A thought about Shudo Denmei’s Super Rapid Insertion (SRI) Acupuncture technique. An experience of feeling the Qi during an acupuncture training.
This is a continuation of my 30 day spontaneous Qigong Trial. For a primer of what this trial is all about, click here.
A meeting with Shudo Denmei
Last year I went to Japan and attended the In Touch Japanese acupuncture seminar. It was a special year as Shudo Denmei came out of his semi-retirement to teach again. Above is a picture of me with Shudo sensei (centre) and Murato sensei (left).
Shudo Denmei is a famous Japanese acupuncturist. He practices his own version of Meridian Therapy, in which he uses a special technique – Super Rapid Insertion (SRI) on the acupoints. Shudo is in his 80’s and has traveled around the world teaching and demonstrating his method. He is also the author of two popular textbooks – ‘Japanese Classical Acupuncture: Introduction to Meridian Therapy‘ and ‘Finding Effective Acupuncture Points‘.
In Touch 2018
The event was organised by Stephen Brown, Jeffrey Dann and Maya Suzuki. There were several other good teachers there. The teaching was spread between Omori in Tokyo and Shizuoka, West of Tokyo. I am glad to say that I learnt things I had not experienced before.
It was great getting to practice Shudo’s SRI method. I was already familiar with the technique as I am acquainted with two acupuncture colleagues who knew the technique. One had done his training the last time Shudo was in Europe and the other had a copy of his DVD. Both colleagues had showed me the technique and I was able to borrow a copy of Shudo’s Super Rapid Insertion DVD, which is only available in Japanese. From these two sources, I had practiced SRI prior to meeting Shudo. Although, I needed to see Shudo to see the right way of doing it.
Experimenting with SRI
I had some interesting results when I practiced the SRI technique on myself. Firstly, one of the things I was able to do was set off a minor spontaneous Qi reaction in myself if I needled a specific point. This was during a time 5 years ago, when I was practicing spontaneous qigong more intensely.
At this time, I had become acquainted with a very powerful Croatian acupuncturist named Miro Baricic, who was able to set off a strong spontaneous qigong effect in other people simply by needling them. I discussed him in Days 13 – 14. He also utilised the Denmei SRI technique to set it off in me. Although I was under the impression, he could set off this effect with regular TCM style needling.
After that encounter with him, I started practicing spontaneous qigong more regularly by myself. I realised that spontaneous qigong is a way for the body to clear its own blockages – in other words to fix itself. I also started experimenting with the SRI technique, mostly on myself.
On one occasion, I created a very powerful relaxation effect by using the SRI technique on myself. At this time in my life, I was under a large amount of financial stress and saw no way to resolve it. One night I decided to needle a Kidney acupoint on myself. It was not a point I would normally needle, so I am not sure why I chose it. I applied the SRI technique and the results were astounding.
It made me so chilled out and so relaxed. Not in a drugged up doped kind of ‘chilled out’. It was more a feeling, like – its ok – relax, and just let the stress go. And I did. I would describe the feeling like the Bob Marley song – ‘Everything’s gonna be ok’.
It is hard to explain. The feeling just has to be felt. It was not the same feeling that you may get after doing some meditation or some positive affirmations. It was a feeling of pure ‘peace’.
I did experiment again with this technique, but was not able to recreate the effect. After a while, I got distracted by other things and stopped practicing the technique. And to tell the truth, I really didn’t understand exactly what this technique was about. And because of this lack of understanding, I tended to shy away from you using it.
Experimenting on my wife
I tried the same technique on my wife on one of her Liver acupoints. She went into a strong state of relaxation and told me she felt ‘waves’ were coming over her, like ‘she was in water’. That sounds pretty good. Again, it was a one-off event.
Not long after, I stopped practicing spontaneous qigong, and just carried on with my regular type of acupuncture. so I never recreated these effects again.
On reflection, I would say that there was a connection between my spontaneous qigong practice and these unusual effects with the SRI technique.
In Japan, Shudo Denmei demonstrated how he did his SRI technique.
It is called ‘Super Rapid Insertion’ for a reason. He makes a super-quick rotating motion with his thumb and index finger and loosely holds the needle. In fact, it is barely the lightest of touches on the needle. I would imagine it like grasping an eel. Though, I have never grasped an eel personally, but I have heard you can’t grip at an eel too hard otherwise it will get away.
The thing is, despite looking a simple technique to do, it is actually quite hard to carry out the same way that Shudo does. It requires a lot of finger flexibility and movement.
The closest I could get to emulating Shudo is by rotating my thumb at his speed. However, I struggle to rotate my index finger as it easily tires out and the movement feels clumsy.
When I was practicing in the seminar, one of the teaching assistants advised me to use the index finger instead of the thumb as it has a stronger effect on the qi. So I switched and he was right; the person I was practicing on felt a stronger effect when I switched to rotating the index finger instead of the thumb.
Shake that (ass) finger
I mentioned to one of the teachers how I find it hard to physically rotate my index finger in the SRI motion. I was a relieved when the teaching assistant answered – he also struggled to do it as fast as Shudo.
Just to mention again, Shudo is in his 80’s by the way.
Watching Shudo perform the SRI and rotate his index finger is fascinating. It is so fast it is like the flapping of a humming bird’s wings. I don’t think he is completely touching the needle, I would say there is some light contact – enough to project some movement and a spiralling qi energetic wave into the point.
I have heard that energy moves in spirals. This is the case for the energy in the universe, but also for Qi energy. For example, the Kundalini energy is usually depicted as a spiral with the snakes spiralling up the spine.
Practicing the SRI technique
Shudo demonstrated a simple method of practicing the SRI technique.
You take a standard plastic green tip seirin needle – No. 2 (0.12 x 0.30). You twist off the metal part of the needle, which can come off fairly easily and you carry the green handle tip around with you in a small pocket.
Then throughout the day, you take it out and hold that handle in your fingers and thumb and practice the SRI rotation whenever you can. It is barely noticeable to others if you practice it.
It is an ingenuous way to practice this technique, which can be carried out anytime. I think the SRI technique is very innovative and shows that Denmei is a modern master to be able to invent a new technique.
Could there be a connection between SRI and spontaneous Qi?
This was a question I wondered to myself during my recent spontaneous qigong practice.
Recently, I have been a getting a specific type of spontaneous qi movement – finger shaking and wiggling. This movement is not just confined to my practice sessions. It can also activate throughout the day if I allow it, even when I was driving.
The finger shaking occurs very quickly and smoothly. There seems to be a lot of qi movement in them.
The end of the channels – particularly the hands and fingers, are supposed to be areas where the qi switches from one channel pathway to another. So they are rather more dynamic parts of the body.
Also these spontaneous qi finger movements are natural. If I was to try and shake my fingers consciously, I would not be able to maintain the shaking for very long. They would tire quite quickly because it does require a fair amount of energy event to shake your fingers. Also I find my carpal area feels quite strained when I do the shaking consciously.
However, when it is a spontaneous qi movement, I can easily let my fingers shake nonstop for 10 minutes and probably more. I usually stop my practice after 10-15 minutes, so I haven’t seen how long I could continue yet, but I suspect it can be much much longer. And this is probably one good way to ward off arthritis in my hands in the future.
Can spontaneous qi movement in the fingers make for an easier SRI technique?
So I wondered if this might be what’s going on with Shudo? Could he possibly be getting some spontaneous qi flow going on in his fingers when he does his SRI needling technique?
What if it was not just a conscious action? What if Shudo’d actually letting the qi flow through his fingers, which in turn activates the qi through the needle and has a stronger spiralling effect on the patients qi?
So I immediately decided to experiment, by activating the spontaneous qi flow in my fingers and then using the SRI technique. When I did this, my fingers shook quite rapidly with the spontaneous qi flow – especially in my index finger.
I then held a needle in my hand and held on a Ren stomach acupoint. Immediately, I did feel more relaxed.
From this simple experiment, I felt I would have to explore this a bit more. The way I was able to activate the spontaneous movements in my fingers is by directing my mind into my fingers. Where the mind the goes, the qi follows.
Using this technique on a patient
I did also try it out this spontaneous qi SRI method on a patient. Firstly, I consciously let the spontaneous qi movement activate in my fingers and let them wiggle and shake.
This is possible for me to do at the moment because I am undergoing a daily spontaneous qi practice and the finger wiggling is one of my regular movements that I keep getting. I find it easy to set off at the movement. Although, if I stop my regular spontaneous qigong practice, I may lose this ability.
Secondly, after I activated the spontaneous qi movements in my hand, I then held the needle in between my finger and thumb and tried the SRI technique out on a Liver acupoint.
More easier SRI movement
My initial observation was that I could get the SRI motion with relative ease compared to the times when I have attempted SRI more consciously – i.e. without the spontaneous qi movement in my fingers.
I would need to do more experimentation to follow up on this.
So it may be possible that Shudo has some spontaneous qi movements going on in his fingers when he uses SRI. On the other hand, he may just have developed a high level of finger dexterity from all his years of practice. And this finger dexterity is so fast that it looks like a spontaneous qi movement in his fingers.
At any rate, I will keep on exploring this combination of SRI technique with spontaneous qi movement in my finger and thumb for at least as long as I am practicing this type of qigong.
Day 24 Practice
Today was like a continuation of Day 23. I had the spontaneous qi movements in my hands and fingers predominantly.
Once again, my hands were led over various different chakra areas – primarily the solar plexus, dantian and throat chakra. When my right hand was held over the throat chakra, it shook a lot more.
My left hand was not as active with its movement. I was was led to hold my left hand over back of my neck (the throat chakra), whilst the right hand moved and shook over the front part of my chakras.
There was also some additional shaking of my arms with them down by my side, and some circular arms movements.
Today is another heat wave – 29 degrees in London. It is very hot.
This morning, my practice involved lots of arm and hand shaking and some circular arm movements. Again, my right hand is more active than my left. I did not get any movements over my chakras, like the last two sessions.
Today another heat wave. We have a garbage situation with a business that is located near by, that has been allowing it to build up for over a week now. I don’t want to see or smell it anymore when I walk past. It creates a feeling of tension in me. I have spoken to them twice.
For a while, I tried to ignore it and not attach importance to it supposedly thinking that if I didn’t give it energy, it will be resolved. However, that just didn’t work. The problem was still there, so I ended up going straight to one of the managers in person and talking about it. They have now dealt with it,
I didn’t really want to talk about that here, but I figured it may act as an interesting reminder for me in years to come, when I read this log back and am reminded of what was going on in my life back then.
This log is a reflection of my life as much as it is an account of my practice.
Today, I wondered if there is a block in my life.
For a few years previously, things were moving in a smooth flow. I was doing well with work and career-wise. I had a new addition to my family which I was really happy with. I was working hard. Actually, too hard.
I was burning out. Along with my hospice work, I was seeing private clients in the evening. Yet, despite, this, I was still struggling to pay my bills. It is kind of frustrating when you work all the time and then spend all your money paying bills and have nothing to invest in the future.
This led me to make some mistaken decisions last year, which seems to me to have put me in a current ‘life block’.
Whereas the last few years, there seemed few obstacles for me and if I wanted something I could get it (with the exception of money), it seems that now, it’s the opposite.
I wonder if any readers have had a similar experience?
Life flows in ebbs and flows. There are times of plenty and times of famine. So I suppose I should see this as a learning experience.
Perhaps on a deeper level, this is what I wanted.
Being honest to yourself
Deep inside, I always wanted an unadulterated period of time to focus on my writing work. For years, it was frustrating only being able to fit in the odd hour here or there on some article or book.
Recently, my writing work helps me deal with this block that seems to be going on. It is helping me to open up more and learn to be more truthful. I have always cared about how I appear to people too much. Writing some of this crazy content, helps me break that. I hope it makes me a more open practitioner.
Yet I wonder if there is an analogy between the summer trash outside and my life? The trash is undesirable, yet persistent. The blocks are undesirable, yet persistent.
But they are there to shake me up. Simply trying to ignore the problem doesn’t make it go away. I have to face up to it and be honest to my feelings.
I don’t want to accept either as part of my life. Yet both are there to make me reflect and learn. Perhaps both are a mini karmic punishment or an outer reflection of my inner feelings? Or maybe none of that?
I thought about seeing a spiritualist. Perhaps a different perspective will help. It also makes me think of people who are stuck in a difficult situation, where there is no easy solution. For example, someone diagnosed with a terminal or life-limiting illness. This must create lots of feeling of why – why me? Is there a reason? And so on.
I suppose I have been a little more truthful about my feelings in this blog, making it more like an actual ‘blog’ article.
Day 26 Practice
My practice involved the chakra work again. My left hand was led into being held over my crown chakra and my right hand shook over my dantian.
It was at this point that I realised that my hand isn’t just shaking from left to right. It is actually spiralling. Except, due to the fixed range of movement of my hand, it just looks like it is shaking. I have heard from several sources that energy moves in spirals.
At the end of my practice, I felt a sensation to lie down face forward. This may have been a partially conscious movement (not necessarily spontaneous) as I was also tired. I also yawned, which as Katsugen author, Richard S. Omura says, is a sign of release. Although, again it may also have been a sign of tiredness as this heat is intense. Whilst on the floor, I did some leg movements moving from left to right, inwards and outwards, alternatively with knees bent.
Feeling the Qi
Going back to that particular In Touch seminar with Shudo, I also had one other encounter with qi which I thought I’d conclude this log with.
One of the teachers at the training in Tokyo, really helped me to feel the qi through acupuncture.
I’m ashamed to say, that I am not sure of the name of the teacher. For this I apologise for not making better records. I don’t want to make a guess of who I think it was, in case I make a mistake.
Anyway, that teacher had a clear understanding of perceiving qi in the body. What is more, he was able to guide me into perceiving it also.
In one of the exercises, he had me practicing needling on a fellow student. I had to use a certain technique and apply focus and intention on the point. I was allowed to take my time. This last point is significant for me.
During this practice, I was not getting any perception of qi, which is very common for me when I needle as I rarely ever get the feeling.
Straighten your lower back
Then he advised me to straighten my lower back, which was not particularly straight and then I think he held the needle. As he did so, he told me – “the qi is flowing now and that I may be able to feel it in my body”.
And indeed I did. It was a curious sensation, like a tingle of energy trickling through me and it was not anything I had felt in any acupuncture training I had done before.
What gave it greater weight, was that the teacher felt the qi flow and then mentioned it to me that it was flowing – and that I may be able to feel it at the time. But, before he’d even said that, I was already aware of the sensation. This was the first time I have ever had such an experience in acupuncture.
In your own time
On reflection, I felt I was able to perceive this energy flow through me because I could take more time and be more patient in what I was doing. I could focus with more intent , which enabled me to connect to the acupuncture point and the energy.
I think that by staying naturally relaxed when needling, it helps you connect to the qi. If you are tense, the qi does not flow.
Tension can come from either being too expectant of some action occurring or by using your brain too much, when you need to just switch off and simply feel.
More importantly, it is also about making the technique fit me and not me to fit the technique, which I have found in other types of training I have done.
Being honest to yourself
Just some afterthoughts…
I don’t like to lie to myself and pretend that I feel ‘a change’ or ‘the qi’, when I don’t feel anything. How can a person learn properly that way? You either feel the qi or you don’t. If you don’t, then just say straight. Don’t pretend.
If you say it straight, then you can look at ways to develop your sensitivity so you can learn to feel something in the future. If you don’t, your progress can be hindered.
If you say you feel something to someone, when in truth, you didn’t, it just means you’re satisfying someone’s ego. Can a person be that fragile about their system of acupuncture? Surely, there is no room for ego in acupuncture
But also, if you do feel something then say it spontaneously.
Don’t hold back, otherwise, how does anyone know that something is occurring? I think that sometimes people feel unsual things but don’t say anything because they are embarrassed or afraid of sounding strange. But such things are probably quite common in energy work.
This is why it is necessary to be open and share experiences with qi. I hope this website can provide a space.
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