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Greg's Thai Massage Class Journal
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gmoney
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April 22, 2014 - 5:30 am
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Hi Shama –

We did video 21 last night (prone legs 2) and practiced. Most generally I’m comfortable with most techniques but tonight I really struggled and was a little frustrated. I think tonight my flow flew away.

I will practice these more – I won’t give up. But must say, at this point these were not my favorite (but that could change as I get better at it).

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Shama Kern
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April 22, 2014 - 10:53 pm
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We all have our ups and downs. And some techniques come to you easier than others. Plus we can be influenced by all kinds of things, from the weather to our bio rhythms. I am in Vietnam right now, however my wife is in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She has been miserable for days because it is so darn hot there that you can't do much and you are sweating all day and all night. Air conditioning is not standard issue in southeast Asia yet, meaning there are countless houses which don't have it.

I am just digressing a bit here. Anyway, hang in there and you will find your groove again.

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gmoney
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April 23, 2014 - 10:41 am
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You are correct Shama and I am back! Sessions 22 and 23 suited me more comfortably and is in my wheelhouse of the kind of massage therapist I intend to be. I realize I don't have to do every single technique that you teach, but I want to try and be a good student and it is good to know them too. 

I was getting especially good feedback on the sacrum work and the leg stretches (the backwards ones) and they are easy to do. As a receiver my favorite from these two videos was the backward leg stretch. I like receiving the sacrum and glute massage but it didn't like "wow" me - just gently relaxing I guess. Both Joleen and I really like the percussion though, super nice to give and receive. Anytime I like something like that for myself, I make a mental note that this is definitely going to be a part of my routine.  

You and your wife are welcome to come visit us here in Kansas City, especially at this time of year the weather is just about as perfect as you can get, 70's and light breezes with lots of new flowers blooming and green! I wish I could build my massage therapy room in my backyard, which is so beautiful..............now I digress. 

Here is hoping for cooler days for youCool

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Shama Kern
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April 24, 2014 - 11:33 am
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Thanks for the invitation. Who knows, we might take you up on it one day. Smile

And you are right, you don't have to do all techniques although it is good to know them all. But we all have our preferences. Even for me, there are some moves which are typically done in traditional Thai Massage which I never do and don't teach because I don't like them for various reasons.

Doing massage is a very personal thing, and we are all different. That's a good thing and that's why there are so many therapists with so many different styles, and that's why clients can find a therapist who is a perfect match for them. We will never be the perfect match for everyone, and that includes me as well. We can just develop our style over time, and then we will attract clients who resonate with what we are doing.

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gmoney
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April 30, 2014 - 8:46 am
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Hi Shama - So moving on to video 24 and 25 prone back, one reflection I had while working on this is it seems that when you enjoy having a technique done on you, I seem to be able to do it better when performing it on others - does that make sense? For me I can never get enough back work, since I have always had back issues. If there is any "not positive" feedback from these sessions, for me, the elbows are little more than I need and find thumbs, palm, and fingers are quite adequate for me.

Working with elbows and knees are quite a delicate dance - I was a bit surprised to find from Joleen's feedback that I was being too light. It's just one of those areas I think as a therapist you need to tread lightly on and practice repetitively to know how to do it effectively. Now when she was doing to me, she typically is not very forceful, but even her light elbow work I did not really enjoy. 

On a personal note, if we are not being too nosy, can I ask where you originate from? Your accent is interesting and I wondered if maybe you might be from Columbia or somewhere around that area? One of my best friends is from there and your accents are similar. Wink

Until next time (which is going to be here in about an hour as we begin video 26). Greg

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gmoney
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April 30, 2014 - 10:18 am
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Hi Shama - Well we just watched and practiced Video 26 prone back. So to start I would like to say that even though you didn't recommend doing the traditional thai technique I tried both anyway just for the practice and to feedback. I actually liked the traditional style better because I work in physical labor every day (I think I probably told you may day job is in construction), so I'm used to using hand tools so this is not in any way stressful for me (at least for now). The feedback was good from the my partner too.

Of course we also practiced all our techniques too, but just for me I was more in-tuned with the thumb work especially.

I enjoyed doing the neck and shoulder work on Joleen - she got an extra long session with this because she really really liked it. I liked it too!

I hope I don't get in trouble for not following teachers rule (just when I thought I was teacher's pet)  Embarassed

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Shama Kern
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April 30, 2014 - 4:52 pm
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Greg, I grew up in Germany and I speak fluent German. I am a US citizen and have spoken mostly English throughout my entire adult life. However I have also lived in Spain and Mexico for quite a few years and I also speak fluent Spanish.

Regarding "not following the teacher's rules", there are rules which apply to everyone, like working with your body weight instead of muscle power or working with your entire body instead of just your hands or arms. Those rules should never be broken.

However I have built my entire career by not following rules mechanically when it comes to applying techniques. That's why I never say that I do traditional Thai Massage because I have changed and altered and added all kinds of things which make a good system even better.

The best therapists always create their own style according to their body and their preference of working. What is the best way of working for me might not be the best way for you. And you only find this out by practicing and experimenting. 

For example you might have thumbs like a gorilla and can get away with things that might wear somebody else's thumbs out quickly. In my courses I try to present the material in such a way that even the weakest link of the chain won't break. I want to make sure that my instructions never lead to anyone developing problems in their body.

I encourage all my students to first learn all the techniques, and then be creative, modify them if necessary so that they work best for you, or even invent new ways of doing things. That's how I got to where I am now. I didn't get there by going to a Thai Massage school and just following and copying everything and toeing the "party line" of the "system".

So you can still be the "teacher's pet" and do things your way. Laugh Nobody will hit your hands with a ruler haha (as they still did when I was a kid in school).

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gmoney
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May 20, 2014 - 10:38 am
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Hi Shama - we finally got around to doing the practice for the summary session (Video 28), so I will make my comments on that practice session and the practice session before prone upper back (Video 27), which we did several days ago. 

Thank you for your earlier response. On session 27, I have to say that I really enjoyed this whole session. I practiced alot while I was doing the techniques on rhythm - I see you do this too (I close my eyes) and just the allow myself to flow naturally. I have always enjoyed working on backs, kneading the traps and working the erector muscles for example. I finally was able to expose Joleen's scapula - it was buried deep, but with your teaching I was able to hook in their and retrieve it. 

Afterwards though, she said she was a little sore. Did I go to far too soon? 

Still need to work on my technique where your lightly sitting on the gluts with her arm on my thigh and fingers interlaced under the shoulder. Kind of a spinal twist move. 

And who doesn't love some good percussion's! Joleen does a good cobra but she said I was more like a baseball bat :(

On session 28 for the summary practice - what I really liked about the summary was that I got a good massage out of the deal. The other good thing about the summary practice is I can determine where I want to start and how I want to make it flow, what moves I can expand upon and so on. I got really good feedback on the practice session. For me Shama, the elbow work in the groove on the erectors is not a favorite move on mine to do or to receive. As a recipient I find it uncomfortable because it makes me tense up. And because of that, I am uncomfortable doing it now. This may be a move I don't do much. I'm going to keep practicing it, but as of now, it's not something I'm going to be adding to my favorites, unless I get a client that asks for it. On the good side, my favorite like doing the thumb work in the back because as you know I have thumbs like a little gorilla. 

As a receiver of the summary practice, it's amazing the things that you find the you like, and I found that I really enjoyed the Achilles heal rub and the forearm on the sole of the foot. I mean I like everything in the summary session except the erector work with the forearm (but that's just me). 

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Shama Kern
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May 20, 2014 - 9:59 pm
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Since you have "gorilla thumbs" you don't need the elbow work so much. The elbows come in very handy for smaller therapists working on large clients with big muscular backs. The other way round it doesn't work well, as you noticed in your case.

As far as receiving it is concerned, this elbow move requires a good deal of sensitivity and precision which might take some time to develop for the therapist who is doing it. It is not a very easy move. If done right, it will not make you tense up. It can be done with very little pressure.

But anyway, you don't have to like all techniques. There are plenty to choose from, so just do what comes easy to you and what feels good and right to you.

You might have to tone down the baseball bat a bit. Laugh

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May 27, 2014 - 10:11 am
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Hi Shama - we have several we want to report on tonight. We have been watching the tapes, but did not get time to write in journal - after a good long practice tonight, thought we better catch up on our forum work. 

Video 29 - Surprising how effective a move can be once you perform it, such as the sitting on the hammies. I was able to receive and perform the kind of blood-stop move effectively (a unique and pleasant feeling). Again, it's amazing how simple moves like the palm circling the hip can feel so good! The percussion is always nice! Overall this session went well 

Video 30 - Even though this is our second time through, it's still a challenge because you know I strive to do each move as well as my teacher. I'm still a bit awkward and have to reference my notes but with a little more practice I feel I will be quite comfortable performing these moves. The two moves I really liked in this session in particular were the lengthening move, which is also kind of a spinal twist, and the hip stretch where you have the knee in the back for support, hand on shoulder and pulling leg up straight too. The feedback I got from all the techniques, that hand position on the shoulder is very important because if it is not just right, then it can be hurtful when you begin to do your pulling. 

Video 31 - I have been looking forward to doing 31 again because I already have potential clients with shoulder issues. So I was excited to dig in on this one. I was doing good on all the moves until I got to the shoulder stretch where you rotate - again, hand position on the shoulder is crucial I found in my feedback. After Joleen corrected me, the second time through was much better. I always enjoy performing the moved where I can use my knee as leverage. I hope my clients feel the same. This is a move I felt I got a good rhythm on. The strong shoulder stretch at the very end also took me a couple go rounds before Joleen felt I was doing this technique right. 

Ok, until next time. We will try not to pile on next time. It has been a strange couple of weeks, so glad we got to take some good time to practice tonight. 

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May 27, 2014 - 12:39 pm
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It just shows how important it is to go through the videos more than once. There really is no way to learn this material by just watching them once, practice it once and then move on to the next video. When I started out with my Thai Massage education 15 years ago, I first took a two week class. That left me overwhelmed. Then I did another two week class in another school. I still felt clumsy.

Then I worked with a private tutor one on one which helped a lot. And then I went to another school for more refined training. And so on...  I did not have the benefit of videos which can be watched multiple times forever. And I did not have anyone whom I could ask any questions after the live training had ended.

There are countless students who get live training, but then they don't practice it right away and on a regular basis after the live training has ended, and as a result they forget a lot of it very quickly. There is no doubt that live training has its advantages, but the one disadvantage is that you don't have reference material which you can always refer back to as with the videos and this forum.

Learning Thai Massage well does take time, lots of practice and persistence. However once you are good at it you will have an amazing skill. Smile

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May 30, 2014 - 9:41 am
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Hi Shama - 

Thanks for your response. I really enjoyed session 32. As a recipient, I'm banking on these helping my golf gameLaugh - Still having trouble digging out Joleen's scapula out of her back. Mine are easy to grab. Really I just liked all of these techniques - they are enjoyable to do and I like them as a recipient too. The one move that I found that you really have to be careful with is the move where you have the arm on the thigh with the arm kind of back behind them and you just lean forward for the stretch. If your position is too far back it can be a very powerful stretch (and painful too).

But all these techniques seemed to have a good rhythm and you didn't have to do alot of switching positions, everything was nice and concentrated in one area and you could do alot of work without traveling around the client.

So, talk to you after the next video.  

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Shama Kern
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May 31, 2014 - 10:45 pm
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Well, that's the case with many stretches in Thai Massage. Without sensitivity you can easily go too far. That's also why there are many Thai Massage therapists who are hurting people under the guise of "no pain no gain" or "pain is good for you". The truth is that there should never be strong pain in Thai Massage, because if there is, then the body will resist and lock up instead of freeing up and relaxing.

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gmoney
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June 2, 2014 - 10:28 am
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Hi Shama - We just finished our practice sessions for Video 33 and 34. I liked the sitting position. Alot of the moves I thought were really good and easy to execute in the sitting position. (Joleen had a few issues but I didn't) I also felt they were quite effective for my partner. I know you don't recommend an extended period of time in the sitting position, so maybe putting this in the front of your session? 

Other than kneading, rocking and squeezing on the traps (which moves I can do in the prone position), I'm going to use all of these sitting position techniques as part of my total session. I enjoyed every single technique in both of these sessions. The only one that I had trouble with getting down totally was the last technique in session 34 (the arm lift up behind head with elbow in trapezius where we rotate to stretch). I wasn't quite sure if I rotate back behind the head or back towards the shoulder, or away from the head/kerrie-rundes-thai-massage-shoulder-therapy-course-notes? I watched the video several times and I wasn't getting the feedback I was looking for from this move because it looks like a great and strong move and it's one I want to do correctly because it looks effective for someone that may have tight shoulders. Any ideas on this? 

Otherwise, things went well. Thanks - Greg.

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June 2, 2014 - 11:06 pm
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I actually know one school where they put the sitting position at the beginning of the session. I personally don't like this because it is not a very gentle way of starting a Thai Massage session. Several of the sitting techniques are quite intense. My thing is that I only do the sitting position when I feel that I really need to do it to accomplish a specific therapeutic goal.

However you seem to have fallen in love with the sitting position, and maybe this will be reflected by your clients. Maybe you will be the "sitting technique guru" of Thai Massage. Smile

The fact is that those moves work quite well on certain people, and for others they feel really uncomfortable. Only experience and time and working with a bunch of different clients will tell you how much you want to build them into your sessions. 

Regarding the last technique on video 34, you want to pull the hand and arm straight back, at a 90 degree angle to and away from your partner's back.

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June 11, 2014 - 9:59 am
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Hi Shama - Enjoyed your video 35 for working with clients - alot of useful information. In fact, I will get a chance this weekend to utilize some of your ideas/techniques in talking with others about Thai massage as we have a health fair we are going to be at his weekend and we will be introducing our newest service "Thai Massage" - 

This video helped me to prepare for doing the other part of being a good practitioner - being a good representative of these techniques. 

I'm been thankful for the last few videos to help with techniques in the sitting positions because this weekend we will only be able to demonstrate some of the techniques in the sitting position. I plan to offer people that stop by our booth a great hand massage! 

Thank you so much for everything. It's been an honor to work with you and learn from you. Look forward to visiting with you in the future to tell you how things are going for us. 

Thanks Again - Greg 

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June 11, 2014 - 10:59 pm
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That's excellent news that you are offering Thai Massage as a service now. I am so glad that I was instrumental in helping you get there. Please stay in touch and let me know how your new Thai Massage skills are working out! I am always happy to hear from you!

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