The Japanese massage form shiatsu is actually a finger/ hands pressure massage, which, at its peak level blends a delicately adjusted perception with a comprehensive indulgence of the body and the mind. Precisely speaking, the Japanese developed shiatsu by synthesizing a Chinese massage known as Anma and the Western methods of physical treatment. Shiatsu is known to be an absolute healing system by means of touch and it derives expansively on the vital factors of the Traditional Oriental Medicine.

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The modus operandi of shiatsu engages drawing out, holding as well as leaning body weight into different parts of the recipient's body with a view to augment flow of energy, blood circulation, suppleness as well as stance. While the recipient is sitting or lying in different positions, pressure as well as contact is applied by means of the fingers, thumbs, hands, forearms, knees and even the feet. The entire treatment concentrates along particular channels, known as meridians, of restrained or delicate physical energy known as Ki. In effect, Ki is known to be the essence or life force that upholds all actions of the body, mind as well as the spirit.

While shiatsu, translated into English, denotes 'finger pressure', in reality, the fortitude of shiatsu is that of contact by means of touch. Shiatsu is extremely receptive to the requirements of the recipient and is not possible to accomplish merely by means of technical expertise and academic learning. In order to make shiatsu effectual, this form of massage needs sensitivity to facilitate feeling and positive impact the eminence of vivacity in the recipient. In effect, vitality or energy forms the foundation of health and it manifests the potency as well as synchronization of the flow of Ki. Shiatsu is sensitive as well as supportive and these two attributes tone up as well rectifies the circulation of Ki, thus facilitating reinstatement of energy and helps to keep away from diseases.

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In order to accomplish genuinely helpful shiatsu, the massage needs to be given with a stress-free body weight and easy communication of Ki. If the practitioner makes a blatant effort, it will only hinder the circulation of Ki and avoid the recipient from being comfortable and 'opening'. Logically, Ki transmits to the recipient when the energy of the practitioner is concentrated and based in the lower belly - shiatsu practitioners refer the belly as the 'hara'. As a final point, genuine and correct shiatsu therapy is largely dependent on the perception of the practitioner of Traditional Oriental Medicine as well as its analytical skills. Any erudite practitioner will possess adequate poise to take care of clients who are enduring acute as well as chronic health disorders.

The term shiatsu was coined only in the early 20th century; the basis of shiatsu is firmly based in the roots of Traditional Oriental Medicine. Precisely speaking, the origin of shiatsu may be traced to China around the period 530 B.C. at the time when Bodhidharma established a method of exercises for wellbeing as well as regulating the sensory organs, called Tao-Yinn. These exercises were integrated into a system of self-massage and a therapy where pressure is applied by oneself to encourage detoxification as well as renewal. Almost immediately, Tao-Yinn turned out to be an essential part of health performances and was exported gradually, together with other healing arts practiced in China, via Korea and south-east Asia.

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Chinese Medicine had already been brought in Japan by the 10th century A.D., when a combination of vibration palm healing, massage and spot-pressing, together called Anma, might have been amalgamated with Tao-Yinn (literally meaning 'Do-In') to a massage form that has some resemblance to contemporary shiatsu.

Approximately three centuries back, during the era of Edo in Japan, it was mandatory for doctors to learn Anma as a method to make them acquainted with the human structure, energy channels or meridians and the pressure points, in order to equip them to be able to correctly diagnose as well as treat patients using whichever means they considered to be suitable - for instance, acupuncture, herbs or massage. However, Anma was gradually reduced to a practice to treat uncomplicated muscle tensions and in the 20th century, Anma was licensed just to support enjoyment and relaxation.

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Regardless of this development, there were several Anma therapists who anchored their work on the novel theory of this health practice and coined the term shiatsu with a view to avert the preventive rules that were applicable to Anma. Eventually, the Japanese government recognized shiatsu as a legal therapeutic form during the mid-1950s.

In effect, it was primarily owing to the endeavours of Tokujiro Namikoshi that the Japanese government took initiatives to grant official recognition to shiatsu. In 1925, Tokujiro Namikoshi had set up the Shiatsu Institute of Therapy in Hokkaido and in 1940, also established the Japan Shiatsu Institute, which was later renamed as the Japanese Shiatsu School. Much of Tokujiro Namikoshi's success can be attributed to a blend of his understandable tactile sensitivity as well as the endeavour he made to bring shiatsu into line with Western medicine. Thus, his technique gained from the universal inclination towards Westernization.

Later, Shizuto Masunaga, who tutored at the Japan Shiatsu Institute for about a decade prior to setting up his personal school called Iokai Shiatsu Centre in Tokyo, reintegrated the conventional, theoretical as well as the medical structure of shiatsu. Shizuto Masunaga was also extremely proficient in tactile sensitivity and also had a keen interest in amalgamating ancient medical form with Western functioning. The foremost contribution of Shizuto Masunaga, prior to his death, to shiatsu was establishing the complete influence of the prominent energy channels or meridians over the body surface as well as the manner in which an individual's physical/ psychological balance could be affected completely by employing optimal connection with these meridians.

As a result, in contemporary Japan, there are two very distinctive techniques of shiatsu - one technique developed by Tokujiro Namikoshi and the Iokai Shiatsu, which was developed later by Shizuto Masunaga. The style promoted by Namikoshi is marked by application of pressure to precise reflex points that connect to the central as well as the autonomic nervous systems. On the other hand, the style developed by Masunaga is distinguished by sensitivity to the meridians or energy channels that, from the Oriental Medicine's perspective, are actually the reflections of the functioning of the body and mind. In addition, Masunaga also commenced the element of 'support and connection' by understanding that shiatsu therapy is lot less painful, additionally nurturing and energetically further effectual provided both the hands are kept spaced out, but still in contact with the recipient, in such a manner that one hand is employed as a 'listening' hand, while the other is used to apply the shiatsu technique.

Till the 1970s, shiatsu was not very well known or popular in the United States and Europe despite the fact that a number of Japanese as well as Occidentals practiced this form of massage in the West ever since it was developed in Japan. Primarily, the Namikoshi method as well as the Masunaga technique have both influenced shiatsu in Europe. However, the present form of shiatsu practiced in Europe has some extra input from macrobiotics that uses traditional acupuncture channels plus pressure points (called acupoints), in addition to its individual hypothetical as well as idealistic underlying principles.

By the mid-1980s, shiatsu had been categorized into a number of styles or systems. Precisely speaking, there are six major styles of shiatsu today and they are discussed briefly below.

One of the shiatsu styles is known as Acupressure Shiatsu, which especially concentrates on the acupuncture points (acupoints) and includes an assortment of acupressure styles. The Five Element Style Shiatsu is another form of this Japanese massage that basically depends on the Traditional Chinese Medicine's Five Element Theory - particularly relating to emotions and it also includes some of the principles of macrobiotic. The third style is known as Macrobiotic Shiatsu that includes Classical Acupuncture Channels, Barefoot methods or technique as well as a harmonious lifestyle.

Shizuto Masunaga had developed a distinct style of shiatsu called Nippon Style Shiatsu, which is distinctive because it primarily applies the Kyo-Jitsu Tonification and Sedation Principle - a comprehensive system of Energy Channel, as well as a reduced amalgamation of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Western physiology and sensibility. The Nippon Style Shiatsu is basically founded on the form of shiatsu developed by Masunaga's predecessor Tokujiro Namikoshi. In effect, this style of shiatsu puts great stress on the Western physiology and also includes the Classical Energy Channels as well as the Chinese medical hypothesis. Another style of shiatsu is Ohashiatsu, which is basically a combination of the style developed by Namikoshi along with techniques developed by Wataru Ohashi, various features of Zen Shiatsu as well as the use of Classical acupoints (also known as 'Tsubos') and Channels.

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