Lit. : an= pressure, ma =massage.
Anma was imported to Japan from China during the 6'Th century AD and is in use as one of the major healing medical forms ever since then. Since its arrival to Japan Anma is known in many levels, from the general basic level (health maintenance) up to a clinical level used by traditional healers for diagnosis & treatment of patients.
Anma includes a wide variety of massage techniques such as muscle kneading, rubbing, pressing, body tapping, shaking, vibrating and more.
Anma went through a tremendous theoretical & clinical development while in Japan, after centuries of being guided under Chinese classical theory (until 17th century). Anma became mainly attributed to blind therapists (known as highly sensitive) who were training in various schools in Japan at that time.
With the import of modern medicine to Japan (19'Th century AD) Anma had lost its medical value and was lowered to a level of "relaxation massage". The term "Anma-San" became a nick-name for blind therapists. Many healers lost their livelihood looking for another way to introduce the effectiveness of this healing art to the public. This is one of the reasons for the development of SHIATSU and a professional awakening of many healers at the beginning of the 20th century.
Meaning: SHI= finger, ATSU= pressure.
Shiatsu is a form of manual pressure therapy done (mostly) by fingers and developed in Japan. Shiatsu was created only at the beginning of the 20'Th century (name was first published in 1915). In 1955 Shiatsu was recognized as a form of massage therapy aside Anma & western massage and in 1964 was recognized by the Japanese government as an independent form of therapy with unique standards of training & licensing.
The main difference between Shiatsu and other forms of massage is the focusing on pressure techniques as well as combining oriental traditional theory with modern western science. The goal of Shiatsu is to promote and regulate the natural healing powers existing in the patient's body through a variety of controlled manual pressure techniques for the sake of disease prevention and symptomatic relieve.
In part Shiatsu also focuses on regulating the physiological functioning of internal organs by affecting the nervous system and releasing the spinal region from local tension creating factors.
Being a relatively young form of therapy and rapidly developed has created many styles & schools of Shiatsu, differing from one another mainly by theoretical understanding & vision. Some of the styles are very popular and some are less.
(Taken from my website...)