncture passed down to us so that we may relearn the uses of acupoints in a new light, other than the herbalised acupuncture modern TCM stresses. Many people might wonder who Master Tung was, and my information here will introduce him to readers.
Master Tung Ching-chang (董景昌) was probably the greatest Acupuncturist in the last generation in Taiwan. He 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. His fame was due to his extreme efficacy with acupuncture needles, and he only used a few per treatment. 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.
What is different to Master Tung’s acupuncture is a set of 740 family points, many of which are largely unique and extremely effective, others that may overlap very powerful classical acupuncture points, and some points which use the concept of imaging/correspondence relationship to a different area. Dui Ying, or “correspondence” is often called “imaging”, and what this means is that one part of the body correlates to another part of the body. For example, the wrist can correspond to the neck or ankle and would be a primary area for treating disorders of the neck or ankle. Other points make use of channel theory of a main channel and related channels. Learning Master Tung’s Acupuncture requires flexibility of mind to apply the points lively in the clinic.
It is not clear when the 740 points were all collected, although there is a theory introduced by Dr. Young Wei-chieh that the Tung family documented the effective points based on clinical experience. It is known that many of the acupoints used in Tung’s acupuncture were created or discovered by Master Tung based on the principles and concepts drawn from classical acupuncture. Some of the points are actual points used in classical acupuncture, but vary in application from the standard points. For example, Tian Huang (Heaven Emperor) is at the same location as SP 9 (Sanyinjiao), but has different functions of shoulder pain, hyperacidity of the Stomach, nephritis, diabetes, proteinurea, frequent urination, prostatitis, heart disease, vertigo, insomnia, high blood pressure, neck pain, and treats other disorders of the Spleen, Kidney and Liver channels. Other points retain the older pre-TCM location. For example, Huo Zhu Xue (Fire Ruler Point) is found just distal to the junction of the first and second metatarsal bones, which is the original location of Tai Chong (Liver 3) and has the function of treating palpitations, vertigo, heart weakness, uterine inflammation, fibroid tumours, headaches due to heart disease, liver yang rising, TMJ, groin pain, and prostatitis.
Many of the points were inherited through his family, while others used and named after long periods of clinical use. I, myself, have discovered a set of points based on the Master Tung Wu Hu Xue (Five Tiger points), which are located at the junction of the red and white skin on the proximal segment of the thumb. Using the concept of imaging and the necessity of having a set of points on the feet, I discovered and tested in my clinic what I call Zu Wu Hu (Foot Five Tigers), a set of five points on the Spleen channel at the junction of the red and white skin on the big toe, These are 5 points equidistant found at the proximal segment of the big toes just distal to Spleen 2. Whether on hands or feet, the Wu Hu points are flexibly used for a multiple of musculoskeletal disorders arising from wind cold, damp Bi syndrome, arthritis, joint pain and swelling.
- Wu Hu and Zu Wu Hu 1 treats pain of the fingers.
- Wu Hu and Zu Wu Hu 2 treats pain of the hand/palm.
- Wu Hu and Zu Wu Hu 3 treats pain of the toes or is used
- as an assistant point to strengthen the effect of the other Wu Hu points.
- Wu Hu and Zu Wu Hu 4 treats pain of the dorsal foot.
- Wu Hu and Zu Wu Hu 5 treats pain of the heel or plantar region,
For Zu Wu, see figure 1. The most distal point is the first point and the most proximal point is the fifth point.
For Wu Hu, see figure 2. The most distal point is the first point and the most proximal point is the fifth point.
Figure 1.Zu Wu Hu (Foot Five Tigers) 1 – 5
Figure 2. Wu Hu (Five Tigers) 1 - 5.
Master Tung’s Acupuncture is truly a living treasure and storehouse of Chinese Medicine, untouched by modern TCM. It offers a glimpse into the history of family systems in Chinese Medicine as passed down from generation to generation. 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. Master Tung’s acupuncture does a lot of distal needling, opposite to the side of the pain, which has its root in the Neijing Suwen Chapter 63 Miu Ci Lun – a discussion of misleading needling. The success of this method is based on the concept of imaging or what is called Dui Ying (correspondence), as well as channel theory that runs through a given area. The advantage is very clear; the patient gives immediate feedback to the acupuncturist needle insertion. Usually, if one needles the neck, the acupuncturist has to wait until the needles are removed to get feedback! For the acupuncturist, the flexibility of this method is extremely attractive.
For example, as I write this article between patients, a long term patient of mine has come into the clinic suffering from wheezing, shortness of breath, and phlegm associated with her chronic asthma, which flares up with stress. Insertion of needles to bilateral Shui Jin and Shui Tong (threaded) and bilateral insertion of Shen Guan eliminates her need to take a few puffs of her inhaler instantly. Shen Guan or Kidney Gate is located on the Spleen channel 1.5 cun below Sanyinjiao (SP 9). Shui Tong is 0.4 cun below the outer corner of the mouth; Shui Jin is 0.5 cun inferior and medial to Shui Tong and are usually threaded with a 1 – 1.5 cun needle from Shui Jin to Shui Tong inserted transversely. These were retained for a half an hour and all the asthma signs and symptoms resolved. I have had many successes with this treatment protocol for asthma, bronchitis, angina, common cold, and cough with phlegm.
If we look at the logic and rationale behind this point selection above, we know that the Lung and Kidney in Chinese medicine deal with respiration. The Kidneys grasp the Lung Qi, and when one has asthma, there is rebellion of the Lung Qi and the Kidney is unable to grasp the Lung Qi. Shui Jin and Shui Tong image the lungs on the face, see figure 3. Shen Guan, although on the Spleen Channel, is Master Tung’s main point for tonifying the Kidney. Since it is on the spleen channel and near the He Sea point of the Spleen (Sanyinjiao SP 9), the point is able to stimulate the body to drain dampness.
Figure 3. Shui Jin (Water Metal) and Shui Tong (Water Through)
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, diarrhoea, ear pain and ringing, eczema and other skin problems, oedema, 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. 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 practiced 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.
It is a legacy left to us by a true master with the strategies and combinations intact so that we may further research and apply the work clinically. Master Tung’s Acupuncture also helps us to better understand acupuncture in general, as it is an acupuncture based on channels, as opposed to herbal or Chinese pharmacopia theory. Through it, we can better understand Chinese cultural images, through a fast efficient system that gets immediate results. As students and practitioners of Master Tung’s Acupuncture, our practice is to benefit others in a practical, simple, direct, economical manner.