Applied Channel Theory: The Clinical Brilliance of Dr. Wang Ju-Yi

With Guest: Jason Robertson

Episode Qi021

Dr. Wang Ju-Yi was ever curious about why some treatments worked and others did not. He deeply studied the classical literature along with his own clinical experience, and somewhere along the way started putting his hands on patients to simply see what the channels had to say.

For those practitioners who find palpation to be a key part of their practice, the work of Dr. Wang opens a whole new way of interacting with patients. And for those who are interested in how to puzzle through confounding clinical cases, Dr. Wang has some ways of clarifying complex situations.

Listen in to this conversation that gives you a personal view of Dr. Wang and his work through the eyes of his apprentice Jason Robertson, co-author of Applied Channel Theory in Chinese Medicine, Wang Ju-Yi’s Lectures on Channel Therapeutics.
In this conversation we discuss:
  • A couple of books that give you a glimpse into the world Wang Ju-Yi was born into.
  • The winding road that lead to Jason becoming Dr. Wang's apprentice.
  • Some stories about Beijing at the beginning of this century.
  • Integrating palpation into your clinical practice.
  • Considering the use of Lung six.
  • Dr. Wang's favorite books and his method of study
"If you have interest in expanding your palpation skills in the spirit of Dr. Wang, start with a relaxed approach. Use your thumb and travel along the channels from the hands to the elbows and from the feet to the knees on every patient as you talk to them about their chief complaint. Don't worry about actually using the information you feel at first. Just massage the channels to open them up before needling."
Jason Robertson
I began studying Chinese when I was 17 after having a great high-school teacher. In college I majored in East Asian studies, eventually spending most of my 20s living and working in Taiwan. After teaching kindergarten and playing music with a motley collection of expatriates for a few years, I moved to Taipei, enrolled in further language study and eventually, somewhat improbably, ended up as a translator for a Dutch bank on the Taiwan Stock Exchange. Finance didn't take. What had begun as a long-term interest in Daoism morphed as these things do into a pursuit of Chinese medicine and the story went on from there.

In those days there was a program for Chinese medicine taught completely in Chinese at the American College of Chinese Medicine in San Francisco. I thought a degree from there would help me work in the US (and of course liked the idea of living in San Francisco) so I sold my tatami mats and business suit and came back to North America. After studying at ACTCM, I went to Chengdu for a year to study herbs then spent two years in my native Kentucky practicing acupuncture. After a few years seeing patients, I realized that I had much more to learn. I had seen Dr. Wang Juyi speak at a weekend seminar in California and, on a whim, I determined to look him up. With what now looks like a bizarre leap of faith, my wife and I moved to Beijing. I called Dr. Wang on the phone (only after arriving) and he happened to be home.

What thus began in what I thought would be a brief sojourn to collect a few clinical tricks ended up shaping the rest of my life. The approach to Chinese medicine that Dr. Wang embodied was one shaped by the earthy, practical reality of twentieth century China. He strove to come up with ideas that worked while drawing from the maps provided in the classics; to get out of his head and into his hands. He was like me in the sense that he loved to think and found that a hands-on palpation based approach to acupuncture helpfully limited the temptation to devise beautiful and elegant diagnoses and treatments that didn't actually work. Palpation prevents theoretical quicksand.
Twenty years later, I'm still finding new things through palpation, learning from other palpation traditions and chipping away at the edges of what I think I can do with Chinese medicine.
Links and Resources


The Channel Palpation website has lots of good information about Dr. Wang's work, some free articles, and a list of courses if you want to get hands-on with this kind of hands on.

If you don't already have it, get your own copy of Applied Channel Theory in Chinese Medicine, Wang Ju-Yi's Lectures on Channel Therapeutics.



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I’ve heard it said that for something to be heard — it takes someone to speak and another to listen.

Michael Max

Acupuncturist, Podcast Host
About me
I've always been more drawn to questions than answers. And the practice of medicine seems to more lively when infused with a sense of curiosity and inquiry. It's been delight and honor to be able to discuss our medicine with so many thoughtful and skilled practitioners.

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