My Life with Chronic Pain and How I Found Anma

foot-painI’ve dealt with chronic pain for as long as I can remember. Some of the earliest memories of pain include getting my finger jammed underneath my bedroom door, getting a tooth yanked out, and the “wake up screaming, middle of the night” agonizing calf cramps. Waking up to a barrage of cries, my mother would come into my room and massage my calves for as long as her delirious semi-asleep state would allow her to.

Fast forward through all the other childhood spills, crashes, drops, falls, collisions, tumbles, and over the handle bar flight attempts. I’m 13 years old in the 7th grade. It’s a sunny Arizona day and the boy’s locker room is filled with nurses and doctors checking everyone for scoliosis. With my daredevil lifestyle, would it surprise you that they found a 7 degree curvature in my spine? They call it a disease. Which, technically is accurate, but the connotation that this 7th grader made up was that I caught some kind of cancer of the spine. Like there was just something wrong with me and there was nothing I could do about it. Sure, the doctors got to label me as a boy with scoliosis, but did they offer any solution? That was the strange thing. There was no debriefing, no consultation, no health and wellness plan given. I was simply left with “You have a 7 degree scoliotic curvature, good luck.” The “good luck” was implied. I was left disparaged. Family stresses and ongoing, increasing pain in my back, legs, hips and joints dropped me into a depression which afflicted me for years. This anguished enlightenment led me on my journey to find my Vibrant Lifestyle.

P8ds9Z7AmwgCI began searching for answers on my own. The constant pain not only affected my mental health, it also affected my ability to concentrate. I did great in areas which moved fast, like math. When it came to English and reading, however, I was left wanting. It was agonizing knowing this pain was holding me back from my potential. I had to find a way out. One day after school I was browsing in the library and found The Book of Massage: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Eastern and Western Technique. Granted, part of the reason this hormone charged 15-year-old picked up the book was because of the half-naked photos, but once I got past that, I was hooked. There was a section in back on Self Shiatsu. I found that by pressing certain “acupoints” on my body, pain in that area would be temporarily relieved. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I thought, “What would the world be like if everyone on the planet got a massage every day? Could people lead happier lives? Would children get better grades in school?” Shiatsu offered new possibilities.

I wanted to understand more. I started going to yoga and practicing massage on my friends. Teaching my family which points to press on me. Even though I was still in pain, I was excited. There was a way out, I thought. Also at 15. I had my first chiropractor appointment. I started seeing a chiropractor twice a week and regular visits became the norm for the next 20+ years, in addition to yoga, acupuncture, massage and a healthy eating plan to manage my pain. My new lifestyle was taking shape.

AVEDAbanner-1My education in healing arts expanded as I read more books, went to classes and began choosing vocations. When I was 21, I got a job at Aveda in San Francisco.  I was exposed to more massage techniques, aromatherapy, and even exercises in chi gong (even though I had no idea it was called that).  Eventually in 1995, I made a choice. I was going to start a career in massage.  I spent 6 months visiting schools, auditing classes, and interviewing teachers to no avail. Nothing I found excited me, nor was it sufficient for the level of care I wanted to provide.

Anma, The Art of Japanese Massage

1930304-MFinally, a pamphlet appeared on the table at SWIHA, a Scottsdale healing arts school. It read, “Anma, The Art of Japanese Massage,” and went on to describe a man with a rich 300 year family history in the art form. Shogo Mochizuki became my teacher for 4 years and my body never felt better.  Can you imagine receiving massage 3-4 times a week for 4 years!  It was amazing. Everyone should be so fortunate to study Japanese massage with a master for 4 years. Since then, I’ve made it my mission to offer affordable Japanese massage and spread this education to the general public fulfilling on a dream I had at 15; that each and every person on the planet have access to amazing massage training.

skeleton[1]I began to learn about how the body works and more importantly how much we don’t know about how the body works. Clients now ask me all the time, “Why does this hurt? How did my body get this way? Can we fix it?”  We all have our share of childhood spills, car accidents, sports and work injuries, and aches and pains. All these things have an impact on the body and can provide important information as to the root of our discomfort and ill health.  I assert many of us never really give it any thought, I didn’t. At least not until I began understanding body structure; how the body is designed to fit and operate in a particular way. When that design is interrupted by an injury, for example, the body’s alignment goes wonky. “Wonky” is a technical term used in the industry to describe when the bones/joints/vertebrae are not in perfect alignment.  More on this later.

Over the years, I’ve developed a lifestyle of vibrancy, wellness and peace. It includes medidation and massage, nutrition and fitness, and a foundation of body and energy alignment.  I’ve since dedicated my life to serving others in my practice as well as made it my personal mission to teach what I learn to as many people as I can.


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