Thai massage has a long and complex history. Traditional Thai Medicine, which thai massage is part of, has been practiced for decades, hundreds, if not thousands, of years. There are different styles and lineages of this work even within Thailand.
Our teaching is a classic northern-style form based on the program taught at ITM in Chiang Mai by its master, Chongkol Setthakorn.
ITM-USA was started in 1992 by Arthur Lambert and Chongkol Setthakorn as the original branch of ITM outside of Thailand. Rose Griscom has been the director and lead instructor since 1997. We keep the tradition in traditional thai massage. The work is taught very much like in Thailand, with adaptations for the western audience.
Rose J. Griscom, LMT, RTT
Rose is the director and lead instructor at ITM-USA. She has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage since 1994, when she completed an intensive study program with the Thai Master Chongkol Setthakorn at ITM in Chiang Mai, Thailand, as well as with Arthur Lambert in the USA. She is certified in Advanced Thai Massage and Teacher Training by ITM in Chiang Mai and the USA. She spent over three years assisting the late Arthur Lambert teach basic and advanced Thai Massage, and has been teaching workshops independently since 1994. Rose moved the main office of ITM from Florida to southern New Jersey in 2002, and continues to travel around the country to train thai therapists at top spas and massage schools.
Rose is Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), is a member of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), is a Registered Thai Therapist (RTT) with the Thai Healing Alliance International (THAI), and is a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) in the state of New Jersey. She is also certified to teach Tai Chi and Qigong through the American Eagle Tai Chi and Chi Kung Association, and is a member of the National Qigong Association (NQA).
Rose met Arthur Lambert even before she was in massage school, when she participated in a sound healing meditation he was leading using traditional gongs, singing bowls and bells from southeast Asia. She again met Arthur when he came to the massage school she was enrolled in to introduce the students to thai massage. Rose immediately fell in love with nuad bo-rarn (thai massage ancient healing). She studied with Arthur while completing massage school, and then traveled to Thailand to continue studying with Chongkol. While in Thailand, she took an unplanned yet life-enhancing 10-day silent vipassana (or insight) meditation retreat. When she returned to the states in 1994, there were only a handful of thai massage teachers in the country, and Rose soon began teaching, while continuing to study with and assist Arthur in his local classes. She says that thai massage was like an ocean wave that carried her up and away....she only had to hold on, keep her balance, and enjoy the ride. She is passionate about the work, personally and professionally.
Rose brings a wealth of experience, enthusiasm, and knowledge to her classes and private sessions. She is a compassionate teacher who creates a supportive environment for students of all different skills and learning styles to get the most they can from the class. Her teaching is well organized, efficient, light and focused. Her personal practices include vipassana meditation, qigong, reusi dat ton, hatha yoga, and fun exercising. Rose has also been teaching tai chi and qigong (chi kung) group classes and vipassana meditation private sessions since 1996.
Arthur Lambert was a musician, teacher and intellectual. Son of a physician raised in the midwest, married and the father of three, he taught music in Japan for many years before settling in San Diego. Teaching classes at the local college, he also composed on his keyboard and performed. He raised bull mastiffs. He loved to play the singing bowls, and had a vast assortment of indigenous musical instruments.
After a personal health crisis, he became interested in alternative medicine, which culminated in receiving his Holistic Health Practitioner certification after 1000 hours of training at the International Pacific School of Bodywork (IPSB) in San Diego. With his curious and intellectual approach, he studied many types of treatments, including various massage modalities, hypnosis, reiki, the indigenous medicine of Peru, shiatsu. Then he was introduced to nuad bo-rarn, and thought it surpassed everything else he had studied.
Arthur first started thai massage when he was in his late 60's, during Chongkol's inaugural teaching at IPSB in 1991 (which was the first class taught in the US by a native thai teacher). He became enthralled with the work, and subsequently traveled to Thailand at least twice a year to continue studying with Chongkol, as well as with a number of other native teachers. Arthur was one of the first westerners certified in Nuad Bo-Rarn from the Old Medicine Hospital in Chiang Mai. Chongkol encouraged him to open a teaching institution in the US, and in 1992, ITM-USA was born in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Being one of the first thai teachers in the US, Arthur did much to spread the knowledge of nuad bo-rarn. He gave many demonstrations at national and local bodywork conventions, wrote the first book about Thai Massage in English co-authored with a native thai teacher (the text, "Nuad Bo-Rarn, Traditional Thai Massage", which is still available exclusively through ITM-USA), produced a number of teaching and demonstration videos, did exhaustive research into the history and philosophy of thai massage (this was well before the excellent academic work by C. Pierce Salguero and others had been published), and gave unceasingly of his time and energy to anyone interested in knowing about the work. As one student aptly said, "Talking to Arthur was like speaking to the Father Doctor himself".
Arthur fell in love with Thailand. He said he felt most at home there. After teaching in the US and traveling back and forth many times a year, he finally made arrangements to make a permanent move to Chiang Mai. He gave his teaching materials to Rose, sold his house in Florida, said goodbye to his children scattered around the country, made arrangements to bring his beloved bull mastiff Ole with him, began construction on his new home outside of town, invested in a local printing business, and, despite the sudden and rapid onslaught of a serious illness, made the final move early in 1997. Friends who saw him a few months later said he seemed at peace. One of his wishes was to have a traditional thai burial, and that wish was granted when Arthur passed away in Chiang Mai in August later that year.
For more than twenty years, Chongkol has taught people from all over the world the ancient art of thai massage. In 1992, he founded the International Training Massage School (ITM) in Thailand to promote the thai massage technique internationally.
Chongkol was head teacher at the Shivaga Komarpaj School (also know as the Old Medicine Hospital) in Chiang Mai for five years. In 1991, he went to the United States to teach Thai massage at the International Professional School of Bodywork (IPSB) in San Diego, California. During this time, he broadened his knowldege by studying Massage Technician Training and Professional Massage Training. Additional studies included Western and Oriental Massage techniques such as Therapeutic Massage for Acute and Chronic Problems, Tui Na Internship (Chinese Massage), Jin Shin Acutouch (Japanese Method of Healing Art), Tai Chi Chuan, and the IPSB Movement Form. It was at IPSB that Chongkol and Arthur first met.
After returning to Thailand and establishing ITM, he, along with Arthur Lambert authored “Nuad Bo-Rarn, the Traditional Massage of Thailand”, published for the first time in 1992.
With his interest in different kinds of bodywork, he learned Tai Chi and adapted the techniques for the flowing of the movements in thai massage. He has been a volunteer instructor in Tai Ji Qi Gong (Chi Kung) and Tai Chi Chuan (long-form Yang style) for the community in Chiang Mai city.
Chongkol is frequently requested to speak and train at international symposiums and seminars on health and massage. Some of his noteworthy appearances include: guest speaker and training at the CIDESCO European Congress and Exhibition 2000, Athens, Greece; provided intensive Thai training in massage, Geneva, Switzerland, 2003; trained massage therapists at the COMO Shambhala Spa, Metropolitan Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand, 2003. For more information, visit www.itmthaimassage.com.
Since her early years in thai massage, Rose has been dedicated to fostering a community of thai massage practitioners and teachers in a cooperative, 'non-guru' approach. For over ten years she hosted a non-partisan free on-line directory of thai massage practitioners within and outside of the US; joined and was a temporary administrator with the Thai Healing Alliance International (THAI) shortly after its inception; held free monthly practice sessions in Florida; started a Philly Area Thai Massage group; developed one of the initial thai massage teacher training programs outside of Thailand; and continues to support creation of a community of diverse thai massage therapists.
She sometimes has colleagues join her in teaching or hosting a workshop. She invites assistants or former students to attend classes. Participants benefit from these diverse perspectives, and it helps people make new contacts and friends.
The annual Thai Massage Gathering/Jam session held since 2015 is one of these cooperative community events made possible by a number of thai massage therapists and teachers taking time from their busy schedules to come together to enhance our sense of community and connection. If you're already a thai massage therapist, see details on the Calendar and consider joining us.