About Moshe Feldenkrais
Feldenkrais emigrated from Russia to Palestine at the age of 13. He was quick to learn and a gifted teacher, earning a living by tutoring whilst still at school. He had an interest in martial arts and taught himself and others in his area a style of Ju Jitsu.
He moved to Paris to study, earning a degree in electrical engineering and a doctorate in Physics from the Sorbonne. He later worked in Joliot Curie’s laboratory. Whilst in Paris he met Jigaro Kano, the founder of Judo, and subsequently trained in that discipline. In 1936 he became the first European to earn a black belt. He subsequently founded the Judo Club of Paris and later the Judo club of France.
He was evacuated to Scotland during the Nazi Invasion of France and was housed with a group of scientists whilst the British government decided how they could use them. To amuse themselves the scientists each gave lectures on their research. It was here that he began to synthesize his experiences into a theory of human development.
A knee injury from a soccer game in his teens was a catalyst for many of his discoveries. Whilst working on submarines developing radar for the British navy, his knee began to give him trouble. He realised there were some movements that caused pain and others that did not. He lay in his hammock at night experimenting with what to avoid. He found that it wasn’t just movements of his leg that could cause pain but that the way he organised his whole body also had a major influence.
He was also fascinated by how stress would influence his symptoms. He noticed that in times of distress, such as when he had to flee Paris to escape the Nazi invasion or during his times as an early settler in Palestine, his knee would be much more painful and swollen. It became clear that the problem was not just in his knee but also in his brain. He continued his explorations for many years. He looked in detail at the way his whole body was involved in movement and how it was influenced by the way he thought and felt.
He found as a result of his explorations that he not only was avoiding pain but that he also felt generally better and more able. The process seemed to affect the way he perceived himself and his world. Not only that but he found that if he applied the same principles to the way he taught Judo, his students learnt more quickly.
He continued his explorations drawing on his knowledge of physics, neurology, cybernetics, martial arts, body mechanics and psychology for the rest of his life. He not only solved his knee problem but also discovered fundamental principles of movement and learning that became the bedrock of his ingenious method.
Feldenkrais trained his first teachers in Israel in the1960’s. In the 1970’s he did a training in San Francisco. In the 1980s he did another training in Amherst Massachusetts. Today there are several thousand practitioners around the world whose professional development and regulation are administered by affiliated societies in twenty separate countries. Training is regulated by Training Accreditation Boards in Nth America, Europe and Australia.
Feldenkrais wrote six books
Judo - The Art of Defence and Attack
Higher Judo - Groundwork
Body and Mature Behaviour (A study in gravity, anxiety, sex and learning.)
Awareness Through Movement
The Potent Self
The Elusive Obvious