Friday, October 26, 2012

Is "Chi Nei Tsang" Chinese?

According to Wikipedia, Chi Nei Tsang (气内脏; 氣內臟) is "a hands-on holistic health practice of ancient Chinese Taoist tradition, rediscovered and further developed by Chi-Kung... involves the application of Chi-Kung in the manual treatment of the viscera (Nei-Tsang) and the deepest internal structures of the body... The contemporary form of Chi Nei Tsang, as being taught by Master Mantak Chia and his disciples worldwide, is deeply rooted in three different traditions: Classical Taoist Chinese Medicine, Traditional Internal Medical Thai Massage, and Western holistic medicine." Dr. Andrew Weil says "Chi Nei Tsang (CNT) is a centuries-old variety of healing touch therapy from China. It focuses on deep, gentle abdominal massage in order to 'train' the internal abdominal organs to work more efficiently, which in turn is said to improve physical and emotional health." In addition, the most prominant master of Chi Nei Tsang is Mantak Chia, a Thai born to a Chinese family. Earlier in his life, he followed a number of masters to study Thai boxing, Qi Gong, Kung Fu, Daoism. His most important teacher is said to have a name "Yi Eng (White Cloud)" of the Dragon's Gate sect of the Quanzhen Daoism (道家全真龙门派).

I'm no stranger to traditional Chinese medicine, not as a professional, but as a twenty plus year amateur in reading and occasional practice on myself. Honestly I've never heard of "气内脏" before. So I searched on the Internet, for both English and Chinese content. Almost all documents on this topic are in English. Three web pages in Chinese mention this term, none citing ancient Chinese sources. Since my knowlege of Daoism (Taoism) is limited to reading only a few books and browsing online once in a while, I posted a message to a Chinese forum asking for Chinese source on this term. So far no ancient Chinese document is identified to have made the first use of this term. The three Chinese web pages that mention Chi Nei Tsang (see the first part of the message I posted to the forum) call it abdominal massage, detoxifying massage, and detoxifying and pressure reducing, respectively.

Then I searched for "Yi Eng" or with keywords "yi eng white cloud" or their Chinese equivalents, even though "yi" is unlikely to be a Chinese character meaning "white". None was found. But one Chinese page reports a conversation or an interview with Mr. Chia, and uses the Chinese words "一云" (pronounced yi1 yun2 in Mandarin pinyin), literally "one cloud", not "white cloud", to refer to Mr. Chia's Daoist master.

So, if no Chinese source claims the origin of this practice, why call it "practice of ancient Chinese Taoist tradition"? The only answer I can think of is a false attribution to ancient Chinese source to capture attention and admiration of perspective students or practioners, as if any health-promoting exercises must have originated from a haloed Oriental culture, obviously China being a reputable one. If this term was coined in recent decades, why not clearly say so, and happily become the originator of this exercise, the health benefit of which, by the way, I absolutely do not doubt?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Steve Jobs and apples

Medscape article Will an Apple a Day Keep Pancreatic Cancer Away? published on 09/07/2012 may be best read to Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder and CEO, who died of pancreatic cancer this time last year. Note the title of my posting here has "apples", taken literally, not "Apple". (If you don't have an account, which is free, on Medscape, you can find the same article duplicated by other web sites.)