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A forum for those interested in Asian Bodywork and Continuing Education in Asian Bodywork.

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Comment by Eeris Kallil CMT on August 22, 2009 at 5:39pm
Maria, thank you for the detailed description on AMMA therapy. It sounds different than the Japanese Anma, which is a very vigorous MASSAGE, so vigorous that my teacher was going through massage tables like dirty sheets...(here is a funny story- my teacher is Japanese with a heavy accent. Whenever he showed us a stroke he would say "start with light lubing stroke" we all looked at each other and thought that this is way to vigorous to be called light loving stroke... only toward the end of the workshop we realized he was saying light rubbing stroke...i guess I can tell this funny tale because i have an accent myself..)
Anma is performed directly on the skin but without oil. Anma includes a lot of stretching and does not follow specific meridian lines but pressure is applied on specific acupressure points. Yes, there is a lot of tapotement…At the level I took the class there was no TCM assessment made, but I am sure that it is part of the work if you go to advanced studies. I stopped doing Anma because I did not enjoy the pace and hard work. You are actually breathing hard and sweating... I did take some elements of that massage and I use it in my body work.
What I mostly use in my practice is Zen Shiatsu.(developed by Shizotu Masunaga) and I like what you said in earlier posts about bringing body mind and spirit together and into balance. This is what Zen Shiatsu is about and definitely my goal in my practice. I do a Hara assessment which is checking "pulses" in the abdomen. I use the information I get to set an intention for the session, which is not only physical but also any personal challenges the client is working through. I use my understanding of TCM and the five elements to understand the underlining cause of their discomfort. I use guided mediations and intuitive guidance when it is appropriate. I just love this work because just like you said- it's not only rejuvenating and nurturing for the client, as a practitioner I basically spend my day channeling and meditating. This is how I am able to keep working as much as I do and as long as I have.

Thanks again for teaching me about AMMA therapy- it sounds awesome. Hope others will share about their work.
Eeris Kallil
Comment by Maria Troia on August 22, 2009 at 1:20pm
Wanted to follow up to my last post.... I'd love for all of us to share what it is about what we individually do as Asian bodyworkers, so we may all use this forum to learn and grow.

The world needs therapies that link body-mind-spirit, perhaps more than ever. One of my greatest frustrations is my exposure to other advanced Asian bodywork methods where I live now is limited.

Like Eeris, I am curious about other modalities as they relate to what I do -- and would like to learn more from the ones who know modalities best.

So Eeris, please educate us about Anma, Shiatsu and Thai too. And everyone else here, please feel free to add to the Asian bodywork pot with your insights and understanding about what you do.

Maria Troia, MSEd, LMT, NCTMB, CH
Comment by Maria Troia on August 22, 2009 at 12:45pm
Hi Eeris,

I'm afraid I don't have much personal experience with Anma, so I'm not sure how well I can answer this, but I'll try. I do know they all came from the same root, which is the Chinese amma. And I believe Japan was one of the last places of migration, so I think the Japanese Anma might be younger.

I only had one direct experience with Anma (and I'm not sure how authentic a session it was), but the touch felt more superficial than in AMMA Therapy(R). Again, I'm not sure how authentic the session was and I suspect the therapist had only taken a foundational class since she didn't seem to use any TCM assessment tools like tongue or pulse. So I probably don't have the best basis for comparision.

From my reading though, I believe the Japanese Anma involves percussion, which AMMA Therapy(R) does not. AMMA Therapy(R) relies on a blend of circular digital, circular thumb pressure, and palmar embrace. And of course manipulation of traditional points, plus several additional points discovered by Tina Sohn. My clients describe the bodywork as more of a gentle rocking massage that typically calms them and then energizes them. (No oils used, same as other TCM protocols, but we do use liniments for various purposes, move Qi, move Blood, etc).

What might be easier is for me to share some of the distinct things about AMMA Therapy(R), and then you can compare that information to what authentic Anma is since you probably know more than I do about the Japanese method than I do.

The most obvious thing to Asian bodyworkers about AMMA Therapy(R) is it is done on a standard height massage table (which is why it was easily adapted to the hospital setting in the NY College's Wholistic Nursing program). We spend a lot of time teaching the practitioner how to apply the Wu Chi posture and other concepts from T'ai Chi to utilize their energy, maintain their alignment, align their channels with the client's channels, etc. (I know alignment is important in other forms of TCM bodywork too).

Another thing that a lot of Asian bodyworkers comment on is that AMMA Therapy(R) doesn't necessarily follow the direction of the meridian, but rather follows a proximal to distal direction, i.e., when working the Large Intestine tendino muscle channel, we do not work from the 2nd digit up, but rather from top down. This is one of the most common comments I hear from students as to differences from other Asian bodywork techniques. And while Mrs. Sohn didn't state it this way, the way I've made sense of it for myself is when you look at the direction we work in, we are basically following the direction of the peripheral nerves, while being on the tendino muscle channel. As I was taught, we were always descending the energy away from the head, moving Qi, Blood, and Fluids in a downward/outbound position, basically giving the energy a port of exit. I think perhaps this is more unique to AMMA Therapy(R).

Direction is very important to the protocol. We always start supine. We always start at the head and work toward the feet. Then we move to the prone treatment and again, work from head to feet, proximal to distal. It is a very specific protocol, one channel preceding the next. These specific steps are outlined in the text.

Sensitivity and strength are at the heart of AMMA Therapy(R) and we spend a lot of time cultivating the practitioner to enhance these skills, help them center and ground their energy. I think this is actually one of the greatest gifts of AMMA Therapy(R) and benefits not just the client, but the practitioner (I know it changed my life in significant ways). Mrs. Sohn was a healing sensitive who could directly experience the energy of her patients, so this notion of centering and deepening sensitivity and awareness are an important focus of the program she created. It's important though to note that not every practitioner reaches this level, nor is expected to. Those who do not reach that level, or haven't studied long enough to get there, are still able to achieve structural results. Another thing is that we teach the importance of setting intention too, which is expanded from T'ai Chi.

TCM assessment is important. We use the 5 Elements in assessing an imbalance, and obviously a great deal of consideration is given to the emotions as root cause (like other TCM bodywork methods). We teach the 4 Methods and the 8 Principles of TCM to assess imbalances. We discuss lifestyle changes with the client, including traditional Chinese diet, movement exercises like T'ai Chi, Qi Gong, or Yoga. We suggest meditation as well. At the advanced level, supplementation and moxa maybe be used.

The training is cummulative. Basic I covers the anterior basic revitalizing treatment. Basic II covers the posterior revitalizing treatment. Then we move into Applied I & II, with cover specific conditions such as indigestion, PMS, constipation, low back pain, etc. There is also a theory class, Oriental Clinical Assessment (were we cover patterns in TCM, pulse, tongue, etc). There is a technique refinement class and a clinic option at the most advanced level.

I hope that helps some. I have a video I was hoping to post on You Tube, but have had trouble getting it to download from my camera. Hopefully I'll get it on there soon so people will have a visual.

As to one method having anything to do with the other, I suppose the simplest answer is that one grew from the other, originating in China with amma and carried as I understand it from monks from one place in the Orient to another over years. It's a question of time and age of each technique as if migrated, and how the culture itself adapted the original method in accordance with philosophy/understanding of the people and the time.

Hope this is helpful (if not also a little long-winded!).

Maria Troia, MSEd, LMT, NCTMB, CH
Comment by Eeris Kallil CMT on August 21, 2009 at 10:43pm
Hello Maria- does AMMA therapy have anything to do with Anma (pronounced Amma) the Japanese massage?
Comment by David J. Razo on August 21, 2009 at 1:57pm
Hello Everyone,

I learned about Asian bodywork during my studies of Chinese medicine. I love the philosophy and principles that form the foundation in this natural medicine. I integrate western and eastern manual techniques together.
Comment by Maria Troia on August 21, 2009 at 12:31am
Welcome to the group, David. Please feel free to share a little something about yourself, or open a discussion topic.

Maria Troia, MSEd, LMT, NCTMB, CH
Comment by Maria Troia on August 14, 2009 at 1:55pm
AMMA Therapy Basic I will be held in the Red Rock Country of Sedona, AZ from October 30 - November 2, 2009 at Your HeartWalk Center on Hwy 179.

AMMA Therapy® is a 5,000 year old system of healing, originating in Korea and brought to the United States by the late Mrs. Tina Sohn, descendant of a royal line of TCM healers and a healing sensitive who could directly experience the energy of others. Along with her late husband, Dr. Robert Sohn, they founded the Wholistic Health Center on Long Island, the largest center of its kind on the east coast, now known as the New York College of Health Professions. AMMA Therapy® was also taught to acupuncture students at the college as well as Wholistic Nursing students who have integrated the technique into the hospital setting. The Sohns co-authored what is said to be the most comprehensive text on Asian bodywork: AMMA Therapy®, A Complete Textbook of Oriental Bodywork and Medical Principles.

AMMA Therapy® offers your clients a complete form of therapy, incorporating bodywork, Chinese diet, and concepts from Qi Gong and T’ai Chi Chuan. It is based on the Eight Principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as Five Element Theory. The technique’s focus on the Five Elements places a high importance on the vital role of the emotions in healing. An AMMA Therapy® session completely embraces the notion of treating body, mind, and spirit.

At its most basic level, AMMA Therapy® addresses structural imbalances such as neck and back pain. At the advanced level, AMMA Therapy® also benefits conditions such as sinusitis, asthma, digestive problems, PMS, menopause, low immune function, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and headaches.

As the therapist is taught how to direct energy from the Dan Tien (the hara), this therapy is easy on your body and reenergizes you along with your client.

Instructor: Maria Troia, MSEd, LMT, NCTMB, CH

Maria Troia is a former instructor of AMMA Therapy® and a student clinic supervisor at the NY College of Health Professions. She has the permission of the current trademark holder to continue to teach AMMA Therapy® independently. She is also approved by NCBTMB as a CE provider (# 450883-08).

$500 (32 contact hours) on or before 9/26/09
(After 9/26 tuition is $550)

To register call 480-313-6260 or visit for more information.
Comment by Maria Troia on August 10, 2009 at 12:03pm
Welcome, Eeris! Your sessions sound wonderful... I love being treated with moxa and find it's hard to find therapists who use it (never quite the same when you self-treat either!).

Maria Troia, MSEd, LMT, NCTMB, CH
Comment by Eeris Kallil CMT on August 9, 2009 at 11:05pm
I am a Zen Shiatsu practitioner and instructor. I also do Thai massage and use Moxa in my sessions. I just love the diagnosis tool in Shiatsu- because it gives me a deeper understanding of the clients well being,
Comment by Maria Troia on August 9, 2009 at 1:26am
Welcome, Jon! Based on your background, it sounds like you might be a graduate of the NY College of Health Professions? I used to teach there and now teach AMMA Therapy(R) for CE credit in Arizona and nationally. Great that you are in the OM program too! (BTW, you might also want to check out the AMMA Therapy(R) group that I created).

Maria Troia, MSEd, LMT, NCTMB, CH

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