Moshé Feldenkrais

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Moshé Feldenkrais
Moshe Feldenkrais.png
Born Moshé Feldenkrais
May 6, 1904
Slavuta, Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine)
Died July 1, 1984
Tel Aviv, Israel
Citizenship Israeli
Fields Psychology, Physics, Education
Known for Founding the Feldenkrais method

Moshé Pinchas Feldenkrais (Hebrew: משה פנחס פלדנקרייז, May 6, 1904 – July 1, 1984) was an Israeli physicist and the founder of the Feldenkrais Method, designed to improve human functioning by increasing self-awareness through movement. Feldenkrais' theory is that "thought, feeling, perception and movement are closely interrelated and influence each other."[1]


Moshe Feldenkrais was born in the Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine) city of Slavuta and grew up in Baranovichi, Belarus. In 1918, he immigrated to Palestine.[2] He worked as a laborer and obtained his high-school diploma from Gymnasia Herzliya in 1925.[3] After graduation, he worked as a cartographer for the British survey office and began to study self-defense, including Ju-Jitsu. A soccer injury in 1929 promoted the development of his method in later years.[4]

During the 1930s, he lived in France where he earned his engineering degree from the École Spéciale des Travaux Publics, and later his Doctor of Science in engineering at the Sorbonne where Marie Curie was one of his teachers.[5] During this time he worked as a research assistant to nuclear chemist and Nobel Prize laureate Frédéric Joliot-Curie at the Radium Institute. In September 1933, he met Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo in Paris. Kano encouraged him to study Judo under Mikinosuke Kawaishi. Feldenkrais became a close friend of Kano and corresponded with him regularly.[6] In 1936, he earned a black belt in judo, and later gained his 2nd degree black belt in 1938. He was a co-founding member of the Ju-Jitsu Club de France, one of the oldest Judo clubs in Europe, which still exists today. Frédéric, Irène Joliot-Curie, and Bertrand Goldschmidt took Judo lessons from him during their time together at the institute.

On the eve of the Nazi invasion of France in 1940, Feldenkrais fled to Britain with a jar of "heavy water" and a sheaf of research material with instructions to deliver them to the British Admiralty War Office. Until 1946, he was a science officer in the Admiralty working on Anti-submarine weaponry in Fairlie, Scotland. His work on improving sonar led to several patents. He also taught self-defense techniques to his fellow servicemen. On slippery submarine decks, he re-aggravated an old soccer knee injury. Refusing an operation, he was prompted to intently explore and develop self-rehabilitation and awareness techniques through self-observation which later evolved into the method.[7] His discoveries led him to begin sharing with others (including colleague J. D. Bernal) through lectures, experimental classes, and one-on-one work with a few.

After leaving the Admiralty, he lived and worked in private industry in London. His self-rehabilitation enabled him to continue his judo practice. From his position on the international Judo committee he began to study judo scientifically, incorporating the knowledge he gained through self-rehabilitation. In 1949, he published the first book on the Feldenkrais method, Body and Mature Behavior: A Study of Anxiety, Sex, Gravitation and Learning. During this period he studied the work of G.I. Gurdjieff, F. Matthias Alexander, Elsa Gindler and William Bates. He also traveled to Switzerland to study with Heinrich Jacoby.

Memorial plaque in Tel Aviv

In 1951, he returned to Israel. In 1954, after directing the IDF Department of Electronics for several years, he settled in Tel Aviv and began to teach his method full-time.[8][9] In 1957, he met Mia Segal, who became his assistant and worked with him for thirty years.[10] He also became the personal trainer of David Ben-Gurion, the Prime Minister of Israel, whom he taught to stand on his head in a yoga pose.[11][12]

Throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and into the 1980s he presented the Feldenkrais method throughout Europe and in North America (including an Awareness Through Movement program for human potential trainers including at Esalen Institute in 1972). He also began to train teachers in the method so they could, in turn, present the work to others. He trained the first group of 13 teachers in the method from 1969–1971 in Tel Aviv. Over the course of four summers from 1975–1978, he trained 65 teachers in San Francisco at Lone Mountain College under the auspices of the Humanistic Psychology Institute. In 1980, 235 students began his summer teacher-training course at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. After becoming ill in the fall of 1981, after teaching two of the planned four summers, he stopped teaching publicly. He died on July 1, 1984.


According to a report commissioned by the Australian Government Rebate on Natural Therapies for Private Health Insurance, there is no medical evidence that the Feldenkrais method confers any health benefits.[13]


Books about the Feldenkrais Method[edit]

  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Body and Mature Behavior: A Study of Anxiety, Sex, Gravitation and Learning. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1949; New York: International Universities Press, 1950 (softcover edition, out of print); Tel-Aviv: Alef Ltd., 1966, 1980, 1988 (hardcover edition).
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Awareness Through Movement: Health Exercises for Personal Growth. New York/London: Harper & Row 1972, 1977; Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1972, 1977 (hardcover edition, out of print); Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1972, 1977; San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1990 (softcover edition).
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, The Case of Nora: Body Awareness as Healing Therapy. New York/London: Harper & Row, 1977 (out of print).
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, The Elusive Obvious. Cupertino, California: Meta Publications, 1981.
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, The Master Moves. Cupertino, California: Meta Publications, 1984, (softcover edition.)
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, The Potent Self. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985. Harper Collins, New York, 1992, (softcover edition.)
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Embodied Wisdom: The Collected Papers of Moshé Feldenkrais. California: Somatic Resources and North Atlantic Books. 2010.
  • Noah Eshkol, 50 Lessons by Dr. Feldenkrais. Tel-Aviv, Israel: Alef Publishers, 1980 (written in Movement Notation).

Books about Jiujitsu and Judo[edit]

  • Étienne Chiron, Jiu-jitsu. Paris, 1934 (out of print).
  • Étienne Chiron, Manuel pratique du Jiu-jitsu: la défense du faible contre l'agresseur. Paris, 1939 (out of print).
  • Étienne Chiron, ABC du Judo. Paris, 1941 (out of print).
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Practical Unarmed Combat. London: Frederick Warne & Co., 1941. Revised edition 1944, 1967 (out of print).
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Hadaka-Jime: The Core Technique for Practical Unarmed Combat. Colorado: Genesis II Publishing, 2009. Updated Practical Unarmed Combat with new forward by Moti Nativ.
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Judo: The Art of Defense and Attack. New York and London: Frederick Warne & Co., 1944, 1967 (out of print).
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Higher Judo (Groundwork). New York and London: Frederick Warne & Co., 1952 (out of print). Xerox copy available from Feldenkrais Resources.

Articles and transcribed lectures[edit]

  • Moshé Feldenkrais, A Non-Specific Treatment., The Feldenkrais Journal, No. 6, 1991. (Lecture from 1975 Training Program, edited by Mark Reese.)
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Awareness Through Movement., Annual Handbook for Group Facilitators. John E. Jones and J. William Pfeiffer (eds.). La Jolla, CA: University Associates, 1975.
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Bodily Expression., Somatics, Vol. 6, No. 4, Spring/Summer 1988. (Translated from the French by Thomas Hanna.)
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Bodily Expression (Conclusion)., Somatics, Vol. 7, No. 1, Autumn/Winter 1988-89.
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Learn to Learn Booklet. Washington D.C.: ATM Recordings, 1980.
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, On Health. Dromenon, Vol. 2, No. 2, August/September 1979.
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, On the Primacy of Hearing., Somatics, Vol. 1, No. 1, Autumn 1976.
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Man and the World., Somatics, Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring 1979. Reprinted in Explorers of Humankind, Thomas Hanna (ed.). San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979.
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Mind and Body. Two lectures in Systematics: The Journal of the Institute for the Comparative Study of History, Philosophy and the Sciences, Vol. 2, No. 1, June 1964. Reprinted in Your Body Works, Gerald Kogan (ed.). Berkeley: Transformations, 1980.
  • Moshé Feldenkrais, Self-Fulfillment Through Organic Learning., Journal of Holistic Health, Vol. 7, 1982. (Lecture delivered at the Mandala Conference, San Diego, 1981, edited by Mark Reese.)


  1. ^ All About Health: The Feldenkrais Method
  2. ^ "Who Was Moshe Feldenkrais?". Feldenkrais Guild of North America. 
  3. ^ Ben Gurion's Personal Trainer, Haaretz
  4. ^ Reese, Mark. "About Moshe". 
  5. ^ The Father of Feldenkrais Dies, Haaretz
  6. ^ Buckard, Christian (2015). Moshé Feldenkrais: Der Mensch hinter der Methode. Berlin: Berlin Verlag. pp. 107–116. ISBN 978-3-8270-1238-8. 
  7. ^ Ben Gurion's Personal Trainer, Haaretz
  8. ^ Buckard, Christian (2015). Moshé Feldenkrais: Der Mensch hinter der Methode. Berlin: Berlin Verlag. pp. 240–241. ISBN 978-3-8270-1238-8. 
  9. ^ Priesching, Doris. (June 6, 2010). "Alles Kann Ein Bisschen Besser Werden.". Der Standard.
  10. ^ Ben Gurion's Personal Trainer, Haaretz
  11. ^ Buckard, Christian (2015). Moshé Feldenkrais: Der Mensch hinter der Methode. Berlin: Berlin Verlag. pp. 240–241. ISBN 978-3-8270-1238-8. 
  12. ^ Priesching, Doris. (June 6, 2010). "Alles Kann Ein Bisschen Besser Werden.". Der Standard.
  13. ^ Baggoley C (2015). "Review of the Australian Government Rebate on Natural Therapies for Private Health Insurance" (PDF). Australian Government – Department of Health. Lay summaryGavura, S. Australian review finds no benefit to 17 natural therapies. Science-Based Medicine. (19 November 2015).