We all have an interesting story to tell of our introduction into, and the subsequent pursuit of excellence in, TCVM. I look forward to reading about yours in the future; let me entertain you a bit with my story while we wait for yours to unfold.
My parents divorced and moved away from my hometown when I was beginning my final year of high school. Because I wanted to graduate with my life-long friends, I begged them to allow me to be “adopted” by my best friend’s family in my hometown. The father was a French-Canadian MD anesthesiologist who had studied Auricular Acupuncture. One day I smashed my foot playing sports and was carried home by my mates with a swollen and painful distal extremity. The MD placed four needles into my ear (I thought it a waste of time and wanted opiates, as a 17-year-oldlad would do …), and even before the fourth was placed, the pain in my foot magically disappeared and the swelling dissipated in seconds. Wow! The seed was planted.
Skip forward 10 years and I was now at the University of Florida, training intensively as a Martial Artist in Shotokan Karate-do. Many injuries followed from that crazy lifestyle, and most were managed by natural therapies such as icing and massage. A few years later, I graduated from Veterinary College, after finishing a Master of Science in Animal Behavior. I soon began to become dissatisfied with what I had already known to be an overemphasis on polypharmacy and the lack of natural strategies and tactics to address the disharmonies in the body- it seems that we were always “attacking” diseases with aggressive strategies.
When I bought my own veterinary practice in my 2nd year out of the veterinary school, IVAS started to offer their Basic Course in St. Petersburg, FL. I enrolled in the four modules of their overall entertaining but somewhat disappointing version of “TCVM”. I played and stumbled in my first year after the course, and obtained some fair results, but did not really understand TCVM.
Then, that fateful day (for all of us there seems to be one) arrived when a client walked into my veterinary hospital and said “Isn’t it great that Dr. Xie has arrived in Gainesville and will start the Chi College of Chinese Medicine?” What? What was she saying? And who, who the heck was Dr. Xie?
So, I arranged a meeting with Dr. Xie, begging to be his teaching assistant (he was suspicious), and began studying with him in1997. I took every course he offered, sat through many of the lectures that I had already listened to for multiple times, helped with occasional lectures in different classes, worked as the primary Points Lab teaching assistant, and essentially immersed myself in Dr. Xie’s teachings and the Chi Institute.
Concurrently, I sold my veterinary practice and began attending human acupuncture school (Dragon Rises), exploring TCM for even greater depth and richness.
Dr. Xie and the Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine have sponsored Annual TCVM conferences in the USA, Spain, and China for almost two decades. During one of these conference trips to China, I was fortunate enough to study with his Tui-na professor, Dr. Han Ping, who told me that I “had something” in me that made me a candidate to both practice and teach Tui-na. So, along with Dr. Xie, I was involved in the development of the Basic Tui-na training course as well as the first ever Advanced Tui-na training program at the Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine. I must also remind myself of the importance of Dr. Xie’s now deceased mentor, Dr. Keija Zhang, who handed me my first certificate from the Chi Institute (#0001, the first graduate ever!) and told me that I was the future bridge between East and West- an announcement that brought tears to my eyes.
I then moved to Australia where I accepted a position (which I lobbied hard to create!) as an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at Murdoch University, where I taught senior veterinary students for 7 years. I began teaching TCVM herbal medicine and Tui-na courses in Australia, as well as advanced acupuncture training courses. Then, in 2012, I founded (with Dr. Xie’s help and permission, of course), the latest branch of the Chi Institute-the Chi Institute Australia.
The Japanese say that to have the option for a warm cup of tea at any time, you must keep a low flame burning under the tea pot at all times. Perhaps that is exactly what I have been doing: challenging myself with developing lectures, as the president of the American Association of TCVM, as an Assistant Editor and a regular contributor to the American Journal of TCVM, and a board member and the Vice President of the newly formed World Association of TCVM. I suppose the final event that has positively influenced my ability to practice acupuncture with excellent results is my daily and lifelong martial arts and Qi-gong training. Well folks, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!