Chiropractic Philosopher Morikubo

Shegetaro Morikubo was one of the early leaders of chiropractic. He is most famous for following in D.D. Palmer’s footsteps and getting arrested for practicing medicine, osteopathy, and surgery without a license.

Unlike D.D., who spent 23 days in jail, Morikubo’s case was won and set a precedent. Chiropractic was separate and distinct from osteopathy. (Check out my blog post about some of the mistakes in the literature on the topic.)

I have researched and written about his life.

I thought we knew all that we could about him. He grew up in Japan. Descended from an aristocratic Buddhist family in the province of Kanagawa. After his trial, he married and then taught and practiced in Minneapolis. I have read every article that I could find by him written between 1904 and 1922.

I was just completing a lecture series on his life for TIC (and for CE)* when I found out something new!**

Morikubo was a Novelist and Read Shakespeare

Last week I got a surprise email from John Wolfe. Dr. Wolfe is a chiropractic historian, the editor of Chiropractic History, and an associate professor at Northwestern College of Chiropractic. He is also one of the leading Morikubo historians in the world.

Wolfe just found this news article from 1895. It is the earliest known writing we have about Morikubo.

There are several interesting things here. The article refers to him as Shigal (I don’t know much about Kanji but it sounds pretty close to Shegetaro). It also supports some other documents such as his age, his ancestry, when he came to the U.S., and that he was a student in California. (I tried to find historical documents about his early schooling from the Berkeley archives to the Tokio Academy with no luck.)

Furthermore, we learn that he studied English with a tutor and read Shakespeare, Irving, Hawthorne, and Longfellow.

We also learn that he is a budding young novelist who aspired to write a history of Japan. This helps us to make sense of his future plays on Japanese Marriage as well as his several lectures and articles on religion and politics in Japan.

The guy was very interesting.

Chiropractic Philosopher

We know that Morikubo covered some of B.J. Palmer’s lectures in the fall of 1906.

B.J. Palmer did not record his lectures from that year. The first chiropractic green book solely authored by B.J. came out the following year and it was based on his winter 1907 lectures.

Morikubo’s first article on the philosophy, science, and art came out in January 1907. (This was a full 8 months before the infamous trial.) The article included many of the early concepts that would appear in B.J.’s Vol 2.

The Philosophy of Chiropractic

In my lecture series at The Institute Chiropractic, I delve into some of Morikubo’s writings on the philosophy of chiropractic. In this video, I capture some of his more interesting contributions. I recreated two of his drawings as animation from a 1915 article called Chiropractic Philosophy.

A History of Ideas

Many questions emerge when we reflect on the history of ideas in chiropractic. Who originated each of the core theories from the chiropractic paradigm? Which authors should be included in the chiropractic canon of theory, science, and practice? What is the difference between subluxation theory and philosophy in chiropractic? There are many questions still to be answered.

Historical information about the foundational paradigm of chiropractic is still being discovered. It is an exciting time for the profession.

*The lectures on the early leaders in chiropractic will be posted soon as part of the Chiropractic Principles online continuing education program.

**Members of The Institute Chiropractic get access to all of the lectures plus tons of content (over 50 hours) as well as discounts for the CE courses.

  1. Lots of good stuff here Simon, I love the idea of aligning the curriculum with the philosophy with holism, non-linear dynamics, subtle energy, and so on.

    I was lucky enough to attend Parker College of Chiropractic and so there was a philosophical bend to most classes, even classes like physiology and biochemistry.

    I think it would be wonderful if the chiropractic technique classes were taught by an instructor authorized to teach that particular technique. Of the ten techniques we were taught at Parker, only one instructor met that criteria.

    One thing that I would love the legal ability to do as a practitioner is to write MRI reports. I see no reason why MRI interpretation could not be included in the chiropractic curriculum to make this so.

    Hans Conser
    Chiropractor in Bozeman MT

  2. I certainly envision all chiropractic science courses taught within the context of vitalism. The science of epigenetics is the logical offshoot of the role of vitalism in the preservation of health.

  3. Peter Kevorkian

    you are a master Simon. Thank you for this article and all you do for TIC. I am at the board at Sherman and it is indeed a conundrum to satisfy CCE and reform the curriculum to resemble chiropractic. I do not believe the current structure allows us to graduate chiropractors – they are clearly medipractors who can manipulate!! I plan on a reformation of the curriculum at Sherman – one that the CCE cannot refute and one that has real TIC in it. I would love to bounce some ideas off of you in the next few weeks. Hugs,

  4. Thank you Simon for mentioning a visionary curriculum and referencing it with MCQI.ORG.

    You are doing an amazing job. Please resend me the info to sign up for your philosophy course. I will take it this summer as I will have more time.



  5. Hiya! awesome weblog! I happen to be a everyday visitor to your website (somewhat much more like addict ) of this web site. Just wanted to say I appreciate your blogs and am looking forward for more to come!

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