Dr Che Corbin, doing a diagnostic and treatment of this patient’s back to determine the situation with his muscles, tendons and bones. (Picture by Reco Moore.)
In 2004, Dr Che Corbin travelled to China on a quest to discover what he terms “the situation with the human form”.
The registered acupuncturist and traditional Chinese medicine consultant had had back “issues”, flat feet and painful knees when he was a teenager.
“A lot of people couldn’t tell what it was . . . . Having grown up with this, I didn’t like having hurt feet and back at all. I didn’t want to get out of PE [physical education] but nobody could actually do much about it for me. A little pain relief, a little massage, go get yourself some insoles in your shoes and wear them for the rest of your life. I wasn’t too happy with it because I would forget them all the time and most shoes wouldn’t fit because I had the insoles on and I was thinking, ‘Really, is this it then?’
“Using what resources I had around me, I went about interviewing doctors who did their best for me. I tried to continue playing sports, which left me with a deformed left foot,” Corbin said on the sunny and warm Monday afternoon.
With the waves lapping the shore below his Prospect, St James home, which doubles as his office, the 32-year-old Lodge School alumnus told SUNDAY SUN he stopped playing sports competitively, joined the music scene, opting out when he was about 20 years old. He then set off to China to have his questions answered.
“I went about doing my research as to what other information there is on maintaining oneself in the human physical form, for which there is quite a lot of info. There are not many forms of traditional medicine alive in the world and every day they continue to die out. Look at ours in Barbados, and Barbados has had a pretty tough time. Tough times could help strengthen herbal culture [and] traditional culture brought over from Africa which [were] actively and vigorously suppressed.
“Traditional medicine is further under attack by being made fun of . . .” he added, and noted that it was also lost in Europe and the rest of the world.
Ten years on he has quite a treasure trove of knowledge about traditional Chinese medicine, which he said differs in the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western regions of that country. And no, he is not a kung fu master or some other stereotypical thing you often associate with China because of the movies. He does practice tai chi and drinks lots of tea, about which he knows quite a bit.
In fact, he shared “a type of red tea” which he made at his tea table on the balcony, which offers a lovely view of the sea. The tea comes from the Yexing region, located north of Shanghai, which is famous for red tea and teapots.
“All clay teapots in China come from Yexing designed specifically for making the red tea,” Corbin shared as he sipped the hot, unsweetened brew.
After graduating in 2011 he did some further studies for six months before he came home in 2012 and stayed before leaving in 2013. During that time he practised with an office for a few months before getting his “own place in Sunset Crest”. He described that as “interesting because it was the first time for me coming back to Barbados to practise after I graduated”.
He returned home last October.
Corbin said that his parents were not the “most pleased” with him being on the other side of the world for so long as he only came home for a month in the summer every two years.
“I always intended to come back to share my knowledge. I could imagine that for a lot of people, as it was for me, you’re kind of going through life without much knowledge of your body. Even if you’re a medical student – and all hail to Western medicine; it’s great [and] I don’t see any conflict between the two only that it’s a very new science – you should definitely take into account the experience that traditional healers have accumulated in the past. Chinese medicine pretty much is the accumulation of knowledge of the body,” he said.
He continued: “With Chinese medicine, the saying goes if you are healing diseases and sicknesses you are already operating on a low level because you allow the person to get sick. It is a low level for the patient and for the doctor because one should keep oneself healthy. One should not get sick and wait for the damage to be done to then try and fix it . . . . [Traditional Chinese medicine] is the higher way to medicine, according to the ancient texts . . .
“I kind of like it because it’s like you’re taking your car for maintenance before something blows up . . . . Unfortunately, people are not accustomed to going about their health in this manner. People will not go for a check-up until they are obviously feeling very sick so I don’t do as much maintenance as I would like to. I find I really have to caringly convince people to come over and do a little exercise – that’s just the attitude that we have.
“Nowadays in China people are running around like mad people, working hard and getting sick and generally not doing things to take care of their bodies. But there is a much more underlying culture ingrained in Chinese culture – for example, drinking tea as opposed to drinking some manufactured soft drink for your main beverage.”
What will he be offering during his session at the Chinese Festival.
“My knowledge of Chinese culture will help to bring into light the relationship between Barbados culture and Chinese culture. This is a good thing because we here from Barbados, small island, middle of the Atlantic and Caribbean, 400 to 500 years of history, most of which has been highly oppressed – where then is our culture and what is our perception of our culture? You have to have some kind of perspective. Otherwise you just don’t know,” he asserted.
The consultant said he was grateful for a recent opportunity given to him by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles to work with the Confucius Institute.
“I work with the University of the West Indies at the Confucius Institute. I’m the current director and my job right now is leading the set-up. The purpose of the institute is to open a door to be a place where the people of Barbados can not only experience Chinese culture but learn Chinese for practical use, for business, for studying,” he explained.
Corbin is encouraging more Barbadians to experience other cultures and find peace.
“To stay peaceful in this world you have to go for it. You have to decide that’s what you want and take steps to do so. You have to understand why you’re not peaceful, what it is that’s troubling which emotion, what it is that triggers the problem.
“Some people can’t remember what it is to be peaceful. Day after day it is stress. We will forget [what caused the problem], and this is why it is important to take time out and take a vacation . . . ,” he said. (Green Bananas Media)