“Un” Luck around Rutland

by Kazuhiro Ohashi

Two weeks ago Ohashi and I had a great ski trip in Vermont. On this trip we were able to reconnect with our good friend Jesse Labow who we met in December last year at Ohashi’s 4-day practical course held at Integral Yoga Institute in New York City.  Jesse came all the way down from Vermont to practice Ohashiatsu® / OHASHI Method® with our dedicated COIs, all the wonderful students, and of course, with Ohashi himself. Before the course started Jesse took a private tutorial with Ohashi. From that tutorial and throughout the course, I could see Jesse was not just simply giving bodywork, he was enjoying the act of giving. In a phrase, he was “feeling it” — the connection where you are not doing, you are not working, you are simply being. You are enjoying the act of giving, the state of being.

Jesse practices his neck technique at Integral Yoga this past December. Our smiling COI Marco Beghin observes.

I was happy to meet and talk with Jesse during the course in NYC. Right after the New Year Jesse emailed Ohashi asking if he would come to Rutland to teach him more OHASHI Method techniques.

As Ohashi puts it:

Last year, December 2016, one young gentleman came all the way from Vermont to take my course in New York City. I believe and I heard that he enjoyed my class very much. This year, January 2017, this young man sent an email directly to me saying, ‘Ohashi sensei, I am a very good ski instructor in Killington, Vermont. I want to teach you how to ski. In exchange for this service, I want you to give me private Ohashiatsu lesson when you come to Rutland.’

My instinct told me, ‘Why not?’

I replied to him, ‘When I teach tutorial, you need a couple of people with you, otherwise it’s boring and not so much fun. You don’t learn anything. Why don’t you get some others? Mr. Jesse, why don’t you organize a course in Vermont? You know lot’s of massage therapists, bodyworkers, practitioners. Please, get lots of students for me to teach. You can keep the tuition and take me and Kazu skiing as your guests. Ok?”

I think this was more than Jesse expected to take on, but he agreed, eager for the opportunity to work with Ohashi again and to take a new step in his professional career.

A little more than a month later, Ohashi and I were up in Rutland and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the job Jesse did registering students, finding a place to hold the course, and all the other small details he thought of that made a big difference in the success of the course.

When we arrived we stayed at Harvest Moon Bed & Breakfast. This traditional and beautiful B&B, run by Jesse’s mom Susan, was the perfect accommodation for us.

Ohashi and Jesse outside the Harvest Moon Bed and Breakfast

Later that day we visited the course site. Jesse’s friend, Dimitri, in his great generosity agreed to host the course at his residence — a beautiful house in Rutland full of light. After talking and discussing the next day’s workshop, Ohashi and I had dinner with Jesse and his wife, Hahn, at their residence.

The next day Ohashi and I arrived at the course site at 9am. Jesse was already there setting up and making sure things were ready for the students when they arrived.  Ohashi taught a wonderful  workshop on his unique Healing Scarf Technique. Ohashi says:

Someone at the class asked if my Scarf Technique is good for people who have suffered a stroke. My answer is yes – but you must give very gently, and only if they agree. It is an effective way for loosening up muscle tightness.

Thank you to Lisa Marie Donohue, MA, LMT at Thrive Center of the Green Mountains for this question.

Thank you to Dimitri for this beautiful class room space.

Ohashi demonstrates Healing Scarf Technique

Jesse and his wife prepared not only a great healthy breakfast for the students, but also an exquisite meal of Japanese rice balls (Onigiri), miso soup, and other delicious vegetarian dishes. All free of charge! By the way Jesse and Hahn run a catering business — Good Karma Kitchen. Please check them out if you are in Rutland.

Good Karma Kitchen provided good eats at Healing Scarf Technique workshop.

More deliciousness. Thank you Dimitri for the sweets.

Everyone was well fed and happy to have Hanh prepare a special meal for them. They were ready for more of Ohashi’s special scarf technique the rest of the afternoon. After the course Ohashi gave six sessions in Dimitri’s treatment room. And we finalized our night with a visit to a local Chinese restaurant suggested by Hahn.

Our special guest inspects the massage tables.

Great job! Congratulations to all the professional therapists who attended Healing Scarf Technique workshop in Rutland, Vermont.

Hara Hound.

Thank you to Marjorie Pivar and Sarah West at Shiatsu School of Vermont for the happy horse.

The next day Ohashi and I drove over to Jesse and Hanh’s house. Hahn had prepared an amazing traditional Vietnamese breakfast. There was a spicy noodle soup, a special type of omelette among other pickled fare. It was the perfect food for a long day of skiing. Then we all drove to Killington Ski Resort. There we met up with Susan – Jesse’s mother. Our hosts described the day as one of the best days for skiing all season. Ohashi and I had not been on the slopes for sometime, but we quickly got back into the flow of things. Ohashi loves skiing. It helps him practice his cross patterning. He skis from the hara, always keeping low for balance. We were able to keep up with our expert hosts. Both Jesse and Susan are instructors and had some great tips for us to improve our technique. Our hosts left us in the early afternoon and Ohashi and I were left to ski on our own for a couple of hours. Ohashi commented:

Next day 28th of February Tuesday, Jesse, the young man who arranged this trip, took me to Killington Mountain and paid for everything. Jesse is really a great ski instructor who taught me lots. That was my best skiing experience in the last 20 years.

On the slopes. Epic selfie by Jesse.

Ready to ski!

Frozen falls on the slopes.

After packing up our gear we met with our long time friend and COI Diedre Seeley for a late lunch at a Japanese restaurant. She lives in Killington Village and has a successful massage practice there, Mountain Dove Wellness. It was great to catch up with her and to be in her energetic presence. By the way “Happy Birthday Deedee… belated. Diedre is always available for Ohashiatsu® Sessions via email and at New Life Hiking Spa starting May 15, 2017.

That evening Hahn prepared an “official” dinner for us. It was really a special evening with our friends. This time Susan joined. Hahn really outdid herself with this feast. We were treated to a plethora of traditional Vietnamese dishes, all vegetarian, all delicious. I personally enjoyed the fried tofu with chili paste. Ohashi loved the saki selection and I think we all enjoyed the the apple cobbler with ice cream that Susan brought.

Saki selection.

Delicious!

Vegetarian Vietnamese dinner at Jesse and Hahn’s place.

The next day it was time to leave Rutland. Ohashi visited the maple syrup distiller next to the B&B. I packed and we said our goodbyes to Rutland. For the rest of the day Ohashi, Jesse, Hahn and I wondered the aisles of the famous Vermont Country Store, sampling to our hearts content.

Ohashi and Jesse pose outside The Vermont Country Store.

Ohashi and Hanh check the foggy hillside.

Yes, Tab at The Vermont Country Store!

One last photo before we go.

As we ate with Jesse and Hahn before we traveled back to New York Ohashi had this interesting piece of information for us:

Life is always a big surprise. Life is always full of strange luck. I didn’t plan or expect anything, yet everything worked out beautifully. This is great luck! In Japanese the word for luck is ‘un’. The Chinese character means you are bringing yourself to where the luck is. So let’s prepare for the Luck which may happen in front of you. Is there anyone who wants me to come to give tutorial? If so, I’m well prepared!

“Un” in Japanese means Luck. In this Chinese character the man brings his cart to where the luck is.

Finally it was time to say goodbye to our hosts. We couldn’t have asked for a better ski vacation. And we look forward to visiting Jesse, Hahn, Susan, DeeDee and the rest of our friends up north again.

Back to Melbourne

This article appears in the first quarter issue of Pointers Magazine published by The Shiatsu Therapy Association of Australia. For a message from Ohashi and for more information about his upcoming April 2017 courses, tutorials and sessions at the Australian Shitatsu College in Melbourne, click here.


About Ohashi

Ohashi was born in Hiroshima, Japan in 1944. Because of World War II, he experienced starvation and general deprivation, which caused a weak constitution. The condition of his biological health over the years informed his interest in traditional medicine, which he used to survive the problems caused by his childhood. Eventually, his personal experiences using and learning about traditional medicine brought him to develop his skills in healing, and then to disseminate his philosophy about health and life to other cultures.

ohashi-bio-copyIn 1974 he founded the Ohashi Institute in New York City, a nonprofit educational institution, which offered shiatsu education and training in the United States and eventually to several other countries. Through the educational program developed by the Institute, and through teaching for other organizations, he has taught thousands of students in more than 27 countries over more than 40 years. He has also had the honor of treating many famous people over the years, including Liza Minnelli, Margot Fonteyn, Ivan Nagy, Henry Kissinger, and Mohammed Ali.


Ohashi has written six books on shiatsu and Oriental medicine, and produced 10 videos on his methods and techniques. His most popular book among professionals and laypeople is Reading the Body, which has been translated into 8 languages, a testament to its holistic representation of the human experience.

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Ohashi and his son Kazuhiro visited the Australian Shiatsu College for the first time in 2015, when Ohashi came to teach. They were honored to be present for ASC’s 30th anniversary’s celebration, and are very pleased to return in April 2017 to teach three courses.

 

From Theory to Practice

Ohashi’s teaching spans both the intellectual aspect of Oriental Medicine as well as the practical side. The vast amount of information that Ohashi has gained from his intensive studies and many years of teaching and practice comes through in his courses. While information is mostly free and attainable, learning from Ohashi’s practical experience is invaluable. The three courses Ohashi will teach as ASC in April 2017 progressively illustrate how the fundamental philosophy and knowledge in his teachings inform his practical methods with therapeutic applications.

Ohashi’s Oriental Diagnosis

The Oriental medical modalities, such as acupuncture, Kan-poc (herbal teas), and shiatsu are forms of treatment and as well as means of diagnosis. You start your treatment in order to diagnose, then you start your diagnosis in order to treat. Treatment and diagnosis occur simultaneously. As a shiatsu therapist if you do not know how to diagnose, you cannot treat your clients. Therefore, it is helpful to study Oriental diagnosis to gain the knowledge you need to effectively treat clients.

In his course this year, Ohashi will cover aspects of this topic that bodywork practitioners and psychologists and other professionals will find useful for their work. Understanding that each human being is a totality — a unified whole of body, mind and spirit — provides the Oriental diagnostician, shiatsu practitioner or counselor, deeper insights necessary to understand imbalances with human nature.

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First, he discusses fundamental advice about Oriental Diagnosis; the differences in diagnosis between Eastern and Western medicine; and the four types of diagnosis in Oriental Medicine: Bo Shin; Setsu Shin; Mon Shin; Bun Shin. He then moves on to specific information about the face, with a discussion of its three zones — forehead, mid-region, and jaw and what is considered a balanced face. Ohashi will then lecture on individual features of the face: Forehead and its lines; Eyebrows; Eyes; Eye bags; Nose; Bridge of the nose; Philtrum; Mouth; Teeth; Ears.

The next section of the course covers areas of the body: the back, the hara, and feet. He will include bi-lateral distortions and how to correct them with shiatsu. He will demonstrate and students will practice on each other. Ohashi’s Oriental Diagnosis course ends with an analysis of shoes — his famous shoe diagnosis. In this segment a helper will pick up four pairs of shoes — two female and one male — which Ohashi skillfully analyzes the wearer’s health, financial condition and offers advice.

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“Ohashi’s Oriental Diagnosis” course embraces useful diagnostic information you can apply immediately to your practice; the practical part of the course will help you to incorporate these techniques into your practice to enrich your treatments, making your clients healthier and happier.

Psychology of the Meridians  

Life is chaos, which evolutes every minute. If we imagine ourselves as an ever-changing amoeba, we see that our psychological states manifest themselves into physical conditions. For example, consider a starving man. Physically his body requires nutrients. He craves food. Indeed, his entire body and mind are focused on finding food. His brain sends a signal to his eyes to look for food. His sense of smell is heightened to find the specific odor he craves. As he sees and smells something to eat, his mouth starts to water, beginning the digestive process even before he obtains food.

As the saliva moves down his esophagus into his stomach, his legs are told to move forward, towards the food, his second largest toe leading his entire body. Imagine the line of physical reactions from his brain to his eyes, nose, and mouth, down to his stomach and finally all the way to his legs and toes. The path follows the stomach meridian. When we have experienced starvation in our life, the stomach meridian may tend to be more Jitsu, resulting in an overabundance of ki energy, which helps us to obtain the food we need. Understanding this individual’s psychology can help us in caring for him. Will he need sedation on his stomach meridian? How does he react to stronger pressure on ST36 (Ashi San Ri)? Also consider this person’s lifestyle. Does he eat too much too fast? Would you describe his personality as neurotic? Are his meals irregular and distracted; is his appetite influenced by his moods. Perhaps his stomach meridian is kyo –– a deficit of ki energy. Aspects of both hypo and hyper conditions exist in the same person, along the same meridian and even the same tsubo. Pressing along his meridian, tonifying or sedating the ki energy, can help with the physical manifestations of this imbalance.

pom-bread
During his “Psychology of the Meridians” course, Ohashi demonstrates how these psychological states affect our bodies, and how Ohashiatsu® can be used on the body to influence the receiver’s psychological state. He explains his idea of the Birth of Meridians from a pictorial reference, for example, picturing the position and flow of the stomach meridian as a manifestation of childhood starvation. He will go through all 12 meridians from the reference of their “birth”, discussing and demonstrating their influence on the psycho-emotional states in mankind. Participants will learn 12 Meridian exercises that incorporate the psycho-emotion characteristic of each meridian. Participants will practice on each other, focusing on appropriate treatment for each meridian and emotion.

pom-pickpocket

 

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Muscle Meridian Sedation

Ohashi’s final course will be the practical application of techniques that sedate both muscles and meridians. These are techniques he developed over many years working with dancers and other clients with physical injuries, especially when a distortion was caused by a muscle. If a meridian is close to that muscle or muscle group, it is helpful to use pressure on the tsubos while tonifying the muscle.

mms-sedation-one-copy
Through observation you can determine where your receiver might need a stronger technique to quickly and effectively maximize the results of treatment. Imagine your client is storing an excess of jitsu energy in the neck, which caused her or him to complain of tension and headaches. S/he is nervous, busy, worried and stressed. The accumulation of painful energy causes anxiety about having the neck touched. So instead you work the cranial area, the shoulders and maybe the lower back. Once the client is relaxed and ready to receive a strong sedation, you can proceed to the neck, using a stronger technique that brings the desired result.

Immediately your receiver feels the relief from the excess energy stored in the neck for so long. The energy can slow again, which makes her/him feel opened up and happy. This is the basic concept of sedation. It’s a practical application of a powerful technique to complement your entire treatment. Sedation, when used sparingly, is the perfect addition to your practice regardless of modality.

mms-sedation-two

The Australian Shiatsu College is pleased to sponsor Ohashi’s teachings in Melbourne in April, 2017. From his always entertaining and informational Oriental Diagnosis course, to his fascinating Psychology of the Meridians class, and finally his practical Muscle Meridian Sedation workshop, students will experience the breadth of Ohashi’s knowledge, experience and joy of teaching.   

 

EARLY REGISTRATION ENDS MARCH 1

Register Early by March 1 and Receive these Discounts!

Enroll for all Three Courses: $975. SAVE $210 ($1350)

Take Any Two Courses: $680. SAVE $110 ($900)

Take Any One Course: $395. SAVE $55 ($450)

A.S.C. current, former and Ohashi’s 2015 course participants:
Receive an additional 10% discount when registered by March 1.

After March 1: $450 per course

ohashi-melbourne

Click for Registration Form & Courses Brochure

 

 

 

 

Cover Story: Behind the Original Cover of Do-It-Yourself Shiatsu

Jimmy Fallon’s recent DYI comedy sketch on his Tonight Show featuring the original cover of Ohashi’s book Do-It-Yourself Shiatsu, published in 1976 (and still in print), got us thinking about Ohashi’s dear friend, the ballet dancer Ivan Nagy. One of the great names in the dance world, Mr. Nagy was on the original cover of DIY Shiatsu spoofed by Mr. Fallon.
DIY Shiatsu

Ohashi first met the charismatic ‘danseur noble’ of the ballet world, Ivan Nagy, a few years earlier in Washington DC. At that time, Mr. Nagy, principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre company, was receiving global admiration for his regal and gallant style, generating many cherished partnerships with most of the celebrated ballerinas of the time, including Margot Fonteyn and Natalia Makarova. Silver medalist of the 1965 International Ballet Competition at Varna, Bulgaria, Nagy first appeared in the US as guest artist for the National Ballet of Washington in 1966. From there, he danced with New York City Ballet before joining the American Ballet Theatre in 1968, where he remained for a decade.

In October 1972, Ohashi was working at the Watergate Health Club in Washington DC. Mr. Nagy and the American Ballet Theatre company were staying at the Watergate Hotel while in performance at the Kennedy Center. Ohashi gave such memorable treatments to the entire dance company, that soon his practice was in demand throughout the dance world.

natc2adalia-makarova-and-ivan-nagy-by-max-waldman

One year later, Ohashi had moved to New York City, organizing the Shiatsu Education Center of America on 55th Street in Midtown Manhattan, the forerunner of the Ohashi Institute. One day he received an emergency call from the dancer. While in rehearsal at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Ivan Nagy had injured himself and was in a great deal of pain. His scheduled performances with the famous ballerina Carla Fracci were in jeopardy. Ivan asked Ohashi to please come and give him treatment to relieve his pain. Ohashi grabbed his bag, and hailed a cab to ride the 10 blocks uptown.

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With Ohashi’s successful treatment of his acute pain and muscular fatigue, within 24 hours the beloved dancer was back live on stage performing with the dreamy elegance and the phenomenal style that so many of Nagy’s partners adored. During that evening’s performance, Ivan Nagy received a 20-minute long standing ovation.
NAGY-obit-blog427

Grateful for Ohashi’s therapeutic proficiency, Nagy insisted that Ohashi had saved his career. He asked, “Ohashi, what can I do for you in return?” Ohashi replied, “Ivan, my new book is coming out soon. Will you be the model for my meridian charts?” Nagy agreed. He was the model for the 18 meridian charts and appeared on the book’s original cover. Recently Ohashi remarked, “The contents of my book, Do-It-Yourself Shiatsu were ‘mediocre,’ but Mr. Nagy’s body was so beautiful that the book became a smash hit. You see everybody thought they could have a body like his if they bought my book.”

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Both of their careers flourished and some years later after Nagy retired, he would complain to Ohashi that when people stopped him on the street, they asked him if he was the guy in Do-It-Yourself Shiatsu. “Ohashi, I am a world famous dancer but people only know me for your book.” Ivan Nagy died February 22, 2014 in Budapest. He was 70.

ivan-nagy-cincinnati-ballet-artistic-director-1986-89-publicity-photo-from-the-1980s

One Man’s Journey – Part 3

We left off in Part 2 with instructors branching out to teach around the U.S., including Maryland. Philadelphia, PA; Princeton, NJ; Amherst, MA; Honesdale, PA; and in Westchester and Long Island, NY.

Globalization

By the 1990s Ohashi had witnessed many changes, especially in Japanese/American relations. When he first came to the US, very few Americans ate sushi. By the 90s, there were hundreds of noodle shops and sushi bars in New York City alone. Japanese management techniques had been incorporated into the curriculum of business schools and the yen was at an all-time high.

Ohashi saw an interesting phenomenon that he called “international cultural catchball.” His view was when an element of a culture travels to a different environment, it is ingested and changed. Ohashi saw that happening with shiatsu. “Once quantity develops, quality changes,” Ohashi says. “Sometimes the more popular something becomes, the less value is placed upon it.”

It was clear that the decision to differentiate his technique from traditional shiatsu was a correct one. More and more, the supportive relationship of the giver and receiver, rather than the technical knowledge, became an important component of Ohashiatsu®. “My technique and philosophy is not only for American and Japanese – it is for everybody. It is universal and that’s the reason people from many countries come here to study. They need it and enjoy it. It has become a part of the globalization phenomenon.”

Ohashi’s dream of teaching the “Ohashiatsu…Touch for peace” philosophy to the world was beginning. In 1990, the Institute was contacted by the Psycho-Political Peace Institute (PPPI) to help in its project to introduce psychotherapeutic and holistic modalities to the citizens of the newly disbanded Soviet Union. That Ohashi in Russiayear the Institute helped sponsor 12 Russian doctors and therapists who were coming to New York for a month. During that time, they studied Ohashi’s Oriental Diagnosis and Ohashiatsu Beginning I. They were so impressed that they invited Ohashi to come to Russia. A year later, Ohashi taught these two courses to 100 students in Russia.

Five years later, the Ohashi Institute again partnered with PPPI. This time to assist the village of Bakuriani in the Republic of Georgia, which had been a world renowned ski resort where the USSR Olympic teams trained. The breakup of the USSR left Bakuriani a desolate village with polluted drinking water, no heat, and electricity available only after 11:30PM. There was only one doctor in town – one who had trained with Ohashi in the US. The Institute sponsored Vasil Jioev, who worked as a massage therapist at a hospital. Vasil completed the Ohashiatsu curriculum in one year and, when he returned to Georgia, donated one week per month working in the refurbished Bakuriani Hospital.

“Ohashiatsu is something amazing. With massage therapy, it’s just bones,  

muscles and tendons and maybe a person somewhere in there.

Ohashiatsu is about the human being. Not just the physical,

but the psychologicaland the emotional –

it’s so deep – it’s about the universe. Now I can sense that deep place

inside the person and hope that I can touch it as well.”

~ Vasil Gioev.

Ricochet

In 1992, Ohashi returned to Japan to teach, and during one weekend more than 80 people came from all over Japan to hear him. Understanding human nature, Ohashi instinctively knew that when people study something that is already part of their own culture, they tend to take it for granted. So, Ohashi taught the Japanese students in English through a translator! The students said that by hearing a Japanese subject taught in English, they discovered a different angle to what they already knew and enjoyed a different dimension of comprehension. Once again, Ohashi fulfilled his mission – he added another level of understanding to human nature through his modality of touch communication.

RefinementBeyond Shiatsu

As the Ohashiatsu program continued to grow worldwide, the Institute increased its focus on refining the curriculum and standardizing the training so that the course material could be taught the same way around the world. In this effort, the many senior instructors who had trained at the Institute or in Europe contributed to this process.

During the 1990s, Ohashi began to refine his published work by writing a new book that captured the true nature of Ohashiastu. While most other books and instructional videos focused on the benefit of the receiver, how to deal with the receiver’s problems, they hardly said a word about the giver’s well-being, the giver’s consciousness, the giver’s reward. When published, “Beyond Shiatsu: Ohashi’s Bodywork Method” was the only book that focused on maintaining and improving the giver’s movement, posture and well-being.

“Priority must go to the practitioner,” Ohashi states emphatically.

“When you give Ohashiatsu, you are regenerated and energized

because of the way your body moves,

because you are enhancing your vital Ki (life force energy),

and because you are meditating while you are working.

This book and Ohashiatsu will help the giver preserve his or her body

so that he or she can continue this wonderful work for many, many years.”

Teach a Man to Fish

Ohashi believes that people need to take responsibility for themselves. Clients need to take responsibility for improving their health, students for their own learning, and instructors for their continued learning and financial well-being. Ohashi wanted instructors to be self-sufficient rather than rely on the Institute for their livelihood. Thus, in 1995, the Institute established an outreach program allowing instructors to teach anywhere they liked, without having to set up an entire school. Result: the Institute could access different niche and geographical markets and more and more people could be introduced to the physical, psychological and emotional benefits of Ohashiatsu.

The New Millennium

With greater and great technological communications advances, Ohashi is concerned about human well-being. “The more technology advances, the more people are becoming isolated. You don’t have to contact another human being to get what you need to survive – you can do everything over the Internet. But people need people. We need human interaction, human touch. The more technology, the more touch we need. I call this “High Tech/High Touch.”

Society has now embraced “alternative” knowledge and modalities. We continually hear about a “new” therapy, but, of course, we know that these “new” therapies are what philosophers, monks, healers and indigenous pCircle of Energyeoples around the world have known for centuries.

Ohashi developed a series of videos for students. With the advent of the DVD, Ohashi created a new series that addresses the public at large. A new e-book will be published soon. He continues to travel around the world teaching his courses and new instructors. To date, Ohashi and his instructors have taught in the US, Canada, Italy, England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Bali, Belgium, Costa Rica, Israel, Burkina Faso, French Guinea, Russia, and the Netherlands. In 2015, Ohashi will introduce his modality to students in Melbourne, Australia; Istanbul, Turkey; and Zagreb, Croatia.

As more and more people look to alternative modalities for their health and well-being, the Ohashi Institute and the Ohashi Method®/Ohashiatsu® are ready to provide the world with more instructors to teach people to help themselves. And Ohashi’s techniques, method and teaching will continue to emphasize communication and synergism between two people, on the self-development of the giver, as well as the receiver, and on harmony for both.

Ohashi is like

One Man’s Journey – Part 2

A Turning Point

In 1976, Ohashi was called back to Japan because his father was very ill with cancer. While caring for his father, Ohashi decided to study with Dr. Shizuto Masunaga, whose articles and monographs he had read. A psychologist-turned-shiatsu practitioner, Dr. Masunaga evolved his own method of shiatsu treatment and established a theoretical basis for shiatsu therapy. Based on his many years of clinical experience, Masunaga placed a large emphasis on the psychological effects of meridian energy.

1976 was also the year Ohashi’s first book, Do It Yourself Shiatsu, was published. He would follow this one year later with the publication of Zen Shiatsu, a collection of Dr. Masunaga’s monographs which he edited and translated. Ohashi chose the title to represent Dr. Masunaga’s approach to healing and life. The book, since translated into several languages, introduced Dr. Masunaga’s work to an English audience. After that Ohashi brought Dr. Masunaga to the US for several popular workshops.

The Evolution

Ohashi used what he learned from Masunaga to inform his own observations of human nature and his earlier experience in the U.S. human development movement. This would influence the evolution of Ohashi’s methodology and his own approach to shiatsu.

By 1979, the curriculum of Ohashi’s school, Shiatsu Education Center of America, was changing from a technical, left brain, book-oriented curriculum to a more experiential, right brain, feeling approach. Some of the School’s early instructors, especially Esther Turnbull and Pauline Sasaki, believed it would be better for students to learn to feel before incorporating book knowledge into their techniques. Over the next few years, Ohashi and the school’s instructors continued refining and expanding the curriculum. Their focus was on how to make giving a treatment session easier, and how to make it healthier for the giver. As Ohashi’s method evolved, it could no longer be called “shiatsu.” The approach and delivery of the technique was unique, something epochal.

Some years later, Ohashi would recount in Beyond Shiatsu, when he taught in English while in Japan: “When traditional knowledge returns to its source in a changed form, it must be presented in a different way. The very idea of self-development is an American one, not at all Japanese. The term shiatsu happens to be Japanese, but the practice of healing through touch is not exclusively Japanese. Ohashiatsu is universal.”

27 Street - New DigsNew Names/New Digs/New Schools

The new curriculum became popular and it became clear that Ohashi’s teaching and his modality needed to be differentiated from “traditional shiatsu.” In 1982, “Ohashiatsu” was trademarked, and with his new modality so named, “Shiatsu Education Center of America” no longer fit his school. In 1984, the name of the school was officially changed to The Ohashi Institute. Its instructors and consultants were given the titles of “Certified Ohashiatsu® Instructors” or “Certified Ohashiatsu® Consultants.”

The Ohashi Institute was outgrowing the space on 55th Street in mid-town Manhattan, and Ohashi once again went looking for a new location. At last, after a two-year search, the Institute leased a large space on 27th Street, five times larger than its previous location. The décor, embodying the principles of Japanese aesthetics, was carefully designed to provide a tranquil and comfortable space for students to meditate and to study,

Beautiful, customized space for the West 27th Street location.

 

The Eighties

Ohashiatsu® increased its popularity in Europe and the first European student graduated in 1980. The early European sponsors and instructors, Johan Byer and Rosemary Solterman from Switzerland, and Klaus Metzner from Germany, soon set up branch schools in their respective countries. Since they were just beginning, Ohashi sent US instructors to teach until the European graduates could train to become instructors themselves. Schools were organized in Heidelberg, Munich, Muenster, Zurich, Basel and Bern. An Italian graduate, Alfonso Crosetto, became the first to sponsor courses in Italy, establishing a school in Turin, Italy. Others set up schools in Florence, Rome, Milan and Asti. Today there are more than 20 Certified Ohashiatsu® Instructors and Consultants in Italy, teaching in various cities. In addition, COIs teach in Austria, Canada, France, French Guiana, and the Netherlands.

In 1988, an American graduate, Matthew Sweigart, began offering courses in Evanston, Illinois, inviting COIs from New York to teach. By 1990, he opened the first Ohashiatsu® branch school in the US. A year later, Hazel Chung, a former dancer, opened another branch in Ellicott City, Maryland. Other COIs started organizing courses in Philadelphia, PA; Princeton, NJ; Amherst, MA; Honesdale, PA; and in Westchester and Long Island, NY.

Hippie OhashiAs we have seen, Ohashi’s own development of a compassionate and effective approach to healing through touch drew not only on traditional sources like shiatsu, the martial arts, and Eastern Medicine. He was also influenced by the humanistic alternative education movement, as promoted by leading organizations of the day: the Esalen Institute in California and the Omega Institute in New York.   Another important learning source for Ohashi is his collaboration with instructors, students, and even his clients, whom he credits everyday. One of his favorite teachings is, “Every single day you are developing, improving. Your receiver is your teacher. Your receiver is your examiner.” He wrote of his 1996 book Beyond Shiatsu, “It has taken me more than 20 years to write this book, because I am still studying, still changing. Each day I discover something to improve my technique.”

Ohashi in Print: In keeping with his philosophy of knowledge being more effective when it is widespread, Ohashi recognized the value of publishing and devoted hours to writing several books. Many of these books have been translated into multiple languages.

Ohashi in Print

In our final chapter of One Man’s Journey, we will talk about globalization, refinement and the future.

 

 

One Man’s Journey

The Beginnings

Wataru Ohashi was born in Hiroshima, Japan, in June of 1944. Even though he and his family lived in the rural area and were not in the city when the atomic bomb fell the following year, they did not escape the ravages of war. He was born prematurely and malnourished because of this mother’s poor health. As a baby he was fragile with a weak constitution. Then, at less than two years of age, his short life was threatened by dehydration from cholera, which spread through the town where he lived. Many children his age died. Because no Western-style medicine was available, his family turned to Oriental medicine The ancient healing art of moxibustion, commonly called “heat acupuncture,” saved his life. He still bears the round scars of the moxa burned directly on his skin, on CV 46 and BL 23. He regards these scars as “Seals of Life.” This early childhood event set the direction that Ohashi’s life would eventually take — one of a career in healing, although that path would not show itself until he had explored other options.

Ohashi attended Chuo University in Tokyo, where he majored in American literature. At the same time he became interested in the type of healing that had saved his life and decided to take a course in shiatsu. He was also interested in going to the United States to experience African-American history, literature and the civil rights movement that he studied at university. In spite of his family’s objections he made plans to go there after graduating from college.

Thus began his journey in 1970 to the United States. A journey that would take him much further than he ever dreamed at the time. He spent two weeks on a boat to reach California, and then another week by Greyhound bus to reach the South, where he enrolled at Tougaloo College, a predominantly African-American college outside Jackson, Mississippi, to improve his English. He later transferred to Howard University in Washington, DC, but studied for only 6 months, as he found living in Washington, DC, offered many different kinds of education that interested him more. To support himself, Ohashi fell back on the old healing techniques he knew and started giving shiatsu sessions at a health club located in the Watergate complex. Among his clients were then US Attorney General John Mitchell and Governor William Egan of Alaska.

Ohashi and NagyOne day, Ohashi was called to the Kennedy Center where the American Ballet Theatre was rehearsing. Their principle dancer, Ivan Nagy, had injured himself and was in a great deal of pain. Ohashi gave Nagy a few sessions and within two days the dancer was back on stage. And so began a long relationship between Ohashi and the dance world. The connection was so strong that Ohashi soon moved to New York City to be close to his new-found clients and friends.

The Growing Years

“Where do ideas come from?” A profound question. Usually, it’s a small group of people, not necessarily connected, that influence a “movement.” The human development movement of Hippy Ohashithe 1970s was just beginning when Ohashi arrived in New York. Without realizing it, he became one of the people in the US who would have such an influence. Many of today’s ideas about healing and alternative health began with this “handful of people” who were exploring a new lifestyle. Ohashi’s ideas and teaching can be found in many modalities.

He knew that giving sessions one-on-one would only get his health message to a few. Recognizing that teaching was the way to get information out to many, in 1973 Ohashi started the Shiatsu Dojo on the upper west side, with two “secretaries” who wanted to study with him and help him establish his school. They helped him to understand English, how to maneuver through city and state bureaucracy in order to incorporate the school, and with registration and promotion.

Within two years, Ohashi was so busy with students and clients that he outgrew the small space where he started. He needed to look for new space. He took out a map of New York and made aNew COI square extending from 60th Street to 50th Street and from 7th Avenue to Lexington. His assistant exclaimed, “But, Ohashi, that’s the most expensive area! You can’t afford it!” “I can’t afford anything,” Ohashi calmly replied. “So I can’t afford not to be there.” Within ten days, in 1974, Ohashi moved to 55th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues, in the prestigious Midtown district. It was the second floor of a midtown brownstone. There he established the Shiatsu Education Center of America, which he founded as a nonprofit organization.

Needing instructors to help him, he decided to start training his students to teach. His first instructor was Pauline Sasaki. In the summer of 1975, Ohashi obtained a ride with one of his students to travel to a yoga retreat in upstate New York. A young woman along for the ride was in the publishing field and would later become his wife, Bonnie Harrington.

Ohashi and BonnieOhashi first published a 5×4-foot Meridian and Tsubo chart in 5 colors (the colors of the Five Elements), which received a design award. He had already started writing Do-It-Yourself Shiatsu, which was published in 1976, and is still in print. Soon this book was translated into German, French and Italian, and organizations started to invite Ohashi to teach in Europe – first to Eschweiler, Germany in 1977; then to Switzerland the next year, and soon after to Italy. His book and those of other American writers were introducing Europe to the human potential movement. Within a few years, Ohashi began sending his American instructors to teach the entire curriculum. Soon Europeans started traveling to New York City to study the entire program. Ohashi was living up to his name, which means “Big Bridge.” Western Europeans were traveling west to study in America, and Ohashi was traveling east to teach in Europe. Many were crossing the bridges that Ohashi built.

This was just the beginning: next month we’ll discuss The Evolution of how Ohashi transformed shiatsu into the entirely new, elevated form we know now as Ohashiatsu®.

Muscles & Meridians & Sedation, Oh My!

When muscles are “tight,” this tightness may cause an excess or blockage of energy within a meridian (energy pathway/acupuncture line). Conversely, a blockage or stagnation of energy within the meridian may cause tight, or hypertonic, muscles. By sedating the meridian, muscles will relax. By sedating the muscle, the meridian may open, releasing the blockage of energy. You can see the interplay between energy, energy meridians and muscles. But it goes deeper.

Muscles and/or meridians in a hypertonic state over a longer period of time can cause misalignment of the spinal vertebrae, as well as other major health disturbances. George Goodheart, D.C., founder of applied kinesiology, believed that hypertonic muscles were usually caused by meridian imbalances, especially the Triple Heater meridian (which is associated with the thymus and thyroid glands, which are always involved in stress reactions). As an example, Goodheart said, “If the liver has a disturbed energy pattern, this disturbance ‘overflows’ into a muscle associated with that energy pattern [pecs and rhomboids].”
Muscle Meridian Chart
There are many way to approach this: Applied kinesiology, massage, myofascial release techniques, to name a few. You could work each muscle involved with a particular imbalance, although that might take time. Or you can sedate a meridian, thereby “working” several muscles at once. For instance, Triple Heater meridian encompasses the Gracilis muscle – which works with the Sartorius and hamstrings to help bend the knee; the Soleus which flexes the foot and lower leg; and the Gastrocnemius, which works with the soleus. Here, with one meridian, you are affecting more than five muscles.

You can also use acupuncture release points. Here you need to remember the sedation point of the meridian and or insertion points of the muscle. And if one set doesn’t work, you need to remember what meridian may control or feed the affected meridian, and work on those control points. That’s a lot to remember.Yu-Points-Chart

Another possibility is using the Yu or Shu acupuncture points on the back. These points are associated with different meridians which are associated with certain muscles (see chart). Consequently, you could sedate the Triple Heater point on the back (located between Lumber #1 & #2), and affect the gracilis, sartorius, hamstrings, soleus and gastrocnemius muscles; as well as the thyroid – all with one point.

In Ohashi’s Muscle Meridian Sedation DVDs), he shows how to easily do this without fatigue on your body, or having to remember a myriad of acupoint combinations. He shows body distortions – for example, a foot that flops to one side shows outward rotation of the leg, which could involve the sacrum or lower back. Rather than list points to work and where they are located, Ohashi simply shows how to position the body part to easily access the required Yu, insertion, or sedation point(s). Remembering where to position the leg to access specific points on the back is easier than remembering individual or combinations of trigger points.

Ohashi also demonstrates how differences in the size of the giver or receiver can prove challenging. Using pillows or body positioning, he shows how to easily remedy these issues for more effective treatment without strain on the giver’s body.

There are three volumes for Muscle Meridian Sedation DVD series. Volume 1 encompasses Upper Back Sedation, Hip Sedation with Healing Scarf Therapy technique, and lower Lumbar Bi-Lateral Sedation. Volume 2 continued Upper and Lower Back Sedation in a variety of positions, and introduces Shoulder and Foot Sedations. Volume 3 includes Neck Sedation in sit-up and supine positions; lumbar sedation, and Thumb and Wrist Sedation.

You can find these DVDs at Ohashi.com. And you can see sneak peeks of the videos on YouTube’s OhashiInstitute channel.