Lolita Knight Bio & History of Fijian Massage
My girlfriend Rosemarie is a quarter Fijian, quarter Chinese and half Kiwi. In 1997 we traveled to Fiji to visit her relatives on several of the smaller Fijian islands. On the island of Kandavu, I met her cousin Simonis. He was the village “massage therapist”. On this island there are no roads, no electricity except for a few generators, no indoor plumbing, no hot water, and of course no TV.
Despite this, living with her relatives was one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had. It made me think a lot about my life and the role money plays in it. The Fijian people have very little financial resources and yet they live one of the richest lives. LOVE is everywhere and LAUGHTER. I wanted to learn Fijian just so I could be apart of that ever-constant humor. Plus FAITH; a faith that is rich in its strengths and actions. The Fijian community made me feel so welcome and for the first time I experienced unconditional love.
Rosemarie’s cousin Simonis had wanted to give me a massage, but I was on holiday. With 20 years massage experience, I desired a break and felt I would need to give him some lesson. So I put him off for a few days. Finally I agreed and was truly amazed. I was certainly wasn’t going to be the teacher. I had become a very rapt student who wanted to learn everything he had to share.
Simonis had learned his massage (which I have called “Fijian Massage”) when he was 7 years of age. When any of the villagers had a sore or damaged muscle, they would seek him out. Massage therapy was not a paid occupation for him; he simply gave his time and talent to help his friends and neighbors. He spent most his time attending his own plantation of taro and pineapple.
I feel this is why this is such an effective massage technique that has been handed down from generation to generation. The people HAVE TO have strong and efficient muscles to survive as their bodies are their source of transport. Work is very labor intensive and there is no social welfare for those unable to work. Therapists didn’t have the luxury of time to help fix people so the method evolved was that of a massage that fixed people quickly.
In Fiji, the client would lie on the ground on a woven mat, while Simonis would mainly use his feet, and sometimes his hands to release the tension and repair the damaged tissue. I have made many modifications to his technique to make it more comfortable for both the client and the therapist. I have also created a method that ONLY uses the feet to help save therapists hands from repetitive movement injury. I am ever so grateful for the method that Simonis taught me that I donate to the people in the Fijian villages as this can help then in there difficult financial situations.
When I returned to New Zealand (where I lived for 25 years), I felt that the Kiwis would not relate to lying on the floor and me using my feet to massage them. So for 6mo I did not use this modality. Then one day a client came in with severe leg scar tissue and wanted to run a marathon in 6wks. I knew the only way to help him was to try the Fijian massage technique. He was desperate and willing to try. He was not only able to run the marathon, but also beat his previous best time.
Now I tentatively recommend that all my regular clients try the Fijian massage. Over 90% of my clients choose the Fijian massage over the other deep tissue sports massage that I offer.
Why is this modality so popular? Many of my clients want a deep massage that is also relaxing. Prior to doing Fijian I did a lot of deep tissue cross fiber techniques using my elbow. When doing this I found when getting to the troubled area there would be a “sharp” pain. With the Fijian I do my deep work with my heel, this deep pressure is softer than my elbow, and yet yields a stronger stroke. Also I found that my client’s muscles repair much quicker within using my feet instead of my hands. Now, if you think about it, the foot has stronger bones and the leg muscles are more powerful that the arm.
When I reflect, I feel that it is amazing that I learned this technique by accident on a remote island in Fiji. I feel forever grateful to the warm and amazing villagers that shared and taught me a massage that I firmly believe in and will enhance the deep tissue sport massage for both the therapist and client.
I am proud to have Jessica as one of my few instructors who will continue to teach this modality as I have retired after a very rewarding 36 years as a full time massage therapist/instructor.