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Anmo — Taoist Massage

When you feel the cold, there is a natural tendency to try to create warmth by rubbing certain areas of your skin, such as your hands or arms, to cause the required friction. Similarly, if you have a painful joint, then it is an automatic reflex action to give it a rub or even exercise it in some way. Then again, if you pull a muscle, then it is completely natural for you to try and ease the tension by manipulating the affected section of your body. Such automatic reactions are natural to all mankind, and they do help you to eradicate such things as cold, pain and stress of any kind, at any time, even though you may have no knowledge of massage whatsoever.
In China, however, remedial massage has been practised for literally thousands of years, for it was the 'Sons of Reflected Light' (Fankuang Tzu) who taught us how to energize or sedate the body through the correct use of the hands. Having learnt the depth of this art it was a natural step to separate certain sections for further research, and that is why there came into being the techniques of acupressure (Tien Chen) and then finally acupuncture (Hsia Chen Pien). This deep research led to the discovery and utilization of the energy channels, which are known today as the meridian lines, and it was found that it was possible to stimulate or soothe, depending on the particular technique or point used, certain areas on the surface of the skin, which in turn, could convey certain effects to the internal parts of the body. So these arts also had a completely natural Yin and Yang application.
Whilst the Chinese Taoist systems of massages are very simple, they are also extremely effective, and they have proved themselves over and over again as a very dynamic form of therapeutics, and, as such, have well established themselves in the healthy arts of China.
Taoist massage (Anmo) has been taught in Chinese medical schools over many centuries, but unfortunately it did decline drastically during the Sung Period (960-1276), so much so that it took a very long time before it got back into the curriculum of the medical profession that existed during that period. However, once it had re-established itself, it was not long before it was again being used in conjunction with all the other methods of treatment. Today it is taught as a completely separate art, and it has the distinct advantage that it can be used entirely on its own, without the use of any other treatments, and yet it can equally harmonize with Ch'ang Ming (Taoist long life health diet), and also with Ts'ao Yao (herbal therapy), and in so doing it creates a balance of the Yin and Yang, which in this case, provides internal and external therapy at the same time, so the period of recuperation is accelerated.
It can break down the harmful effects of fatty tissue, strengthen muscular sinews, relieve cramps and spasms, and help in cases of rheumatism, osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, chronic back troubles, paralysis of the nerves, and multiple sclerosis. It can ease the tension of stiff joints, increase the body resistance to colds, fevers, chills, coughing and asthma, as well as combating diarrhoea and constipation, indigestion, ulcers, anuria and hernia. It will eradicate headaches, migraines and facial paralysis, and, depending on the techniques that are used, it will sedate or stimulate the flow of Ch'i (internal energy) along the lines of the meridians to the various organs of the body. It can also have similar effects on the circulation of the blood, and also on the respiratory system.
In view of the foregoing it can be fully appreciated that Anmo is also excellent for the whole digestive and bowel system, helping the body to become generally healthier and more active, through the toning up of the muscles and tissues. And in doing all this, it is enabling the body to combat all kinds of internal diseases and infections. In so doing, it will gain greater strength and better health to withstand external cold, excessive heat and bacteria. That is why it is now widely and commonly used throughout China for the treatment of children, adults, the very old and the sick.
It is wonderful to know that not only has Taoist massage (Anmo) taken its rightful place within the medical profession of China, but that the medical professions and alternative medicine groups outside of China have taken up this very ancient art in a big way. Specialized classes are now being held in England, Wales, France, Germany and Holland, but enquiries are pouring in from all over the world, from people whose one aim in life is to help others to overcome the handicaps of modern society.

The Techniques

Taoist massage (Anmo) falls into two main groups, and like all things connected with the Chinese Taoist philosophical outlook, each group conforms to the principles of the Tao, abiding by the dualism of Yin and Yang, which in turn encompasses the five statutes of the natural elements (Wu Hsing). These groups and the systems which fall within the scope of their remedial massage are as follows:

Stimulation (Yang) techniques

  • Grasping.
  • Kneading.
  • Pinch-pull.
  • Rubbing.
  • Tapping.

Sedation (Yin) techniques

  • Pressing.
  • Rotating.
  • Rolling.
  • Wiping and scraping.
  • Pushing.

Taoist Ways of Healing - The Chinese Art of Pa Chin Hsien

by Chee Soo

Copyright ©Seahorse Books 2012 reproduced with permission