Gunter Coles, the second director of European Penzel Academy in northwestern Germany’s Lower Saxony, who had dedicated over 20 years of his life to promote traditional Chinese acupuncture, was a real ambassador linking the traditional Chinese medicine with the western world.
The European Penzel Academy was founded by William Penzel, who invented Penzel Acupuncture Massage (APM), a technique that integrates traditional Chinese acupuncture, massage and reflex therapy. He was motived to do it to save his wife who was suffering from liver disease.
Following the footsteps of his predecessor, Coles finally developed the European Penzel Academy into a center that has trained over 65,000 doctors, physical therapists and naturopaths specialized in APM and has opened branch offices in 25 countries across the world.
“Though Coles passed away more than a year ago, he is still a legend in the local community,” said Matthias Wiemann, the current director of the academy.
Coles was a district manager of a public insurance company in 1974, a secured job that paid him decent salaries. However, he later gave up the “job for life” and chose a completely different path.
Out of curiosity regarding traditional Chinese acupuncture, he went to the European Penzel Academy and received in-service study for eight years. When his company tried to persuade him to quit his “hobby”, Coles decided to quit the job and continued his study of medical science.
After acquiring naturopathy licenses, he officially became the head of the European Penzel Academy.
“Though APM was invented by Penzel, it was developed from the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM),” said Coles. In this regard, he spared no efforts to localize TCM theories, in a bid to make them more acceptable to westerners.
To help students and patients better understand how APM works on human bodies, Coles compared the network of blood vessels to a lighting system and acupuncture points to control switches.
“I told them that acupuncture and massage could unblock the running of blood and body energy just as how switches control the lighting to ensure everything goes fine,” he explained.
Coles developed a chart teaching method to present basic elements and theories of TCM as specific explanations like graphs and numbers are more acceptable to westerners. Under his guidance, the European Penzel Academy compiled over 100 books and textbooks, introducing basic TCM theories with the most understandable expression for westerners. These materials further expanded the influence of TCM in the local community.
Coles also made a rule in the academy that their medical services would be free if patients didn’t show obvious signs of improvement after three sessions of treatment. “The rule comes from my faith in the traditional Chinese acupuncture,” he said.