John Kokko L.Ac.
My journey into being a healer started from the time I can remember, as a 5 year old giving my large extended family (uncles, aunts, brother, mom and grandmother) back massages after long days of work. Having a natural feel for doing bodywork, they gave me the name of "yahk-sohn", which means "medicine hands" in Korean. My great-grandmother was a traditional herbalist who found a "100 year old" wild ginseng root in the mountains of our island in Korea. It didn't cross my mind that I would be doing healing work like her, until later on when I took a year off of college to do a 'walk-about' in the Pacific Islands and Australia. There I met amazing healers who initiated me on a path in healing work. One of them a Fijian medicine man, Watisoni Vuniivi inspired me through his connection with nature and spirit. He told me that "the heart is the compass of the soul" and I had to straighten out my own heart first in the world. So, I set out to do this.
When I came back from traveling, I had a burning desire to visit all of the active volcanoes in the world. I had already climbed a few of these in Greece and Italy and was drawn to the Big Island of Hawaii. As fortune would have it, I met my first teachers in Chinese medicine there. One of them Angela Longo had studied with Dr. Lam Kong, a Cantonese herbalist before acupuncture was even legal in the states. I attended her school there for a year, studying Dr. Kong's family herbal recipes before moving later to the San Francisco Bay area to continue my studies and complete my degree in the 4 year graduate program at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in SF. Before i moved back to the mainland, I studied with several life-long teachers in Hawaii, including Ed Kapua Ching, Dane Silva and David Bruce Leonard who continue to guide me. Their practice integrates Hawaiian Lomi Lomi (bodywork), L'au Lapa'au (herbalism), Ho'opono pono (correcting one's relations) and traditional Chinese medicine practices. Scott Miller and Glen Swartwout in Hilo were also very generous to let me apprentice with them in their clinics for a couple years at this time.
When I moved to the SF Bay area, a friend of mine introduced me to Fu Yu-Tai, a renowned tui-na (traditional Chinese bodywork) practitioner in the Outer Richmond of the city. I became his first student, spending every Saturday from 8 am - 8 pm for a year, studying under him, working with his patients. At the same time, I got a job working at Mayway, the largest Chinese herbal company in the country. Mama Lau had become famous in Chinatown a couple decades back selling every traditional herb under the sun. She even started a restaurant cooking traditional herbal soups and dishes next door to their herb shop. What I learned there, by the time they moved to Oakland, was invaluable. I stayed there for 7 years, and it got me through graduate school.
Since acupuncture licensure, I've taught dozens of graduate courses at three acupuncture colleges for a decade and ran a program to help hundreds of graduates pass their state and national licensure board exams. I also sat on the board of the California State Oriental Medical Association for 5 years, working with others in guiding policy and continuing education for our profession. However, the thing I am most proud of was teaching 3 years at Contra Costa College, a community college, where the academic dean, Susan Lee, now a family friend helped me set up a program for Preventative Health using the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. We saw people who reversed major alcohol and smoking addiction, chronic pain, blood sugar and hypertension issues and anxiety and depression all from utilizing the eight branches of Chinese medicine in their everyday lives. This was nothing short of miraculous in many cases and it still inspires me to this very day in how we can share this.
My passions include creating community through the art of tea, which I owe a debt of gratitude to my late-tea teacher Winnie Yu, who was one of the first people to bring artisanal tea to the west. She taught me to be generous and authentic and that tea like so many things, can bring us all together and dissolve differences. I continue to refine my clinical practice through ongoing studies with the orthopedic expert Alon Marcus, and Lonny Jarrett - a pioneer in integral medicine. Both of them have been awe-inspiring mentors, and have been great friends on this amazing journey. My commitment is in translating the depth of all of these teachers into our life practices and look forward to working with you.
“I've experienced healers from many traditions worldwide. Dr. John Kokko provides the best care I've ever received - HANDS DOWN.”
- David, qi gong instructor