| Background | Japan's Pilgrimage
Bruce Woolf is
a New York Licensed Massage Therapist, and Certified Shiatsu Practitioner.
Bruce has twenty years of professional training and private practice. He has worked for health clubs and was Senior Massage Therapist
at Battery Park Swim & Fitness Center. He is a practitioner at the
New York Open Center's Wellness Services and has served on the staff of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Integrative Medicine Program pain management. In addition to his bodywork,
Bruce has taught classes in Natural Exercises, Self Massage and Shiatsu,
and has been on the review board of Consensus
Health for the Massage Therapy Credentialing Committee.
Education, Credentials, and Associations
Ohashi Institute: Shiatsu,
Swedish Institute: Massage Therapy and Shiatsu (NY)
Swedish Institute; Continuing Education
Dancers and Athletes
School Of Philosophy And Healing In Action
(Five Elements Approach presented by
The Traditional Acupuncture Institute (MD)
Shen Center of Shiatsu:(MA)
International School Of Shiatsu: (PA)
Institute for Continuing Education: Advanced Massage Therapy
Tao Healing: Chi Nei Tsang:Internal Organ Chi Massage (NY/NJ)
La Copeteria: Exchange program, taught as well as attended classes
East West Center: Massage (England)
Masanori Kabashima, Shiatsu, Seitai and Sotai @ Buddhist Temple
University State Education Department of NY: New
York License exam for Massage Therapist
American Massage Therapy
My involvement in massage/bodywork first grew out of an interest in health
and athletics. In 1989, after participating in a theater performance in
Cadiz, Spain I traveled to the north of the country where I first experienced
Shiatsu. I then used my time and energy on a daily basis to learn about
this artform of bodywork. It was the connection of the Ki (pronounced
"key" in Japanese and means "energy" or "life force") that enthusiastically
changed my views in what I knew about massage.
there were not the strokes of massage or even the use of oils of any kind.
A practitioner of Shiatsu uses his hands to connect with the energy that
is flowing through another person. This coincides with each individual's
capacity to being able to tap into his own energy, and take charge of
his or her life - be it with health at the moment, or in the future. Within
the core of each individual is their whole life: past, present and prospect
for the future. Shiatsu encourages a person to use their senses as a tool
so they'll learn to help themselves. This is valuable information that
can help with our well being and in healing.
realize at the time that my prior involvement with nutrition, different
dance styles, and qualifying for the Olympic trials in boxing resulted
in my earliest interests in massage/bodywork. These activities were on
par with the exultation of the adrenaline rush that occurs in athletic
events. It also comes to mind when my coach "T T" (Tough Tony) would give
massage to his boxers. I remember how good and painful it felt at the
same time, and how loose and limber those tight, tender muscles became
after the massage. The following day we always showed up looking forward
to another workout.
Ohashi was my first first formal teacher I had for Shiatsu.
After graduating the Ohashi Institute I was invited to his New
York Masters Class in 2002. "Ohashi" means "bridge" in Japanese. At an early age, Ohashi felt his name was a sign
for him to reach out to as many people as he could. Ohashi's school
as a bridge to the "West" combining Zen Shiatsu, meditation,
gentle exercises and stretches similar to yoga called Makko-ho.
He calls his method Ohashiatsu.
explains that the word for "human being" in Japanese is the same
as the word for "being." Ohashi emphasizes as being there
for the other person, and that the importance in each treatment
of being natural and reverent.
I have traveled through Japan searching for the most
helpful Shiatsu, bodywork, and Sensei (Master Teacher). This came
from my interest of the almost mythological beauty of pictures drawn
and written about the landscape and people of Japan, China, and
India. Historically, Asia had many wise sages who taught the importance
of living with nature, and the connection with health and society.
Fortunately in Japan, there are still people who have a reverence
for traditions, the arts, and the environment. Several learned teachers
took me under their tutelage in my quest for further knowledge of
Shiatsu and different types of bodywork.
session was in a village with a honorable man who was nearly a 100
years old. The Shiatsu Doctor shared with me some of his ways. He was
referred to as "Doctor" and "Sensei" (Master, or teacher) by the people
who came to him for treatments. He was so highly respected in his village
that I had to take an oath not to reveal his identity. His patients were
guarding him so that he could preserve his energy for the work with them.
Amazingly, the Shiatsu Doctor was seeing several clients daily for sessions
that lasted for an hour or two each.
Doctor, a proud man, had a great energy, was an artist, and great storyteller.
Several of his clients had been seeing him for over half a century. He
appeared to treat everyone, even the Yakuza (Japanese Mafia). Since he
felt that the stars and planets was an aspect of the heavens, as health
was to Earth, he told their leader that in order for the treatments to
hold, they themselves were also responsible. The Shiatsu Doctor said they
must feel as fortunate and happy with what they had and be willing to
put back into society what they themselves had made in order to reciprocate
this "Energy." He didn't say what exactly happened but we know the
Yakuza members had stopped coming, except the leader, who remained one
of his long time clients.
connection of the body and mind with spirituality and Shiatsu was an exhilarating
adventure. While descending snow-caped mountains (near Nagano, Japan's
Alps), onsens (hot springs) and the 15th century city of Kanazawa with
ancient Buddhist Temples and beautiful gardens, I got word that the very
well-known Monk in Kyoto was willing to give me a Shiatsu session and
an opportunity to study his methods.
Kabashima is an author of more than a dozen books on health
and fitness, which includes Shiatsu, meditation and natural exercise.
said he felt it was important to include the body with the mind and spirituality.
He built his temple alongside his home about 25 years ago. While receiving
the Shiatsu session, I suddenly asked the Monk, "What do you feel? How
is my energy?" Kabashima replied, "How is your energy? If
you do not know, who do you expect to?" This Koan-like answer without
an answer stirred a reverence for the teacher and desire to learn his
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