The Martial Arts / Massage Connection by Frank Carone
Healing wounds is a must, Life demands we adapt. Wounded warriors, for instance, must fight on to the next battle despite injury. Over the years of sustained conflict, the warriors/priests cultures of Asia simultaneously developed Healing Arts and the Martial Arts. In China, Japan, and elsewhere in Asia the principles of Non Action(mindful emptiness) and YIN/YANG were applied to massage as well as weaponry and empty handed combat. Techniques that soothed muscle pain, increase performance, set bones, encouraged general health were developed. SUIKODO/SHIATSU ( what I practice at METAbodyWORKS ) is a descendant of ANMO, a Chinese form of Massage, TUI NA, developed along with utilization of herbs, moxibustion, implements and acupuncture that traveled to Japan via the Monks of China. Anmo was developed in Japan specifically for the Samurai Culture that also embraced the Taoist / Buddhist , and Confucian philosophies and practices. In Japan, modern Western understanding of anatomy and physiology changed the look of Anmo around the turn of the 20th century. A great new form of massage was developed for a modern world: Shiatsu ( ‘finger pressure’ ) A series of bodywork techniques that incorporated Western Science and Traditional Chinese Medicine. SUIKODO was developed by Mitsuki Kikkawa, CST after years of Practice and intense training at Namikoshi’s Japan Shiatsu Institute. Kikkawa Sensei was an avid meditator, and devoted his entire life to understanding disease and human healing. Suikodo is firmly rooted in the Samurai Warrior Culture tradition but designed to relieve modern ailments the 'the easy way'. These are very subtle techniques using hard and soft, deep and superfiscial, to change the wiring in the brain ( neurons that fire together wire together, neurons that fire apart, wire apart ). The successes of Kikkawa Sensei's techniques were numerous including: relief from stubborn diseases, spinal alignment in two or three moves, and an increase in function and range of motion. His greatest achievement may be the training of other therapists whom use Suikodo techniques daily. Massage is about helping to remove blockages. To heal, and to keep on going. Whether on the battlefield, the sports field, or the Chesterfield ( a couch ), SHIATSU is designed to encourage the innate healing Ki ( energy ) by Massaging the Tsubo ( Accu Points ) along the meridians. SUIKODO emphasizes more of the Vibration, Oscillation, and Shaking techniques of Shiatsu. Massage is an essential skill for any experienced Martial Artists: it can be used in traumatology; when oneself or another is injured in such a way that requires immediate attention ( broken or subluxed bones joints, loss of vital signs, consciousnesses etc..), a means to get battle ready ( stimulate organs, and activate meridians and ' iron shirt' ), to address long term chronic problems after years of training and battle, and a way to heal others in a world that doesn’t wait. Our modern life drives ambitions, money, responsibilities and stress. We should learn how to integrate a health regiment as were the ways of our ancient peoples; a method of self care that doesn't require an "expert", just yourself with good techniques and a little experience. This way we can still function when all seems impossible. We must heal along this journey of life.
The Chakra Series: The 4th Chakra- Love and the Fantasy Bond by Rina Thibault
In this month’s article, we’ll be looking at the 4th Chakra: Anahata, the heart. Its element is air and associated with the colour green. This chakra is considered to be the integration centre for all the other chakras, as this is where our experiences get integrated and re-assimilated through emotional messages, and which gives our life experiences a rhythmic flow.
In developmental psychology (transactional analysis), the 4th chakra would be the stage of development where one begins to understand the different aspects of self, especially in developing a social identity. It is where we operate, unconsciously, internalized scripts. This stage begins between the ages of 4-7, where the child begins to learn about socialization, by interacting with other children of similar age it engages their development of a social identity. Social identity prepares them for increasingly complex social interactions. This is heavily reliant on balancing ones boundaries and letting go of autonomy, also 3rd Chakra issues. Children learn about relationships by imitation which stems from family values. The issue of spanking is a hot topic amongst parents and child caregivers today because of its tendency towards a confused and misunderstood concept of love. Often hard to detect its effects on a child, usually a balanced and healthy relationship within the family helps children understand and cope with the situation. In an unbalanced family home (i.e. lack of touch, threatened sense of security and social identity) can lead to misinterpretations in adult life.
John Bradshaw calls it the fantasy bond, “It is an illusion that keeps us believing that our partner (father, mother, friend, lover) really does love us- maybe today is just a bad day, we did something wrong, or it will be better tomorrow.” The behaviour becomes normally unacceptable. Through continuing the internalized relationships, bonding patterns appear and lead to a disintegration of personal boundaries and self-respect, feeling of disembodiment (mind and body are separate, ones worth is defined in sexual terms), and there becomes a need to find “corroborators” (peers). We become tolerant of our life living in an unbalanced “stereo” world: uneven volume control, distorted sound quality, or static interference.
The effects of mistreatment happen on 3 levels: the physical (experience), emotional (interpretation; attribute the experience to our own shortcomings), and conceptual (fusion with love; twisted concept of love becomes inseparably linked and the abuse continues to perpetuate). In order to understand and cope with our past mistreatments, we need to take the time to listen to ourselves, discover who we are as a human being, and most importantly honor the complexities of our inner self. By beginning to honor the different aspects of ourselves and individuality, we start to develop compassion for the inner soul. When we have a healthy social identity, operating from a healthy closed/open system of love, it increases our ability to integrate our experiences which leads to healthier relationships, which leads to a balance of energies.
By transcending our ego, one can become more conscious of these internalized relationships within us, breaking the spell of bondage to illusions.
“Abuse is the antithesis of love. If we do not get the love we need, we lack the basic ingredient necessary to assemble ourselves.” Anodea Judith, Eastern Body Western Mind.
Lactic Acid Deposits as Food; Holding Patterns, and Deep Breathing by Frank Carone
I was lucky enough to train with Kikkawa Sensei (founder of Kikkawa Shiatsu College in Toronto) . I think it was the first day, he said: " As Therapists, you will find FOOD inside people’s bodies." What does this mean? He explained that Lactic Acid deposits get trapped and then crystallize inside the layers of connective tissue, in the shape of food. Yes, Food. Simply put, Lactic Acid is a by-product of oxygen -deficiency in muscles. Once the muscle has used up it's primary source of fuel ( glycogen into ATP ), it then uses an alternate source - Anaerobic respiration. Lactate is produced - the problem is, it sits in muscle tissue until the body can process it. The lactate is converted in the Liver into glucose - which is then used as a energy source. The Kidneys also have a profound effect on acidity control in the body. When you exercise, quite normally, we will " feel the burn" in our muscles telling us we need to rest, however, any prolonged anaerobic activity can cause Lactate. Stress and poor ergonomics can also cause Lactate buildup, resulting in: a lowering of Ph levels, Pain, and Acidosis ( too much Lactate in blood stream), fatigue, poor performance, poor nerve conduction and blood circulation. In essence the muscle is starving for air - making us feel heavy and sore, tired and toxic. The lactic Acid deposits can readily be felt under the fingertips. They can be found all over the body in the shape of food! Here are some of the common foods I've found through my experience: - Raw Carrot in the Erector Spinae of the back. - Frozen Grapes on the spine, - String Beans throughout. - Pancakes (usually in the abdomen at superficial layers) - and a lot of frozen Peas throughout as well; not quite trigger points ,but, spherical deposits that have formed in the Myofascia ( connective tissue ) - they are hard and cold. We can classify and describe them as food in our notes, “ I found half cooked spaghetti strands in the Deltoid muscles” – and then observe the progression/regression of the condition. Has it broken down to spaghettini? I have witnessed these Lactic Acid deposits melt under my fingertips ,and, I have felt them fight back, or, try to squirm away. The main reason for these deposits, are holding patterns –Nervous messages that tell the Myofascia how to react. If there is prolonged tension, the meridian corresponding to that tension builds a good amount of Lactic Acid deposits. If the muscles and connective tissue are under stress, they can't shut down and the by-product results in lactic acid. Our bodies are designed to remove these by-products, but stress reduces the rate than our modern bodies can recycle them. Stress is internalized worry and hard wired into our Brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. Kikkawa Sensei knew that the Mind/Body connection happened in the nervous system, and that, our physical shape and function depends on the health of the nervous system. Much of my work is clearing the myofascial networks of lactic acid deposits while calming the nervous system. This clearing of lactic acid is like opening the window on your muscles, allowing them to breathe. Clearing these deposits also enhances nerve function ( which enhances muscle strength, endurance, cellular respiration, sensation ). Lactic acid can also get around bones ( periosteum ), Vascular Bundles, etc.. – Anywhere in the myofascia.
The best way to integrate your holding pattern and thus neutralizing it is to do Deep Breathing. Sounds simple but the breathing I am talking about is inaudible, subtle, and natural. We can all do this breathing.
1. Sit relaxed, stand evenly, or, lie on your right side like you are going to sleep ( not left side because it puts pressure to the heart ).
2. Expel all the air out of your lungs, take a deep inhale breath, hold for a few counts, then exhale for a few counts. Empty the Mind and Fill the belly : IN 1...2...3...4, OUT 1....2....3....4
After a few breaths the tension will become noticeable, you can then bring your conscious mind to intentionally relax those tight areas. You can try breathing into those tight areas, then breathe out and relax.
Simple, isn’t it? Massage, stretching and breathing can prevent pain, fatigue, boost metabolism and immunity. METAbodyWORKS offers private instruction in Breathing and Stretching. Stay tuned for group classes.
You Wanna Massage My What?..Abdominal Massage by Rina Thibault
You wanna massage my what?..? Yes, you need to massage your abdominal area. Chinese Taoist call it “Chi Nei Tsang”- internal chi transformation.
In Thai massage there are 9 acupressure points on the abdominal area. Why is this important to understand? If you strip away the layers of skin and muscles, you have the most important significant organs in your body. They play major roles in the skeletal, muscular, nervous, lymphatic, endocrine system just to name a few. They are a vital role in keeping you healthy and strong. They detoxify, balance and immune you to everyday toxins.
2. Heart/Small intestine
4. Lungs/ Large Intestine
They correspond to the 5 phases of energy with a passive and active pairing.
How exactly does this work? Energy is akin to the blood and nerve flow in our bodies. When an area is constricted of a nerve response (via tight muscles surrounding the nerve bundles) our body attempts to adapt. The response is a feeling or emotion. When we feel, that is exactly what we are doing. We are experiencing the energetic emotion. The various major organs “resonate” with these specific energy/feelings.
When you think about it, what were you feeling the last time you had a gut ache or migraine headache? What did you attribute it to? I am not speaking of the nausea or pounding pain- I am speaking of beyond pain, the holding onto of something, located in the abdominal area: the source of holding. We cannot recognize holding on too tight creates pain.
Our organs act as filters. They filter the everyday toxins we willfully expose ourselves through air, food and the environment. When we don’t pay attention - ignore the internal and external signs, it creates a problem. Our organs help us “adapt” to our environment. An example is stress.
1. Stress is brought on by an outside factor related to a “fear” (Fear can distract us from observing what we engage in: i.e. over/under consumption of water, food and drugs).
2. This triggers a neurological response; fight vs. flight. The kidneys respond to the signal and attempt to balance it.
3. When over stimulated (stress and anger), it gets help from the next “generation” of organs. The liver relates with anger.
4. When the liver gets over stimulated (stress, anger, hate and impatience), the heart gets called on. This can lead to high blood pressure and strokes.
5. This pattern continues on to the next organ, getting progressively worse.
The body is constantly trying to maintain balance whether we recognize it or not. Many common problems experienced in our society are due to lack of exercise, proper nutrition and learning to de-stress (i.e. massage, Tai Chi, yoga). Therapeutic touch is important in healing our bodies, mind and spirit.
"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak or act with an impure mind And trouble will follow you As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart." Buddha, Dhammapada The Sayings of the Buddha