Friday, April 8, 2022

22-16 To China and beyond

These past two years have found me stuck to my sofa, repeatedly recording myself talking about five element acupuncture on video to my students in far-away China, as Covid has prevented all travel and deprived us of the chance of my regular face-to-face seminars.  As of spring 2022, it does not look as though my visits to China will re-start before next year at the earliest, so in the meantime I am helping a good Australian five-element friend work out the format for putting these same sets of videos online for the English-speaking world through an international online platform.  This means that I am re-visiting some of the videos, looking at them with fresh eyes, and eyes now more suited to a Western audience, which is less steeped in the world of the elements than the Chinese are.

This also gives me the opportunity to look again at what I have left to do to promote five element acupuncture, and that has meant re-starting our regular five element seminars in London in the summer.  The first of this year's seminars will be on

Monday 20 June, and an application form can be downloaded from the SOFEA website, or by emailing


And there is my writing to think of.  I like to call what I am now putting into words my Autobiography of a Five Element Acupuncturist.  I am not interested in writing about my life as a whole, only in those areas which have led up to, and then sustained, my five element life.  I've never been interested in exploring the details of my personal life, as some conventional autobiographies do, not least because I don't think it is right to expose my family to the gaze of the world in general.


Of course, in looking back at my five element life, which now covers half of all my long years of life, this brings up a host of memories, some lovely, but unhappily quite a few which are painful, if not downright traumatic.  I realise now that there was no point during the 12 years of my college SOFEA's existence when I was not forced to face a high degree of antipathy from fellow acupuncturists towards what I was attempting to do.  All I was intending to do was simply to help maintain the tradition of five element acupuncture teaching which so brilliantly formed the training JR Worsley had introduced in his Leamington College.  I was just attempting to reproduce in my own school what I had been taught as a student, since I could not fault the instruction I had received.  Even now I am at a loss to understand what drove some of JR's devoted former students so vehemently to deny that part of their inheritance which had formed such an integral aspect of their own training.  So that when I came forward with my own plans to found a five element college devoted to this tradition I was treated to an often almost intolerable series of attacks from some of these former students of his who had moved away from the Leamington College to develop their own somewhat different style of teaching.  The very aggressive attempts to close my school down during most of the years of its existence persisted to the extent that students of ours who had attended introductory days at another college were warned off coming to SOFEA because they were told we would never receive the necessary accreditation, something which proved completely untrue.


It is to me odd now, from the viewpoint of my 10 years of visits to China, that the almost equivalent span of teaching at SOFEA should have included so many difficult episodes which threatened SOFEA's very existence.  By contrast, these last 10 years I have spent introducing five element acupuncture to the Chinese world have included hardly a moment of discord.  This has a lot to do with the Chinese reverence for learning in any form, as well as that for the life experiences of their teachers.  Put more crudely, the older I have become each year I visit China, the more my visits appear to be appreciated.  I think that the opposite could be said to hold true in the West, which is why so many experienced staff are relieved of their posts in favour of younger colleagues.  Years ago, professors were always senior members of staff.  Now I notice how often what I would still call young people, well under 40 years of age, are the ones promoted to professorships.  This may, of course, be because universities save money by pensioning of their older staff and employing the younger ones in their place, but this is not, I think, the only reason.


This brings me neatly to something that has happened so to hearten me that it has dispelled many of the negative feelings which have found expression in this blog.  To my utter astonishment, I have just received the most heart-warming email from a five element practitioner which contained so many echoes of what I had myself had to experience as I attempted to do all I could to keep alive the traditions of five element acupuncture practice which I had inherited.   Here, in this email which winged its way to me from the United States, were described so many of the obstacles I had myself encountered in this country.  Additionally, to my delight, my correspondent expressed understanding and admiration for my own struggles, having witnessed them from afar over many years, both in my books and my blogs, and obviously appreciated how much this had all cost me.


It is rare to receive such unexpected recognition of the hurdles that I have had to overcome over the years, showing a true understanding of what they have cost me in sleepless nights and wasted hours.  It puts the many years of struggle in perspective, and gives me even more encouragement to continue doing what I have always tried to do, just pass on my love of five element acupuncture as widely as possible and to as many people as possible.


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