Shiatsu Massage means “Finger Pressure.” It is a Japanese adaptation of Acupressure, a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Yet, its history and development involves both modern Western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine practices. In Japan, Shiatsu has special legal status, recognized as a legitimate medical therapy. To become a fully qualified Shiatsupractor, you must undergo extensive learning, training and testing. Many enter but do not complete the rigorous schooling process. Shiatsu is by far the best-known form of Oriental Massage Therapy. It dates back to traditional Chinese medicine imported over time. Yet, Shiatsu also came to incorporate traditional Japanese folk-type massage as well as Western understanding of the physiology of humans. While early practitioners used acupuncture techniques, they concerned themselves with the physical anatomy and other modern western concepts of physiology. While considered a craft of ancient foundations, the earliest mention of Shiatsu actually only goes back to 1919 and Teripeki Tami’s book on methodology of massage. It is not until 1925 that Toru Namikoshi began to make strides towards a specific system of Shiatsu Massage. He began to operate his clinic that year. He followed this up by founding what was to become the Japan Shiatsu College. This was the Nipon Shiatsu School in Tokyo. He also created the first Shiatsu Association – the Japan Shiatsu Association. Namikoshi westernized the traditional form of Chinese Medicine. He took its framework and based it scientific medical practice. He also simplified the technique. These modifications led to the acceptance of Shiatsu in Japan and worldwide. In fact, in the United States, Shiatsus synonymous with Japanese massage therapy. Shiatsu requires a thorough knowledge of anatomy and physiology. This helps the Shiasupractor utilize his or her skills. Yet, Shiatsu also hearkens back to traditional forms of medicine. Its techniques are based on the ancient concepts of an overall energy system. When a channel becomes blocked, Ki no longer flows. This creates unhealthy bodies and minds. Shiatsu practitioners rely on their sense of touch. They use it to affect the flow of the body’s internal energy force therefore benefitting the overall health of the individual. It is up to the Shiaspractor to remove the blockage of Ki. He or she does so by using pressure. Hands, both the palms and fingers, elbows, feet and knees apply pressure. The practitioner may first sense the problem by running their hands over the client’s body. This allows them to diagnose the health issue. What then follows is a treatment. It involves pressure with the palms of the hand. It also means applying pressure point using the thumbs, a straight thumb application and overall stretches. Firm, rhythmic pressure at specific points for several minutes helps to achieve the objective. The treatment has several benefits. It can promote circulation of the blood and the flow of lymphatic fluid. Shiatsu works on the nervous system to decrease strain and release deep-rooted tension from both the tendons and muscles. It also helps to eliminate waste toxins from the body tissues. Shiatsu stimulates the nervous system and helps mobilize the immune systems of our bodies. This ensures increased capacity for healing and faster recuperating powers. Shiatsu arrived in the States during the 1950s. The version was the pure form originated by Toru Namikoshi. Qualified practitioners began to teach the method of therapeutic massage across the country. The United Kingdom began their first Shiatsu Society in 1981. In 1989, the Asian Organization for Body Work (AOBTA) opened its doors. In 1999, The Canadian Shiatsu Society of British Columbia began operation. These organizations and many more regulate the practice and provide information on Shiatsu practices and practitioners. They are excellent sources of information on schools if you intend to become a Shiatsupractor. There are schools ion Japan, Canada, England and even Spain. The Spanish Shiatsu School, founded by Shigeru Onoda in Madrid refers to their version and vision of Shiatsu as Aze Shiatasu. The practice of Shiatsu in Western Society has produced many different variations on this type of massage therapy. The purists in this field refer to these different schools as “derivatives. There is Zen Shiatsu developed by Shizuto Masanuga. A derivative of Zen Shiatsu is Quantum Shiatsu created by Pauline Sasaki and Cliff Andrews. Tao Shiatsu comes from the mind of the Buddhist Priest Ryukyu Endo while Macrobiotic Shiatsu is the handiwork of the school of Transcendental Meditation (TM). There is 5-Element Shiatsu as well as other hybrids. A good book on the topic as well as specific sites can help you define the often minute differences. It can also help you decide what type of Shiatsu Therapeutic Massage is best for you.