Moshe Feldenkrais – His Life

Life of Moshe Feldenkrais Highlights
Moshé Feldenkrais was born in Russia in 1904. At the age of 12, he immigrated to Israel (Palestine at the time) where he supported himself as a laborer in housing construction. As a young adult, he took great interest in the subjects of self-defense, auto suggestion, and human learning.

Marie Curie, Jigoro Kano with Moshe Feldenkrais as he receives his black belt in judo

Marie Curie and Jigorō Kanō with Moshé Feldenkrais as he receives his black belt in judo

Moshé Feldenkrais Studies Engineering and Physics

Driven by intellectual interests, Moshé Feldenkrais pursued a variety of formal and self-thought studies culminating in graduation from the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, France, with a degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. He followed up with a D.Sc. in Physics from the Sorbonne. It is there that Dr. Feldenkrais became a close associate of Nobel Prize Laureate Frederic Joliot-Curie and joined Joliot-Curie’s team doing pioneering nuclear research.

In parallel to his professional activities, Dr. Feldenkrais continued to pursue subjects he was always interested in: martial arts and other sports, and the understanding of the process of human learning.

Dr. Feldenkrais Meets Jigorō Kanō

This prewar period in Paris coincided with the visit of Jigorō Kanō, the Minister of Education of Japan, who was promoting his creation—modern Judo. This became a significant step in Dr. Feldenkrais’ career, as he was selected by Kanō to be trained in Judo, was granted a black belt in 1936, and founded the first Judo Club in Paris, France.

Dr. Feldenkrais Leaves France and Moves to England

During World War II, Dr. Feldenkrais escaped to England, as the Germans were marching on Paris, France. He was recruited by the British Admiralty to serve as Scientific Officer. Dr. Feldenkrais stayed in England until he received an invitation from the Israeli Prime Minister.

Dr. Feldenkrais Works With Prime Minister Ben-Gurion

In the early 50’s, after being invited by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to work as a scientist for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Moshé Feldenkrais moved to Israel. Dr. Feldenkrais worked closely with the Prime Minister to help him get relief from his chronic back pain. They became and remained friends for the remainder of Ben-Gurion’s life. Read more about Prime Minister Ben-Gurion and Dr. Feldenkrais.

Dr. Feldenkrais Explores Solutions for His Knee Injury

Due to a prior knee injury that became very debilitating and a decision not to have surgery, Dr. Feldenkrais began searching to re-educate the way he moved in order to enable him to overcome this impairment. An intense process of self exploration, coupled with his profound knowledge in Physics, Mechanics, Neurology, Anatomy, Biology, and Psychology culminated in the development of his method of movement lessons.

Movement Lessons: The Foundation of the Method of Dr. Feldenkrais

Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais

Dr. Moshé Feldenkrais

In addition to taking care of his knee problem, this research led Feldenkrais to discover and eventually develop a comprehensive, novel understanding of how we learn to move. He created over 1,000 movement lessons addressing the wide variety of potential human functions. Anat Baniel translated 250 of these movement lessons from Hebrew into English, making them available to all Feldenkrais Practitioners. This hands-on work is an innovative and very effective way of communicating with the brain to bring about rapid and profound changes. Read more about Anat Baniel and Dr. Moshé Feldenkrais.

The Influence of Moshé Feldenkrais

Among his writings are:

  • Body and Mature Behavior
  • Awareness Through Movement
  • The Potent Self
  • The Elusive Obvious
  • The Case of Nora
  • Judo
  • Higher Judo

See a bibliography of Moshé Feldenkrais’ work here.

Dr. Feldenkrais’ thinking and his Method has been, and is becoming, more influential in all fields concerning human learning behavior.