How odd that I am now beginning to write about my life coming full circle just as I receive an update from my Chinese contacts at the Five Element Society of the Beijing Tongyou Sanhe Foundation about the number of people attending their five element preliminary courses, as well as the number of five element practitioners who have enrolled in my seminars over the 10 years I have been holding them in China. I was prompted to ask for this information because the Chinese publisher of my Handbook of Five Element Practice is about to publish a celebratory edition in honour of the 10th year of its publication (and presumably also of the 45,000 copies he has sold in that time).
I find that there are more than 5000 five element students and practitioners on the Society's database, and there may well be more, since the Society was only established about five years ago. More than 800 students enrolled in five element introductory courses in both 2020 and 2021, which have been held in 23 towns, 22 around China and one in Singapore. There must now be between 400 and 500 qualified five element acupuncturists practising in China.
This is a goodly number, by any measure, and particularly when set against what to me is the sad picture of five element acupuncture's position in this country and in the West as a whole. The insidious creep of other branches of acupuncture, particularly modern Chinese acupuncture (TCM), into every aspect of acupuncture, has had a depressing effect upon the teaching of five element acupuncture. Nor did the forced closure of my School of Five Element Acupuncture (SOFEA) in 2005 help, a closure partly due to the credit crunch, but principally due to the covert and often quite overt pressure from other colleges claiming that five element acupuncture must no longer be regarded as a stand-alone discipline. It is sad that I know now of only one or two training establishments of any kind over here who can claim to teach pure five element acupuncture without feeling themselves forced by accreditation requirements to include a more than substantial dose of TCM in their syllabus. I find it ironic that TCM-based colleges do not have a parallel requirement to include five acupuncture in what they offer their students. I have never understood why TCM should be considered to be a stand-alone acupuncture discipline whilst five element acupuncture is not.
It is a tragedy that this country, the home of five element acupuncture under JR Worsley, who was the principal agent for the re-emergence of this ancient discipline, should, in just a few years, have concluded that five element acupuncture could no longer be regarded as a valid discipline in its own right. And it was only by chance, or good happenstance, that I was invited to China to re-introduce it to its place of birth those 10 years ago.
Now, though, to my great delight, China is leading the world in promoting this branch of acupuncture. I am honoured to have been an instrument in its route of transmission back from West to East, reversing the route taken by JR Worsley from East to West more than 50 years ago. I am happy to witness five element acupuncture's journey coming full circle, as it blossoms once again in the country of its birth.
I like to think of JR sitting up there looking down at us and smiling. I remember him saying to us one day, "They will want it back in China soon." And they did!