I have a family of two children 8 and 5, and my partner who is a midwife, we moved to New Zealand from Australia so she could study midwifery. I am a practitioner of Oriental Medicine, I practice Japanese style acupuncture and Kampo (Japanese herbal medicine). Having a partner who is a midwife and no other family here means that I need to be flexible and working from home in my own practice allows this. Part of my decision to study Kendo was to increase my understanding of Japanese culture to help my work, which it has.
Kendo and acupuncture have the same philosophical root and I will attempt to draw your attention to some of the parallels between the two. I believe that most people reading this know less about acupuncture than Kendo, so I will focus on the former. Acupuncture has been practiced for over 1600 years in Japan, the needle and sword being both made of metal would have developed at similar times. Acupuncture and Kendo are two aspects of Oriental culture that are now practiced throughout the world and their growth in the West in the last say, 30 -40 years has been especially rapid. When I was at school I knew nothing of either, but my first book of philosophy I bought at 18 was the Tao Teh King (Lao Tsu), this profound book perhaps layed the foundation for my interest in the Eastern arts.
In Kendo we use a shinai, in the acupuncture clinic we use a shinkan, a guide tube that is held in the left hand in which the needle (hari) sits and is tapped in with the right forefinger. There is a saying “a good acupuncturist uses his right hand, a great one uses his left.”
Acupuncture is largely about being able to manipulate ki with the needle, for this we need to develop the sensitivity to feel the ki in our hands. This takes time to develop, as Shudo Denmai sensei explains
“It could take thirty years, like me, or perhaps ten or just five years. ...My answer to those students who cannot wait that long and want acquire this skill right away is, perhaps you should give up acupuncture and try another profession.”
I have heard it said that after five years of practice only 5 - 10% of people who studied acupuncture are still practicing and I would think perhaps Kendo statistics are similar. The answer to why this happens is I think quite simple - they are both difficult, require hard work, persistance and dedication.
Acupuncture, like Kendo is made up of practice and study. In practice kihon (basics) form the platform for waza (techniques) to be performed correctly. Ki development with such concepts as correct breathing techniques is essential for both practices. The Kendo concept of Ki ken tai ichi can also be applied in the acupuncture clinic.
Since recently returning from Japan from an acupuncture training I feel that my Kendo has improved. So perhaps acupuncture improves my Kendo just as I hope Kendo improves my acupuncture. I will finish with this quote that I think can be applied to Kendo.
“Acupuncture is of the mind. This should be considered very carefully. One needle can be used to unlock the key to all manner of diseases. It is only natural, therefore, that one's technique needs to be perfected” Yanagiya sensei.
To know more baout Andrew's acupuncture clinic,
please visit: Meridian House