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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why Fijian Massage is the Secret Ingredient to a Long Massage Career

massage softwareA few weeks ago, I hosted a Fijian Massage class with founder Lolita Knight.  (along with a few other of her CE classes).  With the help of her “professional massage model” Mark, too of course!

Lolita has been a practicing massage therapist for over 30 years.  Here’s an article she has written explaining the history of Fijian Massage.

My girlfriend Rosemarie is quarter Fijian, quarter Chinese and half Kiwi.  In 1998 we traveled to Fiji to visit her relatives on several of the smaller of the Fijian Islands. On the island of Kadavu, I met her cousin Simonis.  He was the village “massage therapist”.  On this island there were no roads, no electricity except for a few generators, no indoor plumbing (outhouse), no hot water (a communal COLD WATER shower instead) and of course no TV.

Despite this, living with her relatives was one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had.  It made me think a lot about my life and the role money plays in it.  The Fijian people have very little financial resources, yet they live one of the richest lives I have ever seen.  LOVE is everywhere: especially for the children.  And LAUGHTER.  I wanted to learn Fijian just so I could be part of that ever-constant humor.  Plus FAITH: a faith that is rich in its strength and actions.  The Fijian community made me feel so welcomed, loved and for the first time I experienced unconditional love.

Rosemarie’s cousin Simonis, had wanted to give me a massage, but I was on holiday.  With 20 years of massage experience, I wanted a break and felt I would need to give him some lessons.  So I put him off for a few days.  Finally I agreed and I was truly amazed.  I certainly wasn’t going to the be the teacher.  Simonis had a very rapt student who wanted to learn everything he had to share.

Simonis had learned this massage, which I have called “Fijian Massage”, when he was 7 years of age.  When any of the villagers had sore or damaged muscles, they would seek out Simonis.  Massage Therapy is not a paid occupation for Simonis.  He simply gives of his time and talent to help his friends and neighbors.  Sometimes he is very busy and his main activity is attending his own plantation of taro and pineapple.  Therefore, he doesn’t have a great deal of time to spend giving massages.

I feel this is why such an effective massage technique has been handed down generation to generation to generation.  The people HAVE TO have strong and efficient muscles to survive as their bodies are their source of transport, work is very labor intensive and there is no social welfare for those unable to work.  And the therapist doesn’t have an “hour” to fix people so the method evolved that fixed people quickly.

In Fiji, the client would lie on the ground or a Fijian woven mat and Simonis would use mainly his feet, sometimes his hands to release the tension and repair the damaged tissue.  I have made many modifications to his technique to make it more comfortable for both the client and the therapist.  I have also created a method that ONLY uses the feet to help save therapist’s hands from repetitive movement injury.

I am ever so grateful for the method that Simonis taught me that I donate to the people in the Fijian villages as this can help them in their difficult financial situations.

When I returned to New Zealand (where I had lived for 20 years), I felt that Kiwis would not relate to lying on the floor and me using my feet to massage them.  So for 6 months I did not use the “FIJIAN MASSAGE”.  Then one day a client came to me with severe leg scar tissue and wanted to run a marathon in 6 weeks.  I knew the only way to help him was with the Fijian Massage technique.  He was desperate and willing to try anything so I convinced him of the Fijian Massage done with my feet.  He not only was able to run the marathon, but also beat his previous best time.  Then I tentatively recommended that my regular clients try the Fijian Massage.  Now over 80% of my clients prefer the Fijian Massage to the other deep tissue sport massages that I offer.

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Why is the Fijian Massage so popular?  Mainly my clients want a deep massage that is also relaxing.  Prior to doing the Fijian Massage I did Deep Tissue Cross Fiber Massage with a lot of my method using my elbow.  While it was pointed and got to the troubled area, it was a “sharp” pain.  With the Fijian I do my  main deep work with my heel.  This deep pressure is softer that my elbow, yet it is a stronger stroke.  Plus my clients find that the repair happens much quicker with the Fijian Barefoot Massage.

If you think about it, the foot has stronger bones and the leg muscles are more powerful than the arm.  Try this: rotate your lateral edge of your foot on the floor laterally.  Now put your hand on the floor and do the same thing.  It is obvious that your foot is much, much stronger than your hand.

One thing I really enjoy with using my foot and leg (and abdomen) is that not only does it relax the use of your hands, but it also gives your legs and abdomen good workout; therefore adding more balance to your own muscular structure.

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Fijian To Go: working with client seated
With the Fijian Massage you use your toes, lateral and medial edge of your foot, the pad, bunion bone point, the base of your heel, the edge of your heel and the back of your heel.  You can massage all parts of your client except the face.

When I reflect, I feel that it is amazing that this technique that I learned quite by accident on a remote island in Fiji, where I learned to accept cold showers as a pleasant way of life, is being taught all over the world.  I feel forever grateful to the warm and amazing villagers on the remote island of Fiji that shared and taught me a technique that I firmly believe will enhance deep tissue sport massage for both the therapist and client.

Lolita is a great teacher with amazing energy.  I’m so grateful I was able to learn from her before her retirement!  If you’re interested in learning Fijian Massage, you can find classes offered from her team of instructors by visiting

Cindy (me), Ginger, Lolita, Mark
Many thanks to Lolita and Mark for the wonderful class and many laughs!

Tweetable: Why is Fijian #massage so popular? via @BodyworkBuddy

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