Samurai Shiatsu is an in-school project working with Primary School children.
Many of us are concerned about the pressures that children are facing at school. These pressures, combined with postural problems and concentration difficulties, can lead some children to display stress-like symptoms similar to those seen in adults. Children complain about stomach pains or headaches and report sleeping problems, in school, they come to the attention of professionals because of their difficulties with learning; postural problems make it difficult to sit still on a chair all day and to concentrate for long hours. To alleviate their lack of sensory input, they either squirm or ‘switch off’, no longer engaging with teaching, missing out on vital learning.
The Samurai Shiatsu Project
It is a practical exercise project which promotes health and wellbeing, improves concentration and can help with stress and anxiety. The children learn a series of bodywork exercises like “Samurai Strokes Tiger” which are simple to learn and can be used independently after the program.
Alike all Shiatsu Practice, the Children are fully clothed and learn to carry out a sequence of Shiatsu ‘moves’ on each other. The Samurai Shiatsu Project is designed so that through different qualities of touch various sensory systems are encouraged and activated.
The word ‘Samurai’ means ‘servant, companion, guardian’ – and it aims to convey how children can nurture others as well as themselves. Showing respect and becoming aware of one’s own and other people’s boundaries are important principles of Shiatsu and the project actively works to develop this awareness, nurturing class cohesion and creating greater health awareness for both teachers and pupils which in turn will have a positive effect on the classroom atmosphere.
“A great program, well thought out and very well received.” – Park School, teacher
“Samurai Shiatsu has given my class a chance to work with each other, to develop a way of understanding of how to use massage to de-stress and increase their focus. Samurai Shiatsu will benefit any child.” – Mark, teacher
“For particular children who have stressful lives, the Samurai Shiatsu program clearly helped them. This was remarked upon by other staff. Immensely enjoyable learning within our busy weeks. The children (and staff!) found it relaxing and fun. Please come again soon.” – Ben, teacher
The various Shiatsu “moves” and sequences also include meridian based movement exercises Some of the exercises are called: Samurai warms up in the Sun; Samurai holds head up high; Samurai, Bear and Tiger meet . These are taught in a playful way as part of a story about two Japanese children, a boy called Kooko and a girl called Hanako. Japanese customs are also part of the session, for example to greet each other with:
‘Konnichi wa’ / ‘Hello’
‘O genki desu ka?’ / ‘How are you’ ‘how is your Ki?’
Children are taught to use ‘strong, firm bear paw touch’ as well as ‘gentle, light tiger paws’ to go up and down the spine. There are also Do-In games and other body awareness exercises to start and finish a session or for when concentration flags in the classroom.
As with Shiatsu, an important aspect is to respect each individual and not to super-impose exercises and touch where it is not wanted or when the person is not ready for it yet. At the start of each session, children ask each other’s permission before engaging in physical touch. Gentle, respectful touch is taught and children are given the chance to give and receive positive touch. As well as learning skills to help themselves in class, children also reported helping family members with headaches, sleep and anxiety problems.
Shiatsu Practitioners who have trained as Samurai Shiatsu Programme Trainers go into schools and teach children and teachers the project. Instruction is divided into three sessions which last for up to 45 minutes each. The Shiatsu ‘moves’ are easy to learn and are quickly taken on board by children who then carry on with their practise: with their peers in class and at playtime; their parents, siblings, grandparents and friends at home. In this way, Shiatsu touch is carried into the community. The project is further supported with a book which includes the story of Kooko and Hanako.
The Samurai Programme has been introduced into primary schools in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Netherlands, and most notably Austria – where regional health insurers pay for Shiatsu Practitioners to deliver the programme in participating schools. Karin and her husband Thomas Wernicke have also introduced the Samurai Programme both for children and adults in Japan and Australia.
We are currently looking for funding to deliver this project to our community.