Which Thai massage school offers the best in tradition and authenticity?
Wat Po in Bangkok?
You would think you can't go wrong if you ask a Thai massage therapist. After all, they would know better, right?
I thought so too....until I was looking to experience Tok Sen - strangely, one of Thailand's lesser known healing modality!
Situated across the old Thai Cultural Centre in Chiang Mai is an unassuming old building traditionally known as the Old Medicine Hospital.
Make no mistake about it. It is NOT a Thai hospital.
Renamed as "Thai Massage School (SHIVAGAKOMARPAJ), it is, in my view, the better of the two most renowned traditional Thai massage schools by lineage.
Wat Po in Bangkok is a renowned Thai medicine and massage school, no doubt about it. But the Old Medicine Hospital has my vote as the better school of learning for traditional Thai massage and Tok Sen.
Both Wat Po and Old Medicine Hospital shares the same lineage in SHIVAGAKOMARPAJ which indicates their authenticity and high quality of teachings passed down direct from the same line of teachers.
Without question, Wat Po shares the distinction as the FIRST school that taught Traditional Thai Medicine and Massage. But Wat Po had not taught massage until after 1958.
The late "Ajahn" Sintorn Chaichakan was then a graduate student, and
then teacher at Wat Po in 1958. Thereafter, he developed the FIRST
Traditional Thai Massage program.
This attribution to the originator of Thai massage program and accompanying key developments below are significant in how I arrive at my preferred choice in Chiang Mai.
In 1962, four years after teaching at Wat Po, Sintorn Chaichakan returned to
his place of birth in Chiang Mai to found the Old Medicine
It was here that he modified the Thai massage taught at Wat Po into one that more appropriately aligns with the laid-back nature of Chiang Mai natives.
He slowed down the approach to deliver a more effective resonance with our energy body. This difference in rhythm sets a distinct divergence from Wat Po.
This divergence led to gradual differentiation between the two schools separating their "lineage" into the Southern lineage of Wat Po in Bangkok and Northern lineage of Old Medicine Hospital in Chiang Mai.
Wasan Chaichakan (left) is the son of the late "Ajahn" Sintorn.
He continues the work of his late father at the renamed Thai Massage School (SHIVAGAKOMARPAJ) in Chiangmai.
This passing down of knowledge continues the unbroken chain of lineage.
I had met with Wasan to inquire about the course on Tok Sen.
One good way of knowing how good the school is, is
by experiencing the skills of their graduates.
I have rarely heard of massages that incorporate Tok Sen, let alone the schools that teach it.
So if you aren't interested in the course but are ONLY interested in experiencing Thai massage with Tok Sen, this is the ONLY place I know that offers it.
How was my experience?
Traditional Thai massage was good.
Tok Sen was therapeutically a reverberating experience.
was thorough in implementing both Tok Sen and finger pressure along Sen lines (Thai system of energy lines of the body).
Credit to her and her teacher, Wasan Chaichakan.
Massage is both science and art; technique and intuition. Experienced massage therapists eventually evolve into their own integrating many modalities. There probably would be little to choose between Wat Po and Old Medicine Hospital.
If you are a new therapist, and your choice has been delayed by the myriad of massage schools
that spans Thailand, this article helps point to a fundamental concern that must inform your choice: authenticity and quality.
Here's one more consideration.
There are two authors - M.B Mercati and Pierce Salguero - that wrote about Thai Massage and were instrumental in my decision to make that trip to Chiang Mai to review Old Medicine Hospital.
Both had trained in Thai
traditional massage in the same school.
I am not trained in Thai Traditional Massage and Tok Sen. But I have an interest in reviewing the best in spa energetics.
The Thai Massage school (SHIVAGAKOMARPAJ ) has my thumbs up. I leave you to decide Wat Po or Old Medicine Hospital.
The Old Medicine Hospital is located at:
238/1 Wuolai Road, Chiangmai Mai 50100 Thailand