The history of Tui-Na

The roots of Tui-Na (also spelled tuina) were developed long before acupuncture, using manual stimulation of affected areas to bring about pain relief. Primitive man instinctively knew that by rubbing painful areas on the body, discomfort would be lessened. With the discovery and evolution of acupuncture meridian theory, Chinese massage therapy also evolved, first known as An Mo (pushing & kneading) in ancient times. By the Ming Dynasty, the technical and theoretical level had risen dramatically, and the new science of manual therapy was renamed “Tui-Na” (pushing & grasping).

Tui-Na has always had a close relationship to Chinese martial arts, as traumatic injuries (such as dislocations, sprains, fractures, etc.) are commonplace in any combative training environment, and the most readily available treatment tools were right at the fingertips of the school’s headmaster. Most of history’s most famous Chinese martial artists were also exceptional physicians, most notably Sil Lum Hung Kuen’s Wong, Fei-hung, who oversaw the Po Chi Lam clinic in Futshan. Cantonese martial artists developed a special traumatological science known as “Dit Da” or “Tit Dar” in the Cantonese dialect (or “Tie Da” in Mandarin). Dit Da medicine generally combines manipulative therapies with the best internal and external use herbal formulas (commonly referred to under the blanket term of “Dit Da Jow” by foreigners) for traumatic injuries along with Tui-Na manipulations for treatment.

Professor Cheng’s class material is drawn from several different styles of Chinese Tui-Na medicine. He studied the Shanghai style of Dr. Yu Da-Fang during his apprenticeship with Prof. Kim, Jae-man. The Shanghai style of Tui-Na forms the core of his teaching material. However, he also studied Tui-Na with Dr. Gu Hua while at Emperor’s College, and Cantonese Dit Da medicine (commonly referred to as Chinese osteopathy) with his different kung-fu teachers. This exposure to multiple styles of Tui-Na and Chinese manual therapeutics has given Dr. Cheng a more balanced perspective on the different advantages and disadvantages of each system.
 
While some mistakenly dismiss Tui-Na as either Chinese massage or Chinese chiropractic, Tui-Na is in fact a complete system of medicine, giving it the ability to address both internal diseases and external injuries. Its unique logic and methods of diagnosis and treatment set it apart from all other medical sciences.