Shiatsu Bodywork

Shiatsu Bodywork

Shiatsu has its roots in the Chinese healing systems. It was later adopted and developed by the Japanese after the introduction of Chen (Zen) Buddhism, aspects of Chinese philosophy and culture, and Chinese medicine into Japan in the Sixth Century.  It incorporates a meditative approach to the healing process where the practitioner, through experience and with the proper training cultivates sensitivity to the movement of Ki by increasing his/her listening skill.

Zen Shiatsu bodywork is used to treat chronic ailments as well as promoting health, wellbeing and the ability to fight off illness.  Treatment consists of two main tools, sedation and tonification of the meridians and points. With sedation the object is to prepare the Ki for movement, and this is done through a series of joint rotations, stretches, rubbing and palming. tonification is the attraction of the mobilised Ki by using pressure on the meridians and points (tsubos), with this pressure being applied using the thumbs, fingers, elbows and the knees.  Shiatsu therapy is usually given at floor level on a futon. Unlike some other forms of body therapy, Shiatsu is carried out with the client fully clothed and without the application of oils, etc.

3 thoughts on “Shiatsu Bodywork”

  1. Mainly because it is the style that I practice………………… 🙂

    There are three main styles of Shiatsu practiced in Japan: –
    Nippon Style Shiatsu (also known as Namikoshi Style) – developed by Namikoshi
    Zen Shiatsu – developed by Masunaga
    Acupressure Shiatsu – developed by Serizawa

    Each of these systems utilises direct pressure, using fingers, thumbs and knees, to stimulate point on the body………………. Shiatsu means finger pressure.

    In the West there have been “developments” made to Shiatsu and new names and styles have cropped up………………… I will deal with them later.

    The most popular style found in Japan is that of Tokujiro Namikoshi. In developing his style, Namikoshi’s approach is more physical with numerous, vigorous, stretches and pressure is placed on trigger points rather than following the meridian systems of Chinese Medicine. The emphasis of his style being anatomy and physiology. He founded the Shiatsu Institute of Therapy (in Hokkaido) c1925 and was involved in the campaign to gain legal recognition of Shiatsu in Japan.

    In developing his style, Masunaga revisited the roots of Shiatsu………….. Chinese Medicine (the meridian systems and acupuncture points) and Amna (Japanese massage). After training in both Shiatsu and western psychology he became a Professor of Psychology (Tokyo University) and went on to integrate these with Zen concepts, thus creating Zen Shiatsu.

    In Masunaga’s style there are stretches and finger pressure techniques. Here, the emphasis is on balancing the Ki and promoting the flow of Ki in the meridians……………… the belief being that poor Ki flow causes ailments. Also, the treatment is of the whole body/mind and not the individual components (holistic). The practitioners “centre” themselves before carrying out a treatment which is done while maintaining a meditative, intuitive state. Both practitioner and receiver gain from the treatment…………… the practitioner gaining more insight and using Shiatsu as a vehicle towards personal development.

    Katsusuke Serizawa’s driving force was his wish to explain, scientifically, the meridians and Ki. Having studied Physical Therapy, Shiatsu & TCM he focussed on the tsubos (acupuncture points) and highlighted the fact that there is a change in electrical resistance (skin) on tsubos. In Acupressure Shiatsu the pressure is applied to individual tsubos (in contrast with Zen Shiatsu where the entire meridian will be worked on).

    Now we come to the new “developments” that have been introduced in the West. They are, on the whole, based upon the wish to become more connected and get energetic (Ki) feedback from the client during a treatment………………………….. Basically this is exactly what Zen Shiatsu is.

    There are questions to be asked of these new “shiatsu” styles. Here are a few of mine: –
    For those that have discovered more intuitive awareness within their treatments………….. You have discovered the underlying principles of Zen Shiatsu. Does it really need a new name?
    For those who are moving away from the original need for physical contact. Can it be Shiatsu if there is no finger pressure?
    For those who integrate “off-body” work that is more akin to Qigong healing or Reiki. Is it really a brand new method, or is it a blend of Shiatsu & Reiki/Qigong? There is nothing wrong with using more than one modality but I’m not convinced that it is right to claim that existing methods/treatments are now some new fangled shiatsu.
    For those who claim from that angels are present during treatment when doing their new style! Are you trying to destroy the reputation of Shiatsu?

    Shiatsu is an effective treatment method that should be recognised more by the NHS…………. It is cost-effective, non-toxic and creates a true feeling of wellbeing that allows the receiver’s energy (physical or otherwise) to get on with the task of healing. More effort than ever is needed to have this happen as certain factions try to steer Shiatsu away from its well rooted past towards a New Age fringe that will be perceived as quackery. It is a real shame that this is happening, right now, within the Shiatsu establishment and it is a problem that they must deal with before too much damage is done.

  2. Thanks for that. I totally agree with you questioning the “developments”, especially the airy faery angels! Maybe it is time that the SS should be debating this before too much damage is done.

    P.S. I am a Zen Shiatsu practitioner too 🙂

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