TRADITIONAL Thai Therapy and Thai Massage
Today, when we say “Thai massage”, most people see the first image.
But actually, Thai massage should not be represented by the first image, but rather by the second.
What’s the difference?
The fact that the first image is a commercial brand whereas Thai massage depicted in the second image represents an ancient folk healing art which has different objectives…
Thai massage has existed for centuries and would be practiced by a local healer, often a member of the village.
These would grow into healers within their local environment, learning the skill over many years, usually from a family member, knowing personally most of their patients and their medical history, familiar with local customs and beliefs, as well as surrounding nature – the local climate, food, flora and fauna.
These healers were inseparable from their immediate surroundings, which is typical of all traditional medicines worldwide.
They would care for the health of the community, and in return, the community would provide all their basic needs.
What we see in the first image, advertised as “Thai massage,” is a serious, now global, capitalist business.
This “Thai commercial massage” has emerged through the mutilation, simplification, and standardization of authentic Thai massage, all aimed at creating a brand that enables enormous profit.
Firstly, the owner investing capital and opening a Thai massage salon is often some businessman who has no personal connection to massage but sees it as an attractive business opportunity.
To capitalize on the allure of authenticity, labor is imported from Thailand. Nowadays, Thai natives practicing this kind of “Thai massage” don’t spend years learning it in Thailand; instead, they undergo quick standardized courses of a hundred hours (if at all), learning fixed sequences of manual techniques.
Therefore, they approach each client with the predictable pattern. As they lack sufficient knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and diagnostics of Thai medicine, they apply Thai massage techniques solely for RELAXATION (which is nice) BUT NOT AS A PHYSICAL THERAPY – what Thai massage really is.
Secondly, practitioners not only leave their local communities, often heading to big cities or remote tourist centers.
In the last two decades, they massively migrated to other continents, facing unfamiliar languages, customs, cultures, food and climates.
In these conditions, thousands of kilometers away from their families, their culture and their homeland, they may work 12-hour shifts, like on an assembly line, and are paid usually meager wages .
From personal experience, I know that in the last twenty years, Europe witnessed an actual mushrooming of these salons offering “Thai massage”. In my city alone, there are at least ten of them now.
Recently, I was even in a very small, remote Swiss village, and you guessed it—there’s a Thai massage salon there too…
Gratefully extracted from TTT Belgrade