Let's look at how such styles develop.
- Someone keeps developing an existing system and turns it into something new. For example, Swedish massage, deep tissue massage and sports massage clearly related.
- Someone has a good insight and comes up with a really new approach. An example would be Trager or Feldenkrais.
- Any studies multiple systems and combines them into a new style. An example would be the Thai Massage combined with elements of Shiatsu and Tui Na
- Any change to an existing system and giving it a new name. An example would be the Thai massage and Thai Yoga Massage.
At some point all these new systems was unknown. They were not regarded as authentic, and were sometimes branded as heresy, since they diverged from an established style. With time, more and more people investigated the new system, books were written about it, it was widely known and accepted, and then it became an authentic style. At this time it was copyrighted, enshrined in the rock and stuck with authentic manuals and rules.
In the next phase, the tables are turned, and if any practice system in a different way, which is proclaimed unauthentic and against the spirit of wise founder of the vast system. If enough people see an advantage in the new heretical style, will eventually be his own authentic system. In this way, continuing the cycle.
I recently read an article written by a Western massage therapist who demanded that Thai massage practitioners identify if they practice Northern or southern or commoner style and that they must show that they know a certain prayer, who teaches some Thai massage schools in Thailand.
Here in Thailand, most therapists never recite this prayer, and could not do it if asked. And these styles are very mixed. There are no fixed limits. In the northern city of Chiang Mai, there are schools that teach style Bangkok other teach Northern style, and some teachers have their own unique style.
Is there anything to be gained by massage Puritanism? A massage is better because it has a certain label? Is there something wrong with that enhance or change a massage style? In my mind is the answer to all three questions is no. Authenticity is a useful precondition for gems, works of art or antiques. Healing therapy on a higher level is a unique individual skill that defies attempts to be legislated by definitions or labels.
Some of my best Thai massage teachers had their own unique style, and that's what made them special. In a world of massage and healing therapy, labels, styles and the authenticity of a good framework for one's basic training. But the further one excels in the healing professions, the less there is no reason to confine itself to descriptions and labels. Healing is a unique personal expression that comes not so much from the technique than from one's heart, one's intention and one's passion.
I must admit that I am biased against the Eastern approach, and my opinions are based on having lived in Asia for many years, and after having practiced and taught Thai massage for more than ten years. Asian therapists are much less interested in categorizing, tagging and authenticate than their Western colleagues. I'm not sure what an ' authentic ' Thai massage is, but I sure can tell a good one when I receive it.