Unique among UK Shiatsu Schools Zen School of Shiatsu UK




Background       The debate was inspired by a proposal at the Zen School Teacher meeting on 30th November 2006

"to make *optional the study of Masunaga's extended meridian system."

A vote was adjourned pending further discussion.

The mass debating over Masunaga generated such a wave of apathy unique in the annals of shiatsu that the proposal was withdrawn at the subsequent meeting on 19th April 2007. For the record and in recognition of their contribution, the views of the few interested enough to make them known are preserved below.

Kris Deva North, Founding Principal and Master of the Zen School, Founder Member of the Zen Shiatsu Society and author of 'finding Spirit in Zen Shiatsu':  
My own position, for the record, is that I have never used a masunaga extension in a shiatsu treatment, although I have hitherto conscientiously taught all aspects of the system.

I have no conviction that the extensions are necessary, useful, or even helpful, and often the opposite, but neither do I object to anyone using them.  I believe them to be no more or less effective than "random touch" as therapy (see note/link* below), irrelevant for the study of shiatsu and contrary to a zen approach to shiatsu.

Wataru Ohashi, co-author with Masunaga of "Zen" Shiatsu or how to harmonise yin and yang for better health", does not teach them or use them.

Takeo Suzuki, another Masunaga long-time student, with whom I trained for a brief period in Tokyo, has evolved his own meridian system based on zones.

Ryoku Endo, (six months Masunaga student,) considers them redundant (I have not trained with him myself but get the impression from his website that he actually considers most of the Masunaga system redundant).

*Note: random touch<>random needling:
Acupuncture and Sham effective for lower back pain
According to a German study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, "real" Acupuncture and "minimal" or "sham" Acupuncture produce statistical similar results in relieving lower back pain. Both were rather effective in reducing pain by over 20% more than placebo, but were not different from each other even after 6 month follow up.

Sue Hix, Founding Principal of the Rosewell Shiatsu Centre, Founder Member of the Zen Shiatsu Society and author of 'Fourteen Classical Meridian Charts': 
Well I do tend to agree with North's view – I think we teach them out of habit – I wonder also if for some people they get in the way of developing depth to their energy sensitivity studies – cause they have more head/technical to learn?

Spencer Grossmith, Shiatsu Practitioner, Member of the Zen Shiatsu Society: 
Masunaga extensions should be optional because they're only the opinion of one bloke/school.

Nicholas Hall, Shiatsu Student, Member of the Zen Shiatsu Society: 
I am an Int.Dipper and started Shiatsu in March last year; I am in the process of acquiring knowledge experience of my final meridian & extension - kidney to be exact. Whilst some extensions feel very natural and a true extension of a meridian when treating or indeed when being treated, others to me I feel (so far in my experience) do not. Thousands of years of knowledge and experience of thousands of practitioners moved/bent to fit in Masunaga's extension map has never completely rung true for me. My examples of this include the lung extension which feels like a true extension (in particular the chest connection), whereas kidney (the arm - experienced yesterday) - I am not convinced. I do very much align myself with his psychological aspects of the system though naturally this does not seem to have to relate to a meridian extension only. Clearly Masunaga's theory in this area can be applied to a classical meridian map / system so long as one still takes TCM theory into account and recognises the differences. Having come so far in studying I think however to remove altogether the extension system would be wrong and making the system an optional study would be a great freedom. It could be made optional for the diploma though compulsory for the licence. Instead of the Masunaga systen one could gain (once there are teachers to do so) further 5 elements knowledge. Especially after a case study in the tutorial I am left hungry or just plain curious on 5 element practice to back up the fantastic theory I have gained at the school - and studying the reading list. This said I learn the extension right after the classical when studying a meridian - as in fact per Carola Beresford-Cooke's book layout - though it does add an additional layer of learning which, taking into account my previous paragrah, could be left until a deeper more technical level of shiatsu is reached - ie the license. This is all subjective of course though I wanted to express my view. Whatever fate befalls the system, I have read up on and practised the whole meridian range - changing it now does not create less work to achieve my diploma!

Ian Ayre, Shiatsu Practitioner: 
(this is not meant to offend anyone) Not for Teachers or trainee teachers My idea is one should train in something Japanese for at least 7-8 years even if it's origami. Other than Shiatsu (personally I don't know origami) Don't try to understand the Japanese idiom and approach to Zen. Harmonize with it, familiarize - everyone is different. The Japanese are more than rewarding if you don't give up! You can burn the books but not the knowledge. It may not manifest many material goods. What you will learn will be compatable with many things. Patience being one! Usually through repetition until your not doing it. No Ego. The way, dealing with injury and pain, how to recycle the good stuff. Although all avenues must be explored, this is also part of Shiatsu. As is the extension of meridians. I found through Japanese Zazen practices - 'Joriki' - a Zen state where one can focus suddenly without having to gather ones wits. (It can be a sudden jolt, quite a trip so it is worth trying some meditation to balance the effect you may have on the public/white coats) As stress changes in our society so does the meridian. This is how I was taught to understand the extension meridians. Sometimes the meridian goes right through the leg! For me there is some truth in what the extension meridians are. When I was learning/being taught academic shiatsu I found some people were 'at sea'. Or took a rigid stance. I expected more then remembered it's not a Budo class! Which put me on a passive sleepy learning curve. Me take long long time.. From my little bit of experience the Large intestine and Lung extension works, and the other leg extensions. The arm meridians are more subtle. The fingers could well be true. My Aikido Sensie is quite Zen and very hands on (now in his 70's). He has a different approachto arm meridians which I wouldn't advise in a Shiatsu treatment. Being able to break fall allowing the ki to flow helps. This takes about One year regular training. If you can wrestle then less time. Remember this is a game not a competition! Giving and receiving. How to recycle energy! Check out Man Tak Chia literature for harmonizing if above is all feels too much. Not everyone wants to be in a Dojo at 82.... As the saying goes: If you can't sing, whistle or wear a big hat! But please don't expect us musical ones to bend our ear out for too long. Some Japanese singing can be a bit trying, Karaoke is very popular everywhere very sweet! Take away the sound track put in real people playing the instruments and it becomes a different animal.. So the change in stress and meridian emphasis. Hard core - Throw out all the furniture ! Your body harmonizes with the floor. There is no where to fall or drop things. The Japanese I love to training with are fortunate in that they have both lifestyles... using them according to the needs life brings. You meridian awareness will not just be a few hours a week in a class, Especially in the legs. There is a difference between embracing the change to a better life style and relativily chemical free usage. To overloading on it, then telling everyone what to do. Competitive! Parents could benefit by taking a closer look in the mirror as their nepotism does affect all of us and our progress - An example of the competitive mind going bonkers!! When worrying about their children. Also one could say the failing of the Chinese family system. 'If you marry that person your out'! It happens in all cultures. The meridians moving position. Do we want a concrete dessert of housing? I don't. With a true master there is no great emphasis on who they are or what they do during their life. Like Atheists there are no epitaphs, live and let live. As with Lao Tzu, we are not sure, he or she is probably more than one author working on a theme. As this debate on meridians. The emphasis on more Chinese - Indian - Asian exotic mixes lacks the 'clarity' for Shiatsu. The mix attacts people especially in the 21st century. Although the mix method is very pleasing and informative, giving depth for those of us who need it. If you would like to know where I think the spirit of British Shiatsu grew from read http://www.solablu.co.uk Read from: Ian spent his formative years...... Instruction from students affiliates of, or by - Masunaga Sensie - Hiroyuki Aoki (Shintaido Bojutsu) - Ryokyu Endo should have clarity. Quick, easy and seamless. Don't even think about it! As mentioned earlier I had already been training with the Japanese for me easy like receiving pure water. I don't think it is necessary to include all extensions on the assessments. However Zen Shiatsuka should be made aware of them. How can they not be? There's a book in all of us but do we really want to read it. (the publishers lament) Love n peace, do have lots of fun when ever you can. Good food clean water. Quit building concreting on the green stuff. Let abundance fall on us. The sun is shining! So don't stare at it...

Philip Smith, Shiatsu Student: 
To me it is better to teach all of a subject, then the students can have the option to drop it at a later date.

Jaclyn Snyders, Shiatsu Student, Member of Zen Shiatsu Society: 
I read an interesting article about Shiatsu on a website with a header 'Screwed-up Medical Misfortunes' and I was drawn to a line in the article which I thought appropriate to remember at this meridian-theory-junction we now face. In a synopsis of Zen Shiatsu the author mentioned something I remember learning at CPS-level: "To help the client reach the aforementioned state of balance, the therapist must be in a relaxed meditative state. The practitioner must be skilled at detecting the source of problems, and the body's responses to treatment (Prescott). Clients ideally lay on a mat on the floor and wear light clothing. Therapists do not use oils or lotions because rather than sliding up and down or in a circular motion, pressure is applied to the entire body on the meridians (Dharmananda, 2002)" When true connection between receiver and giver has been established - no matter where the giver is on the body, no matter what meridian, the receiver's entire being feels supported. And I would say that if, for example, the LU classical meridian was treated in the upper body and the lower body was treated with the 'no-mind' approach we practice, if the LU was still kyo in the legs, we'd be called there, regardless of whether we knew where it was located. I too feel the immense connection of, for example, LU extension in the leg when being treated. And it's value in incorporating the entire body when only treating one meridian should never be overlooked. I've also found extensions to be a great diagnostic tool in certain stretches. Perhaps this relevance demands that they still be taught, in a broader sense, throughout training eg: I distinctly remember the gracilis muscle in the leg due to it's relevance in locating the LV meridian. So too should the knowledge, however broad, of some extensions always be integrated into lessons.