“The value of traditions is that they can benefit humankind.
That is why we want to pass them from generations to generations.”
An interview with Mr. Nakamura Genko, a master of Wushu and TCM
With an education and training background in Beijing Sports University, Jiangsu Wushu Team, Beijing Wushu Team of Beijing Shichahai Sports School and Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Mr. Nakamura Genko has learnt Wushu (Chinese martial arts) in China since he was 10 years old. He is an international wushu master specializing in swordsmanship, spear play and Taichi. He won 40 medals in different Wushu competitions worldwide. He later became a coach certified by the Japanese Olympic Committee and dedicated himself to athlete training. The athletes whom he has trained have totally won 63 gold medals, 74 silver medals and 73 bronze medals.
Now Mr. Nakamura Genko is the representative member of the International Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine and representative director of DIAMOND Co., Ltd. He has acquired China’s Senior TCM Practitioner certification and 5th Duan (Wushu ranking system) awarded by the Chinese Wushu Association. He won the first prize at the International Taijiquan Sports Meeting – Taijiquan & Sword in 2011, the second prize at the International Wushu Tournament – Spear Play and the third prize at the International Wushu Tournament – Swordsmanship in 1988. SpaChina interviewed this master of Wushu and TCM from Japan.
Why did you come to learn Wushu and traditional Chinese medicine in China?
When I was young, I watched a lot of movies of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Lee. Their Wushu skills left a deep impression in my heart. I also wanted to be as handsome as them. This was my simple wish as a 10-year-old child at that time. However, the years of practicing Wushu was not so easy. Yet there are also beautiful encounters and stories along the way. I came to China to learn Wushu when I was a little child. Since then, to practice Wushu has become the thing which I keep doing the whole life.
I have joined competitions as a Wushu athlete since 1985. In 1988, I won prizes in international competitions on behalf of Japan. In 1999, I became the coach of Japan’s national Wushu team. It was then I began to realize that, because of lack of adaptation to the environment of the place where the competition is held, to the climate and food, the athletes suffer both physical and mental weariness and even injuries. I couldn’t find any effective way to improve their health condition. So I strongly felt the urge to learn a technique which could keep or enhance the athletes’ health state by integrating training, environment, diet, mentality and the body.
I told many Chinese Wushu trainers of my thoughts and the feedback they gave me was the same: to learn traditional Chinese medicine. In TCM, there are not only ways to heal injuries and discomfort of the body, but also ways to prevent diseases and promote the overall health state. Therefore, in order to let the athletes have better performance, I walked into the TCM world.
What special experience did you have when you were in China?
When I was in China, I also learnt the Chinese way of thinking. For example, in one project, I was deeply impressed by the working manner of the team – “hold the same goal; study, share, test, and improve the accuracy together.”
Every national sports team in China has a doctor who helps to maintain the physical and mental health of the athletes in their daily practice, gives them guidance on diet, rest and exercise, and tailors management programs according to the individual’s physical condition and tiredness level. During practice, the athletes, doctor and trainers share all the information of technology, science and medical treatments. They carefully analyze which action cause an injury and why this happens, and etc. Afterwards, they conceptualize and quantize the causes. All the trainers in the national sport system can have access to the information. This is really an amazing way of management.
This is what Japan doesn’t have. In Japan, people don’t like to share their experience with others or learn from other’s research results. The more experience they have, the more reserved they are. Most of them just care about their own performance and positions. This is a pitiful thing. The team spirit and mutual sharing attitude of China’s experts really touch me. I think it’s related to the historical and cultural depth of the country, as well as the country’s wish to develop more quickly, and the people’s characters as being open-minded.
What are you doing now in the realm of TCM?
Now I am dedicated to three parts concerning TCM in Japan.
Firstly, promotion of TCM diagnostics and consulting. TCM is a medicine of “nature” and “sensibility”. “Get up at sunrise and rest at sunset; warm the cold and cool the heat.” TCM is filled with dialectical understanding toward the rules of Nature. It is a systematic traditional medicine branch that has independent outlook on physiology and pathology, as well as unique way of diagnosis.
In the field of TCM, there is a famous saying: the best doctor intervenes before the onset of illness, the middle-level doctor intervenes near onset of illness and the low-level doctor intervenes when there is illness. TCM believes that the best thing is to treat the person when there are some signs of illness. Next is the early phase treatment and the worst is the treatment after the disease has occurred. Because when the illness has occurred, it needs much more time, energy and money input. And one may be still hard to fully recover. Actually, “intervention before the onset of illness” is not a disease treatment but a wellness regimen. The magic of TCM is that it can detect the moment when one’s body falls out of balance. So if we have mastered TCM, we will be able to take good care of our own health and the health of our family members. In 2018, medical expenses in Japan exceeded 40 trillion yen and it keeps increasing. So the promotion of TCM’s illness prevention concept is greatly contributive to society.
Secondly, promotion of Tuina. When I learned TCM at school, my major was Tuina. It is an absolutely safe treatment without the use of medicine or tools, but only with “hands”. As I said, the reason why I chose TCM was that I wanted to help athletes recover from practice injuries. So Tuina is the best choice.
Most people think that Tuina mainly works on muscles and bones. In fact, its healing effect can also reach the internal organs, heart, brain and mental state. I have found many interesting cases in the clinical practice of Tuina. For example, Tuina helps to improve the situation of patients of cerebral infarction who are paralyzed half of the body and suffer amyotrophy. It can regulate the blood glucose level of patients of diabetes, and quicken the recovery from bone fracture and ligament rupture. There are many more cases that demonstrate the effects of Tuina. Also, through palpations during Tuina, the doctor can detect the signs of polyp and other diseases caused by poor lifestyle.
Although Tuina is not an official diagnostic in modern medicine, it works well to detect the signs of illness and improve the health condition. One of my missions is to let more people in Japan understand the importance of Tuina, train more Tuina therapists, and make Tuina a “family medicine”. It will help to prevent diseases and safeguard the whole family.
Thirdly, the promotion of therapeutic diet. TCM advocates the homology of medicine and food. After understanding the present physique and health conditions, we can try corresponding food material and cooking method that target the conditions. Of course, they must be delicious and are able to be enjoyed daily.
True therapeutic diet is not simply putting herbs and tonics into the food, but to develop a “dialectical diet” that can target the health conditions by choosing the right food materials. Further, don’t choose materials that are hard to buy. Rather, you need to cook with materials which you can easily get in the supermarkets. Also, don’t just stick to Chinese cuisine, you can make Japanese, Italian, French dishes as well. Through this, we will make great contributions to relieving the government’s burdens in fiscal expenditure on medical treatment.
Please share with us your ideas on the early detection of illness caused by lifestyles and activation of natural healing and self-repair of the body.
In short, it means a perception of one’s own lifestyle, and an understanding of oneself.
We need to know what conforms to the laws of Nature. Over-use of resources, informatization, computerization and the blind pursuit to convenience in the modern society are in fact all against the laws of Nature. People less and less use their muscles, yet more and more use their eyes and brain. The result is modern diseases caused by improper lifestyle. So it becomes increasingly important to activate the natural healing and self-repair mechanism of the body and to live harmoniously with Nature. Otherwise, we will suffer great loss both physically and mentally.
Therefore, we need to understand the ways to reach the balance of the body and heart. Different from modern medicine, TCM which has several thousand years of history, is an accumulation of natural law and knowledge that keeps improving and passing down. People are of course a part of Nature. The tradition of “natural healing” deserves our greater attention. Modern people easily get too excited in all kinds of activities and thrills. As a result, people become more and more numb toward the balance of the body. We should sensitively feel and understand the change of our physical and mental coming so as to prevent the onset of the disease.
The most direct way to activate natural healing and self-repair is to “return to Nature”.
What is the situation of TCM and Wushu in Japan?
There are some differences between TCM and traditional Japanese medicine. In China and the whole world alike, TCM is known as a medical system that integrates modern medicine and traditional medicine. Excellent TCM doctors usually hold both a modern medicine certificate and traditional medicine certificate. The modern medicine targets symptoms alleviation and traditional medicine seeks the roots of the illness. Working together, they give a complete cure.
Traditional Japanese medicine is a medical approach that gives traditional medicine prescriptions based on the diagnosis of modern medicine. Traditional medicine is a natural medicine to balance and heal while modern medicine aims to solve the symptoms as quickly as possible. The advantages of traditional Japanese medicine is that there are very strict requirements on the formulation of the medicine, manufacturing process and packaging, as well as strict sanitary and quality management of medical material like acupuncture needles. So safety can be guaranteed. I really love these two countries. I hope to see the integration of TCM and traditional Japanese medicine in the future.
Concerning martial arts, there are judo, karate and kendo in Japan. When Japanese hear the word “Wushu”, they will naturally associate it with wrestling. So when people hear “Chinese Wushu”, they will immediately think of the stars in the movies who have incredible skills of martial arts. But in fact, in modern times, Wushu is a way to strengthen the body and mind, improve the health, confidence and happiness. This is the essence of Chinese Wushu in modern times. To me, Wushu is a matter of art and wellness.
In addition to Wushu, Tuina and therapeutic diet, what else do you do?
I also operate art studios. Art and color enter into the body and heart from one’s eyes and influence one’s emotions and even the functions of the internal organs. It is consistent with the yin-yang, five elements, and fengshui principles in Chinese tradition. The studios are filled with an atmosphere of art which delivers a subtle influence of energy. Guests love to come and receive my treatments and advice.
Based on my own experience and clinical tests, I apply the wisdom of space and “qi” in the studios, according to TCM yin-yang and five elements theory and color psychology. My studio “ART” is located in Ginza. I make a flexible use of nature and art so as to bring qi and energy to guests. This is an art and healing center that aims to convey joy. The website is http://kiartginza.com. I have another studio called Mii Art Tokyo. We deliver the lively female portrait artworks created by Japanese artists to the healing centers and beauty salons worldwide. The studio’s website is http://miiarttokyo.com.
I also decorate my own house with a lot of artwork. I love such beautiful flow of “qi”.
What do you like to do in your daily life?
In my daily life, I live with the people I love, eat the food I like, and do things that attract me. My way to keep healthy is to form positive interpersonal relationships and a wholesome mind. To love myself is to love my family members. I am keen on discovering happiness in details and harboring a thankful heart. I seize every moment of joy to carefully savor and reflect. My favorite thing is to take a walk with my wife, enjoying the beautiful scenery and feeling the happiness of being at present.
Everyone has his life span. I want to experience this life to its fullest. Even the difficult and stressful moments are gifts in the path of life. TCM and Wushu have special meaning to my life. I feel the responsibility to participate in the promotion and development of Chinese traditional healing culture. The value of traditions is that they can benefit human kind. That’s why we want to pass it generations after generations. This is also the value of my life. My personal website is http://nakamuragenko.com.