Sunday, May 31, 2015


Examples of Sterling Silver Zanshins
Above are four examples of zanshins.  This may seem confusing to some because many do not realize that yoneyamas are considered zanshins as well. Stephen Birch references the Ling Shu as describing the zanshin as "having a large head with a sharp tip that is inserted very shallowly."*   This description is rather vague and explains why there are differing interpretations of this tool.  Of course we do not insert the yoneyama in modern practice, but the sharp point remains useful for point stimulation. 

The omeyama yoneyama shown is my own embellishment of the classic yoneyama shape (top left).  The classic yoneyama shape that we are all familiar with has a very playful and active energetic to it.  I believe this is due to the highly dichotomous nature of the tool; a large "yang" blade combined with a small sharp point.  This makes the tool very top-heavy and urges it to oscillate when being used for point stimulation.  The length of this tool is fairly short (less than 2") which lessens the imbalance of mass caused by these two opposing ends.  This short length also makes the tool feel "handier," fitting in the fingertips and being used for quick and active stroking along the meridian with the blade or scattering with the point.  The elongated yoneyama shown is my own variation of the classic shape and makes an excellent pediatric tool. The extra length allows the pointed end to have a more stable feel for point stimulation while the blade can still be used for invigorating qi and blood on the surface.  The blade of both of these tools is very angular/sharp/yang and is quite invigorating/dispersing compared to the the yin nature of an enshin ball.

The tool that we generally think of as a "zanshin" is a long cone made by folding a pie shaped section of metal into a cone shape.  This creates a pointed end and a hollow and curved bladed end.  The bladed end can be used for point stimulation as well as being used for "pocking" the surface.  This pocking is accomplished by lightly tapping the hollow end so that it lands on the skin in a parallel plane so that a suction cup popping sound is made.  This is another method of invigorating qi and blood flow.   The zanshin shown is a variation of the classic folded tool described above, except that it is made of solid silver round bar that is forged into a point and hollowed on the other end.  I prefer making them this way and like the added mass obtained.  The tool is also smaller in diameter than the folded form, which gives both ends a much more precise feel.  The pocking effect is similar, although I would say it is slightly stronger (more dispersive) with the smaller hollow.  The reason I believe this to be true is simple physics.  The smaller hollow has a smaller surface area contacting the skin so the force is divided across that area.  For this reason, the smaller hollow end should be used in a more gentle way than its bigger brother.   The zanshin traditionally had a pointed end, but this version can be made with a ball end if you prefer (as shown).

*Birch, Stephen & Junko Ida,  Japanese Acupuncture.  Paradigm Publications, Brookline, MA. 1998.  pg. 46.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The "Micro" Teishin

The Micro Teishin (right)
Often, I have my own bias towards heavier weight acupuncture tools.  I think it comes from our innate misunderstanding and insecurity to believe that more is better.  When we see that a heavier gold teishin is much more expensive, without thought, we believe that it must be better.  The opposite may be true.  Recently, a toyohari practitioner asked me to make him a very small teishin 1 mm diameter by 57 mm long with a very small round ball end a subtle tapered blunt end on the other.  It is a joy to work with practitioners that know what they want and why they want it that way.  From their need creates the necessity and expands my own thinking about the tools and how they are used.  In these instances I am not the designer and become merely a craftsman for the execution of that design.    Often the problem solving that comes with these new designs is reward in itself.  In this instance, the challenge is creating a uniform and precise ball end on such a small diameter wire that wants to bend away from each file stroke.  I must admit the first 5 attempts were failures, but I am excited that, after a bit of practice, I can produce them consistently.  The gold teishin in the above picture, left is a fairly standard, although heavy, 14 gage (1.75mm) by 3" size.  The center teishin is sterling silver 16 gage (1.25mm) by 58mm long.  Finally, the "micro" teishin on the right is 18 gage (1.0mm) by 57mm long in 18k royal yellow gold.  I consider both the silver and gold teishin to be in the "micro" category.  The silver teishin needs to be made slightly heavier to compensate for the lighter weight and decreased rigidity inherent to silver tools.  By dropping the weight of the teishin, we gain precision, delicacy, and specificity.  The small diameter also facilitates a consolidated oshide which is crucial for optimum tonification.  All this at a lower price point that will make owning a gold teishin within the grasp of many beginning practitioners.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Omeyama Yoneyama

Omeyama  Yoneyama
The yoneyama has always been a very versatile tool for meridian therapy.  I added a little flare to this one by cutting out an Om symbol in it.  The Om also adds a degree of grip and control on the tool.  So if you are an Ayurvedic practitioner as well, this may be just the tool to get your prana flowing!
1 3/4" by 1 1/8"  sterling silver.