German student becomes online sensation as TCM practitioner in China

Updated: Aug 5, 2023 Xinhua Print
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Joel Mikael Walker practices Chinese kung fu. [Photo /]

ZHENGZHOU -- Locals visiting a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) hospital in Zhengzhou in central China's Henan Province often find themselves pleasantly surprised when they receive treatment from a skilled German practitioner specializing in acupuncture.

Joel Mikael Walker, 28, hails from Dresden in eastern Germany. He came to China in 2015 and began his journey into the TCM world. Following a year of intensive Chinese language study, he enrolled in the Henan University of Chinese Medicine.

Currently, a graduate student specializing in acupuncture and massage therapy, Walker has provided acupuncture treatment to over a thousand patients, demonstrating a high level of expertise.

"Walker has become highly skilled in acupuncture, having assisted me in treating numerous patients. He has been studying Chinese medicine for seven years and excels in techniques such as pulse diagnosis, acupuncture and cupping therapy. He is fully capable of practicing independently," said Yu Dongdong, Walker's mentor and professor at the university.

However, on the video-sharing and streaming platform Douyin, his Chinese name "Wuming" has gained broader recognition. Walker adeptly balances his roles as a doctor and internet celebrity, amassing a remarkable following of over 900,000 fans. His remarkable online popularity stems from his impressive linguistic skills, particularly in the Henan dialect.

On his Douyin account, "Wuming in Henan," he showcases local culture, dialects and cuisine, and even parodies classic movie scenes in the Henan dialect with his local girlfriend.

Having fully embraced life in Henan, he has forged friendships, fallen in love with local cuisine, and partaken in gatherings with friends, enjoying local favorites like Henan-style noodles and soups.

"I am a native of Henan, but your command of the Henan dialect is even more authentic than mine. It's truly remarkable," read a comment on his video.

His venture into Chinese medicine was sparked by his interest in martial arts. While learning Shaolin kung fu from a master in Henan's Shaolin Temple, he developed a curiosity for traditional Chinese culture and medicine. His move to Henan at the age of 20 was driven by a desire to delve deeper into the origins of Chinese heritage.

"Henan is a crucial cradle of Chinese culture, boasting an array of historical sites and renowned practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine. I believed that by studying here, I could gain invaluable insights," Walker told Xinhua.

Behind the wisdom of TCM, lies its holistic approach to healing and focus on balance and harmony, Walker explained. "Traditional Chinese medicine views the human body as an integrated whole, emphasizing the balance of Yin and Yang. It intervenes before physical disorders manifest, preventing illnesses to a certain extent."

He likened the role of Chinese medicine to a mediator in resolving imbalances in the body. "When equilibrium is disrupted, much like a couple having disagreements, but not yet resorting to a fight, Chinese medicine acts as an intermediary, stepping in to reconcile the dispute and prevent a full-blown conflict," Walker said.

In 2019, Walker's grandmother suffered from gastrointestinal issues, leaving her unable to eat and drink. While on vacation in Germany, he provided a single acupuncture treatment that resulted in her swift recovery. He also remotely guided family members in utilizing traditional Chinese methods for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, sharing his expertise to combat the virus.

With a growing fan base on social media, Walker feels a sense of responsibility. "Initially, posting videos on Douyin was just a pastime, but now I want to engage in more meaningful endeavors."

He aspires to create a series of bilingual videos that promote TCM and narrate stories of ancient Chinese medical luminaries. By capturing his visits to the ancestral homes of famous doctors and the herb-growing regions, he wants to spread awareness of TCM and its profound cultural heritage.

When contemplating the future, Walker remains steadfast in his resolve. Be it in China or his homeland, Germany, he plans to dedicate his efforts to the field of TCM.

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