Japanese Acupuncture V Dry Needling

I write this post on this significantly wet winter morning, the ocean
continues to rage with wind torn waves and whitewater exploding randomly, relentlessly pounding the foreshore.

This week I presented two very different workshops, one for the
physiotherapists with whom I work in Brisbane, the other for a select
group of students.

The first  workshop, for the physiotherapists presented a unique challenge.

How to best communicate to my physiotherapy colleagues the unique and
skill-based nature of  Traditional Japanese Acupuncture, whilst not
arousing the ire of my Acupuncture colleagues for giving away the
so-called secrets of the practice of Traditional Acupuncture ?

The situation here in Australia regarding physiotherapists and the
practice of Acupuncture is ambiguous to say the least.

The popularization of dry needling amongst a variety of modalities,
especially physiotherapy in recent years is perceived by many
acupuncturists as a direct threat to our profession.

I believe that the profession’s inability or unwillingness to stand
up and be counted in the public eye as a beneficial and legitimate
healing modality has left the door wide open for every man and his dog
to lay claim to the practice of Acupuncture merely because they have a
needle in hand.

In Australia the general public has precious little knowledge
regarding the clinical efficacy and flexibility of Traditional

A majority believing that Acupuncture might be effective in some cases
for the relief of musculoskeletal pain, headaches or perhaps a less
invasive way of inducing childbirth.

The full potential of Traditional Acupuncture is not so easily
recognized within our profession let alone by practitioners of Allied
modalities and the general public.

For over 20 years my ever evolving version of Traditional Acupuncture
(including Moxibustion) has been my sole form of treatment in clinic.

This has absolutely nothing to do with my opinion on the efficacy of
other allied healing modalities such as herbal medicine, chiropractic,
osteopathy, physiotherapy, vitamin and mineral supplementation,
massage, homeopathy etc, etc.

This singularity of clinical approach has much to do with my affinity
with the underlying philosophy and tactile inclination of Traditional

The depth of clinical expertise and knowledge available to me as a
practitioner of this extraordinary healing art/science is virtually
inexhaustible; I doubt there will ever come a time where I will feel I
have completed my studies or fully evolved as a practitioner.

The accumulated sensory information gleaned through a truly tactile approach to Acupuncture can be formidable; imperative to our growth as practitioners is the framework within which we place this information.

For instance, a physiotherapist whilst fundamentally using the same diagnostic instrument as practitioners of Traditional Japanese Acupuncture will translate the information received through their fingers in an entirely different manner to the Traditional Acupuncturist; as such any diagnostic conclusions they come to and all therapeutic action that they might take will be interpreted in an entirely different manner to that of a practitioner of Japanese Meridian Therapy/Traditional Japanese Acupuncture.

A practitioner of Traditional Japanese Acupuncture will naturally interpret this information based on their knowledge of meridian
pathways and the intricate energetic interactions between each of the
pathways, their associated organ and the interdependence between each
of these meridian/organ complexes.

This will obviously be a very different clinical picture to the one
that a physiotherapist might find.

A vast philosophical and therapeutic chasm exists between physiotherapy and Traditional Japanese Acupuncture, a chasm that is bridged in some way by our mutual reliance upon tactile sensitivity.

The diagnostic and therapeutic approaches used by Traditional Japanese Acupuncture and dry needling are very, very different.

‘One is exclusively musculoskeletal in approach and mechanical in execution, the other, combines both musculoskeletal and energetic
perceptions and is primarily energetic in its execution.’

Both can achieve beneficial clinical outcomes.

Traditional Acupuncture, especially Traditional Japanese Acupuncture
has far more diverse therapeutic and diagnostic applications than purely muscular skeletal.

It is up to our profession to demonstrate and educate our colleagues in Allied modalities, the general public and indeed our fellow Acupuncturists regarding the clinical efficacy of meridian based Traditional Acupuncture.

I attempted to do this with some degree of success last week.

This one hour practically based presentation was all about demonstrating the clinical efficacy and diverse therapeutic skills of Traditional Japanese Acupuncture to my physiotherapy colleagues not about what they should or should not do!

Three courageous physiotherapists volunteered for treatment, none
suffering from any specific problem, all highly stressed!

Watched by several intrigued colleagues, each of my three volunteers
were treated differently as demanded by their individuality and I did
my best to explain the difference between the treatments.

This short video will show some of the needling skills employed during a Traditional Japanese Acupuncture treatment,

None of the volunteers experienced any pain or discomfort.
All attested to the efficacy and strength of treatment and how relaxed and revitalized they felt after their short 20 to 30 minute treatments.

The Acupuncture profession in Australia will go nowhere fighting physiotherapists about the validity of dry needling.

There is a vast difference between the therapeutic application of acupuncture needles in dry needling and meridian based Traditional

A very thick gauge needle versus an extremely thin gauge needle in
conjunction with a very mechanical application versus energetic
application of very fine needles are but two examples of the polar opposites from which these two modalities operate using similar instruments.

Although philosophically and theoretically more aligned with Traditional Japanese Acupuncture, practitioners of  the point-based practice of TCM Acupuncture with its dependence upon thicker gauge needles and their mechanical stimulation might have a much tougher time convincing other modalities that there are major discrepancies in the therapeutic application of Acupuncture and dry needling.

All the Best, Alan

Alan Jansson is an internationally recognized teacher and practitioner
of Traditional Japanese Acupuncture.  For well over a decade, independent of and in conjunction with Masakazu Ikeda sensei and Edward Obaidey, Alan has presented, convened and hosted in the
vicinity of 30 Traditional Japanese Acupuncture workshops in Australia, New Zealand and USA. Driven by a strong desire to promote the consumer friendly nature, clinical efficacy and potency of Meridian Based Traditional Japanese Acupuncture, Alan is a staunch advocate of practically based workshops and draws upon his 25 years clinical experience and 14 years post and undergraduate teaching in a concerted effort to lift the bar globally in the clinical application of this most amazing medical art.

Join him in Exploring the Art of Acupuncture in the 21st century at

For more info, please visit: http://www.worldacupuncture.com

About Alan

Alan Jansson is an internationally recognized teacher and practitioner of Traditional Japanese Acupuncture. As a staunch advocate of practically based workshops, Alan draws upon his 35 years clinical experience and 23 years post and undergraduate teaching. Alan has presented, convened and hosted more than 70 Traditional Japanese Acupuncture workshops in Australia, Europe, and USA.

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