healing, massage, wellness, Minneapolis, MN Simply Bowen with
Tom Bowen was born in
Australia on April 18, 1916. After serving in WWII, he worked at the Geelong
Cement Works as a general hand. He was quite athletic and played numerous
sports. It was through his love of sports, and regular attendance at sporting
events, that he became interested in massage and other soft-tissue
Bowenwork® and Bowtech®
are the registered names for the original Bowen Therapy developed by the late
Tom Bowen of Australia. Although it was a lifetime of development and work, it
was in the 1950’s that Bowenwork® began to take shape.
Bowen spent countless
hours watching the masseurs at local football games in Geelong, Victoria. He
began massaging footballers’ injuries, and then studied informally with Ernie
Saunders, a legendary “manipulator” in a suburb of nearby Melbourne. Bowen
studied anatomy texts and developed his distinctive technique through continual
experimentations, mainly by treating the bad backs of his colleagues at the
factory where he worked.
By the early 1950’s, his
wife, Jessie, had been hospitalized several times with severe asthma. Bowen
developed a soft-tissue manipulation procedure for it. The combination of this
procedure and the restricted diet he developed kept her asthma under control
thereafter. In 1957 he began treating people in the evening at the home of
friends Stan and Rene Horwood. Bowen soon gave up his day job, rented office
space, with Rene as his office manager. He called himself and osteopath, a title
that was not regulated in Australia at that time.
Tom Bowen had the
ability to perceive even slight deviations in anatomical structure. This enabled
him to develop an entire system of movements and procedures to address a wide
spectrum of internal conditions, as well as musculoskeletal complaints.
Addressing the root cause of clients’ problems with very few moves, he often
said his technique was a gift from God.
With an assistant in
each treatment room to get clients ready, he worked at a prodigious rate. By
1973 he had a very large practice. In 1975 the Australian Government
commissioned Webb report sited that Tom Bowen had attended to some 13,000
clients annually, with a success rate of 80 to 90 percent, often being achieved
in only one or two sessions.
As his reputation
spread, many health professionals wanted to learn his technique. Only six did so
to his satisfaction - four chiropractors, one osteopath and one soft-tissue
therapist. For several weeks or months, each apprentice followed him from room
to room, watching him work, eventually being allowed to work on clients under
Bowen’s close supervision. Each completed two to three years of weekly
individual study with Bowen and incorporated his technique into their own
practices. Even after Bowen considered them ready, they continued to visit him
on a regular basis to learn his latest refinements.
After Bowen’s death
in 1982, Kevin Ryan (the osteopath) kept the clinic running for two months. He
and chiropractors Romney Smeeton and Keith Davis still practice Bowen’s
Technique in their busy clinics.
Of the other chiropractors, Kevin Neave
retired in 1989, and Nigel Love died in 1999.
Oswald Rentsch (the
soft-tissue therapist) opened a Bowen Technique clinic with his wife Elaine, in
1976; they have taught seminars of the technique since 1986. Ryan teaches
occasional workshops to Bowen practitioners and since 1998 has taught a 26
contact hour Bowen course to osteopathy students at a university in Melbourne.
Rene Horwood, who, in addition to running Bowen’s business, helped him develop
some of his procedures, passed away at 93 in September of 2001.
Oswald “Ossie” Rentsch
undertook the study of massage in 1959 with the goal of easing his wife Elaine’s
unremitting pain. A childhood neck injury had damaged her spine severely, and
she fully expected to become an invalid.
Fifteen years later, in 1974,
still searching for relief for Elaine’s suffering, Rentsch attended a conference
for naturopaths and natural therapists in Adelaide, Australia. It was there that
he met Tom Bowen who invited Rentsch to learn from him. Rentsch traveled with
his wife Elaine to Bowen’s clinic in Geelong for a short visit. That short visit
began a weekly commute – two hours each way – which developed into a two and a
half year apprenticeship under Tom Bowen.
Elaine soon became Bowen’s client.
She recalls her first visit: “When he touched my neck, he said, ‘It will take
six months to get this right.’ But even after the one treatment, I could feel
energy moving in my neck.” Elaine’s health gradually returned. She continued
accompanying Ossie to the clinic, where she sometimes assisted Bowen’s clients
and observed his treatments.
In 1976, with Bowen’s advice and blessings,
Ossie and Elaine opened a clinic in Hamilton that was modeled after his. “At
Tom’s suggestion, we didn’t advertise,” recalls Ossie. “By the end of six months
we were booked solid.”
Ossie and Elaine diligently took notes and drew
diagrams of Bowen’s work – a painstakingly slow and laborious process.
Eventually, all of the “moves” and procedures were approved by Bowen and
compiled into a manual. It was Bowen’s request that after his death, the
Rentschs’ should teach his technique to others. Tom Bowen passed away in 1982
leaving a legacy in the hands of a small group of people.
Today, through the Bowen
Therapy Academy of Australia, now known as Bowtech®, the Rentschs’ have taught
Bowenwork® to more than 15,000 practitioners throughout the world. They began
training instructors in 1994. Over 70 people now teach Bowtech® in over 25
countries and six languages.
Elaine and Ossie
Of the remaining
original apprentices Tom Bowen trained, all support Ossie and Elaine’s efforts
to bring Bowen’s work to the world, having no interest themselves to teach on
Thomas Ambrose Bowen
Bowen Therapy in Minnesota
With Maria Lofquist