My journey towards amatsu therapy – Dennis Bartram
My journey began in 1969 when I qualified in Swedish remedial massage. This introduction to the complexities of the human body inspired me to further my studies and, in 1974, I studied remedial sports massage and manipulative therapy. I then went on to qualify as an Osteopath in 1984.
Over the next 10 years I attended many seminars on osteopathic and chiropractic techniques. At that time some research was presenting the idea that the standard thrust manipulative techniques of osteopathy may not be necessary.1 This research fascinated me as it was a less forceful approach and also seemed kinder to the body. These gentler techniques utilised body positioning and the tensegrity of the tissue to facilitate the correction. One of the eminent researchers at this time was Dr George Goodheart, a chiropractor, who studied and utilised eastern methods of therapy and from these theories he developed new physical techniques to match the criteria. From a basis of ancient Chinese meridian theory, he developed a series of muscle tests that correlated with the diagnostic method of pulse diagnosis used in acupuncture. This was to form the basis for Applied Kinesiology (AK) which he originated in 1964.2
These AK muscle tests soon became a reliable and empirical backdrop to enable a deeper understanding of the links between eastern and western thinking. Goodheart also demonstrated the effectiveness of the AK muscle testing techniques as a reliable form of diagnosis and post checking of a treatment’s effectiveness. This groundbreaking research and the evolution of new techniques firmly based on ancient fundamentals sparked my interest in eastern methods of therapy and lifestyle.
In the 1970s I had also began to study Japanese karate. During my studies, I discovered many of the Japanese masters of karate were also doctors of Japanese medicine. In 1985 I began to study an ancient form of Japanese warrior principles. The grandmaster of this school was Dr Masaaki Hatsumi who was the holder of ancient scrolls of nine schools of martial arts and a school of ancient medicine.
I initially met with Dr Hatsumi when he came to England for the first time in 1986 to demonstrate his martial arts principles. Although his martial skills were amazingly effective, another quality shone from him. He was gentle and his body movement was graceful. He seemed to have plenty of time to evade attacks made on him during demonstrations and seemed to float as he walked through various techniques.
I watched in awe as a man 20 years my senior worked with ease and fingertip precision to lock his opponents in tangled body configurations. I then learnt that this man practised as a therapist and this made me think seriously as to his methodology. As he practised martially, he would say “Budo… [martial] and medicine are the same!” He told us to study and learn from nature and that natural movement was all that was required to maintain health and to defend oneself effectively in combat.3
That day in 1986 changed my outlook forever. I had found my mentor, a man who practised my hobby and my occupation and described them as being one. I changed from hard, physical, disciplined karate techniques to a softer, evasive body defence method. This also influenced my decision to stop practising the standard manipulative osteopathic method and study Dr Hatsumi’s natural movement approach.