An Interview with Noach Bittelman, LAc, about Master Young Wei-Chieh,
Direct Lineage Disciple of Master Tung
Nicole Levine: Can you describe your relationship to Master Young Wei-Chieh?
Noach Bittelman: Master Young is my teacher and mentor. I have the privilege of being a direct lineage inner disciple of Master Young. Master Young has taught thousands of students around the world over the past forty years; from those students he has thirty direct lineage disciples, and from those thirty, Master Young has four inner disciples.
NL: So your relationship with Master Young is quite close. Can you tell us about Master Young, his background in acupuncture and Chinese Medicine?
NB: Master Young was born into a Chinese Medicine family, and began learning Chinese Medicine at a young age. His early focus was on traumatology and orthopedics; later he came to study and master all the various areas of Chinese medicine. Master Young began his relationship with the great acupuncturist Master Tung Ching-Ch’ang in Taiwan in 1965, while still in high school, and was accepted by Master Tung as a direct lineage disciple. Master Young was an apprentice and clinical assistant in Master Tung's clinic for almost five years.
Master Young had the great fortune to learn both classical acupuncture and the formerly closely-guarded Tung style acupuncture from his teacher. Amongst the 73 lineage disciples of Master Tung, Master Young Wei-Chieh stands out as the most dedicated to Master Tung and the Tung Acupuncture lineage.
In addition to studying for years with Master Tung, Master Young Wei-Chieh trained in the People’s Republic of China with the premier master of the Shang Han Lun, Liu Du Zhou, and with the premier master of the Yi Jing, Zhu Bo Kun.
NL: I see how devoted Master Young Wei-Chieh has been to deepening and developing his knowledge of Chinese Medicine. Can you explain how Master Young became known as the person most closely associated with Master Tung and Tung style acupuncture?
NB: Master Tung Ching-Ch’ang left the world in 1975. In 1973 he published his only written work, Tung’s Regular Meridians and Points, a short work which Master Tung dictated orally to one of his disciples, Yuan Guo-Ben. The book primarily consists of the Master Tung points, their locations, needling depths, and some indications for use of the points.
Before Master Tung’s passing in 1975, Master Young Wei-Chieh brought Master Tung a copy of the book Longitude and Latitude of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, in which Master Young had begun the process of expanding the application of the Tung points and had also provided some of the theoretical foundations and explanations for the effectiveness of the Tung points. Master Tung gave his approval to the work, asking another senior disciple to prepare a certificate for Master Young’s book attesting to the fact that Master Young was a clinic assistant in Master Tung’s clinic. Over the next 40 years Master Young continued his mission to expand, enhance, and complete the Master Tung system. Through intensive research into the classic and modern literature of Chinese Medicine, personal studies with the great masters of the previous generation, and rigorous clinical testing of his theories, Master Young has succeeded in establishing Master Tung acupuncture as a complete, independent system of acupuncture which is in many ways superior to the classic 14-Channel system of acupuncture.
NL: I have heard that Master Young played a key role in acupuncture’s entry into the USA and its subsequent legalization. Can you tell us about that?
NB: Yes. This is a bit of a long story, but I’ll try to make it concise. In the early 1970s Miriam Lee, an acupuncturist, nurse, and midwife who was practicing acupuncture in northern California, travelled to Taiwan to learn from Master Tung. Miriam spent a couple of weeks in Master Tung’s clinic, observing the miraculous effect of Master Tung’s treatments. During her visit to Taiwan, Master Tung asked Master Young to meet with Miriam in the evenings and teach her about Master Tung acupuncture, the applications of the points, locations, needling depths, theories, etc. Miriam returned to California and began having dramatic results in her clinic as a result of the Master Tung points she had begun using. This caused some animosity amongst the allopathic community and the police were called to arrest Miriam Lee and charge her with practicing medicine without a license. In short, there was a court case, and after hearing testimony after testimony from patients who had been cured of previously untreatable conditions, the judge dismissed the charges against Miriam Lee. The court case and uproar surrounding the whole affair eventually led the California State Legislature to draft a bill to license and regulate acupuncture, which was signed into law by governor Jerry Brown in 1975.
NL: Wow, I didn’t know the backstory behind the Miriam Lee acupuncture revolution in California, and how Master Tung and Master Young were key players in the legalization of acupuncture in California. It’s fascinating to see how the American acupuncture roads seem to lead back to Taiwan and the Master Tung system. Can you tell us about some of the discoveries and innovations Master Young has contributed to Master Tung acupuncture?
NB: Master Young’s contributions to Master Tung acupuncture are numerous and manifold, beginning in 1971 and continuing to the present day. By dint of unceasing study and practice, Master Young was able to expand the application of the Master Tung points to more than double what they originally were. He single-handedly provided the theoretical basis for the Master Tung system, producing theories based on the ancient Chinese medical classics, which successfully explained how many of the points worked. He analyzed, described, and named the needling techniques Master Tung used in the clinic, making these techniques available to the acupuncture world, and subsequently added his own innovative needling techniques to the Master Tung repertoire. Master Young completed the ancient Five Zang Divergent Communication Theory by adding in the connection between the Stomach and Pericardium, and renamed the theory to the now well known Organ Divergent Communication Theory (Zang Fu Bie Tong). Master Young has continued to innovate, most recently with his Zone Therapy Needling Technique and his One Needle Therapy Needling Technique. In China there are acupuncture protocols named after Master Young, such as the famous Master Young Four Needles for osteophytes and the Master Young Two Needle Techniques for a wide array of conditions.
NL: How has Master Young spread the knowledge of Master Tung acupuncture to the acupuncture world?
NB: Master Young has spread Master Tung acupuncture through his writings and international lectures. He has written very well known books on Master Tung acupuncture, a number of which have been translated into English, Korean, and Spanish. He has also published widely on almost every aspect of Chinese Medicine in addition to Master Tung acupuncture. His book on the Five Transport Points is a groundbreaking work, and his other works on acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are very popular around the world. Master Young’s textbook on acupuncture, for example, was given an award in South Korea as “The Best Acupuncture Textbook of the Twentieth Century”. He has published over 100 articles in scholarly journals, many of them dealing with theoretical aspects and practical applications of Master Tung acupuncture.
In addition to his extensive published works, Master Young has traveled the globe teaching Master Tung acupuncture. He has lectured on and taught Master Tung acupuncture seminars in the USA, England, Australia, Israel, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and China. Master Young is regularly invited to be the Keynote Speaker at major international Chinese Medicine conferences around the world, and he was honored by the People’s Republic of China to be the very first Chinese Medicine doctor from Taiwan to be invited to lecture in China. Master Young continues to travel around the world, spreading Master Tung acupuncture to acupuncturists eager to learn the secrets of this tremendously effective system. Master Young is beloved in the acupuncture world for his teaching approach, since he endeavors to impart as much knowledge as possible during each lecture and seminar. It is not at all unusual for Master Young to add evening hours to a seminar schedule in order to be able to impart all that he feels he needs to teach the students.
NL: Where does Master Young have his clinic?
NB: Master Young lives in southern California, and after almost 50 years of continuous medical practice he has recently retired from the clinic, now spending his time writing and teaching.
NL: Thank you for this fascinating view into Master Young’s tremendous impact in the acupuncture world. Any last words?
NB: My pleasure! Let me just add that even though we have focused in this interview on Master Young’s contributions to Master Tung acupuncture, this doesn’t nearly describe the great breadth of knowledge that Master Young has acquired over the past five decades. He has taught and written broadly on almost every area of Chinese medicine, and is able to syncretize the disparate realms of Chinese medicine both clinically and in his writings and lectures. Being able to learn directly from such a master has been a true privilege.