In 2015, we, Dr. med. Roya Schwarz and Dr. med. Michael G. Hammes, established the Academy of Ancient Chinese Medicine (AofACM) in Hamburg to preserve and cultivate the more than 3000 years old medical traditions of ancient China. With the Academy we hope to integrate the knowledge and practice forms of well-known Chinese masters into the routines of general medical practices in the West. We are interested in this for one main reason: during our personal journeys as physicians in search for an ideal treatment models, we found out that there are several elements of ancient Chinese medicine which have long been lost or forgotten – traditions which have stunning effects once integrated into a physicians’ practice properly.
We began studying texts and learning with masters of Chinese medicine for many years, each one of us individually and independently of one another until one day in a meeting we discovered that our observations and perspectives were mutual. The intense exchange of ideas and intentions lead to the establishment of the Academy in 2015. Ever since we have trained several physicians and practitioners who began successfully integrating the sensible and logical methodologies developed by ancient Chinese masters.
Our academy is focused on individual and practical training of people involved in medical treatment. Within a training process over several years, physicians and practitioners gradually learn to introduce their intuition to the medical epistemic field. They start to be enabled to thoroughly understand the illness and dissolve its root causes. Acupuncture, moxibustion, aroma therapy, Chinese manual therapy and the use of herbal medicine, are all integrated to a novel treatment model within which the physicians and practitioners make use of both: a background of modern biomedicine combined with an extended and dynamized understanding of the doctor-patient relationship guided by the vast and profound wisdom of Ancient Chinese Medicine.
This kind of medical practice requires much effort for personal growth on the side of those who give treatment. Yet, such an advanced framework holds great rewards both to the doctor and the patient. In many aspects this approach differs from so called “Traditional Chinese Medicine” which today has become more and more ‘westernised’ and adapted to modern biomedicine. This orientation consequently made that new form of Traditional Medicine from China less attentive to underlying processes of individuation and to specific dimensions in the dynamic of illness that are rooted in psychological phenomena or the spiritual experience of the diseased. However, a truly holistic understanding as it is intended by the ancient Chinese sages of health sciences must incorporate aspects of mind, spirit and soul and by this exceed a point of view that is merely concerned with physical phenomena.
Therefore, we hope that our Academy will serve as an effective tool to make our contribution at a place where it is most needed by bringing back the necessity of processes of maturation into the education of therapists. Being physicians well trained in modern medicine, each of us with a speciality in the medical field, we regard Ancient Chinese Medicine as an indispensable complement of Western medicine and the integration of both as the blueprint of a future medicine.
The Academy regards Ancient Chinese Medicine as a precious legacy to be preserved and cultivated. The mission of the Academy is to promote its worldwide implementation in medical practice today. The Vision is to support any interested and capable therapist to successfully integrate skills, knowledge and wisdom from ancient China into modern practice.
There are many institutions existing for education in the field of so called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). However, we do not see TCM as a true continuation of the historical richness and profoundness of medicine as a science and an art in China. TCM has not only cut away essential contents of medicine in China but follows a continuous reconstruction of traditional medicine in terms of modern biomedicine. Thus, Chinese medicine is exposed to a process of denaturalization that alienates the medical theory and practice from its origin.
The motivation to retrieve and reactivate medical contents from the past, so called “forgotten traditions of ancient Chinese medicine” – an expression used by the famous historian of Chinese medicine, Prof. P. U. Unschuld – does not express an enthusiasm for purist approaches. We are convinced that there is no other so sound and developed system of functional and energetic medicine existing in the world that could compete with the sophisticated canon of Ancient Chinese Medicine.
Yet, the fact that a medical practice based on highly developed skills from Ancient Chinese Medicine is capable of providing significantly better clinical results than a regular treatment according to formalized TCM recommendation should be in the main focus of consideration. Clinical experience does not only point out higher efficacy of an extensively individualized treatment exhausting the powers of Ancient Chinese Medicine, but even proves to be helpful where both TCM and modern biomedicine fail.
In order to achieve its aspired aims the Academy of Ancient Chinese Medicine develops the following activities:
Educating eligible therapists in mastering the ancient art of Chinese medicine.
Developing online seminars to facilitate learning at home.
Developing new teaching materials in the field of Ancient Chinese Medicine.
Publishing textbooks and material with new translations of ancient texts to applicable modern language.
Conducting studies for documentation of clinical effects of Ancient Chinese Medicine.
In all these activities mentioned, our main goal is to help the physicians and practitioners develop a sense of their destination within the great plan of nature (DAO) from which they have been alienated during their modern medical education. The experiences from the first class that received training in the Academy have already generated two publications that will serve as teaching material in the future:
The “Secret of the Golden Needle – Developing true therapeutic power form the ancient teachings of Chinese” is a concise textbook that contains the propaedeutics at the beginning of an evolutional discovery of the complete therapeutical potential that can be found in a talented person.
This introductory work explains the elements in Chinese culture that serve as tools in medicine and self-development. It introduces the basic notions and concepts in their original wording in ancient textbooks and shows their significance for a modern usage. The book contains a detailed program with self-exercises to be practiced over a period of several weeks. These exercises foster the ability of refined perception of Qi-phenomena in the practitioner.
In today’s world educational programs that are fully based on presence classes are no more appropriate. Too much energy and efforts are unnecessarily wasted for accommodation and traveling. A high proportion of learning matters can be studied online or at home with appropriate teaching material. Therefore, the Academy is currently preparing textbooks and online teaching videos that will facilitate efficient learning at home for a greater amount of people.
Nevertheless, a process of self-cultivation and development of exceptional therapeutic powers needs personal training and supervision as well. The need for learning by doing and learning with the support of an experienced teacher will be addressed by two types of seminars:
3 day seminars from Friday till Sunday that amplify the performance in a defined field such as needling techniques, examination of patients including pulse taking, point localization and treatment of real patients
7 day seminars from Friday till Thursday that are held in the form of a retreat within a suitable environment that allows for establishing a relationship with the elements of nature; these seminars serve for the purpose of self-development and are conducted under terms of intimacy and familiarity within a closed group; the number of participants will not exceed 10 people to allow for a highly individualized approach to each learner and to stimulate best mutual support and cooperation
Taking part in classes offered by the Academy of Ancient Chinese Medicine will not be a confrontation with conventional ex-cathedra teaching. Once the devotion to the aim of mastering the ancient art of healing from China is established, participants of the program will join a journey also to their inner world and assist then in overcoming the obstacles that derive from dysfunctional ways of perceiving and understanding, from individual vulnerability and lack of trust in one’s own capacity.
In such a process of self-development and development of exceptional skills in medicine sensitive and delicate issues are involved. For this reason, participants of master classes will be pre-selected and accepted as students when they match with the indispensable prerequisites. Within the program, students will receive lessons and guidance for a time of at least four to five years.
An essential part of the studying is constant exercises of meditation and Qigong that lead to a refinement of perception. This permanent training of senses and extra senses is indispensable for the cultivation of the exceptional capacities in treatment that are related to Ancient Chinese Medicine.
At this point, we want to make use of a quotation from a famous physician and scholar from Qing-dynasty, Xú Dà-Chūn 徐大椿:
„And yet, in healing the ancient sages were connected with all things between heaven and earth, and they sought the origins of life. The conduits and network vessels, the zang- and fu-organs, Qi and blood, the bones and the flow in the vessels, all this was observed by them like in a transparent body. Based on this information they traced back the origin of the illness and made use of drugs to expel what was diseased and to achieve an adjustment. In these activities, miraculous forces and insights into hidden secrets were involved, that cannot be described in words, but in which acting and transforming are closely interrelated. Shouldn’t such concepts be called highly subtle?”
For any human medical problem that is not simply rooted in easily correctable physical alterations, an investigation into the involvement of emotional, psychological or spiritual processes is indispensable. The most sensitive and valuable instrument in such an investigation is not a technical device but a physician or practitioner who has mastered the refined skills of Ancient Chinese Medicine.
Such skills can only be developed by a training program that combines instruction with continuous guided practice.
Akademie für Altchinesische Medizin
Dr. med. Roya Schwarz