Perhaps one of the most unsatisfactory developments with Thai Massage Beginner Courses in Thailand (and in other countries) is the fact that the training duration in study hours has generally become shorter and shorter.
There are reasons to that, of which the most important is a commercial one. Holiday makers, prospective students, and even professional bodyworkers visiting Thailand have limited time, and in many cases they would perhaps gladly like to learn something about Thai Massage, but at the same time they also want to do other activities while being in Thailand.
Thus, if Thai Massage schools or training centers would stick to giving thorough Thai Massage introductory courses which would take 2 weeks or even longer, they would get way less students i.e. customers, which would finally bring their livelihoods in trouble, or just simply — less in the pocket.
No doubt, longer beginner courses would also give less laypeople the change to get in touch with (learning and giving) Thai Massage, and of course, we want exactly the opposite, that is, to share this incredible healing art with as much people as possible.
Yes, we live in other times. Yes, sharing knowledge has become more efficient and can often be done in less time compared to the past. True. But vast experience as from the ’80s shows that a minimum of 60 hours (about 2 weeks of training) is just really needed to share an honest Thai Massage introduction.
The UTTS (The Union of Thai Traditional Medicine Society), one of the most important Thai Traditional Medicine Associations in Thailand and connected to both the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine (DTAM) and the Thai Ministry of Public Health, has since long advised, established and authorized a curriculum of a minimum of 60 hours for a Foundation Thai Massage course.
With a course shorter than 60 hours, a Thai citizen is in fact not allowed to officially practice Thai Massage. Mind that this is the bare minimum, the UTTS short-course curriculum consists of other Thai Massage training courses that range from 60, 150, up to 372 hours.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Thai Massage training for foreigners, things have clearly got out of hand. From “sitting at the master’s feet” for an indefinite time in the ’80s of the former century, to 2 months of introductory training, to 1 month, to 2 weeks, and today — to mostly just 3 to 5 days. And things got worse — it’s not at all uncommon to encounter foundation course offerings of 2 days, 1 day, half-a-day, and even Thai Massage introductory training of just one or two hours!
Now, if schools and teachers that sell hyper-short beginner courses would very, very clearly state that they are offering only a very, very partial introductory, and that the student will in no way be able to seriously do a responsible, full-body Thai Massage session, than I might be able to live with the phenomenon.
But often exactly the opposite is the case: too many training centers and teachers suggest to prospective students that they will be qualified Thai Massage practitioners after the training course. Really, I feel that this is a hoax and simply not done!
Perhaps the most worrying thing however, is that I’ve seen honest, respectable, serious Thai Massage institutes simply “collapse” under commercial pressure and subsequently divide up their solid beginner courses in chunks of 3 days or 5 days, creating “Levels.” Level 1 then became a “Foundation Course,” and subsequent levels “Advanced Courses” or “Intermediate Courses,” and so on.
The result is that the shorter introductory courses (or rather workshops) can impossibly convey a real introduction of Thai Massage. That is, those training courses necessarily need to skip or omit certain (crucial) aspects of doing Thai Massage.
We then often see that the student only learns doing a session with the receiver lying on the back and in the seated position, omitting techniques where the receiver is in the side-lying position or belly-down position. Or, perhaps, (theoretical and/or practical) knowledge about the Thai Sen Energy lines and Energy Concepts is skipped or extremely superficially touched. Or, no work is done on the abdominal area, and so on, and so on.
But anyway, we’ve made a list of schools in Chiang Mai that offer thorough Thai Massage beginner courses with a duration of a minimum of 2 weeks (60 hours). Schools that didn’t (yet) yield under the pressure of commercialization.
Mind that other Thai Massage schools certainly (may) have excellent partial beginner, advanced, therapeutic or specialized courses and workshops. Sure! What I’m talking about here are the Beginner Courses (also called Foundation, Basic, or Introductory courses) that cover a complete and fair introduction to the whole spectrum of Thai Massage.
Furthermore, the list only contains Thai Massage schools that are explicitly accessible for Non-Thai citizens also, that is whereof the websites are in English or also have an English section.
Jongrak Massage School
The Jongrak Massage School offers thorough Thai Traditional Medicine college studies: Thai Pharmacy, Thai Midwifery, Thai medical practice, and Thai Massage. Additionally, they offer Lanna Folk Healing Courses and a set of short-term courses. Their Thai Massage Beginner course takes 8 days (80 hours).
The Sensip Training school operates both in Thailand (Chiang Mai) and in France. Their Fundamentals of Nuad Boran Thai course takes 10 days (60 hours), and covers all receiver positions and Sen Line theory.
Sunshine Massage School
The Sunshine Massage School is renowned for her thorough 10 day (60 hours) Beginner Course of Thai Traditional Yoga Massage in the spirit of Asokananda (Sunshine Network).
The Baan Hom Samunphrai School
Baan Hom Samunphrai, founded and operated by Homprang Chaleekanha, offers on-site accommodation options and training courses in Thai Traditional Massage and related herbal therapies. The Foundation Thai Massage course takes 10 days (60 hours).
The Sunshine Network Lahu Village
Like the Sunshine Massage School, the Sunshine Lahu Village (being the center of Asokananda’s Sunhine Network in Thailand) offers a thorough 12 days (60 hours+) Beginner Course of Thai Traditional Yoga Massage in an on-site retreat style setting.