Today we know that Thai Traditional Massage came about over a period of almost thousand years as a blend of Indian Ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Tibetan, Mon and Khmer indigenous medicine integrated with the medicinal knowledge the Thai people brought with them when they gradually entered the region now called Thailand. It’s thought that immigration of the Thai into the Northern Thailand regions started between the 10th and 12th century CE.
There are various ways of how the Chinese and Chinese Medicine have influenced the Thais, their culture and their traditional medicine. Not only did the Thai originally inhabited areas of China bringing Chinese knowledge with them, but Chinese concepts, thoughts and applications can be found in virtually every aspect of daily Thai life, ranging from food, pottery, herbal medicines and recipes, religion, superstitions, and what not.
Moreover, the Chinese presence in Thailand (more than ten percent of the population) has always been large historically, notably in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, but actually throughout the whole of Southeast Asia, which, of course, had and has its own impact.
One of the most visual influences of Chinese Medicine in Thai Traditional Medicine is that of the use of Chinese diagnostic techniques like analysis of the iris, the tongue, and pulse.
As for massage, Thai Foot Massage is one of the Thai Massage modalities strongly influenced by Chinese reflexology (especially recently with renewed interest) and you’ll find a number of massage training schools in Thailand offering Thai Foot Massage & Reflexology training, while at the same time — without a blink of the eyes — mentioning that it’s based on Chinese reflexology points (like, for instance, the Wat Pho Medical Massage School’s Foot Massage course).
Another famous contemporary example of a Thai-Chinese massage blend is Chi Nei Tsang (Thai Abdominal Chi Massage), the internal organs massage modality quite recently developed by Master Mantak Chia, which today conquers the world as the abdominal massage treatment modality of excellence. By the way, Chi Nei Tsang’s little sister, Karsai Nei Tsang (Thai Genital Detox Massage), follows the same principals.
Of late, we also see some Thai Massage teachers in the West taking up and blending Chinese Medicine concepts and Chinese Taoist ideas into Thai Massage. An example of a Thai Massage teacher that occupies himself with this kind of work is Krishnataki, the founder of the Sunshine House in Greece and a Sunshine Network Thai Yoga Massage instructor.
Other examples are Sarah Vosen and Sara Yovovich from Sarahpeutics who blend the Traditional Chinese Medicine 5 Element Theory with Thai Massage.