Tuina is the modern name given to the system of remedial massage that developed as one modality of Chinese Medicine along with acupuncture and herbology. There is historical evidence that treatment with massage preceded and laid the foundation for these other skills, and that the practice of bodywork is rightfully the first branch of Chinese medicine. Certainly many of the theories of Chinese Medicine are made manifest for a person practicing massage on a regular basis. The treatment with massage requires no tools other than yourself so the idea that in antiquity this was the first skill to develop is logical.
Today the North American Tang Shou Tao focuses on teaching tuina as the primary method of applying the theoretical and diagnostic skills of Chinese Medicine. There are many reasons for this.
- First, our martial lineage is full of xingyiquan and baguazhang practitioners who excelled at manual medicine; it is part of our mandate to keep alive and cultivate the systems we have inherited in their entirety.
- Second, tuina skills are the easiest of the modalities of Chinese medicine to access; once the skills are learnt all that is required is your own hands.
- Third, the treatment is the least invasive available in the repertoire of Chinese medicine, despite this even relatively inexperienced students can often have very powerful effects using tuina techniques.
- Fourth, the skills and experiences embodied in tuina practice serve to illustrate and make real the theories of Chinese Medicine; the hands–on, tactile experience of the relationship between the tissues and energies of the body serve to ground the practitioner, and illustrate what such things as the balance of Yin and Yang and the relationship of Qi and Blood actually look and feel like.
- Fifth, the physical skills of tuina compliment and complete the skills of internal boxing. tuina is a physically demanding practice and we have found that the martial training is necessary in order for students to learn the proper body mechanics, movement skills, strength and awareness to perform tuina without hurting themselves.
Our tuina system is known as Jin Shou Tuina. Translating to Golden Hand Tuina, this name was chosen out of respect for Master Hsu Hong-Chi who is responsible for transmitting our tuina to us, and particularly for giving it the focus it has on combining xingyi skills and medical skills. Master Hsu was renowned in Taiwan for his tuina skill to such an extent that the people who came to him for treatment called him Jin Shou.
The North American Tang Shou Tao tuina curriculum includes basic hand techniques, revival and emergency medicine techniques, and a whole body sequence. Study and practice of each of these elements of the program will enable students to understand how therapeutic massage may be implemented in treating various syndromes recognized in Chinese Medicine. Notably, skills are developed to address the aches, pains, stresses, and minor injuries that accompany everyday life and gongfu training. Students who have demonstrated continued devotion to their gongfu and medicine practice will have the opportunity to study advanced levels of tuina which include more advanced manipulations and treatment protocols used for common health complaints.
Our Association currently is able to provide dedicated students with certification in Jin Shou Tui Na through the American Organisation of Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA), a national professional organization. We also have programs running at several acupuncture schools around the United States and hope in the near future to be able to offer Tang Shou Tao specific documentation that will enable students to sit for the NCCAOM Asian Bodywork Therapy exam and receive national certification.