Find the silence
   which contains thought.


Which Style is Right For You?

January 2010

Someone recently asked me which style of acupuncture—Chinese, Korean, or Japanese—yields the best results. Good question.

Styles do not make results, acupuncturists do.

In general, there are a few very broad-stroke differences between Japanese, Korean and Chinese needling styles. Japanese style acupuncture tends to be non-invasive with only very mild stimulation; very outwardly gentle. Korean styles tend to be more vigorous in stimulation. They also have a unique system of hand acupuncture that I understand to be very effective. Though needling the hand can be a bit uncomfortable for patients. And Chinese styles seem to be everything in between.

What we learn in school is called “Traditional Chinese Medicine” and is an amalgam, a distilled version of the 4000 years of medical history that can vary with every geographic area in China. The Chinese government in the 1950s realized they could not care for their population using only Western physicians, so they re-introduced Chinese medicine in a pared down, well-defined and teachable program that is now taught in schools around the world. We all start with this basic foundation in the medicine, but once we graduate, many of us begin to explore the innumerable traditions in search of styles that we most resonate with and that we find most effective for our patients. Once I, as the acupuncturist, find a system that makes sense to me, then I stand a better chance of having it work for my patients.

From the patient’s perspective, the most obvious way that they may feel a difference in style is in how vigorously their acupuncturist seeks to elicit the “Qi” (pronounced chee, which means energy) sensation—that dull, heavy achy feeling at the site of the needle. That sensation means that the point has been well-stimulated. Clarifying for the patient what they are experiencing or should expect to feel is of the utmost importance. They need to understand that the qi sensation is an okay feeling to have. But a sharp, shooting, burning sensation is not. When that occurs, it simply means that we have gotten too close to a blood vessel or nerve and we need to relocate the needle. Some patients love that qi sensation and others simply do not. I never want a patient lying on my table in a state of anxiety—it is counter-productive. I always work within my patients’ comfort level. Always. The only time I am aggressive with needling is when someone is in acute pain and I need to strongly off-set that pain. And when you find the right point, acupuncture works 100% of the time. To see the look on a patient’s face when needling a point in their foot gets rid of their migraine within seconds is priceless!!!

The bottom line is always about getting results. Liking the acupuncturist is wonderful, but if they do not get results, then you are paying them for stimulating conversation! As much as my patients may like me, if I am not addressing their chief complaints effectively enough in a timely manner, then my rapport with them can only go so far.

There are of course other reasons why one might choose one style over another, but that is where we get a bit technical. Some styles are better suited for acute issues, some are better for constitutional balancing, while others are best for more psycho-emotional issues. Chinese Medicine is an enormous world and it is as varied as the acupuncturists are who practice it.

In the end, be assured that none of us do what we do in the style we do it if it did not work most of the time. My role is to continue to be insatiable in my quest for better skills and deeper knowledge to get more reliable and consistent results. Your role is to decide whether or not you connect with me, the style I practice, and get the results you are looking for.


© Jordan Hoffman, L.Ac., Dipl. OM, 2009. All Rights Reserved.

The information presented here is not medical advice, is not intended as medical advice, and is intended to provide only general, non-specific information related to Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture and is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. You should consult a licensed health practitioner before using any of this information.

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2001 S. Barrington Ave. Ste 116 Los Angeles, CA 90025  l  310-729-9061  l  © Jordan Hoffman Acupuncture 2010
This site and any articles on this site are not medical advice and are not intended as medical advice and are intended to provide only general, non-specific information related to Chinese Medicine and acupuncture and are not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. You should consult a licensed health practitioner before using any of the information on this site and any articles.