Category: Techniques

Shu Point Booklet

Shu Point Booklet

Back Shu Point Theory – Fast Facts

  • The Shu points are often used diagnostically.
  • Testing the Shu points allows you to get a sense of a patient’s response as it happens.
  • There’s no specific needling technique—it’s about testing to figure out which technique works best in each situation.
  • Shu Point diagnosis can impact your physical treatment/needling, as well as herbal treatments, but should mostly inform physical treatment.

Back Shu Points in Practice

  • Affected Shu points can change throughout the day.
    • Often, Shu point diagnosis can resemble “chronotherapy” because the time of day matters.
    • The same point may be affected on multiple patients at the same time of day.
  • Back Shu points tend to be (but aren’t always) paired.
    • Occasionally a paired meridian, or you could have bleed-through to other points.
    • Not always on the same channel.
  • Back Shu points are easier to access while the patient is lying supine (face-up).
    • You can get a more neutral reaction from the areas that aren’t involved.
    • You get feedback from a patient’s face that lets you know how the treatment is going.
  • The ANGLE of needling matters.
    • A point will sometimes respond a little, then respond more as you change the direction of your needle angle.
    • A point will sometimes not respond unless it is angled correctly.
  • Testing the Shu points can help balance and relax the patient.
    • Testing Shu points early in the appointment can promote better treatment later on.
  • Think of having a conversation with each Shu point you’re testing. “Ask” the point, “How is this?” by your palpation and listen to its response.

What if you find multiple tight spots when you scan the Shu points?

  • Combine what you feel with what the patient feels, but rely mostly one what YOU feel. Many people don’t live inside their bodies enough to realize they have tight points in multiple places.
  • Often multiple points are related. Look for pairings and anglings that address both.
  • The number of points you treat during a session depends on the individual—whether they’re new or experienced, etc.
  • Take note of which areas were tight, and which points were affective, for reference at the next appointment.

Watching Your Patient
In the supine position, you can check in with your patient more easily. Things to check include verbal cues, as well as their color and expression.


  • Yellow – A slight yellow tinge is a good sign.
  • Pink or red – Time to check in.
  • Green or pale – Time to slow down!


  • Facial expression or musculature seems to melt – patient is relaxed and will likely respond better to further treatments.
  • Tightening up – Time to check in or slow down.
Shi Acupuncture Points

Treatment Flow Using the Shu Points

Check in with your patient if they’re new: what’s their experience with acupuncture? How do they feel about needles?

General Flow of Treatment:

  • Assess the patient’s concerns—is it more musculoskeletal or more internal medical? Ask related questions based on their condition to gain information on which points to test.
  • Test the tongue and pulse if it is the patient’s first appointment, or if they are a repeat patient with internal medical concerns.
  • Start with patient in supine position to test the muscles, abdomen, and Shu points. You can then have them flip over when and if necessary.
  • Palpate and test (light to medium pressure).
    • Try changing from puling or pushing to lifting. Sometimes, the direction you push or pull a point makes all the difference.
    • Strum the Shu point with each touch point.
    • Start with the side closest to you. If nothing shows up, move to the other side of the table and test the same points on the other side.
  • If no points apparently work, you may needle locally.
  • You may needle the front mu points before addressing other areas to calm down patients who are Type-A, or in sympathetic mode. (Always make sure your patient is present and relaxed before treating tenser, knottier areas.)
  • Place your needles and let the patient sit.
  • Depending on the patient’s tolerance level and experience with acupuncture, come back and layer more or take out the needles and assess.

Your treatment flow may vary depending on the patient, their experience, and their needs:

Musculoskeletal concern (shoulder problem, etc.)

  • Check tongue and pulse if it is a new patient. (If it’s a repeat patient with the same concern, you don’t need to do this each time.)
  • Scan Shu points (helps to balance and relax the patient)
  • Manual muscle testing takes primacy.

Internal medical concern (menstrual issues, etc.)

  • TCM takes primacy – check tongue and pulse each appointment.
  • Scan the Shu points (Spleen 10 is a good point for gynecology, Liver 13 is the move point for the Spleen.)
  • Tension points will most likely be bilateral.

Treatment Examples

1. You’re at the insertion point at the levator scapula, and you notice it’s very tight. You put one finger on that point. You then put the fingers of your other hand on the motor point of the flexor carpi ulnaris, which is often very affective for this point. The levator scapula melts away immediately. From this, you know that the flexor carpi ulnaris will be the affective point for the levator scapula.

2. You check your patient’s pulse and notice that their liver pulse is a little empty, tight, and wiry. To decide whether to focus on tonifying or on moving, you test Liver 14 and notice it releases Bladder 18 completely, therefore making moving your focus area.

3. You’re scanning the patient, and notice that the medial scapula area is extremely tight. You palpate point 42, and the patient reacts with a strong, “Ow!” However, they never told you they had a should problem when they came in. You palpate some lung and pericardium points and feel the tension melt. (Remember to base treatment off of what YOU feel, as well as what the patient tells you!)

Stephens Shu Point System

Stephens Shu Point System

This is a simple technique that I have developed over the past many years that I have found to be extremely useful to help with the treatment of my patients. For me acupuncture is most exciting when you are able to evaluate techniques and points in real time and make immediate changes. And it’s often more interesting and engaging for patients as well. And this is a way to do that. It is simple to learn and can be used in combination with all of the other techniques you employ with your patients. Some of the features of it:

  • It often forms the basis of the balancing work I do with patients.
  • It helps refine diagnosis.
  • It helps with point choice and fine tuning point location
  • It helps with evaluating if the stimulation used was sufficient
  • It provides another method for distal release of areas of tightness on people’s backs

I first was exposed to touching points to see how they affect other areas when I started to study with Kiiko Matsumoto. I was impressed with how one could find points that would make changes immediately and that you could “audition” points before you used them to assess their likely effectiveness.

Palpating the Shu points have become an important part of my diagnosis and treatment strategy. It has formed a reflex system similar to the Japanese acupuncture reflexes but it jives with the theory of TCM really well and helps to refine diagnoses and treatments. And the points identified with this method forms the foundation of points that I use to start a treatment to relax and balance a patient. And treating the points indicated by the Shu points will often lead to a better treatment outcome and easier time with the other points you want to include for other reasons, such as a local musculoskeletal problem.

In English we talk about these points as Associated points. Usually this is meant in the sense that these points are useful for the treatment of the organ that is associated with each of them. This is true, but another more important aspect of these points as I have discovered is their importance in diagnosis.

Usually the Mu points are spoken of as being the special points for palpatory diagnosis. And whereas they are useful, I find that they don’t react often unless things are really bad. Back Shu points, on the other hand are often very sensitive barometers of what is happening. Also they are dynamic and can change in their palpation quality very quickly and can, due to their dynamism, help you arrive at a diagnosis, choose points, and determine if your treatment is likely to be effective.

This dynamism is reflected by some of the sense of “Shu” in Chinese. When I asked Dr. Hong Jin about this, she told me that the word “Shu” of the back Shu has a meaning of transformation. These are the points where transformation happens. They are like switching stations in my view, nodes in the flow where the information on the associated meridian, energy system, or organ can become available for very easy evaluation. This dynamism of “transformation” is reflected in them having multi-functions in palpatory diagnosis and in the fact that they are extremely sensitive to quick change in how they feel.

And whereas I palpate the pulse, the hara, and the channels, I have found that palpating the Shu points has become the most powerful technique I have for diagnosis, point choice, likely efficacy of treatment, and teaching tool for bringing patients on board with the process. And the further beauty of it is that is nearly instantaneous, it’s feedback in real time.

Palpating a person’s Shu points has become an integral part of my intake. Sometimes I will go over all of them but often I will go to specific ones or general areas to check out something that I may have suspected from their history, symptoms, pulse, or other sign. I usually palpate the Shu points with the person lying on them. I know this sounds counterintuitive but since they are nearly the only points from the main channels on the back side of the body, it leaves the rest of the body available for confirmation and also for watching the reactions of the person on his or her face.

It takes a little practice doing it but it is easy enough to learn with a little practice. Can you do it with them prone? Sure, provided that you give them enough pillows to support them in the right places so that their back is really relaxed. That’s another advantage to happen the person lying supine. With them on their back and the knees lightly supported, the back should be doing absolutely nothing, so that any areas of tightness stand out and are, from my perspective, significant.

How to get under them? First form your hands like a blade, fingers together and stiff. At the upper part of the back and often at the lumbar area one can often get your fingers to the Shu points directly by essentially shoving them under the person, perhaps with compressing down the foam on the table with your knuckles as you are going in. You’ll want to keep your four fingers together for this.

The middle and lower thoracic Shu points can be more challenging. A good technique for getting into position there is to take your blade hands and place them palm down on the table with the thumbs tucked under their body as much as you easily can. Then lift their body up slightly with the posterior thumb while at the same time supinate and ulnar deviate at the wrist, thus flipping your hand over. And if you do it right, your fingers will land just about right on top of the inner Bladder line. And you can also use your non-palpating hand to gently lift up the edge of the person’s body, allowing the other hand to slide underneath.

Once your hand is underneath, feel for the bundle of paravertebral muscles. Or go to the spine and then pull back toward you about two inches. What you are looking for are areas of tightness that stand out from the areas above and below the area of tightness. You can curl your fingers of your palpating hand to strum across the muscles. Or another method that works better for some people is to put the four fingers together with the fingers in a fixed position with the fingers slightly curved, and, rather than actively curling the fingers, rock the fingers across the muscle bundle using the knuckles of the hand at the metacarpal-phalangeal joints as a fulcrum.

So how do you know where you are?

Most people know how to find where C7/T1 while looking at it, but that supine, it is usually at about the level of GB 21 if the arms are down by the sides with the shoulders down as well.

The level of the spine of the scapula is about T3 and is also about the level of Lung 1 on the front.

The tip of the scapula (and often about the top of the bra strap on women) is at the level of T7/T8 and Bl 17.

Bl 18 is about the same level as Liv 14.

The narrow part of the waist at about the bottom of the ribs, about the level of CV 10, is at the level of Bl 23.

And the height of the iliac crest on the mid-axillary line is at L4-L5 on women, just slightly lower than that on men.

Between these landmarks you can easily interpolate. Or if you prefer you can actually count the vertebra. It sounds hard but it is a pretty doable with a little practice.

So when you palpate what should you do exactly and what are you looking for? Generally you are looking for areas of notable tightness, the really tight areas will be very dramatic, both to your palpation and to the patient. Many times the patient will have no ideas that the area in question is so tight or sensitive. When the tension is moderate or more subtle, one can bend at the metacarpal-phalangeal joints with the still straight fingers, and in doing so, lever your fingers up into their muscles over the Shu points using the knuckles as a fulcrum. Then you can take the fingertips and strum the muscles from medial to lateral and back for further clarification.

Think of having a conversation with each Shu point you’re testing. “Ask” the point, “How is this?” by your palpation and listen to its response as you look for points to release it.

Most of the time, you will have no doubt as to what is significant. You will clearly feel it and so will the patient. And that’s part of the beauty of it. Both you and the patient will be clear that something funky is going on there. And if you do your work properly, palpating, watching and listening to them as you proceed with this, both of you will know after your treatment that something changed in a positive direction.

Have them practice trying to locate.

Now once you’ve found the tight areas, what do you do with them? While keeping contact with the tight Shu point with one hand, palpate points with the other hand to evaluate the effectiveness of that point for balancing and releasing that localized area of tightness. For most of the areas that we will find, the points that will best release them will be on the associated meridian of the Shu point.

Palpating the points to determine their effectiveness for Shu point release does not need to be done very firmly. And as you get better with this, you just need to just touch the individual point to properly assess its utility. The release sensation on the Shu point with usually happen within a second or two of contacting the appropriate point on the meridian with the other hand. There are a few people I have seen that it takes their body a few seconds more to react, but this is not common. The release you may feel in the Shu points may often not be complete, but when you find the right one you will feel a significant softening of the Shu point. This is what you are looking for with this method.

You ever learn alternate locations of points on the body? With this technique you can audition the various locations to see which is most effective for the person at the particular time you are seeing them. You can also evaluate what angle to insert the needle to have the best effect by giving a vector to your palpation of the release point.

The most effective point will change, depending on the day. It seems like this method will often key into the point that is “open” on a particular day. And somedays it will seem like many people will have the same point that is effective on a particular morning for a particular Shu point. There are systems that attempt to find the point that is open on a particular day and time of day. Some days it will seem like you are keying into this.

And by the points that are most effective, you can hone a diagnosis. Let’s take an example. You have a patient with a Liver pulse that is somewhat wiry but is also empty when you press into it. The sides of the tongue are pale, but the tongue sides are pulled in giving the tongue a spatulate appearance. They have other signs that point to both Liver Blood deficiency as well as Liver qi constraint. Well, each of those diagnoses can lead to the other condition. How can we determine which is the most important feature to focus on during today’s treatment?

You go to Bl 18 and find a notable tightness there and then with your other hand, you start palpating points on the Liver channel. If points like Liver 8 and Spleen 6 are the points that release Bl 18, it indicates that treating the deficiency is the most important thing to address today. If a point like Liver 4, 5, or 14 releases Bl 18, moving the qi is the most important focus for today’s treatment. And this can help you skew the focus of your herbal formula that you might give them at that treatment.

Shu Points and the distal points most often useful for the Shu point release

The points for release of the Shu points I focus on are most often are the points distal to the elbow and the knee. As you know from your studies, these are very powerful points, in general. They often have special functions as elemental points according to the five phases. They also have functions according to the delineation of jing well, Shu stream, he sea points, etc. These points prove to be the effective point for Shu point release about 70% of the time. About 15% of the time, the effective point will be a point in the upper arm or thigh. And another 15%of the time, the effective point will be on the trunk of the body.

Let’s go over the various Shu points and the most likely points to look at for release. I will try and list the points with the ones most often effective listed first.

Bladder 11 is a point that I don’t find much utility so far.

Bladder 12 is the wind Shu point. This will get tight when someone has an acute wind invasion. But it will also be tight with someone who got sick some time ago and never fully recovered. This person may have “retained pathogen”. This will provide a diagnostic clue as to this phenomenon and also guide you to points that may best release this.
So which points do you suspect would be most effective? L7, LI4, TH5, GB 31, GB20. Test them out to see which one is best.

Bladder 13 is the Shu point for the Lung. The most effective points are often L7, L5, L9, and sometimes L1, 6. Occasionally L3 (often with someone with retained grief) or L 8

Bladder 14 is the Shu point for the Pericardium. The most effective points tend to be P6, P3. Sometimes look to P5, P7, and occasionally P1

Bladder 15 is the Shu point for the Heart. The most effective points tend to be H3, 7. Also look to H9, especially with someone with Heart Blood deficiency (it’s the tonification point). And occasionally it can be H 6 or 5.

A special note about the upper jiao and about the Shu points in general. Sometimes when you feel a tightness at a Shu point and you can’t find a good point to release it, the tightness you feel may, in fact, be bleeding over from an adjacent Shu point that you didn’t yet notice or perhaps you may have mismeasured your location. And one of the things that I have noticed is in the upper jiao area, in particular, is that there seems to be more bleed over among the Lung, Pericardium, and Heart. That is, you may be pretty sure you are on a Lung Shu point and the effective release point is a Pericardium point. Perhaps this is because they are all affected by the zong qi generally.

Another note is that the outer Shu points are also diagnostic and can be found to be released by the points associated with the inner Shu points. Thus Bl 43 can be released by a point such as P6. And this upper jiao bleed over can be seen in the outer Shu points as well.

Bladder 17 is the Diaphragm Shu. Tightness here will often be accompanied by infracostal tightness in the belly. The best point for releasing this tightness and the diaphragm is the Ear Diaphragm point. Also useful is Stomach 20.

Bladder 18 is the Liver Shu point. The most common points for release are Liver 3, Spleen 6 (because it is also on the Liver channel), and Liver 8. Also effective are Liver 4, 5, 13, and 14, and occasionally Liver 2.

Bladder 19 is the Gall Bladder Shu point. The most common points for release are GB 41, 34, 36, and Dang Nan Xue. Also effective are GB 40, 31-32. Sometimes look to GB 42, 39, 38, or 37 for release of Bl 19.

Bladder 20 is the Spleen Shu point. The most common points for release are Sp 6, 4, 10. Also effective are Sp 9, 8, 3. Rarely Sp 2 or even Liver 13 (it’s the front Mu of the Spleen).

Bladder 21 is the Stomach Shu point. The most common points for release are Stomach 36, Lan Wei, 40, and 37. Also useful to try are St 42, 43, 34.

For the Liver and GB, sometimes I’ll find that it’s an area encompassing both Shu points, so one needs to check both meridians for the release point. Similarly one will find this on the Spleen and Stomach. You’ll focus on one them as being the primary area of interest when actually the release is to be found on the paired meridian.

Bladder 22 is the Triple Heater Shu point. The most common points for release are TH 9, TH5, and TH3. Also effective are TH 6 and TH4 and occasionally TH 8.

Bladder 23 is the Kidney Shu point. The most common points for release are K7, K2, K 10. Also useful is K3 and K 6 and sometimes Sp 6.

Bladder 25 is the Large Intestine Shu point. I have not found many times that the LI points are effective. In fact, once we get to the lumbosacral region a special relationship seems to hold forth.

This region, along with the upper shoulder and neck region, is so often an area of discomfort in our patients, from a purely musculoskeletal perspective. And each of these two areas seems to have some special associations that are helpful to keep in mind.

The meridian that seems to rule the sacrum, in my experience, is the Gall Bladder channel. The internal pathway of the Gall Bladder channel courses through the sacrum and the most effective points to relieve the tightness and discomfort there are the points mentioned in the Gall Bladder section above.

I’ll give you some ideas for release of the other special area of the upper shoulders and neck. One of my teachers used to say that L7 is the master point for treating the neck area. This point can be remarkably effective, but many times you may need to use and alternate location or a specific angling. We will talk about this in the next section. Many times the area that is tight and needs release is the SI 15 up into the bai lao area (on the Bladder channel). The most effective points tend to be SI 3, 7, 6. Or the area of discomfort is around TH15, in which case the point to look at could be TH 3, 5, 9, etc. Another point to look at for this area is the motor point for the flexor carpi ulnaris. This point is special for the tightness that so often happens at the attachment of the levator scapula. It is located at one third of the way from H3 to H 7.
And L7 angled toward L8 can be a special point for the anterior scalenes.

Variant Point Locations

One of the uses of this Shu point system is the ability is gives you to find the most effective location of a point for a particular person on a particular day. If can even help you find the best angle to insert the point.

I’d like to share with you some of the locations for some of the above mentioned points that I have found useful in my years of practice. Some of them may seem strange compared to what is currently taught. But in fact, some of them were taught in these alternate locations when I studied many years ago. Others are ones that I have discovered in my poking around the past many years.

Let’s follow our outline from above regarding the Shu points and go from the top down and I’d like to point out some locations I like.


So for the Lung points, Lung 7 I most often find in line with L 9, just proximal to the radial stylus. I’ll often needle it from radius to the ulna.
But sometimes, especially for the neck region, I’ll find it most effective when it’s needled from this location toward L 8.

So how do you audition various angles? Place your finger on the point and traction it in a particular direction that you may want to needle it. You will sometimes find that a particular direction will give a much better effect.

I will sometimes locate L5 more lateral, in what some people call Japanese L5. And sometimes angling this point toward L6 will give the best release.

And speaking of L 6, I tend to find it just distal to the flexor muscle bundle in the hole on the anterior surface of the radius. This is the xi cleft point and can be a dandy point. And for L 1 I will often palpate around an area a little bigger than a quarter to find the most effective location.


For the Heart points I think I start with the points on the forearm at a different location than many of you. I start with H 7 on the wrist crease on the radial side of the pisiform. You can feel the hole there and then there are three more holes going up the forearm each a half cun apart. And when you get to H4, that’s the last hole you will feel.

Triple Heater

On the Triple Heater, I will check TH4 on either side of the extensor tendon to see if one is more effective than the other. And for TH 9, the location I am most likely to find effective is a Japanese location about two-thirds of the way from TH4 to LI 11 in a hole there.


For the Liver points, I will look for Liver 4 on both sides of the tendon. The preferred location is medial to the big tendon, but many times I will find the effective location is just lateral to the tendon and can be sometimes best used with an angle proximally.

Liver 5 I will check on the bone where you are taught, but more often I find it effective in the hole just medial to the bone.

Liver 8 I will often audition several locations, but my most dependable location is in the big hole proximal to the medial knee.

Liver 13 I like to find at the anterior inferior corner of the eleventh rib.

Liver 14 I like to find in the 6th costal interspace, but more lateral than many of you find it. The location I like tends to line up with the lateral edge of the areola on men. It is also at the angle where the rib changes direction. There is a hole there and is often tender. The angle I favor there is angling it laterally between the ribs (sort of toward the axilla).


For the Gall Bladder, I most often find GB 39 on the anterior surface of the fibula. You slide your thumb up the fibula to where it stops as the fibula dives under muscle. One of my earliest teachers said that one the names of this point is “no bone”. And I’ve found that a number of people that were trained many years ago were taught to find it here.

GB 34 can be in a variety of locations, but one of my favorite locations is to take the prominences of the tibia and fibula and make an equilateral triangle with GB 34 being the third point. When I am looking at Gb 31 or 32 as a location to release Bl 19 or the sacral area, I will sometimes palpate with three fingers, and then if I get a release, find out which of the three locations is best.


On the Spleen, one non-standard place to check is just a little proximal to Sp 3, in the hole just proximal to Sp 3, in what some of the Japanese acupuncture people such as those studying with Kiiko Matsumoto call Sp3.2.


For the Kidney, I will often locate K2 in a hole just inferior and posterior to the navicular. For K 6 I will look between the two tendons just inferior to the malleolus (and often needle it posteriorly), but I will also check a location about one cun inferior to that.
On K 7 I will often check an angle I learned from Dr. Tran. Sometimes the magic angle is one that he says he uses regularly, which is to angle the insertion anteriorly toward K8. And for K 10 the location that I find most often works the best is one that is one to two cun proximal to the popliteal crease, in the hole between the two hamstring tendons. This location seems to be particularly effective.

Checking your work

One of the nice features of this system is to go back and quickly check your work. That is to say, go back and repalpate the Shu points you found to be noteworthy. Sometimes you will find that one of the points has not released well. What this usually means is that you need to back and give the release point some additional stimulation. Or sometimes you need to try a different angle. And for extra effectiveness, leave your one hand on the Shu point and lightly tickle it while stimulating the distal point.

Some patients, who were aware of the tight spots when you started, will be amazed at the changes that have happened immediately.

What to do when all of the Shu points seem tight

Occasionally you will have a patient whose whole paravertebrals are like cables. It’s hard to differentiate any stand-out tight area. What I will often do with these patients is to use the Master and Coupled points for the Du Mai, SI3 and Bl 62. And if you have a set of Japanese ion pumping cords, put the black clip on SI3 and the red on Bl 62 and maybe add the ear Shen Men point. Let these points rest for maybe 10 minutes or so. Almost always when you come back, the generalized tightness will have dissipated and the field will have cleared so that you can find the key areas for treatment.

Flow of treatment session when using the Shu point system

It doesn’t replace what you have normally done. It provides you with another tool to evaluate and come up with effective treatment for your patient. For me, I may not examine the pulse in detail or check the tongue at each and every treatment. But I usually will examine the abdomen and check the Shu points at each treatment. I will palpate the hara to see if there is an extra meridian or other finding that is standing out that may be important in the first set of needles is use. And several points from my Shu point findings will often be a part of my first set of needles. And with the Shu points I will often scan for one noteworthy finding in the upper, middle, and lower jiaos. I won’t always find one, but I do scan in that way.

And then in my second set of needles there may be points that I know to be effective for a condition from my TCM training or other information. Or if it’s a musculoskeletal problem, I will probably have done some manual muscle testing to inform what points might be most effective for treating that condition and I will include them then. But of course, if they have some sort of back pain, the work that was done with the Shu point system, will have already gone a long way toward diffusing the congestion in the area of their back that they are having trouble in.

Of course there is a good deal of variability in how I work, but this gives you an idea of how the flow might likely go when I’m seeing a patient.

I hope this material will prove useful to you in your practice. Try it out. Experiment with it. You will probably make further refinements with it that will suit you and the way you practice. I think you will find it useful and interesting to incorporate. Let me know if you find it useful.

An Interview with Dr. Eric Stephens

An Interview with Dr. Eric Stephens

Q: OK, so tell me how you started developing the Back Shu Point System.

A: I think the first part of it came about with studying with Kiiko Matsumoto, where she would have all these reflex points, especially in the abdomen, and then she would touch a point and go, “Ah, it released. That means that this is the point we need to treat to rectify that,” whether it was the Adrenal Reflex Zone or something like that, or whatever. She has a lot of relationships. Or some of them are musculoskeletal, and using old [?] Lung 7 to 8, and like, “Ah. Yes, on you, that’s really good.”

And I started playing around with that more, realizing that, for me acupuncture was most exciting when I could find things in real-time. When it wasn’t so much of an intellectual exercise, “Oh, you have these symptoms; therefore, you must be liver qi stagnant, and we’ll do Liver 3 and 14 for liver qi stagnation.” Well, OK.

But then I got into going further, of realizing that you could test other things, as well. I think the first place that I noticed was people’s Bladder 23 being tight frequently. And like, god, well, maybe I could find something that would release that, that would open that area up. And I was like, well, it has to do with the kidneys, let’s try some kidney points. Yeah. But what was interesting was that it wasn’t the same on every person, nor was it the same every day.

It was almost like the chronotherapy, according to the hours or something—there were certain days where certain points were open, and I noticed that. Like some days, everybody Kidney 10 works on Bladder 23, or most everybody. Or other days, it’s more Kidney 7. So, I started playing with that, and then I went—people with other areas that were problematic, and it was like, well, where the hell am I? I’m at Bladder 18. Let’s try some liver points. And going like, “Oh, yeah.” And then, further going into taking someone’s pulse, and seeing that their liver pulse was both a little empty and a little tight, wiry, and it was like, well, what’s more important here? Tonifying or moving?

Well, their Bladder 18. I could figure out what was more important. Oh, Liver 8 releases it completely. Well, tonifying’s more important. Or oh, Liver 14 or 3 is the one that works. Oh, moving is more important for them today. It kind of helps refine my diagnosis.

And then, as I got further into it, I also realized that it could tell me the angle of the needling that was most effective. It could also tell me, have I stimulated enough, after putting the needle in, and it’s like, “It didn’t really release.” You stimulate it a little more, and it’s like, “Ah, there it is.” So, it’s kind of this real-time feedback loop. It’s like test, don’t guess.

Q: So, you don’t have to just do the same channel, like for Bladder 37, you could do Kidney channels. Sorry, 23. You’re sitting there, you’re palpating Kidney channels.

A: Yeah.

Q: Can you kind of do any point, or it tends to be channel paired, or channel-related–?

A: No, you can do anything. Like, for instance, let’s take the area of bai lu [?] or something, in the neck, or SI 15 area, that area that’s frequently tight on people. You know, Matt, one of his little nuggets is that for the levator scapula, the motor point for the flexor carpi ulnaris is often really affective. Well, so let’s say I’m on the insertion at the scapula, and boy, that’s tight. I can tell their levator’s nasty. Well, what I’ll do is I’ll put one finger on that, and then I’ll use the other fingers on the other hand on the motor point of the flexor carpi ulnaris, and if it melts right away, it’s like, yeah, that’s the point.

And it’s not on the same channel, per se, but I also know that other points are useful, like sometimes, it’s the small intestine point, because it kind of goes right through that area, the small intestine channel. Or from old Chinese style, Lung 7 is the master point for the whole neck area. So, a lot of times, I’ll just feel that, and I’ll palpate two or three points in close succession and go, “Oh, that’s it.” And it’s like, “Lung 7 feels a little better, but not all the way better,” so then I’ll traction it towards 8, and then it’s like, “Oh, that’s it. I’ve got to angle it that way for the best affect.” Does that make sense?

Q: So, there’s not necessarily specific needling techniques, again, it’s just testing to figure out what technique would work.

A: If you have the time, or you’re not getting a clear answer. And sometimes it’s a paired meridian, occasionally. Or sometimes you’ll have bleed-through. It’s like, oh, 18, OK, I’ll test all the liver points—well, nothing really—well, let me check Gallbladder, and it’s like, oh, it’s a gallbladder point. Because I thought it was 18 but it was really 19—whether I was feeling in the exact right spot, or that the gallbladder was affecting the liver—that sometimes happens, too.

Q: I’m trying to get a treatment flow in my head. Do you palpate and then do the pulse, tongue, and talk to them, and you kind of have an idea, and then test the Shus? Or do you test all the Shus, and go, “Oh, that seems super tight,” and then ask some questions about that? Or how does that—because definitely, you can use it to help direct your diagnostics, but when does that testing flow happen, like in the—naturally, when you’re treating someone, how does that flow work?

A: Well, it’s changed over the years. It used to be pulse, tongue, all that stuff, and then maybe abdominal palpation and then the Shu points, and it’s often that way in new patients—that’s often the flow in new patients. But for repeat customers, where I know kind of their general, underlying situation, I will often omit the tongue and sometimes the pulse and go right to their tummy and there back. As I’ve gotten more competence in it, the back has gotten more like my go-to. Like, especially for balancing.

For instance, I’ve got a big musculoskeletal component that I need to do, but they’re a little—they’re pretty tight, or they’re pretty weak, I may start with a short course of points that I garner from doing my Shu point diagnosis. And then, I’ll go—and that will relax them, it will balance them, you’ll get them kind of organized for—OK, I want to really fasciculate that muscle, and I want to rebalance this, and maybe use some electro. If I went right to it on a lot of people, it’s a little jarring, coming from their daily life. Plus, just balancing them, it makes the musculoskeletal stuff work and stay better.

So, I would say that it’s taken more of a primary role in a lot of my work with people—that and manual muscle testing, for a lot of my more sports-acupuncture-oriented things. If they’re there for digestive concerns, it’s much more about tongue and pulse, or if they’ve got menstrual issues—kind of the more internal medicine, TCM paradigm probably takes more primacy.

But I’ll add in the TCM. It’s like, oh right, you said you have stagnant blood, it seems from your pattern, your tongue and everything. Well, what points are most effective for you? And then you kind of glance, you go through, and oh, Bladder 20’s tight. Well, what point? Is it Spleen 4, which moves? Spleen 8? Spleen 10? So, I’ll test those points. Oh, it’s Spleen 10. That’s really good for gynecology, that makes sense. Or 18’s really tight. Well, it should be 3 or 4 or 5, they both move a lot. We want to move the blood—oh, yeah, it’s 3. That makes sense. Or their digestive concerns. Oh, yeah Liver 13, yeah, it’s the move point for the spleen, that makes sense.

So, it will inform my internal medical treatment with acupuncture, but I’ll probably put that more toward the back seat, whereas with other conditions it’s more in the front seat. But it’s usually there in all my treatments.

Q: Which treatments is more in the front seat versus ones that are in the backseat, I don’t know if I got that?

A: Like, if I know that you’re coming for your shoulder condition, you know, the first time, I’ll check your tongue and pulse, and all of that. But I’m more—for that condition, I’m more interested in your manual muscle testing. And then I’ll then, for balancing you, I’ll do a quick scan of your Shu points. So, that’s more front seat.

Q: You would kind of use the Shu points before you would do the trigger points to kind of get them relaxed—

A: Oftentimes. Yeah, just to get them balanced and get things organized for the next piece, because if they’re already coming in kind of imbalanced, and you go right to an area that’s already a little jacked up, so to speak, neurologically, for a lot of people, that’s intense. But if you ground them, or you tonify them, or let’s say they’re really liver qi stagnant, and you don’t address that first. Every point, they get a similar, it’s like, “Ah! Ooh! Ee!” It makes it less comfortable for them, and it makes it much less smooth for me, in my flow. It’s more like, “OK, how are you doing?” You have to slow way down—so by balancing some of that stuff up first, then you can go into it, and you get much less reactivity that can be difficult for them and sometimes you.

Q: Yeah. So, I’ll palpate the Shus, and sometimes I’ll find multiple tight spots.

A: That’s usual.

Q: Or I’ll find a tight spot—OK, so my question is, what happens if I find multiple tight spots? Or what happens if I find a tight spot that’s not painful to the patient, or I find a tight spot that is painful to the patient? Is it more about what the patient feels, or more about what I feel, or kind of a combination of both?

A: Combination of both, but primary is what I feel, what you feel. A really common example is, I’m scanning the medial scapular area, it’s like, “Oh my god 42 is like crazy,” and they go, “Ow, god!” “Yeah, you didn’t mention anything about your shoulder.” “Oh, that’s always there. It’s been since I can’t remember when, and it’s nasty.” And I go, “OK.” So then, I’ll palpate some Lung points or some pericardium points, in case I was one off, and it will be like—boom, it melts under my fingers. So, I’ll put that in, and it’s like, you can just see them kind of go, “Ahh.”

A common pattern would be maybe one from the upper Jao [?], you know that, like 42, and maybe one from the middle Jao, like liver, and maybe something down low. Like you’ll find three, or two. And then I’ll just pop those in. And sometimes, right after I pop them, I can go right into something else, but I always feel like it’s good to balance them.

And whereas I used to, like, “OK, what’s going to be good to balance them? Maybe four gates—” this is more tailored to them in the moment. And they may have different things. Some people come back with the same ones, repeatedly. Other times, you treat it and it’s gone. Like, “OK, that was easy.”

Q: And it’s really a—because that’s the other thing is I’m like, “Well, did it melt?” But it should be pretty pronounced if you get it—or what if it’s like kind of—you know, because I’m new, it feels slightly better, and I ask them how they feel, and they go, “Oh, it’s slightly better.”

A: They often—a lot of people can’t tell. They don’t live in their bodies enough—I mean, some people are really sensitive to what’s going on, and they really get it. But some people don’t really understand what’s going on or feel it. It’s more what you feel. And if it’s the best point you did, go back and tickle it as you’re stimulating the other point, because that opens up, again, a linkage. Like, “Hey, I’m talking to you at this point.”

Like I might be at Bladder 18 and with Liver 8, and it’s like 50% better, but I’ll go, “Let me angle it a little differently,” and it will be like, “that was it.” Or maybe it just needs a little extra lift and thrust or twirl or something, and then it will go another 20%. It’s not that it melts 100%, but that there’s a change, in real time. Because the point will continue to work after you pull it out, but you want to have a significant shift.

Q: OK, so if there’s multiple ones that you feel—

A: Yeah, I might pop in Lung 9, Liver 8, and Kidney 3, or something. Or Stomach 36 and Pericardium 6 or something, you know.

Q: Would one point—so, say I have like a Neck, Bladder 13, and then the kidneys, Bladder 23, and they’re both tight. Do you find that one point will relax both of them, or do you tend to find that you have to find two different points for both of them?

A: Usually I find two different—sometimes if they’re related…

Q:And then do you feel like you have to treat all of the points, or just what relates to the symptoms, like if they’re going, “Oh, I have…”?

A: No, I understand. One, it depends on the individual. Like a sensitive person who, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “If I get 10 needles in them total, that’s going to be a good day,” because, especially someone new, they’re like, “Who the hell is this guy? What is acupuncture? I’m a little weirded out by this whole thing.” I’ll winnow it down, like, “Oh, you have digestive concerns, and Spleen 6 is releasing Bladder 20 and 21?” I’ll do that one, and I’ll let their upper Jao, their Bladder 13, go today. But I’ve noted it. I’ll usually make a note of which Shu points and what points release them, off to the side.

Q: OK, so you do have like a couple Shu points and like common release ones.

A: Sure, yeah. That’ll be in my June class.

Q: Oh, cool. And they tend to be paired, like channel pairs?

A: Tend to be, not always. Like sometimes Spleen 6 is the best point for the liver. But the liver courses through there. Or the sacrum. Bladder 27 isn’t often small intestine points.

Q: When’s your June class?

A: It’s like Saturday the 2nd or something. It’s half a day, it’s the OCOM Alumni free event.

Q: Oh, OK.

A: Yeah, I’m doing like 1:00 to 5:00 or something. And they said, “Well, what should you do?” And I said, “I don’t know, people ask me about this.” And they said, “Oh, yeah, do that.” So, I’m going to try to impart a lot there.

Q: That will be good.

A: Is this helping?

Q: Yeah. Oh. I treat most people laying face-down. And you treat most people laying face-up.

A: I do. Or at least I’ll start there, and then I’ll flip them over.

Q: Yeah. I imagine it would be the same face-down, except it’s harder to kind of get to some points?

A: What are you asking about, about the Shu Point diagnosis?

Q: The Shu Point diagnosis.

A: I find that it’s easier to access all the points that you’re wanting to addition, so to speak, with them supine, with them face-up. The only things you can’t really reach are the back Shu, and you’re using them, anyway, because you’re maybe trying—everything else is pretty accessible when they’re supine, other than the ones you’re actually lying on. Secondly, when they’re lying on them, for some reason, I get more of a neutral feel from the areas that aren’t involved.

Q: When you’re lying on them, you’re getting more of a neutral feel for the areas that aren’t involved.

A: Like the figure ground, like who’s important, sticks out better than if I’m going like this. And it’s probably just because I’m used to it. I’m sure that one could cultivate the sensitivity in another position. It’s just more convenient like, I’ll find something in their abdomen, I want to see what releases that. Or I’ll find something in their neck. You can reach their whole neck this way. Or something in their sacrum. OK, what point releases that? Or all the Shu points, what point releases that? So, I have more availability to get to—sometimes the liver, it’s Liver 14 or 13. I think it’s just convenience, plus, a lot of times, I find, both with doing the treatment, I want to watch their face. I want to watch their color change. I want to watch their eyes go like this. I want that feedback, because I know that, “Oh, they’re feeling that.” Or, “Oh, there’s the stimulation.” Or, “Whoa, I need to slow down, their color just shifted, and it got a little pale or got a little green. OK, we need to take a break. You could get shocky.” Or they get a little yellow. That’s a good sign.

Q: Yellow’s a good sign?

A: It can be, yeah. Real light, just a teeny shift. Or they’re getting red, or you watch the musculature in their face just kind of melts, it’s like, OK, good. They’re going to be much better when I want to dig into their hip with a three-inch needle. They’re chilled-out.

Q: So, then would you then half-way rotate someone over, and do the motor points—like how does that work? Would you flip someone over if you wanted to do like SI 12 or something?

A: Yeah. I find I get anywhere from 60 to 80% of what I want to do—or sometimes 100% with them supine. Because the only things you can’t reach are bladder points, and like SI 15 or 12, or something. Some of that stuff. And then I’ll flip them over. Like for instance, let’s take a shoulder—a real common one we were talking about, like with you—the big piece of work is your sub-scap. That’s what I really want to focus on, because that is going to turn on your supraspinatus. Now, might I flip you over at the end and just hit the supraspinatus motor point for a few minutes? Sure. Or, you know, the levator insertion point if the levator’s involved, yeah. And maybe a distal point to balance Bladder 60, or something.

So, yeah, a lot of my treatments are more weighted toward a supine treatment, just because I can watch their face, I can reach most of the points. But sometimes it’s not. I mean, like—

Q: I feel like that answers my question. Is it always both sides, or can it be just one side?

A: Oh, that has that pattern?

Q: That has the tension, like—

A: Yeah, mostly it’s bilateral, but sometimes it’s not. Especially it’s—oh, let’s say it’s a computer program, who’s constantly—they have mouse-shoulder. They’re going to have it more on their mouse side.

Q: Yeah, so for a beginner, for someone who’s just trying to start out, most of the time it would be a bilateral.

A: Yeah, especially if you’re looking at more internal medical stuff or balancing.

Q: And are you doing—can it be more of an internal bladder point, could it be an external bladder point, or is it just the tight of the erector spinae? Could it be anywhere along there, or is it more specifically—

A: It’s usually—huh, that’s a really good question, actually. It’s usually the inner bladder line. But in the scapular region, it’s often the outer bladder line. But they’ll have the same correspondence. Like Bladder 43, think pericardium point. But the lower—and sometimes it’s true for some of the lower points, like let’s say Bladder 52. That’s another one. Some people call it an adrenal-oriented point, or anyway, it’s related to the kidneys. Well, it’ll be a kidney point, nine times out of ten that will release it.

Q: So, when you find a Shu point that’s active, and you’re testing points to see what relaxes it, and—are you using like a five element, are you using traditional Chinese medicine points, are you using—what system of thoughts would pull up those points?

A: Usually kind of TCM or associated meridian is the first level.

Q: It’s not like [indiscernible] point on the thumb, or—

A: It could be—

Q: In general, you’re not—with TCM, it’s always case-specific, but I’m just saying, in general.

A: Yeah, but like the example I gave for the levator, how sometimes it’s like, I know from my work with Matt, the flexor carpi ulnaris will release that 15 area—that’s not particularly TCM. Or the sacrum is a meridian perspective. Sometimes it’s a meridian perspective rather than TCM, per se.

Q: And in the supine position—I mean, I guess the Mu [?] points don’t really have a muscle [indiscernible]. Do you test the Mu points?

A: Do I palpate them?

Q: Is that—

A: I sometimes do, but I don’t always necessarily—it’s more the exception than the rule. Like for instance, somebody’s really tight here at CV [?] 14-15, well, that’s kind of fire-related, and some people say the heart. So, I may just go, “Oh, let’s check Heart 7, 6, 5, 4, 3—oh, 3, oh yeah, it releases that. Oh, cool.” But it’s less common. I use the Shu points for my Mu points.

Q: Oh, OK.

A: Because after years of palpating the Mu points, I didn’t find I garnered any really clinically useful information very often. Like for instance, with gallbladder problems, palpating Gallbladder 25, it’s usually like, well, maybe, but there are other points that are way more responsive, like the Gallbladder Reflex point on the ribs, or SI 11 on the right, or there’s other points that are crystal clear, and that I get more clear information that I can test against what point releases it, rather than Gallbladder 25. The number of times I’ve found anything of interest at Gallbladder 25 are pretty small, but the number of times I’ve found something here at the ribs, or at the shoulder, are a lot.

And maybe it’s just that I don’t—when you—I haven’t used them enough to garner that kind of fine discernment. Like some people, it’s like—you know, people who take the pulse and go, “Your aortic valve has a problem,” or, “You have this—this happened when you were a kid.” People can tell all sorts of stuff if you study stuff long enough.

Q: So, the flow of your treatment. The patient comes in—new patient. You would do a traditional test.

A: Intake, you know.

Q: Say they’re coming in for internal issues. Gynecological issues, you would do a typical kind of intake—

A: Yeah and really drill down on what’s their menstrual flow like, and is it painful, and you know, all the questions, much more expanded menstrual intake than I would with just somebody else.

Q: And then you would do tongue and pulse—

A: Correct.

Q: And then in your head, you were thinking, “OK, I have a traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis,”—

A: Mhm.

Q: And then you start testing. Is that kind of—so then you would have them lie down and start testing the Shu?

A: Yeah, and/or the abdomen. For instance, with someone with a gynecological case, the abdomen because really important. Like, “How’s the Chung-Mai [?] feel in the abdomen? Oh, wow, it’s like two chop sticks in there. Well, that tells me something. That kind of goes along with their problem.” And well, with that, let’s just check, oh, Bladder—and this will often happen. “Upper Shu, oh Bladder 43 is really tight. Oh, I bet I know what point’s going to release that. Pericardium 6 because it’s already part of the Chung-Mai treatment,” and most of the time, that’s true. And I’ll go down, and it’s like, “Well, probably, we’re going to find something in the liver, just guessing.” And it’s like, oh, hell yes.

And it’s like, for grins, I might try Spleen 4 or 6, but it will often be like Liver 3 or Liver 14 will be a really important point for that person, to add into the mix. And I won’t necessarily do all those points, but it will sort of be like, “Oh, OK, so that’s important,” and already, you think liver, but it’s sort of like, “OK, well, is 3 the most important point today? It might work, but what point might be—maybe there’s another point I could use with it.” Like if I have 14, I may do 3 and 14. But I wouldn’t leave 14 out, because I know that her body has a big release reaction to that, and things are being held tightly. And I would do the Chung-Mai to open up the Chung-Mai.

Q: So, you get that all balanced out. And then, do you let them sit? Do—

A: You mean with the needles in?

Q: Yeah.

A: Yeah, sure.

Q: OK, and then you come back, and then do you layer anything else on top of that?

A: Depends. You said like their first treatment? Probably not. Especially if they’re not like, “Oh, yeah, I saw an acupuncturist for 20 years in San Francisco,” they’re old hands. And again, I’m watching their face. Are they like puddles? It’s like, “Oh, yeah, you’re done. You’re cooked. Any more and you won’t be able to drive home.” Or, “Yeah, I feel better.” And I’ll just feel around and go—it’s one of those clinical judgement pieces. Or the sensitive person who’s just coming in for their first one. I might just do the Chung-Mai and then let them sit. Take them out, and then do the Spleen Liver piece, and then call that good. And maybe four or five points altogether, whereas someone else, it might be 10 to 20. Kind of judging by both how novice they are at acupuncture, how they look, how strong’s their Qi—yeah.

Q: And is it different if they have like shoulder issues?

A: You mean like that was their chief complaint and their main reason for coming?

Q: Yeah.

A: Yeah. Different filters kind of move to the foreground. Whereas the person with menstrual problems, I’m not going to do a lot of manual muscle testing. Maybe at some point, I might want to find out what’s going on there, but I probably would skip that for the menstrual case. For the shoulder guy, yeah. That’s going to—I mean, I’ll do the tongue and pulse, and whatnot, and just kind of get a sense, “Jesus, his pulse is big and wiry. OK.” We know that moving things is going to be a more important factor than tonifying, whereas somebody who’s very kind of slight and tired, and their pulse is really weak, it’s like, “Oh, I think before I drill into the muscles that I’ve discovered need to be happening—I’ve don’t my manual muscle testing,” but I’ve done my pulse, and it’s like, “We need to give her a little Spleen 6, Stomach 36, or something,” either that I’ve found through Shu point testing or just in general. I need to brace her up a little before I start trying to attempt to move a lot of energy in her shoulder. Because if she’s already kind of this way, it won’t work out well.

Q: Yeah. So, you do your manual muscle testing, you get a sense of the TCM diagnosis, they’re laying down on the table, and the first thing that you do is…

A: Give them a big kiss. No.

Q: Would it be like you said earlier, like you would try to do a couple points to calm them down?

A: Mhm, or even before that, for a lot of cases, the very first thing I do with them is I pot your Shin-Min [?] in. Because I know that they’re kind of hyperreactive, wiry types. And it’s like, that, I know, will take off about 30% of that tendency. Pop those in real quick. Or Shin-Min with Sympathetic, if they’re real type-A and they’re always constantly in sympathetic mode. Pop those two in, and then like, “OK, now what?” Then, maybe I’ll do the Shu points. The Shu-point designated body points.

Q: Is that a good rule, in general, to kind of throw in Shin-Min to kind of calm them down first before you palpate the Shu points?

A: I don’t usually do it before I palpate. I usually do it as sort of the overture to the treatment. I sometimes think of treatments as being sort of a musical piece, like, “OK, here comes the overture, or here comes the first act.” OK, they’ve come off the ceiling; their fingernails are no longer stuck in the ceiling. Great. Now we will need them to arrive on the table. And we’ll do the Spleen 6 and whatever else. Now, they’re kind of fully present. Now, I can kind of take apart the knottier areas.

So, sometimes, it may not be actually three discreet sets of needles, but it may kind of progress in that fashion.

Q: How long are treatments?

A: For me?

Q: Yeah.

A: Usually an hour to an hour and a quarter. Between talking with them, getting them changed and getting them out the door.

Q: OK, so, I’m palpating, and I find the Shus, I test the points, and I don’t have the palpation. I can’t seem to find anything that seems to work.

A: Something that releases it?

Q: Yeah. Do you ever needle locally?

A: Yeah, you can, sure. Or let’s say they have pain at Bladder 43, and I find that Pericardium 6 releases it some. Will I flip them over if I’ve had them supine, and go locally? Of course. You bet. Especially if there’s a local problem. And then I may follow it up with some Gua Sha [?] or something. Yeah, definitely.

Q: Is it a light pressure, is it a strong pressure?

A: To the point that you’re testing?

Q: Yeah.

A: Pretty light. I mean—

Q: Do you ever find that it’s light, and then if you press harder, it releases, or does it tend to be pretty light?

A: I would say light to medium. I mean, basically, what you’re doing is you’re asking a question. And I think it may help a little bit if you’re actively asking the question in your mind, you know, intention. It’s like, “Hey, what do you think of this? How about this? How about that?” It’s almost like you’re asking the body. It’s like what I was doing with you earlier, like with the manual muscle testing. It’s like, “What does your body think of this? What do you think of that?” So, it’s this questioning mode. It’s asking the person, “What do you think of this? Is this important?” And it doesn’t need to be heavy pressure. I mean, you don’t want to just barely touch it. You want to make contact so enough so it’s like, “What do you think of this?”

But if you’re getting equivocal results, try changing the vector. Like pulling or pushing or lifting or—sometimes that’ll, like, Dr. Tran, in our doctorate program, he said that he always uses Kidney 7 towards 8. And I was like, “I’ve never heard of that.” And he said, “Oh, very important.” And it was like, hm. So, what I’ve noticed is sometimes, I’ll be looking for a kidney point, and I’ll kind of go over 7, and it was like, “Oh, there was something in the area,” and, “Did you try 7 toward 8?” and I’ll put it on 7 and pull toward anterior, and it’s like, “Oh, that’s it.” It releases with that vector. That’s the way you have to needle it.

Q: So, I palpate a Shu, find the tight spot. Do I decrease pressure, touch a point, and then push again? Or do you leave it on that tension and touch points? You know what I mean?

A: I strum the Shu point with each point.

Q: Strum it, and then stop strumming, test, and strum again? Like playing a guitar?

A: Yeah. Like, “What do you think of this point? How about this point? How about this point? Oh my god, I didn’t even have to strum. I could just feel my finger sink in.” But usually, there will be a little leveraging off my knuckles here, kind of going, “Ee-ee-ee-ee.” I mean, I could show you, if you want.

Q: No, I that makes sense. And I think you already explained it in that paper that you sent me.

A: There’ll be more.

Q: I’m just getting it down so that we can—so, you graduated school—where did go to school?

A: Well, it was right after the earth cooled. We had to get the dinosaurs out of the way to get to class.

Q: Because three had to have been time before Kiiko started teaching, right?

A: Oh, god yes.

Q: Because Kiiko wasn’t teaching in the beginning.

A: Oh, no, I’ve gone through many iterations of practice style, heavens.

Q: OK, so you were—how old were you when you started studying with Kiiko, or looking into Kiiko? How far [?] after practice?

A: Oh, maybe 12 to 15 years, somewhere in there.

Q: OK, and then you started learning about Kiiko’s method, and really liked testing unresponsive [?], and so, started to explore that.

A: But I never became a full Kiiko acolyte. But I liked her emphasis on, stuff should happen right now. We should be able to find out what’s going to work, and we should be able to find out right now what’s going to be the most effective treatment for you, based on palpation. And I found that I had a facility for palpating, whereas, you know, maybe some five element practitioner, “Oh my god, I can tell by the smell, it’s acrid, so that means you’ve got this constitutional situation.”

Q: Yeah. I tend to be hands-on, so I think that’s why I’ve gravitated towards that style. How do you develop that, or teach it, to people that aren’t hands-on? How do you develop the sensitivity, how do you—yeah, how do you develop the sensitivity?

A: Practice. But what I find is that most people who are magnetized to acupuncture are tactile. They’re kinesthetic, tactile people. They want to do stuff with their hands, they want to do it with people, to people, all of that. Or you get people in Chinese medicine who aren’t that way, they gravitate more towards Chinese herbs, which is much more of an intellectual exercise, it’s more contemplative, it’s less about touching people.

Q: Does the translation—because there’s some thoughts that the theory of acupuncture and the theory of herbs are kind of two separate things, they don’t necessarily—so, does the Shu points—does the diagnostics that come with that, does that roll into your herbal formulas?

A: It can. It’s more for my acupuncture, but it will inform it. You know, like let’s say the case that I was talking about, where the liver pulse is both wiry and deficient. It’s kind of a little of both. It’s like, “Well, what’s most important for me to do with this person?” Or, “Gee, OK, we need to do more moving, perhaps.” The symptoms could be either way. They have some signs of Liver Qi stagnation, but they also have some signs of blood deficiency. Well, let’s do both. With herbs, you could do both, but what do you want to emphasize? But I think that by in large, it informs my acupuncture much more than my herbal medicine.

Q: OK. And you leave your hand at the point?

A: While I’m testing with the other one.

Q: Yeah. And they tend to be both bilateral. Do you ever test both sides, or do you just stick with the one side that’s easiest?

A: I tend to just stay on the one side, and then I’ll swing around to the other side of the table. Could you do it? Yeah, you could, but I try to use good body mechanics, and when I start getting too reachy, my back—

Q: Again, I know this is all theoretical, and—so, my hand’s on Bladder 23, and I’m testing kidney points, and I’m testing bladder points, and I can’t seem to feel like it’s releasing on the left side of the body, the side that’s closest to me. Do you ever find that it releases on the opposite side? Or is it pretty much just if you check one side, you’re probably going—it’s going to release the same?

A: Well, what happens often with that situation is I’ll go, “I’m not getting any clear reading. Let’s go over to the other side.” Sometimes I’ll get a clearer reading on the other side, and once I find the relationship, I’ll go back, and it’s like, “Yeah, that was it,” but it’s almost like going at it with fresh eyes, going around to the other side.

Q: OK. So, that is a thing. If you do not find it, you can go check the other side.

A: The other thing is being open to other point locations. For instance, a lot of times the SI 15 area, like, it’s an SI point, maybe, yeah, but for instance [phone rings]. What was I talking about?

Q: Testing both sides, and then alternate point locations.

A: Oh, yeah. So like, Small Intestine 7. Small Intestine 7 can be anywhere from here to here. What you’re looking for is the spot that works. Or Liver 8 is kind of a big zone for me. And there’s a lot of points I use in different locations than the book, that’s where I was taught, or where a lot of people ein the olden days were taught. Like Lung 7 is here, not up here. So, sometimes it’s a different location that will garner it, or it’s an extra point. Like Bladder 19, I’ll check the gallbladder points, and I’ll go, “Did you check Dang-Mang Shue [ph.]? Ah, that’s it.” It’s a real gallbladder-oriented thing where you need to use Dang-Mang Shue. That’s the point that’s most important today.

Q: OK. Anything else I should know?

A: You start playing with it, and then you develop your own style, too. Like sometimes, for Bladder 13 or 42, it’s Lung 1. It’s not on the arm. It’s often the points out here are more active, generally. The Antique Points, as they used to sometimes be called.

Q: That actually is interesting.

A: The points from like the knee down and the elbow down. Those are influential points. They tend to be more influential than some of the body. But sometimes the body points are the most important one. Like Liver 13 or 14 or Lung 1. And sometimes it’s above the knee, like Gallbladder 31 is often a really good point.