Seitai is a form of healing which uses the body's own natural restorative properties, rather than relying on outside sources. It was founded by Haruchika Noguchi, though the term seitai was coined by the Kenko Hojikai group, which was created by the Japanese government prior to World War II. The group's mandate was to collect information on traditional healing techniques in Japan, in the event that they were lost during the war. Seitai was formed out of a combination of these techniques.
The word 'seitai' means true spiritual and physical state. After studying the various healing techniques of Japan, the Kenko Hojikai group came to the conclusion that the internal life-force of an individual is the most important part of his overall health. The group believed that each person's body had its own particular makeup and resting state, in which it functioned best. The goal was to find techniques that allowed individuals who were out of balance to restore their own true state without outside interference.
Noguchi Haruchika, a member of the Kenko Hojikai group, is generally considered to be the founder of this method, which can also be written as sei-tai. This form of alternative medicine bears some similarities to Japanese bone setting techniques known as hone tsugi, and also to the Chinese pharmacological healing method known as kampo. Seitai techniques, however, focus on what is known as ki, rather than specific bone healing or drugs. After the disbanding of the Hojikai group, Haruchika went on to found the Japanese Seitai Foundation.
Ki is often defined as life force, and is also used to refer to the soul. It is believed, by practitioners of seitai, that ki flows through the body at all times. Areas where the flow of ki is weak or sluggish will suffer disease or injury. Seitai techniques attempt to redirect the flow of ki to these areas.
This form of healing can use a myriad of techniques. Some practitioners touch patients and attempt various forms of body readjustment to encourage the ki to flow more freely. Others focus on exercise classes and helping patients pinpoint the areas in their bodies where ki is lacking. In theory, being familiar with the true state of the body will allow a patient to redirect his own ki and heal himself. Seitai techniques place the burden of responsibility for healing on the individual, rather than on outside sources, such as diet or environment.