History of Iokai Shiatsu 


Shiatsu is essentially a technique of stable, continuous pressure – derived from traditional Anma* – exerted with the fingers or hands on the meridians or acupuncture points of the meridians, aimed at preventing or repairing organic dysfunctions by rebalancing the Energy or Ki.

Shi‘, ideogram designating the ‘fingers of the hand’, composed of the character, symbolizing the hand, and the character corresponding to the ‘shi’ sound of the letter, meaning ‘ramification’, ‘to branch out’, ‘to divide’, designating the fingers. atsu‘; ‘to hold’, ‘to maintain’, ‘to push’, ‘to press’.

The specifics of Iokai shiatsu

The important point in Iokaï Shiatsu is how to get in touch with the human being. This is why Masunaga sensei used the name “Iokai”, which defines the nature of the person-to-person exchange.

Io is inspired by the Buddhist Sutra, which relates to the person who knows his or her imbalances and determines the appropriate means of permanently overcoming them.

Kai represents association, communication between people under the same roof.

Iokai shiatsu is an art that differs from a simple manual technique in that it involves the psychic-physical (mind-body) wholeness of both the practitioner (shiatsushi) and the receiver (jusha). Sasaki sensei was deeply moved by these aspects during his collaboration with Masunaga sensei, and it is the heart of this approach that he teaches in Europe.

The fundamental principles

Understanding imbalances in organ systems requires a study and practical approach to the meridians, or subtle, invisible vessels that run through the body and enable the energy known as Ki to circulate harmoniously.

The fundamental principles of shiatsu derive from the Eastern energetic tradition (Acupuncture, Do In Ankyo) and are constantly updated in line with developments in modern medical science and alternative, holistic therapies.

In the East, the mind cannot be separated from the body, and there is no such thing as “psychology” in the strict sense of the word; rather, we define imbalances in the human evolutionary cycle. The understanding of the human being as a whole was developed in Chinese philosophy, in the Tao Te King taught by Lao Tzu (around the 2nd century BC).

Traditional Oriental medicine is defined by ‘respect for the person in his or her body-mind dimension, in harmony with his or her environment’, and is linked to the popular Chinese maxim ‘heal what is not yet sick’ – the Chinese doctor only received remuneration if his patient remained in good health, and thus became a sort of guarantor of his or her longevity.

* Anma, the term which combines the two ideas of deep, stable, continuous pressure and massage, rubbing to remove, is the exact translation of the Shiatsu technique in its dual aspect of Ho (toning through An) and Sha (dispersing to remove through Ma).

‘The most important thing I learned from Masunaga sensei was an understanding of the traditional approach, which sees each energy function as a potential. For this reason, meridians are not just material lines. They are the living source of bodily and mental energy, the network of animation throughout the body, linking the internal to the external. It is through them that patients and practitioners can understand their lives more intimately.’



Kazunori Sasaki Senseï

Kazunori Sasaki Sensei, founder of Iokai Meridian Shiatsu in Europe and president of EISA (European Iokaï Shiatsu Association).

Sasaki Sensei was the closest assistant to Masunaga Sensei, the founder of Iokai Shiatsu. After Masunaga Sensei’s death in 1982, he continued and developed his work in Europe. Shiatsu Iokai and the study of Oriental medicine are his life’s work. Like no other, Sasaki Sensei understands the depth of traditional Eastern medicine and can pass it on to his students.

His lessons are inspiring and have enormous depth. Sasaki Sensei is President of the European Iokai Shiatsu Association and runs the other Iokai Shiatsu courses in Europe. He lives in Italy and frequently travels to other countries to teach.

Shizuto Masunaga Senseï

Iokai Shiatsu was developed in the 1970s by Shizuto Masunaga. It was his life’s work to bring shiatsu, as it was then practised in Japan, back to the original principles of traditional Eastern medicine. In these principles, body and mind form a whole and are in constant interaction with each other and with the world in which we live.

Shizuto Masunaga introduced Shiatsu Iokai to Europe. With the publication of his book ‘Zen Shiatsu‘, this form of Shiatsu rapidly became known in Europe in the late 1970s. After his death in 1981, his work was continued by his pupil and close assistant Kazunori Sasaki, the current President of EISA. Under his leadership, Shiatsu Iokai developed and training courses were set up in various European countries.

« A training to a high quality practice of shiatsu,
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