Tui Na is a traditional therapeutic massage style of Traditional Chinees Medicine. “Tui” means “Push” and “Na” means “Pull”. Pushing and pulling are the essence of all the other 24 techniques. All techniques of Tui Na are an evolution or variation of these two primal movements of touching another person.
Tui Na is considered to be the fourth leg of the Traditional Medicine Table with Herbs, Acupuncture, and Moxibustion being the other three legs on the table. Moxibustion is the least known of the four branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine and involves burning a dried herb called “moxa”, or mugwort in Europe, and using the heat for warming the body and relieving symptoms of cold, wind, poor circulation, low energy and stimulating the energy network of the body. Tui Na is a system of manual therapy. This means Tui Na uses the hands to help the patient directly without needles, moxa, or other tools.
There are many styles of Tui Na in China. Most schools or styles of Tui Na work with a foundation set of techniques that are similar and classics shared by all. However, how those techniques are used varies quite a bit by style. All styles of Tui Na require good coordination and sensitivity on the part of the practitioner to be effective. In traditional thought the practitioners Qi or vital force also needed to strong, Hopefully, much stronger than the patient and able to move or affect the patients Qi. In addition, many Tui Na techniques can be strenuous for the practitioner and require a combination of strength, especially hand and finger strength, and calm, quiet patience.
For these reasons some of the best Tui Na practitioners were always found amongst the masters of the martial arts community. Martial artists develop their strength, coordination, and sensitivity systematically. This makes them well prepared to learn and master the techniques of Tui Na. Offering Tui Na treatments and selling lineaments and poultices was one-way martial artists with these skills could supplement their income. The actual techniques of Tui Na were often linked to different styles of martial arts. Because you could make money with Tui Na and by selling the poultices and lineaments these sills and the knowledge of how to prepare the poultices was considered to be trade secrets. Learning the medicine, focusing on Tui Na, was often considered to be part of your training as a martial artist, especially as you reached advanced levels. Having good medical skills as a master or teacher was a valuable skill. If you can help your students when they are injured, they will be happy, able to return to practice sooner, and this builds the student’s trust in their teacher.
How does Tui Na compare to other styles of massage therapy?
- Tui Na is usually performed fully clothed without oils or lotions. In this regard Tui Na is modest compared to many styles of western massage where the patient is partially or fully unclothed and there practitioner is touching their skin directly.
- Tui Na can be performed on a patient on a massage table, but a table is not necessary. Tui Na can easily be performed on someone lying on the ground, on a bed, a chair, or even, depending on the technique, standing up. This flexibility to be able to treat a patient without a table is convenient.
- Tui Na includes techniques to treat fresh injuries and traumas using a variety of methods. Treating fresh injuries like pulled muscles is a different skill than treating general tension, older injuries, or structural imbalances.
- Tui Na combines muscular skeletal therapy with the effects of stimulating the acupoints like acupuncture. Tui Na can work directly with the patients Qi like receiving an acupuncture treatment.
- Sometimes Tui Na feels great, other times Tui Na can be agonizingly painful. Tui Na is designed to be real medicine and achieve a lasting curative effect with a minimum of treatments.
- A skillful practitioner can often relieve the patient’s condition or complaints with one or two treatments. Tui Na’s massage techniques require skill to perform and practice to master.
- With a master practitioner with strong Qi, Tui Na treatment can be incredibly effective and replace longer or more invasive treatments.
- Tui Na is rare compared to other styles of massage therapy.