There are many different kinds of massage, but Tui Na is the oldest known to survive today. Some sources say it goes back at least 5,000 years. Tui Na means 'pushing and grasping'. This refers to the first two hand forms in this style of massage. Tui is light or heavy brushing. Na is grasping and pulling to loosen up the muscles. An is pressing to increase blood flow. Mo is called bone polishing. It stimulates and opens up the bone layer.
In many massage styles (including many kinds of tui na) practitioners seek to bear down with their weight and their pointy elbows or their thumbs in order to work out a blocked point. But in this style that I practice, instead of pressing on a sore point with all our might, what we like to do is open up a point through repetition and flow, by starting above the point and moving down through the tight spot several times. When we push directly into a knotted area, that area will push back. Instead of fighting the tension, we move through a blocked point several times we help the point to open up space.
Another part of the philosophy is to move back and forth and up and down, throughout the entire body several times, almost like mowing a lawn in rows so you don't miss any part of the yard. This helps the patient to feel themselves as a whole body and not get stagnant in one place. This helps the patient to relax.
After each hand form is done throughout the whole body, then the patient is stretched in various ways to open up the joints and further loosen the muscles. This is similar to Thai massage. The stretching is also done in combination with massage techniques.
We end the session with energy work. Needles can be a strong way to open the channels, but there also exist techniques where the practitioner can draw energy from their surroundings to open the channels. This can help to put the patient into an alpha state and increase relaxation and mental functioning.
Here is an old promotional video of mine that shows the various techniques used.