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Qi Gong - Tui Na

by Wrio Russell(more info)

listed in chi energy martial arts, originally published in issue 34 - November 1998

Rosey Grandage is an experienced practitioner of Chinese medicine who specialises in Qi Gong and Tui Na. Wrio Russell asks her to demystify this element of Chinese medicine and to explain how she uses it in her practice.

Rosey Grandage with a client
Rosey Grandage with a client

We have heard of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and now we are coming face to face with Tui Na and Qi Gong which are other branches of the same tree. In order to get an authentic understanding of these treatment techniques, who better to ask than Rosey Grandage who spent two years training in China and who now both teaches Chinese medicine and runs a thriving practice in Central London.

Rosey is not an easy person to pin down because she is incredibly busy both treating and teaching. But when you do get to meet her, you cover a lot of ground in a short time as she is an extremely focused person. This is an essential quality in a practitioner of Chinese medicine which requires you to observe precisely what is going on at any given moment in time.

Tui Na as a tool of Chinese medicine

The starting point is Tui Na (Tui = stroking, Na = lifting), or Chinese medical massage, which is learned by Chinese doctors as another tool to use alongside acupuncture and Chinese herbs. In essence, it’s simply a form of massage with a repertoire of different strokes which are worked on a clothed patient. These include Rou (circular kneading with palm or fingers), An (pressing), Muo (circular rubbing), Qian Yin (traction techniques) or Gong Fa (rolling technique), as well as others, and they are worked in combination as appropriate. You always work downwards, in contrast to Western massage, moving the Qi out to the extremities and clearing, nourishing and rebalancing the centre of the body.

Understanding Tui Na within the framework of Chinese medicine

Rosey emphasises that Tui Na has to be understood within the framework of Chinese medicine with its emphasis on Yin and Yang and the Five Elements as well as the concept of meridians and acupressure points. Furthermore, it has to be used in conjunction with Chinese diagnostic techniques such as tongue observation and pulse-taking which are designed to give a true, holistic impression of the patient’s condition at that particular moment.

In Chinese medicine there is no separation of the mind, the body or the emotions; you’re treating the whole person. This requires a high degree of knowledge and sensitivity. And when you use Tui Na you have to be very focused, both on the physical and on the Qi levels. So, we’re not just talking about another massage technique; there is also the need to take on board a whole different philosophy of medicine.

This philosophy has evolved experientially over many hundreds of years as a result of thought, practice and clinical observation. It embraces the concept of the meridian system, invisible pathways which carry Qi throughout the body, and of acupuncture points along the meridians the stimulation of which can affect the free flow of Qi moving along the pathways. It also takes consideration of nature’s five main elements of earth, water, fire, metal and wood, as well as natural factors such as damp and wind which are important in diagnosis. And, of course, there is Yin and Yang which for good health requires balance and harmony. Whether you are using acupuncture, Chinese Herbs or Tui Na, all these factors need to be understood.

The Tui Na technique is only a tool. What is important to you as a practitioner is intention (Yi) and understanding. Through good diagnosis you have to decide what it is you wish to change. This requires the sensing of Qi and Qi is the essence of Chinese thinking. (A Chinese friend of mine once told me that you won’t understand China unless you understand Qi. I’m beginning to know what she means.)

Practising Qi Gong is the pathway to sensing Qi

So, how do you sense Qi? Rosey’s answer is simple: ‘By practising Qi Gong’ (Qi = life force, nourishment; Gong = exercise). This doesn’t mean doing Qi Gong as an extra study or exercise system three times a week for an hour, like doing aerobics. It means that Qi Gong becomes part of your life, like the doctors with whom she worked in China who would practise some Qi Gong whenever appropriate (perhaps during tea breaks or in-between seeing patients) and use Qi Gong thinking to interpret life as a whole.

There are many different styles of Qi Gong to suit different situations: for maintaining health, or restoring health, for sensing Qi in others as a practitioner, or perhaps for preparing to perform in Tai Ji or a Martial Art. Some say there are as many different styles of Qi Gong as there are Qi Gong teachers. It is an exercise form utilising Qi that has evolved over the centuries and so the variations are bound to be great. No matter which style you come to use, though, it is the depth of your understanding and intention which will make it effective.

At present, Rosey teaches two simple yet profound postures: one standing and one sitting. You close your eyes, you observe, you clear your mind, you don’t judge or measure or assess. It’s just a state of being for fifteen minutes or more and then you observe what nature brings into your orbit. Maybe you’ll sense or feel Qi within you, maybe you will see changing colours or images, or maybe you will be aware of a field of Qi around you. It’s not magic: it’s all a question of developing a certain type of sensitivity.

So, if Tui Na is the technique, then Qi Gong is the essence which fuels the engine of the technique and enables it to be used to good effect. But it is the Qi Gong also that needs lots of working on as it takes time and commitment to develop that level of sensitivity. It is one thing to ‘feel’ Qi in yourself, around you and within you. It’s a further step to ‘understand’ it or sense it in others. It must become a part of your life.

Rosey’s training

Rosey spent two years in China learning acupuncture, Tui Na and Qi Gong, in Beijing. Her original training had been in History and then in Physiotherapy (her father was a conventional doctor) and she brings both a practical and academic approach to her work. For the Tui Na and Qi Gong she studied with an independent group of doctors, in particular a Doctor Li who subsequently has been over here to teach. The whole experience was very much a question of taking the opportunities as they came up which was perhaps in itself a good grounding for training in Chinese medicine which requires a fluid and pragmatic approach. It is not linear and symptom-based like Western medicine; neither is it magical or mystical as the Chinese are a very practical people with a culture stretching back some four thousand years.

Rosey’s growing practice

Since returning about six years ago, Rosey’s practice has grown and grown, mostly by word of mouth but also through referrals from GPs and fellow medics. When I asked her what conditions she treats, she replied, ‘Everything’. Patients come to her for M.E., Multiple Sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, asthma, HIV, pregnancy, soft tissue conditions and a dozen other things besides.

Although she works closely with GPs and consultants, working with Chinese medicine as she does provides her with a different way of looking at the patient as a whole. She uses the Chinese style of diagnosis in which you ‘treat what you find’. She would never try and dissuade any of her patients from following the conventional route, for example with cancer, and she emphasises that good communication with the patient’s other medical advisers is essential. However, with something like rheumatoid arthritis she may work with the doctor to try and get a reduction of the patient’s medication under the GP’s supervision. It all sounds very much like the workings of the integrated hospitals in China where Chinese and Western medicine work hand-in-hand.

Although Rosey is trained in physiotherapy, acupuncture and Qi Gong-Tui Na, it is the Qi Gong-Tui Na she uses the most. ‘It’s the most versatile of my techniques and, as a practitioner originally trained in hands-on physiotherapy, it is the one I am happiest with.’

It must be emphasised that Qi Gong-Tui Na is not a new, wonder treatment system. In China it is used regularly and has been for years. But in this country, Rosey is one of a mere handful of people who know how to work with it as effectively and all-embracingly as she does. It will take some years, or more, before there are enough people properly trained to offer it on a widespread basis. So, don’t go rushing off to try and find a practitioner in your area as there probably won’t be one.


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About Wrio Russell

Wrio Russell started his training in Massage Therapy in 1987 after following a career as an academic teacher (MA H.Dip.Ed) in both Italy and the UK and also training national class gymnasts. In 1989, he became a founder director of the London School of Sports Massage (LSSM) as well as running a small treatment practice, which included both dancers and athletes. However, his real interest has always been in the holistic Oriental approach to health and well-being and, having worked with Qigong and meditation, in 1995 he was guided to the Usui Reiki system of natural healing. In 1998, he became a Reiki master teacher and is now teaching the Reiki system in Eastbourne as well as overseeing the LSSM graduate programme. In the future, he plans to do an increasing amount of work overseas and to write on matters of health and healing. Wrio can be contacted on tel: 01323-729963 and his website is:

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