Different Strokes: Learn the art of Thai massage in 4 hours!


If you’ve ever had an open-air massage on a Thai beach, all feet and breath and tiger balm, you’ll know how blissful it can be.

Well, in Nice, you can’t just rock up to the beach and have your meridians opened for the price of a coffee, but you can treat your loved ones to a similar experience by becoming the masseur.

Meet Keita Onozaki – he not only offers “Zen” massages but he also teaches the art of Thai massage in a series of half-day courses. I signed up for one of his workshops with a girl friend in an attempt to learn these ancient detoxification techniques and be able to soothe the aches and pains of my own family (in exchange for household chores, obviously). And what a fun 4 hours! Together with three other “couples” we watched Keita demonstrate four sequences, which we then practiced in our pairs.

If you are used to the plinky-plonk music and lavender oil of a relaxing massage, the Thai variety may come as bit of a shock. For a start, there are no oils and you keep all your clothes on. Also, it uses rhythmic pressure and manipulations, meaning your body will be manoeuvred into various positions, much like “lazy yoga”. There is rocking and stretching, use of your feet, and in our case, some school girl giggling.

After establishing a “safe word” to ensure that gentle muscle stretches didn’t result in a trip to urgences, my friend and I started to get the hang of applying gradual pressure using bodyweight. As Keita teaches, the rhythm and flow of energy is essential as it’s as much a meditation practice for the masseur as the massee. I’m not sure either of us managed to achieve a meditative state, but practice will most definitely make perfect.

Verdict? Afterwards I felt stretched and soothed and ready to pounce on the “sen” energy channels of any willing victim.

For workshop details, see keitaonozaki.com


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