Information about the origins of the Feldenkrais​

Who was Moshe Feldenkrais?

A scientist in human movement training, a teacher of awareness, a precursor of research into awareness and embodiment.

Moshe Feldenkrais was born in 1904 to a Jewish family living in Eastern Europe on the border between Ukraine and Belarus. At the age of 14 – not an unusual age for the time – he travelled across Europe to live in Palestine and help build what was to become the State of Israel. While working at various jobs and studying various sciences, he devoted himself to Jiu Jitsu and developed his own self-defence techniques, which he taught in the Jewish resistance. He was also interested in sport, hypnosis and yoga.

He returned to Europe in the early 1930s to take a degree in mechanical and electrical engineering and a doctorate in physics. In Paris, he worked in the Juliot-Curie laboratory on nuclear energy and with Professor Langevin on ultrasound and magnetic force. He was responsible for several inventions. After meeting Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, he became one of the first Judo black belts in France. He co-founded the first Judo club in France.

In 1940, faced with the German invasion of France, he emigrated to Great Britain. There he worked on submarine defence research for the British Admiralty. However, his work on submarines led to serious knee problems, the after-effects of accidents in his youth. Faced with an unpromising medical prognosis, he embarked on such personal and scientific research that he developed his own method of learning movement and awareness.

He borrowed from biology, neurology, of course, physics and biomechanics, but also from psychology, child development, evolution and the sciences of movement, as well as from the work of various innovators in research into body awareness and movement, including Gurdjieff, Mathias Alexander and Henrich Jacobi.

He also drew on various Eastern approaches: yoga, Zen and acupuncture.

In the 1950s, he returned to Israel and worked in the Electronics Department of the Israeli army from 1950 to 1953. He increasingly developed his own “Feldenkrais Method” independently, devoting himself entirely to it from 1954 onwards. He taught it not only in Israel, but also in Europe and North America. Over the years, he trained teachers who practised his method in various professional training programmes, first in Tel Aviv, Israel (1969-1971), then in San Francisco, California (1974-1977) and finally in Amherst, Massachusetts (1979-1981).

Moshe Feldenkrais’s work was increasingly a precursor to contemporary discoveries in the cognitive sciences, biology, medicine and psychology. His method is genuinely systemic, holistic and strategic. The living body is conceived as a whole; thoughts, images, emotions and sensations are incorporated, experienced and manifested in the lived body; the human being is approached as a developing being, a self-regulating conscious system, a system in constant learning.

Moshe Feldenkrais’s method is not only based on these ideas, it presents a rigorous method, a concrete pedagogy for learning to be aware of the body in movement within its environment.

In this respect, it is still avant-garde; it is astonishingly relevant to a large number of areas of human activity and attracts professionals from a variety of disciplines, for physical and psychological health, for training, performance and creation in the arts, for pedagogy and for sports training and athletic performance. (source: Institut IFELD Lyon

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