Moshe Feldenkrais (1904 - 1984) was born in the Ukrainian town of Slavuta, emigrated to Palestine as a 13 year-old boy, then settled in Paris in 1929. An engineer, associated with Joliot-Curie's labs, he opened the first Judo school in Europe. After injuring his knee in a soccer match, he was told that he would not be able to walk. He nevertheless recovered, and, in the process, developed his unique way of helping people to improve.

In the early '40's Feldenkrais, wrote in his book, HIGHER JUDO: 
<<In a perfectly matured body which has grown without great emotional disturbances, movements tend gradually to conform to the mechanical requirements of the surrounding world. The nervous system has evolved under the influence of these laws and is fitted to them. However, in our society we do, by the promise of great reward or intense punishment, so distort the even development of the system, that many acts become excluded or restricted. The result is that we have to provide special conditions for furthering adult maturation of many arrested functions. The majority of people have to be taught not only the special movements of our repertoire, but also to reform patterns of motions and attitudes that should never have been excluded or neglected. >>

Moshe Feldenkrais was born on May 6, 1904 in the Ukrainian town of Slavuta. In 1918, at the age of 13, he left his home and travelled at first on foot on a six-month journey to Palestine, where he completed his high-school diploma, worked as a laborer, cartographer and tutor in mathematics. He also became active in sports (gymnastics, soccer) and the martial arts (jiu-jitsu). By his mid twenties he left for France in 1929, and in1933 graduated from l'Ecole des Travaux Publiques de Paris, in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. For many years, until the war, he worked in Frédéric Joliot-Curie's lab with high-voltage equipment, for the first Van der Graff accelerator. In 1952 he earned his Ingénieur-docteur degree from the University of Paris.

In Paris Feldenkrais also met Jigaro Kano, the creator of modern Judo, and Feldenkrais became one of the first Europeans to earn a Black Belt in Judo (1936) and to introduce Judo in the West through his teaching and books on the subject. In the early 1940's, while working in anti-submarine warfare for the British Admiralty, he patented a number of sonar devices.

After suffering crippling knee injuries, Feldenkrais used his own body as his laboratory and merged his acquired knowledge with his deep curiosity about biology, perinatal development, cybernetics, linguistics, and systems theory. He taught himself to walk again and in the process developed an extraordinary system for accessing the power of the central nervous system to improve human functioning.

Feldenkrais studied intensively in psychology, neurophysiology, and other health-related disciplines, and in 1949 he returned to Israel where he continued to integrate and refine his ideas into the system known as the Feldenkrais Method.

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Moshe Feldenkrais




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