If a man came at you with a meat cleaver, your first instinct would obviously be to run for your life. But not for the people of Hsinchu, in northern Taiwan. Because for them, being tapped with the sharp end of a cleaver is actually a form of therapy that is known to cure many ailments. They line up in large numbers to meet the therapist, who prepares by sharpening the instrument on a wet stone and rubbing iodine all over the blade.
The Chinese knife massage is probably a treatment you’d only expect in hell, but in reality it’s said to increase blood flow, release the body’s stored energy and wash away harmful toxins. The treatment itself is pretty simple: all the therapist does is hold a couple of cleavers and strike the patient repeatedly with the sharp edge. No, don’t be horrified, there’s no blood involved. The trick is to bring down the cleaver with just the right amount of force, and then to not push or pull it once it touches skin. The up-and-down movement of the cleaver is said to release static energy, which leads to self- cure. “Chop, chop, chop, and the pain will go away,” is the motto that the knife therapists use to convince clients.