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Acupuncture Today – August, 2003, Vol. 04, Issue 08

Oriental Medical World Mourns Professor J.R. Worsley

By Neil Gumenick, MAc (UK), LAc, Dipl. Ac

The Oriental medical world has lost one of its foremost teachers, practitioners and proponents. Professor Jack Reginald "J.R." Worsley, Dr. Ac. (China), MAc (China), ND (England), Professor (China) and beloved master of classical Five-Element acupuncture, died in the early hours of June 2, 2003 in Miami, Florida.

I was present at Professor Worsley's last seminar in Miami in May of this year. Although he was in obvious physical discomfort, his brilliance of spirit and transmission of the teachings of classical Five-Element acupuncture held 60 of us utterly spellbound. With absolute efficiency of words and energy, J.R.'s senses perceived the essence of what each individual patient before him needed, and he communicated it in a way his students all deeply understood.

Professor J.R. Worsley - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Professor J.R. Worsley (Sept. 14, 1923 - June 2, 2003) My first experience with J.R. was in class in 1979 in England. We were mostly latter-day hippies and New-Age idealists. In front of us stood J.R., faultlessly attired in his English tweeds and impeccable manners. He sure looked like one of "them" - a member of our parents' generation - but it soon became apparent that all of the "high states" to which we had aspired, imagined or experienced were familiar ground to him. He was one of us, and more. He was the teacher I had searched for all my life, connected to the source, gently assuring us all that anything he had achieved, we could also achieve.

I can hear his words: "There are no such things as 'people' on the face of the earth. Everyone is a unique individual, the likes of which God has never made before and will never make again. However many thousands of patients you may have examined, the next patient in front of you is unlike anyone you have ever examined. That person is absolutely unique." He reminded us that we are all unique as well, and therefore, we need never compare ourselves to anyone else, but thank God for who we are.

As a practitioner, he was interested in why a patient had symptoms. He taught to examine and diagnose in such a way as to know the cause, and further, what to do to bring wholeness - to heal brokenness at its core: the underlying experience of disease - the suffering, the misery, the real experience of being sick. Classical Five-Element acupuncture, as J.R. learned from his masters, reaches in to where the actual experience of suffering occurs. He taught his students to help heal at this deep level, thoroughly and precisely.

Born and raised in Coventry, England, Professor Worsley studied physiotherapy while serving as an army education officer in charge of the Colleges of the North West Command. After World War II, he practiced physiotherapy, and studied and practiced osteopathy, naturopathy and Chinese acupuncture. At that time, it was not possible to receive professional qualifications in Chinese acupuncture in the West, so in the early 1950s, he journeyed to Taiwan, Singapore and Korea, and received his doctorate of acupuncture. His classical Five-Element acupuncture teachers Ono and Hsui bestowed the rare and honored classical designation of "Master" upon him.

He founded the College of Traditional Acupuncture (UK) in 1956; the Traditional Acupuncture Institute (USA) in 1974; the Worsley Institute of Classical Acupuncture (USA) in 1988; and the Master Apprentice Program (MAP) in 1997. He was associated with acupuncture schools in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Norway. Since the 1980s, he and his wife, Judy Becker Worsley, Dr. Ac., traveled extensively across America conducting seminars and providing consultations.

Despite the Western doctors' predictions that his capacity to work - following massive heart attacks - would be limited severely by his weakened heart, Professor Worsley continued to travel, teach, and be a living example of his conviction that this body/mind/spirit medicine can heal people at the deepest level. He proclaimed many times that he wanted to work until he died. The last day he saw patients was in his room at Baptist Hospital on May 13, two weeks before his death. He continued to offer advice and give input to the ongoing Master Apprentice Program, the Worsley Institute practitioner seminar, and other business activities until a few days before he died. He exuded love to everyone present; nurses, doctors and visitors were all treated with respect and impeccable manners.

His tireless dedication was focused, with his wife, on consulting; teaching; completing a video library of his work; a new edition of the Point Location Textbook (vol. I); the much-anticipated book Spirits of the Points; and a certification and continuing education program offered through the Worsley Institute.

Professor Worsley's achievements and honors include:

  • Professor of the College of Chinese Medicine, China, Master and Doctor of Acupuncture
  • Honorary Professor of the Department of Oriental Medicine, Won Kwang University, Korea
  • Vice-president of the World Academic Society for Acupuncture
  • Founder/President of the College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (CTA), UK
  • Founder/President of the Traditional Acupuncture Institute (TAI-Sophia), USA
  • Founder/President of the Norwegian School of Traditional Acupuncture
  • Founder/President of the Traditional Acupuncture Society, UK
  • Professor of Medical Acupuncture Society, South Africa
  • Honorary President, Compagnonnage d'Acupuncture Traditionelle, France
  • Professor, Argentine Medical Acupuncture Society
  • Founder/President of the Worsley Institute of Classical Acupuncture, USA
  • Founder/President of the Master Apprentice Program (MAP)

A practitioner with over 58 years' experience, he was the author of several books, including: Is Acupuncture for You?; Everyone's Guide to Acupuncture; Talking About Acupuncture in New York; Meridians of Chi Energy - Point Reference Guide; Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, Volume I: Meridians and Points; Traditional Acupuncture, Volume II: Traditional Diagnosis; and Classical Five-Element Acupuncture, Volume III: The Five Elements and The Officials.

Professor Worsley is survived by his wife (and designated successor), Judy Becker Worsley, Dr. Ac.; his daughter, Hilary Skellon, MAc (UK), of Boulder, Colorado; his son, John, of Spain; three grandchildren; a sister and brother; many nieces and nephews; countless grateful patients and students; and his beloved feline friend, Wellington Worsley, of Church Hill Farm, Burton Dassett, England.

J.R. was an extraordinary and glorious human being. His loving spirit, his conviction, and his determination to do what it took to achieve his goals were phenomenal. Those who were fortunate enough to meet him remarked on his extremely powerful presence, which was simultaneously and uniquely warm, gentle and kind. He had an extraordinary capacity to subordinate petty personal feelings to his essential and overriding capacity to love and care for other beings. He had a huge capacity to forgive and to be compassionate and patient. His sense of humor and fun was legendary. His family, friends, and the professional community will hugely miss him. To so many, life without him is unimaginable.

Professor Worsley was cremated in Miami. A U.K. memorial service at All Saints Church, Burton Dassett, is scheduled for September 14, 2003 (J.R.'s 80th birthday). A U.S. memorial service is scheduled for October 30, 2003 at the Palms Hotel, Miami Beach, Fla. This date and venue were booked to be J.R.'s surprise birthday celebration, but a memorial service in his honor will be held instead. For details, please visit

J.R.'s life was about helping others. His passionate wish was that the Worsley Institute, a not-for-profit organization devoted to serving the public, patients, students and practitioners, soar. His wish would be that our resources be directed to serving others. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Worsley Institute of Classical Five-Element Acupuncture are welcomed. Details regarding donations and information on studying this system of medicine can be found at

Click here for more information about Neil Gumenick, MAc (UK), LAc, Dipl. Ac.

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