Alyssa Dazet Interview with Peter Deadman

A Manual of Acupuncture Peter Deadman
A Manual of Acupuncture Peter Deadman
Peter Deadman

If any acupuncturists were at acupuncture school during the pre or early days of the internet, you may have trained with the acupuncture points textbook – A Manual of Acupuncture.

This landmark book was written by the well-known acupuncturist and author Peter Deadman. Along with Mazin Al-Khafaji and Kevin Baker. 

I will explain the meaning of the featured image – the bricks later on in the article. But first, the interview.

Alyssa Dazet’s YouTube interview

The American acupuncturist, entrepreneur and founder of the company – 6 figure Acupuncturist carried out this interview with him. It is available through Alyssa Dazet’s YouTube Channel and on Peter Deadman’s website.

Peter Deadman is one of those names that is well-known in the Acupuncture world, as one of the earlier and principal figures of its beginnings in the West. Here is an opportunity to listen to one of the key figures of acupuncture in the West. It is a long interview – over an hour, with a lot of topics covered.

I have included the version shown on Peter Deadman’s YouTube Channel as opposed to Alyssa’s Channel as it has been edited to remove the 7/8 minutes of footage at the beginning, whilst preparing for the interview to commence.

Please like or subscribe to support Alyssa’s work on her channel.

Brief summary of the interview

Alyssa and Peter Deadman discussed a lot of topics ranging from how he got into acupuncture, the way that the acupuncture world has changed, his early life as well as other ideas about health

Peter had just turned 70 years old at the time of the video. He lives in Brighton, UK. In his career in Chinese medicine, he ran his own clinic, taught students, authored a well known textbook, founded a Journal and also practices and teaches qigong. He is retired from clinical practice.

Early Life

Peter Deadman was a smart young boy. He was admitted to Oxford University to study a degree that potentially could have seen him work in the government. However, he was also influenced by the beat and counter-culture generation of the time and he rebelled. He preferred to spend his time taking recreational drugs and listening to music like Bob Dylan, rather than study.

He was expelled from university as one of “the worst students” who had ever attended there.  Freed from this path, he set out with a hippy lifestyle, travelling around the world and taking drugs. He adopted the mindset – “you have to do something important to your life”. 

Unfortunately, in Morocco he became seriously sick with hepatitis. It was then that he came across a book on Zen Macrobiotics from the author George Ohsawa.


Ohsawa was the founder of the Macrobiotics movement, which promotes the idea that ‘diet can change your life’.

The Macrobiotic diet is a a type of healthy eating plan based on traditional Japanese foodstuffs like miso soup, pickles and brown rice. It also incorporates traditional Oriental medicine principles such as yin yang and qi.

Ohsawa’s works and the Macrobiotic’s movement became very popular in the West in the 1960s and 70s. It is still popular today. Especially with some celebrities.

A Macrobiotics restaurant business

Peter became interested in Macrobiotics and this set him off on a new path. He opened a Macrobiotic retaurant back in Oxford and a healthy food distribution business. Both of which became successful. It was also through Macrobiotics, that he learnt about traditional Chinese health philosophy. 

However, despite the success of these businesses, he wanted something different. So Peter decided to train as an acupuncturist.

Early days of acupuncture

Peter took to a career in Acupuncture in its early days in the UK. Few people practiced then. There were scant learning opportunities in the 1970s and few books. Basically people didn’t know a lot about Chinese medicine back then. 

This all changed when China opened itself up to the West during the Nixon administration.

Academics and students were invited to China to train. Giovani Macciocia, Fred Kaptchuk and Julian Scott were some of the earlier visitors and what they learnt there, they brought back.

They were able to provide a deeper level of training in the West thereon-in. Peter Deadman trained with Maciocia. And as one of the earliest practitioners in this art, Peter Deadman’s practice was popular. He was seeing 80 to 90 patients a week in a multi-bed clinic. He also started a journal – the Journal of Chinese Medicine, which brings out articles to this day.

Changing times

Things have changed now. Peter Deadman remarked that even ten years later from the time he trained, that the number of acupuncturists had increased and that it had become a crowded marketplace. 

But what about 30 years later? It is apparent that there are a lot more acupuncturists available everywhere – TCM shops, Medical Acupuncturists (nurses/doctors/physios), even chiropractors can provide it, first and second generation acupuncturists well as the newer graduates today. 

On the other hand the awareness of acupuncture has also grown, so that more people are open to it and willing to pay.

Still the notion of 80 or 90 clients a week in the UK, is unheard of these days. Though, I have heard this is common still in Japan.

Hence the need to adopt different business models like a strong online presence, your own products, keeping costs low, and other strategies. (My note).

The Writing of A Manual of Acupunture

At over 650 pages long with hundreds of detailed illustrations and references to ancient texts and source material, The Manual of Acupuncture is one of the most comprehensive textbooks on Oriental Medicine ever written. 

Peter Deadman Acupuncture

In the interview, Peter Deadman said that it took them 8 years to write the book. They were initially approached by a publishing company and along with Mazin, decided they wanted to write a book with ‘strong foundations’.

They spent hundreds of hours researching and translating Chinese texts (Mazin was able to read classical Chinese) to write the book. The whole journey was like ‘putting one foot in front of the other’.

Other health advice by Peter Deadman

Peter Deadman has a special interest in health, with an emphasis on the ‘middle way’ or a life of moderation in tune with the tao of our bodies. This goes against the message of today’s society which talks about pushing ourselves to our limits in order to get stronger or attain a higher level. This approach is not truly in tune with the natural harmony of our body.

He also remarked that aging can be due to stagnation. 

Anti Aging

Usually, aging is seen as a result of a decline in jing or essence. But as Peter observed, there are signs of stasis in ageing. Things like dark patches or marks on the skin are signs of stasis. Stasis is further indicated in our bodies as things get stiff.

He also believed that we can counteract ageing by keeping ourselves younger mentally. How so? By approaching life on the basis that we live as continuous learners. That we are prepared to let go of preconceptions or mindsets and firmly held beliefs.. This is the makings of wisdom. 

Empty Cup

It is similar to the Lao Tzu story about how a famous dignitary comes to visit a wise old monk to teach him about the Tao. The dignitary tells the monk impatiently that he is very important and does not have time, so he would like the quick version about the Tao. Save me the waffle.

The monk offers the man a tea and then proceeds to fill it up till it overflows, spilling onto his hands. At which the point the dignitary gets angry and asks him ‘what do you think you are doing?!’ To which the monk replies:

‘How can I fill up your cup if it is already full? You must first learn to empty your cup before I can teach you about the Tao.’

“Yes”, the dignitary replied. “that is all well and good, but you could at least, have let the tea cool down first. This tea is scolding hot!”

Keep a young mindset

In life, Peter shared how he adopts this mindset by saying how he plays in a band, even at the age of 70. Spending his evenings practiting and doing gigs.

I have seen similar attitudes in other acupuncturist particularly in Japan. For example, I spoke to Mr Taniuchi,  who I interviewed in my book – The Tradition of Blind Acupuncturists in Japan. He had learnt arm wrestling, (I assume sometime either in his 60s or 70s). 

At one seminar, he challenged all the class attendees to arm wrestling fights during the evening meal (and drink) and then proceeded to beat everyone. This despite being of smaller build than some of the Western members. In case you’re wondering, he was using muscle – not qi energy. Pretty cool for a 70 year old.

I think there is some wisdom for all of us to learn about ageing healthily by remaining as lifelong learners. 

Blind Acupuncture in Japan

Peter Deadman on Qigong

Peter practices and has taught qigong for 30 years. He stated clearly that qigong “saved his life”. He was not born with a strong constitution and his early life of debauchery – drugs and travel, would have taken their toll on his body. So a lifetime of qigong practice has really helped keep him healthy.

Peter shared some more wisdom – the value of daily practice. As a child he was ingrained with the habit of daily practice through learning to play the violin. He carried on this habit by making qigong, breathing exercises or yoga a part of his daily life practice.

Fundamentally, this is the key to health – daily practice. It is not just enough to do a seminar or training. You have to practice daily what you learn. Then its effects will impact your life.

Other observations

It is clear that Peter Deadman could have talked for hours. Alyssa has a warm and friendly interviewing style, which invites open engagement.

Peter Deadman felt that he was lucky in his life. Timing was an important factor that opened up these opportunities to him. The West was just ready for this new influx of knowledge about traditional Chinese medicine and healthy eating and he happened to be ready at the forefront of it all.

Opportunity + Action = Success

However, he still had to be ready to go down this path in the first place. Dropping out of Oxford to pursue a beatnick lifestyle was certainly going against the expected track (I assume), for someone from his background. Not many people could do that. 

Peter Deadman made a few more observations, particularly about the way new acupuncturists are thrown out into practicing on the public after qualifying, without adequate follow up. They are expected to figure it out for themselves. Additionally, they are also given unrealistic expectations that it is possible to heal everything with acupuncture, when this is not truly the case.

These are all points  I agree with. I have discussed one possible solution to this problem of lack of experience in this article here.  

Peter Deadman also said that in spite of this current anti-TCM feeling going on and the growth of systems that operate using different principles, Deadman believes there is great value in the differential diagnosis system of TCM. A key part of it is being able to differentiate a person’s symptoms into patterns.

Peter Deadman recently wrote another book on health. Here is an amazon link.

Live Well, Live Long: Teachings from the Chinese Nourishment and Life Tradition and Modern research

To conclude, I will just share some personal experiences with the textbook – A Manual of Acupuncture.


A Manual of Acupuncture is a Brick (literally)

The Manual of Acupuncture was my college’s main acupuncture points textbook.  Avalable here on Amazon.

Peter Deadman Acupuncture
The Incredible Hulk of Textbooks

It is packed full of detailed descriptions, illustrations and lots and lots of background information about all the points. 

It is a great book, but it is horribly impractical for students because the paperback version is huge. The size of at least three bricks (possible four) as you can see from the picture above.

Can I borrow your Deadman?

Students often referred to this book as ‘Deadman’, even though there were two other authors involved. That name just sticks in the mind better.

Also, perhaps subconsciously, we thought we’d all become dead-men, if we had to spend 3 years carrying that book around in our backpacks on a daily basis. We would all be dead from muscle strain.

Sorry for the pun Peter. I’m sure you haven’t heard that before. I had the same with my surname. Kids asking me what’s it like to live in an electrical store.

To put my back out, or not to? That is the question

Fortunately, the book didn’t weigh quite as much as three bricks (possible two), but students often had to make a decision – should I carry this gigantic book with me today or just try to borrow someone else’s copy for my points classes or clinic?

Quite often, students opted not to carry the book. So the few members that did bring books would get irritated whenever other students came sniffing around, like hyenas around a lost wilderbeast, to ask if they could peak a look at a particular point…

As I approached them, I’d ignore that furrowed, snarling look on their face – indicating to me – ‘Why must I take the risk of permanent muscle strain whilst these freeloaders just waltz up to me and ask me to borrow my Deadman. The nerve of them, these SOB’s!’.

Me: “Hi, could I have a quick look at the location for Kidney 12?”

Them: Grits teeth – “Yes of course”  (asshole)

A few ingenious students actually ripped off all the points and made their own palm-sized miniature points booklets. I still have my original home-made copy from my college days.

Thank F for the Digital Age

They’ve fixed that all now beautifully. These days, you can pay for an app that has all these points on your smartphone or tablet and it is worth getting even for experienced acupuncturists as a source of reference. I’ve got one on mine.

Other publishers also have gotten on the action and produced their own mini booklets if you prefer paper books.

I still have my Deadman from college and dip into from time to time. If you want to have an impressive looking bookshelf, it is a good addition (and edition). 

One day, I’ll have to get Peter Deadman to sign it. If I am willing to carry it in my backpack. 

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2 thoughts on “Alyssa Dazet Interview with Peter Deadman

  1. Thanks John for link to the controversial Peter Deadman. Very insightful interview, lots to reflect upon. Bit disturbing for me as I don’t TCM ever, and as such his book was the cause of my confusion about what acupuncture is about, as much as it was a marvellous work.

    I tried learning acupuncture through study of this text, and essentially failed, I gave it up, couldn’t make it work for me. It was only like you, studying the work of Blind practitioners from Japan did I kind of begin to practice a bit, and gain feel for the subject and the points.

    However now, 15 years on from qualifying, I can see the text as marvellous, but it’s not something students should study. Although having bought it all those years ago, meant it was sitting in my store, for when I was matured enough to read it again

    Acupuncture in my mind is a personal communication with the clients and an expression of where the practitioner is in themselves, so Peter’s focus on qigong is the right way to go in developing the self.


    1. Interesting to hear your perspective. This book did reinforce the standardisation aspect of acupuncture. Particularly as in contrast, Meridian Therapy has more more flexibility over point locations and even orgs like Toyohari change where they locate some of the points. It doesn’t seem to consider the energetic aspects of acupuncture points, which is talked about in George Soulie De Morants book and Denmai.


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