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The History & Principles of Amatsu Therapy

Amatsu is a blend of modern research, and an ancient Japanese Physical Therapy that dates back approximately five thousand years. It is still relatively unknown in the UK because Master Teaching Licenses were only granted to three Westerners (Dennis Bartram, William Doolan and Chris Rowath) around 12-15 years ago by the Dr. Hatsumi (Grandmaster of Amatsu).

Amatsu in its present form has been primarily developed by Dennis Bartram, who is the Chairman and Principal Trainer of the Amatsu Therapy Association (ATA.) For further information on Dennis Bartram please visit his Amatsu UK website.

The Amatsu principles taught today are from the Ancient School of Hi Chi Bu Ku Goshin Jutsu. This is a school of breathing techniques and physical modalities of well-being and translates as "The Secret School of the Opening Flower." The Amatsu Tatara (meaning "Sky Harbour", or literally Divine Residence/God's Port,) are scrolls which record the basis of Amatsu. They are a collaboration of martial arts, medicine, philosophy, strategy and religion. Until recently, this knowledge and skill was shared with only a handful of people in each generation that was passed down in an unbroken chain.

The present day Japanese head of this tradition is Dr Masaaki Hatsumi (PHD) of Noda City. He graduated from Meiji University, Literature Department and later went on to receive his Doctor degree from a medical school located in Yotsuya. In addition to being the guardian of the Amatsu Tatara, he trained for over fifteen years in Kobudo, thereafter becoming apprenticed to the late Toshitsugu Takamatsu who lived in Kashiwara, Nara Province. Takamatsu passed the knowledge and skills held in the Amatsu Tatara over to Hatsumi throughout this fifteen year period. Masaaki Hatsumi is also the founder and grandmaster of the Bujinkan Dojo. The nine schools of the Bujinkan hail from the ancient battlefields of Japan, providing a rich mine of teachings that are equally applicable to modern situations.

Until recently Dr Hatsumi operated a clinic from his house. Currently in his 70's he heads the 'Bujinkan' association, with thousands of world wide members in many countries practicing his "Taijutsu" (integrated body movement) which he considers to be the highest level of Amatsu. He says; "By re-learning" how to move our body in a natural and integrated manner, we enhance more than just body movement capabilities. We return to natural human beings. The essence of these movements is to be natural like a cat or other animal. This does not mean that we become a cat, it means that we move and act as natural human beings."

Gairon is the foundation of Amatsu. Gairon means to sense the interconnectedness of all things, and therefore the bigger picture of any problem or symptom. For example; a bad knee for a client could be because of a direct injury on the knee. However, it is also very likely that the posture (total body position), and the natural walking and standing pattern of the client has lead to the progressive damage and degeneration of the knee – creating a weaker area in the Client. Amatsu is different because it treats not only the knee, but also the bigger picture of the other stresses, strains and torsions that are placed on the knee by the whole body.

Its all in your walk, you must find it in nature, it must come from your heart and if you don’t understand Gairon, then you can’t continue”. (Dr. Hatsumi PHD)

One of the other key principles of Amatsu is that of the Go-dai. Go-dai means “Big Five”. It involves the inter-reaction of the five major components of the body. These are:

  • Physical – your structure, bones, muscles and ligaments etc
  • Mental – your thought processes, emotions, beliefs and values
  • Electrical – your energy systems, nervous systems and energy levels
  • Chemical – your hormones, digestive system and the food you eat
  • Environmental – where, when, and how you do what you do

None of these works in isolation. An example of the Go-dai would be when mental anxiety leads to physical tension in a part of the body such as the neck and the shoulders. As everything in the body is linked, Amatsu Practitioners always consider the body as a whole, rather than just the symptoms. By treating the body as a whole, all the elements will be able to work together to regain health, function and balance.

There are four levels of Amatsu; Anma Massage, Seitai, Shinden Jutsu, and Kenku Jutsu. To become a fully qualified Amatsu Practitioner in the UK you must complete two years of part-time training in Anma and Seitai within an ATA approved school. Please look at the Amatsu Therapy Association website for further information on training in Amatsu. Further studies can then be undertaken in Shinden Jutsu and Kenku Jutsu in order to continue with your professional development.


Anma means to push and pull, in China this approach was called Amma and is now called Tuina. Until the Japanese Meiji period (1868-1912) all doctors were required to be qualified in Anma. However, the Meiji Emperors wished to westernise Japan and banned Anma in favour of Western medicine.

In the early 1900's a group of Anma trained practitioners formed Shiatsu, effectively renaming this approach and using some of its methods. We believe that Professor Ling the founder of modern day Physiotherapy, studied Amma /Tuina in China prior to establishing his school of Swedish massage and exercise. This is why Anma has been described as similar to physiotherapy and Swedish massage.

Seitai - Japanese Physiotherapy:

Seitai means to bring the body "back in order" - in health the body is in its "Seitai" state. Or in other words, to utilise the body’s innate ability to achieve optimum health using the bodies own ability to heal itself. Seitai balances the individual strengths and functioning of the organs and their corresponding energy systems, which enables the body to maintain equilibrium.

It was very popular in Japan until the Meiji period. During the 1950s Seitai re-emerged as a natural therapy through the influences of American Chiropractic/Osteopathy. Many Seitai colleges in Japan are now known as Seitai Chiropractic Colleges.

Seitai focuses on the Head (on neck), Hara (spine/pelvis) and the feet to bring about symmetry. All treatments re-align and re-balance the person from head to toe whilst balancing the body, and the intrinsic cranial sacral system. This results in a restoration of symmetry and immune system enhancement, with a reduction in stress and strains.

Shinden Jutsu - Visceral and Ligament Balancing:

Shinden Jutsu is the 'Heart' of Amatsu and incorporates the ancient art of Ampuka, which evaluates and releases restrictions around the organ or visceral system, to raise the well being of the person and for stability and correction of viscero-anatomical connection.

Old strains can leave a footprint of the injury or illness that continues to malfunction for many years. These archaic patterns lay the foundation for many of the illnesses we encounter, especially when our immune systems are lowered with stress. This gentle movement oriented approach is the heart of Amatsu's heritage.

Kenku Jutsu - Japanese Cranial balancing:

Kenku Jutsu is the application of the principles to the Cranio-sacral mechanism and also can be interpreted as governing techniques or principles.. Kenku Jutsu or cranial balancing is an integral part of Amatsu medicine to restore balance and harmony.

The head governs all spinal movements (where the head goes the body follows) and according to Western research cranial imbalances affect our emotions, posture, dentition, mobility and can cause colic, restlessness and discomfort in new born babies.

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Shoulder & neck pain,
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Strains & sprains,
Pain relief,
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Headaches & insomnia,
Joint problems,
Baby colic & reflux,
Pregnancy care,
Tennis elbow,
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Golfer's shoulder.
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