What separates Qi in TCM vs. mystical “woo-woo” Qi described in martial arts? “Internal qi and external power are completely different. One deals with functions of the body and of mind to be able to strengthen and control the bodily functions, and the other is being able to extend a force through space.” -Dr. Alex Shpigel (International Lei Tai Heavy weight champion and TCM doctor.)
Tai Chi Massage:
Tai Chi massage is a modality that was taught to me by my massage teacher Sifu Nancy Bloomfield back in 2005 when I attended Qi elements school of Tai Chi and Massage. She was a master level massage therapist who learned this modality from C.C. Liu in DC’s Chinatown. C.C. Liu was a student of Xiang Yangho (Hsiung Yang-ho) of Taiwan who was student of Yang JianHou.
Some of the back story behind Tai Chi massage is that in the old schools of Tai Chi Chuan, the younger students had to do massage on the senior students for several reasons to understand:
1. Various Acu-points for cavity strikes, acupuncture/acupressure healing, and for meditative Neijia exercises,
2. Muscle and Tendon groups for seizing and grasping tendons/muscles, and for massage healing,
3. Joint and Bone locations for breaks, dislocations, and traumatology healing and bone setting.
The deeper the more advanced Tai Chi senior student went into training and fighting, various injures were occurred and knowing how to heal it was just as important than knowing how to injure someone. Either way, it was for both knowledge and experience of anatomy for both fighting and healing.
It’s about Bones, Muscles, and Tendons, not Fascia.
In my entire time at massage school and TCM mastery program, the topic of fascia was rarely if ever discussed. We did touch upon myo-fascia release, but that modality is used to massage the dense muscles to smooth out muscular adhesions and tension. The connective tissue called areolar aka fascia, which is a membrane covering muscle belly, has scientifically not been determined if a problem in this muscle membrane causes muscle issues. Muscle covers 70% of the body, it a type of tissue, areolar/fascia is like a jacket holding that muscle filled with blood. Inflammation is like a tight jacket (fascia) around that muscle belly. Massage opens and loosen up this jacket (fascia) and moves blood in the muscle belly. The modern “Neo-biomechanics” talk on fascia, tensegrity, and ‘Anatomy Trains’ is a marketing phenomenon. Be careful with these new philosophies and its over-emphasis on fascia. It is usually discussed by folks not even certified in any massage or other therapies. Not just certified massage therapists, but certified personal strength trainers are pretty annoyed as well by the internet hype surrounding fascia. Structural integrity requires understanding of bones, muscles, and tendons dealing with forces upon it. We will not talk more about fascia as it was never discussed in Tai Chi massage.
Matt with Virginia Board of Nursing Massage Therapist and bodyworker license. More at combatsportsmassage.com
Tai Chi massage differs from other forms of massage in that it is a experience which enhances a deep feeling of contentment. The massage is very relaxing and works not only with the physical body, but with the Qi energy in the channels. The techniques used vary from light strokes to deep tissue work.
Light brush strokes trace the channel lines and help them to run smoothly and efficiently. This energy work enhances the physical aspects of the massage as waves of Qi are released throughout these healing channels of the body. This technique nurtures the parasympathetic nervous system, invigorates every organ and carries life force into every cell.
Inner structure of Tai Chi massage: Bones, Muscles, and Tendons.