Yuwono, A Massage Guru, Educated at Monas
By MAWAR KUSUMA
January 21, 2017 06:33
Onny Arifin Yuwono has always been attracted to traditional massage techniques. Starting his career as a roadside masseur who allowed his clients to pay him as they wish at Jakarta’s National Monument (Monas), Yuwono has developed himself over the years. He has established a massage school with branches in several regions across the nation. His massage skills have brought him to places around Indonesia and even abroad.
Yuwono has always enjoyed being massaged and learning massage techniques. This was why, when his career in the tourism industry ended and he did not have any money left, he did not think twice before restarting his career as a masseur in the early 2000s. He was not embarrassed of this decision, despite having a bachelor’s degree in economics from Surabaya’s University of 17 Agustus 1945 (Untag).
He then left his family home in Madiun in East Java for Jakarta to be a masseur. On weekends, he operated at the Monas area. “I used to work around the reflexology garden near the deer enclosure. But now I cannot work there anymore. It is prohibited,” said Yuwono in an interview in Jakarta in mid-December.
His potential customers recognized him from a piece of paper put on his backpack that said: “masseur!” The massage was done on a thin plastic tarp in the open air. Other than Yuwono, there were also around 20 other masseurs in the area.
None of them set a fixed price for their massage service. Their customers could pay them as they like. Usually, a customer paid them Rp 20,000 (US$1.49). Yuwono could serve more than 100 customers every month. On weekends, he can massage 15 customers in one day.
“We just relied on the piece of paper to offer our services. We just sat nicely and people came. Demonstrations were always a boon to our business. We could massage the protesters and the army soldiers. If we found no customer at Monas, we usually moved to the Istiqlal mosque. Nowadays, we are prohibited from offering our services in Monas.”
Different from your usual masseurs, Yuwono diligently makes effort to learn more and improve his skills. On his spare time, he often reads books on various massage techniques. Despite not having born in a family of masseurs, Yuwono is convinced that he could learn all there is to know about massage.
Apart from books, he also tried to deepen his knowledge through massage courses and trainings. However, he faced difficulties to find places that teach traditional massage techniques. “There was no massage school around. I have searched everywhere and I could not find even just one.”
This encouraged Yuwono to create his own massage school. “Even masseurs have dreams, you know,” he said.
He tried with all his might to realize his dream. He used the money he had collected from offering roadside massage service to establish a massage training center. In 2010, Yuwono finally opened a massage school that he named the Healthy Massage Education and Training Center (LP3S), which also offers massage service.
He then ceased working as a roadside masseurs and focused on managing the training centerand serving as a massage guru at the place.
“Establishing the massage school was easy and has been profitable. Back in my days as masseur, I only got Rp 3 million from massaging 100 clients. As a guru, I can get much more,” Yuwono said.
Apart from leading LP3S, Yuwono nowadays also leads the Yumeiho Indonesia Foundation and serves as standards and accreditation division head of the Association of Indonesian Massage Therapists (AP3I).
Yuwono’s massage school has grown rapidly. In just a few years, he has established 30 branches in a franchise system. “However, only 10 branches are still standing today. Many of my masseurs are taken over by other massage services. We have taught them and they just leave us midway,” he said.
Yuwono said that he used part of his earning to develop his massage skills. “Anytime I have some money, I use it to deepen my knowledge. I go to Thailand and Japan. I just feel I need to continue develop myself and learn more. I cannot just massage people as I like. It needs to be holistic. I must be able to massage people not only physically but also spiritually. I need to understand their psychology, bekam (wet cupping), hypnotherapy and other techniques. Massage skills alone will not be enough. I am addicted to learning,” he said.
For instance, Yuwono has gone a few times to the International Institute of Practical Preventive Medicine in Japan and Thai Massage in Wat Po, Thailand. He also attended numerous trainings, including for SPA division auditor candidates and massage parlor auditor candidates at the Tourism Ministry and Educator and Examiner trainings at the Indonesian Reflexology Competency Certificate Agency. He also has a master’s degree in marketing.
Despite having obtained formal education and massage trainings from numerous places, Yuwono always half-jokingly said, “I am just a masseur graduated from ‘the Monas University’.”
Massage goes global
Yuwono has a huge ambition in establishing LP3S. He tries to popularize Indonesian traditional massage abroad. During the interview with Kompas in mid-December, Yuwono was sharing his technique and knowledge to Herlovina and Mila Tolenaars from the Netherlands. Both paid Rp 4 million to get a four-day training from Yuwono.
Upon completing the training, Herlovina said that she would practice her skills at a children’s spa in Bali. Mila, on the other hand, would return to the Netherlands and used the techniques at her Balinese massage parlor that has more than 100 customers.
“I came to Jakarta specifically to learn massage techniques. Finding a registered and accredited massage school is difficult,” Mial said.
Yuwono then showed the difference between roadside massages and those done by masseurs with proper massage education. Roadside massages sometimes can feel painful while properly educated masseurs make the massages feel softer.
“The results are the same and yet the feeling is different. It all depends on experience,” said Yuwono, who plans to open massage training centers and parlors in Brunei and Hong Kong.
Through massage, Yuwono wishes to make Indonesia famous globally.