Acupuncture and other Chinese medicine techniques are a wonderful adjunct to Physical Therapy or as a stand alone treatment to promote healing, improve health and get people back to doing the things they love to do.
So, when I received an email from David Derdiger, an Acupuncturist/Chinese medicine practitioner requesting to rent a room, I did a little happy dance, as I have been searching for a complementary practitioner to share my space for some time. And, Wow! Someone found me!
I did my due diligence by looking him up on Linkedin and discovered that he graduated from Deerfield High School. I went to neighboring Highland Park High School (although many, many years apart). He was a gymnast in High School. I was a gymnast in High School. He graduated from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I graduated from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
On paper, we had much in common, so it sounded very promising!
We had a meeting at my office where the conversation flowed easily. Then we did a swap of services to get a better understanding of each other’s treatment techniques. David did Tuana with me and my lingering hamstring pain disappeared. We both decided we were a great fit and I am pleased to announce that David will be working out of The Manual Touch office providing acupuncture, plus other services.
Here is a little more about David:
What was your path to becoming an acupuncturist?
During my junior year as a material science engineering major at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign I took an elective course in Medicinal plants and Herbology that I had been eyeing since my freshman year.
When I stepped into that medicinal plants and herbology class it was like coming home; there was something about learning all the names and classes of the herbs that felt incredibly familiar and rewarding. It was something I had only ever experienced playing music, or writing poetry, or wandering through a forest. It was in that class that I had my first exposure to some of the basic theories of Chinese herbal medicine.
I asked the professor if this course was strictly informational, or if this were the sort of thing one could continue studying. He chuckled as he told me that I could go to grad school to study such things.
Not long after that conversation with my professor, I happened to be in Chicago visiting a friend, and while riding the Chicago “L” I happened to notice an advertising banner for the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) in Chicago. I was blown away by the idea that such a place even existed in the city of Chicago. After investigating this school and the courses they had to offer, I had firmly decided that what I really wanted to do was study Chinese medicine.
After a year and a half of studying Asian styles of bodywork and the fundamentals of Chinese medicine theory at PCOM, I transferred to the Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine (SIOM), and graduated in August of 2014. I worked as a massage practitioner offering only tuina until I obtained my East Asian Medicine Practitioner license that October. As I converted my massage practice into a full Chinese medicine practice, I was also hired to work at one of the longest standing community style acupuncture clinics in the Capital Hill neighborhood of Seattle, The Pin Cushion.
Work at the Pin Cushion taught me more about myself as an acupuncturist and a care provider than I ever learned in school. I would often see up to eighteen or twenty patients within a four-hour shift. In that setting, there was no room for doubt, no room for questioning oneself and one’s abilities.
Why did you decide to study in Asia?
After I graduated from SIOM, I began to study Mandarin. We had classes in medical Chinese at SIOM, but no time to learn to speak and understand the modern language. I wanted to learn the language for a few reasons: I was fascinated by it–a love of the characters, the challenge of learning tones, the way you could say so much with so little; it was the native language in which the medicine I had learned was recorded over thousands of years. I felt that by learning the language, I would gain some unique access to aspects of the culture out of which my medicine had grown, and that that would somehow give me a greater understanding of the medicine and ultimately make me into a better practitioner. Beyond all that, the acupuncture teacher whose style I had gravitated to most at SIOM, Dr. Jason Robertson, had informed me that his teacher Dr. Wang Ju Yi was at his prime and still taking students in Beijing, China. However, Dr Wang didn’t speak a lick of English, and if I wanted to study with him it would require a translator, which could have been done, but I wanted to understand Dr. Wang myself.
With this desire to learn the language, combined with my wife’s newfound wanderlust, we decided in the March of 2015 that that summer we would move to Taiwan, where she would work as a full-time teacher in literature and writing at an American school, and I would study the language, thanks to a generous scholarship awarded to me by the Taiwanese government.
I remember the feeling of arriving in Taiwan like it was yesterday: barreling down that highway in the dark and seeing more lights of more colors in more places on vehicles than I could ever recall seeing before. Arrays of blinding purples, blues, greens, yellows, and reds, streaking through the night on all sides. The larger than life characters burning into the night from the faces of dark empty office buildings. In the middle of all the wonder and amazement, there was a moment of sheer terror and doubt: the thought of, “What have I done?! I can barely speak this language! What was I thinking?!?!” The single biggest challenge of living in Taiwan was communication. Every time I thought I was getting a good hold on the language, I would have an encounter where I floundered to understand even the most basic words coming out of someone’s mouth. It was by far the most humbling learning experience of my life.
I knew, that at the end of my travels I would be returning to the United States, and although I had plans to go to mainland China to study with Dr. Wang, knowing that I couldn’t stay in Asia and continue to deepen my connection to the culture and the people saddened me, and left me with an occasional feeling of empty aimlessness.
That changed when I moved to Beijing for two months in late 2017, while my wife returned to the States to look for work as a teacher. I lived with a wonderful Chinese family while I furthered my studies in Chinese medicine, qigong, and taiji quan. While my original plan was to study with Dr. Wang himself, he unfortunately passed away not a month before I arrived, and so I studied with two doctors that had been his close apprentices. Half my time was spent observing these doctors in their clinics, with some time for questions and instruction, and half was spent studying qigong and taiji quan at the Earth Temple Park with Master Chen Xiang, a man who instructed two of my qigong and taiji teachers from Seattle. While the language was sometimes a limiting factor, I quickly found my sea legs in both settings and began to relish every moment, absorbing everything like a sponge. One of the greatest takeaways from my experiences in the clinics was observing Chinese medicine in a setting where everything felt natural: neither the patients nor the practitioners seemed to be engaged in something foreign or exotic. Having steeped in so many of those moments, I now carry that feeling of natural fluidity in my heart and feel great joy in every new moment when I can share it with someone else.
What other services do you offer?
As a Chinese medicine practitioner, it is my duty to help others in regulating the flow of qi and blood through the channels and organs of their bodies. Acupuncture, herbs, tuina, cupping, and other techniques are all aimed at keeping the channels clear and the qi and blood flowing smoothly without obstruction; it is the key to healthy living.
- Acupuncture and moxibustion: Chinese medicine recognizes a vast network of channels and small collateral vessels that are responsible for the circulation of qi, blood, and nutrition to all the tissues of the body. This network extends from the deepest organs out to the tips of our fingers and toes. Acupuncture regulates the flow of qi and blood through the channels by inserting and manipulating fine needles at sites along and near the channels. Moxibustion is the application of heat energy to the channel system by burning refined mugwort close to the body and has a wide variety of indications.
- Tuina: Tuina (“tway-nah”) is a Chinese medical bodywork that is invigorating, stimulating, and sometimes a bit uncomfortable. Tuina is not the sort of bodywork you get when you’re thinking, “what I really need is to be oiled up and pampered.” Tuina is the sort of bodywork you get when your muscles are sore because of your job, when your joints ache because you spend most of your day seated, or because you injured something in an accident and you’re trying to recover; it is bodywork that gets your qi and blood moving and corrects the dysfunction of out of place tissues and structural elements.
- Chinese Herbal Medicine: Sometimes acupuncture alone is not enough to treat a patient’s condition, or a patient’s condition is one that is known to respond well to internal herbal medicine. Herbs work from the inside and produce clear, noticeable changes in physiology. The formulas and knowledge that make up what we know to be Chinese herbal medicine today have been recorded in in the case records of Chinese physicians for close to two millennia. Part of the tradition of studying herbal medicine is reading those case records, which I can now do. Dr. Wang once said that theory should be born out of clinical experience; clinical procedures should not be carried out to match a theory. Reading classical cases can sometimes be difficult because the records are not complete, but those same skills of inferring and deducing what must be the treatment principles in a case record are the very same necessary to treat real, complex issues in the modern clinic.
- Cupping: Cupping is now well known, thanks to the likes of Michael Phelps and other famous individuals who proudly sport their black and purple circular marks. Cupping improves circulation and can induce a mild to strong immune response depending on the condition of the patient and the strength of the technique. Cupping can be done statically, where one or more cups are left in specific locations until the practitioner observes the desired change, or cups can be applied over oiled skin so as to allow the practitioner to slide the cup over a large area of tissue while still maintaining suction. Often times, I will start with moving or sliding cupping and then end with static cup or two.
- Guasha: Similar to cupping, is guasha, which literally means to “scrape sand,” where the scraping is a reference to the technique performed and the sand is the appearance of the bruising pattern left by the broken blood vessels in its wake. Guasha is a strong therapy and is often used on the upper back when a person falls ill to invigorate the qi and blood in the heart and lungs in order to drive out cold in the case of illnesses like the common cold or the flu.
- Teaching Taiji Quan and Qigong: Qigong and taiji quan are practices one can do to help clear their own channels of obstruction and regulate the flow of qi and blood from within.
What are the different Chinese mind/body practices you follow?
Taiji Quan (sometimes called as “tai chi”) and Qigong: I practice still and moving forms from the Hunyuan Qigong system on a daily basis to keep myself healthy and balanced.
The stillness forms include sitting and standing, during which I look to observe movement and clarity within stillness. This may appear easy, but requires great patience, humility, and discipline to practice.
I practice two moving forms of qigong called Chansi Gong and Hunyuan Gong.
纏絲功 chánsī gōng can be translated as Silk Reeling Skill, and it is a practice that frees the movement of all eighteen major pivots of the body: two shoulders, two elbows, two wrists, neck, chest, abdomen, waist, two hips, two buttocks, two knees, and two ankles. The movements are round, smooth, and should be done in a way where there is as little doing as possible.
混元功 hùnyuán gōng can be translated as Primordial Origin Skill. Hunyuan gong can strengthen the body’s capacity for qi, and connect our bodies to nature when performed outside.
The taiji quan that I practice is also from the Hunyuan system, but is similar in form to Chen style Tai Chi. Its movements are similar in quality to the qigong forms described above, however the practice is quite different. In qigong, simple movements are repeated over and over allowing the body to relax and the mind to become still, so that ultimately the body and mind are one being, led by the movement itself, but taiji quan forms string many different movements together and the entire set, depending on the form, can take up to nine minutes to finish a single iteration. The form is then repeated over and over, like a single movement in a qigong practice.
What other interests do you have:
Besides Chinese medicine and the language, I’ve had many interests and hobbies over the years. At the moment, one of the things I find time for is playing the 古琴 gǔqín, a classical seven-stringed Chinese instrument that I bought from an instrument maker in Taiwan after taking lessons at his shop for six months.
I also have a great love of tea. The spirit of tea has carried me to many great gatherings and fostered many great conversations and friendships. I like to appreciate tea in its purest form without any additions, and those that have undergone traditional processes. My passion for tea can sometimes feel obsessive, looking for just the right vessel and type of tea for the weather, the time of day, the guest at the door, or the state of my heart, but it gives me such pleasure to see the faces of friends and acquaintances as they experience tea in its purest form, when they have the realization, “oh… this is what tea can be!” I continued learning about tea in Taiwan, informally in the shops of tea sellers, and formally in Taipei where I learned 功夫茶 gōngfū chá in preparation for volunteering as a tea master at the Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education during the 2017 lunar new year festival.
I am an adventurer and a seeker of new experiences. I love making new friends and trying new things. It is because of this wanderer in me that I have come to be who I am today and will become in the future. I look forward to meeting and helping whoever walks through my door for whatever reason. I look forward not only to helping you, but to learning from you, my future patients, my greatest teachers.
Want to meet David in person? Join us for our upcoming open house on March 24! RSVP HERE.
If your anxious to get started with David, he can be reached here to schedule.