THE HISTORY OF SEIFUKUJUTSU
(Restoration and Replacement)
During the Asuka Period (552-710) Buddhist monks
from China began to influence the people of Japan. As time went
on, the monks of Japan were exposed to the 'igaku' (medicine) of
the Chinese and Koreans. During the Nara Period (710-794), the
Buddhist and Shinto priests incorporated the folk medicine of Japan
and the Chinese medicine. As with all things Japanese, the art
of medicine was refined to its highest level. You might say it
was "Japanized". When the Heian Period (794-1185) emerged, healing
techniques were protected by the bushi, (warrior class) just as
they protected their fighting techniques. During this time, the
monks and priests sought solitude and became more reclusive. The
training of the religious factions became more specialized and,
as conflict with the governing factors became more frequent, even
the arts of bushido were developed to the highest standards.
From the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), to the Tokugawa
Period (1600-1853), the healing arts remained mostly with the religious
factions and the bushi, (warrior) class. From time to time you
would hear of an 'Oisha' (physician or practitioner), in the employ
of the imperial family or other hierarchy, but for the most part,
they were few and far between as the government was in conflict
with the religious groups for controlling the direction of the
Over many years the monks continued to develop their
healing techniques. The monks of the mountains were then known
as 'Shugenja' (men of magic). The monks healing talents were regarded
as mystical. They were able to heal men instantly on the battle
field and it was as though the men had never been wounded at all.
As time passed, these "men of magic" lost their bid to direct the
country, however, their medical expertise was passed down through
generations of warrior clans and later merged with the imperial
class to bring the healing arts to the general public. Even today,
evidence of the shugenja can be found along the mountain of Japan.
The miko, (healers), spread 'Seifukujutsu', but eventually it became
a cultural treasure and was protected from outsiders as much as
Seifukujutsu has been practiced in its present form
for about 1600 years. It has been used for maintaining the normal
functions of the body, for healing anything from paralysis to malaria.
The practitioners of this art are considered the premium miko of
the culture for they use non-invasive, natural techniques to achieve
healthy patients, families, and communities.
The levels of instruction were done in the fashion
of master to apprentice and were passed down as the student gained
experience and the trust of the master. When the shugenja miko
masters took an apprentice, they were taught the value of keeping
the household clean and the treatment area stocked with essential
inventory. The apprentice was also shown the 'Kaifuku Anma' and
practiced on training tools After the necessary first year (or
sometimes more) of learning this dicipline, they were trained in
'Kaifuku Anma' and were given the responsibility
of preparing the patients for further treatment. Because the technique
was so critical, the apprentice had to do 1 to 2 years as a preparation.
The next level of training was the 'Seifukujutsu' treatment level.
The apprentice would prepare the patient and then an advanced trainee
treated the patient. The apprentice would observe the treatment
techniques but was not allowed to work on the patient. This training
went on for 1 to 2 years and then the apprentice was given the
opportunity to "treat" the patients at the second level under the
supervision of the upper level trainee.
Just as the 2nd level mentored the 1st level apprentice,
so the 3rd level mentored the 2nd level. The 3rd level
was the done by trainees with years of experience. This was diagnosis.
Because it was so critical, this level was considered sacred, as
a mistake could result in aggravating the illness or even in the
death of the patient. The 2nd level trainee was only
allowed to watch the procedure for the 1st year and
then was given the opportunity to learn under the scrutiny of the
upper level mentor. The mentor would diagnose after the student
so the corrections could be made and once again checked by the
trainee. The training went on for 5 levels including 'Kampo' (herbology
+), Mogusa (moxibustion), Cupping, etc.
As each trainee passed his level of introduction,
another would take his place and he would move to the next level
of instruction. When one reached the 5th level, you
would train for several years and then be granted the title of 'Oisha' (physician
or practitioner). They were then able to practice on their own
without an overseer.
There were those within the community that were taught
the introduction to 'Seifukujutsu' (Kaifuku Anma), and were only
given this beginning form. This was the case in most instances.
There were times when the blind of the community were given the
introduction for they had an extreme sense of touch and could not
compromise the recipient or their standing within the community.
Seifukujutsu today is taught and practiced in much
the same manner as in the past. The art was first introduced into
the Western world through the territory of Hawaii. The man most
responsible for the propagation of this healing art was Henry Seishiro
Okazaki. He practiced the art in the 1920s up until his death in
1951. He was world renown for his healing techniques and was even
approached by Pres. Franklin Roosevelt to be his personal physician.
The students taught by Master Okazaki were many, however, most
of them did not receive the complete training in the art of Seifukujutsu.
Some of the more famous students of Master Okazaki
were Richard Rickerts, Bud Estes, Sig Kufferath, Jack Wheat, and
Carl Beaver among others. Not all of these students received training
beyond the basics.
For the most part, they were trained in only
the Kaifuku Anma, (restoration massage). As the years have passed,
the art has been passed on by so few in its complete form that
most people think the Kaifuku Anma "is" Seifukujutsu. As you can
see, most practitioners in the United States today, only practice
the Restoration massage. If you are looking for instruction in
the 'massage' there are several martial art organizations that
teach the basic introduction massage. The complete art is still
practiced in Japan and is considered one of the highest levels
of medicine in Japanese culture. To be certified an Oisha in Seifukujutsu
requires a minimum of 2000 hours of training and it is still done
in the traditional mentor- apprentice fashion in most places.
The art can be found in a few places in the U.S.
in its complete form but the practice has to fight for recognition
as an alternative healing art as most places in this country misrepresent
what it is. It is not massage in the Western understanding of the
word. It goes far beyond massage. If we are to bring this art form
into the forefront of alternative medicine, we must make the public
aware of this amazing art. Words of advise when looking into training
or treatment in the art of Seifukujutsu; Seifukujutsu practitioners
practice much more than just the restoration massage. The basic
massage can work miracles but, it is only the tip of the iceberg
and it is not Seifukujutsu.