The Bare Hands Doctor - Master Tim Wong
China is probably the earliest country to have developed its own medical system. In Traditional Chinese Medicine there are three major clinical treatments: Herbal Medicine, Acupuncture, and Tui-Na. It is unclear which treatment was used first. Some say that in ancient times, the first Emperor of China - Fu Xi or Ox Tamer - used a stone needle on his own body to achieve a therapeutic effect. This treatment later became known as acupuncture. Others claim that Shen Loong or Divine Farmer, the second Emperor of China, tested hundreds of plants and grasses and applied them to his own body to treat illnesses. This practice later became known as herbal medicine. All these tales are legends, but nevertheless I believe it is human instinct to use natural methods - including massage - to treat pain and discomfort in our bodies.
Early recordings of Tui-Na - written on animal bones and tortoise shells - have been unearthed in China and traced back to the Shang Period. During that time, Chinese society was dominated by so-called "Witch Doctors" and "Miracle Doctors". Their main practice was massage and physical manipulation, incantation, praying, fortune-telling, and the manufacture of home-made medicines.
The use of systematic massage in Chinese medicine can be traced back to Wang Di (the Yellow Emperor, 2674-2575 BC). The Neijing Suwen, an ancient medical text by Wang Di says: "In the center of China are flatlands, which are often damp. Many varieties of foods abound and living is peaceful. Conditions that manifest most are colds and people often suffer influenza and Wei syndromes (flaccidity and atrophy syndromes). One should utilize Dao-In exercise, manipulation and Tui-Na massage." It is believed that Tui-Na massage and manipulation came from the center of China. The Neijing Suwen goes on to say: "People who appear physically sound, but who are depressed or bitter, often develop conditions in the channels and collaterals. One should use acupuncture and moxibustion to treat. People who seem joyous, but appear physically unwell, often manifest conditions of the tendons and bones. One should use warming techniques, massage, and Dao-In exercise. People who are repeatedly startled or traumatized have an obstruction of Qi and blood in the channels and collaterals; they can manifest numbness or paralysis of the extremities. One should use Tui-Na massage to treat."
The Yellow Emperor is known as the Father of Traditional Chinese Medicine and was a great devotee of Taoism. He introduced the 14-tract channels, 365 points (reaction points or energy points), and the five natural elements to describe our five major organs and emotions. The five elements are metal, water, wood, fire, and earth.
Tui-Na has a very long and involved history. Many different types of massage developed throughout China with different forms being mainly regional and with their own specific treatment modalities. The oldest and most respect form is Tui-Na. Other examples include One Finger Meditation Tui-Na (which originated from Chinese Buddhism), Qi Gong Tui-Na (which developed from Chinese martial arts), Point-Manipulation Tui-Na (which is a branch of the Yellow Emperor's Tui-Na and was introduced to Japan where it became Shiatsu), Bone Reconstruction Tui-Na, General Massage (called "Onmo") which is for general relaxation, Infantile Tui-Na, Health-Keeping Self-Massage Tui-Na, and Beauty Massage. Another form of Tui-Na involves massaging the palms, feet, and ears. According to Chinese medicine, massaging specific points on these locations has a direct correlation and influence on related internal organs and other parts of the limbs. This form of Tui-Na was taken to the West where it is known today as Reflexology. More often, therapists use these individual treatment forms as a compliment to Western forms of massage or to Western medicine.
During the Sui-Tong Period (581-906 AD), Traditional Chinese Medicine was further developed and medical schools and departments were officially established under the Imperial Medical Bureau for Education and Scientific Research. The first illustration of the 12-tract channels and eight extra meridian channels of the human body was painted in color in three dimensions. Later, the knowledge of Tui-Na, together with Traditional Chinese Medicine, was introduced to Korea, Japan, Arabia and throughout the East.
The Tong and Ming Dynasties were two periods during which Tui-Na flourished and fully entered the Chinese medical system. The Tui-Na treatment range developed from external to internal, from physical to mental, and from traumatology to gynecology. Tui-Na for infants was developed later and is now one of the biggest departments in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
During the Cultural Revolution of the 1950s, the popularity of Traditional Chinese Medicine suffered, especially Tui-Na. After the Cultural Revolution, Traditional Chinese Medicine began to recover and in the 1960s it began to be introduced to the West. However, Tui-Na was slow to develop outside of the East due to Western cultures not being used to massage as a treatment modality. In the late 1970s massage therapy was being developed all over the West and in the United States. Thanks to the 1960s "free love and flower power" generation, people began to open their minds to Eastern ideas, relax their bodies, and receive natural healing.