Brandon Raynor is a Hawaii-based masseur, naturopath and massage instructor. He and two companions are traveling around the country in a campaign to deregulate the massage industry. They recently made one of their first stops at our Capitol.
[B]Tell me about the Freedom Ride.[/B]
The Freedom Ride is a convoy of RVs that is going to every state capital in the United States and every provincial capital in Canada. We have several goals. The first is to promote freedom of choice in health care, specifically the massage industry. We don’t believe that one group of people should force their way of practicing and teaching massage on the rest of the people in that state. This is the situation now where a massage board forces people to study for a certain number of hours–usually between 500 and 1,000 in the U.S., 2,000 to 3,000 in Canada–in order to practice as a massage therapist.
We believe that there are many different types of massage from many cultures, and all of these have different underlying philosophies. We’d like to see massage laws relaxed to allow traditional massage styles from places like Hawaii, Thailand, China, India, etc., as well as innovative methods such as the method I have come up with, Raynor massage, which combines aspects of other forms of massage.
The second meaning to the Freedom Ride is to support our troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan who are fighting for freedom and democracy. They are being neglected by the bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration, especially the soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder. We believe we can help them enormously with our form of massage–and that it’s the least we could do for those willing to fight for the freedoms we take for granted.
[B]Why do you want to deregulate the massage industry?
For several reasons. The first is for the creativity will help bring to the industry. It will be much easier for therapists to concentrate on being the best therapist they can, which is what they should be focusing their effort on rather than on satisfying some silly bureaucrat’s idea of whether they should know a Latin name for every muscle in the body.
Massage regulation is unnecessary. Australia has no massage regulation and the industry is booming, far more than it is in the U.S. Why should one group of people now tell the others they can’t practice? Another reason is that my school would be able to offer our courses in states that we currently can’t.
[B]How did the industry get so regulated in the first place?[/B]
The industry got regulated by some well-meaning individuals–and some not-so-well-meaning individuals–who wanted to stop prostitution being practiced in the name of massage. Also, some big schools realized they could charge more money if the courses were longer. They are the main people pushing for regulation today, as well as some of the graduates of the schools who are scared of competition. They obviously don’t realize there’s no shortage of stressed out people in this world.
In Hawaii, where I live, native people told me that they introduced massage laws as a way of getting rid of the traditional Kahunas or healers, because they knew not many would pass the test to get a license. It is similar to what the British did when they invaded India and they closed down all the Ayurvedic hospitals and teaching institutions. It is an attempt at cultural imperialism.
[B]Tell me about your traveling companions.[/B]
Terry Masson is a student of mine who completed our course in March in Toronto. Terry had a life-changing experience during the course. He’s now a Qi Gong practitioner, a teacher trainee and a very good massage therapist.
Jai is my 7-year-old son, who I home school. On this journey he will learn about the political process, as well as his geography of North America. My wife, Rebecca, is coming back from Australia this week and will continue home schooling him on the road.
[B]What else do you like to do with your time?[/B]
I like to garden. On Oahu, I have a two-acre, undeveloped property where I’m planting mangoes, papayas, lychees and all sorts of tropical fruits, with the eventual aim of making a retreat center for people to learn massage and other natural therapies. I love swimming, doing yoga and eating healthy food, hiking, and playing games with my son. I like traveling, and being a citizen of three countries–Australia, Canada and the U.K.–makes that easy. Of course my favorite thing to do is to receive a good massage.