What is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu, (which in Japanese means ‘finger pressure’), is a physical therapy in which hands, elbows, knees and feet are employed in order to support and work with the client’s sense of vitality and connectedness, (Qi), often accompanied by feelings of relaxation and well-being.

Qi travels throughout the body and is manifest particularly in the organs and channels known as meridians. Although related to and usually named after the vital organs of the body, including Kidney, Liver and Heart, the meridians also have a much wider significance encompassing the physical and emotional functioning of the whole person.

There are two principal philosophies that are integral to Shiatsu: intuitive touch from Zen and Anma bodywork are its Japanese antecedents; whilst Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is a coherent and independent system of Taoist thought and practice that has developed over millennia and is based on ancient texts, which are the result of a continuous process of critical thinking, extensive clinical observation and testing. In Chinese Medicine, the body, mind and spirit are considered inseparable, and are treated as such. It is a truly ‘holistic’ form of medicine. The concepts of Yin And Yang and Five Elements, or Phases provide further ways of interpreting and understanding patterns and syndromes of health and well-being.

Of the many variants of Shiatsu, Ki Kai Shiatsu School teaches Movement Shiatsu and Zen Shiatsu.

Movement Shiatsu

Based on the work of Bill Palmer, www.seed.org Movement Shiatsu is client centred and focuses on what is possible for the client now. Classical Meridians are seen as archetypal lines which parallel developmental movement and practitioners apply this knowledge to assist clients to develop motor and sensory awareness of themselves and the practice of Inner Qigong can enhance this and clients’ sense of autonomy.

Zen Shiatsu

Zen Shiatsu was developed by Shizuto Masunaga (1925-1981) and incorporates ideas from Western psychology and Zen Buddhism alongside aspects of TCM. This approach places emphasis on touch diagnosis (palpation) using Masunaga’s Zen Extended Meridian system.