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What is Asian Bodywork Therapy?

Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) is the treatment of the human body/mind/spirit, including the electromagnetic or energetic field which surrounds, infuses and brings that body to life, by using pressure and/or manipulation. Asian Bodywork is based upon Chinese Medical principles for assessing and evaluating the body's energetic system. It uses traditional Asian techniques and treatment strategies to primarily affect and balance the energetic system for the purpose of treating the human body, emotions, mind, energy field and spirit for the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health.

The modalities of Asian Bodywork Therapy include:- see also our main page on , , , , see also our main page on , , , , , , , , , , .



Acupressure is a system of balancing the body's energy by applying pressure to specific acupoints to release tension and increase circulation. The many hands-on methods of stimulating the acupressure points can strengthen weaknesses, relieve common ailments, prevent health disorders and restore the body's vital life force.

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Amma; Derived from "Anma" in China, classic Korean Asian bodywork is called Amma. The name "Am-ma" literally translates to "push-pull." Amma is a specialized form of skilled (somatic) touch therapy that combines deep tissue bodywork with the application of pressure, friction, and touch to specific acu-points, superficial primary and tendino-muscle energy channels, muscles, ligaments, and joints. It is rooted in the fundamental principles of Chinese Medicine, focusing on the balance and movement of Qi (energy) within the body. The techniques of Amma aim to remove blockages and free the flow of Qi in the body - restoring, promoting, and maintaining optimum health. Amma practitioners are also trained the principles of wholistic nutrition and eastern dietary principles.

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AMMA Therapy®

AMMA Therapy® is a highly refined and complex system of bodywork therapy utilizing techniques and treatment strategies combining the use of Chinese Medicine principles for assessing and evaluating general imbalances in the energetic system and a Western approach to organ dysfunctions. AMMA Therapy® restores, promotes and maintains optimum health through the treatment of the physical body, the bio-energy, and the emotions, which reflect and are bound into the neuromuscular system. AMMA Therapy® has proven to be an effective healing modality used to treat a wide range of medical conditions. The treatment includes the use of dietary therapy, , nutritional supplements, and the external application of herbal preparations. This method was created by Tina Sohn.

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Chi Nei Tsang

Chi Nei Tsang is an entire system of Chinese deep healing that makes use of the energy flow of the five major systems in the body: vascular, lymphatic, nervous, tendon/muscle, and acupuncture meridians. With this practice one is able to increase the energy flow to specific organs through massaging a series of points in the navel area. Chi Nei Tsang frees the energy blockages in the navel and then guides the healing light energy into other parts of the body. Chi Nei Tsang was brought to America by Master Mantak Chia.

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Five Element Shiatsu

Five Element Shiatsu; The primary emphasis of Five Element is to identify a pattern of disharmony through use of the four pillars of examinations and to harmonize that pattern with an appropriate treatment plan. Hands-on techniques and preferences for assessment varies with the practitioner, depending on their individual background and training. The radial pulse usually provides the most critical and detailed information. Palpation of the back and/or abdomen and a detailed verbal history serve to confirm the assessment. Considerations of the client's lifestyle, emotional, and psychological factors are all considered important. Although this approach uses the paradigm of the five elements to tonify, sedate, or control patterns of disharmony, practitioners of this style also consider hot or cold and internal or external symptoms and signs.

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Integrative Eclectic Shiatsu

Integrative Eclectic Shiatsu; utilizes Japanese Shiatsu techniques, Chinese Medicine theory and Western methods of soft tissue manipulation. Dietary and herbal methods are also included to create a comprehensive integrated treatment method.

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Japanese Shiatsu

Japanese Shiatsu (see also ); literally means finger (Shi) pressure (Atsu) and although Shiatsu is primarily pressure, usually applied with the thumbs along the meridian lines, extensive soft tissue manipulation and both active and passive exercise and stretching may be part of the treatments. Extensive use of cutaneovisceral reflexes in the abdomen and on the back are also characteristics of Shiatsu. The emphasis of Shiatsu is the treatment of the whole meridian; however, effective points are also used. The therapist assesses the condition of the patient's body as treatment progresses. Therapy and diagnosis are one.

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Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure®

Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure®; Jin Shin Do® combines gentle yet deep finger pressure on acupoints with simple body focusing techniques to help release physical and emotional tension. It promotes a pleasurable trance state during which the recipients can get in touch with their body and access feelings or emotions related to their physical condition. This body-mind approach is a unique synthesis of a traditional Japanese acupressure technique, classical Chinese acupuncture theory, Taoist philosophy, breathing methods, and Reichian segmental theory. Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure® was developed by Iona Marsaa Teeguarden, Psychotherapist.

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Jin Shou Tuina™

Jin Shou Tuina™ is the method of tuina practiced and taught by the North American Tang Shou Tao Association (NATSTA). Diagnosis and treatment are based in the tenets of Traditional Chinese medicine. Manual therapy techniques range from very soft energetic work, to deep and vigorous manipulation to appropriately affect soft tissue, structural alignment and the meridian systems. Adjunctive therapies such as moxibustion, cupping and external herbal applications are also utilized as needed. Jin Shou Tuina developed out of the internal martial art traditions of China and personal development through commitment to gong fu physical culture is seen as fundamental to the process of becoming an adept practitioner.

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Macrobiotic Shiatsu

Macrobiotic Shiatsu; Founded by Shizuko Yamamoto and based on George Ohsawa's philosophy that each individual is an integral part of nature, Macrobiotic Shiatsu supports a natural lifestyle and heightened instincts for improving health. Assessments are through visual, verbal, and touch techniques (including pulses) and the Five Transformations.
Treatment involves non-invasive touch and pressure using hand and barefoot techniques and stretches to facilitate the flow of Qi and to strengthen the body-mind. Dietary guidance, medicinal plant foods, breathing techniques and home remedies are emphasized. Corrective exercises, postural rebalancing, palm healing, self-shiatsu, and Qigong are included in Macrobiotic Shiatsu.

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Nuad Bo 'Rarn

Nuad Bo 'Rarn (Traditional Thai Bodywork) is the traditional Thai medical bodywork form. Thai bodywork is based upon an integration of Indian Buddhist medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Thai bodywork utilizes hand techniques and a unique approach to passive movement and stretching in order to open up the veins or energy passages and release chronic tension from the body. Nuad Bo Rarn incorporates a spiritual dimension in its gentle and focused approach to ABT.

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Shiatsu Anma Therapy

Shiatsu Anma Therapy utilizes a unique blending of two of the most popular Asian bodywork forms practiced in Japan. Dr. Kaneko introduces traditional Anma Therapy® based on the energetic systems of Traditional Chinese Medicine in long form and contemporary pressure therapy which is based on neuro-musculoskeletal system in short form. Ampuku, abdominal bodywork therapy, is another foundation in his school.

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Tuina is a method of Chinese bodywork characterized by the smooth gliding or rolling movements of the hands and arms. Through Tui (push) and na (grasp), kneading, pressing, rolling, shaking, and stretching of the body, acupoints are opened and qi flow is realigned in the musculo-tendon meridians. Tuina techniques are used to treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal and internal organ disorders by opening stagnant meridian channels and encouraging the flow of qi into deficient areas. Tuina utilizes Chinese Medicine theory in assessing energetic and functional disorders. In addition, the use of external herbal medicines and therapeutic exercise is also included.

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Zen Shiatsu

Zen Shiatsu is characterized by the theory of Kyo-Jitsu, its physical and psychological manifestations, and its application to abdominal (Hara) diagnosis. Zen Shiatsu theory is based on an extended meridian system that includes, as well as expands, the location of the traditional acupuncture meridians. The focus of a Zen Shiatsu session is on the use of meridian lines rather than on specific points. In addition, Zen Shiatsu does not adhere to a fixed sequence or set of methods that are applied to all similar client needs. It utilizes appropriate methods for the unique pattern of each individual. Zen Shiatsu was developed by Shizuto Masunaga.

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Medical Qigong

Medical Qigong, an ancient branch of Chinese Medicine, has existed for several thousand years. Like Acupuncture and Tuina therapies, Medical Qigong is based on meridian and point theory, as well as ancient Chinese philosophy. Medical Qigong refers to a wide series of therapeutic methods, including but not limited to: breath training, psychosomatic exercises, meditation, and guided visualization that direct the practitioners to create a place of health and balance in their clients. Medical Qigong practitioners are trained in Qi transference and replenishment to be used as a healing art different from self-Qigong exercises taught for personal use.

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My thanks to AOBTA for this introduction (ed.)

About the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA®)

The AOBTA was formed in 1989 with the coming together of a number of associations, which represented individual disciplines of Asian Bodywork Therapy. Qualification for membership varies with the type and level of membership sought. Summarily AOBTA requires documentation of training which conforms to its curriculum requirements. The AOBTA currently has about 1,500 active members in the U.S. and abroad. Member benefits include optional, low-cost professional liability insurance, disability insurance, a national membership newsletter, national and regional workshops, and a practitioner referral service through national headquarters and the internet.

AOBTA® Mission Statement

The American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA) is a professional membership organization which promotes Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) and its practitioners while honoring a diversity of disciplines. AOBTA serves its community of members by supporting appropriate credentialing, defining scope of practice and educational standards, and providing resources for training, professional development, and networking. AOBTA advocates public policy to protect its members. AOBTA also promotes public education on the benefits, ethics, and principles of ABT.

The American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia is a national not-for-profit professional association of practitioners of bodywork therapies of Asia.

All forms that are recognized by AOBTA originally had their roots in China. Over the centuries China, Japan, Thailand, Korea and more recently, North America and Europe have changed and evolved these forms into separate and distinct modalities. The AOBTA accepts all forms of Asian Bodywork Therapy that meet our professional curriculum standards. The following have AOBTA definitions and recognition.

  1. Acupressure
  2. Amma
  3. AMMA Therapy®
  4. Chi Nei Tsang
  5. Five Element Shiatsu
  6. Integrative Eclectic Shiatsu
  7. Japanese Shiatsu
  8. Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure®
  9. Jin Shou Tuina™
  10. Macrobiotic Shiatsu
  11. Medical Qigong
  12. Nuad Bo 'Rarn (Traditional Thai Bodywork)
  13. Shiatsu Anma Therapy
  14. Tuina
  15. Zen Shiatsu


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