by Daniel Schulman
(Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada)
When I entered acupuncture school, I had no idea it was such a deep and broad profession with so many different perspectives and interpretations. I just thought acupuncture was acupuncture. And while I was certainly inspired by the basic TCM view of the body, mind and spirit, I tended, as a student, to grow somewhat tired of the 8 Principle Pattern differentiation approach to understanding every patient and in particular, its very cerebral application of acupuncture point strategies. Something about it just felt dead to me.
I was fortunate enough to have chosen the New England School of Acupuncture (NESA) for my training and in the second half of my education, I tapped in to the various Japanese practitioners who found their 'American beachhead' at NESA. I studied all of their styles in depth and found the emphasis on palpating the patient to open up a whole new world for me. Kiiko's style in particular resonated with me greatly (and her teachers - Nagano, Manaka, Fukaya, etc). I was lucky enough to not just get tidbits of her style from workshops but I got a very intensive year of training in the whole ball of wax. It brought my encounter with every patient fully alive and made the whole clinical experience dynamic and exhilarating. I have been practicing 8 years now, and along with all the TCM questions we all ask, I palpate every patient from head to toe and learn so much about them as I do.
I thank Kiiko for her brilliant scholarship and her passionate advancement of palpatory skills in the art of acupuncture as it is practiced here in the West. To this day, every encounter with my patients, primarily based in palpation, is fun, dynamic and eye-opening for both me and my patients. And my understanding of the whole meridian system has become very internalised as a result. I don't know where I would be without the gift Kiiko and her teachers have given me.