Ikeda Masakazu. Produced by Edward Obaidey Published by Eastland Press, 2005, £70.50
(Reviewed by Marian Fixler, EJOM Vol. 5 No. 3)
Featuring Ikeda Masakazu and produced by Edward Obaidey, The Art of Acupuncture DVD is a useful accompaniment to the book. It brings to life the needling and moxa techniques that would otherwise be hard to envisage from reading the book alone, without such a visual representation. Watching Ikeda sensei at work, one can appreciate how he has mastered his skills, through the gracefulness, fluidity and subtlety of his technique. As Obaidey emphasises, ‘a master practitioner’s hands meld into and become one with the patient’.
The DVD takes the observer through the stages from diagnosis to treatment, with particular emphasis on the palpatory and visual aspects of diagnosis. Constitutional factors play an important part in the diagnosis, with reference to the sheen of the skin and shape and size of the sense organs. As he takes the observer through abdominal and pulse diagnosis, reference is made to the position of the organs on the abdomen and methods of palpation. Meridian palpation and point location also uses a range of different techniques with varying degrees of pressure appropriate for specific conditions.
For practitioners already acquainted with Japanese acupuncture systems, some of the techniques will seem familiar. However, Ikeda sensei has developed his own particular style of needling whilst adhering closely to classical theory on needling technique, typical of meridian therapy styles of acupuncture. For practitioners coming from a more TCM background, these techniques, might be unfamiliar and quite illuminating .
As is typical of Japanese acupuncture systems, which use very fine needles and very shallow insertion, the guide tube is used. It is not uncommon for the same needle to be inserted and reinserted many times in quick succession over a specific area in a technique called contact (for tonification) or scatter (for dispersal) needling. Great skill needs to be developed to use this one-handed ‘loading’ technique which enables the left hand to continue to palpate and identify the areas that need treating. It is interesting to see that the guidelines required by our governing body regarding non-contact with the shaft of the needle during insertive needle techniques are not followed.
The subtlety of the needle styles ranges from non-insertive needling to depths of usually no more than 1-2mm. Many needles are not retained and if they are, in some cases are inserted so shallowly, that the needle lies flat against the skin. Emphasis on the arrival of qi is based on what the practitioner feels, not the de qi sensation felt by patients, as is more common in traditional Chinese styles of acupuncture.
Moxa techniques are also demonstrated ranging from the traditional direct scarring method using half rice grain finest quality moxa (though in most cases, scarring is not the objective!) to more familiar cone moxa and needle head moxa; the latter using loose fine grain moxa, rolled into a ball and wrapped tightly in tissue paper prior to being placed on the needle (this approach is specific to Ikeda’s style). The accompanying commentary explains throughout which type of conditions are best suited to which techniques. Once again the importance of palpation is emphasised, as, traditionally in Japan, moxibustion is not carried out on specific acupuncture points unless there is a reaction at these areas; this might be pressure pain, tightness, indurations or deficient and hollow areas.
Although Ikeda sensei is mainly using one model on whom he makes the diagnosis as he describes the diagnostic aspects of his consultation, he does not show a complete treatment on this individual, but instead demonstrates the various techniques on her. It would have been very interesting to also see a whole treatment to see these techniques in context.
Obaidey emphasises that only practice, practice, practice will enable a practitioner to develop the skills exhibited and that ‘mastery and polishing of technique automatically means the study becomes more than just mere technique, but a journey of great insight and joy.’
In conclusion, the book - The Practice of Japanese Acupuncture -and this DVD set out to introduce an integrative system of meridian therapy, quite different to the more traditional systems of meridian therapy. For practitioners already familiar with other Japanese acupuncture systems, it offers another interesting perspective, particularly with its emphasis on the progression of the disease process, from the viewpoint of the meridian system. For practitioners working more with Chinese style systems, particularly TCM, the information may prove quite confusing. As a practitioner with experience in both, I found it quite difficult to understand the theoretical model described. The accompanying DVD, though quite expensive for what it is, helps to illustrate and bring to life the techniques described. Ikeda’s clinical skills are certainly quite inspirational.
In spite of the comprehensive outline of the theory underpinning this approach, the detailed account of patterns and approaches to treatment intending it to be used as a clinical manual, like all new systems, it would not be possible to practice this system without direct training from teachers versed in this style.
Marian Fixler Marian Fixler qualified in 1991. For many years she was a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster. She is President of the UK branch of the Toyohari Association and has trained extensively in Japanese acupuncture systems since 1998. She teaches as a guest lecturer at the London College of Traditional Acupuncture and is involved in running and teaching Japanese acupuncture courses at a postgraduate level both here and in Amsterdam. She works in private practice in London.