Bob Flaws was born in 1946 and grew up in Rutherford, NJ. He attended Newark Academy and then Middlebury College where he earned a B.A. degree in American Literature. In 1969, Bob went to India and Nepal to become a Tibetan Buddhist in the Nyingmapa lineage. At first Bob wanted to also study Tibetan medicine. However, because Bob could not see a clear path in the mid-1970s to becoming a Tibetan doctor, he decided to study its closest kin or cousin, Chinese medicine. President Nixon had reopened the United States' relationship with the People's Republic of China and James Reston had created a groundswell of interest in acupuncture with his articles about that subject in The New York Times. At that time, Bob knew of only one American acupuncture school, the New England School of Acupuncture. However, before enrolling in their program, he decided to first study massage therapy in preparation for studying acupuncture. Therefore, in 1977, Bob moved to Boulder, CO to attend the Boulder School of Massage Therapy, from which he graduated in 1978.
In 1978, Bob became engaged to Honora Lee Wolfe, the founder and director of the Boulder School of Massage Therapy. At approximately the same time, he began studying acupuncture with Eric Tao (Xi-yu) in Denver, CO. Dr. Tao had learned the Tao family style of acupuncture from his uncle in Beijing when he was a teenager. After 1949, Dr. Tao and his family were forced to move to Taiwan due to their Guo Min Tang (KMT) affiliation. There, Dr. Tao decided to make acupuncture his profession, and during the 1950, 60s, and early 70s became associated with Wu Wei-ping and his circle. Bob studied with Dr. Tao for a year and became certified by Dr. Tao in acupuncture-moxibustion. At the same time, Bob studied acupuncture and Chinese medicine whenever and wherever possible. This largely meant correspondence courses put out by the Occidental Institute of Chinese Studies and Henry Lu. It also meant reading anything and everything on Chinese medicine and taking lots of workshops by such people as Naburo Muramoto, Herman Aihara, Kiiko Matsumoto, Paul Chen, Michael Broffman, etc.
From 1979, Bob conducted a private practice in Boulder, CO mixing massage with acupuncture. In addition, he taught daily qi gong classes, weekend workshops, and six-week summer intensives through Blue Poppy Chi Kung Association. Articles written by Bob about qi gong began to appear in Yoga Journal and Black Belt Magazine, and Bob did a national qi gong teaching tour in 1981. In 1982, Bob went to the Shanghai College of Chinese Medicine to continue his acupuncture-moxibustion studies. The purpose of this first visit to China was mostly to gain more clinical experience and test what he had already learned against contemporary Chinese standards of care. In 1983, Bob went back to the Shanghai College of Chinese Medicine to study tui na or Chinese medical massage. At that time, he was honored by being accepted as a personal student and North American representative of the famous Shanghainese tui na specialist, Dr. Ding Ji-feng. Dr. Ding had pioneered the creation of the guan fa pai or rolling method school of Chinese tui na. In 1986, Bob went back to Shanghai one more time to study Chinese herbal medicine, again to get more experience and compare what he had learned already to contemporary Chinese standards of care.
In 1982, Bob published his first book on Chinese medicine. This was titled Path of Pregnancy. It was a compendium of everything Bob had found on acupuncture and Chinese medicine for gestational, birthing, and postpartum diseases. Bob compiled this information first because of Honora's pregnancy and the birth of their son Ian. Bob and Honora self-published this book which they sold through ads placed in various health magazines. This was the beginning of Blue Poppy Press. Bob's family had been in the printing industry for 90 years, and Honora had worked as a layout and design person and also as a copywriter for a number of magazines and journals. Therefore, Bob and Honora had the combination of skills and background for publishing.
Bob and Honora then wrote and published a book on Chinese dietary therapy, titled Prince Wen Hui's Cook. In 1983 or ‘84, Paradigm Publications bought the rights to both these books and republished them under their own imprint. However, Bob and Honora quickly saw that their income from these books was drastically reduced by this. Therefore, they decided in the future to publish all their own books, and a steady stream of books has issued from Blue Poppy Press from that time forth.
Because more women go to health care practitioners than men and because women have babies, Bob very quickly specialized in gynecology and pediatrics in his clinical practice. Because Chinese medical gynecology and pediatrics primarily mean the prescription and internal administration of Chinese medicinals, Bob also came to specialize in that modality. In the early 1990s, Bob came to the inescapable conclusion that real knowledge of and a doctoral competence in Chinese medicine requires at least a reading knowledge of Chinese. Therefore, he taught himself to read medical Chinese. This direct personal access to the Chinese medical literature revolutionized not only Bob's own personal clinical practice but also the quality of Blue Poppy Press's publications.
Around the beginning of the new millenium, Bob and Honora decided to put more energy into growing Blue Poppy Enterprises which, by then, had three divisions: Blue Poppy Press, Blue Poppy Seminars (later to become Blue Poppy Institute), and Blue Poppy Herbs. They hired a business consultant, drew up a five-year business plan, and moved to the company’s current location at 5441 Western Ave., Boulder, CO. Soon thereafter, Bob and Honora hired a General Manager, Bruce Staff, who became the CEO of Blue Poppy. With the growing complexity of the business, Bob devoted himself to two main roles within the company – editor in chief of Blue Poppy Press and head of research and development for Blue Poppy Herbs. These are the two main roles Bob plays within Blue Poppy to this day.
Some of Bob's other acupuncture-Chinese medicine credits include being a Fellow and Governor of the National Academy of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, a founder, past President, and Lifetime Fellow of the Acupuncture Association of Colorado, a founding member of the National Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Alliance, and a Fellow of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine in the U.K. In addition, Bob has been the editor of the Colorado Acupuncturist and The Journal of the National Academy of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine and is currently a contributing editor to The Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patient s. He has written, edited, and translated approximately 100 books and hundreds of articles which have been published in professional and popular journals and magazines all over the world. Bob has taught at dozens of American acupuncture schools and Chinese medicine colleges as well as at a number of national professional conventions and symposia. He regularly teaches throughout Europe and has taught in Australia, New Zealand, and Israel. Bob is coauthor of an NIH-funded acupuncture research protocol on AIDS-related peripheral neuropathy, the report of which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Associatio n. In addition, Bob is a founder of the Council of Oriental Medical Publishers.
In terms of Bob’s non-Chinese medicine activities, his hobbies currently include motorcycling (both building and riding them, viz. www.drbobsbikeworld.blogspot.com ), reading historical fiction, travel, walking/hiking, jewelry-making, and skiing. In the late 1990s-early 2000s, Bob published a historical novel titled Njall & The One-eyed Lord. He has been Colorado Commissioner of Clan Sinclair U.S.A. as well as editor of Yours Aye, the Clan Sinclair national newsletter. He has also been a Tribal Council member and past President of the Iron Indian Riders Association and editor of Smoke Signals, the IIRA national newsletter. Other biking memberships include the American Motorcycle Association (AMA), the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF), ABATE of Colorado, and Norton Colorado.