Jin Shin Do Foundation for Bodymind Acupressure

The "Four Legs" of Jin Shin Do®


by Steve Sommers, LMT,
Authorized JSD Teacher, Nashville, TN

I am not a master JSD practitioner. However, through JSD, I have shown myself over and over again that I can expand awareness, heighten understanding, and reduce the overall suffering, stress and tension in myself and most of my clients. Meanwhile, my personal sense of having a "practice" is that I get to practice being "present with what is" while using my Kidneys (brains 1) to most effectively choose acu-points based on the four legs of JSD.

I believe that I am a skilled acupressurist and segmental release artist when I am comfortable with where the client is, and what their goals and needs are. Through active listening, basic processing skills, and verbal suggestions, I also experience myself as an effective helper for a client who is struggling to be in the flow, or who is unaware of the flow. For me, the path to mastery is developing the ability to be present as a helper/facilitator and simultaneously, a skilled acupressurist and bodyworker.

The practice of Jin Shin Do® is structured around what Iona has called "the four legs" of JSD. They are: Segments, Strange Flows, Organ Meridians, and 5 Elements theory. Like the legs of a good rolling chair, the four legs of JSD provide a stable, functional and flexible foundation for the practitioner.

1) Segments are "horizontal sections of the body, in which muscular tensions in the front, back and sides are functionally related." Dr. Wilhelm Reich also called them "armor rings." 2 Segments are composed of functionally related muscles, organs and points. This related set of structures combines to provide physical and emotional expressions, movements and internal physiological processes.

In general, JSD works to open segments from the top down. I begin and end every JSD session with at least some attention to releasing the head and neck. As a bodyworker, my favorite segments to combine with deep tissue massage are the neck, shoulders, chest and pelvis. I have been amazed at how very simple local/distal point combinations can vastly improve the effectiveness of massage therapy.

In my opinion, segmental theory gives JSD its strength, beauty, and niftiness. Segmental theory empowers JSD as more than acupressure: as a very effective form of bodywork and self exploration. In turn, acupressure theory describes the ebb and flow of bodymind energy through the segments in a way that gives the practitioner a magnificent structure to put segmental theory into practice. The other three legs of JSD are based on classic acupuncture theory.

2) The Strange Flows act as homeostatic devices for maintaining the dynamic equilibrium required for "response-able" living. The Strange Flows are the key pathways for energy distribution when the bodymind is presented with energy demands that throw the Organ Meridians out of balance. Many of the clients whom I see are seeking help because they are regularly exceeding their bodymind's ability to stay balanced and in the flow. Some of this is based on present life situations, some on unresolved stress from the past, and some on not having the tools or skills to be aware of the Self and its needs. Working on the Strange Flows helps the bodymind to function better as it deals with the stress and tensions of life.

As the original energy pathways of the bodymind, Strange Flows are like the blueprints for the Self. As Arnold Porter puts it, they "are intimately connected to the genetic map of who we are, acting as energy templates through which our genetic core guides and communicates with our developing self." 3

The 45 main JSD points are all Strange Flow points (and they include the most important master and coupled points). Because the Strange Flows are such an integral part of JSD acupressure, long term patterns of energy imbalance are easily brought into awareness. As these patterns dissolve, the overall capacity of the Strange Flows in responding to the needs of the core Self is increased. Thus, this work can serve as a powerful reminder of the functioning and attributes of the core Self, empowering the client towards being that Self which s/he truly is.

I find the Central Vessel to be of great importance for integrating the four legs of JSD and broadening the impact of the acupressure. A good example is point "H" (GV 14, located between the seventh cervical and first thoracic vertebrae). "H" is part of, and forms a connection between, the neck and shoulder segments. This point can supplement release of the main JSD neck and shoulder points (which are on the "Yang Regulator"), and as the "reunion point" for all the Yang meridians, it can be used in any yang meridian release pattern.

3) Organ Meridians are the pathways that circulate Qi (energy), maintaining and nourishing everyday physical, emotional and spiritual functions. These meridians are like "energy rivers," containing Qi which flows downstream. Together, the twelve Organ Meridians form one long spiraling river of energy that runs up and down the body three times.

With an understanding of how each meridian affects physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of the Self, it is easy to use the meridians to expand Segmental and Strange Flow release patterns, and to more specifically release particular body tensions.

Segmental armoring (or chronic tension) affects the flow of the meridians, as well as the Strange Flows. As the "energy rivers" become affected, their ability to carry needed life energy from segment to segment is reduced. In this way, dysfunction or armoring in one segment often begins to affect another segment along meridian lines.

4) 5 Elements theory relates the microcosm of the bodymind to the macrocosm of the Tao (all of nature). It describes the way Qi circulates internally through the bodymind, and it describes how seasonal and climatic changes affect the body and the psyche. Through the 5 Elements theory and its associations, "everything under the sun" can be brought into relation to the bodymind (including the segments and Qi pathways). It is a powerful structure for working for what is present in the client's experience.

The "creation" and "control" cycles of the 5 elements theory show how every function of the bodymind is related in some way to every other function. Understanding these cycles can provide us with additional ways to facilitate energy movement. I generally work more with these cycles as I get to know the client's bodymind and history, over time.

Understanding the "creation" and "control" cycles, as well reading the pulses, is necessary in order to safely use sedation and tonification points. Although these points can be a quick way to facilitate the movement of energy from excessive to deficient meridians, I use them only when I have a very strong feeling about a particular "mother/son" imbalance. Otherwise, as taught in Advanced JSD, I use Central Vessel points to facilitate energy movement along the 5 Elements cycle; also, to sedate or tonify the meridians I use simple methods like the direction of the distal points, the method of point holding (long and deep, or vigorous and priming) and intention!

In conclusion, as a bodyworker I want to first identify the places where there are bodymind tensions, and then help the client to explore, move into and dissolve these tensions. This journey often includes getting to know more about the unique Self which each of us is. I find the "practice" of guiding these inner explorations to be very fulfilling.

The "four legs" of JSD provide a flexible set of parameters for inner explorations. By understanding the flow of Qi as it relates to the Segments, Strange Flows, Organ Meridians and 5 Elements, we can be present in the now of what is happening for the client, so that we can find and release energy blocks.


1 In acupressure theory, the Kidney Meridian is related to the brain, as well as the bones & marrow.

2 A Complete Guide To Acupressure, by Iona Marsaa Teeguarden, Japan Publications, Tokyo/NY 1996, pg. 38.

3 Ibid., Chapter 6, "Recipes for Magic" by Arnold Porter, pg. 122.

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