I am a very lucky guy. My girlfriend is training to be a certified massage therapist, and last night she needed a body to practice on. Ever the supportive boyfriend, I graciously volunteered and found myself in a classroom, stripped to my underwear, with people practicing massage around me. The interesting part of this experience is that I had never considered what goes into a massage and training to be a masseuse. The teacher was talking about moves and combinations and finishes. It struck me as very similar to the teaching of a martial art (I know, because I took a few weeks of Tae Kwon Do sophomore year of college). The craft of massage is really about balance and energy and power, much like TKD, the main difference being that I would not be as relaxed after sparing with a black belt.
Then as I listened to the teacher talk about selecting the next move and not having to perform all strokes that the students know, I began to shift my analogy to ballroom dancing (also an expert topic for me, as I took a whole semester of Lindy Hop in college). If you are leading the dance (as I often but not always was), you have responsibility to decide what happens next, and you have to work with your partner to determine what works best. And of course, if you have been a good student of the dance, you will know a lot more moves than you could fit into every dance. Now that’s an analogy I can dance behind.