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Encyclopedia of Thai Massage: Complete Guide to Traditional Thai Massage Therapy & Acupressure - 2nd Edition

by Dr Pierce Salguero with David Roylance

listed in massage

[Image: Encyclopedia of Thai Massage:  Complete Guide to Traditional Thai Massage Therapy & Acupressure - 2nd Edition]

This is an excellent book for anybody interested in Thai massage. The authors of this book have both studied at the Thai Massage School Shivagakomarpaj known as the "Old Medicine Hospital". I studied privately with two of the principal teachers, Pramost and Song who also taught the authors of this book.

They explain that the founder of this school, Ajahn Sintorn Chaichakan originally studied at the Wat Po in Bangkok before establishing the  "Old Medicine Hospital" in Changmai in 1960. Ajahn Sintorn adapted his Wat Pho massage to create what is now known as the Northern Style Thai Massage which still contains elements of the southern style ( Wat pho style) of Thai massage.

This is an interesting fact as there has always been lots of discussion about the northern and southern style of Thai massage. This book is completely based on the style of massage developed at the "Old Medicine Hospital" in Changmai over many years.

Ajahn Sintorn passed away in 2005 and his son and his nephews are the current owners.

The authors are quite convinced that the application of Chinese, Indian or biomedical traditional medical theory to Thai massage is to seriously detract from the fundamentals of Thailand's cultural heritage.

I however, having experienced Thai massage in Bangkok and Changmai and written a Tui Na Chinese massage book, can quite definitely feel the strong Chinese influence in modern Thailand. Thai massage like all others is in a state of constant evolution and one of the mechanisms of this is to adopt already existing techniques and systems and adapt them to their new context. This is a fact even though some purists like the authors of this book might be reluctant to accept it !

Origins of Thai Massage

Origins of Thai Massage (Diagram by Maria Mercati)

The routine described in this book is very sound. The photographs cover all the techniques that are described, but sometimes the quality could be better. As the author of the first British Thai Massage book, I am slightly concerned about some of the advanced techniques that are described in this book. They can be quite dangerous if done without supervision from an expert teacher.  

This book presents a whole chapter on the original 10 main Thai massage Sen lines. As a guide to technique, I found it slightly vague and not altogether helpful for a modern practitioner. There is another chapter on Thai Acupressure therapy.  As a teacher of both Thai and Tui Na massage I would expect to see clear anatomical descriptions of all the acupressure points illustrated in the diagrams. To be able to apply pressure to acu-points, it is essential for the student to be able to feel the tissues so as to locate the points accurately and effectively.

The authors have put a lot of effort into relating symptoms with acupressure points and reference to Sen and treatment. I am not sure that it is completely successful in its aim. I certainly found it difficult to follow.

This book has obviously been written with passion for Thai culture and its roots in traditional Thai medicine. This fact shines through every page and brings to the West the philosophy and practice of Thai massage as taught at the "Old Medicine Hospital" in Changmai.  I would not describe it as a definitive work, but it is very thorough and well illustrated. It certainly has a place on the bookshelf of everyone interested in Thai massage.

Maria Mercati
Published by Findhorn Press.
ISBN 978-1-84409-563-6

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