Travelling in a fellow Shiatsu practitioner’s car, Dominique Nugier, from Toulouse to Bas en Basset in the Auvergne, a journey of some 6 hours, to attend a 4 day Shiatsu workshop, I wasn’t quite sure what I was letting myself in for. This turned out to be one of the best pedagogic experiences of my life. Of course when you are a professional and an adult, the learning process becomes easier because you want to be there, but to be totally engrossed and fully actualised is a credit to the teacher and master Masanori Okamoto from the Kurétaké Shiatsu School, Tokyo Japan and of course helped and aided by my Shiatsu Professor from Toulouse Daniel Menini, who ably translated the proceedings, wow what an experience.
There are many styles of Shiatsu, which have developed over the decades; the one that seems to have gained most ground in recent years is Masunaga. I trained in the NamikoshiSchool (traditional Japanese Shiatsu) and am very happy with my chosen school. Having said this, always one for learning new techniques I have also studied Masunaga with Reginé Gastou in Toulouse and Teresa Hadland from Towster in the UK and have learnt many new techniques that have proved to be of benefit, especially to those people suffering from bad backs and tension built up over many years of bad posture and stress.
Kurétaké Shiatsu is a very precise method working on the muscles and skeleton to relieve tension and disperse energetic blockages in the body. It is very exact in a number of details and perhaps one of the most important is the position adopted by the practitioner. This is well explained in the book Précis de Shiatsu Kurétaké by Masanori Okamoto and translated from the Japanese by Daniel Menini into French. The other principle is in its simplicity and how it uses techniques that work with the body’s systems making is easier for the practitioner to access the body and more pleasurable for the client to receive.
As a Shiatsu practitioner and Yoga Teacher, I am all too aware of the energetic transfer that takes place between practitioner and client. From this perspective (especially given my Yoga background), I believe that it is important to keep your own energy pathways pure to maximise the benefit to the client. This is done by eating a vegetarian diet, not smoking or drinking alcohol and practising sport and energetic arts like Tai Chi. We can’t see energy but we can certainly feel it. We know when someone comes into our presence whether we can connect with that person or not, someone who carries positive energies around with them attracts other positive energies and at the same time helps transform negative energies. Kurétaké works to establish this positive energetic connection between practitioner and client.
Kurétaké Shiatsu actually enables the practitioner to develop positive energies and transfer these during a Shiatsu session to the client. One problem always for the practitioners of Shiatsu is that of a stressed and fatigued body. Kurétaké is a very precise form of postures and movement that benefits both the practitioner and client during a Shiatsu session. If a practitioner is tired and physically stressed then they will not be at their best, Kurétaké overcomes this.
This of course will be of great interest to a practitioner perhaps more so than the client; however, the client can be assured that a practitioner practicing Kurétaké will be providing the best possible and professional treatment.
The smooth and correct transfer of force is called Kata and is enabled through
- Correct posture of the practitioner
- the posture of both the client and the practitioner
- the transfer and amplification of the pressure of body weight from practitioner to client
This is achieved by adopting the 5 principles for practicing Shiatsu without stress:
- Using the principle of leverage and the reaction of force by being grounded with a firm contact with the floor (earth energies);
- Adopting a posture without constraint for the lumber region of the back and ensuring the shoulders are relaxed and maintained at the same level;
- Adopting a posture that allows for the smooth and stable application of pressure throughout
- Keeping to a minimum the movement of transfer of pressure from practitioner to client; and lastly
- Not bending forward which immobilises the movement of the legs.
Applying the 5 principles in your practice of Shiatsu will reduce the pressure and stress of giving a Shiatsu; increase the efficacy of the Shiatsu by respecting the structure and rhythm of the skeleton and following natural movement of the muscles. These principles, of course are explained in greater depth in Masanori’s book: Précis de Shiatsu Kurétaké.