As a practitioner and teacher of tui na any new material which promotes its study and use is an exciting prospect, so I was very pleased to be asked to review this new DVD by Errol Dexter Lynch. The DVD is easy to access, being divided into four main sections with various subsections within these. There is an introduction, followed by a demonstration of some techniques, then a section called ‘The Traditional Chinese Practitioner’ and finally some ‘Bonus Material’. Apart from Errol’s initial statement that he is keen to promote tui na as ‘a stand-alone therapy’ in the treatment of ‘stress, injury and disease’, it is difficult to know exactly what the aim of the DVD is, or who its intended audience is. On the whole it has the feel of a personal account of his training in China and practice in the UK.
The brief introduction gives some overview of both the practice of tui na and the content of the DVD. I’m not entirely sure why he emphasises that tui na is in its ‘infancy’ since we know that various forms of massage have been an integral part of Chinese medicine since the earliest records some 2000 years ago. It is also strange to distinguish between tui na and an mo, as in China both terms are used together or interchangeably and are simply the names of different massage techniques. What the introduction fails to mention is that there are different styles of tui na practised in China and that the style he is using is from the modern musculo-skeletal school most commonly seen in China today.
The ‘Techniques’ section sees Errol demonstrating just six techniques, sometimes not entirely accurately or clearly, each preceded by a concise list of therapeutic actions and indications. It is not clear why the techniques are demonstrated in this particular order and it seems strange to show the more complex ones first. In demonstrating and teaching it is generally better to introduce simple techniques like mo fa or an fa first, before progressing to complex ones like gun fa and yi zhi chan. It is hard to see who this section is intended for; it is too limited to be used as a teaching aid, yet not really developed for a more general audience. There are also some rather bizarre statements; in all my years of practising tui na I have never heard of an fa being used at the end of the day so that the tired practitioner ‘can rest on the patient’!
The section on ‘The Traditional Chinese Practitioner’ contains some really interesting footage from China and some good advice on the importance of the practitioner practising qi gong or tai ji. However, it also contains lengthy pieces on a visit to the ‘Oriental City Chinese supermarket’ (I wondered if they were sponsoring this in some way?), Errol driving his car, close-ups of his various certificates and far too many testimonials, all of which throw into question the academic quality of this work. However, the part which really worries me is the ‘Consultation’. Having listed on a couple of occasions the conditions to be careful with when carrying out a tui na treatment, his consultation with a patient consists of a few brief questions about where her pain is and what she would like treated. There is no medical history taken, no observation of the area, no hand washing, just a little palpation and then straight into the treatment. I found myself hoping that this woman wasn’t suffering from osteoporosis, high blood pressure, a heart condition or taking anticoagulants etc etc; another reason why I wouldn’t recommend this as a teaching resource or best practice.
Overall, this DVD gives some idea of the practice of one style of tui na, its Chinese roots and how useful it can be in treating a range of musculo-skeletal conditions. However, it lacks focus, has some major errors and, saddest of all, makes almost no mention of the basis of Chinese medicine, qi. By the end I was left with the feeling that it just does not do justice to Errol’s ten years’ experience and many visits to China.
Rosey Grandage Rosey Grandage is a chartered physiotherapist and Chinese medicine practitioner. She spent from 1991-2 in China studying acupuncture, tui na and qi gong and has made frequent return visits. She now works in private practice in West London and lectures in acupuncture, qi gong and tui na at the University of Westminster.