Education and Training
David, a third generation osteopath from the very founder of osteopathy Dr A T Still, considers himself very fortunate to have studied with masters representing both the classical and modern traditions of osteopathy. David studied at the Ecole Européenne d’Ostéopathie (European School of Osteopathy) in Maidstone, England, from 1978 – 1982. There, he learnt the classical osteopathic techniques from Mr John Wernham, who was a student of Dr Martin Littlejohn who, in turn, was a student of the founder of osteopathy, Dr A T Still. In addition, David learnt much from Mervyn Waldman, who is currently an osteopath practicing in Israel.
David also learnt the minimum adjustment technique from the principal of the college, Mr Tom Dummer. Among the modern techniques was Cranial Osteopathy (Cranial Sacral Therapy) popularized by Dr John Upledger, founder of the Upledger Institute. This technique was in its infancy during the 1970s and David was among the early groups of students – the second batch, in fact – who studied this technique from Dr Upledger, who was then from Michigan State University, USA.
This period of time can be considered a ‘transition’ between the classical style and more modern techniques that were emerging during the 1970s.
Also being introduced around that time was the Muscle Energy technique, which David learnt from Dr Fred Mitchell Jr, and Strain and Counter strain, which David learnt from Dr Lawrence H Jones.
Becoming an Osteopath…
David, who was born in 1948, had an interest in sports, natural health and natural healing from an early age. And he seemed destined to be an osteopath.
During his secondary school days at St Joseph’s Institution, he was – for four years – the undefeated Combined Schools champion in the 110 metres hurdles and triple jump.
He took up body building, karate and yoga as a teenager and, in his early 20s, began a career as a medical representative selling medical equipment. He was so successful in his career that, by his mid-20s, he had earned enough money to ‘retire’.
He left his job in 1977 and journeyed to India to study yoga at the country’s most prestigious yoga college, the Kaivalyadhama Institute GS College of Yoga and Cultural Synthesis in Poona, Bombay.
While in India, David stayed and studied at the Nature Cure Hospital, learning Nature Cure as advocated by the late Mahatma Gandhi.
After India, David traveled through Central Asia and Europe and finally, England. He knocked on the door of the Osteopathy college and met the college’s principal, Tom Dummer.
While explaining the basis of osteopathy, Mr Dummer said something that struck a chord with David – he pointed out that all the healing arts emphasized the importance of the spine.
David realized that he had discovered the ‘secret’ to perfect health that he had all along been searching for. He realized that diet, environment and other factors affecting health were all external to the human body.
The one internal factor is the autonomic nervous system, which stems from the brain and the spine.
One other incident during his meeting with Mr Dummer sealed David’s fate to become an osteopath.
“At that time I was carrying a Tibetan ‘hippie bag’. It was half full and it contained my entire possessions,” David recalls.
“When Mr Dummer saw it, he pulled out exactly the same bag from below his desk. We both raised the bags and had a good laugh. What a coincidence it was. I felt it was a sign of my destiny. And so I signed on to study osteopathy for the next four years.”
Even while studying osteopathy and, after he graduated, while practicing as a part-time osteopath in London, David continued to pursue his interests in other aspects of natural health and natural healing.
“One day, I came across the Community Health Foundation in London and saw that they were conducting a course about Yin and Yang. And I said, ‘I want to study that’.”
This was David’s introduction to macrobiotics, an oriental philosophy of health and life, based on the principles of yin and yang.
David studied macrobiotics in London and, shortly after he completed his osteopathy studies in 1982, traveled to continue macrobiotic studies at the Kushi Institute in Boston, completing the three student levels as well as the Teacher’s Training.
While in London, David had also obtained a diploma in shiatsu, a form of Japanese finger pressure massage commonly taught alongside macrobiotics.
There, he also took up various forms of martial arts including Aikido and Kenjutsu, a Japanese martial art specializing in the use of the sword. He also pursued Kendo and, after he returned to Singapore, represented the country in Pesta Sukan (Festival of Sports, the predecessor to the current SEA Games) where, from the late 1980s to early 1990s, he won two gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
“All my life I have been interested in natural health,” David says. “I have studied and taken courses in nature cure, homeopathy, clinical nutrition… I’ve tried all kinds of diets – I’ve been a vegetarian, a fruitarian… everything except a ‘breatharian’ who lives only on the breath!”
Upon returning to Singapore in 1984, David established the Osteopathic Treatment Centre.
It began with David as the sole practitioner. Over the years, the centre has developed and grown into an osteopathic practice with a number of osteopaths.
David also established another company, Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CCAM) with practitioners offering a wide range of therapies. Dr. David Tio also sees patients from Hong Kong, Shenzen China, Jakarta and Bandung Indonesia, Melbourne Australia even Chennai India and Kuching Malaysia.