Like many people, Michael Ranft got to a point in life when he realised his job wasn’t making him happy.

An English teacher from Bedlington, Northumberland, Michael’s love of teaching was eroded by some of the institutional changes happening within his profession, prompting him to think about an alternative career that would lead to a healthier and happier lifestyle.

But … just how does a secondary school teacher make the decision to become an acupuncturist?

Alongside, his traditional teaching job, the 39-year-old (pictured in red alongside his Eskrima instructor) is also an experienced martial arts tutor, having trained in Eskrima, Taijiquan and Seven Star Praying Mantis Kung Fu, of which he is a first degree black belt!  Michael has also visited China on a number of occasions to broaden his martial arts knowledge, and was introduced to acupuncture by his Grand Master mentor.

“After being a teacher for nearly 15 years, I really felt like it was time for a change,” he explained.  “There are things I still enjoy about it; working with people and making a difference, but I can do all those things now within Chinese Medicine.

“I’ve been at the same martial arts club for 18 years now, and am lucky enough to have been to China a few times.  Out there, I saw how the healing side of martial arts is just as important as the destructive side.  My Grand Master is also an acupuncturist; I already had a basic understanding of some of the meridians and energy points in the body, and this all led to me getting acupuncture treatment for my hay fever.  I was sick of using anti-histamines, so tried acupuncture and it made a huge difference.

“One night, I was talking to my wife about how despondent I was in my job and she asked what I’d rather do, and I said ‘acupuncture’ because I’d been thinking about it for some years.  I was about to do the course some years ago but decided against it because I was in a comfortable career.  But three years ago, I knew if I didn’t do it, it would be a huge ‘what if’ in my life, and I’ve never regretted the decision.”

Michael enrolled at the NCA in 2015, and graduated last summer with a Post Graduate Diploma in Acupuncture. Now, just months after getting his qualification, the keen hill-walker already has his own private clinic, and will soon be employed by a local drugs and alcohol project as one of their in-house practitioners.   Just as importantly, Michael believes that studying acupuncture has helped to take his martial arts knowledge and teaching onto another level.

“What I’ve learned on the acupuncture course means I understand the Chinese martial arts so much better and it makes so much more sense.  The human body and bio-medicine aspects of the course have been invaluable to the martial arts I teach; for example, the way that I can now explain pressure points to my students.

“I believe, whatever your martial arts background, it’s worth learning about acupuncture because, at the core, they all share similar traits and philosophies.  It’s so important to learn about the healing part of your martial art.  Even for more modern martial arts like kick-boxing or MMA, it gives you a much better understanding of how to look after yourself, and protect and preserve your health.  I anticipate being able to train for decades more now that I know how to look after myself properly.

“I actually have a couple of patients who come to my clinic because of combat sports injuries, and I think once you’re in the martial arts world, your mind is already open to alternative ways of looking at diet, nutrition and fixing your body.

“I loved the course, hence why I’m signing up to do the Chinese Herbal Medicine course.  All the best acupuncturists in my area trained at the NCA, and it’s been a brilliant place to learn.  It’s more than just learning acupuncture points, or Chinese theory about health, it’s understanding how that fits with the real world.  So, for example, how do we work with doctors and other care givers?  How can we explain what we do, and how it works, to people who don’t necessarily understand Qi?  The course gives you all this knowledge, and helps you explain it to others.  The best bit for me was working in the clinic with the supervisors and actual patients; that was a huge selling point for studying at the NCA.

“I’m so excited about the future.  I’ve just resigned as a school teacher and leave on August 31st to become a full-time acupuncturist and martial arts instructor.  I plan to triple the number of martial arts classes I’m currently teaching (Michael currently teaches Taijiquan and Eskrima).  I’m doing a day’s clinic in Alnwick, thanks to a former NCA graduate whose maternity leave I’m covering; and I hope to continue with that when she’s back because there are lots of patients coming through.  I’m expanding my own acupuncture business, and aim to have a few more clinics around Northumberland by next year.  And I also have a friend who runs a company called ‘Recovery for Life’, a drug and alcohol rehab centre.  We’re just in the process of me joining their team of acupuncturists.  So, by September, I’ll be doing martial arts and acupuncture full time.

“Being a school teacher, the money is decent, but the hours are long and it’s stressful.  I see a lot of my colleagues burning themselves out.  I could only envisage myself getting out by being 55-years-old and getting early retirement.  But now I’ve done the acupuncture course, I honestly have no problems working in my 70’s, if I’m fit and able to.

“I genuinely look forward to my days when I’m in clinic, and there’s no Sunday-night dread of going to work – I’m skipping around the house!”

For more information about Michael – please visit:

Each year the NCA welcomes students onto their courses with a martial arts background.  If you are involved in martial arts and interested in finding out more about acupuncture – please do get in touch.  Contact our Marketing Manager Denise on 01904 343309 or email

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