The Compleat (not Complete) Acupuncturist

Eckman_Compleat-Acupun_978-1-84819-198-3_colourjpg-webWhen people look at the beautiful cover of Peter Eckman‘s new book, most think that the printers have made a terrible, embarrassing mistake. They have not. In the dedication of The Compleat Acupucturist, Eckman apologises for “stealing” the title from Sir Isaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler. In 1653 Walton wrote:

in this Discourse I do not undertake to say all that is known, or may be said of it, but I undertake to acquaint the Reader with many things that are not usually known to every Angler; and I shall leave gleanings and observations enough to be made out of the experience of all that love and practise this recreation, to which I shall encourage them. For Angling may be said to be so like the Mathematicks, that it can never be fully learnt; at least not so fully but that there will still be more new experiments left for the trial of other men that succeed us.

In the following apologia (not apology) taken from the book, Eckman explains how this treatise on integrating the various disciplines of Oriental medicine into a whole coherent model, with pulse diagnosis as a common thread across different traditions, uses the same spirit of acquainting the reader with things not usually known.


The archaic language of the title is intended to convey the author’s somewhat “tongue in cheek” approach to the notion of “completeness.” It is certainly not the intention to claim that this treatise covers all or even most of what informs the practice of the art and science of acupuncture, nor that the author is asserting any special claim of mastery. Rather, the idea of “compleatness” refers to the goal of integrating various notions of Oriental medical theory and practice from such diverse sources as India, Korea, and Japan, including their interpretation by Western practitioners, into the discussion of a subject that is often tacitly limited to the Chinese tradition. As will be repeatedly emphasized in the text, the author is not arguing for the superiority of any one style of acupuncture practice, nor disparaging any of the traditions that may not receive as much attention as others in this book. It is the author’s view that, ultimately, all the teachings and traditions of Oriental medicine are aspects of the same shared perception of the nature of reality, in health and illness, and are to be honored for their part in elucidating the nature of the whole.

Another reason for choosing the word “compleat” is that it suggests, to the author at least, the archetypal symbol of the circle, with all its associations, and harkens back to the initial publication some 30 years ago of Closing the Circle,2 jointly written with Stuart Kutchins. The present treatise can be seen as the fruit of the premises first presented there, manifesting here as a practical approach to the clinical practice of acupuncture, in this case based on the art and science of pulse diagnosis.

This treatise is also an attempt to create a more unified theoretical foundation for Oriental medicine.3 Whether it will be possible for someone to discover a unifying theory that covers both Eastern and Western medicine is a subject best left for future investigators.

The Compleat Acupuncturist is available now from the Singing Dragon website.

1 From the Greek, meaning the defense of a position against attack.
2 Eckman, P. and Kutchins, S., Closing the Circle: Lectures on the Unity of Traditional Oriental Medicine. Fairfax, CA: Shen Foundation, 1983.
3 “Most of the really great breakthroughs in science are unifications. Newton’s laws of motion unified the sky and Earth as ruled by the same physics; that was radically different from the earlier Aristotelian concept, in which the two realms were separate. Einstein’s laws of relativity unified space and time.” Owen J. Gingerich (a science historian at Harvard), quoted in Chang, K., “Quakes, Tectonic and Theoretical.” New York Times, January 15, 2011. Available at, accessed June 18, 2013.

Vital Healing & Celestial Healing – Now available together

Vital Healing & Celestial HealingOffering a panoramic overview of the healing traditions of Asia, these two books by Dr. Marc Micozzi and a distinguished group of contributors are now available together in paperback as a set:

Vital Healing: Energy, Mind and Spirit in Traditional Medicines of India, Tibet and the Middle East – Middle Asia
by Marc S. Micozzi, MD, PhD
with Donald McCown and Mones Abu-Asab, PhD (Unani), Hakima Amri, PhD (Unani), Kevin Ergil, MA, MS, LAc (Tibet), Howard Hall, PsyD, PhD (Sufi), Hari Sharma, MD (Maharishi Ayurveda), Kenneth G. Zysk, Dphil, PhD (Ayurveda & Siddha)

Celestial Healing: Energy, Mind and Spirit in Traditional Medicines of China, and East and Southeast Asia
by Marc S. Micozzi, MD, PhD
with Kevin Ergil, MA, MS, LAc (Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Qi, and Qi Gong), Laurel S. Gabler, BA, MSc (Thai Medicine) and Kerry Palanjian, BA, MBA (Shiatsu)

Customers who order the set will receive a savings of over 20% versus ordering the books separately.

To order for both books together, click here.

Called “a valuable basis for comparison of Eastern medical practices,” by Foreword Reviews, this set will be of interest to practitioners of all Middle Eastern and Asian medical traditions, complementary and alternative health practitioners, and anyone with an interest in Middle Eastern and Asian approaches to health and well-being.

New Resources for Practitioners of Oriental Medicine

Singing Dragon’s publishing program in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine continues to expand. Here we have posted a collection of useful new books and resources for practitioners in these areas. To see a complete listing, click here.

Eight Extraordinary Channels - Qi Jing Ba MaiEight Extraordinary Channels – Qi Jing Ba Mai
A Handbook for Clinical Practice and Nei Dan Inner Meditation

Dr. David Twicken, DOM, LAc

“Eight Extraordinary Channels is an insightful and eminently practical presentation of the core meridians in the human body that hold most of life’s potential. It covers the eight channels in theory, clinical application, and Daoist self-cultivation. Clear and systematic, the book is a potent resource for anyone involved in Chinese medicine.”
– Livia Kohn, PhD, Professor Emerita of Religion and East Asian Studies, Boston University   Find out more…

Gold Mirrors and Tongue ReflectionsGold Mirrors and Tongue Reflections
The Cornerstone Classics of Chinese Medicine Tongue Diagnosis – The Ao Shi Shang Han Jin Jing Lu, and the Shang Han She Jian

Ioannis Solos
Forewords by Professor Liang Rong and Professor Chen Jia-xu

“A fascinating look at the ancient theoretical underpinnings to Chinese medicine tongue diagnosis, with great relevance for today.”
– Steven Clavey, Editor of The Lantern Journal of Chinese Medicine and Chinese medicine practitioner, Melbourne, Australia   Find out more…

Pocket Handbook of Particularly Effective Acupoints for Common Conditions Illustrated in ColorPocket Handbook of Particularly Effective Acupoints for Common Conditions Illustrated in Color
Guo Changqing and Zhaiwei Liu Naigang

This book provides a practical guide to the key acupuncture points that aid the treatment of many common conditions. It covers the most important acupuncture points located on the fourteen meridians, from the five-shu points to the confluence points of the eight extraordinary vessels. With full color illustrations, it offers practical information on the locations, functions and indications for the points and how they should be needled or otherwise treated.   Find out more…

Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches -- TianGan DiZhiHeavenly Stems and Earthly Branches — TianGan DiZhi
The Keys to the Sublime
Master Zhongxian Wu and Dr. Karin Taylor Wu

This set of study cards decodes some of the fundamental messages from the 22 GanZhi symbols. The Chinese character and key characteristics of each Stem or Branch are shown, providing invaluable insights into their symbolic and numerological meanings. This accessible learning tool will help deepen understanding of classical Chinese medicine, Qigong, Neigong, Taiji, and other inner cultivation practices.   Find out more…

The Great IntentThe Great Intent
Acupuncture Odes, Songs and Rhymes

Richard Bertschinger

“If you love Chinese medicine, read this book. You will actually feel that you are part of a centuries-old tradition. In a way, it’s a bit like having the handouts from a Ming dynasty college. But it’s more. Richard, in a labor of love, conveys across centuries some of that ineffable ‘stuff’ called wisdom.”
– John Hicks, joint principal and co-founder of the College of Integrated Chinese   Find out more…

Heavenly StreamsHeavenly Streams
Meridian Theory in Nei Gong

Damo Mitchell
Foreword by Rob Aspell

“Damo’s explanations and insights are indispensable. Whether you are just beginning your journey of personal development with an interest in philosophical and spiritual thought, or even if you are a fully qualified practitioner of Chinese medicine, Heavenly Streams will certainly enrich your practice.”
– from the foreword by Rob Aspell, Practitioner of Chinese Medicine and the Daoist Arts   Find out more…

Also of interest . . .

Click here for a complete listing of our titles in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.