Jung Tao School of Chinese Studies was founded in Minnesota in 1976 by Sean C. Marshall, offering an apprenticeship style training in Chinese medicine and taijiquan. The apprenticeship was the method of transmission used to pass on this information for thousands of years, and remains one of the most powerful forms of teaching today. However, with the changing requirements for licensure in most US states, Dr. Marshall decided it was time to set up a formal graduate level program and undergo the accreditation process. So Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine was born in North Carolina in November 1997 and the first class began in September 1998.

Following is an interview with Dr. Marshall about the evolution of Jung Tao School and its curriculum. The interview was conducted in the fall of 1999.

Q: When was Jung Tao school founded?

Jung Tao School of Chinese Studies first opened its doors in April 1976 in St. Paul, Minnesota. During its first year of operation it was a school of Yang style taijiquan and Daoist philosophy based on the teachings of the late Grand Master Cheng Man-ching. Professor Cheng was a master of the five excellences: painting, poetry, calligraphy, taijiquan, and medicine. The primary influence coming out of this lineage was, in a word, integrity. Integrity in the quality of the transmission of a sacred trust. The mission of Jung Tao from the outset was, and has always been, the comprehensive, authentic, and accurate transmission of the wisdom of ancient Chinese origin, in a faithful and scientifically sound fashion.

The senior instructors from the Shr Jung Center in New York who became the itinerant faculty of Jung Tao School had little tolerance for what can only be called "metaphysical-fluff". Because they had been exposed directly to the "real thing", they knew personally that authentic taijiquan was a gateway to the profound, and insisted that its representation and transmission not be contaminated with dilutive contemporary notions. This formative first exposure set the academic heading and course for Jung Tao School: a fierce dedication to quality and authenticity in all its educational offerings and an unswerving dedication to demonstrating its links to the philosophical perspective of its origins.

Q: When did Jung Tao School start teaching Chinese Medicine?

In 1977 Jung Tao relocated to the People's Center in the Riverside area of south Minneapolis near the University of Minnesota. Following the move, the curriculum soon expanded to include a study group in Chinese medicine. This modest group of 12 students marked the true beginnings of the accretion process of Jung Tao School's Chinese medicine curriculum. Based on my private training with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean practitioners and the course materials of the Occidental Institute of Chinese Studies (which were based primarily on the work of Nguyen Van Nghi), these early teachings already represented a theoretical synthesis from a multinational perspective.

Q: JTS was also instrumental in the licensing process in Minnesota, correct?

In April 1978 this study group formed the Acupuncture Society of Minnesota, elected me its chairman, and began the process, through the Minnesota Department of Health, Human Services Advisory Council, for the credentialing of acupuncturists in the state of Minnesota. The Acupuncture Society of Minnesota would later evolve into the Acupuncture Association of Minnesota, for whom I would later serve twice as president. The process of credentialing would continue for 18 more years and, with the involvement of many other dedicated people, would finally result in licensure for acupuncture in 1996.

Q: You began with apprenticeship training, what about your formal academic training?

I graduated with honors from Occidental Institute of Chinese Studies (of Montreal, Quebec) in July of 1978. During my clinical residency at the Occidental Institute of Chinese Studies Alumni Association's clinical facility in Miami, Florida, I accepted an offer from the president and director, Dr. Walter Sturm, to join the OICSAA staff as national marketing manager and vice-president in charge of clinical development. I turned the operation of Jung Tao over to our senior students and joined the OICS staff at the postgraduate facilities in January, 1979. This was an incredibly fortunate turn of events, for during the following year OICSAA was feverishly completing its English translations of the Chinese medical classics: the Lingshu, Suwen, and Nanjing. This gave rise to numerous editorial meetings regarding the hairsplittings of meaning for the most correct English renditions of subtle medical theory, all the attendant mental excruciations, and the occasional but rewarding bursts of illumination. It was also during this tenure I began research into reproductive system energetics that would later, as my dissertation, earn the Doctor of Acupuncture degree from the British College of Acupuncture. [It should be noted for the sake of completeness and accuracy that the British College of Acupuncture is not the school founded by J.R. Worsley. The British College of Acupuncture is the teaching body of the British Acupuncture Association founded by Dr. Ac. Royston H. Low, who is dean of the college.]

In 1980 Occidental Institute, becoming ever more deeply involved in German Electroacupuncture, relocated to San Bruno, California and I, becoming ever more deeply involved in classical Chinese medicine, remained in Miami, returning to teaching and private practice. Over the next two years I worked in various multidisciplinary settings and clinics and continued to teach taijiquan and Chinese medicine on an apprenticeship level.

By the end of 1981 I had earned the OICS Master of Acupuncture certificate and completed an additional residency in German Electroacupuncture with Dr. Med. Hartwig Schuldt, but a feeling of unrest had developed - it was clear to me that beyond the blatantly obvious connections, a more fundamental thread ran deeply and continuously through the essential teachings of Daoist philosophy, taijiquan and the so-called various schools of thought of Chinese medical theory that were evolving in this country and elsewhere. These seemingly disparate practices of: five-element acupuncture; meridian therapy; Japanese acupuncture and Korean constitutional acupuncture; hand, wrist, and ankle acupuncture; and the then somewhat new area of what has come to be called TCM acupuncture, to me, each represented a fragmentation or a Westernized reduction of a once beautiful whole. I felt that human energetics already had a "way" to be, and a system of energetic medicine existed that encompassed all the reductionist theories and practices. After all, we really don't have different physiologies that respond to different medical theories.

I left Miami in January 1982 and, after a brief return to Minnesota, I went to Europe - through Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, France, and England in pursuit of the glue that would reattach Chinese medical theory back into a cohesive whole. While in England, I applied for advanced enrollment into the British College of Acupuncture's doctorate program and admission into the British Acupuncture Association.

In 1984 Jung Tao was reopened in Minneapolis in a new location and now included not only taijiquan but Mandarin language, Chinese painting, Daoist philosophy, and a brand new Chinese medical study group. I also began the study of taiji sword with Grand Master T.T. Liang in that year.

By 1986 I received national board certification as a Diplomate of Acupuncture by the NCCAOM, was certified by the British Acupuncture Association, and admitted as an overseas member. I was reelected to the executive board of the Acupuncture Association of Minnesota. In 1987 I was finally accepted as a doctoral candidate by the Board of Governors of the British College of Acupuncture.

Q: What about clinical experience?

During the entirety of Jung Tao's continued operation, I stayed clinically active throughout - in my own private practice and in professional association with clinics of other doctors - applying the accumulating theoretical information to actual patient care. After all, as physicist John Archibald Wheeler said of equations about the universe "there's nothing deader than an equation... but the universe flies!" Acupuncture theory is just like an equation, it means nothing if it doesn't work in the clinic on real patients with real illness, which has always been Jung Tao's prime directive. This directive quickly got a boost in the ability to test theory clinically. By 1987 the local reputation of Jung Tao's acupuncture program initiated an offer from Northwestern College of Chiropractic. Northwestern was founded in 1941, had a student body of 650, and had, for some years, offered a "meridian therapy" course. The administration approached me to take over the meridian therapy program, their logic: a course in acupuncture ought to be taught by an acupuncturist. I agreed. I accepted a position of "special appointment faculty" (read part-time) and began rewriting and teaching the new curriculum. The course quickly filled to over 140 students per trimester and, by popular demand of the student body, in 1988 the administration offered me a full-time ranked faculty position of assistant professor in charge of the Chinese medicine department. At this point I implemented an extended supervised clinical component to the acupuncture program that could be repeated by students throughout their enrollment at Northwestern. The huge public clinic at Northwestern afforded the opportunity for the testing and refinement of clinical techniques across an immense range of theoretical concepts on a patient population of hundreds per month.

Q: You now have a "DAc", is that the same as an OMD or DOM?

No, it is not. There are no accredited doctorate degrees in the United States at this time for acupuncture, Oriental, or Chinese medicine. This is why I pursued the British degree. In August 1988 I received a personal phone call from Royston Low himself who calmly said... "the Board of Governors have accepted your dissertation and unanimously agree to admit you to the degree of Doctor of Acupuncture - thought you might like to know". The English! So demure. I said I was quite pleased to hear the good news and... after I put the phone down... yahoo'd in a most unsophisticated manner. This was the 42nd doctorate ever awarded by the BCA in its 30 years of existence. The DAc is an academic degree based on a dissertation or "thesis" in the way one earns a PhD.

Q: So why is Jung Tao School now in North Carolina?

By the end of 1989, having had Northwestern College host Drs. Nguyen Van Nghi and Tran Viet Dzung, and having established the new curriculum and clinical component, the acupuncture program at Northwestern had evolved and expanded to the degree that it could as an elective in a doctorate program of another profession. Feeling the call to teach on a broader and deeper level I tendered my resignation, recommended to my position, a trusted colleague, and I moved on — to the lecture circuit, the East Coast, and finally to the mountains of North Carolina, and my home state.

North Carolina was to prove out as home base for me and for Jung Tao School. After launching a series of postgraduate Chinese medicine courses in Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina, based on the curriculum I had been developing for nearly two decades, a core group of intensely dedicated people began organizing around these studies. This developed into a very special three year study group of both practicing professionals and entry level people that helped hone this curriculum into the graduate program we now offer.

From the one room classroom where we spent those first three years, in 1997 Jung Tao School of Chinese Studies incorporated in North Carolina as Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine, and finally acquired the location I had been eye-balling, coveting and dreaming about from the time I moved to the mountains: the circa 1941, WPA built, stone masonry school building in Sugar Grove where we are now.

Over the course of these 25 years I have had the opportunity to sit down face to face to discuss the viability and veracity of these theories and their connections with the likes of Nguyen Van Nghi, my most honored mentor, friend, and president or honorary president of the world acupuncture "everything"; Tran Viet Dzung, Van Nghi's long time protegé and now associate; T.T. Liang, 98 years old at this writing and recognized the world over as grand master of the sword, Stephen Hawking, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, Björn E.W. Nordonström, Professor of Diagnostic Radiology at Karolinksa Institute in Stockholm and author of "Biologically Closed Electric Circuits"; the late Timothy Leary, a brilliant scientist and genius of consciousness theories; Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, genius and author of "On Death and Dying"; Hartwig Schuldt, co-researcher with Reinhold Voll, developers of German Electroacupuncture (EAV), and a host of other truly remarkable people whose names would mean little to most. But the diversity and brilliance of these men and women have subjected these concepts to a scrutiny that has polished, from many different perspectives, the scientific stringency of the curriculum of Jung Tao School.

We now operate full time in our new location. We have since had my most revered mentors, Drs. Nguyen Van Nghi and Tran Viet Dzung come here from France and present, three times, right here in the mountains, a most remarkable three day lecture and clinical training program. While here, both these men gave full endorsement to the Jung Tao curriculum and stated to me and all those present that "because of the quality of the teaching, and the dedication and sincerity in the hearts of its staff, Jung Tao School represents the hope and the future of acupuncture in North America".