How Watsu was born: let's find out together

Watsu is a complementary therapy* treatment which, through passive stretching, acupressure and massage performed in water (at a temperature of 35°C/95°F) gives relief to people.

Watsu has been found to significantly reduce both stress and pain levels; it also improves the quality of life and mood of the people receiving the treatment.

The common feeling mentioned by those who experience it, is that of a pleasant and deeply relaxing practice.

Its name derives from the union of the words Water and Shiatzu and in 1980 it was born thanks to the work of Harold Dull, poet of the current of the so-called "Renaissance of San Francisco" who, after a long journey around the world and a period of life spent in Japan - during which he studied Zen Shiatsu with the Master Shizuto Masunaga - founded his Shiatsu school in California at Harbin Hot Springs.

Dull believed that warm / hot water acted as a vehicle to facilitate muscle and tissue relaxation, producing a pleasant sense of deep relaxation in his receivers.

This intuition soon became a routine of movements in the water practiced and still appreciated today in many countries around the world.

The first experiments of Watsu saw the application of Zen Shiatsu invented by Masunaga on a massage table placed in the water of a thermal pool but, almost immediately, this practice was abandoned because the water itself could provide part of the support needed by the receiver.

At that moment Watsu - as we know it - was born.

Over 40 years later, thanks to the contribution of hundreds of practitioners of various other techniques, from Yoga to Physiotherapy, from Thai Massage to Shiatsu, Watsu has become the generic word identifying the family of aquatic bodywork based on floatation with the support of the receiver provided by a giver.

Shizuto Masunaga
Shizuto Masunaga

What is beyond Watsu? Here is the vision of Giovanni Baccarani among the creators of AQUASOMA®

giovanni baccarani aquasoma iswatsu
Giovanni Baccarani

It has been more than 40 years since Dull invented Watsu and the world moves on, as have done scientific studies on physiology and techniques that can be applied to people's general well-being.

The evolution of thought and of the actions that derive from it has prompted many people to investigate more effective and- when possible- more professional solutions for all aquatic bodywork activities. Among these experimenters we find Giovanni Baccarani whose studies and professional career led him, rightly, to be considered among the world's top-rated aquatic body-work instructors..

Before his initial Watsu studies with Dull in the US and Europe, he was already a Zen Stretching and Shiatsu expert; the natural consequence was to transfer his wealth of knowledge into the water, without ever ceasing to refine, create and codify his personal techniques.

Since 2003 Giovanni Baccarani, with the collaboration of the Team of International School of Watsu (ISWATSU), has rethought and redesigned the Watsu technique always taking into account the latest developments in anatomy, physiology and neurology, creating, in years of improvement, a new modality of aquatic bodywork which is not based on sequences, but is based on listening to the receiver and on the application of the most advanced aquatic work techniques known to date.

Considering the immense scope of innovation and evolution generated by Giovanni with his team of experts, to this new technique the term Watsu was no longer a fit and therefore it became necessary to find a new name that could adequately represent it.

It is necessary to define this new technique with an unequivocal name, a way to recognize the differences that reside in its fundamental principles, based on the method Master Key System (MKS); a modern technique, reviewed under the lens of functional anatomy, healthy biomechanics and the theory of fascia.

A teaching method focused on the objectives, as well as on the revolutionary training and study path to become a Professional Instructor, unique and characteristic of ISWatsu.

We called it AQUASOMA®, everything else is history!

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(*) therapeutic/therapy: when the treatment is carried out by a legally authorized manual therapist (physiotherapist or other medical-health professional, according to the laws in force in each country)