The Japanese Ministry of Health defines shiatsu as "a form of manipulation by thumbs, fingers, and palms without the use of instruments, mechanical or otherwise, to apply pressure to the human skin to correct internal malfunctions, promote and maintain health, and treat specific diseases. The techniques used in shiatsu include stretching, holding, and most commonly, leaning body weight into various points along key channels."
Shiatsu is designed to help the body's innate ability to heal, recover and thrive from the stresses of life. It is especially effective in treating deep-rooted trauma that is stuck in the body. Shiatsu is simple but has profound and lasting results. Shiatsu works by addressing the source of imbalances in the body, which strengthens resiliency. Shiatsu can also be performed without any extra equipment or special facilities, which makes it accessible and versatile for a wide spectrum of the population with varying economic status.
History of Shiatsu
The very beginnings of shiatsu originated in India from a form of health called Aryvadia. As stories say that an Indian prince called Bouty Da Mo hiked over the Himalayas into Tibet then into China teaching them the ways of Aryvadia. Then the Chinese changed Aryvadia into Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) about 5,000 years ago. TCM spread throughout the Asian country, taking on different changes to fit the needs of the climate(hot-cold/wet-dry) in that area. It was first brought to Japan by a Buddhist Monk in the sixth century.
Shiatsu beginnings started from an ancient form of massage called Anma or Tuina. Anma has been around for thousands of years in Japan and China. Mostly reserved for the blind and prohibited for sighted people to practice. Anma is part of TCM used to diagnose and treat disease and injuries through the use of pressure points on the body.
Takuiro Namikoshi started the shiatsu school in Japan in 1940, formally making shiatsu a government recognized treatment method in Japan. He is considered the father of shiatsu even though the term “shiatsu” has been used since 1919 in the attempt to separate shiatsu from Anma. His approach involved using a lot of western medicine in his method.
Shizuto Masunaga alerted the existing shiatsu style adding in more western ideas also adding in all 12 meridians to hands and feet. He started his own school called Ioka Shiatsu Center where he taught his new version “Zen Shiatsu.” Masunaga got his start in bodywork training with his mother, who was a master of treating and diagnosing exclusively through the Hara (abdomen). He also brought in the use of elbow and knees where traditional shiatsu was mostly the use of finger and hand pressure.