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Keiraku Shiatsu

経絡指圧

Shizuto Masunaga developed Keiraku Shiatsu, based on Chinese Medicine classics and Meridian theories. Keiraku Shiatsu is the origin of what is now called Zen Shiatsu in the West. 

Shizuto Masunaga developed Keiraku Shiatsu, based on Chinese Medicine classics and Meridian theories. Keiraku Shiatsu is the origin of what is now called Zen Shiatsu in the West. However, Keiraku Shiatsu and Zen Shiatsu are very different. Shiatsu practitioners and teachers in the West have modified (or even misinterpreted) the Masunaga's original teachings to adapt and develop into their styles, which is not necessarily bad. But they have become a completely different form.

Masunaga, a former psychology professor who studied Shiatsu directly from Namikoshi at the Japan Shiatsu College, combined his understanding of western psychology with oriental medicine. Based on the Chinese Medicine classics, bioscience and psychology, combined with his clinical experiences, Masunaga developed his theory and practices of Keiraku Shiatsu. Keiraku Shiatsu is also called Iokai Shiatsu, as Iokai is the name of the institute Masunaga founded.

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Keiraku/Meridian Therapy 

Keiraku means “meridian,” an energy channel, which runs all over the body just below the skin (between the skin and muscles). What flows through these meridians is called Ki in Japanese and Qi in Chinese. It is the life force or vital energy that governs all physiological, mental and emotional functions. ​

Each meridian has a close relation to a corresponding internal Organ, which gives the meridian its name, such as Heart, Spleen, and Kidneys. Each of the meridians is not only related to the physiological function of its Organ, but it also has a psychological, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspect that controls and influences all the activities of living human beings. (Note that the Organ functions in Chinese Medicine are different from the organs in western medicine terms.)

Keiraku Shiatsu is the hands-on therapy that helps heal and prevent ailment, correct imbalances, and promote health by stimulating the meridians' proper energy flow.

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Vertical, sustained and supportive pressure

Although the practitioner of Keiraku Shiatsu uses various hands-on techniques, the acupressure direction is always vertical. According to Masunaga, vertical pressure in Keiraku Shiatsu is similar to the force of gravity, atmospheric, and water pressure present in the natural environment; therefore, is the most healing to a living body. Deep vertical acupressure can efficiently transmit through the muscle, fat, and connective tissue and stimulate the meridians' Internal Organs.

 

Three principles of acupressure in Keiraku Shiatsu: 

  • Vertical pressure

  • Sustained pressure (3-7seconds or 1 to 2 breaths per pressure)

  • Supported pressure (the practitioner never relies on their muscle strength to apply pressure but by leaning on the receiver using their own body weight)

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Acupuncture old book

Diagnosis and treatment of Kyo/Deficiency and Jitsu/Excess ​

In Masunaga's theory, all symptoms are diagnosed as either Jitsu (excess) or Kyo (lack/emptiness) in the meridians. The practitioner uses various hands-on techniques to transfer the excessive Ki/energy (Jitsu), to the area (meridian) that is weak or lacking in Ki (Kyo). 

Jitsu/Excess and Kyo/Deficiency can be described as below:

  • Jitsu 実 - fullness, tension, bunched-up, heat, knot, bulging musculature, buzzy, resistance when pressed

  • Kyo 虚 - lack, emptiness, hollow-feeling, weak musculature, quiet, no resistance when pressure

To identify Kyo/Deficiency and Jitsu/Excess, the practitioner feels the receiver's Ki by palpating the surface of the receiver’s body, where the meridians run, also their back and abdomen(Back and Hara diagnosis). 

Both Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Keiraku Shiatsu have systematic pattern differentiations for treating Excess and Deficiencies. For effective treatment, this pattern differentiation is the key to selecting points or meridians, and the techniques used for treatment (tonification or sedation).

 

The Shiatsu practitioner uses a manual technique to disperse Jitsu/Excess and tonify Kyo/Deficiency by transferring the excessive Qi to the deficient area. In this way, the tension and tightness in the Jitsu area can relax and the weak and flaccid area can regain normal function and resilience. Usually, diagnosis and treatment take place simultaneously. Deeper pressure and more extended holding are required to reach the empty deficient area. Stimulating and quicker pressure and movement is applied to disperse excess Qi in Jitsu area. By holding Kyo/Deficient area with one hand (Yin/mother-hand) and Jitsu/Excess with the other (working/active hand) simultaneously, Kyo and Jitsu can establish a connection and resonate each other; thus, excess Qi of Jitsu transfers to Kyo area (two-hands technique). The practitioner incorporates various stretches to open specific meridians, or to disperse the excess in the meridians.

By applying the right level of pressure along the meridians, the distortion is corrected. Thus, the receiver goes back to a healthy, balanced state.

 

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