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The History

Of The International Academy of Somatic Harmonization
& Vibromuscular Harmonization Technique

Tom Bowen was born on April 18th, 1916 in Brunswick, Victoria, Australia. Tom developed a love for sports very early in life. A keen cricketer and swimmer, he ran a boys club at the local Salvation Army hall. He left school at an early age and worked in a variety of jobs as a cement worker, milkman, a general hand in woolen mills, a carpenter and dock worker before setting himself up as an 'osteopath' in 1961. Tom Bowen suffered from diabetes and lost a leg quite early in his career and would treat either wearing prosthesis or from a wheelchair, which made his client turn-over of 13,000 a year even more incredible.

It is not known exactly how Tom 'discovered' or developed his technique. What is known however is that his gift and interests led him to work as a self-taught masseur with football clubs and around this time he came under the influence of two legendary Australian bodyworkers and bone manipulators Ernie Saunders and Bill Mitchell who, from all reports and historical research, appeared to have had a similar style or approach.

There are many people out there today who claim that they were taught by Tom Bowen, though in reality only five or six men can claim to have had this honour. One of Tom's associates Dr Kevin Ryan a qualified osteopath and lecturer who worked with Tom and studied under him for the last three years of his life, maintains that Tom continued to advance, develop and evolve his osteopathic technique right up to his death. Dr Ryan who continued Tom's clinic for some years after he died further went on to say that even then, Tom's work was not finished and it would be up to others to continue where he left off. Today all over the world there are dedicated body workers doing just that, having been inspired by the legacy of this great man.

Jock Ruddock became a bodyworker due to circumstance, much like Tom Bowen. His interest in bodywork was sparked in 1966 after noting a scoliosis in his youngest daughter. As a professional wrestler and martial artist he began to study the work of other wrestlers who had picked up methods of manipulating backs, necks and limbs as a result of injuries obtained in the ring or in the dojo. With his practical knowledge of how a body worked and the ‘gentle touch’ which all aikido practitioners and professional wrestlers are trained to use, he developed his own methods of addressing imbalance in the body from a purely physical paradigm.

As his experience grew so did his reputation and soon he found people just dropping in to have their neck cracked or their back popped. Young wrestlers who trained under him in New Zealand would immediately be treated and their spontaneous injuries addressed. Fellow police officers and other sportsmen were always willing to have a creak or a stiffness dissipated at Jock's hands.

Jock continued as a part time self-taught chiropractor, helping people free of charge until 1990 when one night shortly after manipulating the neck of a friend the subject began screaming in pain and continued throughout the night. Although the friend in the morning was 100% recovered, the pain gone and full movement restored, a lesson had been learned. Skeletal manipulation was dangerous, and Jock stopped.

In 1995 Jock retired from the ring and his eclectic pathway in life led him back from the South Pacific to Scotland, where a famous spiritualist, Margaret Faulkner told him he would be led to the world of healing. A few months later he attended the Hypnotherapist Course at the National Society of Professional Hypnotherapy under Scotland's leading Hypnotherapist, Vicky Watson. While on that course a student injured his back. All the others tried to help him with various Reiki and spiritual healing methods with no success until Jock checked his back located a subluxation and spasm, performed a toggle manipulation which was accompanied by a loud pop an immediate dissipation of pain and full recovery of movement. Encouraged by what could be described as a pre-ordained return to bodywork Jock took a course in Bowen qualifying under Oswald Rentsch in order that he could start working with humans once again.

In 1996/7 as a result of numerous requests from other Bowen practitioners he began to teach his interpretation of Bowen in Scotland. Soon his popularity and style of teaching saw him in demand worldwide. Upon reading a public letter from Tom Bowen's daughters and Dr Kevin Ryan where they expressed the family's deep hurt at people using their father's name to make money and the untruths surrounding the origin of 'the Bowen Technique' as such, Jock decided to call what he practiced and taught as 'The Gentle Touch'.

Four years later in 2000 Jock, now joined by his wife Dr Ivana Ruddock, started IASH, The International Academy of Somatic Harmonization which now has two Divisions: Humans with Vibromuscular Harmonization Technique Ltd. and Animals with The Equine Touch Foundation Inc. In order not to disappoint students who had studied Gentle Touch with him he retained a separate associated division to assist those who wish to practice and teach The Gentle Touch .

In July 2002 IASH made the decision to remove itself from the mainstream of Complementary & Alternative Medicine in the UK and to stand alone developing, presenting and teaching VHT and The Equine Touch to the world.

IASH is a member of the BCMA and is now recognized by bodywork groups and associations worldwide. The directors Jock and Ivana were recently granted visas to teach in the USA .The IASH curriculum is now taught in 16 different countries throughout the world and research into the disciplines is an ongoing factor as well as the development of an tutor training program in all systems as presented by the Academy.