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As the history of Nuad Thai is a difficult thing to track back 2,500 years and to the time of ancient India when Lord Gautama Buddha walked this earth, today one can find many interpretations of Thai Massage available. This is not just an international phenomenon but also happens within Thailand itself! It necessitates a lot of perspective and background information. Unfortunately, there is a lot of difference of opinion, even confusion, out there as to "what" is นวดไทย "Nuad Thai" or Thai Massage. Because of this, there are many blends and splices of other bodywork modalities mingled in with the individual practitioner's version and understanding of Thai Massage; nevermind นวดไทยโบราณ - Traditional Thai Massage. As practitioners offer a "Thai Massage" or even a "Traditional Thai Massage" session it is important to 'separate the wheat from the chaff', find what suits you best, and know the difference. And, we are not talking about happy endings. Those have no place in Thai or Traditional Thai Massage and people should know that.


Whether it be for the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual benefits it offers, Thai Massage is one of the most versatile and profound modalities of physical therapy in the world today. It uses a very wide range of techniques to access and realign the receiver's body into optimal balance. This array of techniques are utilized and applied depending on the individual's needs. Therefore, crucial to good therapy is proper training. Yet what differentiates Thai Massage, especially Traditional Thai Massage, is the importance placed on the character development of the therapist in training. Old-school training took years of cultivating both virtue and skill simultaneously in order to become what is known in Thailand as a หมอนวด "Maw Nuad", or 'Doctor of Massage'. 

​It is considered vital to understand that the Traditional Medical system of Thailand is rooted in the BuddhaDharma of Lord Gautama Buddha. There are many suttas (ancient texts) recording the medical theory of the time. This system of Traditional Medicine utilizes such texts for how it views and understands the body; much like Tibetan Medicine and Ayurveda. Over time and particularly due to the propagation migrations ordered by King Aśoka circa 400BCE, traditional Buddhist medical texts of Ancient India and it's people co-mingled with those of ancient Siam and the neighboring provinces and kingdoms. A few very notable texts considered essential for study are: Dhammakathīkasutta, Singālasutta, Mahāmālunkyasutta, Girimānanda Sutta, Jinapañjara Gāthā and Practice, Pra Kamphii Thaat Wiwon, Pra Kamphii Thaat Banjop, Kamphii Warayokhasan, Kamphii Thaat Wipang, Pra Kamphii Samutthaan Winicchai, Phaet NamAek Gru Yawd Dtamrap Yaa Samunphrai, and the Kamphii Phaetsang-songkroh. 

Many of these have been honed and passed on through the ages from generation to generation. Others have been compiled and codified more recently. It is noteworthy to understand that the medical system prevalent at the time of Gautama Buddha was Ancient Indian Medicine. And moreover that this predates the modern version of Ayurveda we see today. This Buddhist based medical system is the foundation of what we see in Thai Medicine today, though it has obviously been influenced by Southern Chinese, Khmer, Mon, and Indigenous Medicine traditions. Mistakenly, many believe that Thai Massage Theory comes from a blend of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. This is a common misconception, and Thai Medical Theory must be viewed through its own lens and not that of another modality, though similarities and connections exist.


The Triple Gem School of Thai Massage upholds itself as a school dedicated to providing traditional and authentic Thai Massage to its students. Though there has been a divide in defining and authenticating the Thai Massage we see outside of Thailand, there are common threads. These points of unification can be seen throughout the various schools and branches we have both in the West and East, and are thus noteworthy. 

First, every school and lineage gives homage and respect to the figure considered the 'Father Doctor' and Official Head of Thai Medicine: Dr. Jīvaka KumarBhacca. He is also colloquially known as Dr. Shivago in many western Thai Massage circles, although the proper Thai pronunciation of his name is หมอชีวก "Maw Cheewok". That may sound totally different than the Pali / Sanskrit proper spelling of "Jīvaka", but actually the Thai way of writing it lines up with "ชี" for 'Chee' or 'Jii' with long ī vowel, "ว" for 'va', and "ก" for 'ka'. Dr. Jīvaka is one of the most significant figures to Buddhist-based Medicine, not just to Thailand and ancient Southeast Asia but also to India, Tibet, Bhutan, Mongolia, China, and Japan. His life story is fascinating: an adopted prince of Ancient Northern India, a savant in Ancient Indian Medical Sciences, personal physician to Lord Gautama Buddha, and a reported Sotāpanna. This is inspiration to do your research well, and not just in the Thai Medical system.

Second, mettā: the practice of cultivating 'loving-kindness' from the doctor to the patients. In medical terms this denotes the doctor's compassion and genuine, baseline wish to help alleviate the patient's suffering as well as endeavor for them to remain pain-free. In terms of a spiritual practice, the daily cultivation and application of mettā as a virtue and personality trait is essential to the moral foundation of a หมอนวด 'Maw Nuad', "Doctor of Thai Massage". As essential and commonplace as it is, mettā is just one quarter of a greater whole. This complete character trait is known as the Brahmaviharas, and is traditionally viewed as one entity to be forever practiced and never forgotten. 

Third, เส้น 'sen'. Sen are an important part of the Thai Massage world and every school teaches of their existence in the Thai Medical system. Perhaps different teachers will instruct different locations of the the pathways throughout the body, yet nevertheless there is discussion regarding them, their usage, and their importance.

At the Triple Gem School of Thai Massage we endeavor to cultivate a healthy community within the Thai Massage community at large. We believe that it is through focusing on commonality, and staying true to what we have been taught, that we may assist the future of Thai Massage in the ever very connected world we live in today.

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