What I am after isn’t flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I am after is to restore each person to their human dignity". Moshe Feldenkrais
The pioneer and inspirational force behind the Feldenkrais Method® was Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904 - 1984).
Russian born, he immigrated to Israel at the age of thirteen. He received degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering and earned a D.Sc. in Physics at the Sorbonne in Paris. At the Sorbonne, he worked with nobel prize winner Joliet Curie and it was at this time that he met and studied with Professor Jigoro Kano, creator of the martial art of Judo. In 1936, he became one of Europe’s first black belts in Judo and co-founder of the Judo Society of France. When the Germans invaded France, he escaped to England to work as a scientific officer in the antisubmarine establishment of the British Admiralty until the end of the war.
At this time, he became a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and he was asked to give a series of lectures, which later became material for his published book Body and Mature Behaviour: A Study of Anxiety, Sex, Gravitation and Learning (1949). He presented a synthesis of modern day scientific thought applying his background fields of physics and mechanics with anatomy, physiology, neurophysiology, evolution, psychology and sociology.
Feldenkrais was a renaisance man in his thinking who as a result of injuries suffered in sport, at a time when no competent surgical intervention was available, found the means within himself to recover and improve his ability to move and function. Through Judo, he had also found new and refined movement skills affording him a greater sense of self-esteem which had a profound impact on his sense of well-being. The work Moshe did with himself lead him to working in an innovative way with others who suffered from obstacles to their performance and functioning.
From the early 1950’s when he returned to Israel, until his death in 1984, he traveled the world teaching his method to thousands of people from all backgrounds and walks of life. He gave many lectures and taught hundreds of public workshops using the two forms of the Method - Awareness Through Movement® and Functional Integration®. He trained his first group of 15 practitioners beginning in 1968 in Tel Aviv. He then developed a 4-year training program where he trained 65 students to become authorised practitioners in San Francisco and 220 in Amherst, Massachusetts. He published a number of books before his death; Awareness Through Movement (1972), The Case of Nora (1977) and The Elusive Obvious (1981) as well as several books on Judo and the Martial Arts. Following his death two other books were published Master Moves (1984) and The Potent Self (1985). Many of his theories have continued to and have recently become widely accepted within modern scientific circles.
There are now thousands of Feldenkrais Pracititoners all over the world. There are 4-year practitioner training programs being conducted in many countries throughout Europe, Asia and in the USA and Australia. His legacy is carried on by the students he inspired and trained and the many people whose lives he profoundly touched.