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Hands-On Experience

Maria and Carli are a married couple from Spain. I met them at the Beijing Massotherapy Hospital in a traditional compound on Huguosi Road in Beijing. Maria learned Western massage in Spain. In order to improve her skills and help more people stay healthily, after returning to her motherland, Maria made a special trip to Beijing to learn traditional Chinese massage.

Massage in China has an ancient history. As early as the Neolithic Age, the ancestors of the Chinese living in the Huanghe (Yellow) River Delta developed the primitive therapeutic experiences accumulated in their struggle against nature into the traditional therapeutic art of massage. After several thousand years, massage has become an important part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and has lured many foreigners who want to learn it to China.

At 8 a.m., Maria came to the Beijing Massotherapy Hospital. After saying hello to every doctor and putting on a doctor's coat, she began to learn and practice massotherapy. The Chinese patients were curious about a foreign masseuse at the hospital.

Maria was just a student and could not therefore treat patients through
massage. She could only practice massotherapy on her teachers' bodies after gaining a good command of acupuncture points and basic fitness of massage skills. She studied extremely hard and took several dozen pages of notes because she had a two-week term for learning and practice. She was tall, and suffered a lot when conducting massage in front of a low bed. When I heard that Maria had great strength in massage, though, I decided to try it.

Maria powerfully pushed and rubbed my lower back and I felt that it might break. Her teacher comforted me, saying it was a normal reaction. I enjoyed massage by Maria despite the "pain." Soon after, I felt my body's circulation activate, and the muscle and joints relax. This is the miraculous effect of massage.

Carli later told me his grandmother was Chinese and his mother was Indian. Of Asian extraction, he has been interested in the culture and history of China, especially in Chinese kungfu. He intended to teach and develop what he learned from Chinese kungfu in Spain.

"I just returned from the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province where I experienced genuine Chinese kungfu," Carli told me. In the temple, he saw many extremely difficult styles of Chinese kungfu performed by monks. Carli was amazed at a senior monk's skill at vaulting walls-walking up a wall seven to eight meters with his hands behind his back. Usually only seen in movies, this inconceivable move left a deep impression on him.

"Chinese kungfu is so magical, and I must practice it very hard," Carli said. "My wife has learned massage, and she can treat my injuries suffered in the practice of Chinese kungfu."

During their stay in Beijing, the couple visited many historical sites, such as the Great Wall, Beihai Park, the Imperial Palace and the Summer Palace. Although they didn't know Chinese, they met with many kind-hearted people and said they liked Beijing very much. They plan to come back this summer.

Maria learns from her teacher how to quit smoking through the massage of acupuncture points.

To learn the massage of acupuncture points, Maria practices on herself.

(China Pictorial April 23, 2004)


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