Dr Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-84) was born in the Ukraine and emigrated to Palestine at the age of 13. After receiving degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering, he earned his D.Sc. in Physics at the Sorbonne in Paris. He subsequently worked for a number of years in the French nuclear research program with Joliet Curie.
A talented athlete, Feldenkrais played soccer and practiced the martial arts to a high level. He studied with Jigoro Kano, the originator of Judo, and in 1936 became one of the first Europeans to earn a black belt in that discipline.
A chronic knee injury prompted him to apply his knowledge of physics, body mechanics, neurology, learning theory and psychology to a new understanding of human function and maturation. His investigations resulted in the formulation of a unique synthesis of science and aesthetics, known as the Feldenkrais Method. Dr. Feldenkrais wrote five books about the method as well as four books on Judo.
He conducted three professional trainings during his life, one in Tel Aviv, Israel (1969-1971), one in San Francisco, CA, USA (1975-1978) and one in Amherst, MA, USA (1980-1983), training approximately 300 Feldenkrais® practitioners in total. Today, professional training programmes occur around the world and there is a thriving community of over 10,000 Feldenkrais practitioners worldwide.
Feldenkrais and his lineage
Like many masters of a method or practice Dr Moshe Feldenkrais profoundly influenced many of his original students. As he pointed out, what makes humans unique among animals is our variability, and he encouraged his students to develop their own handwriting in their practice of the method. It makes sense then that we as Feldenkrais practitioners are all different.
A number of Feldenkrais’ original students have gone on to teach his work under their own names and trademarks. These include Mia Segal’s Mind Body Studies Academy (MBS), Anat Baniel Method Neuro Movement (ABMNM), and the three-year Jeremy Krauss Approach (JKA) training.
These trainings teach the same principles and practice of the Feldenkrais Method for individual one on one sessions and group classes. Graduates of these and Feldenkrais trainings around the world share a common fundamental training in these theories and practices. What unites us as practitioners is a way of thinking about learning rooted in an awareness of what we now call neuroplasticity.
Specialising in working with children
Many of Dr Feldenkrais’ students have gone on to specialise in working with children. What is clear is that we all share the same lineage.
Some of them renamed their work such as the Anat Baniel Method Neuromovement for Children (ABMNM), the one-year Jeremy Krauss Approach for Child Development (JKA) training, and Chava Chelav’s Child’Space Method.
Others like Nancy Aberle and Working with Children and Cheryl Field at the Field Centre of Children’s Integrated Development, choose simply to call our work with children the Feldenkrais Method. There are also groups such as Feldenkrais without Borders where Feldenkrais, Anat Baniel Method (ABM), Jeremy Krauss Approach (JKA) and Child’Space Method practitioners work together.