By Patrice Berg
Massage was used by primitive man to treat aches, strains and gastro-intestinal disorders. Tui Na developed alongside mans evolution, probably stemming from daoyin, the pressing and rubbing of one’s own limbs to ease pain and stiffness.
The first written successful case using Tui Na along with acupuncture is recorded in the Records of the Historian. Around 500BC the physician, Bian Que, rescued a dying crown prince of the Zhao State, which won him admiration.
Tui Na Therapy continued to play a significant role in medical treatment. Through 220AD writings on Tui Na appeared in Ten Volumes of Tui Na Therapy by Huang Di and Qi Bo, which was lost, but its existence is noted in the History of the Han Dynasty. Documented advances are found in Cannon of the Tuina Therapy, Classic of Daoyin and General Treatise on the causes of Symptoms and Diseases.
During the Tang Dynasty (618-907) a Tui Na department was set up in the Imperial Health Administration, where there was a training program and masseurs held different ranks. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279) the rulers dismantled the massage department and although massage remained popular, it did not advance again until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Tui Na gradually became the main form of massage and was used to treat infants. Developing further into the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) it was among the thirteen medical branches at the Imperial Health Administration. However, in the later years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Tui Na and Acupuncture were discriminated against and dismissed from the Imperial Health Administration by the rulers. This continued through the Kuomintang regime (1927-1949) and was not accepted again until the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949.
Since then, it has made progress, having departments in hospitals and training Tui Na practitioners in schools. Since many western doctors have learned Traditional Chinese Medicine, there have been many books written on traditional massage and contributed to the development of Tui Na.