[translations idioma=”EN” url=”https://rgnn.org/2013/11/28/el-ser-humano-necesita-el-equilibrio-entre-la-mente-y-el-cuerpo”]
MADRID, SPAIN. Dressed in a black kimono and reclining back on a sofa, the Shiatsu master Shigeru Onoda receives ROOSTERGNN in his office, where the smell of burned incense and the sound of Zen music emanates the feeling of Asia.
Originally from Tokyo, Onoda graduated from the Japan Shiatsu College in 1981, the only official school in the world that teaches Shiatsu therapy. After obtaining his license to practice Shiatsu, he arrived in Spain with the idea of spreading the therapy across the country. In 1984, he founded his own clinic and eight years later, the Spanish Shiatsu Association. Since then, he has opened various centers, published a series of books and moreover, regularly participates international congresses to present his findings.
What exactly is Shiatsu?
Shigeru Onoda: Shiatsu literally means Shi (finger) and Atsu (pressure), referring to the pressure applied on a patient’s body through our fingers. For the Japanese, this is a therapy used to cure common back problems.
Since when have you wanted to pursue Shiatsu therapy?
Years ago, I practiced martial arts and was taught key points of the human body: weak points, active points… all of which began to spark my interest. Once I had finished university, I studied at the Japan Shiatsu College for three years, for a total of 2200 hours. Upon finishing my education, I took the state exam in order to begin practicing as a therapist.
When you arrived in Spain in 1984, how was this type of therapy received?
29 years have already passed and Shiatsu is still not legally recognized as an alternative medicine. 29 years ago, of course, this therapy wasn’t even known. In Barcelona, other therapies, such as Chiro massages, existed. But Shiatsu is completely different; therefore, it was criticized. It is not simply relaxation therapy, but rather, a way to treat underlying problems. I have noticed that the Spanish frequently suffer from lumbar spinal curve pains, people began coming to the clinic.
Throughout your career, you have been developing a different style of Shiatsu, specifically tailored to the Spanish body type. How does this differ from traditional Shiatsu?
All types of Shiatsu therapy were created by Tokujiro Namikoshi. Yet while the original therapy he created is thought to be tailored to the Asian body type, Shiatsu aze is thought to be tailored to the Spanish body type. There are differences between the styles because there are differences between these body types. For example, Asians tend to have longer small intestines than Spaniards. The spine of the Spanish body type, in turn, has a greater curvature.
You once affirmed that Shiatsu therapy could be more effective than traditional medicine in curing conditions such as stress-induced depression and anxiety. Do you still think this is true?
I do. Of the 29 years I’ve lived in Spain, for the first ten, I worked with a lot of patients suffering from physical pain. For the last 19 years, patients have started to come to me with emotional problems, such as anxiety or depression.
City inhabitants first go to traditional doctors, where they are prescribed medications that will ultimately only lead them to suffer other side effects. As a result, people fear medications, and through word of mouth, they find out that Shiatsu could cure the same types of problems.
Establishing an equilibrium between the mind and body is essential, and we work to restore such a balance by applying pressure to key points, which alleviates emotional pain. Therefore, I think that Shiatsu also works well for people with emotional illnesses; after all, the number of patients continues to grow.
Despite being aware of the effectiveness of Shiatsu, the Spanish government still has not legalized it. What is your opinion on this?
Medicine and physical therapy are markets. We have intruded in these markets and thus, conflict with doctors and physical therapists arise as they wish to protect their territory.
In Barcelona, Shiatsu was legalized but the medical and physical therapy communities began to pressure the Catalan government against it, and now, the process has completely stalled. The European Union is looking into whether our therapy works and whether to legalize it.
Many people who are looking for alternative treatments to Western medicine come to our centers. However, since Shiatsu has not been legalized, insurance cannot be applied. So, if people want to have hands-on therapy, on many occasions, they have to shell out expenses they cannot afford to spend.
Nowadays, some private insurance companies have begun to research hands-on therapy and some have begun to approve Shiatsu. Sanitas, for example, is one of the latter, and although they still have high requirements for approving such treatments, at least it’s a start.
You have published a number of books and founded various schools. What else are you planning to do?
We have been in contact with poor people in areas of South America where it is difficult to get access to Western medicine. Therefore, in the future, I want to teach people in these countries “autoshiatsu” to increase their use of natural healing and defend themselves against stress-induced symptoms. This particular project consists of teaching Shiatsu to poor or middle-class people in these South American countries. In Europe, my students are already teaching on my behalf, and thus this could be an option in South America as well.
How many of these students do you have?
There are less than 30 or 40 of my closest students, but about 30 students graduate from the schools each year. In Spain, there are almost 300 or 400 students to date. In addition, every month, I go to Rome in order to teach Shiatsu and also have contacts in Holland.
You have dedicated your entire life to Shiatsu. Was it worth it?
I enjoy Shiatsu, so I never get bored with it. I am happy to dedicate my entire life to this therapy; in fact, my closest students even joke and tell me to get married to Shiatsu.
It is a common saying that the Japanese work a lot, but I love my work. Weekends should surely be spent with one’s family, but I came to Spain to spread this type of therapy and there is still work to be done. Perhaps from the point of view of other people, they think I am foolish to work so much but I like what I do. I would like to work my whole life as I do now. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but the world of Shiatsu needs a person like Shigeru Onoda.