Written by Kiyoshi Ikenaga, Shiatsupractor®, Translated by Noriko Nishie Edited by Judy Thompson
The founder of Shiatsu Therapy, Tokujiro Namikoshi Sensei (1905 - 2000) stated that the essence of Shiatsu Therapy is “Diagnosis and Therapy Combined”. Literally, this means “Teate” as well as “Shin-Ryo” in Shiatsu Therapy.
The essence is the most important point to pass down to future generations in Japan . It is also important to distinguish the original Shiatsu when introducing it around the world to newcomers to Shiatsu Therapy.
In the “Theory and Practice of Shiatsu”, published in 1957, the definition of shiatsu states “Shiatsu technique refers to the use of fingers and the palm of one’s hands to apply pressure to particular sections on the surface of the body for the purpose of correcting the imbalances of the body and for maintaining and promoting health. It is also a method contributing to the healing of specific illnesses. It is clearly stated that one’s fingers, mainly thumbs, and palms are used to apply pressure (no rubbing or stroking) with no use of elbows, feet and legs. (no “bony” parts)
The book also states that Shiatsu Therapy does not require the use of any devices such as needles used in acupuncture. In each specific region on the surface of the body there are definite Shiatsu pressure points (tsubo) which are different from Chinese “Meridian points” used in acupuncture and moxibustion.
The Shiatsu pressure points are determined by irregularities, abnormalities or imbalances of the body such as referred pain in the anatomical and physiological perspective. Consequently, in order to understand the essence of Shiatsu Therapy, there are two principle concepts. First of all, a treatment is performed using only the thumbs, fingers and palms. Secondly, one should understand Tsubo theory, or the pathological reflex points. Only with a full understanding of these two principle concepts can one bring “Shin-Ryo’s” capabilities into full play. To apply pressure to the correct Shiatsu points with one’s fingers and palms is called “Kihon-Shiatsu”.
In the final analysis, the essence of Shiatsu means “Kihon-Shiatsu”. It leads us to a conclusion that “Kihon” means “the essence”, as well. This concept constantly reminds Shiatsu practitioners of the importance of practicing the basics over and over during the time spent in shiatsu school.
Now, what is “Shin-Ryo” in Shiatsu Therapy? In Western medicine as well as Chinese medicine, the “treatment” is done following the “diagnosis”. In other words, the diagnosis and the treatment are separate actions. But “Shin-Ryo” is the combining of diagnosis and treatment. In shiatsu Therapy, we can say that the treatment itself, encompassing the two, is “diagnosis and therapy combined”.
This means it is possible to do a shiatsu treatment without a preliminary diagnosis and it is most unlikely that there is no cure for an unknown illness unless there are obvious contraindications to treatment. Shiatsu therapy can treat any illness including sicknesses or symptoms of unknown origin. To apply “Kihon-Shiatsu” correctly leads to proper “Shin-Rryo”. It should result in improvement of symptoms since the immune system will be improved. Incidentally, to diagnose with the hands is called “shokushin” in Western medicine and “setsu-shin” in Chinese medicine. These are different from the “Shin-Ryo” of Shiatsu Therapy because these are actions resulting only in a diagnosis and are based on their individual theories.
To stimulate “Meridian points” in Chinese medicine using thumbs and elbows instead of a needle or moxacautery is called acupressure in North America. The concept of “Diagnosis and Therapy combined” does not exist within the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine upon which acupressure is based.
Acquiring the skills implied by the slogan, “Diagnosis and Therapy combined”, namely “Shin-Ryo”, in Shiatsu Therapy, is the ultimate goal which is accomplished by an extensive educational foundation and considerable hands-on experience with a large number of patients.
Only Shiatsupractors® acquire their distinguished skills through this unique combination of education and experience.