There are two major players in the market created by KAATSU inventor Dr. Yoshiaki Sato in Tokyo: the devices designed and manufactured by KAATSU Global, Inc. (e.g., KAATSU Nano, KAATSU Master 2.0, KAATSU Air Bands, KAATSU B1, KAATSU C3, KAATSU Cycle 2.0) and the Delfi Portable Tourniquet System for Blood Flow Restriction.
There is much confusion and misunderstandings in the marketplace about these two products and approaches.
The Delfi product identifies total occlusion pressure and then applies a specific percentage of that pressure during its applications. In contrast, the KAATSU products are not designed to even remotely approach occlusion pressure or do Blood Flow Restriction.
This fact was identified by Professor Alyssa Weatherholt of the University of Southern Indiana, Professor William VanWye of Western Kentucky University, and Johnny Owens of Owens Recovery Science (the exclusive distributor of the Delfi Portable Tourniquet System for Blood Flow Restriction equipment) who recently presented a study called Pressure Needed to Achieve Complete Arterial Occlusion: A Comparison of Two Devices Used for Blood Flow Restriction Training [see above].
The researchers concluded a wider cuff of the Delfi Portable Tourniquet System for Blood Flow Restriction is able to restrict arterial blood flow at significantly lower pressures compared to the narrow cuff [KAATSU Air Bands] using the KAATSU Master. The key finding of this study is as follows:
“We were unable to achieve complete arterial occlusion in any participant with the KAATSU cuff.”
The KAATSU equipment was designed and is specifically manufactured to avoid arterial occlusion in the limbs. This fact is precisely why KAATSU was originally defined by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato, the KAATSU inventor, and leading Japanese cardiologists at the University of Tokyo Hospital as a Blood Flow Moderation (BFM) device.
While the vernacular nuance between BFM and BFR may be overlooked by many (venous flow modification versus arterial flow restriction), the modification of venous flow is critical to understanding the safety and goal of KAATSU as certified KAATSU Specialists understand.
“There is no part of the KAATSU protocols that includes as part of its protocols – or tries to achieve – arterial occlusion. This is why KAATSU is definitely not occlusion training, tourniquet training, O-training, or any kind of blood flow restriction modality,” explains Steven Munatones. “This is why KAATSU equipment does not use cuffs or bands that are specifically designed to occlude or manufactured to restrict arterial flow. KAATSU Air Bands are not tourniquets or blood pressure cuffs. Rather, the stretchable bands are designed with flexible, elastic air bladders that inflate inwards towards the limb at very moderate pressures to minimally modify venous flow.
This pressure is gentle on the body and uniform because the limb is evenly and safely compressed by a bed of air. This principle and practical engineered solution leads to blood pooling in the limb – not arterial occlusion. This fact was independently determined by researchers and the leading Delfi proponent of BFR.
Furthermore, the patented KAATSU Cycle allows normal arterial and venous flow every 20 seconds which means it is safe, effective and gentle for people of all ages (including up to 104 years – see here).
- The purpose of KAATSU equipment and its protocols is a reduction in venous flow via blood flow moderation, a term first coined in the 1990s by Dr. Sato and Doctors Nakajima and Morita, cardiologists at the University of Tokyo Hospital.
- The pneumatically controlled KAATSU Air Bands is designed to achieve a reduction in venous flow is a very different approach from BFR and its widely-promoted use of blood pressure cuffs that are specifically designed to achieve limb occlusion.
- When the KAATSU equipment is used, its users agree to follow the specific protocols as defined by its inventor, Dr. Sato. Specifically, KAATSU protocols and equipment are designed not to occlude.
- The stretchable, pneumatically controlled KAATSU Air Bands are not (blood pressure) cuffs. A cuff is a term that refers to devices specifically engineered for limb occlusion.
- KAATSU Specialists understand the importance of users to know both their Base SKU pressure and their Optimal SKU pressure while using in the KAATSU Cycle and KAATSU Training modes. To refer to KAATSU pressure without reference to both Base SKU and Optimal SKU pressures is misleading.
There is another paper written by Jeremy P. Loenneke, Christopher Fahs, Lindy Rossow, Robert Thiebaud, Kevin T. Mattocks, Takashi Abe, and Michael G. Bemben (Blood flow restriction pressure recommendations: a tale of two cuffs) that addresses this subject from another perspective.