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Jeff Ignatowski's Complete Thai Massage Course Notes
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Jeff Ignatowski
Cincinnati, OH
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June 5, 2018 - 1:12 am
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Module 1:

The introductory module that gives you all the information to lay the ground work for learning and developing in Thai Massage. I was able to see the basic positions and learn the proper body positioning for practicing. This gave me a good place to start when assessing my own endurance for practicing effective thai massage.

Discussing the importance/non importance of having all the anatomical knowledge was really important for me. I have my personal training certification and had to learn all of those anatomical parts. However, in practice I have learned that most of my clients don't care about all that knowledge and would rather know that they can find relief from whatever issues they are having. It is a nice thing to have but not important in the process of truly healing people 

My favorite part was the ending when the discussion became about the proper method of breathing for thai massage. Since it is a direct form of energy work it is important that we are creating an energy flow between client and practicioner. Not only giving energy but receiving energy back from the client is important to have a truly satisfying massage experience. 

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Shama
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June 5, 2018 - 10:55 am
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Hi Jeff, welcome to our forum and the Complete Thai Massage certification program. Please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification checklist to make sure that it is all correctly organized:

Certification Checklist

You are right, while anatomical knowledge might be interesting and useful for us, our clients don't care about that. They just want to feel better. Thai Massage is not based on anatomy anyway, but on the concept of energy lines which is a totally different approach. However there is no harm in being familiar with both systems.

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Jeff Ignatowski
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June 6, 2018 - 3:52 am
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Module 2:

I enjoyed the continued introduction. The position of the body is so important to make sure you are really keeping the longevity into your practice. Since I have rheumatoid arthritis I am always making sure that I save my hands and my joints. The correct body position and breathing will help me to continue my practice and give the best possible experience to my clients. Since we are making an energetic connection to the client we must have the best mindset to allow them to find the relaxation and freedom in their own lives. I am so thankful that this is the approach that we are taking...it is so important to start with that mindset. Everything else is truly second.

I am also thankful that rather than being rigid to tradition we have the freedom to explore and adapt our individual style to suit our clients and their needs. This is what should always happen but too often people fall back on tradition rather than experience to share the best of what they have.

The Chi Machine: My girlfriend and I worked on the chi machine together. It definitely took some practice to get it right. When I started out I was just moving my hips without much of her body moving at all. Then I started swinging her legs and that got her moving a little more but it was still not the intended connection and building that we were looking for. It took some focus and her trying it on me for both of us to start getting the motion in our bodies and the intent where it needed to be. I then was able to lift her legs a bit while rocking my own hips and seeing her whole body move. I was able to do that for a little over a minute and she began to feel that tingling building of energy as we were really connected and not just focused on the movement. It will take a few times to build the stamina to continue for a prolonged time.

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Shama
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June 6, 2018 - 2:57 pm
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It seems that your "second wind" with this course is a strong one! Laugh

I am glad to hear that my approach resonates with you, and I am pleasantly surprised that you figured out the Chi Machine the first time around. This is often a challenge for course students - good for you!

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Jeff Ignatowski
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June 9, 2018 - 2:38 am
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Module 3:

We started out practicing the Chi Machine and making sure that we reinforced the basics. It really is a great way to start out to build that connection and help promote that relaxation and release. It is really helpful for me that my partner is a LMT, she is really helpful in giving me the appropriate feedback on pressure and what feels good.

We went through all the different hand and foot positions. I love the 1,2,3,2,1 hand positions I really hit all the areas of tension and made her feel fantastic. The only adjustment that I had to make is the fact that I have very long arms, my body positioning needs to be adjusted to make it comfortable for myself and to make sure that the pressure is appropriate for my client. 

The most challenging movement for me was the Twist Push/Pull at the end. The motion just takes a bit of practice. However, the traction that it provides on the hip joint is amazing. The movement getting into the position and getting out of that position is very natural for me because of all my time doing jiu jitsu, a very similar movement.

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Shama
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June 9, 2018 - 10:22 pm
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Because there is so much movement in Thai Massage, the interplay between size and weight of therapist and client will always require some modification to make the techniques fit. I present lots of examples of such situations throughout the course.

Normally the issue is when small women work on large clients. But in some cases, like in yours, it can be the opposite. Modifications are an important part of Thai Massage.

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Jeff Ignatowski
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June 14, 2018 - 4:50 am
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Module 4:

I am someone who tends to follow patterns and like to check off the list. So this module was great for me to make sure that I was expanding my mindset on that. It reminded me that with practice and proficiency in my skills I can not be so rigid to the "proper" format. I also enjoyed working with the tops and bottoms of the feet. 

Unintentionally I ended up in a position where I got to practice this exact idea. My girlfriend and I were out and someone asked me to show them some of the skills that I was learning. I then, without any notes, went through several of the movements with my girlfriend and even did the final circles to the inside and outsides of the heel working down the foot and spent some time on the soles of her feet. She was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed it. So that impromptu thai session just reinforced what we were already doing in the videos.

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Shama
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June 14, 2018 - 9:59 am
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Great story and experience! The "proper" format is a useful learning tool in the beginning, but the longer you practice, the more you will come to the conclusion that every client is different and needs a slightly different approach. Over time you will automatically develop more creativity and spontaneity. 

One course student who just completed the entire Complete Thai Massage course wrote that Thai Massage is like handwriting - everyone has their own style. I thought this was a good analogy. But the structure and the sequences are very useful for learning the entire system. 

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Jeff Ignatowski
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June 19, 2018 - 5:34 am
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Module 5:

I have been continuing to build on all the previous skills by starting from the Chi Machine working though all of the foot techniques and moving on to these leg warm up techniques. I understand the need to make it your own, but for the way that I process things I find it helpful to go through everything to really get it down, so that later I can really free form and find what works for my client. I think my girlfriend really appreciates me spending so much time really taking my time and giving her this incredible energy.

This module gave me much more difficulty than the other modules mainly because it was thumb intensive. With my arthritis it can be challenging for me. So when we were able to switch to using the inside of our palm it was very helpful for my longevity. I really loved the blocking techniques to keep the leg from moving around. The way that we stabilized the leg to do the butterfly was very helpful rather than having the client stabilize the leg themselves (I messed it up the first time and corrected it...lol). 

We had an interesting event happen when I began to work on the inside of the thigh. My girlfriend had a tickling sensation and had to stop for a few minutes because it brought up some intensely negative feelings. It just reminded me that when we are manipulating another persons body it has the potential to stir up lots of emotions and past memories that can be either positive or negative. It is good to be sensitive to that and allow them the necessary time to find some very positive healing touch to replace the negative touch that may have come before that. 

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Shama
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June 19, 2018 - 1:32 pm
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You are absolutely correct. First you need to learn it all via the sequences, and once you got it down so well that you don't have to think about what comes next, then you can go free form. But nobody can start out free form.

Regarding your arthritis - you will find that there are way more techniques in this course than you need for any one session. The idea is that you choose what works for you, and skip what doesn't. In your situation you will probably choose to use more non-hand techniques. I get more into those options in the bonus modules. For example there is an entire module about only working with forearms. Not that you should do that, but you will get many good ideas from there how to work without using your thumbs more than absolutely necessary.

I went through a phase in my Thai Massage career, in the very beginning, where I had a nasty and prolonged thumb joint infection, and I had to work around it, which I did.

Then one time I had a live class scheduled with many students flying halfway around the world to attend. A couple of days before the course started I had a motorbike accident and scraped my hand pretty badly. There was no way I could cancel the class, so I had to work around it, which I did.

I teach some thumb techniques in this course, but also many alternatives. The typical traditional way of teaching Thai Massage is incredibly thumb intensive which I discarded very early on. You will see that I talk more about that in later modules.

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Jeff Ignatowski
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June 26, 2018 - 10:08 am
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Module 6:

I was just posting about the challenge that I had with the last module because it was very thumb heavy and this module is all about using the forearms. Oddly enough this has been the most challenging module for me. I loved that it focused on using the forearms and palms rather than the fingers and thumbs. The reason why this was so challenging was getting the body positioning down. Finding what works for you because of the length of your limbs and the body type of you client changes the angles and how you need to position your body. At the same time that is really the art of finding how you work in synergy with your client. 

This is one module that I will need to take the time to go over several times before I could really feel proficient in these skills.  

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Shama
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June 26, 2018 - 5:18 pm
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You are absolutely correct - this is where the art of it comes into play. It's definitely not a cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all system. Once you make it all your own, it will be a real pleasure to practice! Smile

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Jeff Ignatowski
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July 4, 2018 - 8:23 pm
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Module 7:

The evening before I practiced this module Caitlin and I went on an overnight 21 mile hike through the streets of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. It was a very challenging evening, but more than worth it. The next afternoon I asked her if she would like me to do some thai massage on her. She immediately said yes please. As always I started from the beginning selecting a few things that would be helpful to warm up the body and give me more practice. We then dived into the first set of stretches. She loved them and it was exactly what she needed after hours and hours of pounding on her legs and hip flexors. The biggest problem that I am finding, I know it is only a matter of practice, is remembering the body positions on myself and my client. This will come with time and repetition. However, the most rewarding thing was two days later she was still commenting about how much the thai session had helped her body recover from the Sat evening hike. I am so excited that what I have been doing is bringing healing to my greatest love.

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Shama
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July 5, 2018 - 12:04 am
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That's a great story and a real inspiration. Actually I think I will share this in our facebook group. I am sure our members will love to read this.

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