Japanese Acupuncture – Toyohari Style
Acupuncture was originally introduced from China to Japan in the 6th century AD. From the 11th century, Japan was isolationist allowing Japanese acupuncture to develop its own 'flavour'. Then in the 18th century traditional Japanese acupuncture styles were actively suppressed in favour of scientific acupuncture. Eventually in the 1930s there was a revival of classical acupuncture, This revival became known as Japanese Meridian Therapy [JMT] and was anchored in a five-phase system. The Japanese Acupuncturists emphasized palpatory diagnosis of the energy balance manifesting at the radial pulse and on the abdominal 'Hara'. Treatment was structured around concepts of energy transfer between the phases.
The Toyohari School is a further subdivision of Japanese Meridian Therapy that was founded in 1959 by Kodo Fukushima [1911 – 1992] for blind acupuncturists. These blind practitioners have a highly developed tactile sense, which has allowed them to elaborate subtleties of pulse qualities and surface palpation. Today the association includes both sighted and blind practitioners.
One of the founding members, Kosato [1910 – 1984] described a very specific pulse feedback method that has allowed the Toyohari group to test ideas and reach consensus rather than rely solely on individual interpretation.
In the JMT approach to the patient the four examinations; - looking, asking, listening/smelling and palpitation are used. Treatment is clearly separated into a constitutional or 'root' component and a targeted symptomatic segment. Although this system appears simplistic it actually makes for a very flexible and pragmatic system. Technique for the root treatment tend to be gentle, Treatment is confirmed immediately by changes to the pulse and hara.
The Branch treatment is symptomatic and directed to the presenting complaint. Supplementary techniques include a variety of moxabustion techniques, bloodletting, intra-dermal needles, naso-muno [a specialized neck-groin treatment], a unique use of the extra-ordinary vessels and 'shigo' a specialized treatment of the midday-midnight relationship (circadian rhythm) for disorders involving only one meridian.
What if any are the differences between TCM and Japanese Meridian acupuncture?
The basic difference is theoretical. Each emphasizes a quite separate understanding of the energetic foundations.
TCM acupuncture is based on 'Eight-Principle' differentiation and describes energetic imbalances in terms such as excess/deficiency, hot/cold, exterior/interior and yin/yang. The main diagnostic emphasis is generally on questioning and the pulse is used qualitatively. Points are chosen for their actions, and the needle technique concentrates on stimulation of deeper channel structures within the body.
In JMT by contrast, priority is given to root treatment to balance meridian excess or deficiency. Much greater diagnostic reliance is placed on palpation and six position pulse quantities are emphasized over quality. Needle manipulation is gentle, as the practitioner is concerned to engage the Ki.