Shiatsu that isn’t Shiatsu

shiatsuSome techniques lose their characteristics when being moved from east to west. One of the techniques that seem to lose its roots is the Shiatsu. These systems now are only being classified as massage techniques and are only recognized at most as massage techniques. This is the sad part of just taking the techniques out of the system when these things should be considered as a healing system itself. Taking a look at Matsunaga’s work makes me realize that Shiatsu initially was pretty much almost the same as Osteopathy. The only problem is that during these time the medical word wanted to consider the human as parts and that to treat a human being they should be seen as repairable parts. This thinking somehow did not jive with the thinking of considering the whole body when treating the person.  Practically this kind of ideology did not last long because of the lack of people believing in the idea at that time unlike when Andrew Taylor Still was establishing Osteopathy otherwise I think that this system might be a lot different than the Shiatsu that we see today.

Shiatsu at that time was deliberately going back to its traditional roots, essentially Chinese Medicine and Kanpo. The reason why this was done was that Matsunaga was that new views on how medicine should be approached was distorting traditional medicine which primarily belied that you are not healing the disease but the person. During the time when Shiatsu was trying to find its roots again. Matsunaga noticed that the roots of Shiatsu was not trying to find the painful spots or the tight spots as we know today but it is primarily about trying to find the invisible meridian lines. These meridian lines are similar to the acupuncture points of acupuncture which is practically not something that you can see. The method to find these points is by establishing something called Kyo/ Jitsu which is being open while holding supported pressure. Being an osteopath this seems familiar as this is what we call as a local listening technique in which we put our hand on the part of the body and it leads us to the problem area through fascial tugs. This being from a different part of the world the terminology is different but I think these things are one and the same. The term that Masunaga used for this is establishing life sympathy so as to narrow down where the problem is found in the actual person. This is quite interesting since similar systems seem to appear with the same basic ideology but at different areas of the world. This ideology however was lost due to not being able to explain how the system works and lacking the theories on how these works they were not quite understood in the west. Another similarity is that it seem to resemble a similar system specifically trigger points as per the description of one of Matsunaga’s patients stated that “ He would go straight to the Kyo points with great intensity and steady hands, touching deeply and the pain would go away. The primary difference is that trigger points rely on finding trigger points while Shiatsu just relied on Kyo which was mysterious during the time when medicine was trying to explain everything by dismantling the person and looking at its parts. Another similarity between osteopathy and Masunaga’s Shiatsu is that there are nor right and wrong treatment it depends on what you are looking for. One of the important things in an osteopath’s arsenal is the ability to use intention to influence the person. The last and most important similarity that made me think that it is near the osteopathic system is that it sees healing as a change in symptoms which during this time medicine is trying to create the perfect cure for the diseases.

Overall Shiatsu was a nice system before it is such a shame that a great system was just classified as a type of massage and not as a system in which health and wellbeing can be attained.

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