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See also Meridians – the twelve primary channels and Energy channels.

Trigger points are locations on the body that are the focus of the TCM [traditional chinese medicine] approach to healing. Several hundred or even thousand trigger points are considered to be located along ‘meridians’.  The equivalent in Indian or Hindu medical theory is the ‘nadi’.  In Shiatsu they are also called meridians.

If we use an analogy, the body is like the hardware of the computer with nerves and chemical mechanical parts that can be seen, much as it can with any hardware.  The Physical nervous system, lymph system  and blood circulation system are like the communications network of the body.  Mirroring this communications network is a spiritual or software based system.  This software based network carries messages which have a data content.  So when we are touched by a feather, even with our eyes closed we can recognise it as a feather [or a wet fish].

Studying the hardware of the body to understand the workings of the functions of the body is something of a waste of time.  Analogously it would be like taking a computer apart and watching the electrical impulses in order to understand how the operating system and application software worked! 

Meridians and trigger points however,  are ‘software’. The Chinese, Japanese and Indians have developed complementary and very similar systems that examine the software of the body – its functions.

Anyone who has been involved or even used computer programs will know that the functions of a computer system are linked together.  Diagramatically whenever we develop a computer system we show these links between processes as lines and they are known as  the function dependencies.   Meridians are bodily function dependencies and link up the functions found in the organs.

Surgeons and most western doctors might be looked upon as hardware engineers, the TCM practitioner or acupuncture specialist or the osteopath, for example, is a software engineer!

On the next page is a diagram showing the meridians [function dependency links] and the acupuncture points [function trigger points ] of a human being. I personally don’t think that all the function dependencies are known, but given the fact that all this is ‘invisible’, the diagrams and knowledge obtained by observation over thousands of years are a real achievement.

The equivalent in the Indian system of medicine is the nadi and on the page following the meridians I have placed a diagram of the nadis. In my view the Indian system may be more comprehensive in its mapping, but it is extremely complicated to understand, they might have done better to simply map the function dependencies in a large diagram rather than trying to map it over the body as they have done. Given that we have thousands and thousands of functions, the dependencies are likely to be extremely complex to portray.  Any of you who are used to computer data flow diagrams or function dependency diagrams will know that the resulting pictures of function dependency in systems can be hugely complex.

In my view the Chinese and the Indians might benefit from using the rules of data flow diagrams and the levelled approach to description to simplify their diagrams [see A simple introduction to data and activity analysis – R Rock-Evans for details].

Note: It is worth mentioning that animals are no different to humans in that they too have acupuncture points and meridians and can be treated using acupuncture.  Horses with leg injuries have been successfully treated by acupuncture saving them from being ‘put down’.



In Shiatsu there is a recognition that there are more meridians than are commonly mapped in TCM.

Zen Shiatsu -  Shizuto Masunaga with Wataru Ohashi

Through my own experience, I have found that you can feel the meridian lines by pressing on the correct tsubos [trigger points], even though you may not be a supersensitive practitioner. I have also discovered that the tsubos connect with other tsubos forming wider meridian lines that are not straight. These meridian lines, I have found, cover the whole body and are more numerous than the conventional acupuncture meridian lines.

Recently other therapies such as auricular therapy, foot reflexology, and iridology have been used as diagnostic measures for determining the condition of the entire body.  Taking these theories into consideration, acknowledging only six meridians in the arms, six in the legs and more or less 600 tsubos on the entire body is a rather simplified way of viewing the body. Dr. Nagahama has reported that he has found two or three additional meridian lines. Judging from my clinical experience, I find twelve meridian lines in the arms and Iegs that pass through the back, hara, neck, and head.

In classical oriental medicine there are fourteen major meridian lines. In manipulation we should not be limited by the meridian lines as is the case with acupuncture.  We can add on to the conventional meridian lines, because in manipulation we deal with a wider area. In my treatments so far I have found twelve meridians in the legs and twelve meridians in arms. Treating these meridians have produced more effective results.


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