What is Shiatsu and how does it work?

The History

The Development of Shiatsu in Japan
Shiatsu was developed in the early part of the 20th century by a Japanese practitioner, Tamai Tempaku, who incorporated the newer Western medical knowledge of anatomy and physiology into several older methods of treatment. Originally he called it "Shiatsu Ryoho", or "finger pressure way of healing", then "Shiatsu Ho ", "finger pressure method". Now known simply as "Shiatsu", it was officially recognized as a therapy by the Japanese Government in 1964, so distinguishing it from the older form of traditional massage, Anma. The role of shiatsu therapists is to diagnose and treat according to the principles of Oriental medicine.

Chinese origins of shiatsu
The earliest known book of Chinese medicine is called the 'Huang Ti Nei Ching', 'The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine'. In it the legendary Emperor questions his physician, Ch-I Po, about problems of medicine ,and health among his people. In one well known passage Ch'i Po explains that different forms of medicine were developed in different regions according to the prevailing climate and the resulting constitutional problems from which people suffered. Treatment using herbs, needles and heat were attributed to Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western re­gions, but development of physical therapy including massage and breathing exercise was accorded to the people of China's central region. Thus began the long association of massage and manipulative therapy with special physical exercise, breathing techniques, and healing meditation which represented the highest level of Chinese medicine. These came to be known collectively as "Tao Yin", methods for guiding the subtle energies within the body to flow smoothly. Shiatsu is the modern inheritor of this tradition. Chinese medicine was introduced to Japan by a Buddhist monk in the 6th century. The Japanese developed and refined many of its methods to suit their own physiology, temperament, and cli­mate. In particular they developed the manual healing and diagnostic arts, evolving special techniques of abdominal diagnosis, treatment, and ab­dominal massage

Shi (finger) and atsu (push)

You may notice a circularity in the logic of Chinese medicine.
Westerners think of cause and effect as a linear progression of ideas
and events from A, through B, to C.
Eastern philosophy regards events as mutually conditioned, arising together.
They are not seen as distinct from the environment in which they occur.
The background is as important as the fore-ground.
An example is given here to help to clarify the difference.
A headache is not just an event in the head, according to Chinese medicine,
nor is it merely a pain, or something to be stopped without regard for its origins,
nor even treated on the same basis as someone else's headache.
Rather, it is an obstruction of Ki, related to the overall energy patterns in the
whole body of the particular individual, their circumstances, and lifestyle.
Treatment might involve work on the arms or legs as well as (or instead of)
the head and will bring more lasting and satisfactory changes than will
an attempt to block the superficial symptoms.

Shiatsu was born in Japan, but in China was born the flow pushing from one point to the next one,
de Japanese massage is more Yang then the Chinese one
The start of Shiatsu is making a diagnosis, after the diagnosis we start the massage.

(Yang: everything begins in here, for example the father and the mother)
Happy and strong
Dry, thin, little
Bald, hart
Blue eyes
Dry skin
Light, warm
Red, yellow, white
Talkative, always doing something
Long, in front
Outside, superficial
Angry, excited
Brave, manly 
Short menses, not so often, little
Small intestine
Large intestine
Triple header

                    (Yin: here everything is growing )                   
Sad and weak
Wet, large and big
A lot of hair and almost nothing on the body
Dark eyes
Fat skin
Brown, black, blue, violet
Quiet, slow
Small, behind
Inside, deep
Nice, shy
Afraid, female
Long menses, a lot and often
Hart Constrictor



Wrist diagnosis






Wrist diagnosis
It's the diagnosis of this moment.
If you touch the wrist you have to feel all organs with the same energy.
If you feel a organ more that others that's too yang and if you feel an organ bad that's too Yin.
The wrist will tell the therapist which meridians are going to get the massage.

Wrinkles diagnosis
It's the diagnosis of the sickness you have a long time.
You can divide a face in three parts and those needs to have the some dimensions.
The skin has to have the same color.
If you have red spots is Yang, if you have black spots or dark brown that's Yin.
You have to have the right amount of wrinkles for your age.

Tongue diagnosis
It's the diagnosis of the last 3-6 months.
The tongue has to have a layer above, but without a color,
if it's too white you will have problem at your gullet,
if it's too green you will have problems at your liver.

Iris diagnosis
It's the diagnosis you will get in the future.
The iris needs to have mainly the some color without spots.

If you will notice on time that you will get a sickness you could be on time to anticipate it.

Belly diagnosis
It's the diagnosis of the day.
The belly doesn't need to be swollen, no hard spots,
you don't have to notice a separation between plexus and belly.

Back diagnosis
It's the diagnosis of the last 10 years.
You don't have to notice any red spots, for a man you not to many body hair.


Wood is the daughter of the water and the mother of the fire, Wood is the start of the energy.
Wood people are mainly bald and the have and loud voice,
most of the time they have problems with liver, gallbladder and muscles.

Fire is the daughter of the wood and the mother of earth,
her task is to change, give feelings.
Fire people are quickly in love with somebody, but then the feeling is suddenly gone,
they have most the time problems with hart, small intestine and arteries.

Earth is the daughter of fire and the mother of metal,
her task is to give a taste to the feeling.
Earth people are mainly fat and they don't change very quickly,
they have problems with spleen and stomach.

Metal is the daughter of earth and the mother of water, her task is like autumn,
collect everything to use in the difficult days.
Metal lets the energy go and keep a little stock.
Metal people are thin and they have problems with lung, large intestine and skin.

Water is the daughter of metal and the mother of wood, her task is to protect and reproduce
Water people that normally are swollen and they have problems with bladder and kidney.

last updated: 13-05-2019
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