As is the case with so many of us, we look back to events early in our lives as defining moments. We are able to witness why we chose a certain path or how beliefs were developed. Matt Branstetter, Centered massage therapist and Qi Gong/Tai Chi instructor, is no different.
Matt describes his early years as significant because of the death of his father when he was only nine years old. This is a hardship no child should have to deal with. Yet, after our brief discussions it’s easy to witness how this event shaped his life and nurtured Matt’s development as a person who can positively influence others around him, both through his philosophical nature and his desire to serve.
At an early age, he began asking existential questions. A quest for the meaning of life that sparked his passion studying philosophy. He especially loves eastern philosophy, with the focus on states of being rather than intellectual conclusions. He turned this passion into a lifelong pursuit, obtaining a Masters of Arts in Theological Studies and going on to teach world religions and ethics at Midway University.
This pursuit of philosophical understanding aligns perfectly with his Tai Chi and Qi Gong practices. At its heart, Tai Chi embodies the symbolism of the Yin and Yang symbols, an ancient understanding of the universe, how all things flow together and are individually aligned with the universe. Its an invitation toward understanding balance between opposing forces or extremes.
When considering the martial skill component, Tai Chi teaches a person to move power and force throughout the body. Movements are fluid and efficient so no energy is wasted and maximum force is generated with the least amount of effort. We are taught to transfer energy throughout the entire body, rather than parts, such as just the arms or legs. A balance exists between opposing forces, tension and relaxation. So, what may appear like simple, or random movements to an inexperienced eye, are actually precise ways of moving the body so we are at one with the universal flow.
Tai Chi is a martial activity that includes arm locks, grappling, and breaking bones, while also teaching body awareness, relaxation and consciousness. As Matt describes, “what you can feel, you can relax.” Both are crucial elements to finding a state of balance.
Benefits of Tai Chi practice include being more at peace with life and there is a profound impact on the central nervous system. Inflammation is dealt with in a gentle way. There is release of stuck subtle body energy, which so often leads to inner-tension and an obsessive self-consciousness. Qi Gong and Tai Chi practices are also an amazing remedy for chronic pain, both physical and psychological.
If you consider the adage, we are only as good as our teacher, learning about Matt’s Tai Chi instructor is especially significant. Matt had been practicing Tai Chi for more than 20 years when he received word an esteemed teacher, Grandmaster Ding Mingye resided in Louisville. Originally from China, he speaks no English. He was taught Tai Chi through a prestigious lineage. He was a push hands Chinese national champion in the 90s, then went on to coach the national team for years. His influence in China was acknowledged with a cultural celebration stamp donning his image.
The likelihood a Tai Chi Grandmaster, of his background, finding his way to Kentucky and Matt connecting to learn under his stewardship is beyond remarkable. Matt is soaking up all he can under his tutelage, absorbing how his Master’s subtle movements generate effects beyond comprehension.
Matt’s bodywork is heavily influenced by his Tai Chi training and philosophical nature. Modalities include deep tissue, therapeutic, Thai massage, craniosacral, myofascial release, shiatsu, and lomi lomi. His style utilizes a lot of elbow and forearms to apply pressure and relieve stuck energy. He specializes in visceral work, manipulating organs in the belly, and energy work focusing on the subtle body. His therapies are great for any person dealing with chronic pain, dysfunctional movement patterns, or emotional trauma. He describes massage therapy as similar to a joint meditation between therapist and client; most effective when they are both able to tune in to the universal flow ensuring the body is functioning properly without stagnant energy or dysfunction.
If any of this resonates with you please contact us to schedule an appointment for bodywork, attend his Qi Gong class, or schedule a private lesson.