Chasing the Dragon's Tail
by Yoshio Manaka, M.D. & Stephen Birch

At the culmination of their professional careers, great physicians often write books setting forth the mature versions of their clinical vision, creations, and accomplishments. Chasing the Dragon's Tail is a book in this tradition, but one that also charts a course for future explorations. Thus, while it details Dr. Manaka's clinical system in its fullest and most effective form, it is also an invitation to further investigation by one of the most inventive Oriental practitioners of the preceding generation.

The text introduces Dr. Manaka's major clinical and theoretical accomplishments by describing how the ``X-signal system" is the foundation of human topology, function, and response. In essence, the X-signal system defines qi, yin-yang, and the five phases as clinical events, rather than as abstract theories. Just as traditional Oriental thinkers learned and recognized these ideas through right-brain pattern recognition, Dr. Manaka chose to explore ``biases," biological trends and tendencies. In this way he was able to provide practical examples of the observations from which this most basic Oriental concept is derived. While Dr. Manaka references some of the most advanced scientific thinking of our era — information theory, holographic models and new paradigms — his explanations are replete with practical tests that readers can use to explore his explanations or research their own ideas.

The core of the text gives Western readers the first complete description of Dr. Manaka's treatment system. This is of great importance, not only because Dr. Manaka was recognized in both Japan and China as one of the foremost practitioners of his generation, but also because the system has already proven itself adaptable. Chasing the Dragon's Tail is thus a clinical manual of unique value.

It describes Dr. Manaka's most important techniques, including ion pumping and other root treatments, as well as his distinctive use of fire needles, channel techniques, sotai, moxibustion, and the integration of other modern Chinese and Japanese clinical developments. Beginning with a step-by-step template for formulating and confirming a diagnosis, Dr. Manaka provides the instructions necessary to apply these techniques quickly and with confidence. The text concludes with case histories and appendices that provide supporting technical details.

Author Commentary

This is the definitive text by Manaka about his treatment approach, his research in and understanding of acupuncture. Manaka was probably one of the most famous acupuncturists of this century. His name will likely appear as an important historical figure in future times. Typical of the Japanese tradition of clinical investigation of historical ideas, the first half of this densely packed book describes a variety of methods that Manaka used to investigate basic theories of acupuncture: channel pathways, directions of flow and yin-yang subsets, basic yin-yang theory and five phase theory, properties of special points such as the five phase points, meeting points, etc. In this book, the findings of the clinical investigations provide the basis of the rich and diverse clinical practice Manaka described, and the basic theory he used to guide both diagnosis and treatment. Key among the theories is his use of the octahedral model to understand the extraordinary vessels, channels and yin yang theory. His general model of the x-signal system provides a very useful bridge to a modern understanding of traditional ideas and methods. His overview of the theoretical basis of acupuncture is very rich and insightful.

The clinical diagnosis features palpation, especially of the abdominal region. The treatment methods are described in a systematic four step approach with typical, alternate and a variety of back up treatment methods and strategies for each step. Uses of the ion pumping cords are described in great detail, as are a variety of other methods, such as open points, needling, moxa, intradermal needles, light, sound etc. The methods covered in this book describe an extremely flexible and adaptable treatment approach that extends treatment to a wider variety of patients than are usually helped by standard acupuncture approaches. Manaka had a considerable clinical experience accumulated over 45 years of practice. His methods and cases provide a rare insight into how a senior clinician handles such a busy practice. The detail he provides is rarely matched in other books on acupuncture.

In addition there are a number of fascinating appendices exploring a wide range of research topics and other ideas. This book is a must for anyone wishing to open their perspectives as they attempt to deepen their understanding of acupuncture. It is also packed with very useful clinical and technical details.
—Stephen Birch

Review Quotes

"...never before has this reviewer found, in one text, so much information that can be incorporated in both a TCM and a Meridian Therapy framework. All through the book we are encouraged to test and confirm everything that is presented, which is altogether refreshing approach. We are inspired not just to 'Chase the Dragon's Tail,' but to ride the Dragon home."

—Pacific Journal of Oriental Medicine

"Once in a while a book comes along that attempts to transcend the known boundaries of knowledge and forge a new paradigm. Chasing the Dragon's Tail ... is indeed one of these books. Manaka was a forward-thinking and innovative acupuncture practitioner who attempted to integrate traditional Chinese energy concepts with the new sciences. [This is accomplished] in a language that is applicable not only to acupuncturists, but to the clinicians of the future."

—Christopher Zaslawaski, Meeting Point

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Publication Date: 1995
Paperback; 453 pages; 7 x 10; $59.95
Many illustrations
Biography; Bibliography; Appendices; Index
ISBN 978-0912111-3-22
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