Dr. Moshé Feldenkrais
Dr. Moshé Feldenkrais was born May 6th, 1904, in a city called Slavuta, in what is present-day Ukraine. He left his family to move to Palestine in his early teens. Feldenkrais was an active man and it was here that he began learning jujitsu. He even trained people in unarmed combat as they were not allowed to carry weapons in this time.
In the 1930s, Feldenkrais moved to France to study, and after gaining degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering there, he went on to obtain his Doctor of Science in Physics from the Sorbonne in Paris. During this time he worked with Nobel Laureate Nicholas Joliot-Curie in his laboratory. It was also here in Paris where Moshé met Professor Jigoro Kano, the developer of judo. Apparently in their first meeting Feldenkrais decided to test his martial arts skills against Professor Kano's. Affter being thrown down so effortlessly by this slight-looking professor over and over again, Feldenkrais was convinced that he needed to study with the professor, and so he became one of the first Europeans to earn a black belt. Feldenkrais also helped establish Judo here in Europe.
In the 1940s Feldenkrais moved to Britain to avoid the incoming Nazis and worked for the British Admiralty to research anti-submarine weaponry. He had suffered a serious knee-injury as a young man, and it became worse during this time. The surgeons predicted only a fifty-percent chance of him regaining use of his knee after surgery, and so he refused those odds and began immersing himself in a whole range of subjects, such as physiology, anatomy, etc. to understand the problem with his knee. This led to the discoveries that are the foundations to his own method.
*(An anecdote from our training recounts how Feldenkrais was asked about how he dealt with problems of the neck, back, knees, feet, etc. His answer was that he didn't deal with body parts - he always worked with the person.)
Feldenkrais trained thirteen students when he moved back to Tel Aviv and was presenting his method throughout North America and Europe. He was invited to the Esalen Institute in California in 1972 to teach ATM® lessons, as part of the Human Potential Movement, and in 1978, famed English theatre and film director, invited Feldenkrais to work with his touring theatre troupe. These are just a few of Feldenkrais' many engagements.
After the San Francisco training, and halfway through the subsequent training in Amherst, Moshé fell ill and passed away July 1st, 1984.