The oldest known book to focus specifically on pulse diagnosis is The Pulse Classic by Dr. Wang Shu-He which dates to sometime in the first century C.E. A compilation of pulse knowledge, it is tersely worded but still over 350 pages in length.
These days pulses are felt at the inside of the wrist where the hand and arm meet. More precisely the first pulse is at the wrist crease on the radial side of the medial aspect of the forearThe Chinese Medicine Sampler m over the radial artery. The other two are just proximal (toward the elbow) to the first.
In addition to three positions there are three depths. Together they total nine places with valuable diagnostic information on each wrist. There are twenty-eight qualities of pulse which a practitioner must be alert for. Different combinations of pulses also have diagnostic significance. The total number of possibilities allows fine distinctions in interpreting the gathered information.
Many in the profession consider pulse-reading an art that demands assiduous study and innate talent. Certainly the skill of a physician who can tell a patient’s lifetime medical history from pulse-reading is not common. But pulse-reading skill varies like skill with a musical instrument. Study and talent are both factors but their proportions differ from person to person. Contrary to myth, a practitioner need not have spent twenty years in apprenticeship in order to make productive use of pulse-reading.