Chi Kung: The Missing Link?

The Creation of Satoro

I would like to share my experience. I had been giving Shiatsu for 5 years before I discovered Chi Kung. It transformed my shiatsu. It’s interesting that influential teachers of the healing arts had also spent a lifetime practicing Chi Kung. For example Usui, the founder of Reiki, studied Kiko, the Japanese version of Chi Kung, which is a health and healing discipline based on the development and use of life energy. The Reiki inner circle in Japan also practiced Kiko, meditation, chanting and prayer. Kishi, who founded Sei Ki, also studied Kiko (chi kung) energy work and Sai Tei.

I believe that the more subtle the touch, the greater the clarity, intuition and internal power that is needed. Developing the internal structure, intuition, connection and power begins with self development and the practice of Chi Kung.

The principle is that of a child’s antique spinning toy, a spin top. The toy must be activated or initiated so that it spins internally by gyroscopic action before it generates enough power to spin externally. A shiatsu practitioner must be able to generate the internal power in order to access (or atune like tuning into a radio channel) before it can manifest externally.

The Taoist yin/yang mandala is not a flat static symbol on T shirts but a wisdom key to the dynamic creative/destructive forces of the universe in this dimension
expressed in a wave form between positive and negative, inhalation/exhalation, convergence/divergence etc. We live in a waveform universe. Light, sound, electricity and water all travel in waves, a sine wave. Naturally the body also works in waves; the heart pumps the blood, the muscles pump the lymphatic fluid, food travels down the digestive tract in peristaltic waves, spinal fluid travels up the spine to the cranium in waves, neurons fire in waves and so on.

Energy therefore must first be generated internally within you by the dynamic process symbolized by the Yin/Yang mandala. Imagine that you are the center of the Yin Yang mandala, an enormous sphere with the polarities of black and white engaged in a galactic wrestling match. The secret is contained within the line that flows between the two forces. If you were to extend the line beyond the circle what do you see? Waves like the waves of the sea. Hidden in the mandala is the fact that the wave twists into a spiral. Energy travels in pulses, between positive and negative like a whip. The flowing moves of Tai Chi are wave form and generate the power of the whip. When a practitioner is giving a treatment the movement pulses up from the earth and up through the spine in a wavelike motion. Between the crest and the trough there is a mid point, a neutral point the Masters describe as the Yuan Chi, the neutral force. It is like the tiny pause between the outbreath and the inbreath, between the tidal flows, which is the key, the access point, the doorway between one state and another. Meditators and healers look for that neutral space to go inside (to the Source).

How is the Yin/Yang mandala generated within you?

The dynamic energetic structure must first be established and it begins with the breath. In order for the breath to begin there must be a vacuum. Air gushes in to fill the vacuum and it is the beginning of creating the hara. The hara is more than just an energetic space it is the anchor point for connecting with all that is that diffentiates between you and a rock or a tree or another person.

Where there is no breath there’s no hara
Where there is no hara there’s no power
Where there’s no connection in the hara there’s no connection between heaven and
Where there’s no energetic structure there’s no flow
Without the dynamic flow of universal energy there’s no healing.

Breathing into the hara involves abdominal breathing: into the lower DanTien below the navel, into the kidneys at the back (kidney breathing), into the right side the liver (hepatic flexure), into the centre above the navel in the solar plexus and into the left spleen (splenic flexure). It creates not only the elasticity and resilience but the firmness of a rubber ball and a reservoir of energy termed ‘a sea of chi’. Because the mind follows the breath, the energy becomes rooted in the hara. A practitioner thinks from the hara and moves from the hara. When the practitioner is working with a client the energy, intuition and movement emanate from their hara. It makes for quite a difference in the quality of the treatment.

As for the connection to universal energy, micro and macro (small and heavenly) circuits must be established and extended with heaven and earth. Thrusting and girdle channels support that function. Note that these are not meridians but are more closely associated with the glandular system and significant energy nexuses that have capacity to ‘breathe’ and to give and receive energy.

Masters describe the meridians as wiring in the walls. The meridians loom between the geometries of the organs and glands in relationships that are continually in flux, like the wind and currents of the earth. The geometries, say the triangle between the kidneys and the hara are like scaffolding that underpin fundamental structures. There is a Tantric saying ‘ form is the envelope of pulsation’.

Here’s a question, does the wind blow or is it sucked? The answer is, it is induced or drawn from the high to the low pressure.

That is the way that energy flows and explains why chi does not like to be forced or coerced but to be invited to flow at its best.

Setting the intent and creating the Sacred Space is of great importance, like programming the computer. The intent is the impulse and direction of the energy. This applies to all healing and to all body workers. In Satoro the Sacred Space is set at the beginning of the treatment and an affirmation spoken either spoken out loud in partnership with the client ‘to the highest good’ (for the protection of the practitioner and receiver) or set ahead of time by the practitioner if it’s considered that the client is not in the right condition to engage in such a contract. However there are great benefits to be gained if it is done as it engages the client in their own healing process and shifts the perception away from being a passive receiver to an active participant. The principle is that a practitioner establishes their own connection first and then the connection for the receiver. If a practitioner has developed their Chi Kung and established their own connection there is a certain knowingness, a surety, that surpasses  theoretical practice because it derives from actual experience of the now.

The deepest work is in releasing cellular memory. Negative thoughts and emotions are held in the body’s tissues in what has come to be known as cellular memory. Accessing the cellular memory and releasing the thought patterns and emotional roots through a positive conscious connection is the fundamental key to all healing. The cellular release is revealed through a sudden flash of memory. That is the gold. To treat only aspects of the meridian energy is unlikely to lift out these emotional roots.

I have developed a portfolio of principles based on Japanese terms used frequently in the martial and healing arts. One of these is Misogi. Misogi describes the practice of the Samurai as they polished their swords daily to prevent rust in the humid climate. The Samurai sword has been called ‘the soul of the Samurai’ and Misogi illustrates the practice of self renewal, the cleansing of the spirit and the daily ritual of self empowerment. Toning is a part of my practice along with Buddha breathing and spinal cord rocking. Toning is not about producing an external sound for yourself or others but an internal scanning of the internal geography, clearing and harmonizing and reinforcing positive energetic patterns. It also creates positive energetic mandalas which support the internal geometries. Intoning the creation vowel sounds is the most powerful.

The spinal cord sequence exercises are a vital part of the structural integrity because it mobilizes the spinal pumps that martial artists use to generate their power and kinesthetically educates the body in wave form motion.

Buddha breath is very effective for clearing the supportive thrusting channels like cleaning a pipe before use. The secret lies in extending the breath beyond the physical body to the greater heavenly circuit and down to the earth and out to the universe. The meditation is about connecting with the centre of the earth. The principle is that the deeper the roots the higher the reach of the branches. To go up one must first go down. The earth is our home, Giai is our mother. It’s easy enough for meditators to go travelling, the trick is to find your way back and a powerful homing instinct is essential. Yoga meditations are often portrayed as assuming the lotus position which curtails the connection to the earth to send it heavenward. Chi Kung meditations are very earth based. This is where we are born, in this dimension. The meditator might imagine themselves at the centre of their Yin/Yang mandala, connected from the hara, rooted in the earth, and connected to everything that is, as if they are suspended in space
with the earth as their footstool with the whole of the universal and stellar energy to draw upon.

Bodyworkers frequently tell me that they know this already but they might ask themselves if they have got past the first step: which is the establishment of the hara: out of chest/anxiety breathing and into abdominal breathing, breathing from and moving from the hara, and the creation of hara structure and the pearl at the centre of the hara. It is fundamental. Without the hara connection there is no ability to connect with all that is or even worse a connection is made from the third eye (Yin Tang) or the crown (Bai Hui) with the ungrounded consequences (space cadet syndrome) that  follows. The Hara connection is the anchor.

I describe Satoro as unfurling/unraveling and gathering the chi and use a coil of rope and a katana as the motif. The treatment philosophy is that of following the thread to its cause. It’s rather like digging out dandelions, just pulling off the leaves is only good for making tea. I like to work from a standing position as degrees of weight can be transferred. It is very comfortable and ergonomic for the giver and most convenient for putting the receiver into stretches and works in a rocking motion. Mothers rock their babies. Some meditators rock their bodies (releasing their spines) in a motion called Davening. Rocking releases stuck energy and allows the muscle spindles to unwind and find their natural place. From Chi Kung there is a sequence of exercises called the Rag Doll which applied during the treatment to the client allows their body to unwind. If you have ever seen a dog shake off water you will notice how it begins from its centre outward. Works for the dog! That is the active stage.

The passive stage is the gathering and listening phase: to dip the hand in the pool so silently so as not to disturb it, to allow the hot confluence of released energies to settle where they are most needed and in particular the kidneys, liver and hara. It’s usually during the passive stage that cellular release occurs. It is when the real work is done.

Satoro certainly has a different feel to it, because of its weight and depth and mobility it has been described as the Tai Chi of bodywork. It is not prescriptive nor denies a practitioner from working within their own style of bodywork, whatever that is. It can be applied in any situation. I think Satoro partners some bodywork particularly well: Shiatsu, Thai, Tui Na, Bowen, Polarity, No Hands. It also links in well with the ‘soft’ martial arts such as Aikido, Judo, Ninjutsu, Tai Chi, Kung Fu who are used to being bodily mobile, using chi and are already founded in a spiritual philosophy, particularly Taoist philosophy. Satoro was developed for treating injuries and illnesses. It’s also
very helpful for practitioners who have work related injuries and find it hard to work on tables or upon their knees upon a futon. Satoro prevents injuries.

Satoro workshops are available on request particularly if a group or a class is formed or for special interest groups such as at dojos, schools and academies.

Satoro is a serious healing art and begins with creating a ‘Sacred Space’.

Satoro happily gives a practitioner more freedom, more gears and more tools to work with.


Roy Mulholland is currently writing his new book entitled “Satoro” and is looking for readers with experience of Tai Chi, Taoism and related healing and martial arts to provide feedback and insight.  If you are interested in helping Roy, please contact him at his new website

About the Author:

By Roy Mulholland, Founder of Satoro

roy-mulhollandWell now I am 61 years of age I feel privileged and at the same humble that I have come to a time in my life where I should share this experience and knowledge. I feel that it’s right to give this new approach its own name Satoro. It is pronounced (Sa-torro) I have had a lifetime of teaching the therapies at acupuncture, naturopathic, medical, herbal schools and academies. Satoro encapsulates my 30 years’ experience of practice. This book constitutes the foundation of a new vocabulary (based on Japanese concepts from Aikido and Kyudo) and a system of Holistic bodywork, which I call Satoro and provides a treasury of Holistic therapeutic approaches from 30 + years practice and experience working from the world’s top spas and clinics from Thailand (Chiva Som) to Italy (Spa Deus), Brazil (Joao Curvo) via Santa Cruz, California.

Other areas of intense study were as: a Naturopath, Herbalist (3 schools) including Michael Tierra’s East West School of Herbology where we studied Chinese, Ayurveda & Western (Greek/Egyptian) herbal systems based on their energetic principles and Iridology and Naturopathy at the School of Natural Medicine. Twelve years ago as a member of the Healing Tao editorial team I was involved in writing three books on Chi Kung including Chi Nei Tsang 2, Fusion and Cosmic Healing. The process began for me about 20 years ago with a huge amount of research I made for a book I was writing entitled ‘Healing in the 21stCentury with Energy, Light and Sound.’ There was a full page article October 6th 2002 in the Irish Sunday Independent.

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i take things as they come. i try to do it as often as i can. i feel more full[filled] when i stop and look at no thing than when i work non-stop all day. i think this is why i philosophise over tao and practice tai chi. i don't know why i read law books though...

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1 Response

  1. Hakan says:

    Thank you,excellent…

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