Literally, Shiatsu means “finger pressure”
SHI (finger, extremities) ATSU (put pressure)
This is a manual Japanese technique which applies pressure on certain points on the body along meridians by utilizing the thumbs, the palms of the hands, the elbows and the knees. These pressures stimulate the circulation of energy and the blood in the body to maintain or reestablish psycho-energetic equilibrium necessary to preserve our health.
The meridians are the paths that energies should circulate freely. If energy is blocked or slowed down, our health can be affected. We can be troubled with physical, psychic or emotional manifestations.
Shiatsu puts emphasis on prevention. This massage technique is meant to stimulate the resources of the organism and to activate the immune system. These effects create harmony between the body and the spirit.
The evolution of Shiatsu from its origins to the current day
Shiatsu is a therapy developed in Japan at the beginning of the twentieth century. It was officially recognised as a preventative and therapeutic method by the Japanese Minister of Health in 1950, who defined it as : “a form of manipulation applied by the thumbs the fingers and the palms, which exert pressure on the skin in order to correct internal imbalances, to improve and to maintain health and to treat certain specific illnesses.”
The ancient origins of Shiatsu, date from the Chinese Han dynasty (200BC – 200AD). The variety of techniques, both traditional and imported have contributed to the development of a popular preventive medicine, passed from one generation to the next.
The oldest Chinese texts of traditional medicine are represented by “Huangdi Nei Jing”, and the “Classic of Internal Medicine of the Yellow Emperor ». These texts were the foundations of Oriental medicine, and were the therapeutic, medical and philosophical references for the time.
This is a holistic medical treatment which considers that illnesses are directly linked to the physical characteristics and conditions of the entire body. All aspects of our physiological state as well that which can be thought of as psychological or mental, as well even spiritual, may be included in the total evaluation of the required treatment.
This chart explains the development of medical specialities in the various parts of the Chinese empire.
The large central region of China is where economic, social and labour issues are most intense. The dynamics of city life generate worries and stress, causing « psychological, emotional and neurophysiologic imbalances » whose effects are harmful to the maintenance of bodily homeostasis.
Do-Inn: to stimulate the energy circulation in one’s own body.
Ankkiyo: to stimulate the energy circulation in the body with the help of others.
The techniques and Do-Inn and Ankkiyo became more widespread in Japan around the seventh century (Tang Dynasty), during which time the diagnosis and treatment of stomach ailments, “Anpuku”, evolved. This technique unique to Japan was developed by Shinsa Ota.
Maître Tempeki Tamae was the first to use the term “Shiatsu” in his book “The Method of Shiatsu” published in the early twentieth century. Its prestigious school in Japan was destroyed during the Second World War.
In 1940, Tokujiro Namikoshi founded the “Nippon Shiatsu School” in Tokyo. Master Namikoshi, regarded as the father of modern shiatsu fought strongly for the recognition of Shiatsu as a medical discipline.
Currently in Japan, tens of thousands of Shiatsu practitioners perform alongside practitioners of western medicine.
This discipline is a particularly well known and effective treatment of many imbalances in energy, joint and muscle pain.
In addition, Shiatsu can be used to reduce stress, to relax and to promote well being as a preventive therapy..
The aim of Shiatsu is to focus on prevention to promote a better quality of life, and to allow the individual to remain independent for as long as is possible.
N.B. Shiatsu cannot, in any case, be a substitute of a medical treatment.