The Three Principles Of Shiatsu Therapy And It’s Effects (Nobuyuki Fujisaki & Masami Fujisaki)

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In Zen Shiatsu, it is the principle that we feel for Kyo and Jitsu on skin and add Ho and Sha on it. Althought there are lots of paper on Kyo and Jitsu in Journals of Europe and America.But I have not read a report about pressing. Of course,the knowledge of Kyo and Jitsu is important, but the knowedge of pressing is more important. A certain pressing skill makes it possible to grasp Kyo and Jitsu. And even if we can not grasp Kyo and Jitsu exactly, pressing skill leads treatment effective. But they don’t seem to be much interested in it. I have contributed the reports about the principle of pressing to the Japanese journal of acupuncture before. As it is very important idea for us, I will represent it to Zen Shiatsu practitioners.

The Three Principles of Shiatsu

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When we carry out Shiatsu as a medical treatment, it is forbidden to stimulate the patients too much. It is important to lead the patient under the rest condition. In Shiatsu therapy, what kind of basic principles are necessary to guide the patient to the relaxing mode. Generally the basic principles of Shiatsu are said as follows;

  • The Principle of Vertical Pressure
  • The Principle of Continueing Pressure
  • The Principle of Mental Concentration
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If the techniques of Shiatsu therapy depend on these principles, the sufficient effects should be obtained when we follow these principles. In order to understand the basis of Shiatsu, I will try to analyze the pressure by Shiatsu here.

Please look at the graph. The points of this graph are “t1″,” P0″, “t2”, and “e”. “P0” shows the degree of pressure in this graph, and the difference of “t1” and “t2” is the length of the time of keeping pressure. If the time of adding and reducing pressure is disregarded, the points what we should consider are only “P0″(the level of pressure) and “t1” (the time length of holding the pressure). In the above saying, what we keep applying pressure for a certain time (t1) means that we keep holding the pressure for the time (t1). In order to do this, it is necessary for us to get the stability of applying pressure on each point during Shiatsu treatment. Therefore, the Three Principles of Shiatsu should be as follows actually.

  • The Principle of Vertical Pressure
  • The Principle of Holding Pressure
  • The Principle of Suporting Pressure

The Three Principles of Shiatsu are difined as regarding the conditions of applying pressure on the Shiatsu points. It can be Shiatsu if these conditions are satisfied when we apply pressure. And then, medical effects can be expected for the patients.

The Principles of Holding Pressure

The most important principle in these principles is “The Principle of Holding Pressure”. It is the key rule and is the very original principle of Shiatsu therapy in which we can distinguish Shiatsu therapy from other manipulative therapies such as many kinds of massage. In figure 1, the part which corresponds to the holding pressure is “t1”. This part has a deep relation with the medical effects of Shiatsu therapy. Now, I shall explain the reason. At first, remember that the nerve system causes the phenomenon of “Habituation” when we receive the equal stimulation time after time. This means that the sensitiivity of the stimulation gets lower.

For example, it is enthusiastically sensed, during taking bath, that we feel the hotness in the beginning when we put in the hands in hot water in a bathtab, however, we are gradually accustomed to the hotness when the hands kept to be put in the hot water. This is because that the hand is accustomed to the temperature and is not enthusiastically sensed. It is similar in applying pressure. It is only when the pressure are being added or reduced that the skin senses the oppressive feeling. When the pressure is retained and holded, the feeling of being pressed will be faded away in the end – figure 3.

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In figure 1, the patient senses “pressurization sensation” in the begining interval of the adding pressure. However, the oppressive feeling disappears in the interval of the fixed pressure. The stimulation under adding and reducing pressure is the stimulation of the consenssus (by the sympathetic nerve system) in the figure 3. When it is done, the internal intends to move to the excited state by this stimulation. However, nextly when the pressure is fixed and holding (t1-t2), the adaption begins, and it becomes perfectly “unstimulated condition” in the site “t0”. Then, the nerve takes information of “unstimulation”, the excitement is canceled and the condition changes to be under control of the parasympathetic nerve system. The more the fixed pressure is continued, the deeper the condition by the control of the parasymapathetic nerve system becomes, and breath becomes deeper, and lowering of the respiratory rate, blood pressure, and the heart rate appear soon. It is meant that the body changes to the bed rest condition. These phenomena are especially remarkable in applying whole-body Shiatsu and Shiatsu on the abdomen. The above is the reason why “The Principle of Holding Pressure” is so important in Shiatsu therapy.


In Japan, many of practitioners are doing Shiatsu with neglecting this important rule “holding the pressure”. In their Shiatsu treatments, the time of keeping the pressure is really short, and they reduce the pressure right after adding the pressure without holding it. The movement of the Shiatsu practitioners is very quick and rythmical. It is no longer Shiatsu but massage even it looks like Shiatsu. The patients do not become bed rest condition, as it leads to an excited condition with this quick motion;figure 4.

The patient must relax in order to cure the disease. Some emphasizes only acupoints, which is a mistake. First of all, Shiatsu therapists should try to lead the patients to the rest condition as a goal of the treatment. Then Shiatsu with high reliability can be realized when we master the fundamental techniques of pressure and the knowledge of handling the meridians. Patients who need to be led to the bed rest condition especially are the patients with high risk. For example, the patients of an advanced stage of cancer and AIDS is forbidden to get excited. Therefore, Shiatsu practitioners without the techniques of leading to the bed rest condition can not treat such serious patients. Mastering the basic techneques of applying pressure is the first thing to do for the therapists, and it is the next thing for them to acquire the techniques of handling the meridians.


© Nobuyuki Fujisaki & Masami Fujisaki (Zen Shiatsu Association)

Nobuyuki Fujisaki is born in 1954 in Tokyo, Japan and Graduate Tokyo Electrical Engineering College after majoring in Tele Communications. He became interested in Shiatsu Therapy at age of 11 and began practiced own method of Shiatsu until the age of 20 , when he joined the Ioh Kai Zen Shiatsu Center, where he studied original style of Zen Shiatsu under the Master Shizuto Masunaga. After graduating from the Institute, he went to the Japan Shiatsu School in Tokyo and obtained a National License for Shiatsu Therapy in Japan in 1987. After obtaining a license, he formed the “Zen Shiatsu Association” to promote this unique method of Shiatsu treatment world-widely. His activities include teaching, seminars, workshops teaching classes for professional Shiatsu therapists.

Masami Fujisaki is born in 1959 in Chiba, Japan. Graduated from Kanda Institute of Foreign Languages. After 2 years of studying psychology in Crafton Hills College, California, Masami graduated from the Japan Shiatsu School. At the same time, she studied Zen Shiatsu in the IOHKAI Shiatsu Center and got a certificate from the institute. She obtained Japanese national license of a professional therapist of western massage, Chinese massage, and Shiatsu therapy in 1987 and started to manage Zen Shiatsu Association with her husband to promote Zen Shiatsu therapy. She is a Zen Shiatsu therapist and instructor.