A History of Eastern Medicine and the Development of Tao Shiatsu

The practice of Shiatsu has its roots in an ancient Chinese art called Doin Ankyo. What could be considered the yin and yang aspects of Doin Ankyo eventually evolved into chi gong and modern Anma (massage). Doin refers to the techniques of drawing ki energy in and circulating it throughout the body.

Doin Ankyo

The practice of Shiatsu has its roots in an ancient Chinese art called Doin Ankyo. What could be considered the yin and yang aspects of Doin Ankyo eventually evolved into chi gong and modern Anma (massage). Doin refers to the techniques of drawing ki energy in and circulating it throughout the body. Ankyo refers to sending out ki through manual therapy via pressure and manipulation. Doin was originally a Taoist method created from the combination of Indian yoga and Taoism. It eventually developed into three distinct disciplines: meditation, ki (energy cultivation) exercises and martial artistry. Eastern medicine’s various branches, including moxibustion and acupuncture, were originally founded upon the practices and philosophies of Doin Ankyo.

The Birth of Shiatsu Therapy

Modern day shiatsu developed during the Taisho period (1912 – 1925) when practitioners sought to recapture the essence and mind/body effectiveness of manual therapy. These practitioners primarily used the pressure method of Anma, but also made skilful use of other practices such as psychotherapy to add effectiveness. Eventually this treatment came to be called “shiatsu” after the publication of Tenpeki Tami’s “Shiatsu Ho” (Shiatsu Method) in 1919. Later, Tokujiro Namikoshi author of “Do it Yourself, 3 Minute Shiatsu,” which became a national bestseller, popularized Shiatsu with his frequent television appearances and his catch phrase “All you have to do is press,” but the efficacy of Shiatsu as a medical treatment declined.

Masunaga’s Zen Shiatsu

Shizuto Masunaga was born into a family of Shiatsu practitioners. After studying psychology at university he entered the field of Shiatsu and, while continuing his readings of classical texts, researched the practical clinical aspects of meridians and Shiatsu. Master Masunaga differed from other researchers of meridians. While some tried to adapt acupuncture points and meridians directly to clinical Shiatsu practice, Masunaga worked empirically, seeking to understand and systematically map patient responses to clinical treatment. Thus his understanding of the ancient classics was always derived from actual clinical practice. Master Masunaga established the first Shiatsu system based on 12 Meridians throughout the body and the original diagnosis system using abdominal (hara) palpation. His other contributions include developing a system of stable and continuous “supporting pressure” using both elbows and knees in this way he avoided the problem of over-exertion of the thumbs. (Until this time, Shiatsu was mainly done with thumbs and over exertion frequently occurred). His methods also allow practitioners to empathetically recognize meridians. (meridians can only be recognized this way).

The Formation of Tao Shiatsu

Any living healing form must evolve to respond to the continually changing needs humanity. With the dawning of the 21st century, it became clear that Shiatsu was in need of a revolutionary change. First of all, the very meridians in human beings had undergone a distinct change since Master Masunaga’s time. Since the mid-eighties, jaki (ki toxin) in humans has gone much deeper into the body. As a result, the twelve meridians and methods outlined by Masunaga are no longer sufficient (by themselves) to treat patients. Ryokyu Endo, the founder of Tao Shiatsu, was a direct student of Master Masunaga. Over many years of clinical research he discovered previously unrecognised meridians and subsequently developed new treatment methods and a unique teaching system based in the Ki Method. By sincerely following the curriculum of the “Five Elements of Tao Shiatsu” anyone can learn to give truly effective treatment. Tao Shiatsu techniques offer great medicinal benefits and allow practitioners to be effective without strenuous effort. We are experiencing the birth of a manual therapy that is responding to the needs of the current age and at the same time, is bringing about a renaissance of the ancient techniques of Doin Ankyo as the core of Oriental Medicine.