Great-Grandfather’s Acupuncture


One of the informant’s family members is believed to have a special power. The informant’s great-grandfather has the ability to use acupuncture to kill people. He can tell the “death point” of the human body, and by pointing to the acupoints, he can kill people. However, he stopped using this ability and did not teach anyone about acupoints because it is something immoral to teach. The “sky,” which refers to gods and ancestors, will watch him and disagree with him. It will hurt his luck and his descendants’ luck. Thus, no other member of the family learned the skill.


The informant learned the story from family members. During family gatherings and festivals, such as the Qingming festival, when people commemorate families, the informant’s parents and grandparents would tell the story of his great-grandfather. Something interesting is that the term “great-grandfather” is somewhat vague. The informant was not sure if the great-grandfather in the story was his grandfather’s father or cousin, or grandfather. It is more like a term that directs to an old and legendary family member.

The story reveals Chinese cultural beliefs and values related to powers and morality. The story of the great-grandfather who could use acupuncture to kill people is a testament to the enduring belief in physical, even a bit mysterious, powers and the fear of their potential misuse. The idea of the acupoint came from Chinese medicine and Kung-fu. Thus, this story reflects Chinese people’s belief in the effectiveness of Chinese medicine and Kung-fu.
The story also highlights the moral dilemma that the great-grandfather faced with his power. By choosing not to teach the skill to anyone else in the family, he was acknowledging that the power to take life was too great to bare as a human being. The ancestors and the “sky” serve as a judge that watches over people’s actions, which reflects the importance of ancestors and descendants in Chinese culture because the ancestors care about their descendants. The great-grandfather was aware that the use of his power would bring harm not only to his own luck but also to his descendants, which reflects the traditional Chinese belief that ancestors and the supernatural world have a significant impact on human life and that their displeasure could bring misfortune.