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Matt Driskill's Complete Thai Massage Course Notes
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Matt Driskill
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January 16, 2016 - 9:43 pm
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Module 1:

Watching Module 1 was definitely enlightening for me. I was expecting to be seeing anatomical diagrams, and learning about the physical systems of the human body right off the bat. It was pleasantly surprising to me to learn that while an in-depth knowledge of human anatomy could be helpful to the Thai Massage therapist, more of an intuitive method is actually utilized. The body’s natural energy flow is kept in mind. I believe that my training in Reiki Energy Therapy will help me realize this, and help me to incorporate it into my Thai Massage practice.

I also thought before, that the Thai Masseuse used more of their own physical strength and muscle power to apply pressure and stretch the limbs of the client. I now know that when giving Thai Massage, to simply use my own body weight and natural leverage when applying pressure, and stretching my client. So much more of a natural, organic, and peaceful method of healing.

I’ve been reviewing the positions of myself, as well as the client during my Thai Massage session, and also the three basic Thai Massage principles of Technique, Ergonomics, and Breath Control.

In particular, I believe that Breath Control (Breathwork) will help to focus, give strength, and to relax myself during the massage session. And as a result, could transfer to my client, helping them to relax, supplying more oxygen-rich blood around their body which could make for more efficient healing, and a more enjoyable massage session.

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Shama
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January 17, 2016 - 10:31 pm
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Hi Matt, welcome to the Complete Thai Massage course and our forum. It seems that you had some interesting revelations about Thai Massage from the first module. You caught the essential points quite well. Yes, Thai Massage is a natural, organic, flowing, energy based and therapist friendly system, when done correctly. 

Your Reiki experience will definitely be helpful, and you seem to appreciate the references to working with your breath. This is actually not taught in traditional Thai Massage, but I added it into my style since it is a perfect fit, as you will see throughout the course.

Also please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification check list:

Certification Check List

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Matt Driskill
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January 19, 2016 - 9:49 am
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Module 2:

It was great to try some moves for the first time! First, I did the leg stretch technique from the ergonomics example on my wife to practice correct positioning. I had to keep reminding myself to keep my back straight. I struggle with maintaining good posture, so this will all benefit me greatly. Then, I practiced the Chi Machine technique several times. You were right, it looks very simple in the video, but I had to give it several tries before I could get my wife’s whole body to sway correctly. Now, I can achieve total sway right away. The only thing is that my wife’s right ankle was “clicking” as I was swaying her. She believes that it could be a result of a foot fracture from years ago, that has affected her walk, and maybe also her ankle here? Anyway, she said that the “clicking” was a little distracting, and made the Chi Machine technique a bit uncomfortable for her. Any suggestions in this type of situation? 

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Shama
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January 19, 2016 - 12:27 pm
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This clicking is something which quite a few people experience in their ankle. One way to modify the Chi Machine is by changing your hand position. Instead of holding the heel of the foot in your hand, try holding the ankle itself. This does tend to reduce the swaying of the entire body a little since you eliminate one point of movement, the ankle joint. However it can be a necessary compromise in such cases. Try it and let me know if it works for you.

The other way to deal with this issue is to do a whole bunch of ankle therapy work first to improve the clicking issue. However this goes beyond your level of Thai Massage skill at this point in the training. 

Sometimes when the body is doing something which doesn’t feel quite right, like this clicking, it actually is an indicator that this is where someone might need attention, focus, and therapeutic work. So it can be a useful sign for us to structure our sessions. But I am getting a little ahead of myself at this point in the course. Smile

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Matt Driskill
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January 20, 2016 - 4:40 am
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Thanks Shama,

Yes, I did try the Chi Machine holding her just above the ankles, and it was much better. No issues, and she enjoyed the technique. I will keep her ankle therapy in mind, and will revisit later. Smile

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Matt Driskill
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January 23, 2016 - 11:14 am
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Module 3:

It took me a few days of practicing the first technique to get it down. Kinda like patting your head, and rubbing your tummy at the same time. Doing these is good for helping me get used to sitting on my heels to give massage. Still hurts, but getting better. During the leg-foot rotation push ‘n’ pull move, my wife started complaining about being cold, so I covered her with some blankets. When I resumed the technique, she told me that she really would like it if I would be more aggressive when I would squeeze, push, and rotate her feet. Just for everything to be harder, with more stretching really.

I guess it would be a bit of a departure from the way this method is taught, but I accommodated her. As a result, I found myself using some muscle strength to give her the depth of intensity that she was looking for. Maybe I just need to learn how to use my body weight and/or leverage more efficiently.

I was wondering if there was a rule of thumb to go by when using massage intensity with a client? Do you ask them when you first start? How do you really know how far to stretch them when you apply a move? Just ask the client to let you know if it’s too much, or start with an intense application until there’s a complaint?  

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Shama
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January 23, 2016 - 1:36 pm
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Many great questions. Actually working with more power is not a departure from this style. However I always  teach how to do it gently first. In this way you get to develop a more refined, sensitive way of working. It is actually more difficult to work lightly than strongly, because it requires more sensitivity. You can always add more power later. BUT DO NOT EVER DO IT WITH MORE MUSCLE EFFORT! This will not feel as good to the client, it will result in stress and/or injury on your body, and you will lose your sensitivity that way.

Just like you said, you need to focus on learning how to use your body weight and leverage more efficiently. And this is what this course is all about. You will hear me talk about this many times throughout the course.

All your questions in the last paragraph of your post are very good and important. And there are very clear answers to them, and very specific ways to deal with them. However if I tried to answer them all here in detail, it would be a mega post several pages long. The good thing is that all the answers are coming up in the course. Smile

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Matt Driskill
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January 24, 2016 - 7:57 am
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Module 4:

Great explanation in the beginning of the video on learning the movements and on the flow of the techniques throughout a massage session. Very encouraging.

I added these new “circling” massages to the moves I learned in Module 3 and practiced all several times throughout. With my wife’s feet both to the side of my legs, I then tried something new. With my hands wrapped around each foot, I did kind of a kneading wrap around move at each of “the three positions”. All while pushing down with arms straight, and with good pressure from my body weight. I finished with the Chi Machine, and my wife nearly fell asleep. Smile Felt like a good session.

I’ve been noticing a lot of circling in a counter-clockwise direction. Just wondering if there’s any significance in that? Energy/Meridian lines or something?

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Matt Driskill
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January 24, 2016 - 8:59 am
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Module 5:

At first, when I did the “Quadriceps” warm-up, I was wrapping my foot around the inside of my wife’s foot, locking her foot straight. When I did the Quad warm-up, it felt fine on her left leg, but when I moved to her right leg, I felt a muscle “slip” and it felt weird to her. To me, it almost felt like a “knot pop”, but for her, it felt weird, and she said that something just felt wrong with the quads in her right leg.

I then reviewed the Module, and noticed that I was locking her leg with my foot the wrong way. I then tried the move again, wrapping my foot around the outside of her foot, and folding my leg over, correctly, and effectively locking her leg straight, turning her foot slightly inward. I proceeded to warm up her upper leg again, and she noticed a big difference. Her Quad muscles felt normal, and she enjoyed the move. 

Her legs were a bit sensitive for the other techniques… especially around that thigh tendon, like you mentioned, so I used light pressure. The same for the calf area.

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January 25, 2016 - 1:30 am
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Regarding the circling direction, there are several theories. Some people say that the direction should be opposite for women. However I have never paid much attention to these theories since I have never noticed any difference in actual practice. I basically just do what I intuitively feel works best. I am sure if you would do it in the other direction, it would work well too.

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Matt Driskill
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January 28, 2016 - 5:30 am
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Module 6: Leg Warm-Up with Forearms

It’s amazing how effective these techniques are at warming up the leg muscles. After completing the moves in Modules 5 & 6 on one of my wife’s legs, I could feel a huge difference in even the skin temperature and suppleness of the whole leg that I had warmed up on her as compared to the one that I hadn’t. Just in moving around a bit on her own, she also noticed a big difference in the range of movement in the leg that I had warmed up before I had moved on to the module on leg stretches. 

Module 6 also introduced me to Sen Lines. Something that I hadn’t learned of before. But having training in Reiki, and the Japanese view of how Ki moves through the body, I thought that perhaps this was the Thai version of subtle energy flow. I then read your page on “Thai Massage and Traditional Sen Lines”, and it all made perfect sense to me. I love how your method conserves the energy and body health of the practitioner by using body parts other than the thumbs to apply massage pressure. It also makes very good sense to me how you believe that energy lines in the body are not frozen to a specific anatomical area of the body, but can actually move around the body, and are channels that must be sensed with intuition, and attended to in a dynamic and artful way. 

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January 28, 2016 - 4:06 pm
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I am happy to hear that my take on the sen lines and the energy flow resonates with you. You expressed perfectly how I feel about it. Smile

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Matt Driskill
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January 29, 2016 - 7:59 am
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Module 7: Leg Stretches 1

I examined my wife’s resting foot angle position as well as the height of her hips while she was lying on her back. Her feet were both pointing outward at the same angle, about 45 degrees.

Now, her right hip seemed slightly higher. She’s always suffered from sciatic discomfort on her right side. She also had a right foot fracture years ago, which I feel may have affected her gait, and started her sciatica somehow.

I would have expected her right foot to not be at the same angle as the left, since her right hip was a little higher than the left? Nevertheless, I administered the additional leg warm-up on her right leg, and used a small pillow while doing the stretch.

In practicing this Module again later however, I did not use the small pillow on her right leg, and it was actually able to be fully stretched, with no problems.

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Shama
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January 29, 2016 - 2:25 pm
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There really are no hard and fast rules regarding the foot positions in relation to the hip. These are indicators which give us a good idea of what is most likely going on. But there can certainly be hip issues which are not revealed by the angle of the feet.

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Matt Driskill
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January 31, 2016 - 12:59 am
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Module 8: Leg Stretches 2

I realized early on in this course, that I seemed to be going a little fast through all of the different techniques, so connecting my breaths with the movements have helped a lot to slow my pace down.

When finishing this module practice with the 180° power stretch, I noticed that my wife’s left leg at the hip was very stiff, and would not move very far back towards her shoulder. So I then spent some time doing hip circles, and proceeded to rock down into the stretch very slowly, being careful with my control of movement. There was a lot of improvement in range! The stretch was intense for my wife, but she enjoyed it very much, and said that it felt good.

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Shama
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January 31, 2016 - 1:36 am
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You are catching on to a more intuitive way of working – that’s what it’s all about ultimately. Working slower and staying longer on a particular area or technique is much better than rushing through them all.

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Matt Driskill
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February 4, 2016 - 2:10 am
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Module 9: Leg Stretches 3

Again, my wife’s left leg was very tight before I did warm-ups. I practiced the supported bounce technique to loosen up her adductors. Even after, her range with that leg was not very far. Performing the 135 degree stretch on her left leg, I was only able to do rotating circles, but had success with the rocking version. 

I started having my wife communicate her tightness/comfort level on the 1-10 scale. It makes both of us more comfortable, and helps to avoid unnecessary pain. I was able to very lightly perform the 180 degree stretch on her left leg, and I felt like I had more precise control rocking her into this stretch with her leg on my shoulder, even though you mentioned that the move would be best for a client that is larger than myself. I think I was just trying to be extra careful since that leg was so tight.

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Matt Driskill
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February 4, 2016 - 3:49 am
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Module 10: Leg Stretches 4

Really focusing on my posture, and breath. Staying comfortable in my positions, and keeping in mind to touch with the power of softness. Acknowledging the hara, and connecting with it. Drawing the energy that comes from the hara to flow throughout my whole body, then using my whole body to flow through each move of my massage session. 

When doing the intermediate version of the 270 degree stretch on my wife’s right leg, she remarked that her entire leg felt numb and tingly. She didn’t like the feeling, so I moved on… When doing the same move on her left leg, which is usually much tighter than the right, she did not notice any numbness or tingling at all. 

My wife really, really enjoyed the femoral artery “blood stop” technique. She said that in particular it was the pressure and especially the warmness of my hands from being right on top of the artery that was so pleasurable and relaxing. I think that’s her favorite move so far. Smile

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Shama
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February 4, 2016 - 11:29 am
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That’s interesting. Personally I also love the feeling I get from the “blood stop”. Most new Thai Massage students are (needlessly) scared of this technique, however as you found out, the people on the receiving end really like it.

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Matt Driskill
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February 9, 2016 - 6:24 am
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Module 11: Summary Session #1

I’ve been watching and practicing this Module many times over the last several days. I needed more work with the move where you hold and pull the client’s foot and opposite leg while doing an elephant walk with your feet on their inner thigh. It took me a while for some reason to get my coordination down with that move, but I’m much better and fluid with it now… and with my transitions as well. I was utilizing leg rotations, rocking, and the 1-10 comfort scale a lot for the lead-ins for the stretches on my wife’s left leg since she is especially tight on that side.

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