In 1988 I studied and became a practitioner of Zen Shiatsu after studying with David Sergel in Boston. This method of body work was developed by Shizuto Masunaga of Japan. Zen Shiatsu, also known as Masunaga Therapy, is a form of meridian shiatsu. A difference between Masunaga’s Zen shiatsu and earlier forms of shiatsu is that Zen Shiatsu uses not only thumbs and palms but also fists, elbows, and knees. Often the massage table is folded down the ground so the body weight of the practitioner can be use in the pressure.
The primary precept of Zen Shiatsu is the importance of remaining in a Zen-like, present state when practicing shiatsu; nourishing weak , deficient or kyo areas and dispersing excess, tight or jitsu areas; using two-handed technique to better feel the flow of qi (life force); working from the hara (belly), which is the body’s energy center; and using perpendicular pressure to access the qi.
With this type of massage the person leaves their clothes on and the acupuncture meridians are stretched and pressure is giving successively down the meridian. The two hands on the body move alternately, giving an energetic connection between both part of the body that are receiving pressure. This is my favorite form of body work.