Moshe Feldenkrais

Moshe Feldenkrais

Ukrainian­born Israeli psycho­physiotherapist

The Feldenkrais Method was developed by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984).

Moshe Feldenkrais (Doctor of Science, Sorbonne) was an engineer, physicist, inventor, martial artist and student of human development. Born in eastern Europe, he emigrated to Palestine as a young man. Later he studied at the Sorbonne and worked in the Joliot Curie laboratory in Paris during the 1930s. His interest in Ju Jitsu brought him into contact with Professor Kano who developed the sport of Judo. Dr. Feldenkrais was a founder of the Ju Jitsu Club of Paris and was one of the first Europeans to earn a black belt in Judo.

Escaping the Nazi advance he went to Britain and worked on anti-submarine research for the Admiralty. It was there in the 1940s that he began to develop his Method and wrote his first book on the subject. A knee injury, and uncertain prospects for surgery, began Feldenkrais on what was to become a life long exploration of the relationship between movement and consciousness. In the 1950's, Dr. Feldenkrais returned to Israel where he lived and worked until he died in 1984 in Tel Aviv.

In developing his work Moshe Feldenkrais studied, among other things, anatomy, physiology, child development, movement science, evolution, psychology, a number of Eastern awareness practices and other somatic approaches.

Dr. Feldenkrais authored a number of seminal books on movement, learning, human consciousness and somatic experience. He taught in Israel and many countries in Europe through the 1960s and 1970s and in North America through the 1970s and 1980s. He trained his first group of teachers in Tel Aviv in the early 1970s. This was followed by two groups in the USA - one group in San Francisco and another in Amherst NY.

In his life Dr. Feldenkrais worked with all kinds of people with an enormous range of learning needs -from many infants with Cerebral Palsy to leading performers such as the violinist, the late Yehudi Menuhin. He taught over a number of years for the dramatistPeter Brook and his Theatre Bouffes du Nord. He was a collaborator with thinkers such as anthropologist Margaret Mead, neuroscientist Karl Pribram and explorers of the psychophysical Jean Houston and Robert Masters.

The breadth, vitality and precision of Dr. Feldenkrais' work has seen it applied in diverse fields including neurology, psychology, performing arts, sports and rehabilitation.

In an essay at Denis Leri’s Semiophysics site ( Moshe Feldenkrais and G.I.Gurdjieff,), he describes the relationship of Feldenkrais to Gurdjieff, how Feldenkrais is purported to have said that Gurdjieff is the strongest influence on what he was trying to do.
If we realize how much of Feldenkrais work is about undoing our slavery to our habitual ways of using ourselves poorly and inefficiently, and reconnecting to a way of being that can have an intention and explore and discover clear ways of achieving that intention, we can see how Feldenkrais is a natural extension of the Gurdjieff work.
I spend many years in the Gurdjieff work, and though I was thrilled to discover that carpentry and garden making and floor washing could be profound and useful meditations, the underlying push of the Gurdjieff work was a subtle or not so subtle: “Thou Shalt Remember Thyself.” Good advice, but if you can’t do it, is trying harder at something you can’t do the right path?