Moshe Feldenkrais: A Life in Movement [Volume One] 978-0985561208, 0985561203

The odyssey that is Moshe Feldenkrais’s life began in Eastern Europe, in what is now Ukraine. He came of age amid many o

2,129 250 49MB

English Pages 571 [656] Year 2015

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Moshe Feldenkrais: A Life in Movement [Volume One]
 978-0985561208,  0985561203

Citation preview





MosHE FELDENKRAIS was a p ivotal figure in the science of somatics. Grounded in physics, biology, and learning, his method remains the most advanced and comprehensive basis available for developing human potential.

The odyssey of Moshe Feldenkrais's life is as fascinating as the explorations that led him to establish his method. His j ourney ranged across the face of Europe amidst many of the central crises of the twentieth century: as a child he experienced first hand the turmoil of the First World War; as an adolescent, the establishment of a Jewish Palestine; as a young adult he worked with the Curies in ground-breaking nuclear research; and also found a mentor in Jigoro Kano , the creator ofJudo, who deputized him to introduce that martial art and spiritual discipline to France. Weaving together Feldenkrais's life and his work, this book is compelling reading for all who would like to learn about his thought and method, and indispensable for anyone already deeply engaged with his work.

Jacket portraits of Moshe Feldenkrais Courtesy !FF Archives






Moshe Feldenkrais: A Life in Movement Volume One Copyright © 20 1 5 ReeseKress Somatics Press, LLC Trustee for the Feldenkrais Biography Royalties Trust All rights reserved. No portion of this book, except for brief review, may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise - without written permission of the publisher. For information contact ReeseKress Somatics Press Published by ReeseKress Somatics Press 1 4 Alvina Avenue San Rafael, CA 9490 1 www. feldenkraisbiography. com Library of Congress Control Number: 20 1 2939 1 8 1 ISBN 978-0-9 8 5 5 6 1 2-0-8 Reese, Mark, 1 9 5 1 -2006. Moshe Feldenkrais: A Life in Movement, Volume One I by Mark Reese. Design by Donna and Jack Fisher Printed in the United States of America Feldenkrais®, the Feldenkrais Method®, Awareness Through Movement®, Functional Integration® and The Feldenkrais Guild® are registered service marks of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America. Despite our best efforts, a few of the images used in this book may have incorrect attributions. We invite correspondence that will provide corrections for subsequent editions.

This book is dedicated to Nathan Ray Reese and Filip Ray Reese. We

cannot doubt that Mark would have wanted it so.










3. FRANCE, 1930-I940

1 13

4. GREAT BRITAIN, 1940-1946



2 13






















T H E E N O RM ITY OF this proj ect has presented many kinds of challenges over the nearly two decades and several continents of its preparation. A work of this magnitude by necessity requires the work of many, many hands . All of the shortcomings in recognizing and acknowledging the assistance and friendship extended to Mark in this endeavor must be understood as entirely our responsibility. Moshe Feldenkrais's nephew, Michel Silice-Feldenkrais could not have been more supportive and encouraging, and gave generously of his time in interviews and reminiscences. Michel had longed to see this book complete, but alas, that was not to be. We wish to thank and acknowledge the International Feldenkrais Federation Archive of the Feldenkrais Method for their generous use of photos, transcript text, and access to digital content. Moshe's 'video autobiography' proved especially helpful. Special appreciation is due The Civitas Foundation and its president, John Quigley, for providing Mark with important funding crucial to producing a work of this scale. Mark found appreciative support in John as both a writer and as his Feldenkrais Practitioner. Mark would have wished to acknowledge the late Esther Thelen for her friendship, advice, and encouragement in making this book so much more than a biography. Mark would also have wanted us to recognize his debt to Jonathan Cohen for the many hours of interviews that helped him look more deeply into Moshe's method and thinking. Moshe's first assistant and close friend, Mia Segal, shared troves of tales, documents, and photos with Mark, immeasurably enriching the story he was able to tell. Caret Newell, part of the Feldenkrais community, generously made available to Mark her own work and research on Moshe's life, as well as collaborating with Mark on additional research. Conversations with Jean Gibson proved invaluable in situating the origins and development of Moshe's hands-on work. We also want to extend thanks to the Jacoby-Gindler Foundation for their assistance and the permission to quote extensively from courses given by Heinrich Jacoby. Dr. Norbert Klinkenberg, a former student of Mark's, devoted time and care to help us present excerpts from Jacoby's work in English. Moshe made many friends over the course o f his long life and M ark located, interviewed, and in some cases was even able to visit quite a few. O n his behalf we want to thank, among others, Franz Wurm, Noa Eshkol, Macie Adler, Elizabeth Tilden, Jenny and John Serle, Gwen and Eric Barnes, Jennifer Duff, and Albert Freedman for their warmth, welcome, and memo­ ries. All contributed important threads to Mark's work in weaving this story of Moshe's life . Among some o f the individuals Mark interviewed concerning decisive events in Moshe's life, particular thanks are owed to Bertrand Goldschmidt, Yuval and



Amnon Meskin, Walter Carrington , Opra Alyagon , Jacob Rabinovich, and Lea Shlosberg. Mark found great support for his project within the j udo community. He had many extensive and illuminating exchanges with Michel B rousse, as well as generous and helpful interviews with Trevor Leggett, Martin Lewis, and Richard Bowen. The Feldenkrais community has sustained its enthusiasm for Mark's project over the years. There are many who have been of great assistance both to Mark and to us in bringing this book to fruition. Among so many, we offer indi­ vidual thanks to Judith Stransky, Michaeleen Kimmey, Kolman Korentayer, Jeremy Krauss, Russell Delman, Frank Wildman, Anat Baniel, David Kaetz, and Ilana Rubenfeld. In addition, we want to thank Nancy Magnusson, also part of the Feldenkrais community, for substantially contributing to the nuts and bolts of the verification of citations and references. Mark embodied a spirit of cooperation. His closest circle of friends and col­ leagues appreciated that he was resolute in not needing to stand alone. They loved in Mark his deep dedication to serving what he understood as the ethos of the Feldenkrais work and the revolutionary dimension of human knowledge that it represents. This book arose and crystallized amidst years of friendly col­ laborations, partnerships, and passionate discussions. Here, we believe Mark would want us to explicitly recognize Elizabeth Beringer, Dennis Leri, Carl Ginsburg, and David Zemach-Bersin, as his indispensable interlocutors and some of the shoulders on which he stood in order to give shape to this book. Mark's intimate family must receive preeminent appreciation here. There is always a measure of sacrifice endured by a family in the shadow of such an engrossing project. Mark would have wanted his readers to understand the depths of his reliance on the support and affection of Shelley, his sister, his sons Nathan and Filip, and the mother of his children, Donna Ray. As work on this book loomed ever larger in Mark's life, Donna sustainingly and encompass­ ingly encouraged his work. She read early drafts, and faithfully assumed the many tasks that permitted Mark the freedom to be wholeheartedly devoted to the project. Although it has fallen to us to shepherd Mark's book through preparation and publication, we have done so with imperfect information concerning all of the people who made important contributions. Once again, we apologize for the omission of appropriate recognition for those whose name deserved inclusion here.

Carol Kress Reese and Clifford Skoog


I T rs WITH immense satisfaction that I celebrate the publication of Moshe Feldenkrais: A Life in Movement. This satisfaction has many sources. Moshe Feldenkrais was an unusual man whose remarkable story and revolutionary ideas well deserve a wide audience. This proj ect was also a long time in coming and one in which the author, and later the editors, had to overcome many obstacles that threatened to founder it. And, I am perhaps the most gratified that Mark Reese's fervent wish-that this book be completed after he died­ has now come to pass. Feldenkrais's life includes many of humanities' great themes; persecution, migration, utopian dreams, displacement through war, and ultimately leaving the secure and lauded path to forge an entirely new direction. Mark's careful attention to detail brings Feldenkrais the man alive again as he finds his way amidst some of the great tides of European history. Mark artfully interweaves the evolution of Feldenkrais's ideas with those of his personal history. The result is a multilayered tale of the development of the Feldenkrais Method as spellbinding as Feldenkrais's life story. His experiences with martial arts, physics, engineering, Hasidism, autosuggestion, Gurdj ieffian spirituality, and the early somatics pio­ neers are all investigated and connected to principles of the Feldenkrais Method. For those of us engaged in its practice, the depth of discussion and analysis related to the evolution of the Method is a stunning and fundamental resource. Mark Reese was a colleague and close personal friend of mine. We spoke of his interest in writing Feldenkrais's story periodically, over three decades. In the mid 1 980s Mark asked me if I would like to research and write the biography together. The immensity of the project was daunting. Feldenkrais's life spanned a century and three continents. People throughout Europe, Israel and the U.S. would need to be tracked down and interviewed. Ultimately, it was not my task, and I did not pursue it further, but Mark always kept that fire burning. Not long after our conversation, Mark's first child was born and he became fully engaged in his family and professional life for many years, with no time to develop the biography. Mark was one of Moshe Feldenkrais's most accomplished followers; train­ ing new teachers worldwide, writing extensively about the Feldenkrais Method and profoundly influencing the development of the Feldenkrais Method as a profession. It was not until Mark's youngest son was a teenager that Mark was able to come back to the biography proj ect. During the last years before his untimely death he was able to devote himself heart and soul to the writing. After his death, its completion was left to his widow Carol Kress Reese-a fine writer and editor in her own right-and his close friend and editor, Clifford Skoog, who had worked previously with Mark on the book. It is entirely due to their tireless efforts that Moshe Feldenkrais: A Life in Movement has taken form. Anyone who takes pleasure in the reading of this volume owes them a great debt of gratitude.

Elizabeth Beringer - San Diego, California



MARK REEsE's biography o f Moshe Feldenkrais i s a t once a great example of historical research and an odyssey of self inquiry and discovery for the book's subject, for the author, and for the reader. In a really good biography, it seems to me, one learns about a life and a time and a place not one's own. A great biog­ raphy additionally offers another sense of the reader's own time and place. Who hasn't had the experience that, after an extended vacation, one returns home to find that the dimensions of the 'familiar' have changed. Time-in the lived moment to moment-seems oddly compressed or dilated. The sense of place emerges in unfamiliar shades of emotional tone. We're home, but home has changed. In the biography of Moshe Feldenkrais, one man's journey-driven by a dual sense of self discovery and geographical and cultural displacement-can't help but excite in the reader a desire to inhabit his or her world in a new way. Mark Reese and I crossed paths several times around 1 970 on the campus of a small state university in Northern California. We first really met each other in the campus bookstore j ust outside of the check-out turnstile. What began with a few offhanded remarks, stretched into a (by the clock) two and one half hour talk. The rest of the world seemed to drop away in what was to be the first of countless timeless conversations with Mark. Over the next 35+ years he always held up his end of any conversation we had. For me, Mark was one of the few individuals whose next thought or comment was never predictable. His ability to say something novel, or something commonplace in a novel way, often had a singular effect upon me: to catch myself seeing him (and sometimes myself) as if for the first time. I mention Mark's conversational poetics because I 'm often asked how it was that he became Moshe Feldenkrais's biographer. During the first half of 1 979, Mark and I spent our time studying with and working for Feldenkrais at his Institute in Tel-Aviv. We had graduated from his first American training in the Feldenkrais Method in 1 977. Outside our work at the Feldenkrais Institute, we often had occasion to dine or have tea or coffee with Feldenkrais at his brother Baruch's place, or at his house. Our discussions were far ranging and were marked by fluid shifts between sharing personal stories, arguing, telling j okes, open discussions, or listening to Feldenkrais explicate some fine philosophical or scientific point. Once after the three of us had talked late into the night, I said to Mark that Feldenkrais seemed not older than us, that his mental and verbal agility would have been enviable in a much younger person. When Mark conveyed my thought to Feldenkrais, Feldenkrais responded by telling Mark that over the years he'd lost many friends to ossified thinking. He said they'd given up living for today and instead lived in a neigh­ borhood of yesterdays. As we watched Feldenkrais give 6 to 8 lessons a day, 6 days a week, we couldn't help but marvel at the variety of ways he approached working, both with different people and the same people in different ways. It was certainly beyond anything we had seen in our training with him in San Francisco. I shared with Mark my awe at the caliber, breadth, and depth of Feldenkrais's work. I remarked that it would seem impossible to m atch Feldenkrais's



creativity, and that surely the discrepancy in genius would inhibit my own progress. Mark told me not to worry, and that, no doubt, shortly after we'd left Israel, the beautiful human capacity to forget would kick in and that I 'd be able to go on and in my own way. And he was right. Somewhere in the middle of our time in Israel, our discussions with Feldenkrais began to be dominated by requests from us for him to return to the States and give an advanced training to our former classmates in what we were daily observing and learning. The details of the evolving nature of our discussions are not as important as the form the discussions began to take. And the form our discussions soon took was that of really heated arguments about the value of advanced training and who would benefit. We would argue for a training, and Feldenkrais would argue against it. The back-and-forth discus­ sions were often contentious and intense. Anyone who was ever particularly close to Feldenkrais to any degree, knew that one could forget ever winning an argument with him. Not because he was obstinate or pulled rank, but because he listened and he thoroughly absorbed your argument. Like the Judo master he was, he then used your own strengths against you. One Saturday afternoon, the Jewish Shabbat or day of cessation, after a long and volatile discussion, the issue at hand seemed to have come to a natural end. Feldenkrais sat opposite us and eased himself into a posture of looking both inwardly to himself and outwardly to the table between us. It was a gesture of letting go, a signal to end the discussion. At that moment, Mark launched a fresh attack on Feldenkrais's argument. Both what Mark said and when he said it, brought the full presence of Feldenkrais's gaze upon him. In that instant Mark Reese, Moshe Feldenkrais, and all the particulars sharing the room, seemed to show fo rth in a preternatural light. Feldenkrais held his gaze on Mark in what seemed to me to be a new appraisal of Mark. Mark's acumen regarding a fallacy in a point Feldenkrais had made, and Mark's tenacity to keep the discussion open, caused each man to take a new measure of the other. While the Amherst training was the eventual outcome of those discussions, the real outcome is the biography you are now reading. Virtually everyone who personally studied with Moshe Feldenkrais feels that something was given to them that was not given to the others. The feel­ ing is as if he imparted an essential spark of his creative genius to them alone. Of course, Feldenkrais would maintain that it was we who came to realize our own genius. However one looks at it, it was Mark who felt the transmission of Feldenkrais's legacy as his first biographer.

Dennis Leri - San Rafael, California



WHAT Y O U ARE holding in your hands i s a work of devotion, commitment and intellectual integrity that was over 30 years in the making. Everything that was Mark Lawrence Reese led up to and went into this book. I first met Mark in June of 1 97 5 , on the opening day of Dr. Feldenkrais's first professional training program in the United States. We were two intellec­ tually searching graduate students, he in clinical psychology at Sonoma State University, and I in physiological psychology at San Francisco State University. We both had a strong desire to understand the underlying processes of how, over time, human behavior is formed, and the conditions by which it can change. Mark lived in San Francisco and I lived across the Bay, in Berkeley. Soon after meeting we began to study together, assigning ourselves readings-usually from Dr. Feldenkrais's writings-meeting at a bohemian coffee house. Taking turns, one of us would present what he had read, and the other would critique and ask questions, exploring Feldenkrais's ideas from every conceivable angle. For two young men who thought that there was no higher value than that of learning, those meetings were a rich experience of pleasure and reward. This mutual, collaborative inquiry, wrestling with Feldenkrais's ideas and practice, continued over the three decades of our relationship. Around 1 978 Mark decided that he wanted to help bring Dr. Feldenkrais's words and ideas into print. Feldenkrais was extraordinarily fascinating and even more loquacious, and almost all of his public teaching was being recorded. Thus there were abundant resources available for someone willing to take the time to comb through them. Feldenkrais gave Mark access to the audio record­ ings and transcripts of our San Francisco program, which were housed at his home on Frug Street in Tel-Aviv. From that moment on, the transmission of Feldenkrais's theories and teaching became Mark's obsession, his private project, and his constant delight. On several occasions, Mark and I traveled to Tel-Aviv together. By day, we would watch Feldenkrais work with adults and children with a variety of dif­ ficulties, and we would spend the evenings at Feldenkrais's flat. There, Mark would search through hundreds of pages of transcript, looking for lectures or stories which he thought might be publishable, as I would either study or help Feldenkrais by typing pages for one of the books he was writing at the time. At the beginning, Feldenkrais was leery of Mark's proj ect, concerned about allow­ ing such unfettered access. Over time, however, he began to take great delight in Mark's interest and even gave us the key to his home so that we could work, even when he was not there. Mark would eventually publish three articles based on Feldenkrais's materials, two of which deconstructed Feldenkrais's language and compared it to the inductive language structures of the great psychiatrist, Milton Erickson. In the early 1 980s Mark began to formulate the idea of writing a definitive biography of Feldenkrais. The concept was not only to cover his life story, the incredible people he knew, the pivotal world events through which he had lived, his relationship with the early history ofJudo, and his work as a physicist



with Frederic Joliot-Curie, but that the book would additionally provide a full, erudite history and explanation of the development over time of Feldenkrais theories, and how they would lead to the development of what today is called the Feldenkrais Method. The task, as conceived by Mark, was demanding and enormous. For nearly 20 years he learned and explored the art of being a research historian, a scholar, a biographer and an investigatory j ournalist. This would be no ordinary biog­ raphy; it would put Feldenkrais's ideas into a larger intellectual and historical context of the most important ideas of our times, in philosophy, physics, biology, and psychology. Mark brought to this task his love for Socratic ques­ tioning, his rigorous thinking, and his requirement for precision in language. Literally no stone would be left unturned, whether that stone might be found in one of Feldenkrais's childhood homes in present day Ukraine, or in the still secret nuclear bomb archives of the State of Israel. And then there was the tracking down and interviewing of Feldenkrais's family, close friends, students and fellow scientists in the U.S . , France, England, Switzerland, and Israel, a race against time, since so many were already elderly. With Mark following the scent of every new piece of information , the breadth, width, and length of the book kept expanding. As the work began to take shape, he would send me drafts of chapters for comments and feedback and each successive approximation was richer, fuller, and more detailed. Tragically, Mark Reese passed away before his magnum opus could be real­ ized. He lived his last days with unfathomable courage and grace, and never stopped working on his great proj ect. It is a testament to the great love and dedication of his wife, Carol Kress Reese, that we can today hold Volume One of Moshe Feldenkrais: A Life in Movement in our hands. Without her resolve and stamina, working tirelessly for eight years to see the book through to com­ pletion , we would not be able to benefit, grow and be changed by what we can now read and enjoy. It was a tall and challenging mountain that M ark was climbing, and now with Carol's assistance, he has been able to reach the mountain top, and we can all enj oy the fruit of their common labor. Moshe Feldenkrais: A Life in Movement is a book that only Mark Reese could have conceived, undertaken, and written. He is the only person I have known, who is intellectually capable of contextualizing, illuminating, and conveying the incredible complexity of Feldenkrais's thinking. That this book now lives in the world is a great blessing to the memory of both Mark Labish Lawrence Reese and Moshe Pinhas Feldenkrais . And, may you, the reader, be blessed and altered through your engagement with the extraordinary life and ideas of Moshe Feldenkrais.

David Zemach-Bersin - Feldenkrais Institute ofNew York



I F I RST KNEW Mark a s a High School friend in Tucson, Arizona. Our interests were strongly parallel, and later, in the San Francisco Bay Area, we formed study groups committed to varieties of scientific and philosophic rigor in the pursuit of unlocking human potential . By the early seventies our wide ranging j oint investigations had led us toward exploring the significance of expressive language and to develop affiliated Shakespeare reading groups that eventually coalesced to become the Shakespeare theatre company ' Birnam Wood' . One day, Mark brought me to what was then Lone Mountain College, in San Francisco's Richmond district. The event was a public discussion between the neurobiologist Karl Pribram-one of whose books we had closely studied-and a man named Moshe Feldenkrais. As they say, you had to have been there-it was an amazing, mind-opening dialog. Soon after, Mark decided to participate in the training that Feldenkrais would be giving there next year. It was a choice that transformed Mark's life. Through it he found his vocation, his mentor, and a concrete scientific approach to furthering human potential that would lead his learning and penetrate every aspect of his life. In the nineties he became a regular visitor at our house during his excursions to the Bay Area. By then he had children, and thought we should too. (I'm happy to relate that he subsequently agreed to be our daughter's thoughtful godfather. ) He partnered a Feldenkrais practice in San D iego , called ' Feldenkrais Global', and engaged me to maintain the website. The hyperbolic quality of that name resonated Mark's boundless aspirations, but it also accurately described how widely he travelled as a trainer. And he travelled not only for trainings. The work that made this biography project possible both spurred him on and weighed him down: interviews, visits to libraries, archives, and most of the places where Feldenkrais had friends, relatives, teachers, or work. As the research material accumulated, it reached a kind of critical mass. Mark felt he had enough now for several books. I recall a conversation during which Mark spoke of his obj ectives and his trepidations about the biography. Our friendship had always been based on being able to walk around in each other's mind without disturbing the fur­ niture, and I suggested that we might be able to work out a way that I could participate as an editor. We speculated that we might find together extra men­ tal space to give him perspectives and horizons to potentiate the realization of his vision . Characteristically, Mark devoted his best energies to projects where cooperation was a path to excellence. Mark wanted the biography to more widely and enduringly establish the significance o f Feldenkrais, and to e mphasize that his legacy could not be reduced to a 'system' o r repertoire of techniques. It would i ntegrate the story of Moshe's life with the content and development of his work: it was to be not only a biography, but also a reference work o n the Feldenkrais method. Another challenge fo r M ark was a strong sense that Moshe would be peering over his shoulder, for Moshe had emphasized that Mark's writing should be worthy of being read over decades to come.



Certainly it was Mark's heart's desire to create this book, but it was also something he felt he owed to Moshe, the Feldenkrais movement, and to all the people who had contributed their memories, documents, efforts, and time to filling his quiver with research and learning. Recounting Moshe's life and work proved to be an almost impossibly wide­ ranging intellectual adventure, plunging us deeply into diverse controversies, conflicting stories, and specialized historical and scientific literatures, while Mark tried to distill all of this toward things that would engage and edify readers. Mark's mastery as a Feldenkrais trainer was apparent from the beginning in the eloquence and concision of his description of all things somatic: passages that seem now to me like j ewels studding the flux of a life's inevitably contingent cross-currents. Mark confessed at one point that he planned to write five more books after this. But in the UK, visiting my wife's family, I learned that Mark had been diagnosed as seriously ill, and the Romance turned toward Tragedy. Still, those were days of hope-and nothing would be allowed to get in the way of work on the biography. Nor would it later during punishing treatments, and even as hope dimmed. Through it all Mark lost neither focus nor his love of learning -he completed the final draft of the writing of this volume only weeks before his death. I still can hardly believe the grace and precision with which he navi­ gated the minefield of the relationship between Feldenkrais and Alexander in this volume's final chapter, and the elegiac clarity he achieved in exploring the twinned objectives of Feldenkrais and Jacoby. I am so thankful that I was allowed to be entangled with Mark through his text, almost to the end. And though it is a poor substitute for his continued friendship in this life, it now seems the most appropriate kind of parting embrace we could have had. He left the book, with its mammoth bibliography, innumerable footnotes, and labyrinth of permissions, to Carol Kress and me to copyedit and wrap-up. Above all we were to index the book in such a way as to fulfill its promise as a reference work. Partnering with Carol in this has been a kind of blessing that has continued to enliven the memory of Mark between us. Now it is the reader's turn for the global adventure of entanglement in Mark Reese's text and Moshe Feldenkrais's life.

Prepare to see the life as lively mock'd as ever still sleep mock'd death . . . - Shakespeare, Winter's Tale, V iii

Clifford Skoog- Mountshannon, Co. Clare, Ireland

PREFACE Tms BI O GRAPHY OF Moshe Feldenkrais is at last a felt experience in hand, with its auspicious sense of dimension and weight. Its publication culminates Mark Reese's mission, celebrating the triumph of his long avowed dream. I am confident that the influence of this book will not only resound throughout the worldwide Feldenkrais community, but will serve to broaden and strengthen the reach of the Feldenkrais Method into the future. I would like to personally acknowledge, with deep appreciation, so many of you who have offered encouragement and unfaltering support through the years of this proj ect. Longtime friends and colleagues of Mark's around the world have maintained contact with me, loyally tracking the book's progress, eager for the realization of Mark's immense endeavor. Your persistent suste­ nance is a large part of this accomplishment. My gratitude is boundless. Mark lived his passion for the Feldenkrais Method as he navigated his quo­ tidian life. His thoughts and actions intersected unambiguously as a teacher of the method, as a father, colleague, friend, and husband. Mark walked every step of his talk, living and sharing an ever-deepening commitment to learning, the expansion of self-determination, and to an emphasis on dignity in the con­ tinual unfolding of our human potential. Once Mark received Feldenkrais's blessing to be his biographer, the dream of this book lodged, stirringly, in his psyche. Over the last two decades of his life, the research and the writing of this biography would dominate and orga­ nize Mark's days, commanding both his time and treasure. Following in the footsteps of Feldenkrais, Mark ranged the boundaries of Europe and Israel, interviewing Feldenkrais's colleagues, friends and acquain­ tances. With sensitivity and an insightful eye, he culled the copious tales and memories he gathered, finding the elements that illuminated the shape of Moshe's character and the trajectory of his learning and thinking. In the structure of this biography, Mark purposefully chose to interlace the chronicle of Feldenkrais's life with a meticulous analysis of the unfolding theories and principles indispensable to the Feldenkrais Method. His personal imperative was to organize these essentials, and bring them front and center into the education of careful students of the method. Mark would settle for nothing less than advancing the full spectrum of Feldenkrais's formulations and innovations, with the emphasis on the realization of each person's potential. Deep into the research and writing of this book, Mark was diagnosed with cancer. As Mark's illness closed in, his fierce hope for a published book compelled the division of the text into two volumes. Mark then focused his attention exclusively on the eight chapters of Volume One, polishing the writ­ ing to its final complete state. Mark's mastery continued to evolve, and his writing attained new heights even into his final days. Toward the end, Mark was absolutely transcendent. I saw his force concentrated piercingly on this book. It was something to behold, inconceivable in its potency, courage, and resolve.



Even through the two years of Mark's illness, he was a man shaped by vital­ ity and health. He met and conquered each setback with a dignity that only comes though unequivocal self-knowledge, a dexterity in exercising choice, and his ability to adapt as circumstances demanded. Feldenkrais proposed two fundamental aspects to health that challenge conventional perspectives. First is the notion of resiliency-our ability to recover from a shock. And second, the belief that even though confronted with illness or trouble, we can exhibit robust health by recognizing and realizing our dreams fully. In this regard Mark was manifesting health as he fulfilled his dream of writing the biography of the man and the work he respected and loved. Bringing Mark's work to its deserved completion was my promise to him. I could not have fulfilled this pledge without the unwavering assistance of Clifford Skoog, Mark's longtime friend and editor. After Mark's passing, Clifford took a steadfast place by my side as we moved this project to its final form . I am grateful for his tenacious and loyal spirit. Though Mark left us his complete and polished text, the production and indexing claimed an inordinate amount of time. The reader will find a prodi­ giously nuanced index with a legend that includes coordinates for pathways, from multiple perspectives, that lead to the vital concepts and to the events of Feldenkrais's rich life. Historians, scholars, Practitioners of all levels, and readers with a diversity of interests, will each discover their own road map to the treasures this text holds. I strove to make this index practical, useful, and capable of launching countless hours of fascinating and surprising discoveries. Moshe Feldenkrais's innovations and theories revolutionized an approach to learning and human development. For over half of a century, his work, the Feldenkrais Method, has spread worldwide, crossing many cultures, restoring dignity, humanity and individuality to each of us. Mark Reese, through the years of his generous and insightful teaching and the accumulation of his tren­ chant articles, created the conditions for countless students to advance on this path of learning and self-development. The enduring legacy of Mark's work, this biography of Moshe Feldenkrais, with its stature as an incisive reference work for the Feldenkrais Method, holds the power to influence and inspire us for many years to come. In honoring Mark's vision and to complete his intention, I now turn my eyes to the p reparatio n of Volume Two of his seminal biography of Moshe Feldenkrais.

Carol Kress Reese - San Rafael, California


EASTERN EuROPEAN Roars Every word and every action contains all the ten Sefirot, the ten powers emanat­ ing from God, for they fill the entire world . . . The completed motion of lowering and lifting [the hand] houses the secret of mercy and rigor. - Rabbi Pinhas of Korets (from Martin Buber)

This cosmic Reality is so immense and overwhelming that it is only when we are at our best that we can catch glimpses of it. - Moshe Feldenkrais, The Elusive Obvious ONE WINTER NIGHT, in the aftermath of World War I, Moshe Feldenkrais, muscularly framed and fourteen, left his home in Russia to make his way to Palestine. As he walked by himself to meet his smuggler-guide, who lay hidden in a swamp past the edge of town, a few coins clinked in his pockets. A pistol, tucked in his boot, rubbed softly against his leg. A heavy knapsack, bulging with books on math and science mingled with a few personal items, hung on his back. He was beginning what would be a six-month, rite-of-passage odyssey. The youth-steeped in Judaism's brew of mysticism and reason, and rocked by a violent, chaotic world of endemic war, persecution and revolution-had potent aspirations coursing through his adolescent veins. His heart beat with enthusiasm for the Zionist experiment, and he was driven by impatience to shake his family's hold. As he walked through the fo rest, his sights were set toward a path of strength and freedom. Moshe Feldenkrais grew up in the battleground of Europe. He learned early that change is life's rule, not its exception. Predicting the next pogrom and divining the geopolitical trends that brought new rulers and governance were matters of daily concern. To keep pace with the retreating and advanc­ ing armies who redrew national borders, one trained one's tongue in multiple dialects. The changing world compelled Moshe to remap his mind, rebalance his footing, and reorient his senses to attune to each present moment. Where once he enj oyed the advantages given by social privilege, he had experienced his family break apart and fall into poverty. All too early, Moshe found himself alone, standing on the ground of self-reliance. Young Moshe witnessed firsthand the beginning of the end of a cultural world. He chose to escape from the social order crumbling around him. The world he left behind was rich with history; it possessed unique storehouses of knowledge, since then mostly consigned to oblivion, violently destroyed, and tragically lost. Even so, legacies remain from the Eastern Europe where Feldenkrais was born near the start of the twentieth century-treasures of the mind and heart still embodied in dialogue, literature, and custom, which offer fascination and inspiration even today. Through his life's work, Feldenkrais



drew those precious resources into his own astonishing creation, the Feldenkrais Method, which brought power to teach, enliven, and heal. The beginnings of the story of Feldenkrais's life and work lay hundreds of years before his birth in the circumstances that brought Jews into eastern Europe. As we see Moshe grow up, we will try to fathom the religious currents that permeated every part of his world. We will also taste the milk of Hasidism that nourished him as an infant. Although he was not a religious man, Moshe often expressed a debt to religious and spiritual wisdom. He chose to show himself standing in an esoteric lineage descending from his ancestral namesake, the Hasidic patriarch Rabbi Pinhas ben Abraham Abba Shapiro ( 1 72 8- 1 790) of Korets. Thus, it was his choice, not ours, to begin the life chronicle of a man of science with his religious roots. Many factors in Feldenkrais's life and work were deeply rooted in the culture and spirituality of his origins. Of these, perhaps the most crucial-as my friend and colleague, David Zemach- Bersin suggests-was the belief that miracles can still happen. Untrammeled expectations can be the healer's or the teacher's greatest gift. As the Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel emphasized, " I n Hasidism , everything i s possible, everything becomes possible b y the mere presence of someone who knows how to listen, to love and give of himself. " 1 Moshe-Pinhas Feldenkrais's birthplace, in the heartland of Hasidism, was never a hub of world events. Slavuta lay in Europe's backwaters. The then­ Russian town resembled thousands of other eastern European towns where Jews made their homes. It was within a larger zone, called the Pale, outside of which Russia forbade all Jewish residence.2 My grandfather, Samuel Landau, a few years Moshe's senior, was born nearby in the town of Satanov, about eighty miles from Slavuta. Moshe Feldenkrais and my Grandpa Sam were born in shtetls or shtetlakh (Yiddish for "towns") . These were usually midsize market towns in which a large proportion of the population was Jewish. While Jews had some auton­ omy with regard to intracommunal matters, everyone-Jews, Catholic Poles, Orthodox and Catholic Ukrainians, Germans, Gypsies-was subject to the arbitrary rule of the Russian czar and the whim of his officials. Post-Holocaust Jewry has taken pains to preserve the memory of these faraway neighborhoods and foregone lives. Audiotapes have captured many of their stories, and films have recorded their expressive faces. There are books devoted to naming and numbering the shtetls and their inhabitants, and one can look up Slavuta, Moshe's birthplace, in them.3 These towns-of little consequence in the supra­ historical scheme of things-were home to unique experiences, values, and insights. There are also many immigrant survivor societies, like my grandfa­ ther's Satanov club in Miami or Feldenkrais's mother's Baranovich group in Israel. Over the decades, as each region's immigrants arrived in the United States and Israel-first in great waves, later as a slower fallout from Europe's smoldering fires-these groups extended a nurturing camaraderie and worked

E A S T E R N E u R O P EA N R o o T s

t o improve the lives of their brethren. Many older ones m e t regularly for all their remaining years, exchanging the old cadences over card games and across dining tables. Moshe's mother, Sheindel (whose name means "pretty one" in Yiddish) , lived fully to the age of ninety, keeping the old world alive in her Tel Aviv home. It was she who carried the blood-link to Moshe's famous Hasidic ances­ tor, Rabbi Pinhas. She was born in Slavuta, the town of her well-to-do parents, Michael and Rivka (or Dvora) Pshater.4 Aryeh Feldenkrais, Moshe's father, came from the nearby town of Kremenets, southwest of Slavuta and closer to the border with Poland. Moshe was born in the Pshater's splendid home on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot on May 6, 1 904. Jewish society-family, friends, education, and religion-circumscribed Moshe's life as a child. As we learn about his family and his religious and cul­ tural background, we can better understand him and his work. Feldenkrais's heritage provided him both inspiration and obstacles and, indeed, the obsta­ cles, often proved his richest sources of inspiration. By western European standards, early in the twentieth century eastern Europe was socially and economically backward and provincial. The rail net­ work was only recently well established; industry and commerce remained rudimentary. Many lived simply off the land, and for all but Jews, literacy was the exception, not the rule. Over the preceding 400 years many Jews had settled in eastern Europe, the greatest number coming from the Germanic west.5 It is probable that Moshe's paternal ancestors migrated from Germany to settle near Sandomierz, southeast of Cracow, around 1 400. They would have brought with them a culture and tradition , as well as a primary language­ Yiddish-that set them apart from their Slavic neighbors.

George Feldenkrais, an American businessman whose family arrived in the United States via Cuba, is one of the small number of Moshe's living relations. George spoke about family origins with Baruch, Moshe's brother, who related a legend about why, centuries ago, the Feldenkrais family had arrived in eastern Europe: [There was] a very smart Feldenkrais child that a baron met and wanted to adopt from his Jewish father. This family saga tells that the father decided to flee Germany with his precocious son, and ended up in the Ukraine. 6

At the time that Moshe's ancestors settled near Sandomierz, Jewish prac­ tice, in common with that of Arab and Nordic peoples, used the father's name in place of a surname. Family surnames, in the parts of Poland where most Germanic Jews had settled, were uncommon until around 1 8 0 0 ; between



1 787 and 1 83 5 , fo r reasons o f taxation and conscription, they became legally required in various regions, including the Austrian Empire ( 1 787) and the Polish parts of Prussia ( 1 8 1 2) and Russia ( 1 82 1 ) .7 We do not know when the name "Feldenkrais" was adopted, but its Germanic nature suggests that it was registered under an Austrian or Prussian edict. Feldenkrais's students have sometimes wondered about the meaning and origin of the family name. There are at least a few plausible derivations. Following a literal translation from modern German, some have assumed that " Feldenkrais" derives from "circle in a field." But this may not be correct. In Jewish Family Names and Their Origins: An Etymological Dictionary, a far less gentle-and more evocative­ derivation is given. There, the name is traced from the Middle High German word veltkreiz, signifying the noise-the cries-of a batdefield.7A As the name veltkreiz was carried into Roman script, it appeared with various spellings, including Feldenkreis and Feldenkris. While still in Palestine, Moshe signed his citizenship document as Feldenkrayz, and published his j iujitsu book under Feldenkraiz. Later, in France, he ultimately settled on the Feldenkrais spelling. This adopts an s ending based on the ais from an older German, in contrast to the modern eis (both are phonetically equivalent to the English ice) . Most Jewish surnames from this time reflected a place name, an occupation, or a status. But what would a name that means "battlefield cries" reflect? It is a name to conj ure with. Historians call Poland "the battlefield of Europe. " D uring Poland's interminable struggle t o escape foreign domination, some Jews had made names for themselves as military heroes. Does Moshe's paternal name tell us that his forebears were Polish freedom fighters? Or perhaps they adopted the name in a very different, sardonic, spirit. Were they tired of the wars raging during Napoleonic times and all too aware that any name they chose would subject them to conscription? Then again, family legend has it that Moshe's paternal great-grandfather was a rabbi whose wits saved his village from Napoleon's army. Perhaps this rabbi was the one who chose the family name to make some kind of statement. Regardless of why it was chosen, under this derivation, the name " Feldenkrais" appears an artistic imitation of life dur­ ing those times, as if it belonged to a character in a historical novel. Further research may bring stronger evidence to light for a different origin of Moshe's surname, but for the time being it colorfully complements many of the other stories in this chapter. Plausibly, soon after acquiring the name, perhaps because of changes wrought by the wars and Poland's final partition by Prussia, Austria, and Russia in 1 79 5-Sandomierz itself changed hands several times, finally passing to Russia in 1 8 1 5-Moshe's ancestors left what had been Poland and moved farther east.


Slavuta, Moshe's birthplace, is midway between the Carpathian mountains and the Black Sea, about 1 5 0 miles west of Kiev; since 1 99 1 it has been within independent Ukraine. Rich and abundant agricultural land is one hallmark of the region. Slavuta is very green and, topographically, mostly Rat. The Goryn River, long, narrow, and deep, Rows through Slavuta on its way north to the Pripyat River. Beyond one of the many wooden bridges that span the river, lies a large pine forest. It is the namesake of the town, 'forest of the Slavs, ' Slavuta. Like so many villages and towns of eastern Europe, Slavuta appears to be a scene of pastoral simplicity, but historians know differently: fo r a thousand years eastern Europe has been a vortex of more or less continuous cultural and political changes. 8 Continuity of faith is a common explanation fo r the Jews' unparalleled endurance. But throughout its tumultuous history, Judaism has always been, as Mordecai Kaplan, founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, recognized, "an evolving religious civilization"9 that has "reconstructed" itself time and again. The Jewish people had to react to perturbations caused by an often hostile outside world. Because there were few options to change that world, Jewish civilization adapted its own economic, social, and religious life, evolving new practices and interpretive literature. Hasidism, eastern Europe's most distinc­ tive contribution to Judaism, sprang from cataclysmic episodes in Jewish history: the Chmielnicki massacres, perhaps the most extensive violence against a Jewish population prior to the Holocaust. 10 According to the Jewish chronicles, between 1 648 and 1 65 6 the followers of the Ukrainian Cossack Bogdan Chmielnicki massacred more than 1 00 ,000 Jews, one-fifth of the entire Jewish population of Europe. 1 1 Three years of mourning were proclaimed and dark times followed. Jewish faith plunged into chaos. From the more than 50 years of questioning and crisis that ensued arose the Hasidic movement, the most comprehensive movement of religious renewal in the history of the Diaspora. 12 The founder of Hasidism was called the Ba'al Shem Tov. He was a Ba'al Shem (Master of the Name) , a healer, and Hasidism is a tradition of healers. According to Moshe, the tale of the Ba' al Shem Tov was "like Jesus . . . [he] never wrote a word. It's only his life that made a difference . " 13 The Ba' al Shem Tov taught that ordinary life was like a garden that held the means to regenerate body and spirit. Peasant love songs, fables, and fairy tales could illuminate sacred texts. Activities such as singing, dancing, and storytelling were ways to cultivate "sparks of holiness, " awareness of a loving, ever-present Creator, who wants us to appreciate him in nature and in each other. Finding God's presence in all things leads to profound, even overwhelm­ ing, j oy. Suffering impedes a proper relationship with God, and the alleviation of suffering necessarily belongs to spiritual life. Hasidism was life affirming,



b u t its direction was n o t hedonistic. Perhaps its emphasis upon j oy healed the feelings of vulnerability that accompanied anti-Semitism. Perhaps it allowed that same vulnerability to foster a closer relationship to God and a new way of being with other people and nature. The Ba' al Shem Tov honored Jewish customs and traditions, but his way of encountering God's presence in all creation radically transformed Jewish prac­ tice. As the Hasidic movement spread, shouting, dancing, singing, and wild movements became part of communal services, all geared to produce bursts of rapturous prayer and induce ecstatic states. Rabbi Pinhas of Korets, 14 Moshe's maternal ancestor, was a member of the inner circle of the Ba' al Shem Tov, who loved and respected him. Pinhas had been an ascetic and a great scholar, especially of the Kabbalah, 15 but also of philosophy and mathematics. Meeting the Ba' al Shem Tov moved him to renounce asceticism and the primacy of the intellect and to become a healer. He then taught the presence of God in the natural world, the redemption even of the wicked through love, and above all, the power of simple goodness and humility. Rabbi Pinhas became renowned for his conduct and for his own wisdom stories. 16 I recall Moshe, in several intimate teaching situations, smiling and invok­ ing his ancestor as a secret resource, mischievously suggesting that Pinhas had whispered something in his ear. Moshe's affinity for Pinhas becomes more comprehensible the more we learn about him. Both men were teachers and healers, scholars of math and science, storytellers, and fierce individualists: " Rabbi Pinhas of [Korets] was intent on finding his own path rather than following a Master-any Master. " 17 Both fastened onto the importance of self-discovery and avoided conventional teacher/authority roles. They shared the conviction that students must learn from their experiences because we learn the most significant lessons from atten­ tion to our own lives. And, like his forebearer, Moshe taught that it is folly to separate body and mind. Pinhas of Korets had five, or possibly six, children by two wives. In the late 1 700s, one of Pinhas's four sons, Moshe Shapiro, established a Jewish publish­ ing house in Slavuta, the home of Moshe Feldenkrais's maternal grandparents. The press, which would later become famous, was one of the few Jewish print­ ing presses in the Russian Empire. Reb Moshe-rabbis in eastern Europe were often called Reb-was a talented artist and scribe who devised new printing techniques. His Talmudic publications were treasured for their beauty. As put in a biographical sketch from a book devoted to the late-in-life paintings of Feldenkrais's mother, Sheindel: The 'People of the Book' whose constant devotion to holy writings was the secret of their survival considered the Talmudical literature published at Slavuta more important than mere bread and meat. 1 8



The Slavuta press is known for first publishing, in 1 796, Rabbi Schneur Zalman's work, the Tanya, a paragon of Hasidic teaching and scholarship. Moshe, when [shown] this book by a student of his, raised his eyebrow in an indication of respect and said in his inimitable way "this is a profound book. . . . [Rabbi] Zalman was a genius, h e thinks like me. " 19

His ironic remark reveals Feldenkrais's familiarity with Hasidic literature.20 Michael's ancestors, long before acquiring the Pshater surname, probably under Russian edict,2 1 may have been among the first Jews who settled in Slavuta, around 1 600. Moshe's maternal grandmother was known as Rivka, or perhaps Dvora, Korets. Her father's name was Abraham David Irgo, so Korets was probably a middle name. 22 Rivka Korets married Michael Pshater and adopted his surname. Moshe was exposed to both sides of the Hasidic movement, one mystic, the other more modern, humanistic, and critical of Hasidism itself. Such reli­ gious divisions reflect the immensely complex culture that he was born into. Educated Jews often learned multiple languages , both religious and secular subj ects, and discovered from travel and travelers things that were going on far from their own settlements. Moshe received the nourishment of Hasidic wisdom from the time he was a baby. The stories and legends of Hasidism certainly enlivened his childhood years. In his maturity, we feel resonance with Hasidism in both the style and content of Moshe's work-in the way storytelling, for example, powerfully enriched his teaching. His emphasis on nonverbal learning and direct experi­ ence, as opposed to disembodied academic knowledge, parallels the Hasidic turn toward God as present in nature. Like Hasidism , his work blurred and recast the distinctions between healing and learning, spirit and flesh , and emotion and understanding. Like Hasidism, he emphasized and celebrated embodiment. The essential Hasidic challenge, to explore the divinity in what is closest and seemingly most ordinary, finds a clear but distant mirror in the title and subject of his last book, The Elusive Obvious. Its objective was to draw attention to the meanings and potentials of our everyday life , which too often are overlooked. Michael Pshater, Moshe's maternal grandfather, probably distilled for him much of the weight of this distinguished tradition. Michael stood at the apogee of an established life. He had become a timber merchant who traded in entire forests, a banker, and a respected religious scholar. He employed several hun­ dred workers. 23 When Harry Asher, Sheindel's brother, moved to Boston and opened a business there, the president of his bank told him that he had been a teller in his father's (Michael Pshater's) bank in Kiev.24 Though one day he

M o s H E F E L D E N KRA I S

would have his wealth stolen, Michael was never forced-unlike his children and grandchildren-to leave his home and build a life and a livelihood all over again; Slavuta would remain his home. Also unlike some of his children, Michael died a natural death.

In 1 977, during the first of many trips I made to Israel to study with Moshe, I met his French-born nephew, Michel Silice, later Silice-Feldenkrais. Years after Feldenkrais's death, on the numerous occasions I returned to Israel to research this book, I often met with Michel. Generous, like his great-grand­ father, Michael Pshater, Michel brought down from shelves heavy boxes of personal and professional photos, files, and documents for me to review. For long hours I sat with my tape recorder or notebook across the desk from Michel as he related with pride his family's tales. Michel, a smoker and a keen-witted polyglot like his uncle, would doze in the next room after his sandwich-he also shared with his uncle a gift for catnapping-while I scanned and culled his files or jotted down his stories on my laptop. Michel recounted that Michael Pshater, his namesake, was so intensely reli­ gious that "he broke a hole into the roof of his house to be closer to God. " It was for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, when Jews ritually re-create the sukkah, a symbolic likeness of the temporary dwellin gs used by their ancestors during their 40-year passage to Caanan (which would become Israel) . Michael Pshater applied his considerable resources and ingenuity to adapt his home, opening the roof of his dining room to make room in the heart of his house fo r the yearly construction of a sukkah. This architectural feat was so unusual that it lured many visitors to come and marvel at it.25 On one research trip to Israel, I met Lea Arav, an actress friend of Moshe's. Feldenkrais's mother treated Lea like a daughter. Lea spent a lot of time in the Feldenkrais household, listening spellbound to Sheindel's reminiscences. Lea absorbed from Sheindel's stories the world they described-the world from which Lea had been torn. She retold these stories to me in a trance-like state, her eyes moist and half shut. Lea's voice, accented by Yiddish, was hypnotic, sometimes dramatic, and sometimes chanting. Her voice carried me like a time machine into an exotic past. Lea, like Michel, had heard stories about Michael using his wealth mag­ nanimously and opening his house to all. Lea told how Michael made sure that every Jewish home in Slavuta had a proper Shabbat (Friday night Sabbath) meal.26 At the beginning of each week, women from Slavuta's poorest families often pawned their Shabbat candelabra to obtain a little cash. Every Friday, Michael Pshater visited the pawnshops and reclaimed these families' heir­ looms, returning the candleholders to their owners in time for them to light their candles for the Sabbath. 27 We have more detail from Gideon Katznelson's sketch of Sheindel's life:



From early in the morning t o late a t night a samovar stood on the huge table in the dining room ... and anyone who came in poured himself a glass of tea, and if he was hungry he also ate. Every Friday servants were sent to poor neighbours with food for the Sabbath, that the people might celebrate as was proper. When the sons and daughters of the labourers were married, their employer provided what was necessary for the new home. 28

Feldenkrais's mother Sheindel was born to Rivka and Michael in 1 88 0 . The large Pshater family included nine children; Sheindel was the second born and the oldest girl. Their house was so large that Sheindel had a bedroom of her own, as did each of her brothers and sisters-and each bedroom was warmed by its own stove. Sheindel told Lea how, in snowy winter, Rivka instructed her children to collect the ashes from their stoves every morning and carry them to the back of the house. They were then to walk outside and make a path of ashes over the snow and ice. One by one each would lay ashes on the ground j ust beyond those placed by the previous child. This was so that Dvora, the maid, could walk safely back through the yard to collect water, without danger of fall­ ing. The story evokes a glow of compassion, but also reminds us of a society of classes bound by duty to one another. Shtetl communities were stratified along the lines of education, occupation, and wealth. Even within the same craft, like leatherwork, there were subtle differences in status. The leading citizen of each town typically owned its larg­ est house-usually situated directly on the square where the market was held. There, in Slavuta, the Pshater home sat. And the Pshaters, as the leading citizens, carried the prestige and responsibility that belonged to their special position. Feldenkrais's intellectual and spiritual inheritance from the world of eastern European Judaism was intricately complex. H asidism was a part-perhaps the earliest part-of the weave. But his grandparents' approach to education shows how far Michael and Rivka had moved from their Hasidic forebears . Rather than insist on an exclusively Jewish education, the Pshaters hired tutors to give their children the best and broadest education available. Slavuta's resi­ dents probably spoke a mix of languages: Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, Yiddish, Romany, and German. Since Slavuta was part of the Russian empire, Sheindel was also taught the language of 'high' culture-Russian. During the holidays some student home from the university might also call upon the [Pshater] daughters and instruct them in some work of Russian literature or progressive Russian thought. As a result the girls made great use of the local library, which was well stocked with Russian books. 29

On her own initiative, Sheindel moved from learning to helping and did it with organizational skill. Sheindel became totally immersed in Russian literature [but she] was troubled by one thought: were all these treasures to remain hidden forever from the daughters of the poor



families in the little town, who could afford n o lessons . . . ? And a s action came naturally to her, she found volunteers among the other girls who knew Russian and organized evening classes for all of those girls who had no schooling at all owing to their parents' poverty. The classes in turn made her familiar with the other problems of these fami­ lies. It was in this way that she discovered her life's work, which was later to occupy all her thoughts and energies-the care of the sick and the lonely.3 0

In patterns we will find also with Moshe, Sheindel was a natural leader and teacher. She tutored the less fortunate girls in town. Raised with a strong sense of social responsibility, she cared for the helpless even later when she was her­ self impoverished. Sheindel took particular care to foster in her children the love of learning and an abiding sense of moral responsibility.

The story of Feldenkrais's life up to this point comes from what I have been able to gather and piece together from external, secondary sources. Soon you will hear more of Moshe's own, autobiographical voice. Feldenkrais intended an autobiography. He started on three occasions that we know about, and the details surrounding his aborted attempts appear in this and later chapters. The first effort was to be the subject of a French national television show. The third, final attempt came near the end of his life when he stopped teaching after becoming ill. The second time was entirely on camera, when he completed only two hours of a planned six-hour presentation, encompassing the period of his life through the 1 930s. Although these childhood memories, told when he was 75, may not be pristine in their accuracy as historical fact, they neverthe­ less form an important, irreplaceable part of his personal story. Excerpts from that two-hour video autobiography appear within the first three chapters of this biography. But Feldenkrais also left much unspoken and, therefore, much biographical responsibility has fallen on me. Now, to pick up the story where we left off-

Sheindel's modern education did not stand in the way of her parents strictly following Jewish custom when she reached marriageable age. According to Feldenkrais, "my grandfather, being a very wealthy man of such great descent, went to look [for a son-in-law] . "3 1 Above all , Michael Pshater wanted his son­ in-law to be a Talmudic scholar, so he traveled to Zvhil (the old Polish name by which Jews still called the town Novograd-Volynsk, about fifty miles from Slavuta) . It was home to a large yeshiva-a Jewish religious academy-the Yeshiva Zvhil. Michael had [many] daughters and two sons, and he had to marry them all. And he had to keep the husband [s] for a year or two [after they were married,] as guests,



keeping them a t home, and then, p u t them into o n e of h i s businesses. S o , to look for a husband for my mother, he went to Zvhil . . . to the head of the Yeshiva, and told him, "I have a daughter who is of age. I must find a nice husband, but I want a real fine, learned man, a fine man . "32

At that time the Yeshiva Zvhil was led by Rabbi Yoel Shirin, the Ilui of Poltava.33 To have been accorded the status of an Ilui meant that Rabbi Yoel had been recognized as a prodigy early in his schooling with regard to the interpretation of religious texts. Rabbi Yoel assured Michael that he had j ust the fellow, Aryeh hen Aryeh Feldenkrais, a man touched by genius, first in his studies, and of distinguished lineage. That Moshe's father had a name that said 'Aryeh son of Aryeh' is itself a story whose convolution Moshe enj oyed relating. Many Jews have the fam­ ily custom of honoring the most recently deceased ancestors by naming their children after them. But it is proscribed to name children after the living. Only because the elder Aryeh died before his son, an only child, was born could he be given his name. According to Moshe, his mother delivered Aryeh a few hours after the death of her husband. And so he was named after him. [Even so,] afterwards he was never called by his name . . . because they didn't like t o annoy the rabbi's wife b y mentioning his name, s o he was called Reb's lngele, 'the little boy of the rabbi . ' . . . And that name stuck to him even when he was grown up.

Concerning his father's lineage, the account we have from Moshe becomes somewhat more confusing in regard to another name: Yona. He several times appears to refer to his paternal grandfather as ' Rabbi Yona. ' Possibly this was another of the elder Aryeh's names. But it seems more likely that it was the name used by Moshe's great-grandfather. Moshe related, in the context of sto­ ries of exceptional conduct, that Rabbi Yona in his town was beloved as " 'ha-tov v'ha-meitiv', meaning 'the good and who does good. ' "34 In any case, it was his paternal grandfather whose reputation lived on for Moshe as having saved his village in Napoleonic times. Moshe's brother, who died young, would also be given the name 'Yona. ' Moshe's father, the younger Aryeh, "the little boy of the rabbi, " himself received a rabbinical certification in Novograd-Volynsk while in his twen­ ties. Although he never led a congregation, he retained the tide of "Rabbi . " And even after becoming a businessman, h e still immersed himself i n Jewish study. He was gifted with a photographic memory: If one stuck a pin any­ where through the pages of the Talmud, he could name every letter that the pin passed through. 35 So when Rabbi Yoel Shirin, the leader of the Yeshiva at Zvhil, brought Areyh forward, together with his commendable l i neage, Michael Pshater



accepted. It was not thought an issue that Aryeh was twenty years older than Sheindel. "My grandfather looked at him and, obviously, he took him. He was a hand­ some man and my mother was quite a beautiful woman. It turned out that [they were] a nice couple, though they were married in the old Jewish tradition, and [neither] ever saw the other [beforehand] . "36

Like many Jewish families who intermarried over the centuries, the Feldenkrais and Pshater families were probably distantly related. Like the Pshaters, Aryeh Feldenkrais's family was in the forestry business and also pos­ sessed affiliations with Hasidism . Aryeh even had cousins who came from Korets, the community from where Rabbi Pinhas first gained renown.37 Aryeh's gravestone in Tel Aviv reads that he descended from zaddikim-Hasidic holy men-in the Austro-Hungarian region of Volhynia. This area, once called Austro-Wolin or eastern Galicia, is now in western Ukraine. It lies below the Carpathian Mountains, near the boundary of what were the Russian and Hapsburg empires. In accord with her family's wishes, when Aryeh married Sheindel he moved into his father-in-law's house for a few years. Michael Pshater then established his son-in-law in business to ensure his ability to sustain his family. Although Aryeh had some experience in the forestry industry, he was nowhere near the level of his father-in-law. Previously a long-time bachelor, Aryeh now found himself learning a new role as a family man in his wife's family's business. Aryeh's position in the network of Pshater business interests was to supply charcoal specially processed from timber to fuel factories like the Sangushkos' textile mill3 8 in Slavuta. Aryeh's fine, black charcoal was so clean, "such perfect carbon, that it won't soil a white shirt. And it rings like metal . "39 In the nineteenth century, the Sangushkos' mill and textile factory were the pride of Slavuta and its main employers. Michael Pshater himself wore a luxu­ rious, green, fur-lined, full-length coat, an outstanding product of Sangushko workmanship. 4 ° Charcoal clean enough for use in textile manufacture, how­ ever, could be made only from a special type of dub (Russian for 'oak tree' ) . Aryeh traveled fa r from home for months on end t o find and secure suitable oak groves. After their marriage, while still living in her father's home, Sheindel gave birth to their first child, a baby boy. Michael Pshater's first grandson was given the name "Moshe" to honor Michael's deceased brother.41 Moshe was a very com­ mon Jewish name. Besides referring to the nonpareil biblical prophet, Moshe was the name of the most renowned Jewish figure of medieval Spain's golden age, Moses Maimonides. 42 Feldenkrais enjoyed quoting Maimonides' aphorisms and, in another instance of his mock conceit, applied to himself the honorific adage, "from Moshe to Moshe, there has never been such a Moshe." 43



Sheindel delighted in her own little Moshe 'Maimonides. ' She dressed him in finery, and told how she bathed him in milk. 44 Feldenkrais himself recalled: I had a white sort of fur coat, white hat, some white things sewn around them, everything white. 4 5 I remember I had a kind of velvet coat with buttons. It had big buttons and when I was passing in the street, whoever met me turned me around and kissed me and it disturbed me greatly and I didn't like it. 46 When my mother went with me in the street, there wasn't a person that didn't stop and look after the little boy who went after. 47

Michael Pshater's role in the economic life of Slavuta bespoke close coopera­ tion with the town's Polish nobility, the Sangushkos, owners of Slavuta's textile mill and much of its property. That connection wasn't limited to business: Sheindel was friends with the daughter of a Sangushko noble, and they enjoyed studying Russian literature together. Feldenkrais recalled, "I remember she said to my mother, this one [Moshe] is going to have as many girls as he's got but­ tons on his coat." 48 As we shall see, her prophecy was to be fulfilled. Although he grew up far from the cultural centers of New York, London, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin, Feldenkrais found intense intellectual stimulation within his own family. There were stacks of books rising to the tops of high shelves and scattered on tables over which arguments flew concerning points of Talmud. At his grandfather's house, he could have browsed a library of modern European science, philosophy, politics, and literature, as well as Judaic texts. For their next child, born around two years after Moshe, Aryeh and Sheindel chose the name 'Yona. ' 4 9 When Feldenkrais was a small child, his grandmother Rivka, at the end of her childbearing years, gave birth to a deaf baby girl. Though younger than Moshe, little Ruchama was his aunt. Feldenkrais must have learned a great deal from coming to grips with, and understanding, Ruchama's limitations. Ruchama would live her entire life either with her parents or with siblings. It is from a fascinating source that we learn how the experience of Ruchama brought the very young Moshe a sense of his own vulnerability: In his late six­ ties, while in a light trance, he related on tape impressions and stories from his early childhood. He told them to Eva Kirschner, a devoted friend and student, and an Adlerian therapist. On the tape, Feldenkrais quietly intones how he felt some fear that he too might be somehow genetically susceptible to the disability of his aunt. 5 0 But if this memory, elicited through age-regression hypnosis, does come from Moshe when he was very young, he would not have been thinking of genes when he first realized Ruchama's inabilities. His initial response might have been the sense that it could have been him, the question of why it wasn't, and perhaps a feeling that he should have been able to do something to help.



From Feldenkrais's earliest years, while he still lived in Slavuta, I have a few more memories to relate. One is an incident I remember from reading the early pages of his last attempt at autobiography. He penned it laboriously while recovering from a brain trauma at age 77. At that time some thought that Feldenkrais was writing both because the objective was worthwhile and as a rehabilitation exercise. Exercise had nothing to do with it; he didn't believe in exercises. But he did believe in fulfilling his dreams, and here, on the occa­ sion of his being otherwise unable to work, was a chance to finish telling his life story. Feldenkrais began writing in early summer 1 982 and completed 1 00 pages over the next nine months. He stopped writing around the time his health began to fail in late February 1 98 3 . 51 This is a story from his early childhood, one of the first from this lost auto­ biography. He told of his delight in climbing the tower on the other side of the market square from his home in Slavuta. A circle of Jewish shops, divided by four gateways, surrounded the open pedestrian zone around the tower. The three-story vantage point of its summit no doubt seemed high to the small child. Moshe observed the bustle of the townspeople in the market, as they greeted each other, coming and going, buying and selling their candles, flour, and potatoes. He strove to fathom the behavior of the more peculiar person­ alities, especially the mad and the infirm. Even as a small boy, Feldenkrais was keenly aware of character and movement, and questioned people's limi­ tations. An odd feeling of responsibility troubled him at the sight of a man with Parkinson's disease, and he searched within himself for a power to help.52 Why should this small child feel responsible for an unrelated person's disease? The fact that this incident found a place in his autobiography suggests that Feldenkrais believed that such feelings were close to the roots of his ultimate vocation. In another very early incident, Feldenkrais recalled playing under a tree with a young Christian girl, the daughter of a Sangushko noblewoman. Her mother invited him inside the gates of the estate, and, although he was afraid, he agreed. The lady served the children hot chocolate and brought out a vol­ ume of photographs to share. Mounted hunting trophies loomed on the wall. Moshe was uneasy, awed by the trappings of nobility, and somehow suspicious that she would lure him to become a Christian.53 Like other Jewish children growing up in the shadows of Christians, Moshe struggled to understand his place in the larger society. Interactions with Christians, and especially the nobility, were highly charged. These scenes from Jewish Slavuta belong to a place that no longer exists. Only a few hundred Jews now live in Slavuta, where there were about 1 2,000 in 1 926.54 The Nazis burned the Slavuta shtetl to the ground. The visual detail of the town's pre-Holocaust layout we owe to Moshe's cousin, Dr. Lea Shlosberg, who remained in Slavuta until the Nazis' arrival. The last Feldenkrais relation



to leave Slavuta, Lea managed a miraculous escape from the Nazis, involving an icy trek halfway across Russia, past the Ural Mountains. Full of bitter, abid­ ing memories of the long Stalinist period, she finally arrived in Israel when Soviet restrictions on Jewish emigration were first released in the 1 980s. Then, late in life, through hard work, she earned a medical degree. Jeremy Krauss, another former student and colleague, took the train with me to Haifa to hear and translate her recollections.

The Feldenkrais family moved, probably when Moshe was around four years old, from Slavuta to the town of Kremenets, 55 where Aryeh Feldenkrais's mother and her brother made their home. Kremenets was close to the border with Poland, about seventy miles south and west of Slavuta. In 1 90 9 , Sheindel-while living in Kremenets-became pregnant with her third son, Berel, who was later renamed Baruch, which means 'blessed' in Hebrew. Like Moshe, Baruch Feldenkrais possessed an incisive mind, a proclivity for humor, and an amazing memory. 5 6 But Moshe's more outward­ looking, theatrical, and ambitious character contrasted with his brother's quiet and gentle manner and the intense devotion and singular focus he brought to his family. Of their children, Baruch always remained the closest to Aryeh and Sheindel. In character, Baruch took after his timid father, while Moshe more resembled their powerhouse mother, Sheindel. Another sibling, a different home, and elders now from his father's side of the family only begin to tell how Feldenkrais's life would be different in Kremenets. Jews had settled in Kremenets in the 1 300s, 300 years earlier than in Slavuta. It was the site of a yeshiva and a large, prosperous Jewish commu­ nity. But while the town's roots were venerable, Jewish culture in Kremenets was shaped by more contemporary crosscurrents than in Slavuta. The Kremenets region, long known as Volhynia, verges on the Carpathian Mountains in the west. Kremenets is on the plateau of the Volhynian uplands. It is set in the beautiful valley of the Ikva River. It is a city of churches, with their steeples and domes visible at every turn. The surrounding forested mountains veil a fortress dating from the twelfth century. We have Feldenkrais's own childhood voice to tell us of his years in Kremenets, descriptive and poetic writing from when he was eleven years old, perhaps two years after his family moved from Kremenets to the town of Baranovich (Polish Baranowicz) . The source is an assignment book completed over the course of the 1 9 1 5 school year in the class of his Hebrew teacher, Mr. Gutman. For an 8 8-year-old document, this notebook remains in remarkably good condition. We can be sure it did not lie crumpled in Moshe's knapsack on his six-month journey by foot, rail, and boat to Palestine; neither did it travel from Palestine by boat to France and by rail to Paris; nor was it pressed between



secret war papers when, escaping the Nazis, he traveled by foot, car, rail, and ship to England and Scotland; and it wouldn't have been among those belong­ ings-dozens of boxes packed in England-which were shipped to France, driven again to port, and finally reshipped to Israel. No, the childhood assign­ ment book was already there when he returned to Israel, brought by his mother. Among his mother's prized possessions, it was cherished and protected all those years, an irreplaceable memento of her always-on-the-move son, an obj ect­ unlike her son-whose position she could fix, touch, and hold. The notebook is a storehouse of information about Moshe's early life. Usually we are limited to what Feldenkrais remembered-and chose to tell­ from his later years. But here are perceptions about his early world and inner life as he lived through them. The essays exhibit young Moshe's precocious intelligence, his sharp powers of observation, and a delicate aesthetic. Passages where Moshe is immersed in nature, and outside the world of adults, seem particularly vivid, as in this essay, "The Grass:" Small green heads rise from the ground. They grow from day to day until they become as tall as a boy. This is the grass. The wind blows through the grass and it begins to sway. It is so pleasant to play hide-and-seek then. All the children hide between the tall grass and look at the pure sky. They listen to the secrets that the blades of grass tell each other. This is how we will dream as we lay down and forget the game. All as one we sink in deep thoughts. Tomorrow too stands still like a stone and so on until nightfall. And we all return home.57

Mia Segal, Feldenkrais's first assistant-one of the people who knew the man and his work better than anyone else-said that the translation fails to convey the marvelous poetic quality of his simple and archaic Hebrew. The booklet is lined and filled with clear, blockish Hebrew script, with few cross­ ings out. In essays with names that include "The Crazy, " " Rain on the Friday, " "If I Were King, " and "The Clouds," young Moshe muses about nature, town life, family, people, religion, and politics, and shares memories of his former and favorite home, Kremenets. Moshe wrote: [Kremenets] is famous for its synagogue. It is big, wide and very tall. . . . The synagogue has been standing for more than 1 00 years. They also say that Czar Nikolai the First set the cornerstone for the synagogue. The town is surrounded by very tall mountains. The top of the mountains is ruled by the cold. From there you can see the entire town and 1 00 verst5 8 beyond. 5 9

The 'mountains' around Kremenets tower impressively over the town, but they are not as high as they probably seemed to the young Feldenkrais. His familiar surround had been the lowlands of Slavuta. The active young Moshe happily wandered those flowering hills, where there are today, besides Kremenets Park, six regional nature preserves filled with flora and fauna. As he writes in his notebook, in a chapter called, "The Sky: "



When I was a child, the sky seemed like a hat on the world. When w e lived i n Kremenets, we would climb the surrounding mountains. It seemed t o m e that the skies came down on the earth . I would start running to hold in my hand the wonderful blue stuff that made up the sky. I would run until I got tired and then I would sit down for rest. But now I know that the skies are not made of stuff that we can feel in our hands. Still I love the sky very much . . . . I also like the clouds very much. I sit silently and watch the clouds. 60

As dusk fell, Moshe made his way down the slopes to a home filled with good-humored laughter, warmth, and security. The image of little Moshe chasing the sky to catch it in his hand amuses and intrigues. Part of the passage's intrigue is its early foreshadowing of his later theoretical interest in how we construct reality through our multimodal experi­ ences and interactions with the world. In particular, it underlines the striking difference between how we perceive objects that show themselves through one sense versus those we encounter with at least two senses. A familiar example is how the sun and moon appear larger, distorted in size, when they lie near the horizon. Feldenkrais later pointed out that the apparent size of objects we familiarly move and touch in everyday life does remain constant at different distances and against different backgrounds; kinesthetic experience teaches us not to be mislead by an image. 61 In The Elusive Obvious, Feldenkrais cites experiments performed by the gestalt psychologist lvo Kohler, although in Moshe's book he is credited as a 'ski instructor, ' which he was also. The scientist had his student-subj ects wear prism glasses that turned their visual worlds upside down. In a few days their brains accomplished the astonishing feat of inverting that retinal image, to again allow normal perception and movement. But when they removed their glasses, the world again stood on its head. For one subject, the next return to normalcy occurred at a particularly revealing moment: as he watched snow fall upward outside his window, he reached out, and as he touched the snow, everything again turned right side up. 62 Life in a shtetl did not preclude travel for its more affluent and cultured residents. Indeed, as with Feldenkrais's father, travel was often essential to their livelihoods. Besides visiting relatives, Moshe's family frequently visited Odessa, the major Ukrainian port on the Black Sea. Rail lines focusing on Odessa were already in place by 1 870. In Odessa, life's possibilities were sketched in larger scales than in the shtetls. It was probably Feldenkrais's first cosmopolitan experience, long before he made a home in such imperial capitals as Paris and London. Odessa was an exotic city, a historical crossroads of culture between East and West, North and South. It was the Russian nexus of secular Jewish culture, home to Jewish writers and musicians, as well as an early center of Zionism. Finally, and even today, Odessa was a resort destination. More than



once Sheindel traveled t o Odessa's seacoast health spas. There she took the 'grape cure , ' a diet consisting exclusively of grapes, reputed to cure numer­ ous maladies. Feldenkrais wryly cited his mother's grape cure as one dubious example among myriad health fads, all of which he regarded skeptically. Kremenets was not on the rail line that stopped in Slavuta, but it was not so far from the Pshater household. During these years frequent visits maintained Feldenkrais's sense of belonging to quite a sizable clan. Among the journeys to Slavuta-four hours each way in a horse-drawn cart-an anniversary celebra­ tion of his grandparents' shone bright as a star in his memory. Its impression on him is hard to overestimate, particularly because the ensuing darkening times offered nothing to compare with its brilliance. One hundred and three guests were present, most of them relatives, many of them dignitaries . Feldenkrais remembered sitting on his grandfather's lap, who "sat like a king at the table. " 63 Being Michael's favorite grandchild, Moshe may have imagined himself an heir apparent, a prince. He was in awe of his tall and powerful grandfather, dressed in fine cloth and presiding with regal bearing over the momentous event. Had it been in a nineteenth-century novel, that scene of celebration and domestic grandeur would have served to show the high point, and the begin­ ning of the end, of a small dynasty. Feldenkrais admiringly studied his grandparents' fine, monogrammed plates. He watched the lights that danced hypnotically in the reflections from his diminutive grandmother's j ewels. He wandered through the comfortingly familiar-and yet hauntingly immense-palace, eating sweets and visiting the separate kitchen that was used only once a year during the eight days of Pesach (Passover) . He visited the stream that ran beside the house where he had played as a toddler. His doting aunts chased him, teased, tickled, and showered him with affection. He ran gleefully to his grandfather's specially constructed suk­ kah, its roof covered with branches, like a modern patio room but imbued with spiritual symbolism. 64 The anniversary memories of security and solidarity are based on Feldenkrais's audiotaped trance work with the psychologist Eva Kirschner, mentioned earlier. Memories carrying diametrically opposite feelings, also from times at his grandfather's house, are on the same tape: Strange memories . . . I have . In the town was shooting and the house of grand­ father was opposite the big [market] plaza. And I remember, every Jew that went there, they shot him. And they went into [our] house and destroyed. And we went to this uncle because he had a basement. It was three stories down . . . . There was an unseen door that you could go down. And [down this] basement there was another door. It was three floors in the ground, and there was a hole, and I remember when we came there . . . I ran into the house, we ran through the house, and they destroyed, killed. And [we] went into the basement, and we sat there day and night in the basement. It was eternity. 6 5



The uncle was Lea Shlosberg's father Simha. Later, during Soviet times, Lea recalled that hiding place served for marinating pickles or to scare her as a child with threats of imprisonment should she misbehave. There may well have been pogroms in Slavuta i n 1 90 5 or 1 906-there were several hundred in Russia during this period. 66 Feldenkrais would have been j ust two years old then . Perhaps his account involves vague memories of events that only took an explicit shape for him as he absorbed his family's narratives. Or the memory may have been of a pogrom that was never docu­ mented. One way or another, these memories bring home an essential part of Jewish experience in eastern Europe: Even the lives of the most prosperous, well-established families rested on foundations that, from month to month, were desperately insecure.

Among Michel Silice-Feldenkrais's family photos I found fading sepias of young women wearing fine white clothes, adorned with white hats. They are probably photos of Sheindel's sisters, the aunts who doted on Moshe. Taken at a family gathering near the beginning of the twentieth century, perhaps at the anniversary itself, they were printed on remarkably thick cardboard stock, as durable as what is used today to make puzzles for toddlers. No one knows now for sure who they were. When I met with Hana Elter, Moshe's cousin, a daughter of one of Sheindel's brothers and a practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method, she cried at seeing some of the old pictures, grieved by what has been forgotten, and touched by my attempt to preserve those memories and images of her relations. Moshe's enculturation was saturated with the already tragic history of the region, ongoing reminders of]ewish vulnerability. Of Kremenets he writes: In the yard [of the synagogue] there is a very old cemetery where the tombstones tell its age. In this cemetery are buried the Jews that were killed by Chmielnicki, the head of the Cossacks. 67

(It was in 1 680 that Kremenets suffered one of the many pogroms that are part of Chmielnicki's legacy.) Moshe's school assignment book also tells of Kremenets's more contemporary significance: Kremenets is known as the town where the famous writer Rabbi Yitzhak Bar Levinsohn [Isaac Baer Levinsohn] was born and lived all his life. He died a lonely man . . . and did not leave behind any heirs . But spiritual heirs he left behind many. And the seed of knowledge that he planted in our town was not in vain because it bore great fruits. 68



Isaac Baer Levinsohn ( 1 78 8 - 1 860) was the fo remost proponent of the

Haskalah movement in Russia. 69 Haskalah Judaism had origins in western Europe during the eighteenth century. A Jewish 'Enlightenment' movement, it emphasized rationality and bridging the cultural differences between Jews and Christians. Levinsohn was instrumental in bringing Haskalah to eastern Europe,7° where it became a powerful cultural force during the nineteenth century. Haskalah promoted Hebrew and Russian literacy in education and the pursuit of secular sciences, handicrafts, and agriculture. Levinsohn used schol­ arship to prove that the Jews were originally an agricultural people; it was only because of the historical restrictions placed on Jews that trade had assumed such a central role in Jewish life. Under Levinsohn's leadership, and assisted by the czarist state, an extensive network of Jewish state schools were established that changed the model of Jewish education. Haskalah took strong root in Kremenets, as it had in nearby Brody, but in Kremenets there was a particularly heated competition for influ­ ence between Haskalah and the entrenched Hasidic lineage. Hasidim accused Levinsohn ("may his name be blotted out forever, " typically uttered after the name of the person being cursed) of bringing atheism to Russia.71 This dispute was one of many between Hasidism and its opponents that enlivened Jewish cultural life for generations. But, in the mid 1 800s, even former opponents of Hasidism united against the Haskalah as a common enemy. Concerning Levinsohn, Moshe's schoolbook writing continued, They say, in his lifetime he had many opponents but with his death they recon­ ciled with his ideas. The prooffor it is that two years ago, at the 5 0th anniversary of the death of this great man, the learned men of Kremenets held a memorial ceremony at the big synagogue and among the people that attended were many of the Hasidic people.72

Moshe's words show an openness to both Hasidic and Haskalah ideas­ more evidence that his family was not doctrinaire but tended toward the kind of thoughtful questioning that characterized his adult intellectual life. The Haskalah educational reforms took root, but after the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1 8 8 1 , it became evident that Jews would never be accepted into the established system. Alexander II had been a humane, beloved, reform-minded ruler, who freed the serfs and enfranchised the Jews. With his death, life for Russian Jewry took a long step backward. Old restrictions were reimposed and new ones added. When peasants, workers, and students agi­ tated against the czarist regime, it adopted a policy of inciting violence against Jews to deflect the emerging revolutionary movement.73 In response, the polarities of Jewish culture grew extreme: Hasidism turned toward the past, forsaking the spontaneity that had been its wellspring. And the Jews who had been drawn to Haskalah embraced the new utopian rationalisms



of Marxism and Zionism. Both called on Jews to bring into being a new world where they would no longer be unwelcome. Feldenkrais's parents were among the many who embraced the Zionist vision. The persecutions that began in 1 8 8 1 , continued all the way through the Russian Revolution and even past the Bolshevik victory in 1 9 1 7. Feldenkrais's influential grandfather was able to shelter his family to some extent through his close ties to Christian businessmen and leaders. In fact, the eventually powerful Ukrainian nationalist, and controversial historical figure, Simon V. Petliura, had even been his houseguest. Feldenkrais's thinking and character evolved against the backdrop of brutal anti-Semitism. His Jewish identity was shaped by its threats and restrictions. As a small child he heard the tragedy of his relatives, the Shapiro brothers, grandsons of Rabbi Pinhas. Pogroms and other examples of anti-Semitism, current or recent, echoed the tales of persecution that filled Jewish history and liturgy. At a very young age, Feldenkrais developed a defiant attitude toward any persecution and grew determined to acquire the means to defend himself. In the books Feldenkrais would come to write, we occasionally find anec­ dotes that give insights about his formative experiences. In The Potent Self he remembers being taken to a small village in early childhood where I saw a pig being killed for Christmas. The gory sight and the screams of the animal made an indelible impression on me. I imagined myself tied up and helpless in the hands of adults, who could, after all, do the same thing to me if they decided to do so. I can now see quite clearly how my previous experience led to great sensitivity on this plane and how subsequent events confirmed me in my apprehension. I had to become strong and always be ready. And only later, on reaching a Black Belt standard in j udo, did I to a "certain measure work out the kink in me due to that unfortu­ nate experience."74

Feldenkrais's wide-ranging athleticism developed his remarkable strength and capabilities and furrhered his goals of self-defense. For him, physical prow­ ess, intelligence, and mobility in both thought and action were matters of life and death. He also greatly admired others' exhibitions of prowess, speed, agil­ ity, and grace. At his grandfather's house an older cousin, also named 'Moshe, ' taunted him with his enormous strength. The cousin leaped onto an ox and rode it through the street. Not to be bettered, Moshe was proud when he grew strong enough to wrestle an ox to the ground.75 Feldenkrais's competitive streak went beyond wrestling oxen; he soon took pleasure in trying to pull old and stubborn ideas to the ground.

By 1 9 1 2 , the Feldenkrais family moved north to the larger town of Baranovich, almost 300 miles from Kremenets . Baranovich is located in


M o s H E F E L D E N K RA I S

present-day Belarus, about 1 00 miles southwest o f Minsk. Like Slavuta and Kremenets, Baranovich lay within the Pale, in the block of territory Russia had annexed in the second partition of Poland in 1 793, and Jews there were subject to the same czar-imposed restrictions. Historically, the Jews in the region were even poorer than the Volhynian Jews of Slavuta and Kremenets. And the young town of Baranovich lacked amenities. Most houses made no provision for hot water; people took cold showers in their houses' outside toilets. Feldenkrais remembered taking cold showers as a boy. For the rest of his life he could take his showers hot or cold. Michel Silice-Feldenkrais heard his mother and uncles tell tales of Baranovich's poor. They were so poor-one humorous story had it-that to save money, some hung pieces of sugar from their ceilings to lick before sipping their tea.76 From young Moshe's assignment book we have a taste of how he passed the time at home in Baranovich: As you know, readers, every house has fowls and animals. In our house too there are fowls and animals. The fowls are our favorite, particularly the ducklings . When they wash in the puddles, one j umps, another skips, a third floats, and all are happy. I stand then by the window and throw bread crumbs out.77

Baranovich was founded as a railway station in 1 87 1 by the Moscow-Brest Public Railways . But even on maps from the 1 8 80s the town does not yet appear, and we hear that "the town was [when the Feldenkrais family came] only some twenty-years old and growing rapidly. "78 Baranovich was a strate­ gic intersection. There, the east-west rail line connecting Poland with Russia crossed the north-south line that connected the Baltic states with Ukraine. It gained a reputation as a boomtown. Afrer 1 90 3 , when it was authorized for Jewish residence, the town became a magnet for many enterprising young Jews.79 Stores and shops lined one side of the main street; only farms were on the other side. Because by law Jews were prohibited from living on farmland, they could live on only one side of the street. Baranovich became a focal point for the business of provisioning soldiers. The town grew exponentially, and storehouses, warehouses, and workshops sprang up. The city's buildings appear rustic, for they were constructed from logs harvested from the heavy forests surrounding the town. 80 Aryeh Feldenkrais's timber business found a natural home in Baranovich, where both forests and rail transportation existed together. (We will see that Aryeh, and Moshe too, made frequent journeys from Baranovich to Slavuta.) The move to Baranovich was likely meant to coordinate Aryeh's capabilities with Michael Pshater's business. Aryeh had probably intricately assessed the social and economic value of moving his family to Baranovich. Bur the exigen­ cies of history, especially for Jews, gave even 'intelligent' choices unpredictable outcomes; Aryeh's ostensibly promising move could not have led his family to a more precarious location.


The Feldenkrais family may have been among the earliest passengers riding the new railroad from Kremenets to Baranovich. A 1 9 1 0 map shows the link to Kremenets still under construction and the line through Slavuta not yet begun. As I read Sholem Aleichem's 1 9 1 0 short story, " Baranovich Station, " I could imagine Moshe's family in the ethnic b ustle of those train compartments, amidst the cascades of rumors, news, and tall tales that rushed as if to keep up with the train as it clattered down the tracks. 8 1 Baranovich appears t o have been a harsh place, much less inviting than Kremenets. Feldenkrais was unhappy about his family's move, at least initially. He regretted having to move so far from his grandparents and aunts and los­ ing his beloved hills around Kremenets. In 1 9 1 5 , Moshe knew Hebrew well enough to lament in his schoolbook: I loved picking roses. In our city Kremenets we had two big parks in which there were mostly roses . . . When they begin to develop, they open like a goblet with seeds inside. From afar it looks like a goblet full of sweet wine . . . One gardener taught me how to pick the roses . . . If you do not cut in the right place new flow­ ers will not grow on it anymore. Now that we live in Baranovich there are no roses that I loved so much, and I miss them beyond words. 82

Love of nature appears again and again in young Feldenkrais's writing, and perhaps even shaped his aspirations, as in his fantasy essay titled " Botanical Garden:" I am a botanical gardener. All day I work in the garden that is so dear to me. In the early morning I awake and get to my work. I first plant the fresh, wet plants. Then I fix the rows destroyed by thieves. I sweep the garden, and water the new flowers and plants. They nod their heads as if to thank me. With j oy I enter my home to eat my meal. As evening falls, I water the flowers and rows again. It makes me so happy to pick a bunch of flowers in my hand that give a good and pleasant smell. I am even happier when I see the trees with falling buds and early fruits already appearing. I see that all my work was not in vain, for I earn money from the fruits of my garden, which are praised and famous. 83

Moshe's parents' last child, Malka, meaning ' Queen, ' was born i n Baranovich in 1 9 1 4 . She was the only girl, 8 4 and Moshe adored his little sis­ ter. In his schoolbook is a section called "My Family, " but it is written almost entirely about Malka: Members of my family are few. Berween them I like my little sister most. A rwo­ and-a-half-year-old girl who is always quiet. Only if you rake her doll or ball does she begin to cry. When she was sick, she was prohibited from going outside. When she was allowed to go out, how happy she was! Like a poo r person looking for sustenance who suddenly finds great happiness and needs no gift from human


beings. When she came i n from outside she immediately ran t o m e and leaned against my knees. A slight shiver runs through my body from her gentle touch. In the early morning when I go into the room to get a book she runs [outside] after me. Mother of course follows her to protect her and to bring her back. When mother [catches up with her] , she looks with begging eyes so mother would sym­ pathize. There is a sad expression in her soft face when she has to return home. When I come home from the heder or the synagogue on Shabbat or Yorn Tov, she runs toward me with open arms like Abraham toward the three guests. 85

Though he would never have children of his own, a striking empathy with children stayed with Feldenkrais all his life. And we can see here that-even as a child-he was unusually sensitive to the power and feelings of gentle touch. As an adult he avowed that touch is "the most healing force in the world. " 86

Moshe's assignment schoolbook, written at age eleven, also reveals his sense of humor and his early interest in psychology. Writing about life in Baranovich, he is an astute observer: In our town there are many crazy people. Most of them went crazy due to too much study. One crazy person, Lebish, is his name, tends to walk in the streets and yell "bread, money. " If a boy throws a potato at him on the street he starts licking it in his hands and yells "af-ha-paf-pas . " And there is another one whose name [is] Mendel. He runs constantly, because rough boys scare and chase him. He walks in his crumbled hat, torn pants, big torn boots, with a stick in his hand like our fathers during the exodus from Egypt. And there is another one that swears at the whole world. He swears with every part of his body. 8 7

As a heder (religious school) boy, Feldenkrais was intensely studious. Here he describes a day at school: In the morning I wake up, wash, get dressed, go over my homework to remem­ ber it well. Then I drink a cup of tea and go to the heder. The teacher has not yet arrived, and I review the homework for the third time. When we see the teacher coming, all the boys immediately sit down around the table. During the lesson there is silence. But there is one boy that tells a joke or makes a face and all the boys laugh. Then there is a very short break. We hardly get to take a book in our hands and the break is over. When I come home, I read in the book for half an hour. Then I do my homework for about three or four hours. The oral homework I leave for the evening. At the sixth hour [6 pm?] all the boys who study with the same teacher get together and we go into the woods. When we are between the tall bushes I stand still and look at the sky like a dreamer. I dream pleasant dreams. When I return I drink tea or read or chat a little and then go to sleep. 88


With the possible exception of the few years after he first immigrated to Palestine, Feldenkrais had scholarly habits for the rest of his life.

Baranovich built three synagogues and two yeshivas within twelve years after the first Jews arrived-a testament to the immense energy devoted to religious life. Close to Vilnius (Russian Vilna, Polish Wilno) , 89 the center of Talmudic scholarship, Baranovich was a town of Mitnagdim,90 who emphasized learning the Talmud and the intellectual side of]udaism, as opposed to the emotionally expressive worship of the Hasidism. Kremenets had hosted arguing rabbis. The battles in Baranovich, how­ ever, would be fo ught within and beyond religion-between broad social movements and between armed soldiers. In Kremenets, traditional religious sensibility faced opposition from the rationalistic Haskalah. In Baranovich, the new ideological movements of Marxism and Zionism laid siege to the entire religious establishment.

Zionism gained momentum after pogroms in the 1 8 80s made the Haskalah ideal of assimilation seem ever more doubtful. By the late 1 8 00s, increas­ ing numbers of the four million Jews of eastern Europe shared the Zionist dream.91 Feldenkrais's parents, who frequented the Zionist center of Odessa, had adopted Zionism. Moshe's father grew up as a yeshiva scholar. Zionism's political dimension, the desire for self-determination and "nationhood," may have been a revolution in Aryeh's religious identity. Revitalizing the Hebrew language was a Zionist ambition. Haskalah also promoted a Hebrew revival, but for different reasons: they envisaged speak­ ing Hebrew as a way to maintain faith and identity while Jews became active citizens, assimilated into the greater society. For the Zionists, Hebrew would be the secular language of the new Jewish nation. Feldenkrais's father insisted that his son perfect his Hebrew even before he had full command of Russian. He knew that Moshe would pick up Russian in the normal course of life, whereas Hebrew required an extra effort.92 Moshe's assignment book reveals that he attained fluency at an early age; soon he was reading the Zionist newspapers coming out of Poland and Russia. His notebook contains an amusing and revealing Hebrew essay that reflects eleven-year-old Moshe's thinking about governance, j ustice, and social order. Utopian threads of both Hasidism and Haskalah are apparent, but here, in "If I Were a King, " perhaps due to its religious school context, we do not yet find Communist or Zionist themes: If I were a king I would build myself sixty castles and in every castle I would seat ten persons of every people. If someone transgresses and hurts another, [he]


would b e brought for trial before ten o f his own people . . . And I would give people many discounts so they would love me and respect me. I would appoint righteous j udges who would not take bribes . . . I would equalize standards for all people to be the same as for my people. I would prohibit people from call­ ing each other names . . . All citizens and residents would not hate me but would love me and be devoted to me with all their soul. If there were a war, the people would be strengthened by their love for their king who is good to them. They would all volunteer and defeat the enemy with surprisingly wonderful craftiness so there would not be too many dead people . . . They would defeat the enemy not by spilling blood but rather in wisdom. I would allow them to build schools, colleges and all they desire if it were beneficial and possible to accomplish. But for now this is a dream. There is a lot of work to be done until we reach such a kingdom, the kingdom of righteousness.93

Although the move to Baranovich had been a difficult adj ustment, Feldenkrais was resilient, and Baranovich held unique attractions. The town was intellectually lively and culturally stimulating. Among the new organiza­ tions spreading Zionist values through eastern Europe were youth groups with an athletic emphasis. (The Israeli Maccabi games originated from Zionist groups in eastern Europe . ) Given his love of sports, Feldenkrais probably participated in their activities. Out of young Moshe's intellectual enthusiasm grew passions for physics and mathematics, and he became absorbed in the emerging sciences of neurology and psychology. He tended to choose books that pointed toward people's untapped potentials. I read an enormous amount of Fore! . . . [August] Fore! was one of the first who wrote about sex and the way we now conceive it. It was one of the first books [for meJ . . I read it when I was 1 2 years old. 94 .

August Henri Forel ( 1 848- 1 93 1 ) was one of the great biologists at the turn of the twentieth century. Feldenkrais was excited about a book Forel published in 1 90 5 , at the height of his scientific reputation. The Sexual Question was widely read, and made Forel's name synonymous with controversy. In it he demanded complete legal equality of the sexes, recognition of domestic labor, decriminalization of all consensual sexual activity, and the free availability of contraceptives. Forel's avant-garde stances helped plant the seeds for Feldenkrais's contri­ butions to the j ust-beginning, century-long sexual revolution. Feldenkrais's 1 949 Body and Mature Behavior advanced his own ideas about sex, and his posthumous The Potent Self gave special focus to sexual issues. Feldenkrais's continuing interest in the problems and promises of sexual relationships had both personal and intellectual meanings for him.


His early physical strength reinforces the image of Moshe as a sexually preco­ cious boy. Feldenkrais privately confided that he received some kind of sexual initiation from an aunt who was in her early thirties at around the age of ten or eleven. Ir does seem fortuitous that Moshe, soon afterward, got his hands on Forel's book The Sexual Question.95 Forel's range of concerns anticipated many of Feldenkrais's lifelong pursuits. It is in fact remarkable how many chords Fore! seems to have struck with the young Moshe. Fore! may have given him his first introduction to the exciting new field of neuroscience. (Feldenkrais's enduring scientific interest in neu­ roscience would be matched only by his love of physics.) Fore! may have also brought Moshe's attention to the emerging clinical discipline of hypnosis. In the decade or two before and after 1 9 0 0 , neurologists commo nly investigated hypnosis . Pioneering neurologists, like Fore!, studied hypnosis experimentally and used it therapeutically. It was the method of choice for early clinicians such as Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud. Neurologists of the day theorized about how hypnotic trance differed from sleep and wakeful­ ness; Fore! believed that hypnosis was a sleep-like state. Hypnotic suggestibility raised questions about the relationship between voluntary and involuntary action and how mental images affect physiology, learning, and behavior. All of these questions piqued Feldenkrais's curiosity and formed a basis for his subsequent explorations. From everything we know about Feldenkrais's character, he was likely enthusiastic about hypnosis's prospects to develop new human capacities. Ten years after his first reading of Fore!, Feldenkrais's first book on the subj ect of psychology treated Emile Corn�'s autosuggestion technique. His interest in hypnosis continued as he explored Johannes Heinrich Schultz's Autogenics in the 1 930s. In his last period, Feldenkrais would examine the hypnotherapeutic advances of Milton H. Erickson. After the initial period of involvement with Corn�'s work, it is unlikely that Feldenkrais ever formally practiced hypnosis, but he became a master of the verbal nuance and nonverbal empathy that are native to the hypnotist's art. Feldenkrais's later methods surely owe a debt to his understanding of hypnosis, yet even earlier, his childhood notebook shows him enjoying engagement in reverie and dreamlike states. As we see his work develop, we should recognize that its roots include explorations he began while still a child. By age twelve, the shtetl child Moshe was absorbing a complex weave of influences . To imagine what it was like, we must superimpose Forel's ultra­ modernity upon our image of traditional Jewish life. Did Moshe argue about Forel's controversial ideas with his tightly knit and talkative family? Or, per­ haps the literal feldenkrais, 'cries of battle,' closing in around them distracted their attention from such discussions? At the same time Feldenkrais was engaging with Forel's utopian ideas , his hometown was becoming a focus of the eastern front i n World War I .


And when World War I arrived i n B aranovich, it remained there fo r fo u r a n d a half years . 96 Moshe's assignment schoolbook was penned during the first half of 1 9 1 5 , while he was eleven, and before the conflict reached Baranovich. But Feldenkrais's nostalgia shows here that life had already begun to change: We like the town park in Baranovich. It is a pity that there is no order as usual. Two years ago when the music played, there was great interest to go in there, breathe fresh air, walk in the paths and listen to the musicians play.97

It seems likely that Baranovich lost its 'usual order' when it became a Russian command center and garrison town in 1 9 1 4 . Later i n the schoolbook comes a n unexpectedly chilling essay, a clarion fore­ shadowing of what was on its way toward Baranovich. Young Moshe gave it an eerily Dostoyevskian tide: " From the Notes of One of the Expelled. " I t happened not long ago i n the year o f 1 9 1 5 . A poor person came t o our door and before asking for charity, he held out to my mother a scroll.

The Words ofthe Scroll And in the scroll it was written: The town from which I was expelled is on the German border. On the Passover holiday, the Germans shot from artillery. The House of Study (Beth Hamidrash) was very close to the target of the shooting and because of that sixteen Jews were killed. The rest of them fled. Women with children and infants in their arms, ran wild in the streets. Most of them were killed. The rest of them crawled on their bellies in the snow so the bullets would not hit them. Because of the crawling many people died. Many of the children got sick with typhus that broke out between them. The rich man in the town took the Torah scroll in his hand and fled. The commander met him and said: "Are you going to meet the Germans with your Torah?" And immediately hung him. A Jew who carried heating oil to sell met with Cossacks who asked him if there are a lot of Germans in the Polish city. He said: "A few. " Then they went to the Christians who carried heating oil after him. And they answered: "A lot . " And they immediately attacked the Jew and stabbed him: "Jew, you wanted us to fall . " And they immediately took him and hanged him. These are the words of the scroll.9 8

It would not be long before Feldenkrais would gain first-hand experience of Cossack highwaymen. From his recollections of childhood from his session with Eva Kirschner: We were in grandfather's house. [My father] went [to Slavuta] for his business to look for something . . . . The war was here . . . When we had to go back home . . . i t was a border . . . and we couldn't find free passage . . . . We went from the house in a winter cart . . . six people. A farmer . . . a Ukrainian . . . was driving the cart.


[The Cossacks] stopped h i m . . . And all the travelers were Jews . . . and they started to take all the money that they had. With the side of the rifle, they killed two . . . [My father] saw that there's nothing t o lose, s o h e pulled from the winter cart one of the [long] poles [that go to the horses] . He hit the man who was leading them over the head and killed him. And the others fled. [But] when we came back to Baranovich, [my father] had a broken arm. And they brought him to the hospital.99

Moshe adds that it was an occasion when he really respected his father. But in times to come, that respect would be shaken. During the war the family business suffered. "The forest trade collapsed and the family . . . suddenly lost all its property. " 100 As Aryeh's business dwindled, the family increasingly relied upon Sheindel's resourcefulness. She visited the army camps near the town , bought whatever she could find from the people who worked there and sold it for a tiny profit to those in the town who still had money with which to buy [but] to those in need she sold on "credit," well aware that these debts would never be paid. 101

Sheindel set a valiant example for Moshe during these troubled times, for she also labored to help the homeless Jewish refugees streaming in from the towns and villages that were now battlegrounds. From time to time she left her trading, and made the rounds of the Jewish fami­ lies in [Baranovich] , collecting everything that could possibly be of use to the refugees. She remained untouched by the fear of contagious diseases which kept most of the other citizens from contact with the refugees; nor did she stop for the Sabbath . . . She did not even hesitate to enter the railway carriages in which the victims of typhoid fever had been placed, and which were shunned by all. Sheindel alone took in her large j ugs of milk, serving it out [and encouraging] those unfortunates who had been abandoned . . . 102

When Feldenkrais recollected his childhood with Eva Kirschner, he obliquely referred to an event, or group of events, as 'the crisis. ' 103 We do not know all of what this 'crisis' entailed. We know that disturbing forces pressed in upon Moshe, casting darker hues over his memories. We cannot construct an exact chronology, but a set of terrible circumstances and events befell Feldenkrais, his family, and his society, in rapid succession. These events, and the feelings and choices they engendered, would be of paramount consequence for Feldenkrais's life. Amidst the larger turbulence of World War I , 'the crisis' took on a crucially personal character for him. The adolescent boy underwent increasing conflicts with his father that may have had painful and lasting consequences. As he related to his student and friend, Anat Baniel, Feldenkrais and his father had a terrible fight. His father had told him often, from when he was a child, the



importance o f telling the truth. But one evening, when a family friend came to dinner, Feldenkrais heard his father relate in conversation something that Moshe knew to be untrue. And he embarrassed his father by correcting him in front of the friend. Aryeh was furious. Later that evening he punished Moshe severely, and Moshe fought back. He felt betrayed by his father's hypocrisy and felt that he could no longer trust his word or his authority. Feldenkrais's feelings about these events were probably not far removed when he wrote: We can be very ruthless in abusing the utter dependence of a child, teaching him absolute purity, absolute honesty, and so on when we very well know that there is only an expedient truth, an expedient righteousness-j ust enough to make a given social order acceptable to the maj ority of people. 1 04

During the San Francisco ( 1 9 7 5 - 1 9 7 8 ) and Amherst ( 1 9 8 0- 1 9 8 3 ) teacher-training programs, Feldenkrais alluded t o problems a t home, without disclosing the fight with his father. But he told us that-at around the same age-he began to experience extreme resistance to speaking up in social situa­ tions and suffered periodic episodes oflaryngitis, losing his voice for weeks at a stretch. His parents had him treated with medicines. Doctors passed electrical currents through his throat (the young neurologist Sigmund Freud tried a sim­ ilar technique to treat sciatica) . Feldenkrais explained that while these external approaches proved futile, he began to discover on his own the keys to overcom­ ing his laryngitis. The laryngitis and his painful struggles for self-expression caused him to turn his attention inward, and he commenced working with himself in a way that would characterize his future outlook. I have no account from Feldenkrais or secondary sources that directly connects the altercation with his father to his laryngitis. But putting the pieces together seems to tell a story: his father's punishment for speaking the truth had literally taken away his voice. As Feldenkrais gradually gained awareness about his situation and his feelings, he sensed more sharply his own individuality. He realized that his laryngitis derived from tensions in his throat that he was producing. He under­ stood that these muscular contractions reflected a conflict between his desire to express himself and his fear of disapproval. His laryngitis did not exist apart from himself, as if it were a disease, an object, or a force of which he was the victim . His laryngitis was part of himself and belonged to his own habits of acting and reacting. Shouldn't he have a measure of control over his own feel­ ings and behavior? He set about acquiring sufficient awareness to recover his literal voice and began, figuratively, to find his own voice for the first time. The issues surrounding and underlying his laryngitis would continue to have personal relevance for Feldenkrais and inform many of the themes central to his life's work. In the later books on his method, Feldenkrais traced the developmental stresses facing a growing child. As children, we learn to block



our innermost feelings and impulses in o rder to maintain the security and approval that our parents conditionally offer. Our fears and anxieties about losing security result in pervasive and habitual muscle contractions that give rise to many of our adult problems. Due to " inner tension and resistance, we feel strain when acting . . . . This strain is . . . expressed through muscular tension of the muscles of the face, the neck, the abdomen, the fingers, or the toes . . . " 105 These muscular tensions remain with us forever, unless we enter a process of gaining self-awareness and renewing our development. In his later writings, Feldenkrais would detail methods to these ends . As if revisiting his childhood experience of laryn­ gitis with the benefit of a lifetime's learning, in his book Awareness Through Movement, Feldenkrais discusses the process of becoming aware of the muscu­ lar habits that result in vocal hoarseness. Suppose that an actor, speaker, or teacher who has suffered from hoarseness begins to study ways of improving his enunciation in order to rid himself of his trouble. He will start by trying to locate the excess effort he makes in his breath­ ing apparatus and throat. When he has learned to reduce the expenditure of effort and to speak more easily, he will note to his surprise that he has also been doing unnecessary work with the muscles of his j aw and tongue, work of which he was previously unaware an2 which conuib uted to his hoarseness. Thus the ease achieved in one area will make closer and more accurate observation possible in related areas . 1 06

Feldenkrais goes on to analyze many of the ingredients that coalesce in the act of speaking, including parts of the mouth and throat, the muscles of the chest and diaphragm, and the nape of the neck, as well as patterns of standing and moving. He concludes: "What all this means is that the total personality is involved in proper speech. " 10 7 His enforced spells of silence afforded Feldenkrais time to reflect and dis­ cover that speaking and thinking should not be equated. Eventually the conviction came that real thinking is independent of words. One of the great disadvantages of the spoken language is the fact that it permits us to become estranged from our real selves to such an extent that we often have the mistaken belief that we have imagined something, or thought of something, where in reality we have only recalled the a.ppropriate word. 108

In his last book, he writes, I contend that in self-knowledge speech is a formidable obstacle. When it is used in all the . . . therapies available to analyze people's minds it takes years to disen­ tangle what goes on in us to make us say what we say, which is being analyzed. In self knowledge one cannot get atfundamentals without undoing the link between thought and speech. 109


I t i s impossible t o understand Feldenkrais the man, o r the method, without repeatedly reconciling the tensions, polarities, dialectics, and paradoxes in his makeup. He often divided his time between extremes of speaking and not speaking. He spoke at marathon length in teaching or social situations, lec­ turing and debating, excoriating and j oking, telling stories, and thinking and theorizing aloud. At other times, he would dwell in profound silence for long intervals, while writing, or while he worked with himself or with others. Feldenkrais's laryngitis may have fueled the passion for writing that we first saw in his Hebrew assignment book. Writing occurs in the protection of pri­ vacy, and publication holds the promise of increasing the power of one's quiet . . mner voICe. Feldenkrais's response to his childhood laryngitis teaches us about one of his greatest qualities: his ability to derive lessons and evolve from his experi­ ences of pain, illness, or misfortune. The understandings that evolved from his childhood laryngitis would bear fruit in the years to come. He would work creatively with children with developmental speech problems and bring greater awareness to adults facing the mysteries of verbal and nonverbal communica­ tion. Within each difficulty, he learned to meet the world with new resources and discovered ways to improve himself and others.

In 1 9 1 5 , for Feldenkrais, his family, and Baranovich, the 'crisis' he alludes to had only begun to gain momentum. The war raged on. In September the Russians were forced to retreat from Baranovich, and Austrian and Hungarian soldiers allied with the Germans moved in and established a command post. They wore the especially stylish uniforms of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They became known around the town for their insistence that the residents work to keep the streets free of horse and cow manure. Among the Austrian soldiers were many Jews who attended services at Baranovich's synagogues. Some asked for civilian clothes, deserted from the Army, and made their way back to their homes in Austria and Galicia. 1 1 0 As autumn began, the fighting around Baranovich intensified, and artillery pounded nearby villages. The Russians soon reclaimed Baranovich. But the Germans assembled a force to remedy the Austrian collapse, and, as winter began, they drove the Russians from the town. A "scorched earth" policy was proclaimed-all movables to be moved, crops to be burned, and so on. In practice, this meant merely a heightened degree of anti­ [SJ emitism. Land-owners could usually pay to have their crops survive, their movables not moved; some of the great Polish noble families . . . had links with all three high commands, and could thus ensure complete survival of their estates. The earth was therefore only selectively scorched, and " Even the most extreme anti-Semites have been moved to complain at the treatment of the Jews." 1 1 1



We cannot exactly place subsequent events on the calendar, but it is likely that, before the Russians were forced out the second time, Feldenkrais and his father took the nearly 700-mile j ourney to Odessa on business. Moshe stayed with Aryeh for at least six months. 1 12 Given what had recently passed between them, we can imagine a tense, highly charged atmosphere, fraught with heated arguments between father and adolescent son. Moshe returned home alone; his father was stranded in Odessa when battle lines shifted again. Aryeh could not rejoin his family in Baranovich until 1 92 1 , several years after Moshe had left. Moshe never again lived with his father. He would see him only b riefly twenty years later. So, perhaps, now is a fitting moment to summarize what we know-or can surmise-about Feldenkrais's feelings toward his father. O n the surface, Moshe had successfully reenacted the oedipal drama: as oldest son, he would live with his mother, in the place of his father. He was probably aware of the symbolism at an early age. He began to read Freud as a young man-by the 1 920s in Palestine, if not before while he still lived in Baranovich. In the 1 940s, while experimenting with psychoanalysis, Feldenkrais surely climbed those Hellenic mountains where the wounded infant Oedipus was abandoned. Can we add to the skeleton of this familiar psychological archetype? As an adult, Feldenkrais had a remarkable way with children; his father did not. Long before Moshe found weakness and hypocrisy in his father, Aryeh's stern insensitivity sowed disaffection. The first time I whistled a tune, I was ticked off [berated] for doing like a goy [gentile] . A Jew should do something which will raise your learning, your intel­ ligence, but not whistle like a goy. Of course, when a boy of four or five whistles a tune he has learned, and is ticked off like that by his father once or twice, then afterwards he has a deaf ear for the rest of his life. 1 13

Feldenkrais would take singing and piano lessons in the future to throw off the "deaf ear" that he blamed on his father. Despite his anger and disappointment, Feldenkrais admired his father's genius, his prodigious memory, and his scholarship. And he looked up to him when he manifested the courage and strength to fend off the Cossack attack. But our image of Aryeh is more a man of the mind than of the heart, a quiet man turned less to action than to intellect. Perhaps his father came to represent divisions between the practical and the theoretical, and between passion and reason, that Feldenkrais was determined to avoid. The young Moshe could not fo rgive his father's punitive hyp ocrisy when Aryeh had failed to live up to the code he had taught him. However, Feldenkrais appears to have forgiven him later, as he grew more sophisticated and reconciled to the ways of the world. In The Elusive Obvious, he cynically remarks, "Words, as somebody said, are more to hide our intentions than to express them . " 1 14 Feldenkrais held that everyday life teaches that "principles of



expediency" override simplistic moral admonitions. H e went s o far as to say that children must learn how to lie, otherwise they cannot know the meaning of telling the truth or be able to make the choice to tell it. It did not help their relationship that Feldenkrais saw his father as weak in comparison to his mother. Moshe would tend to blame him for not providing better for his family. 1 15 But, as an adult, he no doubt absolved his father for having business problems in the face of world war, millennial revolution, and general collapse. In his defense, we remember that Aryeh spent the early part of his adult life being taken care of by others; the Jewish yeshiva system functioned like a modern foundation and private school that sustained the scholarly activities of individuals of Aryeh's intellectual caliber. It appears that he only became a busi­ nessman later in life. By the time the war ruined Sheindel's father's business, along with his own, Aryeh was in his mid-fifties. That he then lacked the abil­ ity and confidence to do better is not surprising. Even so, he was not altogether inept, since he operated a small textile shop in Baranovich after the war. Many years later Feldenkrais wrote, "The loss of security is a greater anguish than the pain of punishment." 1 16 This statement expresses one of the core ideas of his book, The Potent Self, and it carries a ring of first-hand experience. It seems to speak of the entire character of this time of crisis. But which loss of security was paramount for Feldenkrais? Was it the plunge into war and poverty? Was it the loss of respect for the father who unfairly punished him? As a child, he depended upon his father. By passing j udgment on his father's weakness, he weakened his own foundations. Moshe lost his father's authority before his own authority had crystallized. And he would leave home and fend for himself while still a child. In consequence, he may have had to grow up too fast and, in some ways, spend the rest of his life catching up. Feldenkrais would closely examine the dynamics produced by the polarity of perceived strength and weakness. What circumstances make us feel strong or weak? For example, Feldenkrais believed that people who feel weak have a potential for becoming bullies . Feelings of weakness and inferiority push people to demonstrate their strength, even unfairly. The truly strong have no compulsion to fight. As he would make clear in his future books on self-defense and j udo, an expert in the martial arts has both the capability required to fight and the strength needed to avoid conflict. 1 17 Feldenkrais's childhood experi­ ences taught him that our fear of power is profound. We fear not only the power of others, but also the powers we hold within ourselves.

Baranovich had changed hands three times already when the Germans arrived late in 1 9 1 5 . They immediately registered everyone in town. Local fac­ tories were turned i nto work camps surrounded by barbed wire, with tiers of sleeping bunks. The Germans' own camp was j ust outside of town, near the

E A S T E R N E u R O P EA N R o o T s


Pripyat, or Pinsk, marshes that stretch as far as Pinsk-the largest swampland in all of Europe. Some of Baranovich's young men were assigned to work at the Germans' camp, while others were sent far away to cut lumber for shipment to Germany. Besides imposing a regimen of forced labor, the Germans strictly rationed food; families were entitled to meat no more than once a week. But if Baranovich was typical of other nearby Jewish communities, The economy deteriorated while Jewish cultural life flourished. Social clubs, choirs, and dramatic groups flourished. The revenues from the dramatic groups financed the library or lectures and book discussion groups. 1 18

Such an increased emphasis on culture in the community could have further stimulated Moshe's awakening mind. Meanwhile, French airplanes under Russian command frequently bombed Baranovich. The large yeshiva, which the Germans had converted into a bath­ house, received a direct hit. German trucks with antiaircraft guns patrolled the streets. One day there was panic in town . The Germans used poison gas against the Russians. Suddenly the wind changed direction and the gas reached [Baranovich] . . . . [P] eople were coughing, and there were some victims of the gas, but no one knew how many. 1 1 9

In late spring of 1 9 1 6, Alexei Brusilov, probably the Russians' only inno­ vative and first-rate general, launched an offensive along a 300-mile stretch of the Eastern Front. The " Brusilov Offensive" counts as the Eastern Front's largest military operation. Because Brusilov was essentially unsupported by the other Russian generals, his success was limited and accompanied by staggering losses-as many as half a million Russian soldiers. But by the end of summer, the Germans were forced to retreat from Baranovich. 120 In mid- 1 9 1 6, the battle lines shifted again. There was intense fighting in and around Baranovich and south to Ukraine. In all, 600,000 Jews were forced to leave their homes and possessions, "hurled onto the roads of the Pale and driven like beasts. " Horrific events sundered communities and families. Many thousands died. By 1 9 1 7, Jews were "driven to subsistence on cooked weeds and grass dug up from the fields. " 121

Though many fared worse, the war exacted a heavy toll from the Feldenkrais family. War, politics, and racial hatred cost them their cohesion, property, place in society, and fragile security. With Sheindel the only parent at home, the relationship of mother and son was complicated. The force of her personality and her ambitious plans for him were hard to contend with. While he admired Sheindel's strength and her


ability t o provide fo r her family and community in trying times, her expecta­ tions both bolstered and burdened Feldenkrais. With Yona gone, Sheindel had the additional hope that Moshe would emulate his brother's study of mathematics. She would one day express the desire for her son to achieve no less than a Nobel Prize. Her expectations made him doubt his own aspirations when those didn't match his mother's ideas. The disillusion and losses brought by these times were personally wounding; they would leave a deep and lasting mark upon Feldenkrais's character. Until the age of ten, he had enj oyed most of the social advantages that a young Jew could hope for. He would not regain any real measure of social and economic security until past the age of fifty. Far into his adulthood, he struggled with feelings of insecurity and fears about money. Behind Feldenkrais's considerable ambition may have been a childhood-instilled desire to regain what he had lost in those times of crisis. It is interesting that Baruch, younger by six years than Moshe, did not possess his brother's drive. Perhaps the fact that Baruch, only four when the war began, had not so vividly experienced 'paradise lost' accounts, at least in part, for this difference.

With her husband gone during much of the war, it appears that Sheindel and her children sometimes visited her family in Slavuta, about 300 miles away. Once, on her way home, she found the road to Baranovich blocked; the boundaries between the nations and their armies had shifted again. Sheindel found herself totally without resources-and entirely on her own-in a small town in the cold of winter, with children to care for. To feed her family, she carried groceries and sewed clothes. All fo ur lived crowded together in a small, single room. 1 22 Sheindel told Lea Arav a remarkable story from her confinement in that town. On the way home from work one day, Sheindel fo und a pregnant girl lying naked in the silence of the snow in front of the synagogue. She took the girl home and prepared a pallet for her to sleep on the floor. For weeks Sheindel cooked and cared for her, but Hana never spoke a word. Hana the meshugene (the crazy one) lay on her pallet while Sheindel sat by her sewing and chant­ ing, in Yiddish, "I am sewing, I am sewing, I am sewing . . . " Weeks passed, and Sheindel continued to sew and chant as Hana lay by her, growing fuller with the baby each day. After the baby was born, Sheindel helped care for the baby, too. Still Hana never spoke. Then, one day, Sheindel arrived home to find Hana the meshugene sewing clothes for her baby. Some weeks later, when Sheindel returned home, Hana and her child were gone. 1 23 What should we make of this curious tale? What brought Hana to lie naked and pregnant before the synagogue? We cannot even guess about the poor girl's circumstances, about her family, and the baby's father. How does a person recover from the kind of ordeal we presume she suffered? Certainly, Sheindel



wondered about the girl's background. It had not been so long since losing her son Yona. What restraint it must have required fo r Sheindel not to ask Hana's history! Those children who survived the Holocaust a generation later would often need to wrap their pasts in silence. Perhaps Sheindel recognized that the girl's only hope lay in her future, in not reliving her past: that she could not afford to turn back in mourning toward what she had lost or what had befallen her. When his mother brought Hana into their home, Moshe participated in Hana's recovery, and learned lessons from it. Sheindel's potent use of nonverbal learning could have made an indelible impression on the young Feldenkrais. He observed how being able to forget was a function as important as the ability to remember. It was an early insight that oriented his future methodology. In contrast to a verbal, psychoanalytic approach that looked back into the past, Feldenkrais would emphasize the present, and the importance of feeling and action, health and survival, require us to turn our eyes to the present and the future, and to act with regard to our current circumstances. There was a spiritual dimension to Sheindel's compassionate ways with Hana. Her trancelike incantations reminded Feldenkrais of nigunim, the Hasidic rhythmic praying without words-throaty, and filled with vibrations from the chest and gut. The heartfelt, nonlinguistic chants sounded the bones, and spoke more powerfully than words. Feldenkrais knew that the realities that can be expressed through words are limited. The myriad colors, sounds, and smells that we perceive exceed all names that we ascribe to them. Our feelings are more refined and differenti­ ated than we can express. The thinking we do is composed of patterns of action and imagery that language can only approximate. Feldenkrais searched in perception and action, not language, for what was personal, and more fun­ damental than words. 124 We know that young Moshe, nurtured by silence, lived a rich inner life. His 1 9 1 5 notebook bespeaks a vibrant sensuality. We see him immersed in nature, rapt in reverie, and reflectively aware. The memories of walking the hills of Kremenets as a small boy lived on in his soul. He had felt the muted power of nature in the misty fortress vistas, the smells of the forests and flowers, the moistness of the air on his skin, and the crush of vegetation behind his back and beneath his feet. Observing Sheindel's engagement with Hana may have brought home to Feldenkrais the helping and healing power of the nonverbal in a new and obj ective way. But the evidence is strong that he had learned its importance for his own well-being long before.

During the war years Feldenkrais completed his first two years at the gymnasium (the European equivalent of a high school with an academic, as opposed to vocational, orientation) . There he studied mathemathics, science,


languages, and other disciplines. The continuity o f education and culture i n the face of war and growing chaos i s a tribute t o the priorities and dedica­ tion of Feldenkrais's community. There was also wisdom in sustaining some semblance of normalcy during such times. Feldenkrais's religious education progressed with few interruptions. Its continuance was probably never questioned, since religious education was considered to be a necessity for Jewish survival. By the time of his bar mitzvah, Moshe had thoroughly studied the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud. Beyond its religious significance, Talmudic study is renowned for its intellec­ tual fertility. The Talmud has schooled great lawyers, judges, and philosophers and is even credited with fostering mathematical reasoning. Modern schools of literary criticism and semiotics have roots in Talmudic discourse, where com­ mentary is laid upon commentary. We can see the fruits of his Talmudic training in Feldenkrais's uses of logic and his critical style of examining ideas from every side, inside and out. Feldenkrais embodied the immemorial Jewish tradition of asking questions-and of answering a question by asking a different one. 125 The Zionist strain in Feldenkrais's education made a different contribu­ tion. Participation in Zionist education and organizations helped him prepare for one day making the aliya, the return to Israel. A few years later, as the Zionist movement matured, his brother and sister went to a new type of school called Bet Tarbut, meaning house of culture. The name was given to a network of Zionist schools, begun around 1 9 1 7, which were at first concentrated in Poland but soon spread throughout eastern Europe. Eastern European Jewish culture was a complex weave of many strands, and we may envision all of them as woven into Feldenkrais's character. The three different towns in which he grew up, Slavuta, Kremenets, and Baranovich, each reinforced different strands of the weave. He moved from one town to the next as if recapitulating the spiritual and intellectual history of eastern European Jewry, from the Hasidic resonances of Slavuta, to the birthplace of the Russian Haskalah in Kremenets, to Baranovich, where the crucible of war distilled the conditions spawning the Zionist and Communist movements. Zionism and Communism prescribed active and secular measures to resolve the problems of anti-Semitism. Each, too, would eventually endorse the use of violence. Hasidism, which also grew in the bloody soil of anti-Semitism, offered a personal and religious response. Feldenkrais had a Hasidic passion for finding the seeds of transformation in ordinary experience. Transforming his own physical and psychological vulnerabilities guided his compassion and his desire to ameliorate suffering. His Hasidic influences showed in his teaching, where he emphasized working with his students' positive experiences and natural proclivities. He sought to instill pleasure, curiosity, and confidence. His approach so united body and mind that he found the distinction between them absurd. Like his rebellious ancestor Pinhas, Moshe abhorred the sufferance of authority and believed that



fundamental learning grows from each person's unique potential. And, like Hasidic teachers, Feldenkrais loved telling stories and loved living a life that would be remembered in stories. Feldenkrais's educational directions emulated Haskalah rationalism more than Hasidic mysticism. He would master branch after branch of secular knowledge and learn the language of every land in which he lived. But beyond Haskalah scholarship and Hasidic contemplation, Feldenkrais came to empha­ size practical knowledge and action. He would never accept abstractions or doctrines that were not rooted and tested in experience and action. Feldenkrais brought to his work a deep commitment to learning, originality, and evolution. He embodied a synthesis of the spiritual with the scientific. This did not manifest in the form of a doctrine but revealed itself in his process. It is as if Feldenkrais transmuted the 'clinging'-the devotion to the divine that was intrinsic to Hasidism-and made it a path of intimate observation, a phe­ nomenology. It illuminated his scientific investigations and his inquiry into experience itself. Going further, he guided ways of learning that could reach levels felt as ecstatic and transformative. Here, too, if we look closely, we will find elements that can seem distilled or refined from the ecstatic practices of Hasidic worship. Feldenkrais did not board the boat to Jaffa as a religious Jew, and he never embraced religious faith as an adult. From the time he left home, a year after his bar mitzvah age, he never again participated in organized religion . He embarked to Palestine as a Zionist to build a nation. To be clear, Zionists were not exclusively secular; many were, in fact, religious. However, Feldenkrais's friends and colleagues would be scientists and artists, who were often either unfriendly or indifferent to established religion . Yet, despite leaving behind the religion of his upbringing, he carried within himself an important spiritual current. This nonreligious man studied a wide range of spiritual teachings over the course of his life. In his library he prized his books on religion and spirituality along with his scientific literature. In later chapters, we will return to the subject of spirituality, and explore possible continuities with Feldenkrais's Jewish roots. We will examine connec­ tions between his work and that of others, whom he esteemed, that taught in a spiritual tradition, particularly Georges lvanovich Gurdj ieff. With respect to the question of belief, it is interesting to hear Feldenkrais's response to a ques­ tion put to him by Israeli radio interviewer Gidon Lev-Aryeh around 1 979. "Do you believe in God?" Gidon asked. "No," Feldenkrais replied, and con­ tinued, "Yes and no." "Well , " Gidon pressed, "do you believe in God or not?" Feldenkrais irritably retorted, "Complex issues cannot be answered by a simple 'yes' or 'no. "' 126


As World War I unfolded, the English were pitted against the Turks in the eastern Mediterranean. When the British successfully drove the Turks from Palestine in the fall of 1 9 1 7, the English foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour declared, as Feldenkrais put it, "that His Maj esty's government will look with a good eye on the Jewish establish [ment of] a national home in Palestine. " 127 There was dancing in the streets, as the prospect of the long promised return to Israel galvanized Jewish culture all across Europe. Amidst the turmoil of war, revolution, and the intensification of anti-Semitism, Balfour's "promise" could hardly have seemed timelier. In Feldenkrais's words: Until before I went to high school, I learned Hebrew, and did everything in Hebrew. Obviously, I was reading the Zionist papers ... I was reading [Ha Tzefirah] , the Zionist papers that were in Poland and Russia . . . . So I decided to go to Palestine. 128

When explaining his motivations for leaving, Feldenkrais only hinted at the extent of his problems at home. He admits, however, that [Zionism] was not the motive that pushed me to go there. It started with all the complications of my relations with my parents. I felt that the kind of frame that would be in the education they gave me, the things that I was expected to do, the schooling . . . everything was against my feeling of how I wanted to be. And so I decided I will build my own life. And going away somewhere I don't know, [a new place where] no one knows me . . . My parents took [to] the Palestinian idea . . . And also [my mother] didn't want me to stay . . . because in Russia the revolution was a killing sort of thing. 129

Around 1 9 1 7, not long after Moshe's bar mitzvah, the upheavals of the Russian Revolution brought a further deterioration to the situation for Jews. The pogroms at the end of the Revolution even matched the Chmielnicki massacres in their violence and extent. Like those of the 1 600s, the pogroms reflected a society torn for years by wars and falling toward anarchy. The chaos was such that it remains unclear even today how many Jews were killed­ estimates range from under 1 20,000 to almost 300,000. 130 In early 1 9 1 8 civil war spread from Russia to Poland. The Baranovich region was fought over by Germans, Poles, and Russian Communists. Jews, including Feldenkrais's aunts and uncles, would eventually divide themselves between com­ munist and anticommunist ranks. Some gave credence to the Communist pledge to end anti-Semitism; others, whom history validated, were more suspicious. 131 Facing similarly difficult choices, my own family cast its lot variously among the camps . Some chose to become Communists and stayed in Russia. My grandfather, Sam Landau-like Feldenkrais, an eldest son and somewhat of a maverick-was able to reach the United States. His Zionist cousin, Ada, took the road to Palestine.



The atmosphere at home became even more bleak when Yona, Moshe's brother, died. Yona was engaged in university-level mathematics by the age of twelve, and he was considered the brightest in the family. A doctor had mistak­ enly treated his pneumonia as a case of tuberculosis. When he died, at the bar mitzvah age of thirteen, it was a family tragedy; yet another chapter in this time that Feldenkrais termed the 'crisis. ' Remaining at home held little promise for Feldenkrais. The political envi­ ronment had gone from bad to worse, to worse again . The financial affairs of his family were in a continual downward slide, and he was alienated from his father. The most hopeful signs were the sparks excited by the growing fires of Zionism. Palestine represented a fresh start and seemingly endless possibilities. That Feldenkrais would depart for Palestine in 1 9 1 8 at the age of fourteen is quite remarkable. Legions ofJewish youth made their way to Palestine in the years to come, but few left as early as 1 9 1 8 , and few were as young and unpre­ pared as Moshe. Those who followed often prepared for years to make the aliya in the company of their peers, in organizations like the Young Pioneers (similar to the Boy Scouts) , or at farms that trained them in agriculture. When Feldenkrais left, the only organization recruiting youth for Palestine in his region was the Tzerei Zion (Workers of Zion) , but they were poorly financed and, like all other organizations, had been largely paralyzed by the chaos of World War I. Unlike most of those to come once the Third Aliya ( 1 9 1 9- 1 923) was underway, Moshe undertook the arduous and risky journey without the guidance or sponsorship of any organization. He left before many would have thought it was possible.

We have arrived at the point where we began the chapter: late one night in the winter of 1 9 1 8- 1 9 1 9 . The fourteen-year-old Feldenkrais carefully packed his most important belongings in a small sack, including some clothes and a few Russian textbooks on math and science. His willingness to carry those heavy books for thousands of miles bears witness to his early passion for sci­ ence. By candlelight, Sheindel frantically searched for the money she was saving for Moshe's j ourney. Too anxious, she forgot where she had hidden it. She looked under mattresses, behind cupboards and drawers, she checked in dishes and bowls. She wanted Moshe to have at least enough money for food through the winter. Distraught and forgetful she hurried to her neighbors to borrow some coins and put them into Moshe's hands as he walked into the darkness. 13 2 Feldenkrais was dressed in his warmest clothes, since winter tem­ peratures could fall to forty degrees below zero. In one of his boots, a pistol was hidden. 133 Moshe walked carefully to the edge of Baranovich where he met his guide, a smuggler. He later recalled that the smugglers



used t o take a sack with flint for lighters to Russia and bring [back] a sack of diamonds for the trip. And so this chap knew the ways there . . . The Germans and the Russians were fighting in Baranovich and they stood for four and a half years there. So to go to Bialystok from Baranovich, I had to cross . . . where the front was , the two fighting forces. They didn't fight much [at that time] , but they wouldn't let anybody through. Neither the Russians nor the Germans. So, we lefr at about one o'clock at night with the horses . [An] extraordinary night we had, in complete darkness . [The smuggler] drove the horses with his child, [where] if you make one mistake, they would all sink in the swamp. There was no front [in the swamp] because it was impossible to bring any armament. 134

Feldenkrais's j ourney to Palestine would take him six months. He began the journey by crossing part of the immense Pripyat marshes. From there he continued the 1 20-mile trek across the frontier from Baranovich in Russia to Bialystok in Poland. 135 Moshe was alone when he arrived in Bialystok, but, People heard that I left, [and] two of my pals, Epstein [and his brother,] who were together with me in school, did the next few days the same thing, and so we were three pals. The two Epsteins-one of them became a famous architect in Israel and built the synagogue of Afula. 136

Feldenkrais's pals were probably Mordecai and Benyamin Anekstein-it was common for eastern European names to appear with different pronuncia­ tions and variant spellings. Mordecai's son, Gershon Anekstein, an architect like his father, provided a photo of Feldenkrais together with the Anekstein brothers. There is a photograph from the next chapter, taken shortly after their arrival from Baranovich, which shows them working together on a Tel Aviv construction project. Feldenkrais's rendezvous with the Epsteins so soon after his journey's start, shows that he was not entirely alone, but among a small group of young idealists, early in the Third Aliya. The immigrants from his town would organize themselves, in Palestine, as the Baranovich Group. Bialystok is not a big city, [but the people there] also knew about the Balfour Declaration. And there comes a boy [fourteen years old] . He goes to Palestine because there is a Balfour Declaration. It looked crazy to them. But the young people of the place clung to me and [hailed] me as if I were a hero , something extraordinary. And before we knew, there were a dozen people from Bialystok who joined me. They said, " We'll go with you." And then from Bialystok we went to Warsaw. In Warsaw, we were already about fifteen or twenty boys. It was the war, the middle of the war. There were no consulates, no visas, no passports. We didn't know what to do. 137

Lack of official documents challenged his passage to Palestine. Throughout his life, he encountered circumstances where his freedom of movement required

E A S T E R N E u R O P EA N R o o T s


displaying identification papers and credentials to bureaucrats and border guards-papers and credentials that were not always available. The absence of papers later impeded the movements of his family to Palestine. Confusion about travel documents would complicate his future departures to and from Palestine, France, England, and Israel. He would have periodic, Kafkaesque dreams about missing papers. When he was in his seventies, and his renown as a teacher embraced many continents, he traveled confidently all over the world. Nevertheless, at home or abroad, he always kept his travel documents in his coat, at the ready.

The picture of Moshe's wandering band of children is startling and night­ marish to most parents. But their situation was not as exceptional as it might appear. World War I orphaned hundreds of thousands of children. Lacking parents or adult authorities of any kind, they sometimes banded together for mutual support, migrating thousands of miles across eastern and central Europe. For a time Moshe's group traveled together with a circus. In those days, despite the harsh conditions, circuses roamed constantly through eastern Europe. Feldenkrais enjoyed learning tumbling tricks from the circus acrobats, including somersaults and cartwheels. The acrobats may have given him his earliest lessons in falling, rolling, and getting up. Feldenkrais would build on these skills in his later studies of j iujitsu and judo, and while constructing his own universe of movement. 1 3 8 Fortunately, a few adults j oined Moshe's 'children's crusade.' One was a pro­ fessor in the university at Warsaw, and another was a worldly fellow named Davidovich who undertook to take care of us, he said he will get us visas . . . everything [that we needed] . . . . You couldn't travel where you wanted. [We could] go only where they let us go. So we went to [ Cracow] . 139

When Moshe's group arrived in Cracow, it was like a snowball. In [Cracow] , we were already maybe fifty. And I was the major attraction-a little boy going to Palestine. And people looked at that, and many j ust there said, "We go. " . . . And then, from [Cracow] , we went to Press burg [Bratislava] . 140

Feldenkrais's depiction of his journey, given some seventy years later, is remarkably vivid. For the fo urteen-year-old boy, it was a formative rite of passage into the adult world. Here he was, after a comparatively provincial upbringing, ranging over much of the face of central Europe. And at many turns, as the party grew, he found himself in positions ofleadership, experienc­ ing the charismatic effect of his own youthful determination.



One achievement of his charisma was losing his virginity and having "a love affair [en] route to Palestine . " Amidst the swirl of exotic people and places, Feldenkrais's adolescent impulses probably didn't need the j ustification of August Forel's sexual ethos. 141 The enj oyment of this new and larger world coincided with Feldenkrais's discovery of inner freedom as well. Even though he led a return to the Jewish homeland, fourteen-year-old Moshe wanted to free himself from the restric­ tions that he identified with his upbringing. In the marketplace, in Bratislava, in Pressburg, there are women [who have] in front of chem, a big pan [filled with] pieces of speck [bacon] . And the smell of chat is j ust incredible. [At] home it was kosher, milk separated from meat, and things like chat. I decided chat I am a free man now, depending on myself. I break all the traditions, and I live as I wish. No restrictions. No kosher. . . . [B] ut I looked around everywhere t o see whether [anyone] will see that I am going to buy that piece of speck. Which I did. And I ate it and finished it . . . . I was very cheerful, and very proud o f myself chat I did that mental effort to eat pork, which normally at home [it] would [make me] vomit. . . . [At chat time,] in Pressburg, we were over 200. And so the Jewish community gave us a school in vacation [in which] to sleep. So we slept on the benches, under the benches, anywhere in the school. And I went there, went home, to the school. I was so proud of myself. . . . Then, suddenly coming in about maybe twenty paces from the place . . . I threw up the whole lot, and became as green as you can imagine. I couldn't understand . . . I sat there and felc so awful . . . Then suddenly it dawned on me, "Look Moshe-Pinhas, if you give in to chat vomiting, you will never eat pork or have any more in your life. And all your decisions and cleverness won't help you." I got up, went back, bought another piece and I decided, [it] doesn't matter if I vomit, but I'll still have another one. I had the second one, it was as good as the first. . . . and I kept it. And ever since, I 'm a boy eating pork and all sorts of prohibited things. 142

This story introduces a major theme of Feldenkrais's lifework: new patterns cannot emerge without the b reaking up of old ones. Much of his future methodology focused on "the breakdown of habitual patterns of movement and behavior. " 143 Transcending his disgust for nonkosher food was a landmark moment in Feldenkrais's life. Forel foreshadowed his intellectual concerns, and his insights about the conflicts with his father and his laryngitis inaugurated his psychophysical discoveries. But that overcoming of nausea was the more profound epiphany. It meant a decisive step beyond the world of his past and proved that he had the freedom of choice to make his own future. Feldenkrais attached central significance to the attainment of independence. As he said in The Potent Self, " [We] find dependence and the craving for inde­ pendence in the background of all human activity. " 144



Feldenkrais's pivotal story of eating nonkosher food points toward deeper questions, such as those he would explore i n the philosophy of Georges Gurdj ieff: Are we truly free, or are we essentially automatons, creatures of habit, with only the illusion of free will? Feldenkrais would agree with Gurdjieff that freedom of choice is neither a human b irthright nor a gift from God, but accrues only through conscious efforts. The strength of our social conditioning means that only vigilant awareness allows us to realize our true intentions and become fully free and fully human. Feldenkrais's departure from Russia was his first truly independent act. He was beginning to realize that he must mar­ shal his powers to meet forces from both within and without to surmount the external pressures of family, politics, and anti-Semitism, as well as the internal resistances stemming from his habits of thinking, feeling, and acting. Ten years later, Feldenkrais published two books that evolved from his personal and public endeavors on those inner and outer fronts. His book on autosuggestion shared his discoveries about transforming internal resistance. His self-defense book offered techniques to meet forces that come from the external environment. Both books illuminated how the practice of awareness can break old habits and engender learning how to act in new ways. And once in possession of real alternatives, we can learn how to exercise freedom of choice. As Feldenkrais wrote in The Elusive Obvious: " Free choice means hav­ ing an alternative mode of action available, so you can then choose the way you want most." 145 The capacity for free, conscious action carries with it responsibility for one's actions. 146 Feldenkrais grew into a man of conscience as well as learning. He bore his ethical sense as a source of both pain and strength. Even though his mother encouraged his departure, he felt guilt about leaving his family behind in Russia. He carried within himself, unable to forget, pain he had caused other people, whether intentionally or not, in his personal life and professional conduct. Feldenkrais's personal aspirations for self-determination fit squarely within the Zionist context. Diaspora Judaism always carried a taste of persecution and the weight of others' domination. The Diaspora Jew's fate was not his own. But a Zionist Jew takes fate into his or her own hands. The social reali­ ties of being Jewish meant identifying i ndividual self-determination with self-determination for the Jewish people. 147 Zionism sees itself as fulfilling the Jewish historical process. Even in its nonreligious forms, Zionism represents a reconstruction of Judaism, not its negation. Was there a spiritual cost for Jews who embraced the secular, some­ times atheistic, views of the Zionist movement? From a religious perspective, the answer must be yes. In the words of the Israeli Nobel laureate, S.Y. Agnon, they had "lost the keys to the synagogue . " 148 Still, from Feldenkrais's standpoint, his break with tradition was not so much a b reak from Judaism, as the beginning of a process of skeptically


interrogating all traditions and doctrines . He would swim upstream against the currents of family and the larger society. He would open himself up to life's possibilities, and follow the direction of his own feelings and dreams.

On their way to Palestine, when young Moshe's Zionist band was about 200 strong, they made their way by train, first to Prague and next, Vienna. By then, Feldenkrais had been traveling for about two and a half months. And again, the Jewish community . . . [came and they] found two or three hun­ dred young people going to Israel. Some of them gave us their rings, some their golden things, some gave us money. Just say "We are coming, our children are coming." They thought it was a state then. They didn't realize that it was j ust a Jewish national home. No one knew what it meant. So, we were in Vienna. And to me, a small boy from Baranovich, seeing Warsaw, [Cracow] , Pressburg, Prague, Vienna-it was all the miracles of the world . . . . And we were in a cafe in Schwarzenbern . . . to me it looked like it was a field . . . . 400 people in the cafe at night. We would sleep in between the chairs, [under] the chairs , put three chairs together [and sleep on them] . We didn't know what inconvenience was. And during the day, we were so elated that people would look at us with such admiration. And everybody wanted to take me for dinner . . . it was very funny. I 'd show you if l had some pictures: " . . . a real nice boy and a small boy, and he's the hero goes to Palestine." I was shy, terribly shy. I was ashamed. People taking me to dinner-I thought they had pity on me and that's why they take me. I didn't realize that they were really elated. So I refused most of the time. 149

Feldenkrais's narration appears to weave almost subconsciously between the opposing poles of his self-image. He revels in his heroism and leadership: "The young people of the place clung to me and [hailed] me as if l were a hero, some­ thing extraordinary. " A short while later he expresses the feelings of a reticent boy who, depending upon others for charity, feels ashamed of his predicament. " I was shy, terribly shy. I was ashamed. People taking me to dinner-I thought they had pity on me. " These contrasting poles of feeling Feldenkrais would call 'omnipotence' and ' insignificance, ' and he believed that we all harbor the dichotomy in the heart of our self-image. Feelings of omnipotence carry over from the experience of being a "new­ born baby [where the] sensory subj ective reality . . . goes with the sense of omnipotence . . . At the beginning, the newborn has everyone around con­ cerned with his well-being . " However, the child will see the feeling of omnipotence "shrink for the rest of his life . If he is lucky it will not become negative, but there are few who escape having at least streaks of it turned into a sense of inferiority. " Feelings of omnipotence allow us to exercise "the curiosity to try anything once to see what happens . " But "every act of disap­ proval" results in "eroding subj ective reality" and "reduced internal life . " 1 50



Young Moshe's j ourney intensified both poles of experience, and his awareness of their dynamics. Much of Feldenkrais's work aimed at expanding our inner life and regaining our lost sense of omnipotence, without which we cannot pursue our dreams and realize our potentialities. Without some trust in his feelings of omnipotence, Feldenkrais would have lacked the courage to leave home. But he understood that feelings of insig­ nificance mean more than a sense of inferiority. Insignificance also contributes to our sense of the infinitude of possibilities and our place in the larger uni­ verse. Perhaps to maintain a sense of balance, a famous Hasidic rabbi carried a piece of paper in his coat pocket. Written on one side of the paper was "I am dust"; on the other side was written, "The world was created for me. " 15 1 What Feldenkrais came to realize, as he later wrote in The Potent Self, is that We are at the same time the most important person in the world (the world that counts for us, that is) , and of utter insignificance, from a universal point of view. . . . We are masters in the precincts of our immediate selves and slaves outside of them. 1 52

Moshe's troupe finally left mountainous central Europe for the northern ports of the Adriatic: From Vienna we went to Trieste. And in Trieste we couldn't get a ship . . . . So we went to Fiume [ Rej ika, Croatia] . And then we found a ship, the Buchovina. That ship was actually a cargo ship. They were loading cement in Fiume from Yugoslavia. And boards for Palestine, actually. But it was for Arabs . . . . So, in Fiume we got onto that [ship] . . . and we slept on the boards. 1 53

As the Buchovina chugged under summer skies from port to port down the Adriatic and across the eastern Mediterranean, it must have been quite a con­ trast to the daily uncertainties and adventures of crossing Europe. The seemingly interminable passage gave Feldenkrais time to contemplate the uncertainties that lay ahead and one big difference from where he had grown up: You can't imagine, arriving from Russia where there is minus forty degrees and there it was hot. And there are these southern winds . . . We went from [Fiume] to Trieste, Bari, Brindisi . . . and at each place we [loaded] some more stuff . . . And from there we went to Jaffa [Palestine's major port] . 1 54


ERETZ YISRAEL, 19 19-19 3 0 [About the beginning ofTel Aviv:] We will never be granted peace like the peace we had here at first, until the Messiah comes. - S .Y. Agnon , "From Lodging to Lodging, " in A Book That Was Lost, and

Other Stories

We are what we make ourselves, and not what circumstances make us. -

Emile Coue, SelfMastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion

Jiuj itsu was probably invented in Japan more than twenty centuries ago . According to the legend, a physician first had the idea because of his astonish­ ment at how the different branches of a tree were resisting the weight of snow. Strong and rigid ones would resist for a long time without bending but would end up breaking up under the weight of the snow; in contrast, the narrow and flexible ones would not resist, but would obediently bend and would straighten up again once the snow had slid off. - Moshe Feldenkrais, SelfDefense

JAFFAS PORT IS PERHAPS the oldest in the Mediterranean. It beckons seafarers with St. Peter's steeple, rising atop the town's fortified promontory. Past the harbor's breakwater, in the old city's clamorous market, other rowers vie fo r attention: the clock tower from the e n d of the Ottomans' 200-year rule, and the tall, slender tower of the nearby mosque. 1 The cargo ship Buchovina, bearing Moshe Feldenkrais and his cohorts, came to Jaffa in late summer of 1 9 1 9 . It was the grateful end of a torturously indirect, three-week passage in unrelenting heat. 2 The Buchovina anchored outside the harbor until B ritish patrols came to board and check the immi­ grants' papers. Feldenkrais watched and waited for the small vessels to arrive that would row him and the others ashore. As he finally set foot on land, Feldenkrais's legs were rubbery. Gathering his bearings, he was flooded with the impressions of this foreign, Middle Eastern land. Glaring light and dark shadows etched every surface, guttural Arabic flowed between quick gestures, dry tastes and smells coated his nostrils and mouth. Shmuel Yosef Agno n ( 1 8 8 8- 1 9 7 0 ) , the first Nobel Prize winner fo r literature written i n Hebrew, paints a vivid scene o f Jaffa around the time of Feldenkrais's arrival: A caravan of camels plodded by, four-legged porters carrying rwice their weight. Behind them came their driver, a two-legged camel crooning to Allah for strength. People passed . . . A dentist drove by in a carriage and the coachman cried, " Cheap! Cheap! Cheap! Twelve bishliks a tooth, teeth pulled for twelve bishliks!" Men and women crowded around, and the dentist pulled their teeth.


The [square] was teeming. Arabs stood selling cold drinks on crates filled with bottles and glasses. Here and there a white Panama hat gleamed amid the forest of red fezes . Shopkeepers sat in front of their shops, hawking bolts of fabric and colorful clothes in loud voices . Greek vendors hunched over their coals and spits of meat. A big beefsteak draped with gold tinsel hung before a butcher shop, glittering brightly despite the bugs and flies swarming over it. An old Arab straddled a basket of bananas, peeling them unhurriedly for customers who stood spitting out the seeds. Sailors from all over strutted with outthrust chests as if to embrace every female that their hungry eyes devoured. A semicircle of squatting women sold cut flowers and wild lilies :1

The fire of Zionist idealism and the stark reality of anti-Semitism j oined to bring settlers to Palestine. The immigrants came in successive waves, called aliyas, meaning "returns" or, more literally, "ascents . " The anti-Semitic vio­ lence after the assassination of Alexander II in 1 8 8 1 sparked the First Aliya. Idealistic halyut (pioneers) forged agricultural settlements on lands bought from the Arabs by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild ( 1 845-1 934) and other visionary philanthropists . Thirty-five thousand came. The half that stayed established agricultural cooperatives, forerunners of the kibbutzim, one of the world's purest experiments in communism, and one of its rare success stories.4 The Second Aliya began in 1 904, the year of Feldenkrais's birth, after another resurgence of pogroms in southern Russia. Forty-thousand strong, it brought Tel Aviv's founders to Palestine. It also brought the leaders who helped create the institutions of lsraeli society. These included Israel's first and second presi­ dents, Chaim Weizmann ( 1 874- 1 9 5 2) and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi ( 1 884- 1 963) , and its first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion ( 1 8 8 6- 1 973) . Ben-Gurion and Ben-Zvi were among the remarkable number of Israel's founding fathers who would know Moshe Feldenkrais and benefit from his lessons. Until April 1 1 , 1 90 9 , what would become Tel Aviv had been no more than sand and rocks. 5 A group called Ahuzzat Bayit (Homestead, or Housing Property Society) planned a settlement arranged on a grid of five streets. They bought about twelve acres of land, divided it into sixty plots, and built houses on each one. On May 2 1 , 1 9 1 0 , they renamed the town "Tel Aviv. " 6 One of the chief builders, responsible for fifty of the original houses, was Aaron Chelouche, a Sephardic Jew and a landowner from the minority of Jewish families who had lived in the Middle East for generations. He had founded Neve Tsedek, a Jewish neighborhood outside Jaffa, even before the founding of Tel Aviv. (His grandson Aaron Cheylouse, a security official, later studied with Feldenkrais.) Aaron Chelouche himself lived in a mansion on what became Chelouche Street. In order to attract Jewish settlers to the new neighborhood, he established a synagogue in his courtyard.7 By 1 9 1 4 Tel Aviv seemed a city under construction. It had a population of two thousand, the world's first Hebrew college-the Herzliya Gymnasium-

E R E T Z Y r s RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


and even a cinema. But the same war that plunged Feldenkrais's world of Eastern Europe into chaos wreaked havoc in the Middle East. Growth stalled. Zionist leaders debated the allegiance that would best serve their cause. Ben-Gurion opted for Turkish citizenship. Then the Turks decided that Jews were allies of Britain and began to dismantle the Zionist project and, in the summer of 1 9 1 4, terminated Jewish immigration. They began to expel Jews from Palestine. Tel Aviv was completely emptied. Most of the 1 8 , 000 refu­ gees-about 1 3 percent of the Jewish population-went to Egypt. There, the heroic Josef Trumpeldor ( 1 8 80- 1 920) persuaded the British to form the first of what would become three Jewish regiments; two were ready in time to take part in the World War. When the tide turned in 1 9 1 7 and General Edmund Henry Allenby ( 1 86 1 - 1 936) led British troops to expel the Ottoman Turks, Trumpeldor's 3 8 th King's Fusiliers were part of the operation. With Palestine in British hands, Arthur James Balfour ( 1 848- 1 930) , the foreign secretary, issued the famous proclamation that supported the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. News of the Balfour promise spread rapidly to shreds across eastern Europe. A young generation was being educated in the networks of Zionist schools, such as Bet Tarbut, and trained in youth groups such as the Tzerei Zion (Young Zionists) . After the First World War, political turmoil, including the Russian Revolution , brought more persecution. Between 1 9 1 9 and 1 92 3 , the Third Aliya brought 34,000, mostly young, new immigrants to Eretz Yisrael-the land of Israel. There they would make for themselves, at long last, a life free from oppression. Moshe Feldenkrais arrived in Palestine j ust as the Third Aliya began. 8 Tel Aviv, not yet ten years old, and without a port to receive the immigrant ships, was then a small Jewish town about fifteen minutes on foot from Jaffa. My grandfather's cousin Ada arrived soon afterward. She left Ukraine and j oined the Kiryat Anavim (City of Grapes) kibbutz soon after it was formed in 1 920 on a beautiful hillside near Jerusalem. 9 Many immigrants first came to farm the land, but the maj ority, like Feldenkrais, would choose to live an urban life. When the dream to create "the first all-Jewish city" again became possible, Tel Aviv's population had dwindled to 1 5 00. 10 The Third Aliya was an enor­ mous stimulus to Tel Aviv's development. But Tel Aviv had scant housing for the thousands of arriving immigrants, and the immigrants had no money to pay for the few, increasingly costly, accommodations. Tent villages sprawled over the dunes. Feldenkrais shared a tent on the beach with Ze' ev "Wolf" Kovensky, another Baranovicher, who was some ten years his senior. By 1 930, the year that Feldenkrais left to study in France, the tents were only a mem­ ory: The new immigrants had built Tel Aviv into a city, erecting almost 4,000 buildings in the process. Though hastily constructed, the early structures possessed an Ottoman grace. Feldenkrais's group, and other workers, made careful use of window

M o s H E F E L D E N K RA I S

coverings and shaded overhangs t o protect against a sun that shone intensely for much of the year. On my trips to Tel Aviv I was moved at the sight of the original buildings still standing in the old parts of the city. Feldenkrais belonged to the Baranovich Workers' Cooperative. He and the Anekstein brothers were the first Baranovichers to immigrate. Soon Ze' ev and others arrived in Eretz Yisrael, and Ze' ev became the leader of. . . . . . the group of Baranovich . . . we lived [together] . . . about twenty from that place. We worked together. We built a whole neighborhood of houses. We built [the] first three houses on Allenby Street. Actually, the first was Dr. Muslim, the head of the gymnasium in Tel Aviv. In which I afterwards studied myself. I built him his house. I participated in the building of eighty­ four houses in Israel. I also drove the first barrel of salt from Adit. Adit is a port town , and we made pools there. You take the seawater and evaporate it . . . and get salt. Sea salt. And of course we used it ourselves and sold it . . . I worked on the first houses near King George Street. There were no roads, no pavement, j ust sand . . . I worked [in construction] for [many] yearsY

Moshe and the rest of the Baranovich crew worked to build the Nachalat Binyamin (Florentine) area of Tel Aviv, the second neighborhood constructed in Tel Aviv, after the original Neve Tsedek. The tent city, where Feldenkrais's entire Baranovich group lived, was called " Kalisher" after a nearby street that had been named for a famous rabbi. 12 It was a vulnerable encampment and would soon become a buffer between Arab Jaffa and Jewish Tel Aviv. Why [did we live] in the tents? Because the place where we were building was on Tel Aviv side, but the other side was sand, and then the Arab Jaffa. About a kilometer and a half of sand. And as we built the houses, people were afraid to come in to live there because they had nothing between them and the Arabs. And there were already beginning animosities ... here and there ... So, we lived in the tents, built the houses ... and actually at night we were their protection from any sort of incursion. 13

The antagonisms between Arabs and Jews were far from what they would become. As Feldenkrais recalled, I used to buy everything in an Arab shop [in Jaffa] , and I became very friendly with them . . . We had Arabs [who] would bring . . . on their camels, the cement from Jaffa. Two barrels of cement on a camel . . . The Arab who owned these camels became a very close friend of mine. And many Jews had friendly relations. 14

Other aspects of his construction experience that Feldenkrais remembered were how [w] e came from a cold country where winter was minus 40 degrees. And we came [to] a tropical country, hot and sunny. At the beginning, it was very nice.

ERETZ Y1sRAEL, 1 9 1 9-19 3 0


But then you have to work a whole day on a building . . . We had no machinery, so we had to make the floor on the second floor to make a ceiling. It was made of concrete with iron. We used to carry it on stretchers . . . and walk up two flights of stairs with about two hundred- or three hundredweight of cement, concrete . . . And go eight hours a day carrying things like that t o the second and third floor. It was incredibly hard work. But nobody thought much of it, everybody did it. . . I started s o young . . . I was really strong. [I had] phenomenal strengrh. 15

Poet Nathaniel Natan recalled from when he was a child how Feldenkrais carried his brother and him, one on each shoulder, climbing scaffolds to reach the upper floors of buildings under construction and nimbly walking over the roof beams. Still, Feldenkrais was awed by the feats of his friend, Ze' ev Kovensky. Stronger than any of his peers, Kovensky could carry two stone steps, one under each arm, while he held a bucket of cement hanging from his teeth and climbed a scaffold. Apparently it didn't do his teeth any harm: when he was hospitalized at the age of 80 for cataract surgery, the nurse asked him to take out his teeth. He told her he'd rather not-his teeth were his own. 1 6 The "group of Baranovich" constructed more than housing. They swung heavy stones, like buckets in a fire brigade, to erect the upper walls of the largest synagogue in Tel Aviv. This building, the great Allenby Synagogue, completed in 1 92 1 , even today is an impressive structure. Yelling all day across the noisy work sites, Feldenkrais's voice often grew hoarse. He believed that he never lost some hoarseness from those years of overuse. The stress caused by overuse of his voice added to an already-present tendency to lose his voice in situations of emotional insecurity. Mia Segal, who would become Feldenkrais's first assistant, said of the early p10neers: Many. . . that came in those days lived poorly. They had little food and little money, and they had very poor clothing. These were people who came with nothing to a country that had nothing, to people who had nothing, and they had to make from nothing, something. 17

Feldenkrais said: We did [the work] not because of the pay, [but] because we were interested in developing the land, the Promised Land. [We] had "le feu sacre." [In] French, that means "the holy fire . " [Ir was the] first time that the Jews could do some­ thing with our hands . We were terribly proud of that. To be a worker, to . . . clean the septic things . . . we considered that a n honor. . . something [that] would show. . . how great people we are. We didn't want anybody else for that. We could get other people to do it. But we prided ourselves to do it. Ir stank. Ir was awful. Bur we did it thinking that now we are becoming really free people-becoming



workers. The land belongs t o the workers, not to anybody else. The people who do something with it. And that's what we did. 18

His words resonate with those of Aaron David Gordon ( 1 8 5 6- 1 922) , founder of the Zionist Young Worker (Hapoel Hatzair) party in Palestine: The Land of Israel will not be Jewish, even if Jews settle in it and buy land, unless they work the land with their own hands . For the land is not really that of its owners , but its workers. 1 9

Gordon was neither a socialist nor a religious Jew. Inspired by the Russian writer Lev (Leo) Tolstoy, he came during the Second Aliya and set an example for what he pointedly called a "religion of labor. " According to Gordon, The ultimate foundation of all works of the spirit is physical labor. That is, it is their foundation not in an economic sense but in a moral sense, in the sense of constituting a foundation of truth for all constructions of the spirit.20 The emphasis should be not o n the workers' portion of the immediate material benefits of labor but on the work itself-that is, its creativity and the spiritual benefit contained in it. 21

Despite the poverty, and unsettled relations with nearby Arabs, life in Tel Aviv was vibrant with enthusiasm. Parents and grandparents, along with their rules and restrictions, were back in Europe. Here were mostly youth-passionate, j oyful, and intoxicated with their freedom. They had the energy to work hard all day and play on the beach all night against the light of the bonfires. The writer S .Y. Agnon poetically evokes the feeling of those times: You could walk fo rever and never tire of the m urmur of the sea and the smell of the sand. And what in the whole world tasted better than the salt on your lips? 22

The immigrants from the first three aliyas were explosively creative. They built schools, a modern language, and a system of j ustice; they created new forms of music, dance, theater, and poetry; they formed new institutions for agriculture, labor, commerce, politics, diplomacy, and defense. Feldenkrais recalled Tel Aviv's pioneer days as virtually utopian, the nearest to an ideal soci­ ety that he would ever experience. Above all, Feldenkrais valued how people helped each other spontaneously, without any sense of obligation, because they were j oined in a common purpose. Pioneer Israel was the society that came closest to his ultimate model of cooperation: the biological cooperation exist­ ing between cells in an organism.23 In fifty years the pioneers would accomplish cultural evolution and economic development decades faster than most would have believed possible. After arriving in Palestine, Feldenkrais stayed in contact with his mother through letters . Unfortunately few of these correspondences are preserved,

E R E T Z Y 1 S RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


however, we have a letter he wrote i n the summer o f 1 920. Much o f the context for its raw feelings is left to the imagination: My dear mother, If you only knew what this kind of letter does to me, you would not have written as you did. The one thing that consoles me in your letter, in which I feel no trace of anger or bad memories about me, is this: if there is a God, a golden star would have to fall in front of me: I would be rich, and I would be able to provide you with naches [blessings] and enjoyment to my heart's desire. Concerning Berele [his brother, Baruch] I can tell you that I am happy for him that they have accepted his certificate [permission to travel to Palestine] . I am happy because you and dad are so fond of him. It would be a rachmones [?] if this could happen here in Eretz Yisrael. The people here are all fine noble souls . . . and . . . good in the heart. You must understand that if I had only been able I would have made things right with him. But to bring on a . . . and for nothing? In Gymnasium itself, it must cost 2 pounds a month, nu, by the way. And what is the goal? I have gone through a lot, and have learnt to kick with both trousers . . . And you and dad still don't see it until now. You think that if he were farther away, it would be better for him. The child gets everything from the parents, but not more than they are able. If he is so capable as you write, how old does he hang onto his mother's coattails? And to send him to Eretz Yisrael-you are going to put him on the most huge and difficult . . . -plain and simple. In this matter I can't understand my brother and sister-they are no longer two-year-olds. Yet their letter they write like real children: Greetings and zay gezund [hello and goodbye] . I cannot take on myself the man's life, especially when it's my own brother. And what can I explain for him [Berele] when I don't know what he is and who he is? That he is my mother's and father's child is a small thing to me. Was I not then the first born? Do I not then remember dad's promise not to be at any Simhah [celebration] for me? Have you not wept over the blood which you spilled for me? But in the eyes of the world I am the dear child. And mother's-young pretty mother's-wishes that her children shall grow up, so healthy, so lovely, a man such as your father and teacher. My dear mother, I write you the truth this way, not from pride, only because this is the little bit of naches [blessings] that I can offer you-that you should no longer cry about the blood that you have spilt for me. I hope that I will still be allowed to bring you more j oy and my greatest wish is that you should be able to rest a bit. If I remember well, your picture . . . with the black photo of you alongside it, your face thinned out but full of goodness, that you have persevered for us, and


fo r everyone. There i s nobody more saintly i n the world. You should not have to wait for naches in your older years. Zay mir gezund, my dear mother, and know that it's your face, your memory, chat has brought me to every good thing that I have made or done for you and for everyone. Greetings to father and Berele and Malka. Why haven't they writ­ ten like menchen [mature people J ? They are no longer children. Your son, Moshe

In 1 9 1 9 , when Feldenkrais arrived, Palestine was still under military rule. Only after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles did Britain take political con­ trol and create a civil authority. In 1 920 the British appointed Herbert Samuel ( 1 870- 1 963) High Commissioner for Palestine. In 1 922 they recognized the Jewish Agency formed by the World Zionist Organization to represent Jewish interests and an Arab council, headed by the Mufti of Jerusalem, to represent the Arabs. Samuel, a Jew, was committed to the Zionist vision, but he made great efforts to not appear partial to his own people. Feldenkrais had strong feelings about the British: [The] trouble between Jews and Arabs continues until today with the fomented hatred that the British introduced between the Jews and the Arabs. Because Arabs and Jews throughout their history lived like cousins together. And during the golden era of our culture, the [Maimonides] era, lived our greatest poets, and the Arab's greatest poets and mathematicians. [Maimonides] [ 1 1 3 5 - 1 204] wrote some of his books in Arabic and some in Hebrew. And so did the Arabs. They knew Hebrew. It was the Golden Age for both of them. And they never had any quarrel. And then came the British and they produced a hatred, which for 2000 years wasn't there between Jews and Arabs. And so when I arrived in Palestine, we were a small group of people. And we never settled on any piece of land that wasn't boughc.24

The collision between Jews and Arabs came partly from British policies. But other factors intensified the Arab-Jewish conflict. Among these were the rise of Arab nationalism-harnessed by T.E. Lawrence ( 1 8 8 8- 1 9 3 5 ) , "Lawrence of Arabia, " during World War I-and the impact of increased Jewish immi­ gration. In 1 9 1 7, Palestine's 5 0 , 000 Jews comprised only 7 . 5 percent of its population; only in Jerusalem and a few other towns were they the maj or­ ity. In 1 922, the number of Jews had risen to 84,000, about 1 1 percent, and by 1 93 5 , it had mushroomed to over 25 percent of the population , totaling about 320,000. Jews became a majority in the land of Israel only in the late 1 940s, when refugees from Hitler and the Holocaust were allowed no other destination. The Balfour Declaration appeared to promise a homeland for Jews in Palestine, but it was intentionally ambiguous. Its interpretation and implementation

E R E T Z Y r s RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


shifted with B ritain's geopolitical obj ectives and the tides o f its politics. As Feldenkrais's comments at various times show, much of what was decided pleased neither its advocates nor opponents: In the [English] colonial office there were many people who didn't want Jews to come to Palestine. 2 5 [But] there was a British Mandate, and the British, being very great experts in politics, use that rule the Romans invented: divide and conquer. . . You can rule for no expense, but with a lot of bloodshed. 26 So that in the end, the [Jews and Arabs] stood against each other, killing each other. 27 They did the same thing in India. [Not] only the English do it, all those who rule other people do that. There is no other way of [ruling] . That's the experience of the world. . . [What would happen] i s that the British would begin some kind o f trouble, and while Jews and Arabs were hitting each other, the British never intervened. They would send the police force to make peace, but the police force was more concerned with their horses than with the blood that was shed. They would come to the outskirts of the city, and they would stop there for two hours to feed their horses. They would come into the city when there were already 50 dead on each side. Then they would. . . disarm those who were there with weapons. [And] the Arabs had swords and daggers, but as they wore them daily, it was considered their attire and so not being armed . . . But if a Jew had a knife . . . he was taken into custody because he was armed and responsible for any trouble. 28

In April 1 920 there were Arab riots in Jerusalem where hundreds of Jews were either killed or wounded. At that time, local communities relied on regionally based self-defense groups called Hashomer, meaning "the watch­ man . " The riots brought about the dissolution of Hashomer and the formation, in June 1 92 0 , of the Haganah, which would become Israel's first centrally organized self-defense organization. Starting i n 1 92 1 , and fo r the next nine years, the Haganah was a loose affiliation of the local Jewish defense groups. They were networked through the Histadrut, the Federation of Jewish Workers, the preeminent and all-encom­ passing institution of Zionist labor. The tent city of workers where Moshe lived, on the two-kilometer frontier between Arab Jaffa to the south and Jewish Tel Aviv to the north, was part of the Haganah network. We all formed the Haganah, which means the self-defense force. We were 300 young men and we had nothing-we didn't even have knives, but only sticks . So we put ourselves together, we started learning . . . so as to be able to take care of the population who couldn't defend themselves at all.29

Though mostly unarmed, the Haganah slowly acquired weapons from abroad through illicit missions. Feldenkrais recalled when he and other armed young men took turns keeping guard at night; he was bemused and impressed at how one of his friends


could sleep while standing o n guard duty, leaning o n the butt o f his rifle. We can place Feldenkrais at the scene of violent episodes, and it is probable that he fought on more than one occasion. He didn't care to talk about his combat experiences, but Feldenkrais said he learned to be ready to kill if the need presented itself. There was nothing yet resembling a Jewish police force, let alone a military, so the Haganah organized self-defense training fo r both its members and the populace. It was here that Feldenkrais first encountered j iuj itsu, taught by a young man from Berlin who had studied with a police instructor there. Feldenkrais and his friends later found a j i uj itsu training manual that was written, apparently, by the same Berlin instructor. After some time, we were all "big experts" in j iuj itsu. We were training every evening. But then it was quiet for a few months, so people stopped training and gave it up.3 0

In May 1 92 1 Arabs rioted in Jaffa. The violence spread; Arabs came to Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva, and other settlements to attack Jews. One hundred and forty-six Jews were wounded and 46 killed. Fishel Feldenkrais, a cousin of Moshe's , was slain on the road to Petah Tikva. 3 1 Also killed was Joseph Hayyim Brenner ( 1 8 8 1 - 1 92 1 ) , Israel's leading Hebrew writer. As historian Ilan Shchori, writes: Shortly afterwards the killing, robbery and looting started. No policemen were seen in the area and the rioters entered the neighborhoods of"Manshiya," "Neve Shalom," and "Neve Tzedek" . . . The British police was indifferent and helpless . The Arab policemen took part in the riots. Many Jews had made a home in Jaffa, living peacefully among the Arabs, but in the wake of the riots, hundreds fled their homes. They had nowhere else to go, so they crowded into the tent cities on the beach.32

The riots of 1 92 1 marked a historical turn fo r the worse in Arab-] ewish relations and underscored the need for Jewish self-defense. When the trouble started again, it turned out that all those who didn't know j iuj itsu, who hadn't trained in that way-none of them were inj ured or killed because they all ran away and hid. But the "big experts" went against knives and swords with naked hands or with a stick, and half of them were killed or wounded.33

The self-defense techniques they had been taught proved ineffective against Arab knife and sword attacks. I couldn't take it. I felt that this j iuj itsu is an idiotic system. Obviously if I trained all my life, and was interested in being a samurai and focused all my life on training, on fighting, I would be ready all the time ... But if you study for

£ R E T Z YI S RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


two months and then have two years without training, and then believe chat you can take a sword out of someone's hands who wants to kill you, then you are a [naive] idioc.34

The practical problems of self-defense would continue to occupy Feldenkrais's attention-in Palestine, afterward in France, and later in Scotland during the Second World War. How could an ordinary citizen gain the self-defense skills that one day might prove crucial? Feldenkrais learned what he could from jiuj itsu and other fighting arts, and began to devise ideas of his own . Many of Feldenkrais's accounts, in this chapter and the next, derive from Dennis Leri's 1 976 interview. At the time, Dennis and I were fellow students, in Feldenkrais's 1 975- 1 978 Professional Training Program in San Francisco. The interview traces Moshe's participation in the martial arts, from his joining the Haganah as a teenager, to learning j iujitsu, meeting Kano-j udo's founder, and, finally, his teaching and scientific investigation of j udo. Dennis, a stu­ dent of Feldenkrais's since 1 973, a longtime student of tai chi chuan, Aikido, and, later, kung fu, was exceptionally qualified to interview Moshe on this important subject.

Self-defense activities remained a constant in Feldenkrais's life, but his academic interests resurged sometime before 1 923 when he returned to the gymnasium to finish earning his high school diploma. By his own account, four years had passed since he left Russia, during which he had little time for or interest in reading and scholarship. From our knowledge of his read­ ing of August Fore! and his long hours of Hebrew study as a child, it is hard to envisage Feldenkrais not opening a book for four years. Were his energies completely absorbed by hard labor, self-defense, and consuming romances? Feldenkrais told two different stories about his intellectual rebirth. One related the aftermath of an illness, the other a response to feelings of social outrage. The latter concerns his experience on an opening night of the Tel Aviv opera. The Baranovich group helped construct a venue fo r opera in Tel Aviv. Jewish intellectual and artistic culture were among the highest priorities of urbanization. Feldenkrais's chronology fits with the 1 923 arrival of the famous Russian conductor Mordechai Golinkin ( 1 87 5- 1 963) , director of the Odessa Opera. The Palestine Opera, set up by Golinkin, held its first performance at the Eden Theatre on Lilenbaum Street. The Eden was built in 1 9 1 3 and was used for cinema, music, and other events; adapting the building for opera performances would have required maj o r renovation by Feldenkrais's crew. Golinkin debuted there on July 2 8 , 1 92 3 , with a performance of Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata. In Feldenkrais's words: And the first night came, . . . I , who sweated my guts out building the bloody place, and all the ocher people, we came. We were in shores. I put on a clean



white shirt, shorts, and I had no other shoes but football shoes. But I was clean.35 I came to the first opera performance and they didn't let me in! The house I built for them. I did it from the foundation to the top.36 They said, "You need evening dress . We won't let you in." So I say, " Damn you. I built that bloody place for you, and you won't let me in?" They said, "No. It's the rules. Evening dress for the first night."

Feldenkrais found this unbearable: hypocritical and elitist. He had given himself completely to make a utopian society where dignity was earned through work. A deep sense of moral outrage arose, that such idealism would be taken advantage of and class distinctions reasserted. I considered that such an insult. . . I decided from that time [to] go back to studying, and I will get. .. They will have to ask me to come. It will be an honor for them to ask me. And that's what I did . . . I gave up work. 37 I got my old books . . . I went t o live i n m y tent and began t o learn all over again.3 8

Much of this account of Feldenkrais's return to school is taken from the

Medicine Man television series with Dr. Stephen Langer in 1 98 1 . But during the same year, in his autobiographical video from Amherst, Massachusetts, he also explains his return to study as an accident born of illness.

Caught up in the spirit of nation building and camaraderie, Feldenkrais burned the candle at both ends. He recalled those years as "the happiest time of his life. "39 Photos and memories testify to his remarkable strength and beauty as a youth. He boasted of having many girlfriends, sometimes more than one on the same day. Possessed with "feelings of omnipotence," a sense of invulnerability con­ ferred by youth, passion, and his own great strength, he would learn-"whether he wanted to or not" was a favorite expression-that his omnipotence was more fragile than he imagined. "I worked all day, and [then went] dancing. " 40 He seriously neglected his sleep and his diet, and I fell ill, .. .it turned out that I had some infection on the liver, an abscess on the liver or something . . . I was in the hospital for several months and they thought I was dying. . . I used to vomit anything they gave me to eat . . . Many doctors, pro­ fessionals, came to visit. .. and they presented me, they examined me, until one came and told them, "Look, give him a few drops of iodine, j ust ordinary iodine. Give him five drops, three times a day. He will stop vomiting. " And they did . . . When I left that place, the doctors said, "You cannot go to work as you are. You'll ruin your heart. You must rest at least two months not working any more." So, I became the cook of the group. I used to go to the Arab shops and buy things. I would cook their meal, and, because of that, I remained in the group. And, they used to come for lunch, and in the evening . . . I cooked for them two meals

E R E T Z Y 1 s RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


a day. Then I found myself being terribly bored in between the cooking, because ... the cooking there . . . was done on petrol. . . things with some sort of a wick. Took two hours to boil something. And so, I took out my old books: my geometry and algebra, and physics. And, while the damn thing was simmering, then I started reading again . . . And I learned, and I thought, "I am going to study agai n . " But I saw no hope for that. But I thought, "I want it. " 41

Feldenkrais's resiliency, curiosity, and openness to new possibilities, enabled him to make the best of the situation his illness compelled. He always loved food and found that he enj oyed cooking, though he later came to prefer the pleasure of others' hospitality. His image of himself began to change. No lon­ ger a laborer, and now enacting the roles of cook and scholar, Feldenkrais saw his fellow workers from a new perspective. And Ze' ev, seeing for the first time, perhaps, the extent of his passion for study, saw a new side of Feldenkrais, too. Being a good friend with a generous heart, Ze' ev may have begun to encourage Moshe to move in new directions. The way in which Feldenkrais turned time that might have been wasted into an opportunity for learning was a pattern that played out many times in his life. Pain, inj ury, illness, or misfortune would be the occasion for writing, study, and creative insights.

Whatever reasons brought him back to books, Feldenkrais's intellectual rebirth was easily sparked. His thirst for learning was passionate, never purely i ntellectual . Learning always meant continuing self-improvement. Real thought, according to Feldenkrais, leads to a change in action; by the same token, learning to act entails new ways of thinking. He became a voracious autodidact. He took night classes . He was interested in everything: science and mathematics, history and politics, along with literature, philosophy, psy­ chology, and religion. As he gained back his strength, he participated in soccer and other sports and continued his testing of self-defense techniques. But now the time had come to meet the challenge of acquiring a formal education. To enter a university, Feldenkrais needed a high school diploma-but he had not finished high school in Baranovich. He could easily have passed a high school equivalency exam, based on his previous schooling, his intellectual brilliance, and his self-education. But local rules required that he attend the Herzliya Gymnasium for two years ro be eligible for a diploma.42 Much more than a high school, the Herzliya Gymnasium was one of lsrael's cultural centers . It had the distinction of being the world's first Hebrew­ language high school. Dr. Yehuda Matman-Cohen and his wife established the school in 1 90 5 with a small group of students. It was first called the Hebrew Gymnasium and was located in Jaffa. A benefactor from Bradford, England, then bought a large plot of land for a new site in what would later become Tel Aviv. In 1 907, the cornerstone for the future Herzliya Gymnasium was laid,


and in 1 909 they erected " a beautiful colonial building, only two stories, "43 together with houses for the school's original directors. When the gymnasium opened in 1 9 1 1 , Dr. Mozenson was its first principal . The original building was, unfortunately, torn down in the early 1 960s. The Herzliya Gymnasium quickly grew in size and renown . Even from abroad, parents sent their children for a Jewish, Hebrew-language education. But many terms still lacked words in the Hebrew language, and the gymna­ sium was a catalyst for moving Hebrew into the modern age. In the early years Jews in Palestine spoke a polyglot mix of Russian, Polish, German, Romanian, Yiddish, Arabic, and Ladino, a dialect of 1 4th-century Castilian Spanish spo­ ken by Sephardic Jews. By 1 922, Hebrew had become so widespread that the British recognized Hebrew, along with English and Arabic, as one of Palestine's three official languages. Some of the best creative minds gathered at the Herzliya Gymnasium for education, research, social meetings, and other events. It had the largest hall in Tel Aviv and hosted lectures, theater, music, and dance performances. Welcoming parties for important celebrities and dignitaries were held there. In 1 920, when Herbert Samuel, Palestine's first high commissioner, arrived in Tel Aviv, he was honored with festivities at the gymnasium. During the May 1 92 1 riots, the Herzliya Gymnasium served as the central hospital, and a conference room was set aside for Haganah meetings. As a laborer, the first house Feldenkrais built was the home of Dr. Muslim, the first director of the Herzliya Gymnasium. Now he meant to establish a different relationship to that institution. I went to the Herzliya Gymnasium and presented myself to the examiners to go into the seventh year, and the next year for matriculation . . . And, a few days later, I came there and found my name among the first few passed for the highest slot. I was very pleased. But, I stood and turned, "So what?" I can't go to the school. I can't pay them. [I] didn't dare to even ask them to accept me. I looked, [at] all the other people . . . I was too old already. . . in high school, there were people seventeen . . . And I looked queer with my shorts and football things . . . I was sorry to forsake my dream, about having a diploma, and that I would [not] be able to continue my studies. And I was thinking about the research that I could do, that maybe I could find something that was never done before. But I didn't see myself being able to go back, and a grown up man, a hard working man . . . to go with those kids and study for two years . . . But there was a wonderful person at the school at that time, and his name was Dr. [Abraham] Zifroni. 44

A teacher of literature and Talmud at the gymnasium, Dr. Zifroni ( 1 8 8 21 933) was a very funny, big man with flat feet, but extremely kind, intelligent. I loved the man. 4 5 [He] was known for his understanding of his students, [and] taking part

E R E T Z Y I S RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0

in their lives. He probably saw me standing there and understood that I am in great trouble. 46 I obviously . . . expressed some sort of sadness on my face . . . I was going away, down the steps, 4 7 schlepping myself out of the building, 48 and then this man, . . . actually [he was) one of the people who examined me, Dr. Zifroni stepped out and said,49 "And what will you do now?" I said, 'TU go back to work on the buildings . " "But maybe you want t o give some private lessons. Can you teach?'" 0 I looked at him. I couldn't understand . . . he was talking to me? I said, "What do you mean teach. I never taught anybody. I don't know anything myself. " He said, "Do you want a lesson or not?" So I said, "If you think I can teach some­ body something, yes. I need the lesson because I haven't got the money to pay the school." He . . . took out a card, [and] wrote . . . " 5 1

Dr. Zifroni inscribed an introduction on the card to the parents of a girl who needed a tutor. More than likely, the girl's mother was Dvora Baron ( 1 8 8 7- 1 9 5 6) , a Hebrew teacher who became a respected writer. Her father then would have been Yosef Aaronowitz, editor of the Labor newspaper Hapoel Hatzair and a future leader of the Labor Party. 52 Between the father who was a politician, and mother who was a writer, the little girl's [life) was j ust distorted . . . And, of course, she didn't do well in school. And this Dr. Zifroni gave me an introduction to them and asked them to pay me three pounds a month, which was a fortune . . . A family could live a month for two pounds. And he wrote on the card to pay me that. And that was my first teaching experience. I taught that girl about a year. And with that money I went into the high school, and got my matriculation. 5 ·3

His success with the girl brought Feldenkrais more private students, especially hard cases: Starting out, the only pupils he got were the ones who had been rej ected by all of the other tutors. It was a difficult job to get them to do anything, but he succeeded, therefore [showing] his skill in [understanding how) one learns. 54

Feldenkrais excelled as a math tutor. He loved math, and was good at it. His enjoyment was undoubtedly infectious. But whatever the subject, he had the ability to break down complex ideas into understandable components. He could always produce a concrete example that gave the substance of experi­ ence to any abstraction. Of all his creative gifts, he took the most pride in this. He once said, "My genius consists in being able to make abstract ideas concrete. " 55 Feldenkrais believed, "There are good teachers and bad teachers. But there are never bad pupils unless there are bad teachers. " 5 6 Any 'learning disability' could be overcome with sufficient intelligence and humanity. His reputation


grew a s people heard about his unorthodox methods and h i s successes with the "recalcitrant young learners of wealthy families. " 57 The confident Feldenkrais employed a clever payment strategy: he charged nothing for his lessons unless, or until, a pupil passed exams. Once the pupil was successful Moshe received a handsome fee. 58 Feldenkrais helped "children with learning blocks to take interest in education without forcing them to do so against their wills. "59 One illustrative case involved the son of a high school principal; it could have been the son of Dr. Mozenson, then principal of the Herzliya Gymnasium. The boy had a terrible math block, and his father's assistance had proved of no avail. When Feldenkrais began to tutor him, he noticed the boy gazing attentively out the window at a group playing football (soccer) . To the father's consternation, Feldenkrais decided to spend every lesson time at soccer, the boy's favorite activity. Eventually the boy's own initiative brought them back to the math desk, and soon he was earning top grades. 60 What brought about the turnaround? Feldenkrais's own account supplies no direct answers. But this vignette points toward fundamental ingredients in his approach to facilitating. Feldenkrais knew how to bring forth each person's unique interests. On the soccer field, he grew to know how the boy moved, thought, and felt about many things, not only soccer. Before they even opened a book, he perhaps began to ameliorate problems linked with the boy's math difficulties. Feldenkrais also implicitly established himself as the teacher, by teaching the boy a thing or two about the game. Feldenkrais gained rapport and created a positive relationship with the boy by finding common ground in their mutual love of soccer. He went with the current, not against it, by allowing the boy to do what he wanted, instead of forcing him to study. In the same way that jiuj itsu was an art of yielding, Feldenkrais's going with his pupil's interest was a j iuj itsu of learning. As he later put it, one should "not contradict the nervous system . " 61 Feldenkrais adamantly rejected labels and diagnoses and eschewed any attitude of correct­ ing problems. He was drawn to strength and built upon his students' strengths. Moshe shared the faith of his ancestor, Rabbi Pinhas, that "In everyone there is something precious, which is in no one else . " 62 Feldenkrais understood how our mental state and emotions affect our learning. He engaged the boy in an activity in which he experienced pleasure, confidence, and positive self-regard. If he had focused only on math, he might have kept triggering the boy's memories of failure together with their negative feelings and associations. Feldenkrais understood how feelings and capabilities transfer from one context to another. The shift to the soccer field drew out the boy's self-confidence, which Feldenkrais then helped transfer to the domain of mathematics. Another emotional ingredient could have been the boy's rebellious feelings toward his father. Feldenkrais understood such feelings from his relationship

ERETZ YrsRAEL, 1 9 19-1 9 3 0

with his own father. Though h e never had children o f his own, h e readily identified with children, perhaps more directly than with their parents-for he remained childlike in some respects. He used that rapport to foster learning. Through playing soccer he may have allied himself with the boy in common rebellion against his father. Such emotional support could have lessened the boy's concern about his father's approval and helped him become aware of his own desires and initiatives. The boy's own motives for learning math could then emerge. By creating a fun-filled, friendly learning environment, Feldenkrais helped the boy feel free of coercion and more in control of the situation. Initiative, or intention, was key to Feldenkrais's notion of learning. Learning must be stripped of external compulsion and based on our genuine desires to be optimally efficient and personally satisfying. The preface to Awareness Through Movement talks about the importance of self-education. Feldenkrais distin­ guishes three major factors governing our behavior: inheritance, enculturation, and self-education. Of these three factors, self-education is most important, because it "alone is to some extent in our own hands" and "appreciably sub­ j ect to will. " 63 Feldenkrais's return to fo rmal education at the gymnasium was a quintessential example of self-education: self-initiated learning-the fulfillment of his heart's desires. With the help of Dr. Zifroni, who gave him his start as a tutor and whose confidence deepened his faith in himself, and with additional help from his good friend, tent mate, and coworker, Ze'ev Kovensky, "I found my way. I mean I realized my dream. " 64 Feldenkrais later said nothing was more impor­ tant than our dreams. In explaining his role as a teacher, he said, "Everyone comes to me to learn they have a childhood dream. " 6 5

Students of the Feldenkrais Method regularly ask about when, where, and how Moshe created the Method. While difficult to answer, these questions capture our imaginations. Answering the question, "When did Moshe invent his method?" depends upon what we mean by his 'method . ' People familiar with the Feldenkrais Method associate it with private and group classes involv­ ing physical movements performed with careful attention, and the use of touch and guided movement. Feldenkrais began work along these lines with groups and individuals in the 1 940s, but we can already see the outlines of his method in the prior two decades. In fact, Feldenkrais himself dated the start of his method far earlier than most people would reckon; he traced the beginnings to when he began tutoring at the age of nineteen or twenty. Anat Baniel learned from him that he started the method right there and then. Some of the basic premises of his later work were in the way he [learned] how to tutor. How to work with people, and move them from where they are to the next level of possibility. 66


M O S H E F E L D E 1' K R A l S

Feldenkrais's method seems t o have been born from his own experiences, out of his own character. In the last chapter we examined what his religious and nonreligious education gave him, how he was affected by anti-Semitic perse­ cution and war, and the ways he struggled personally. Moshe pointed toward Fore! to mark his scientific awakening at age twelve. That was around the same age that he was learning how to observe and work with himself and to over­ come his childhood laryngitis. A few years later came his epiphany of freedom, the triumph over the taboo on pork. What was seminal for Feldenkrais's work seems to appear very early, perhaps even before he began to tutor. He then took hold of it and began its elaboration and application. While he was in Palestine, as he assimilated more psychology, jiuj itsu, hypnosis, physics, and who knows how many other disciplines, he was already integrating everything he learned into his evolving Method. The money he earned from tutoring enabled Feldenkrais to embrace the offerings of the gymnasium. Besides studying a wide range of academic sub­ jects, he was active socially. We know from the prestigious figures who helped him with his future books that he adeptly established contacts that served his educational and professional life. He was devoted to sports and physical devel­ opment and active in Maccabi athletics. He attained literate fluency in the official colonial language, English, which increased his language count to six, following Yiddish, Russian , Hebrew, Polish, and German. At the gymnasium, sports and athletics were more than recreational; the Haganah maintained close liaison with its athletes, with an eye to recruiting and training for Jewish defense. One ofFeldenkrais's student friends was Elik Alyagon, the gymnasium's representative for the youth Haganah. Elik later became the youth Haganah's leader and afterward joined the Israeli national army (the Israeli Defense Forces or IDF) . All ofTel Aviv's schools had roles in the Haganah, espe­ cially the Herzliya Gymnasium. Many teachers were members, and defense classes were held there at night and on Saturdays, when school was not in session. Because the Haganah remained an illegal organization until Israel's independence in 1 948, classes were held in secret. The classes were for both schoolchildren and adults. Trainees met at off hours, using prearranged entrances, to avoid being seen. The classes taught how to use small arms and, later, as they became available, how to handle heavier weapons. On Saturdays at 6:00 AM, groups of people would filter into the gymnasium through the side doors. Feldenkrais would have awoken early and, perhaps while it was still dark outside, ridden his bicycle to the gymnasium to teach jiuj itsu and unarmed combat. Feldenkrais graduated from the Herzliya Gymnasium in 1 92 5 , as part of its 1 3th graduation class. 67 So, after that . . . what do I do with it? Go abroad to study? I have no money. So, I sat another year at home and was actually reading spherical trigonometry and higher mathematics, differential equations . . I studied. 68 .

E R E T Z Y I S RA E I. , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0

One day he read in the newspaper that-"the British surveying department was making a map of Palestine, because Palestine had no geographical map." Egypt and Syria, on either side of Palestine, "already had maps, they wanted to make a map and they needed someone to make the distribution of errors and major triangulation," 69 " . . . and they advertised for someone who could do that. "70 A map "was necessary from the point of view of land bought; it had to be referred to something. There wasn't anything. It was essential."7 1 It was essential because the British had inherited a land tide system from the earlier Ottoman administration that could not accommodate Palestine's rapid development. Between 1 923 and 1 92 5 , during the Fourth Aliya, Tel Aviv grew from 1 6, 5 0 0 t o 40,000 inhabitants .72 Every day new houses sprang u p o n the sands, a s did small hotels, restaurants, shops, and, o n almost every street corner, soft drink stands.73 [T] he British . . . were looking for people who knew calculus and trigonometry and [Gaussian] coordinates . . . For me it was a godsend. They gave examination papers. I was actually studying that at that time; the other people had learned it somewhere in Moscow or in Berlin twenty years ago, ten years ago. They didn't really know. They thought because they had a degree of engineer or a doctorate in mathematics that that was good enough . [O] f the [ 2 5 ] people who were examined, one man, engineer Wechsel, and I , [were hired] . . . I was in the computing office . . . and we did the distribution of errors and all sorts of things .74

Moshe's office was in Jaffa's German colony, in a building that had housed the German consulate and the YMCA in 1 9th-century Ottoman Palestine. The British moved the office to its current Tel Aviv location in 1 93 1 . While I was researching this book, Ben-Dov Israela and Haim Srebro (director general, The Survey of israel) supplied me with maps that Feldenkrais created and signed in 1 92 8 and 1 92 9 . Though primarily a cartographer, Feldenkrais also did field work and learned surveying. His passport at the time lists his occupation as 'surveyor' and his home address as Grusenberg Street, No. 1 5 , in Tel Aviv.75 He worked at the Survey Office almost five years. And for that I was very highly paid . . . And you work only until l :00, l :40. I was paid at the beginning 1 3 pounds sterling . . . at char time a doc­ tor wouldn't earn that money. So, I found that I could begin to save for going abroad to study.76

Not only could he save for studying abroad, he could address the plight of his family in Poland. He was in a position to give something back to his family for the first time since leaving home. He sent small sums of money for them to gain documents and make preparations for their own aliyas. The job with the British was a godsend for other reasons also. The mercifully short hours in the colonial service liberated him for prodigious exploration



and self-development. During his period with the Survey Office, Feldenkrais's interests were, more than literally, all over the map. In addition to i ntellectual p ursuits , he continued his i nvolvement in athletics, martial arts, and sports. He studied ballet with one Mrs. Ornstein. Although he appreciated the music, artistry, and skill of the dancers, Feldenkrais later criticized ballet for its training methods, particularly stretching at the barre. And he would castigate the aesthetic of ballet for being damagingly at odds with the body's structure. Feldenkrais also played competitive soccer and studied boxing with Emile Avineri, a newly immigrated European boxing champion.77 Avineri and Feldenkrais became good friends. Avineri led the development of boxing in Palestine fo r decades after his arrival in 1 926. 7 8 Besides his fame as a boxer, Avineri was celebrated as the chief lifesaver on Tel Aviv beaches, saving the swimmers from the hazards of jellyfish and riptides. He practiced j iuj itsu and fighting techniques with Feldenkrais, including, probably, American 'catch-as-catch-can, ' a type of wrestling with similarities to j iuj itsu grappling. Avineri also probably helped with the research and development of Feldenkrais's self-defense ideas . When he wrote his book on self-defense, Feldenkrais used illustrations of himself and Avineri demonstrating the techniques. When he and his cohorts got their hands o n a j iuj itsu training manual, Feldenkrais furthered his technique by following its instructions. He may have come to write his own book partly from contending with that manual's limita­ tions. It is likely that the book was Selbstverteidigung: Die japanische jiu-jitsu KampjWeise (Self-Defense: The Japanese Jiu-j itsu Way of Fighting) written by police lieutenant Erich Stephan.79 Klaus Dieter, a practicing martial artist and student of mine, discovered the book and made it available to me. How did Feldenkrais's practical and intellectual work at the Survey Office contribute to the evolution of his mind and method? His experiences as a car­ tographer may have had subtle and significant ramifications, as well as some that are more obvious. Performing calculations honed his skills in applied mathematics and geometry, an advantage during his later education and his professional activities in engineering and physics. Mathematical thinking became second nature, and he used it all through his life, in ways small and large. For example, he didn't need to write down telephone numbers; on arriving in an unfamiliar city, he could remember a collection of new numbers after hearing them only once. He easily made complex calculations entirely in his head. Late in life, in the middle of a lecture, he would perform calculations on the fly, rattling off sequences of numbers as he solved equations involving physical forces or the physiological production of energy. His ability to integrate verbal and numerical thinking . was 1mpress1ve. Cartography also contributed to Feldenkrais's ability to look at things from multiple perspectives . Mapmaking entails representing three-dimensional .

E R E T Z Y I S RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0

environments i n two dimensions; reading m ap s requires making the transformation in reverse. Feldenkrais's ability to see things multidimensionally extended across many domains. His ability to shift perspectives was also, in a sense, an extension of his Talmudic training in turning ideas upside down and inside out. The rigor with which cartography organizes the representation of spatial relations and orientation served Feldenkrais's evolving method even more directly. His sense of orientation in time and space was already well grounded, as we see from his activities in construction, soccer, and martial arts. His natu­ ral aptitude was also expressed in his agility, in his ability as a traveler to easily find his way in new environments, and in his apparent immunity to j etlag. All of these depend on "a sense of where you are," as the sports star turned senator, Bill Bradley, said about basketball. 80 When we act, our exteroceptive senses lead the way; we recognize and master alternative routes so we can choose one way or another. As do many other creatures, we develop perceptual maps that guide our way to our destinations. Our maps extend inward as well; our kinesthetic sense shows us where we are with respect to our bodily configuration. A person may have good orientation and movement with a mostly uncon­ scious feel fo r location. Feldenkrais b rought these feelings into conscious awareness and investigated the processes by which we assemble the spatial awareness that our feel for location depends upon. He observed the common, spontaneous movements of children and had a keen appreciation for how their movements reflected an awareness of their situations in time and space. He would eventually read Jean Piaget's The Construction of Reality in the Child on how children construct their conception of space. He would study what happens in our brains as we integrate visual, auditory, vestibular, tactile, and kinesthetic inputs for perception and action. In The Case ofNora, Feldenkrais documented how he restored spatial orientation to a woman who had suffered its severe impairment after a stroke. 8 1 Over a period of several months in Tel Aviv, in 1 980, I watched him improve the body awareness and shooting accu­ racy of a professional basketball player, an American playing in Israel. Cartographic surveying is based on establishing the shortest distances between geographic points, representing these distances as geodesics on an earth-like curved surface, and then projecting that network as geodetic lines onto a coordinate system-a grid. The topographic and man-made features to be mapped are then located relative to that grid. In making a map there are interplays between the measured intervals of shortest distance and the frames of reference that are used to relate them. The mathematics that Feldenkrais studied on his own after he left the gymnasium-the mathematics that qualified him for his position i n the Survey Office-strongly resembles what is needed to grasp relativity theory, and it seems likely that he would have been attracted to learning what was



then a revolution in the understanding of nature. In relativity theory, a s i n surveying, the underlying reality i s given b y intervals that are measured, but in relativity theory these intervals include time as well as space and, therefore, yield a representation of motion. It is the intervals of measured motion, the measurement of action rather than distance, that relativity theory relates to multiple reference frames. In the coming years Feldenkrais would survey and map the body in action and unfold a mathematics of physical response, a phenomenological manifold. His 'cartographic' task was different from that of the anatomist, the physi­ ologist, or even the kinesiologist. Recognizing how the ingredients of skillful action are as much perceptual as based in muscle and bone, Feldenkrais taught how to navigate the ' roads' connecting our different parts during purposeful action. He cultivated the combined spatial-perceptual and verbal facility to project in words a moving image oflived and experienced functional action on the screen of the imagination.

As we shall see, Feldenkrais would invent thousands of Awareness Through Movement lessons from the 1 940s to the early 1 9 80s. 82 These lessons would emphasize spatial awareness equally with active movement components. Feldenkrais employed 'clocks' to represent-by the hours-different directions of movement or body positions. In this manner he drew attention precisely to what is happening kinesthetically inside the body and outside where one is located in space. 83 One group of lessons surveys, in the imagination, one's legs and arms, spine and chest, head and neck, and parts of the face in order to measure distances, assess width, breadth, and depth, and j udge topographic relationships. 84 In other lessons, Feldenkrais anticipated forms of analysis that were later accomplished through computer simulations: while changing posi­ tions from sitting to standing, or lying to sitting, he proposed visualizing the path of movement through space of specific parts of the body, such as the head, arm, or pelvis. 85 Other lessons involve holding the body in geometrical positions, such as making a triangle or circle with the arms. 86 Felden krais's thinking about space, image, and action evolved into a conception of self-image as being at the source of all of our actions: Each one of us speaks, moves, thinks, and feels in a different way, each according to the image of himself that he has built up over the years. In order to change our mode of action we must change the image of ourselves that we carry within us. What is involved here . . . is a change in the dynamics of our reactions, and not the mere replacing of one action by another. 87

Self-image, as Feldenkrais would use the term, signified more than its common psychological connotations or what people usually mean by ' body image . ' And we belong with our body too dynamically for that image to be

E R E T Z YI S RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0

like a picture: as we grow accustomed to a new environment, learning our way around, we master alternative routes and understand when we should use one and when another. Similarly, each of us has such an image of his or her body, an image that is more like a map than a picture, but that differs from the kind of map we would look at because it comes from our kinesthetic sense; on our body maps we know the ways to go. The notion of self-image emerged for Feldenkrais as the core sense of self, an embodied, kinesthetically rooted sense of place, wholeness, and competence. During the 1 920s, Feldenkrais's athleticism; his training in j iuj itsu, dance, and boxing; his enthusiasm for soccer; and what he learned from construction work formed the experiential ground for such a sense of self. In the 1 940s, he would draw upon the ideas of psychologist Paul Schilder ( 1 8 86- 1 940) to flesh out his theoretical notions. And he would anticipate the kinesthetically-based self-concept advanced by neuroscientist Antonio R. Damasio. 88 In 1 972, in Awareness Through Movement, Feldenkrais gave a neurobiological account of sense of self and self-image i n terms of the patterned activity of nerve cells. He pointed to the sensory and motor maps of the parietal and frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex, 'homunculi' that function as cellular representations of the body's shape. A person's neuro-self-image or, map, is partially 'built-in,' but largely patterned by experience. In recent years we've learned more about how these maps change as a result of learning and usage. 89 When we engage in new and different activities, we utilize more of the brain's capacity. In Feldenkrais's words, the self-image is not an "anatomical configuration of the parts of [the] body. " The self-image represents "only the areas of voluntary action. "90 The skills we learn add features to our body map, or image, because "the relationship between different parts of the self-image changes from activity to activity and from position to position."91 Part of Feldenkrais's investigation of self-image would involve a group of lessons based upon representing the body as five cardinal lines: our central axis and four limbs. The construct reminds one of a stick figure drawn by a child, and it signifies the most primitive form of self-image in action.92 While hold­ ing this image in one's mind, one learns to follow "lines of effort" in simple and later, more complicated, movements. Lessons, like the one mentioned ear­ lier that measured distances in the body, bring to awareness "distortions" in the self-image. For example, people perceive parts of their bodies, such as the mouth or chest, as larger, smaller, or differently proportioned than they are in reality. The aim of completing the self-image includes promoting its objective accuracy together with its experiential richness.93 Feldenkrais's lessons would address the limitations born from the fact that much of our personal selves is terra incognita-not on our maps. Most people have little awareness of and, hence, little control over many areas of their bod­ ies, including the spine. To dissolve such limitations in our knowledge and capability we must each complete our self-image.



Completing one's self-image means gaining awareness o f all parts o f the body that are used in action. In Awareness Through Movement, Feldenkrais says the ideal, or "complete self-image would involve full awareness of all the joints in the skeletal structure as well as of the entire surface of the body. " 94 ''A self-image complete and uniform with respect to all parts of the body­ all sensations, feelings, and thoughts-is an ideal which has been difficult to achieve up to now in man's state of ignorance."95 All the skills that Feldenkrais acquired helped mold his body and brain, added to the percentage of himself that he used, and led him toward a more complete image of himself.

What, in particular, did Moshe learn from the game of soccer? During the innumerable everyday movements we make of our feet and hands, many other parts of the body participate. We can't use our hands without our arms, shoul­ ders, chest, neck, head, spine, and pelvis . We can't use our feet for walking without the participation of the rest of the body. The rules of soccer forbid most players to use their hands to contact the ball; making us use other parts of our bodies to control the ball requires an increased awareness of our bodily movements. This situation resembles that of people who, born without arms and hands, learn to use their feet to write and paint. Soccer also develops peripheral awareness and the capacity to respond as necessary with movement in any direction, including a readiness to fall and recover one's standing. As a team sport, soccer also calls for nonverbal communication and cooperation with other players. Jiuj itsu helps complete the self-image by training functions that an average person lacks. Even more than soccer, it requires an ability to fall and roll on hard surfaces. Jiuj itsu cultivates special awareness of gravity and fine balance. Though we take it for granted, the ordinary maintenance of upright posture and balance is already a remarkable feat. But grappling with a partner in j iuj itsu means dynamically adj usting to all the fo rces resulting from the opponent's mass and movement in combination with one's own. Jiuj itsu leads us to construct an expanded awareness of the skeleton from the practice of using another person's skeleton to direct forces, as when arm-locks are used as levers to control the opponent's movement. Thus, self-image, fo r Feldenkrais , went beyond any analogy with a map. The idea stood for our capacity to dynamically coordinate all of our actions. As he explained the value of completing the self. The establishment of an initial more or less complete, although approximate, image will make it possible to improve the general dynamics instead of deal­ ing with individual actions piecemeal . This improvement may be likened to correcting playing on an instrument that is not properly tuned. Improving the general dynamics of the image becomes the equivalent of tuning the piano

E R E T Z Y 1 s RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


itself, as it is much easier to play correctly on an instrument that is in tune than on one that is not.9 6

Feldenkrais's concept of self-image included, in addition to a kinesthetic self-image, notions of visual and emotional self-images. Performers like actors and dancers must develop an accurate visual self-image for adj usting their performances to make the impression they intend upon their audiences. Many of Moshe Feldenkrais's closest friends would be artists, including painters, musicians, dancers, and actors. While in Palestine he enhanced his cultural self-image by attending opera and dance performances; and he loved going to the theater. Sometime after having seen the 1 926 Habima production of The Golem, a classic work of Yiddish theater, in which the Golem, a clay figure, comes to life through a Kabbalistic spell, he recognized the leading actor, Russian-born Aaron [Aaron] Meskin , at the beach. Feldenkrais and Meskin would become best friends. Yuval Meskin, Aaron's son, recounted, My father liked the story very much. He was at the sea in Tel Aviv. And suddenly he saw a guy that he said looks like one muscle. Moshe was smiling at my father, and said " Yo u are the Golem . " 'Gole m' is a very famous legend i n Judaism . I t was [also] a very famous play i n Habima. Golem i s the rabbi o f Prague who was building a kind of monster to help the Jews. Now golem also means "dumb" in Hebrew. So Moshe was coming, saying to Aaron, "I know who you are, you're the Golem. " On the seashore, j ust like that. And they were having probably a good time, and Moshe . . . rode my father home on [his] bicycle. And that's how it started, like from that time to eternity.97

Aaron Meskin had a wonderful, resonant voice and a serene and powerful bearing. He had been an officer in the Russian army who became enthralled with theater one evening when he attended a play directed by Konstantin Stanislavsky ( 1 863- 1 938) . He soon became a founding member of the original Habima Theater in Moscow, the world's first Hebrew-language company. After he and Habima relocated to Tel Aviv, Meskin was revered as Israel's greatest actor for half a century.9 8 In those days Feldenkrais likely befriended others of the original Habima members, including Hana Rovina ( 1 892- 1 980) , its most-celebrated actress. Benjamin Zemach ( 1 902- 1 997) , later well known as a director and chore­ ographer, met Feldenkrais at party on the beach in Tel Aviv in 1 92 9 . Zemach recollected, that they "danced and sang all night long. "99 Theater held special charm for Feldenkrais. He remarked in 1 97 5 , 1 00 that if he had time for a new career it would be acting-that career would have been his tenth! Feldenkrais's theatricality shone in his teaching style and in his ironic humor. Aaron Meskin's first son, Amnon, compared Moshe's acting to Japanese mask



theater. H e could adroitly assume emotional masks or postures, shifting instan­ taneously from angry outbursts to tears or laughter. Feldenkrais had a natural bent toward physical humor and loved to make his friends laugh by clowning around. He told melodramatic stories and had no compunctions about bend­ ing the truth for didactic or dramatic effect-heedless of the troubles he would bring to a future biographer. He seemed to enj oy escalating what appeared to be abstract, academic disagreements into personally charged arguments . To their embarrassment, he sometimes challenged his students with surprising intensity, making what might have seemed a small matter into an issue of life and death or into a dangerous moral failure hanging in the balance. Feldenkrais loved to turn life and learning into theater. Something of this theatricality appears in how he presented himself in a collection of photographs from this period. Some were instructional, others personal. These pictures, in which he posed half- or completely naked, exhibit his strength and physi­ cal beauty. They also reveal his satisfaction at knowing how magnificent he looked. The portraits radiate a kind of theatrical vanity and exhibitionism that audiences often love and envy. The portraits also convey sensuality. Feldenkrais faulted conventional exer­ cise for often robbing physicial activity of its pleasure and its aesthetics. He was adamant: movement should not be separated from life; it should be expressive of one's plans and purposes, feelings and senses. It is therefore not surprising that the portraits also communicate erotic appeal. Feldenkrais would devote significant intellectual attention to the physical activities of martial arts and sex. These are prime examples of what he called 'potency. ' He wrote five books about martial arts (jiujitsu, ABC du judo, judo, Practical Unarmed Combat, and Higher judo) and two of the books on his method gave special focus to sexuality (Body and Mature Behavior and The Potent Self) . His interest in martial arts and sex mirrored the two pillars of Darwinian theory: natural selection and sexual selection. Martial arts capabili­ ties increase the odds of survival, thereby lengthening the time productive of progeny, and also enhancing their odds of survival. Sexual appeal and vitality facilitate sexual selection by increasing the opportunities for producing prog­ eny. Feldenkrais emphasized that healthy human sexuality, no less than martial arts, accrued from learning that required a long apprenticeship. Feldenkrais's passions figured prominently in his own emotional self-image, and he reveled in their push and pull. But he struggled with his passions, too, when, at times, they grew beyond his control and became destructive: I had an enormous pull towards women and I had many love affairs . . . I was young and not experienced; I took things seriously and my love was violent. I mean I went at it with all my might. And of course, it created difficulties­ [I] had affairs with married women who were much older than I . 101

ERETZ YISRAEL, 1 919-193 0


His affair with one older, married woman nearly got him killed-and may even have been one factor in his decision to leave Palestine and go to France to study. Then again , by the time he made plans for France, he had met Yona Rubenstein . Later, they would live together in Paris, and they may have shared plans to go there to study. But all we know of their early time together in Palestine comes from photographs of them at the beach.

Feldenkrais would often depend upon bicycle transportation in his life. Once he lent a beloved, brand-new bicycle to a friend. The friend got into an accident and returned the bike in damaged condition. Feldenkrais was furious. Transported by anger beyond awareness of his own strength, he punched the friend so hard that he broke his own thumb. It was one of the many occasions when Feldenkrais learned the hard way: "To willful men, the inj uries that they themselves procure must be their schoolmasters. " 102 Shakespeare's words, as usual, have the ring of destiny and pointedly apply to Feldenkrais's fateful knee inj ury and other future 'accidents. ' Feldenkrais could b e competitive and combative i n many spheres, as back in Baranovich when he matched his cousin in mastering the ox. He was ambi­ tious, perhaps driven by his gnawing sense of poverty. He fo ught sexual, intellectual, and physical contests, and he came to recognize how his urge to compete sometimes resulted in needless harm to himself and others. He gradually learned to distinguish between superfluous competitiveness and the warrior spirit that belongs to healthy self-expression and self-preservation. He came to the conclusion that while passion was healthy, the competitive impulse was not. Real potency is expressed as the capacity to do, in whatever form­ physical, scientific, artistic, spiritual, sexual, social, intellectual, or economic. During his five years of easy hours at the Survey Office, Feldenkrais carried forward his intellectual life with enormous energy, studying a multitude of dis­ ciplines. Among the authors that he read were Sigmund Freud ( 1 8 5 6- 1 939) , Charles Darwin ( 1 809- 1 8 8 2) , and the Jerusalem philosopher, Samuel Hugo Bergmann ( 1 8 8 3- 1 97 5 ) . Typically, his reading led to productive activity: he edited one of the first Hebrew-language j ournals devoted to philosophy and psychology. It would be fascinating to learn the contents of his journal . Unfortunately, no one, n o t even his publisher brother, Baruch, could locate any surviving copies. We can suppose, however, that the j ournal reflected his deep­ ening interest in the work of Emile Coue ( 1 8 5 7- 1 926) . Even today, Coue is known for the self-hypnosis technique he invented and named autosuggestion. Emile Coue helped thousands of people at his clinic in France, where he put his methods into practice. Feldenkrais's reading of Fore! had introduced him to the principles and uses of hypnosis, but Coue was the likely source of his practical involvement. Autobiographical statements from Feldenkrais about his relationship to Coue's work are sparse. His writings, however, particularly


Autosuggestion, ' 03 and parts o f later work, such a s Body and Mature Behavior, offer much opportunity for inference. Feldenkrais also drew on autosuggestion when recovering from his stroke, as I witnessed in 1 982. Overall, the encounter with Corn�'s work appears to have been decisive for Feldenkrais both personally and intellectually. Com�'s techniques live today in the practice of repeating simple formulas, such as the famous, "Every day, and in every way, I am becoming better and better. " Coue recommended this for increasing self-control and gaining psychological and physical health. But Coue's legacy is not limited to the many self-improvement techniques based on affirmations or positive thinking. His insights anticipated developments in cognitive psychology and medicine's recognition of the role of belief and attitude in the process of healing. Unlike August Forel and the other pioneers of hypnosis, Emile Coue was neither a medical doctor, a scientist, nor an academician. But the deceptively simple mantras Coue employed were grounded in important and sophisticated ideas. He held that the most comprehensive connection between the mind and the body is mediated by the imagination, not the will. It is the imagina­ tion that can channel the unconscious, and the unconscious that stewards the full scope of our capabilities. Positive behavioral and somatic changes can manifest themselves when we take charge of how our imaginations affect the unconscious. Coue's autosuggestion technique uses the imagination to direct the unconscious and to free people from their negative autosuggestions. Coue's ideas apparently struck several important chords fo r Feldenkrais . Autosuggestion spoke t o his youth and energy. Applying Coue's ideas t o his internal life fortified and cleared him of internal resistance so that he could advance in all of his pursuits and not block himself at any turn. His study of Coue confirmed Feldenkrais's own intuitions and enhanced his effectiveness as a tutor. He appears to have used autosuggestion in his sports and self-defense activities, and it gave him new perspectives on religion, psychology, and theater. We can find examples of Coue's fundamental notion that our will­ ful efforts stymie our intentions throughout all of Feldenkrais's work, and he would remain true to Coue's approach of beginning important learning with small and easy steps. Samuel Hugo Bergmann, i n his introductory essay to Feldenkrais's Autosuggestion, writes that an actor's "artistic ability depends on his power to act on himself in . . . an autosuggestive way. " 104 Aaron Meskin and the other Habima actors were trained in the method of Stanislavsky. We don't know how extensively Feldenkrais and Meskin discussed Coue and Stanislavsky in those days, but Feldenkrais could well have recognized similarities between autosug­ gestion and Stanislavsky's methods. Feldenkrais believed that actors create their characters through autosuggestion and that they use a form of autosuggestion before going on stage to assume their roles. As he described it-

E R E T Z YI S RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


One [actor] will sit, one will walk, one will [lie] down, one will close his eyes, and another one will focus on a particular point in space. [The actor] brings the thought of the subject he is about to act. He brings before his eyes the main features of the character he is about to play. . . The thought will be actualized in the unconscious and by that this thought will be integrated into myriad . . . details that are reserved within the memory of the actor. 1 0 5

Feldenkrais would grow increasingly skeptical o f conventional methods of physical training and athletics. In Palestine he began his lifelong creation of alternative approaches. The athletic culture of Feldenkrais's Palestine resembled that of our own . It placed a p remium on will p ower and brute s trength . Coue and j iuj itsu convinced Feldenkrais that skill and imagination are more important than sheer strength. Experience taught him how a smaller, skillful, weightlifter can lift more than a larger man, and jiuj itsu proved how a small man can defeat a bigger and stronger opponent. Imagination, he believed, was the most important element in training. Moshe cited a virtuoso distance runner. He knows a long time before his competition exactly what will happen, and even announces it publicly. . . He thinks of his victory as a thing already completed, and as he passes this imagery through his mind's eye, his victory becomes actualized in life. 1 06

Feldenkrais mounted a life-long critique of repetitive exercise. It is counter­ productive when coaches inculcate an imperative to work out incessantly. While systematic training can be essential for progress, accomplished athletes have demonstrated that exercise and repetitive practice aren't necessary in the way that people often think. Feldenkrais gave the example of a tennis star who successfully defended his title without doing any "workouts . " 107 More recently, professional golfer Bruce Lietzke is known for not practicing his swing. He practices his setup, however-his initial attitude seems to resemble an autosuggestion. Training, Feldenkrais explained, " leaves an indelible impression . . . [A] n intermission of one or two months . . . with proper treatment. . . can actually increase ability. " The "worst mistake" is for trainers to instill lack of confidence and feelings of inferiority. If a trainee "stops believing in his own ability and strength . . . he [will] truly lack the ability. " 108 With the clarity of fo rty years' additional experience Feldenkrais further warned against forced training in Awareness Through Movement: [SJ elf-protection and superfluous effort in action are an expression of the indi­ vidual's lack of self-confidence. As soon as a person is conscious that he is placing a strain on his powers he makes a greater effort of the will to reinforce his body for the action, but in fact he is forcing superfluous effort on himself. The act resulting from this attempt to reinforce the body will never be either graceful or stimulating, and will arouse no wish in the individual to repeat it. 1 09


Athletes must believe in themselves. F o r some, a single defeat can tip their careers into sudden decline if "doubts fill their hearts [and] eat them up from within. " Other athletes, who better possess the art of spontaneous autosugges­ tion, can successfully compete for many years past their so-called primes. 1 10 Feldenkrais criticized conventional training methods for failing to appre­ ciate that it was essential for breathing to be regulated by the unconscious. Sports training should not cultivate conscious, controlled breathing, but train the breathing system to "supply the body what is necessary in every situation, and even in the worse conditions . " 1 1 1 Later he wrote, "The best way to improve breathing is to use the entire breathing apparatus. " 1 12 Learning how to "breathe in a comfortable and healthy way, " must become "second nature . " There is then no need to pay special "attention to breathing" while exercising. 1 13

Between 1 92 5 and 1 930, the Jewish population of Palestine almost doubled. Unleashing creative potential was in tune with the times, and it was needed. Moshe Feldenkrais's many creative involvements and his determination to reach his maximum potential resonated with the ideal of building a new soci­ ety. As the population grew, the economy, the infrastructure, and the culture itself had to adapt and expand. There were more roles to play and tasks to fulfill. Feldenkrais's participation in so many different sides of life and culture is striking. He was building a life that embodied the transforming world of the new Jewish homeland. As more and more Jews made the aliya, important responsibilities became available to anyone who could shoulder them. It is not surprisi n g that the Arab inhabitants of Palestine b ecame increasingly alarmed and felt compelled to resist the seemingly endless waves of Jewish immigration. In the face of Arab unrest, a strong commitment to defense on the part of Jews became unavoidable. The informal Haganah of Feldenkrais's early days in the worker's tent city evolved over the years into a powerful revolutionary movement. Long before the Haganah formally became the Israeli Defense Forces, it was a thread woven deeply throughout the fabric of Jewish society. Feldenkrais had been i n the H aganah since its inception in 1 92 0 by the Histadrut. He had participated in Haganah activity at the Herzliya Gymnasium. His long experience there helped give consistency and mean­ ing to his involvement in martial arts. Haganah training and practice raised questions that led him to take some of the first steps toward his new kind of somatic methods. We learned [jiujitsu] for so many years . . . every year we had three weeks , six weeks of training. And then, look, when it comes to attacks, most of the people actually failed terribly. While at school they did marvelous tricks . While they were training, the two weeks , they looked as if you couldn't attack them at all .

E R E T Z YI S RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


So, I had a funny idea that the whole jiuj itsu thing is cuckoo. It can work only with people who are in training all the time. Then they are very good. But if you leave it for a year . . . you leave it and go to your business. And then, suddenly, someone attacks you with a knife. Then you have to decide what to do, and by the time you decide, you're killed . . . Somebody is there to kill you. And therefore there is no baby play. I found that the old jiuj itsu didn't work. 1 14

Asian martial arts evolved over many centuries, spreading from China to Japan . The history of j iuj itsu can be traced to 1 7th-century Japan , among the bushi, or samurai. The term jiujitsu means "the soft art of giving way. " Its practice centers on yielding to an opponent's direction of attack while attempting to control it. Feldenkrais felt great affinity with j iuj itsu, but he found that its techniques were not practical for the effective self-defense of ordinary citizens . Because Arabs, unlike Jews, were allowed b y t h e B ritish t o carry knives, Feldenkrais had particular concern about knife attacks: The first real trial of j iujitsu was when the Arabs attacked Tel Aviv and we had to fight, and we found out how many people were inj ured. And some of the Haganah .. .if they didn't know jiujitsu, they could run away to fight another day. But if they thought they were clever, they were there and were killed with swords or with knives . They couldn't defend themselves at all. So, I, having always had a kind of mind, a peculiar mind . . . I looked at that. .. I set out [to] make a jiuj icsu of my own that will work. 1 15

Feldenkrais observed the postures and movements that people exhibited when afraid or under attack. He saw how people's spontaneous reactions endangered them further and hampered their learning of effective self-defense techniques. His quest to understand the body's spontaneous fear reactions instigated his transition from gifted observer to disciplined researcher. He embarked upon the task of photographing and examining people's spontane­ ous responses to physical attacks. 1 16 Although no copies remain of his photos, some of his findings are detailed in his first book, Autosuggestion. Feldenkrais observed how a child running from someone who is trying to strike him will arch his spine in the shape of a [convex] bow. . . to keep his back away from . . . his chaser. But at the moment . . . strikes are landing on his back, he will raise his back like a cat into a [concave] bow [to] shield . . . his heart and lungs. [If someone is stabbed in the back,] his spine will push forward . . . [thus distancing him] from the stabber. . . [so] his ribs will b e . . . a bony shield. Sometimes the [attacker] . . . doesn't have the strength to pull the knife out of the ribs that were pressed one against the ocher. [This explains chat fact that] people who were . . . stabbed . . . up to 1 2 times in the back, remained alive.



When a person is attacked from the front, he will bend forward to shield the sensitive solar plexus. And when attacked by a club, a person will protect his head with his hands, shielding his ears, to allow "a blow from a club to hit the forehead, where the skull bones are strongest. " 1 17 Feldenkrais's research into "fine differences" in the body's automatic defensive movements showed what could be learned about the "intricacies of adaptation and the unconscious. " He observed detailed workings of the motoric side of the unconscious that Coue may have only dimly glimpsed. The unconscious, as he saw it then, was a reservoir of adaptive capability that held an unfathomable treasure of knowledge and memories that we will not be able to reach by study, experience, thought, and hard work . . . The unconscious is a trea­ sure of memories and experiences, not only of ourselves, but also of our fathers and our forefathers during many generations of experience and repetition.

During our evolution , defensive reactions were "formed and fixed so that [they are] done despite our conscious will. " 1 18 Feldenkrais had probably already read, or would soon read, Charles Darwin's The Expressions of Emotions in Animals and Man. Darwin was one of the first to recognize that behaviors like the startle response were inherited, species-specific traits. Spontaneous reactions, like a response to threat, sometimes have adaptive value, but in the case of a knife attack, the movement of throwing up one's arms to protect the head results in getting cut. Feldenkrais's understanding of the body's natural reactions convinced him that achieving a complete inhibition of such responses was unrealistic. His innovation was to develop self-defense techniques, including tactics designed to thwart a knife attack, that were built on the unconscious reactions he observed: I built a system of defense for any sort of attack where the first movement is not what you think to do, what you decide to do, but what you actually do when you are frightened. And I said, . . . we will train the people so that [the] end of their first spontaneous movement is where we must start. And . . . we'll train them three months like we did before, give them a year off without training regularly, and then . . . try to attack again. 1 19

He reasoned that the real test of learning is whether it can hold without practice: The year afterwards , the first m ovement they did, once they did their spontaneous first movement, was the continuation of that first movement. It was a remarkable thing. Most of the people knew what to do immediately without previous notice. They did it and I was as pleased as punch and, of course, I got another few guys in the Haganah to help me and we worked about two or three years and perfected that idea. I submitted the thing to the direction of the Haganah. 120

E R E T Z YI S RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


Feldenkrais's use o f spontaneous movements i n his self-defense techniques exemplified a brilliant synthesis of two seemingly disparate systems of thought. Combining Cow�'s views of how we can relate to our "treasure house" of unconscious capability with j iujitsu's understanding of efficient action gave him a springboard for his own theories. He would later speak about the creative potency of carrying over ideas between disciplines . 1 2 1 This was the first of many examples of Feldenkrais's capacity for 'lateral thinking. ' Coue explained how the unconscious holds sway in all vital, physiological processes, such as digestion and b reathing, and fo r movements that don't depend upon conscious control. As Feldenkrais observed, these included actions like recovering balance and self-protection. Coue deemed the uncon­ scious the 'executor' of conscious intentions as well: it handles the details needed for carrying out actions. Optimizing action requires that we limit the use of conscious and disarm the resistances that come from negative emotions and thoughts. In 1 976, Moshe demonstrated the knife-defense technique with Marty Weiner (in the photos) and with my friend Charles Alston. Because particular automatic and semi-automatic behaviors are so rooted in our makeup, Feldenkrais built his methods upon their scaffolding. He respected and utilized inborn reactions or reflexes for two paradoxically dif­ ferent reasons: to take advantage of their usefulness fo r human welfare and survival, and because they are so stubbornly intransigent that it is more effec­ tive to go with their biases than to contradict them. While Feldenkrais was working to optimize martial arts training with the help of Coue's ideas, he was also an avid soccer player. It tells of a very different time that the opponents in both activities could be Arabs. Feldenkrais's soccer players-soon to become the national team-played against the Arab teams from Jaffa, against British teams, and against players from the crews of ships that docked at the port. It was during a soccer game with the Arabs of]affa that Moshe Feldenkrais sustained an inj ury that changed his life. That momentous knee inj ury led him to develop an entirely original approach to the foundation and possibilities of awareness, movement, and learning. Feldenkrais's cultural and intellectual explorations ranged widely, and his developing interests drew relevant strands from many subjects. But these found decisive integrations when he was confronted in his own experience with a limitation that he could overcome through learning. There is no more fateful instance of this in all of Feldenkrais's life than his response to the events he describes here: I was in a soccer game. I was a left back. [Though] I am short, and . . . stocky, I could run quite well. I was already a heavy strong worker, so I had the power


o f a bull . . . but my running was same thing, like a bull . Not like a cheetah . And so I was a back, because backs don't have to run so much . . . On the other side was an Arab who was, compared to me, a giant. He was a very tall, strong man, and with long legs, and he ran, compared with me, like a devil. But, I was a very determined sort of guy. . . So, he would run with his ball towards me, and kick and want to overtake me . . . So I would run, and j ump in the air between him and the ball, and let my buttocks [fall] on his chest, tall as he was . . . And he would fall on his back . . . and several times he was, being a tall man, falling like that. [Finally] he had his air knocked out. .. He was gasping . . . After that, he thought he would [get back at] me . . . He kicked the ball, not forward to run where I could j ump again, but he kicked the ball almost out of the field, and then I would have to run at him, and then he would overtake me . . . would come to the ball first and go to the goal . So, I found a solution . . . While he kicked the ball like that, I would come quite near to him . . . stood on my right knee and stretched the left leg . . . and grabbed the ball that he hit . . . and fell on one knee . . . on the right knee. And took the ball. I got up and [I had] got the ball away. After I did it once or twice, he tried to [kick and run] as fast as he could, and at one moment he couldn't stop himself. And while I did that leg business, he tripped trying to stop. He tripped with his full weight, that heavy strong man on my knee while it was straight like that. The knee bent at right angles. Outside, to the left. You can imagine what sort of destruction . . . Everybody looked. Some o f the boys looked a t that and fainted, t o see a knee bent at right angles like that. But I think the real trouble was how I set it back into the knee. [Pushing the knee] back into place made more harm than the first bending. And, on top of that, we played in Jaffa, and we came on a bicycle. I sat on the bicycle and drove home. And after that I was six months in bed . . . And the surgeons that were there, they didn't know what to do with it. So, my football career was over. All my sport career was over. That's it . . . So, this actually coincided with my going t o Paris . . . When I wasn't interested [anymore] in soccer or j iuj itsu or anything, I went to Paris to study. Therefore, I didn't need my knee. 1 22

In 1 979 I helped arrange a workshop for Feldenkrais in Tucson, Arizona, attended by orthopedist John Chester and his wife . Curious about Dr. Chester's opinion, Feldenkrais invited an examination, fifty years after that original inj ury. (The Chesters, incidentally, were so impressed by Feldenkrais, that both later became Feldenkrais practitioners. ) I asked Dr. Chester to write down his findings in the context of Moshe's original account: Because of the fixed angle and the amount of force required to straighten the leg, it is probable that the patella (knee cap) was displaced laterally as the medial j oint capsule and ligaments gave away allowing the severe angle described. Moshe sug­ gests that the violent forces required to restore the knee "made more harm than the first bending. " I think not. 1 2 3

E R E T Z Y1 s RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0

Feldenkrais had suffered serious and permanent inj ury to the ligaments and cartilage of his left knee. Thereafter he would be subject to periodic, lifelong, knee trouble. But that inj ury made such extraordinary demands on his ingenu­ ity and his capacity for observation that it set him on-some have said-the path of a 'wounded healer. ' The lives of other pioneers of psychotherapy and of the world of somatics have parallels with Feldenkrais's. Mabel Ellsworth Todd's discoveries about the mechanics of the human body and use of visualization probably were made after she hurt her back falling off a horse; F. Matthias Alexander's ( 1 869- 1 9 5 5 ) approach t o the carriage of the head and conscious use of self were occasioned by recurrent laryngitis; Milton H. Erickson's hypnotherapeutics owed partly to his experiences overcoming his polio-induced paralysis; and Sigmund Freud's method began with his own self-analysis. The consequences that reverberated from Feldenkrais's accident can hardly be overestimated. It would be from this event, which forced upon him his greatest weakness, that Moshe Feldenkrais found his way to genius: That knee and soccer b usiness was a crucial event in my life . If not for that, I don't think I would be doing the work I'm doing now at all. 1 2 4

The "six months in bed" that Feldenkrais spent following his knee inj ury brought time for inner work and outer achievements. Introspection amplified his self-awareness and led to general insights about psychophysical functioning. He probably used knowledge gained from autosuggestion and j iuj itsu to help himself rebound physically and psychically from his inj ury. And his period in bed allowed him to finish two books. Feldenkrais's most creative periods often coincided with his lying in bed, convalescing from sickness or inj ury: first, due to his laryngitis, then his liver disease, and now, his knee inj ury. His recover­ ies from subsequent relapses, and other shocks to his physical and emotional health, would also bear creative fruit. As for the act of lying down-most people view it as a relative diminution of activity, a state of rest. Feldenkrais uncovered in it an elusive, dynamic import: lying down suspends effort and allows the habits, circuits, and traces of our con­ ditioned reactions with the environment to become apparent and malleable. The brain is freed of its normally major occupation of countering the influ­ ence of gravity and maintaining balance, so that "the intentional cortex is freed from the standing pattern throughout the body. " It was no accident that from this position Milton Erickson learned to visualize movement, Samuel Taylor Coleridge composed his poetry, and S igmund Freud analyzed his dream s . Lying down induces the brain t o shift gears. We can then form "new alternative patterns . . .in the cortex [that] affect the performance of your self. " 125 Feldenkrais developed lying down as a common ground for exploring sleep and wakefulness, dreaming and hypnosis, creative imagination, thinking, and the formation of new patterns of thought and action .


I n bed, convalescing from his knee injury, Feldenkrais completed work on his first two major publications. Autosuggestion was his translation into Hebrew of Cyrus Harry Brooks's English book about Emile Coue, with the addition of a two-chapter epilogue that Feldenkrais wrote himself. The other, jiujitsu, offered self-defense techniques and a philosophy of self-reliance for the new Israeli society. Both books were self-published, but Feldenkrais could not afford to publish them on his own . He talked about how jiujitsu's publication was financed, but we have no information about the funding for Autosuggestion. Feldenkrais wrote his first books in an archaic Hebrew, even by standards prevailing in the 1 920s. He had learned Hebrew in a heder (Hebrew school) in Russia, where modern Hebrew largely originated from the Haskalah and Zionist movements of the 1 9th and early 20th centuries. Hebrew in Palestine at first remained close to its biblical derivations and the liturgy of Ashkenazic eastern Europe. Then, after the first and second aliyas, a vernacular Hebrew evolved rapidly in speech and writing in the land of lsrael. Ashkenazic pronun­ ciations along with other eastern European elements were eclipsed by the more indigenous Sephardic dialect of North Africa and the Middle East. Feldenkrais's early books, according to Hebrew readers I have consulted, already feature the unique characteristics of his later writing: nonlinear, densely packed prose that reaches in many directions and attempts to say much at the same time. The archaic Hebrew and the biblical, aphoristic, and imagistic expressions he employs compound the challenges confronting today's readers and translators of his first books . The intrinsic condensation of Hebrew makes for poetic richness, b u t poses problems fo r translators . To convey a text into English needs more words than it does in Hebrew, about thirty percent more, in the case of the jiujitsu and Autosuggestion translations. Nevertheless, English is communicatively more efficient than most languages-for example, German-due to its larger vocabulary. The lexicon of English is more than half a million words, probably double that of German. Because English has so many lexical choices to convey a given meaning, single words often precisely express what requires several words in German and most other languages. But Hebrew's lexicon is less than I 00,000 words. 126 Hebrew trumps English in concision not because it has so few words, but because each of its words can typically function like an image that may stand for clusters of things, actions, and ideas. Precision of expression is gained through how groups of words limit each other's meaning­ through context. Jewish Palestinian society-the Yishuv-was so language-identified during the 1 920s that it was often referred to as a ' Hebrew' rather than Jewish cul­ ture. To write in Hebrew in those days was to participate in founding a new language as much as it was to reawaken an old one. And Feldenkrais's labor of writing in the Hebrew language was the intellectual counterpart of the physi­ cal role he took in the construction of Tel Aviv. He would later proudly tell his

E R E T Z YI S R A E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0

friend Ze'ev Kovensky that his self-defense book was probably translated into more languages than other work written in the Hebrew language. Because there are no official translations of these two books in English, and because I do not speak Hebrew, I have had to rely on my own resources for their translation. Feldenkrais teacher, Jeremy Krauss, helped me with major sections of jiujitsu, which I later supplemented with professional editing. Psychologist Dov Arbel conscientiously translated, reading aloud, line by line, Feldenkrais's two original chapters in the Autosuggestion epilogue, while I typed them into my computer. Dov had heard about Moshe's book from Shulamith Kreitler, a pioneering researcher in cognitive psychology at Tel Aviv University. In the introduction to his 1 977 reissue of Autosuggestion, Feldenkrais quoted Professor Kreitler as believing "this book is more important today than it has ever been. " Feldenkrais's first books, jiujitsu and Autosuggestion, share with the works of his middle period (Body and Mature Behavior, Higher judo, and The Potent Self) and his mature writings, (Awareness Through Movement, The Case ofNora, and The Elusive Obvious) theoretical concerns supported by experimentation and experiential learning. From his early writings to his last works, his Method would dynamically integrate research, theory, and practical applications. Both jiujitsu and Autosuggestion incorporated Feldenkrais's research into automatic defensive reactions. These books likely reflected material he taught in self-defense and autosuggestion classes at the gymnasium. His ability to write detailed, systematic instructions for practical exercises evolved in the con­ text oflive teaching situations. Feldenkrais's teaching career would encompass many thousands of classes where he gave intricate movement instructions and explanations. His comprehensive experience guided him in writing outstand­ ing self-improvement and how-to manuals: four more books about self-defense and j udo, and five books about the Feldenkrais Method. Each contained a careful balance of theory and practical instruction. The Autosuggestion epilogue and the jiujitsu book possess a scientific tone and approach. But perhaps because Feldenkrais's Hebrew still resonated with his religious upbringing, we find in them a wealth of religious references. They display extensive knowledge of religious texts and show those texts' influence on his intellectual processes . Feldenkrais's later works also contain biblical references, but not on the scale of these earliest works. This may be due in part to the fact that the early books targeted a Jewish audience, whereas his later works, written in English, had a wider reach. However, Awareness though Movement, published nearly forty years later, was also written in Hebrew and has fewer biblical references. In the context of Feldenkrais's overall scientific worldview, the occasions where he refers to religious and spiritual sources are interesting and provocative. His translation of Brooks's short volume into Hebrew was Feldenkrais's first foray into the field of translation. In the 1 930s and 1 940s he deployed his



language skills t o translate scientific papers, and h e often translated his own work. His work as a translator so closely coincided with his learning of English, and later of French, that he may have undertaken the work partially to increase his fluency in those languages. This would have fit his way of learning: to learn meant to do, and doing, with practical byproducts, was his path of learning. Englishman Cyrus B rooks's The Practice ofAutosuggestion was a summary of Coue's techniques and a memoir of Brooks's impressions as a student at Cow�'s free clinic in the town of Nancy, in the Alsace region of eastern France. Feldenkrais's Hebrew translation contains not only his translation of Brooks's short volume, but also two additional chapters that he wrote as an epilogue. Feldenkrais also attached an introduction written by Samuel Hugo Bergmann, one of Israel's most prominent intellectuals. Bergmann was interested in both Western and Eastern philosophy, as well as science, psychology, and religion , including the work of Rudolf Steiner ( 1 86 1 - 1 925) and Sri Aurobindo ( 1 872- 1 9 5 0) . He had been a friend and con­ fidant of Franz Kafka ( 1 8 83- 1 924) since childhood. After emigrating from Prague to Palestine in 1 920, Bergmann founded the international library in Jerusalem and was the first rector of Hebrew University. In April of the same year he published the essay on Coue that would appear, nine years later, in Feldenkrais's Autosuggestion volume. Bergmann was an extraordinary man, erudite and original, whose range met many of Moshe's own interests. Bergmann touched upon Pierre Teilhard de Chardin ( 1 8 8 1 - 1 9 5 5 ) , yoga, and Zen, Feldenkrais would give attention to all of these. Bergmann could have been an important mentor, but we do not know the depth of their relationship, how Bergmann affected the genesis of Feldenkrais's Coue proj ect, or how Bergmann's essay came to be included in Feldenkrais's book. Correspondence shows them in contact well into the 1 960s, when Feldenkrais sent Bergmann a copy of Awareness Through Movement and thanked him again for his contribution to Autosuggestion. Since Bergmann was in Jerusalem and Feldenkrais in Tel Aviv, opportunities for contact may have been limited. The early date of Bergmann's essay suggests that Bergmann may have been Feldenkrais's introduction to Coue. But Feldenkrais could have had other sources, given Coue's popularity at the time and the many intellectuals from western Europe who made the aliya. In his introductory essay, Bergmann succinctly recounts Coue's life and explains the autosuggestion technique. He also provides a broad cultural context for Co ue's ideas and expresses values of signal significance fo r F el denkrais. Bergmann tells, how after sixteen years of using conventional hypnosis, Coue "made the discovery that it was not necessary to put the patient to sleep [a deep hypnotic trance] . " Coue disputed the common ideas that "suggestion and hypnosis are . . . processes of thought transference or transference of one man's will to another. " He believed:

E R E T Z Y1 s RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0

Suggestion arouses in us an internal process-the influence of ourselves on ourselves . The doctor-hypnotist does not cure the patient ... The patient cures himself by autosuggcstion. 1 27

This was in accord with Feldenkrais's ideas of the importance of gaining independence from the coercive influence of external authority. Hypnosis and suggestion have always been controversial because they strike at the heart of our concepts of free will. Most people associate hypnosis with the idea of subj ugating one's will to others. Bergmann , like Georges Ivanovich Gurdj ieff ( 1 872- 1 949) , regarded hypnotic trance not as an 'altered state, ' but, rather, as the normal state of humanity: Our world is replete with suggestion. The State, the Party, the newspaper, fashion, society-all of them are tools of suggestion. 128

Feldenkrais was attracted to autosuggestion's potential for inoculating us against the trance induced in us by society. He also appreciated Bergmann's idea that autosuggestion could teach us to be critical thinkers, providing a path of freedom for the individual and for a free society. Bergmann forcefully states the argument: Human weakness lies in the acceptance of the suggestion of others, not in the development of the power of self-suggestion . . . Children should be taught to utilize these powers [of self-suggestion] . The educator must use only one sugges­ tion with his students : that they should not accept others' ideas without careful examination. 129

Coue's system promised to unlock the power of imagination, and it may have been Coue who taught Feldenkrais the value of visualization: The education of our imagination is more important and more powerful than the education of the will. Man actualizes in life what his imagination dictates. Each one of us carries within him the visualization of his life. Our life epitomizes and actualizes this visualization. 13 0

The ability to 'actualize' one's 'visualization' resonates with Feldenkrais's idea of realizing one's unavowed dreams. Visualization was the means to realize our individual potentials. Coue's use of imaginative and dreamlike states affi rmed Feldenkrais's inclinations and his talents. From the time he was child, as we read in his Hebrew journal, Moshe enj oyed daydreaming and fantasy. Such imaginative exercises were vital to his creative p rocess, and were responsible for the thousands of elaborate Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lessons that he would invent in his maturity. Daydreaming, Bergmann tells us, allows us to let go of tension and effort and "open the deep wells so that our submerged psychic forces will surface. " 131



Consistent with his Hasidic roots, Feldenkrais did not believe that the mind and body were separate. Their unity has important implications for health and healing. Coue believed that . . . many diseases at their core exist only in imagination and visualization which enslave us to them . . . These visualizations must be removed through positive visualization which will act to heal and rehabilitate . . . [Patients who are ill] should say to themselves . . . "My condition is improving in all aspects, improving from day to day. " 13 2

Feldenkrais later emphasized the corollary, that people's beliefs can be more damaging than their diseases. Coue often mounted assaults upon his patients' negative attitudes to shake up their unhealthy beliefs. At times, he apparently refused to take his patients' diseases seriously. As Brooks observed, one of Coue's clinical strategies was to deny "the dignity of disease: " [He] tactfully teased some o f his patients, giving them an idea that their ailment was absurd [so that the disease's] victims end by laughing at it. 133

Brooks p resents Emile Coue as an inspiring presence who instilled confidence in his patients in their abilities to heal themselves through autosug­ gestion. Brooks observed seemingly miraculous cures at the clinic in Nancy, France. One day he observed a group of people who, after attending a group session of Coue's, were able to abandon their crutches and stroll freely on the grounds. Psychologists have called Coue's autosuggestion technique an early form of cognitive therapy. As Bergmann said, "The act of suggestion greatly influences anything to do with emotions. " Coue recommended that depressed people repeat the words "it will pass" many times "in order to prevent desperate thoughts. " 134 In his epilogue Feldenkrais takes up a related psychotherapeutic topic: "We have all had the experience of a perturbing thought that won't let go, and that comes back again and again, at the same speed we chase it. " 135 The direct power of our will is often helpless to halt obsessive thoughts. Feldenkrais suggests that it is better to defuse such thoughts in an indirect way through positive self-suggestion. Both j iuj itsu and Coue brought home to Feldenkrais the importance of reducing effort-j iuj itsu, from the perspective of minimizing muscular resis­ tance and making actions efficient; Coue, from the perspective of lowering psychic resistance and learning how to think more efficiently in order to reach one's goals. Bergmann writes, " Every effort of the will brings its very failure when i magination and belief do n o t accompany i t . " 1 36 The mechanism o f autosuggestion i s the opposite of willful effort. We are less attached t o our busy lives and more receptive around the time of going to sleep. So Coue advised

E R E T Z Y r s RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0

practicing autosuggestion a t times when his patients were half asleep : j ust before dropping off to sleep at night and when first waking up in the morning. Feldenkrais, for similar reasons, advised these times for performing his lessons in Awareness Through Movement. 137 Walking is also conducive to autosuggestion because the rhythmic motion helps to induce a receptive state. While walking, according to Bergmann, one can rej uvenate oneself through autosuggestions of "strength, vigor, and persistence," and improve one's memory and mental abilities. Bergmann cites a Coue student, Abramovsky, who formulated a law that "the energy level o f a person matches . . . his ability to bring himself to a state of autosuggestion." 138 Bergmann explained the importance of positive formulations. In agreement with Freud, Bergmann held that the unconscious does not recognize negative qualifiers, like no, not, etc. Therefore, a person should not say to himself: " I am not tired" but, rather, " I am refreshed and invigorated" . . . a person should use positive rather than negative formulations. 139 Feldenkrais would see how important these ideas were for education and probably incorporated them into his approach to tutoring. Bergmann said: " [When] the teacher says to the student: 'You are lazy, you are a liar!' . . . the teacher achieves [what) he was trying to avoid. " It is far better to be positive: One exemplary teacher. . . wrote on the blackboard: "this is what we will do this coming week" and, in this way, from the start, she influenced the children with helpful positive suggestion. (The student shall not say: "I want to be diligent" [because this would inculcate the idea of effort] but "I will be diligent," etc. ) . 140

The conclusion of Bergmann's essay touches on a theme fundamental to Feldenkrais's work: the unity of sensing, moving, feeling, and thinking. 141 Bergmann cites the famous hypothesis of the William James-Carl Lange theory of emotion: We do not cry because we are sad, but we are sad because we are crying. In other words , Bergmann continues, the body functions act suggestively on the psyche. The body and the psyche act on each other interchangeably as parts of an electrical induction machine with one reinforcing the other. Goethe has already advised man that he should laugh without reason because laughter in itself causes a state of happiness. Body movements operate suggestively like visualizations of the mind. We cannot self-visualize a certain emotional state without being already in this state to some extent. 142

Feldenkrais wrote his two-chapter epilogue, titled " From the Translator's Pen, " at his home in Neve Tsedek, Tel Aviv's oldest neighborhood. He dedi­ cated the book, which he completed in 1 929, to the Maapilim, the pioneer workers who immigrated by boat. Feldenkrais's intent was to apply Coue's ideas and methods to "reach higher goals than simply not being worse than others . " 1 43 In the epilogue of


Autosuggestion h e interprets and extends Com�'s work beyond the remediation of illness and suffering; he gives examples from subj ects that would concern him his entire life : self-defense, physical training, religion , and theater. Feldenkrais's primary interest was always to expand human potential, to further excellence and originality in all fields of life. He applied his methods to solving his own ills, but his vocation as a healer he saw as the accidental outcome of his response to those who happened to seek his aid. 144 As we examine the epilogue, keep in mind that Feldenkrais later rejected the notion of the unconscious and that his method progressed far beyond Coue's theory and technique. To recognize the seeds of Feldenkrais's future work, we must look beyond the older terminology and formulations in the Autosuggestion epilogue. The epilogue's first chapter, "The Unconscious as Executor, " describes the unconscious and autosuggestion; the second chapter, "Think before You Act, " teaches how t o practice autosuggestion techniques t o make effective use of the abilities of the unconscious. Both chapters emphasize control as a crucial issue: to what extent should we rely on unconscious versus conscious control? Feldenkrais uses examples of physical movement to demonstrate the superiority of unconscious control. He explains how conscious control may result in mistakes and how it interferes with enacting what we desire. Twenty years later, in Body and Mature Behavior, Feldenkrais took up the same theme. For many kinds of behavior, including posture, breathing and sexuality, "In mature individuals, the conscious control is not abused," meaning that it is not overused or used inappropriately. 145 In the epilogue he explains Coue's view that everything we have previously learned and perceived resides in the unconscious. For example, a person can climb a familiar flight of stairs in the dark without having to think about it because, by drawing upon earlier experience, the unconscious knows how to move the legs and the number of stairs that must be climbed. And we can learn to bring this unconscious information toward the conscious surface of our awareness. Explaining further Coue's ideas about the unconscious, Feldenkrais says competent action also demonstrates that: The function of the 'unconscious' is not only to register, memorize and to retrieve. It's great strength is also in creativity. It uses its great experience to make new combinations , and does much work . . . that [the] conscious mind [could not] execute. 146

Feldenkrais describes how a person runs and j umps a hurdle; recent research corroborates his analysis. "Some j ump with the right leg while the left leg is in the air; " others do the opposite. The running j ump is a complicated task that requires the runner to calculate acceleration and velocity, while adj usting the number and length of his strides, so that he can j ump with the preferred leg.

E R E T Z Y1 s RA E L , i 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


The number of steps . . . must be an even number [to] j ump with the same leg with which he pushed off first, and an odd number if he wants to [j ump] with the leg that was lifted first.

I f we consciously try to accomplish this, "we are likely to make a mistake." On the other hand, when relying on the unconscious to carry out the task, "Only rarely will the j umper make an error. " 14 7 The analysis of the runner's unconsciously deciding between an odd or even number of steps demon­ strates Feldenkrais using his mathematical skills for his observations of human movement. Feldenkrais accords virtuosity to the unconscious for its intricately adaptive regulation of vital functions such as the heart, breathing, and digestion. Both he and Coue saw the unconscious as also having an essential role in the exter­ nal, conscious life. It makes voluntary action possible by providing access to our previous learning and executing our conscious intentions. But Coue's idea of the unconscious stretched m uch further; for him, imagination speaks the language of the unconscious and is its representative in consciousness. Autosuggestion promised to unlock the power of imagination. It was an offer Feldenkrais couldn't refuse. Creative imagination had as m uch reality fo r him as what could be examined objectively. Coue's approach was a way Feldenkrais could determine and positively shape his future. More, it was a way to take possession of what was best from the past and redeem it for current needs: Feldenkrais's religious upbringing contributed to a perspective that could link autosuggestion and prayer. Coue may have seemed to Feldenkrais like a modern day Ba'al Shem healer, Coue's cures resembling the Hasidic miracles performed by Feldenkrais's forebears . " Prayer, " Moshe says in the epilogue, "is a form of autosuggestion that has been known to our ancestors fo r generations . " Feldenkrais means to "crystallize" a traditional knowledge into "something logical and useful. " 148 "Prayer always speaks about . . . the desirable situation we are striving toward . . . without mentioning its opposite. " Sometimes a person "will preface his prayer with a supplication . . . that his p rayer will be accepted. " 14 9 Feldenkrais quotes a prayer to God: You shall attend to the prayer of your worshippers' and to their supplication, and hear their cry. . . and may your eyes be open upon this house day and night. 1 50

The Hebrew Bible teaches that the best time for prayer " is when we first wake up; " Coue said the same of autosuggestion. And Feldenkrais cites Sa'adya Gaon (Sa' adia ben Joseph) as saying, "The person who prays with out intention of the heart-his prayer is not heard . " 1 5 1 The contrast between this view of the unconscious-an unconscious that responds to prayer, that speaks with the voice of imagination-and that of Freud-the unconscious as a terrifying land of shadows , blind will,



and difficult-to-manage instinctual currents-could hardly b e more stark. Feldenkrais had read both Coue and Freud and would revisit aspects of Freud later in his life, but at this point, in his mid-twenties, when he chose Coue's ideas, it must have been like choosing a path of hope. Feldenkrais recognized that the anticipation of criticism hinders grace­ ful action, and when he describes how our desired actions are weakened or blocked, he borrowed Freud's term, "the gatekeeper. " The gatekeeper, an internal censor, is part of Freud's superego concept, a voice of the psyche that emerges in childhood from internalizing the critical j udgments of a parental figure (usually the father) . Coue and Freud b o th believed that inner conflicts create resistance. Resistance can take the form of fo reign and unconnected thoughts that impede or block our intended actions. Feldenkrais seems to have grown aware o f the voices o f his psyche at a precocious age. He traced the origins of his own negative thought patterns to his critical father and other authority figures. In the Autosugg-estion epilogue, he often uses typical internal dialogues to demonstrate how positive and negative autosuggestions prevail. These dialogues are well developed and quite exten­ sive. They point to important elements in his future teaching, and I believe we can discover hints of autobiography in their content. The pharmacist Coue proffered an antidote to the negative side of imagi­ native reality, and Feldenkrais learned to distinguish between the voices that were negative and self-defeating and those that embodied his true intentions. Autosuggestion helped usurp the influence of nagging voices that Moshe had internalized from childhood. Coue's alchemy of autosuggestion, positive and constructive, stood for a choice to embrace an intentional life. And Feldenkrais was able to communicate and extend his self-awareness and personal growth for others' benefit. When he narrates typical scenes and scripts from people's internal dialogues, Feldenkrais makes his readers' aware of their own negative voices that act like negative autosuggestions. A person who imagines trying to perform a grace­ ful movement, for example, may see him- or herself failing, or imagine others looking on disapprovingly. The inner critic invents all sorts of legitimate rea­ sons why we can't accomplish things. Statements like, "I must not make an error" or "This is kids' stuff and not for me, " are examples Feldenkrais gives of what comes from the harping, punitive voices that tear people down. In his teaching, Feldenkrais used his theatrical skill to psychodramatically enact the roles of the inner critics. This dramatic device was an often misunder­ stood ingredient of Feldenkrais's teaching. Students sometimes found it grating or intimidating to hear the harsh, critical voices. But his dramatizations were meant to help foster the students' awareness of their own inner critics. The process sometimes proved cathartic, helping his students purge the negative voices from their inner lives.

£ R E T Z YI S RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


Feldenkrais also spoke with a gentler, nurturing voice, one that invoked freedom and possibilities, ease and comfort, beauty and pleasure. This more poised, confident voice articulated positive autosuggestions and affirmed people's deepest dreams and aspirations. For example: [You will] acquire ease and accuracy in every task. . . In every thing and every interest-in all of them you will be helped. It will make anything you have to do more pleasurable. 1 52

Feldenkrais disclosed how he elicited positive states in himself in order to show others how to find them for themselves. The embodiment of a state enables its communication to others, no matter whether we are in the role of the actor, educator, or therapist. As Samuel Bergmann said, "We cannot self­ visualize a certain emotional state without being already in this state to some extent." 1 53 Whether for good or ill, autosuggestion is implicated in all thought activity whereby conscious intentions are turned into action. We have all recognized instances when we acted in ways opposite to what we intended. As Feldenkrais put it much later in Awareness Through Movement, "action often enough proves to be the exact opposite of its original intention." 1 54 Coue held that these situ­ ations arise when the will and the imagination are in conflict-a consequence of negative autosuggestion. The exercises at the end of the epilogue likely represent material Feldenkrais taught in classes. They were an early incarnation of the more elaborate and sophisticated ATM lessons he would develop later. The epilogue exercises share many elements with ATM lessons: the use of visualization for achieving goals; altering one's inner dialogue to create more positive emotional states; begin­ ning with small and easy steps; reduction of effort; integration of the processes of thinking, feeling, sensing, and moving; and creative interplay of conscious and unconscious, voluntary and involuntary strategies. Feldenkrais urges the reader to move beyond theory and begin the adventure of experiential learning: "We have to experience and do, " to reap the rewards of the technique. "Only with doing will you see fruit in your work. " 155 This echoes the Chinese saying that introduces "Awareness Through Movement" in The Elusive Obvious: "I hear and fo rget. I see and remember. I do and understand. " 1 56 In the epilogue, he says, " Know what you want and do it, and if you do it right, you will certainly be able to achieve your goal in the straightest and shortest way. " 1 57 This resembles a signature aphorism of his later teaching that emphasized the sovereign role of awareness: "If you know what you are doing, you can do what you want. " Autosuggestion and ]iujitsu were instructional books. Feldenkrais was an educator and remained so for the rest of his life. We should remember that­ despite superficial resemblances to medical practitioners-Feldenkrais, like



Coue, was more a teacher, who taught people t o learn how to draw upon their inner potentials, than a healer. We see even in his early work a persistent concern that learning must gener­ alize, because "it is impossible to [train for) every situation and instance. " 158 He introduces a strategy for increasing awareness, one applicable to any sit­ uation. We see the further evolution of this approach in Awareness Through Movement, in which his lessons reach beyond only the improvement of specific skills to learning how to learn. Feldenkrais's Method accorded with Coue's way of starting with small and easy steps. Starting "from things that are easy to do . . . from them we will learn . . . t o b e able t o confront bigger and more important goals. " 1 59 The first exercise i n the epilogue i nvolve cognitive tasks, related to the ability to track, or count, long sequences of events o r actions. When we hear a clock chime, how do we know the time it tells ? Without conscious attention , we track a sequence that spans up to five chimes . Similarly, when taking quick steps, or making other repetitive motions, it is easy to track a small number of performed movements. Beyond five movements, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to know an exact number without counting consciously along the way. Feldenkrais gave an exercise that shows how to call up from our unconscious such exact numbers. Feldenkrais's next task is also mathematical: learning how to tap a pencil point rapidly a specified number of times-without conscious attention. Rapid tapping makes conscious monitoring impossible, but the pencil marks left on the paper obj ectively reveal our accuracy. Autosuggestion enables us to perform the task through unconscious processes. We begin with statements to ourselves, such as, " I will tap exactly seven times. " After some practice, we shift from these verbal autosuggestion to just visualizing the intended action. At the third and last step we arrive at a shortcut, where we need only state the number of taps we wish to make. Within a few minutes you . . . will be able to make any number of desired [taps] up to 1 5 without error, and with an ease approaching without thinking. 1 60

When he returned to this example in his San Francisco teacher-training group, 1 61 Feldenkrais explained the phenomenon without talking about the unconscious. He then explained that we owe our ability to tap a pencil a specified number of times without thinking to our vast familiarity with ordinal numbers. The ability does not rely on the unconscious mind in place of the unconscious mind, but on our nonverbal capacities instead of our verbal ones. What has been learned is to separate-differentiate-such counting tasks from the sequential vocalization of each number. Feldenkrais suggests that counting accurately, without conscious effort, has more importance than we might think, pointing to analogous tracking required by measure, rhythm, and counterpoint in music.

E R E T Z Y 1 s RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


Autosuggestion involves mind and body together and applies to mental and physical tasks. The last exercise he gives in the Autosuggestion epilogue teaches throwing accuracy. It makes extensive use of visualization, a practice that would remain intrinsic to his methods. We first throw a ball at a target a short distance away, so we can hit it with a smooth and easy throw. We gradually increase the distance of the target until we can no longer hit it. Then we close our eyes and visualize successfully performing the task-without words. We make the visualization as real as possible, and include as many elements of the task as possible: seeing the target, holding the ball in our hands, seeing the ball hit the target. Then we open our eyes, and exactly at the time your eyes find the target, the ball has to be thrown . . . The time between the moment your eyes hit the target, and the throwing the ball, [should] be as short as possible. [This] almost fences off the possibility of another thought, except the ball hitting the target . . . If you indeed have learned this method . . . every throw will hit the target. 1 62

Feldenkrais taught us this technique in our San Francisco training in 1 97 5 . Feldenkrais explains that thoughts arrive sequentially, o n e after another. The unconscious considers each thought for acceptance or rej ection, one thought at a time. The thought that directly precedes an action is the one that determines the end result. Our degree of success or failure proceeds from whether our thoughts, i . e . , o u r spontaneous autosuggestions, are positive or negative. Feldenkrais provides samples of people's internal dialogues and says that we will surely fail if "the moment a person is about to do something . . . a thought passes through his head that contains lack of confidence about his success. " Even by thinking, for exam­ ple: "I want very much. I'll try. I'll make an effort. I must not make an error, " the person will make a mistake because he is in effect thinking: "I don't know. " Or [if he thinks] " It is not important. If I were interested or involved, I would have learned how to do it. " Concluding, Feldenkrais points out, "it is not the . . . exercise that i s the essential thing . . . but the proper . . . thought before the act." 16i

The two exercises given as examples are typical , and they show that Feldenkrais's work with autosuggestion already emphasized nonverbal elements-including p u re visualization-over the influence of verbal incantations. This prefigures his later ideas about the workings of the mind. Feldenkrais believed that language is better suited to communicating what is already known than to the process of creating something hitherto unknown or previously nonexistent. Invention, learning, and the deepest forms of self­ development require our learning to "think without words. " Feldenkrais's idea of thinking withou t words i s a n evolution o f Coue's "proper thought. " Thinking without words avoids the untoward consequences


of negative autosuggestions. The direct visualization of a n intention "fences o ff the possibility" of intruding negative inner dialogue. Those who display grace and beauty "do not raise contrary thoughts that weaken their original thought." They are free of effort and striving to achieve. Effective, spontaneous autosuggestions help us to move and act with grace and ease. We will learn to carry out our thoughts with "less internal friction . . . Within a short period o f time, [our actions] will b e accompanied with a stream of positive, emotional associations. [Our] movement [s] will be easier and more pleasant, and [our practice] will raise our vital potential to a higher level. " Feldenkrais asserts that autosuggestion can help u s attain effective action i n any domain, whether athletic, artistic, intellectual, or economic. H e seeks to inspire us with famous examples, citing Albert Einstein, as well as great actors and athletes. When people feel unable, they often turn away from tasks, stop learning, and avoid fulfilling their potentials. For example, the inability to count rhyth­ mically can turn a person away from musical expression. Such outcomes are some of the most unfortunate consequences of negative autosuggestions. We can reclaim our abilities and expand our possibilities in unfamiliar areas oflife by practicing autosuggestion. We can, as Feldenkrais would later describe it, "complete our self-image . " By doing so, you will acquire ease and accuracy in every task. . . If you are an accountant you will learn to ride bikes, to swim, to dance. [You will learn] music [and] every sport . . . In every thing and every interest, mental, abstract and intellectual, or materialistic­ in all of them you will be helped. It will make anything you have to do more pleasurable, because there is no effort in it. 164

In the Autosuggestion epilogue we hear Feldenkrais in dialogue with himself, as well as with his readers. From "meager beginnings," we hear, "great things are possible . " As he later put it in Body and Mature Behavior, our major limi­ tation is our belief that we are limited. Feldenkrais's engagement with Coue helped him to believe, and helps us to believe, that we can make the impossible possible. More than twenty years after his initial encounter with Coue, Feldenkrais retraced his steps. In his introduction to Body and Mature Behavior he cogently summarizes and re-evaluates Coue's contribution: Coue relied expressly o n the unconscious to bring abo u t all the desired improvements. H e devised several means whereby he could by-pass the conscious control and plant his ideas "directly" in the unconscious . . . Once the idea reaches the unconscious it becomes operative . . . . . . Coue thought the unconscious a n executive power. O nce a n idea is presented to it, be it pleasant or self-mutilating . . . it is carried out. An idea must be a pure image completely stripped or void of affect before it can reach

E R E T Z Yr s RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


the unconscious. Thus the effort of will is a hindrance rather than a means of making oneself do something. Normally, we learn to succeed in presenting the idea in the right way. 16 5

The unconscious was the principle Coue used to explain why autosuggestion worked. Indeed, the unconscious has been relied on by hypnosis as an explanatory concept from the n ineteenth through most of the twentieth century. Freudians, too, found the unconscious indispensable, though they had very different views about its nature. But the unconscious didn't lend itself to a clear experimental methodology, and science couldn't establish it as an entity. Feldenkrais later j oined the scientific consensus and rejected the unconscious as a valid principle of explanation. In the "Summary and Review" chapter of Body and Mature Behavior, he pointedly remarks that "we have not had to use the idea of the Unconscious throughout our exposition . " 166 What replaced the unconscious for Feldenkrais was the organism's ongoing self-organization. He would find it i ncreasingly worthwhile to speak about learning and action in the language of physics, physiology, neuroscience, and experimental psychology. Feldenkrais would develop methods that built on what he learned from autosuggestion, but with a scientific basis and language more precise than reli­ ance on a notion of the unconscious would allow. Although he would later write that Coue's concepts could be seen as "so much muddled thinking, " Feldenkrais retained respect for Coue's practical discoveries and therapeutic accomplishments. Coue was a great human benefactor and had to his personal credit innumerable 'cures, ' often 'miraculous' ones. Probably not many living therapists can claim a comparable record. 167

Feldenkrais discussed Autosuggestion again in a 1 978 radio interview given shortly after the book was reprinted by Alef, the publishing house owned by his brother, Baruch. When he opened the book to his epilogue, it surprised him to discover how many of his more mature ideas were already present, though not, of course, in the form in which they would later develop. Coue's deep and enduring influence on him is evidenced by Feldenkrais's return to Coue after his stroke at age 7 8 . Before starting that attempt at auto­ biography, he helped rehabilitate himself by writing Coue's famous saying in a notebook. Alternating in French, Hebrew, and English, he wrote "Every day and in every way, I am getting better and better. "

In 1 930, on the heels of finishing his book on Coue, Feldenkrais completed his j iuj itsu self-defense manual. Eventually, the jiujitsu book would sell well and earn him important income. This remarkable little book, which would


b e translated into seven languages, contains many o f Feldenkrais's significant themes : principles of efficient action, breathing, and muscular control; the bases of optimal posture and movement; how fear affects posture and move­ ment; the importance of the capacity for self-defense, and the relation of the individual to society at large. That book . . . at the beginning when it was published, it was intended for the Haganah, to find only such movements of self-defense where the first movement is the natural movement that you do without thinking . . . I didn't have money to publish the book, because it was done on extraordinary paper with many, many photographs. The Haganah of that time . . . they were leaders . . . One [Frederick Hermann Kisch ( 1 8 8 8- 1 943)] was president of the Jewish Agency but a British army colonel and career diplomat. And of course, it was illegal for him [to be involved with the Haganah] . And [Pinhas) Rutenberg [was the other] . . . one of the leaders of Zionism . . . . Anyway, these two gave me 25 pounds sterling to publish the book. 1 68

It is unclear what, at that time, was Feldenkrais's relationship with the Haganah. Even if he didn't belong to an active cadre, he probably taught self­ defense classes fo r members, since he spent several years with the Haganah testing the effectiveness of the techniques in his book. Twenty-five British pounds in 1 930 was no small sum, and the two Haganah leaders who were able to supply such funds must have been enthusiastic about Feldenkrais's kind of self-defense training. They were, in any case, both extremely well connected. Pinhas Rutenberg ( 1 879- 1 942) had come to Palestine from Ukraine, after a dramatic tenure as an official during Russia's short-lived democratic gov­ ernment under Alexander Kerensky ( 1 8 8 1 - 1 970) . Rutenberg was an engineer and an entrepreneur, who obtained a concession from the British mandatory government to build the first diesel-powered electrical station in Tel Aviv, followed soon afterward by others in Haifa and Tiberias. He later built the first hydroelectric power station in Naharayim . A major figure of his time, Rutenberg wielded considerable influence with the British, as well as with the Jewish pioneers, and within the Haganah. He may have connected with Feldenkrais both through the Haganah and because of his work at the Survey Office. Feldenkrais, who would have had access to privileged information about plans for roads, infrastructure, and development, may have been able to pass information useful for Jewish development to Rutenberg and others. 169 The other donor for publishing Feldenkrais's book was Colonel Frederick H. Kisch, a British officer who served in both world wars. He perished in the desert during the North African campaign against General Erwin Rommel. For a time Kisch was head of the Zionist Executive's Political Department, the organization that would become the Jewish Agency. He worked to help Jews who came to Palestine during the period of the British Mandate find

E R E T Z YI S RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


employment. Besides his deep commitment t o Jewish settlement and self­ defense, Kisch was devoted to negotiating rapproachment between Arabs and Jews in Palestine and was an important figure in what would become the Jewish Agency. Some of Feldenkrais's belief that the British deliberately exacerbated divisions between Jews and Arabs may come from conversations with Kisch. 169a In the acknowledgments ofjiujitsu Feldenkrais expresses gratitude to Yeshua Aluf, Maccabi board member and head of its national, technical institution, for going "over the material prior to its going to the printer, and for his practi­ cal comments. " And he accepts the pleasant duty to [thank my] friend Emile Avineri, the founder and trainer of the Benny Leonard Boxing Club in Tel Aviv, for his help and participation in most of the pictures. 1 70 The social and historical context of jiujitsu was Jewish self-defense against Arab hostility in the shadow of British colonial rule. It is of interest that during the period j ust prior to Feldenkrais's writingjiujitsu, Arab hostility toward the Jews increased. Feldenkrais's frustrations with the British are obvious, though he is careful neither to name the B ritish directly, nor to refer to the Arabs explicitly; the reader is expected to fill in the blanks. jiujitsu, however, presented philosophy and practical techniques of general interest. The book, with minor revisions, would reach gentile audiences far removed i n time, space, and culture, from the situation in Palestine. Feldenkrais makes the general argument that people cannot count on society for protection: "Even the most advanced societies, with all their police, courts, and j ails, have not been able to" protect us against crimes, such as financial damage, physical brutality, murder, robbery, and rape. 1 7 1 He grudgingly credits social institutions with curbing individual violence as when he quotes an ancient source: "If it wasn't for the awe of the kingdom, a man would swallow his brother's life . " 1 72 But he felt that institutions cannot guarantee safety and that people should learn how to defend themselves. Feldenkrais singles out his Jewish readers. Jews, especially, understand their vulnerability, yet "unlike almost everyone in the world, Jews do not teach their son to hold a sword, shoot with a gun . . . teach their hands for war. " He aug­ ments his political and moral case for self-defense with religious sources. He quotes from the Mishna's "Ethics of the Fathers, " "If I 'm not for myself, then who am I for?" If a Jew does not defend himself while others destroy him, isn't he committing the sin of suicide? 1 73 Jews in Palestine faced a practical dilemma that was particular to them. Since the British had "outlawed weapons, except for the police , '' the only recourse was learning to defend oneself without using weapons. 1 74 The book was designed to teach ordinary men and women emergency tactics and skills for self-defense. It is divided into two parts. The second part focused on techniques that require practice. The first part of the book described easier techniques that don't require training and that can be implemented immediately



fo r "people who are not too pleased with exercising and whose strength i s not a great deal . " 175 Feldenkrais found j iuj itsu impractical fo r ordinary citizens because the techniques require many years to master. Most people would not seriously take up a martial art, lacking time, motivation, or physical ability. And, he points out, incomplete training may be more dangerous than none at all, if people feel greater confidence than their skills merit. In a series of brief chapters, Feldenkrais explains how to defend against rapists, drunkards, robbers, and knife- or pistol-wielding assailants, and what to do if attacked by animals, such as dogs or bulls. 176 He explains the virtues of attacking, rather than trying to escape: Attack as a means of defense is as good as an escape: When the person who has been attacked strikes back, he rids himself of fear and, because the villain now has to defend himself, he cannot so easily execute his scheme. 177

In the case of rape, it is interesting that modern research discredits as a myth the belief that passive compliance is typically safer for the victim than active defiance. Women's self-defense classes, like "model mugging" have taught women how to defend themselves with techniques not unlike the ones in Feldenkrais's self-defense book. Defenses that Feldenkrais suggests against rapists and other assailants include poking out an eye, tearing a nostril or face, kicking a shin, scratching, bending a finger backward, biting, screaming, and using a hairpin for stabbing. Many ordinary objects within easy reach can be "excellent weapons against a criminal: " Throwing sand, using a bottle full of sand or water, tying a stone or coins in a handkerchief, corkscrews, bottled carbonated soft drinks , big books, heavy table objects, including cups and flat plates in the face, kitchen or paper knives, sticks. Turning off the lights in a familiar house. Feldenkrais also describes points of sensitivity for inflicting pain and producing immobility. 178 Advantage is gained by inflicting pain, for example, by throwing sand in someone's eyes, or squashing the eyes, breaking a finger, or stepping with the heel of your shoe on the big toes of the attacker. . . There is no power that stands up to pain. Pain will make even the strongest one into a docile sheep that a child is able to direct. 179

He cautions, however: Be careful not to have the one that is attacking you bleed . . . the law punishes this [and] this will give him extra energy. [Also] the people that are around will go to his side. 180

The book contains general advice about how to comport oneself i n dangerous situations. There are times t o speak a n d times t o remain silent. One should not appear foolish. And if one speaks "during an altercation . . . a sudden hit could cut o ff your tongue with your teeth . " But one can create

E R E T Z Y1 s R A E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


a psychological advantage with threatening words, such as, "the one that comes close to me-I'll break his skull, " or "the first one that makes a move I'll kill . " If you say such words with confidence, and in a quiet voice that goes into the heart, it will weaken your opponent and "strengthen [your] hands. " 181 Feldenkrais's lists of contingencies are exhaustive; they include how to rescue a friend from attack, prevent the escape of a criminal, and fo rce one's way through a crowd. 182 While the techniques often seem crude, under the right conditions, we can imagine that they are as effective as he promises. We have seen such techniques choreographed in movies, though most people have not needed to prove them firsthand. The violence and the variety of tactics, along with his extensive analysis of the psychology of pain and combat, may lead us to wonder how much direct experience Feldenkrais had of bloody and otherwise violent encounters. Though we lack specific information-and, as mentioned before, he refrained from talking of such experience-Feldenkrais's assurance of tone bespeaks more than secondhand knowledge. Some of the tactics that he presents are dangerous enough to kill. Feldenkrais asks the reader to Remember the aim is defense only. The reader should remember to use [such] tactics only when there are no other alternatives. When the criminal aggres­ sor is much stronger, is armed, wants to take one's life and there is no escape. Generally, even in such cases it is preferable to cause unconsciousness to the aggressor, or inability to harm, by utilizing other tactics in the book. 1 83

The second part of the book presents a selection of more sophisticated techniques that require longer training and practice. These surpass the rough and ready solutions given in part one for effective self-defense, but they can­ not at once be put to use. Students may practice some of the techniques, Feldenkrais suggests, not only for self-defense, but as a form of athletics or sport. Part two includes techniques that he himself "devised . . . through teach­ ing and observation," and ones that he borrowed from j iuj itsu, boxing and 'catch-as-catch-can. ' 184 The principles and tactics from boxing that are p resented in the manual p resumably Row from the expertise of Feldenkrais's friend, the boxing champion Emile Avineri. Catch-as-catch-can wrestling was common in carnivals across America in the late 1 800s and early 1 900s. Audiences made wagers on matches between carnival wrestlers and local tough guys. The wrestlers usually won by means of effective 'hooking' techniques. The practice died out by the late 1 9 50s. British j udo authority Ernest John (E.J . ) Harrison ( 1 873- 1 96 1 ) relates that catch-as-catch-can is "the nearest approach to j udo that we have in Europe or America. " Harrison continues:



several o f the pure throws are similar i n both schools, though i n view o f the fact that the catch-as-catch-can wrestler is naked, save for a pair of jock-straps and pumps, he is by no means so good a subj ect for holds and grips as a man who is clothed. 1 8 5

However, as the book's title promises, most of the techniques derive from j iuj itsu and Feldenkrais's jiuj i tsu-based innovations. Jiuj itsu, Feldenkrais explained, allows the man who has medium strength and body, and even less than medium, the possibility to stand up for himself, even against someone who is strong and holding a stick, a knife, and even a gun . 186 ]iujitsu predates Feldenkrais's close involvement with Japanese teachers, but his early admiration of Japanese sensibility is apparent. He asks his Israeli readers to adopt a Japanese attitude: experts in jiuj itsu "aren't arrogant" and they don't use their skill "except in the most extreme situations . " "To become effective in self-defense strategies and techniques, a man needs to become edu­ cated and acquire the necessary patience-and the following through-that the Japanese have." Feldenkrais was not content simply to present basic j iujitsu techniques, such as were featured in Lieutenant Stephan's police manual; he adapted j iuj itsu techniques into a form that he believed was more closely suited to people's needs . 1 8 7 Feldenkrais gives the reader guidelines fo r training and practice: though he shows the techniques on only one side, one should practice on both sides "with the same attention . . . Do each exercise with the greatest speed that you're able to, but don't hurry. Hurrying is not speed . " 188 ''A training regimen should be comfortable, and no one should be hurt during practice . . . Applying unmeasured force, may damage the person who is training with you . . . A more expert practitioner should allow beginners to beat him . " 18 9 Feldenkrais seems to address the martial readiness of the entire Yishuv, not only paramilitary cadres, when he asks that the reader, having learned the techniques, teach them to others. The book has a section devoted to recommendations about maintaining fitness. "Whoever is going to learn these tactics needs to develop his body for health, speed, and patience." He suggests an exercise program of running, going to bed early, not eating excessively, chewing food thoroughly, and not drinking during meals . And Feldenkrais admonishes that these principles are more important than "doing gymnastics everyday. " Also, he advocates strengthening the fingers, palms, feet, and toes, "which most athletes neglect, except those training in jiuj itsu, boxing, or fencing. " 190 Feldenkrais includes good posture and breathing as necessary ingredients for effective self-defense. Breathing through the nose is preferred over breath­ ing through the mouth. Posture should make movement easy, while reducing vulnerability to attack:

E R E T Z YI S R A E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


Bend your head a bit forward, and your throat will b e more secure . . . and also your breathing will be easier. . . Stand on your toes, and not on your heels . From this kind of standing it's easier to shift any movement. 191

Feldenkrais's linking good posture with easy movement i n j iuj itsu began his redefinition of posture as dynamics . For him, ideal posture would embody absolute readiness: physical efficiency coupled with poised attention, allowing one to move at any moment with equal ease in any direction . 192 Feldenkrais admonishes us to vigilance in everyday life. When suspicious people approach, be prepared. If they don't hide their bad intentions, attack first. Don't be put off by the number of attackers . Two adversaries are more dangerous than ten, because ten cannot take hold of one person all at the same time, each gets in the way of the others.

And, of course, it is a good idea to run away at the correct moment. "Achilles also fled . . . The one who loves life flees. " 193 The eyes, it is said, are windows on the soul, and Feldenkrais suggests: Look in the eyes of the one that is anacking you. This is a way you can see all of his intentions, the ones that are hidden, and the ones that are obvious.

On the other hand, however, he explains that boxers, to equal advantage, look only at their opponents' feet, in order to conceal the intentions hidden in their own gazes, but "this takes a lot of practice. " 194 He further cautions: [Don't make] efforts with the stomach muscles [because] this makes your breathing difficult and affects your pulse . . . Be prepared to contract [the stomach muscles] at any moment. A blow to the stomach when the stomach is soft is very unpleasant and detrimental to health . . . . Don't squeeze your fists before the moment it is necessary. . . It's good to learn to contract the hands without contracting the stomach muscles . . . By way of this, the breathing isn't halted during the time of the action. 195

And, one should avoid a full stomach [as it] can be punctured with the easiest stab. A full stomach makes you slow, and heavy with your movement, makes your breathing heavy. It takes away your power and tires your heart. 196

This second part of the book also contains defenses against the most lethal attacks, where assailants carry pistols or apply strangulation holds. Feldenkrais describes two types of strangulation: One in which the trachea is pushed toward vertebra in the back of the neck, which is less painful and brings death only after a long time. The other type, the more dangerous, is strangulation in which the trachea is pulled forward. 197

1 04


In his later books on j udo and unarmed combat, Feldenkrais presents many chokeholds, from both offensive and defensive perspectives. Several years later Feldenkrais studied physics in France and applied it to the art of j udo. But he had probably taken courses in physics at the gymnasium, and studied it on his own, by the time that he wrote jiujitsu. His technical understanding is apparent from the following passages: In defending against a stick it's important to remember first of all that it's impossible to hit a person with a stick when he's too close. Second, if the momentum is very strong it's necessary that the swing will be long, (according to the laws of nature) . [Maximum force is delivered only at the end of the stick when it crosses the point of oscillation, the middle of its swing (analogous to the point where a pendulum moves the fastest) .] Therefore it's a must to be very close to the holder of the stick; in this position the stick only hinders him. 198 To bring somebody down it's necessary to hold him as close to his fingers and toes as possible. The places that are farthest away from the center of the body are weaker and you can hurt them more. And their distance from the body's center of gravity allows you to use them as a lever. 199

Feldenkrais understood that shifting a skirmish to the ground helps equalize the odds when fighting a larger and stronger opponent. Even for his day, when people were shorter on average than they are now, Feldenkrais, at around five feet four inches, was comparatively small in stature. He knew from experience thatThere is no better position and safer against a strong and heavy opponent, than lying down . . . On the ground, weight is of no importance. The assailant will have to fight not only with the hands of the one who is thrown on the ground, but also with his legs; and leg strokes, especially of a light person, are harder than his fist strokes. 200

Feldenkrais excelled in close-to-the-ground techniques, and used them successfully on the mat. He later devoted an entire book (Higher judo) to such 'groundwork.' Feldenkrais wanted to disabuse people of an almost universal mistake. People with light bodies, who do not have protruding muscles and a chest that sticks out like a mountain, may think of themselves as naturally wretched, in comparison with the cumbersome, heavy bodied ones. [But] the bigger and the stronger the man, so will his movement be slowed and the energy that he consumes during movement, stooping, etc . , will be much greater. That slowness controls him much more than in the smaller stature person . . . The only quality and excellence that the wide shoulders and heavy body [have] , is the certainty in his strength, which came to him by belittling people who are physically weaker than he. Once a physically (but not spiritually) weak person, agile, fast, self-assured, will challenge the heavy giant and attack

E R E T Z Y1 S RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


him, it is possible to assume that victory will rest on the side of the attacker. In competitions between Japanese and huge European boxers, and among school children, chis is easily observed and proved. 201

I n fact, j udo's practical physics uses larger persons' strength against them . Fighting arts-especially j iuj itsu-were the probable p o i n t of departure in Feldenkrais's j ourney to master the practical physics of human movement. His astounding abilities to restore the p owers of the body into motion owed much to his skill i n physically manipulating the skeleton . Jiuj itsu's arm-lock techniques are one example of physics applied to the human structure. It's not an accident that the greatest masters of j iuj i tsu-from whom j udo's creator, Jigoro Kano ( 1 8 6 0- 1 9 3 8 ) , learned-were practicing osteopaths . Samurai training i ncluded bone setting, o r seikotsu, and Kano carried resuscitation techniques-and perhaps other forms of treatment as well-into j udo. The same manipulative ability that enables an unarmed combatant to control the movements of an opponent can be used elsewhere to teach another how to move and heal. From when he first learned j i uj itsu and other fighting arts, Feldenkrais was learning how to sense, direct, and control the human skeleto n . Still more anatomical knowledge is embedded in martial arts-for example, strangulation holds require knowin g the structures i n the neck, and knowledge of nerves and other sensitive points is used for applying p ressure techniques. Feldenkrais's later Functional I n tegration techniques would apply this knowledge i n reverse, when he taught how to avoi d putting p ress ure on areas that were vulnerable to pai n . Among the most fascinating passages of the book are descriptions of the more elusive secrets of j iujitsu. Central to Feldenkrais's methods is that great strength is unnecessary; rather, what is called for is refined muscular control and coordination. Later, he would speak systemically about the fundamental issue of coordination, as the orgranization of an action . Good organization requires using one's entire self. While discussing boxing techniques, Feldenkrais quotes an "Englishman" as saying: "a fist blow begins in the toe . " 202 "The torah [law] of letting go and contracting is very important." It is inter­ esting that Feldenkrais employs the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) to describe the essence of potent action. 203 Sudden . . . mobilization is absolutely necessary. Especially what is required is to practice both the contraction of muscles, and their soft letting go. This increases patience, and reduces tiredness, so that the power remains for the active contraction. The letting go and the contraction you must train for the whole body at once, and for individual limbs. 204

Feldenkrais understood that "the torah of letting go and contracting" is relevant not only to martial arts, but to all efficient, graceful movement:



It would be good for the reader t o look a t a cat a t war with a dog or with another cat, how all of his muscles are lax, till the last split second, when he contracts them at the speed of lightning, as if an electrical current passes through them .. . see a boxing lesson with an expert teacher, or . . . visit an artistic dance studio . . . to see exactly how this thing is done.20 5

As E. J . Harrison explained in The Fighting Spirit ofjapan: [Jiuj itsu] (literally "soft art"), as its name implies, is based upon the principle of opposing softness or elasticity to hardness or stiffness. Its secret lies in keeping one's body full of ki, with elasticity in one's limbs, and in being ever on the alert to turn the strength of one's foe to one's own advantage with the minimum employment of one's own muscular force. 206

The techniques injiujitsu conform to Feldenkrais's central premise of build­ ing from people's spontaneous reactions. The techniques for defense against knives and sticks, in the second part of the book, have a j iuj itsu style, but are Feldenkrais's own. 20 7 Four years later, his originality was richly rewarded: the knife defense would catch the attention and win the respect of Jigoro Kano, j udo's founder. Because of Kano's appreciation of that technique, they formed a lasting relationship, and Feldenkrais began his decades-long training and investigation of judo. Feldenkrais carefully analyzed the psychology of pain and fear, essential knowledge in the martial arts . He pointed out that pain fixates our atten­ tion and can sometimes work against our survival. "All animals by instinct are unable to divert their attention from the painful area. " He presented an uncomfortable example (for which he asked the reader's forgiveness) : When grasping a person by his genitals, he does nothing except grabbing the hand that holds it. Surely he could have grabbed the neck of his assailant? The pain is so great that no thought comes up in his brain. All attention is tied to the painful place and he is unable to think about anything else. 208

Feldenkrais draws attention to the tendency to perseverate once we engage in an action: When a man is doing some movement or action in which his whole heart is engrossed, he will continue with his action or movement even if he is suddenly hindered from it for a moment. 209

He shows how to exploit these unconscious tendencies of an attacker for self-defense. By the same token, it behooves us to understand our own reactions and learn to restrain them when necessary, especially our fear reactions. Feldenkrais's analysis of people's behavior in dangerous situations led to the conclusion that "paralyzing fear is not an instinctive self-defense, and action activates the brain to override the momentary paralysis."21 0 He felt

E R E T Z YI S R A E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


that "The first minute i s the most vital, the transition from a n innocent walker to becoming a defendant and attacker. And this is easily done once fear is eliminated." For purging fear, Feldenkrais recommended Breathe deeply through the nostrils, with closed mouth, filling up the lungs completely and exhaling the air slowly. This kind of inhalation calms the heart, eases its pace, and peace and quiet will return on their own.2 1 1

Feldenkrais emphasized that besides facilitating breathing, movement of almost any kind helps dispel the paralysis of fear. "Cowards" instill in themselves "bravery and courage" when they begin making all sorts of movement, grimaces, and convulsions: grind their teeth, rub their hands, [and] pull their hair [thus making themselves capable of an] aggressive attack that is hard to withstand.212

In extreme situations Feldenkrais says that even an ordinary, cultured person, who "requires extra nerve" because his heart won't allow him to help a neighbor or friend who is being ravaged, will scratch his flesh . . . bite his hands or lips till [he] bleeds . . . seeing his blood flowing, [his will and strength will] surprise him afterwards. The savages gather[,] scratch their skin and raise noise prior to going out to the enemy. 213

In ]iujitsu we encounter Feldenkrais's first writing about the act of falling. He gave special attention to the action of falling, exploring its significance for nearly sixty years . He studied its phenomenology; he investigated it through the disciplines of psychology, evolutionary biology, child develop­ ment, neurophysiology, and biomechanics. He would even link the fear of falling with the fear of falling in love . He believed that our high center of mass and the dynamic, unstable equilibrium afforded by our structure made the risk of falling intrinsic to our upright. Our capacity to fall is thus related to our emotional security and maturity. Feldenkrais, even at this early period of his thinking, had insight into some of the more general ramifications of skillful falling: One of the most important things in the fight and defense is falling. The attacker tries always to throw the person on the ground if he can't hurt him in standing. But if the person knows how to fall, not only will he not be hurt during the fall, he will be able to distance himself from the attacker. With the help of a correct fall, the person falls from the place that he was standing a bit more than his height. The main thing about this is that he remains standing on his feet to the surprise of his attacker. The falling forwards and backwards he must train well, and the benefits are great. (I myself was saved from death several times because of knowing this .) Its importance is not j ust in a hand fight, but in the daily life of every man. 214



I t i s noteworthy that none o f the falls i n this first book involve rolls, such as he would later teach in classes on j udo and in his own methods. Jiujitsu echoes elements of Autosuggestion, though Feldenkrais does not mention Coue. It shares the same positive tone: Feldenkrais's voice is reassuring, and without giving it the name, he affirms the capacities of our unconscious. He urges not to hesitate, and not to worry that you have forgotten all of the tactics and strategies . . . Don't think about what will happen the minute you are forced to defend your soul . . . Begin and attack your assailant and your soul will be revived and your memories restored. 2 1 5

This passage about fear reads like text from Autosuggestion: The paralyzing fear is not naturally embedded in human nature, dr in a particular individual, or in a unique spiritual endowment, it comes the moment a person ceases to completely believe in his powers and abilities. 216

The crisis situations described in jiujitsu, however, do not lend themselves to the careful redirections of thought discussed in Autosuggestion. Here, the preferred way to influence the unconscious and shift mental gears is through action: As when a car nears closer at high speed and the person sees he has no escape: but the minute the terrified one begins doing something, the paralysis disappears on its own. That's why moving or j umping a bit backward, simply clamping the fists, or doing any kind of movement, releases from fear. However it is very easy to combine deep breathing with any form of movement and then the heart of the victim will be as secure and assertive as the heart of his attacker.217

When discussing autosuggestion in light of the James-Lange theory of emo­ tions, Bergmann wrote, "body movements operate suggestively like visualizations of the mind." Feldenkrais offers a good example of this principle in jiujitsu: Remember that a smile, even one that does not spring from the heart, has a great calming effect on a person. And so, simply laughing after breathing deeply, helps to eliminate fear, and restore calm and common sense. 218

Feldenkrais concludes his introduction with a heartfelt statement poignantly expressing the unending tragedy of the Middle East: "I have not toiled for the purposes of war, I've toiled hard for peace."2 19 Feldenkrais's self-defense book, was published for the Haganah to be distributed among all the members of the Haganah. And I was sure that the British will arrest me the next day. I don't know why I thought so; the British didn't pay attention to that [kind of thing] . . . But I planned that when I finished the book, I'd g o t o France. Immediately when the book is out, I'll go to France. And that's what I did. 220

E R E T Z Y1 S RA E L , 1 9 1 9 - 1 9 3 0


Feldenkrais found profound and historical meaning i n his pursuit o f martial arts. Though prompted by the exigencies of the Arab-Jewish conflict, his self­ defense training also grew from his childhood experiences. We heard, in the last chapter, Moshe's childhood memory of identifying with a pig being slaughtered by Christians. Jiuj itsu helped Feldenkrais overcome the feelings of impotence and vulnerability that were carried over from his early experiences of anti­ Semitic violence. Less directly, j iuj itsu allayed the emotional insecurities bound up with his feelings of dependency and fears of disapproval. Feldenkrais's j iuj itsu training b rought him along the path to emotional maturity, a path calling for the mindfulness of a warrior. We wonder when Feldenkrais first linked the capacity fo r self-defense­ and its value for survival-with a more general principle of potency. Did this first exposure to Japanese martial arts, with its Samurai warrior tradition, help shape Feldenkrais's image of a fully realized human personality, what he would later call 'mature behavior' and 'the potent self' ? O n the surface, the jiujitsu and Autosuggestion books seem to concern different subjects: self-defense techniques and psychology, one addressing the body and the other the mind. But Feldenkrais's way of thinking challenges us to comprehend how both books, in a deeper way, addressed the same subject. Both autosuggestion and jiuj itsu were ways to further self-reliance and self­ development; to teach us how to meet and overcome resistance from within and from without; helping us to fulfill our life's intentions by learning how to link thought and action. Feldenkrais developed the knife-defense technique by studying the body's natural movements. He would find ways to skillfully integrate many other primitive, unconscious behaviors with learned behaviors as his Method evolved. Even earlier, when he tutored the boy with a math block, allowing unfettered expression of the boy's aversion resembles the kind of 'yielding' cen­ tral to j iujitsu. When the boy felt he no longer had to defend his reaction to math, he could then be ready to learn it. Feldenkrais's synthesis of Coue and jiuj itsu transcended divisions between conscious and unconscious, between body and mind, and between internal and external reality. He illustrated how the conscious and the unconscious mind can work together and teach each other. Feldenkrais believed that train­ ing either physical or mental efficiency involved the same kind of learning process; that the means of effective action at once addressed our inner lives and outer circumstances. One of the innumerable examples of his unified vision of the human being is expressed in Body and Mature Behavior. Discussing ideal posture he states a simple formula: "Successful action is performed with the least exertion of this state of mind and body. "221 Both ]iujitsu and Autosuggestion echoed streams of Asian philosophy well before Feldenkrais apprenticed himself to Japanese teachers. Jiuj itsu, 'the art of



yielding and giving way, ' and the 'torah' o f contracting and letting go, derived from long traditions of contemplative discipline. Feldenkrais recognized how Cow�'s 'effective thinking' and autosuggestion were akin to Eastern forms of meditation. All involved a practice of no effort; no 'craving,' 'striving,' or 'will to succeed. ' Letting go of goal orientation and effort were essential for lowering psychic resistance and allowing the imagination to positively affect the uncon­ scious. For j iuj itsu, reducing effort leads to diminishing muscular resistance and to achieving more efficient action . Across Asia, from t h e Near East to Japan, the arts of attention a n d self­ awareness have developed through such traditions of meditative practice. Jewish Kabbalah, Islamic Sufism, and the abundance of Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist schools of meditation are examples. The practices of jiuj itsu and autosuggestion may have been Feldenkrais's first disciplined training in con­ centration, attention , and self-awareness, but he would always be drawn to awareness disciplines, and his own system of Awareness Through Movement was, above all, a method to teach self-awareness. Feldenkrais's explorations of Coue, Freud, j iujitsu, and perhaps Stanislavsky shaped the context of his early work. It is already apparent that his true field of interest lay elsewhere than any of these. But he would later discover that others, roughly contemporaneous, were plowing related ground-though each was unknown to the others. In the 1 920s, Mabel Elsworth Todd, F. Matthias Alexander, Wilhelm Reich ( 1 897- 1 9 5 7) , Heinrich Jacoby ( 1 8 89- 1 964) , Elsa Gindler ( 1 8 8 5- 1 96 1 ) , Edmund Jacobson ( 1 8 8 8- 1 983) , Johannes Heinrich S chultz ( 1 8 84- 1 970) , and Georges G urdj ieff were also developing new approaches to mind-body awareness and personal growth . Many years later, after his own thinking had evolved more fully, Feldenkrais would study some of these other disciplines and incorporate aspects of their training and discoveries into his own work. We will examine many of these related disciplines in the next chapters.

Feldenkrais recounts both his knee inj ury and his fear that the British would hunt him down once his contraband ]iujitsu book hit the streets as motives for his departure to France. Perhaps for dramatic effect, he gave Kolman Korentayer, his helper in the 1 970s, the impression that "He was on the wanted list for the British . "222 He once mentioned as another reason for leav­ ing, his "affairs with married women who were much older. " 223 But he had been saving money in order to study abroad for a long time. As his interests unfolded, he became determined to extend his horizons. He wanted to study medicine. Friends in Palestine discouraged him, and Feldenkrais had doubts of his own. He had felt awkward about returning to high school four years behind his peers. From what he wrote in the Autosuggestion epilogue, and how he described his situation retrospectively, we may suspect that he felt internal

£RETZ YI SRAEL, 1 9 19-1 9 3 0


resistance to the idea of resuming his professional education seven and a half years " behind schedule." In the final chapter of the Autosuggestion epilogue, Feldenkrais mentions " Rabbi Akiva [, who] surely aroused ridicule when he started studying when he was in his middle age. " 224 When I went to go, I was already an old man. It was 1 929; I was 25 and a half. And, I had . . . girlfriends with whom I was in love. And my income, it grew in the five years. I got raises. I received now 1 7 and a half pounds sterling. And then everybody said, "You silly ass, what are you going to learn? An old man like you, going to university now? At the age of 25, 26, you're crazy. You're in the service of Palestine. You stay there another five years, ten years, you'll have a pension for life. You'll have 20 pounds sterling a month for life. You marry, make children." Everybody around me tried to convince me that it was idiotic to go. They said, "Look, by the time you finish anything, you'll be an old man. What's the idea? You'll never get any better conditions than you have now. " There was only one real friend of mine, who day and night he told me, "Don't listen to them. " 225

That friend was Ze' ev Kovensky, his old tent mate from Baranovich, "a super intelligent man . " Ze' ev perceived the situation differently: "Look, you have skills in you that nobody else has. Don't listen to anybody. If you are afraid that you won't have money, I will work and provide for you if you need. Go. And the sooner you go the better, because if you don't go another two years, you won't go at all. So, don't listen. Take your bags and go away." And so, one day I resigned, and everybody thought that that was sheer madness. And I went to Paris. 226

Feldenkrais was sure that he wanted a professional educatio n , and the best universities were abroad. Although the Technion (Israel's I nstitute of Technology) was established in Haifa in 1 924 and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1 92 5 , there was as yet no medical school in Israeli Palestine, and it would be another ten years before first-rate graduate departments would be established. Where should he go to study? Living under British rule had soured his view of the British (after living in Britain, that view would turn much more positive) . France, however, had romantic attraction, as a true land of liberty. Further, he had saved enough money from his tutoring, surveying, and the sales of his books, to get him started, and so in 1 930 he departed Tel Aviv for Paris and began a new episode in his odyssey. While in Palestine Feldenkrais had corresponded with his family, who remained in Baranovich, then part of an increasingly independent Poland. In the 1 920s Polish Jews enjoyed a brief period of liberality and tolerance. After 1 92 1 , when Aryeh was able to rejoin his family, they operated a small textile



shop i n Baranovich. Their means were limited. Malka recalled having only one dress, that she had to wash each night. 227 Nevertheless, Sheindel continued her charitable activities, collecting money and clothes for the poor. Malka later complained that her mother had more time for charity than for her own fam­ ily. She and her brother Baruch studied at the Zionist, Bet Tarbut high school in Baranovich to prepare themselves for one day j oining Moshe. Moshe's grandparents and some aunts, uncles, and cousins, lived across the border in the Soviet Ukraine. In contrast to the situation in Poland, Slavuta's Jewish population, which numbered 1 2,000 by 1 927, suffered greatly under Communist repression. In the trying months that followed Moshe's departure for Palestine, his grandparents, Michael and Rivka Pshater, attempted to hang on to what assets they could in the fo rm of gold and j ewels hidden in their chimney. 228 But when the Bolsheviks finally consolidated their power in 1 920, they moved quickly to confiscate the Pshater family home-too quickly for Michael and Rivka to remove and safeguard their treasure. What became of it remains a mystery. The Communists divided the upper floors into small apart­ ments. They converted the ground floor into a pharmacy, and allotted a few small rooms in the back for Feldenkrais's grandparents' residence. Toward the end of 1 93 0 , j ust before leaving Palestine, Feldenkrais wrote his mother in Baranovich after learning that she, Aryeh, and Baruch were now able to emigrate. He told her how wonderful Palestine was, and of its good hearted Jewish community. Moshe related to his mother that he could have been 'broken' had he not emigrated and that he now had 'golden' prospects of success. Concerning the family conflicts before he left Baranovich, he felt the time had come for them to be forgotten.229


FRANCE, 1 9 3 0-1 940 Practicing j udo brings many pleasures: the pleasant feeling exercise imparts to muscles and nerves, the satisfaction of mastering movements . . . the beauty and delight of performing graceful, meaningful techniques and in seeing others perform them . . . The final aim of j udo is to inculcate respect for the principles of maximum [physical and mental] efficiency and mutual welfare and benefit. Through j udo, persons individually and collectively attain their highest spiri­ tual state while at the same time developing their bodies and learning the art of attack and defense. - Jigoro Kano, Kodokan judo

The experienced Judoka, like the scientist, has learned to test ideas by their experimental value. - Moshe Feldenkrais, Higher judo

It is not important to be better than s omeone else, but to b e better than yesterday. - Jigoro Kano

M osHE FELDENKRAIS MADE his aliya from Poland to Eretz Yisrael to seek personal freedom and to join his peers in building a new nation. But going to France was a more individual quest, aimed at realizing his potential. To Feldenkrais and many other Palestinian Jews, France promised an escape from British colonialism. Poles and Russians knew French as the language of aristocrats and writers, signifying high culture and intellectual sophistication. And for Jews, France was a land whose history-the French Revolution and Napoleon-emphasized freedom and equal rights for all. 1 As Feldenkrais admitted about going to Paris, "At first I didn't know what to do with myself. " 2 His intention had been to study medicine; however, that dream was shattered when he learned that it would require a six-year course of study, costing more than he could afford.3 Fifteen years later, when a Scottish medical school encouraged him to enroll, he considered the option again. But by that time, the prospect of medical school had lost its attraction. In Palestine, the H e rzliya Gymnasium d i rector had advised h i m to study physics: Feldenkrais's aptitudes for m ath and science were obvious. After a friend studyin g i n Paris sent Moshe an inspiring article about his science p ro fessor there, the p rospect o f havin g an extraordinary teacher s parked Feldenkrais's i n terest. That n ewspaper article, scant as it was , served as a kin d of compass by which Feldenkrais steered the course that would take him i n to p hysics. Feldenkrais traveled via ship to France, shoveling coal in exchange fo r passage. With the newspaper clipping folded in h i s j acket pocket, h e arrived

1 14


in Paris where h e took whatever j obs were available t o a foreigner who couldn't speak French. At first he worked in restaurants cleaning tables. Feldenkrais surveyed his educational options and decided upon engineering. He enrolled at the Ecole speciale des travaux publics (ESTP, School of Public Works) in Paris, a well-regarded public engineering school, where the cost of the three years of instruction required for a diploma appeared to be within his means. His choice was influenced by the instincts that had served him well in the past and led him to an extraordinary education. Teachers at ESTP and its director, Leon Eyrolles, would play decisive roles in his future. Yona Rubenstein , Feldenkrais's future wife, soon left Palestine to join him in Paris. They moved into simple, student quarters. One of their early addresses was 1 2, avenue de la Soeur-Rosalie, in Paris's 1 3th arrondissement (district) . With her family's help, Yona started on a university track that led to medical school. Moshe used his savings and worked part time while attending engineering school. Yona was "very bright, witty, " as her friend, Bathsheva Dagan, described her.4 She was born in Poland, not far from my grandfather's and Feldenkrais's birthplaces. Moshe and Yona both made their aliyas as children but, while Moshe came by himself, like an orphan, Yona arrived with her family. She was three years younger than Moshe and had it not been fo r the hiatus in his education, they would have graduated from gymnasium around the same time. Yona was born with a congenital hip deformity and walked with a limp. Because of her disability, her father encouraged her to excel academically. Given Feldenkrais's childhood fascination with-and desire to help-the crip­ pled, Yona's disability might have been one of the reasons he was drawn to her. Yona and Moshe both planned to go to a French university, and both probably intended to become medical doctors. Like many Hebrew names, 'Yona' serves either gender. The name evoked poignant memories of the 1 3-year-old brother Feldenkrais had lost. Moshe and Yona were acquainted in Tel Aviv, and may have become romantically involved before Feldenkrais moved to Paris . Yona's father, Shmuel Rubenstein, was a successful builder in Tel Aviv and could have been one of Feldenkrais's con­ struction bosses. A friend of Yona's told me that Shmuel's company built the opera house. But it's not clear whether he was referring to the 1 923 renovation of the Lillian Theater -where Feldenkrais was blocked from attending a debur performance-or the Mugrabi Theater, which was built later. Another source speculated that Shmuel asked Moshe to tutor his daughter in mathematics. Given Yona's intellect, this seems less likely. Countless questions about their relationship remain unanswered. For example, we don't know for sure how Yona and Moshe met, though photographs from their time in Palestine suggest that they were close even then. I met Yona at Moshe's home in 1 9 8 2 . She died in 1 9 8 8 , shortly before I started work on this biography. After separating in 1 94 8 , Moshe and Yona

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0



had remained friends. When Moshe had his stroke, Yona visited him weekly, bringing him chicken soup and giving him a B 1 2 shot. However, interviewing Yona's family members and friends provided few answers; Yona had said little about Moshe. And Feldenkrais's friends and family, for their parts, didn't know much about Yona. Indeed, Feldenkrais's circles of friends, students, and family often knew one another scarcely, if at all. But, after Yona came to Paris, Feldenkrais seemed intent on impressing his future in-laws that he was worthy of their daughter: when he received a shipment of his new books from Palestine, he signed copies and sent them to friends and family. One copy of Autosuggestion went to Yona's family in Palestine with the inscription: This is for you, the Rubenstein family, as a memento. For you who saw me in my poorness, this is the beginning of my power.

His inscription suggests that Yona's father might have employed him as a laborer when Moshe was a teenager. Autosuggestion was, in Feldenkrais's eyes­ as the inscription said-the beginning of his power. The work with himself that had led to the writing of the book had been a source of inner strength, and its publication first brought him to the attention of the general public. Another copy went to his family i n Poland with a similarly bold promise. On the frontispiece he wrote: A memento to my dear parents, brother and sister. Let this be both my revenge for being called by you an unworthy son and my atonement for the suffering I have indeed caused you . Let this also be my promise to you that I will exceed what I have achieved so far. Yours, Moshe Feldenkrais5

Feldenkrais's compact, complex message about revenge and atonement displayed his recurrent, ambivalent feelings toward his parents. Their high expectations were not yet vanquished from his imagination, and he seemed still entangled with guilt for leaving home at the age of fourteen, when he might have been expected to shoulder more responsibility for his family. Perhaps he also felt the need to j ustify the timing of his move to France, j ust as his family prepared for their departure for Palestine. Though financially pressured, Feldenkrais was filled with confidence and ambition. As he told Marc Eyrolles, future director of the engineering college and son of its then director, Leon Eyrolles, One should have only a small amount of money, very little. You cannot under­ stand, but the important thing is to fulfill oneself and I have very little time. 6



Feldenkrais's path t o achievement i s a classic story o f surmounting obstacles. At the beginning of his engineering studies, he sat at the back of the class and struggled to understand the French lectures and textbooks: At the beginning in France . . . I was put hard to work, because my French was very poor compared with what was necessary to learn engineering. [What the teacher] explains . . . you have to write down and make very nice beautiful notes. And he checks that you were writing down what you heard. The writing down took so much of my attention at the beginning that I wouldn't know what he's talking about. I was concerned with writing it in French. Difficult . . . And I had to learn technical drawing. The French students learned that in high school.7

Aaron Meskin's son Yuval, an Israeli radio personality and raconteur, shared with me an amusing anecdote he'd heard from Feldenkrais about this period: The first year [Moshe] was the worst pupil in the class because he hardly knew the language, and hardly knew the subject he was learning. He found on the street . . . a street sign that read "Slow, Children are Present," i n French, and h e took i t to class. When he tried to understand the beginning of the lesson, realizing [that] he understood nothing, he held [up J the sign in the middle of the class.

Such clownish humor made Feldenkrais popular among his teachers and fellow students. Fortunately, Feldenkrais's French came quickly, as had his other languages. As with many fluent linguists he was a polyglot at an early age. He first spoke Yiddish, the language of his home. He learned Russian and, probably, famil­ iarity with Ukrainian from town life, German at the local elementary school, and some Polish after moving to Baranovich. Liturgical Hebrew was part of religious observance, and his Zionist education gave him his first steps toward a modern, living Hebrew. He polished his Hebrew while living in Palestine, where he also learned the colonial language, English. At the gymnasium he learned a few French phrases, but it wasn't until he moved to France at the age of 26 that he gave it serious attention. Remarkably, French, the last language that he learned, became his favorite. According ro his good friend, poet and philologist Franz Wurm, French was his most expressive tongue. 8 In Paris, he adopted a francophone form of his first name around the same time he settled on ' Feldenkrais' as the spelling of his last name. His first name, originally 'Moishe,' as in Yiddish, transmuted into the Hebrew 'Moshe,' and, bypassing the English 'Moses,' became 'Moshe' in France. Feldenkrais's engineering college (ESTP ) was founded by Leon Eyrolles ( 1 86 1 - 1 94 5 ) in 1 8 9 1 after he resigned from a managerial position in the Public Works Department. Eyrolles established the school at 3, rue Thenard, where Feldenkrais attended classes. In 1 904, Eyrolles created an extension of the college at Arcueil-Cachan, where Feldenkrais later worked under Frederic Joliot-Curie.9 Eyrolles's impressive resume included being, at one point, mayor

F RA N C E , i 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0


o f Cachan. H e received many awards in recognition o f his distinguished career as an engineer, educator, publisher, and public servant. 1 0 At ESTP, Feldenkrais selected his fields of study: There was railway engineering, and electrical and mechanical engineering, all sorts of different divisions. I took the electricity and mechanics. It was terribly hard work, and I was day and night at it . . . I [went] t o. . . a factory making pumps fo r big dams, and alternators to produce megawatts of electricity. . . Immense factories with immense material. I had to go there and do a [practicum] for three months, and write a report, which was part of getting the degree. 1 1

As an intern i n hydroelectric plants, and later as an engineer and physicist, Feldenkrais gained an intimate working knowledge of the concept of 'energy. ' He knew the laws that described how it behaved and changed forms: fo r example, how electrical energy is transformed i n t o mechanical energy in a motor, chemical into mechanical in an automobile, potential energy into electrical in a hydroelectric plant, and potential into kinetic energy in the motion of the human body. He knew the term's history and employed it in its accepted scientific usage with care and precision. Feldenkrais was critical of the app ropriation of the term 'energy' to express immeasurable phenomena o r to label experiences that people had trouble describing. H e was impatient when someone i nvoked energy in pseudoscientific 'explanations' that masked a lack of understanding. In such cases he urged skepticism and scientific discourse. He encouraged empirical and phenomenological narratives that could lead to insights. As he had when he entered the gymnasium in Tel Aviv, Feldenkrais met with good fortune. He attracted encouragement and generous offers of help. But it was more than mere luck. As Marc Eyrolles described his charisma, How could one resist his kindness, his humbleness, his distress, and his skills? Joliot-Curie and his colleagues, my father [Leon Eyrolles] , [Paul] Bonet-Maury, and many others fell under his charm.

That charm drew him support whenever his circumstances were wanting. 1 2 Professor Guidot, an Algerian mathematics teacher at ESTP, was responsive to Feldenkrais's appeal. Guidot had a passion for his subject-and for women, too; his polygamy had been the occasion of some scandal. Professor Guidot's insights and enthusiasm inspired Feldenkrais and intensified his love for math­ ematics. Moshe counted Guidot as one of those "teachers who are worth their weight in gold, " 13 one of those instructors in this world without whom i t would be even less cheerful than it is. The drawback is that there are so few of them; one can more easily win a lottery than have one of them as a mentor. 14



Feldenkrais started a t the bottom o f his class due t o his poor command of French, but, in the end, graduated with first honors. They have trimesters, three months. And the first trimester, there were 300; I was the last. Last of the 300. I wasn't used to being the last, and here I was pleased that they didn't run me out altogether. In the next trimester, I was somewhere in the middle. At the end of the first year, I was among the first ten. And in the second year and the third year, I was at the top of the class. 1 5

Toward the end of that first year, Feldenkrais wrote proudly to his friend Ze' ev Kovensky, the first person who gave him the spiritual and material support to fulfill his dreams : I got in the finals 1 9 o u t of 20 in mechanics, and 1 9 out of 20 in analytics, the maximum possible. But I have to pass more exams to go to the next class, and the exams are very difficult; every course like higher mathematics, physics, chem­ istry, electronics, theoretical engineering, [and) alternating current. Yesterday I spoke to a professor and he said that even if I fail the [otherJ exams they will pass me anyway to the next year. I want to be two months older [for the exams to be over) . I am not afraid of the exams themselves, but there are certain things that I don't know well enough, and I wouldn't like to be in a foolish situation.

In the second half of the letter he broaches a more sensitive subject: I want to be free of all connections. It's right, Ze'ev, it's very difficult to cut them off I want very much to be free of all connections from the past that don't let me live in peace, and that's a reason for my sadness. I hope that everything will end well. 16

What lies at the heart of Feldenkrais's lamentation? Does he write of personal matters left unresolved in Palestine? Does he refer to a rumored affair with a married woman that ended painfully as he left for Paris? O r does he express concern over longer-term, existential issues? When he says, "I want very much to be free of all connections from the past that don't let me live in peace , " h e echoes feelings that spawned h i s departure from Poland a t age fourteen. Had they followed him, first to Palestine, and then to France? As we will see, the same gnawing feelings, it seems, went with him to Scotland, to England, and beyond. Only his evolving method would gradually help him realize more emotional peace and personal independence. Feldenkrais was grateful for Kovensky's support and concern for his wel­ fare. He concluded his letter with a reassuring postscript and a touch of pride: " Even though I am sad, it doesn't mean that I need money. " 17 Ze'ev would always be there when circumstances left Moshe little choice but to ask for help. At the Ecole speciale des travaux publics, Feldenkrais fulfilled his mother's hopes that he emulate his deceased b rother's mathematical p romise. His

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0


abilities had been evident at the gymnasium and i n the survey office, but now he excelled. It was during his engineering studies that he registered the first of many inventions: a new type of compass for drawing ellipses and other conic sections. 18 He could not resist developing a more practical and flexible alternative to an instrument he was expected to use at the college. But in 1 932, despite his academic promise, Feldenkrais found himself in one of the many financial crises that jeopardized his dreams. All the money that I saved in order. . . to [study] engineering [was in] pounds sterling. [And then the pound] was devaluated to half. 1 9 So I suddenly found I was broke . . . So I immediately [had to get] my degree. I wanted to go back to Palestine to go to work. But I owed already some money to the school which I couldn't pay . I found my life very, very difficult. 20 . .

Now, besides striving to excel academically, he had to struggle for enough money to continue his studies. It may be during this period that Feldenkrais hitchhiked, between school terms, to the south of France. A French doctor gave him a ride and conversationally asked who he was and what he was doing in France. Feldenkrais launched into his ideas about body and mind. He said that he had managed to get to France on the basis of a little book he had written, and now he was trying to put himself through school. At the end of the ride, the doctor wrote down Moshe's name and address. Whether it was his charm or the content of his ideas, the doctor continued to send him small amounts of money until his graduation.21 When Feldenkrais disclosed his financial difficulties to Kovensky, his friend suggested, perhaps naively, that he contact the great Jewish philanthropist Baron Rothschild. Moshe wrote back: " I hope you didn't have high hopes that I get money from him- [but] Colonel Kisch [is] in Paris. "22 He met with Kisch, who was mentioned in the previous chapter, and explained his situation. British Colonel Frederick Hermann Kisch ( 1 8 8 81 943) had backed the publication of jiujitsu despite the fact that, given his position with the British government, it was awkward fo r him to endorse Jewish defense schemes. Kisch's relationship to Feldenkrais raises interesting questions: why had he subsidized jiujitsu's publication? Had he experienced Moshe's self-defense classes firsthand or known them by reputation? Was he persuaded by the book's originality and practicality? Did he have a stake in its commercial success? Kisch's generosity in supporting Feldenkrais's education implied either a close relationship or that Kisch, like others, had fallen under the spell of his charm. We have no further records of contact between Kisch and Feldenkrais, but we know something about what the future held for Kisch. In 1 942, he became chief engineer for the British Eighth Army fighting German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's forces in North Africa. He was killed in Tunisia in early 1 943 while overseeing a mine-clearing party. 23



I n a subsequent post-devaluation letter t o Ze' ev, Moshe continued: I don't want to tell you all the hardships. The main thing is that my tuition, 5000 francs in cash, was paid. More than I am happy for this money, I am happy that I will not have to be a burden on you.

However, despite the immediate relief, his financial problems persisted for years to come. In the same letter to Ze' ev, Feldenkrais could take pleasure in confirming the confidence his friend had placed in his academic potential: I don't know if I wrote that I finished the year as second best [and it's] only because I didn't serve in the French army [that I didn't] get first place. That's not important. It's very seldom that an alien gets such a high grade. 24

He mentions another fund-raising project in that letter, an English-language version ofjiujitsu: [I've corrected] the jiuj itsu book, removed some nonsense, and probably added some new nonsense for the English edition. I hope that the English edition will be better than the [Hebrew] one. 25

Disappointingly, the English Jiujitsu never saw the light of day. However, Feldenkrais would later complete a different self-defense book in English, Practical Unarmed Combat, tailored to civil defense during World War I I . On July 2 8 , 1 93 3 , Feldenkrais graduated second in a class of 2 7 , and was awarded the ingenieur dip!Ome (engineering degree) . He was denied first rank only because he hadn't been in the French army, for which he probably would have been ineligible due to his alien status. Moshe graduated with the highest scores of any student for the previous 25 years. 26

At this stage in his life, Feldenkrais's sole involvement with martial arts was literary; no longer did he think of himself as a martial artist. Three or so years had passed since his knee inj ury during the soccer game. His knee had healed from the direct effects of the trauma, and it served him well enough in his day-to-day activities. He was proud of his jiujitsu days and still earned some income from sales of his self-defense book. But, in one fell swoop, the inj ury had severed an important aspect of his self-image and led him to redirect his ambitions. Still, the cleavage was not complete: one day, in 1 93 3 , two sources brought him news of an upcoming j udo exhibition that featured the founder ofj udo, Jigoro Kano ( 1 860- 1 938) . 27 I was in Paris, at the Radium Institute. I was contributing also to the newspaper [LJAuto. At the newspaper, there was also a certain Charles Faroux, an extraordi­ nary man, a senior at the Polytechnic School, and world champion of billiards .

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0


He developed a friendship with me. He knew that I wrote in Hebrew a book about jiuj itsu. He informed me that a certain Jigoro Kano was going to give a demonstration in the presence of the Ambassador of Japan and the Minister of National Education [Anatole Pierre Armand de Manzie] . 28

Despite Faroux's recommendation, Feldenkrais was reluctant t o attend, but discussion of the upcoming demonstration came up again: I lived at a hotel . . . while I was at engineering school. . . And the garcon, the man who looked after the hotel, was a Hungarian. And he used to read the sports paper [L'Auto}. .. He read there that a certain professor Kano, the creator of j udo, will talk and present j udo in Paris . . . I didn't understand what it meant. And I didn't really care. I didn't have the time to go . . . I had so many things to do, to draw, to learn . . . He said, " But you are interested in j iuj itsu." I said, "Same thing, j udo, j iuj itsu. " He said, "You're talking all the time, boasting about your jiuj itsu . . . and you're not even interested in seeing something like that?" I thought "Well if you really keep on harping at m e . " . . . So I said, ''All right, I'm going. I'm going to see." 29

The presentation was set for September 26, 1 93 3 , at the Ecole des arts et metiers (School of Arts and Crafts) under the chairmanship of M . Ducos, deputy secretary of state for physical education. Feldenkrais went there, and found an incredible thing. Around this were the Corsican police of Paris. The security police . . . all of them with their rifles and swords . . . doz­ ens of them. And anybody going into the place was checked for an invitation card. I went there, and I was dressed like I was coming from school. They said, "Have you got an invitation? You're dressed like that, you can't go in." And, in fact, I saw people coming there like generals, as on a holiday. They put on 1 5 sorts of medals, ribbons, and their swords and epaulets with all sorts of colored things.3 0

It was like a flashback to the opera opening in Tel Aviv the previous decade: he was once again a poorly dressed, awkward, and class-conscious young man, pushing up against social walls. But when I'm not entering. . . I can't take it. I remembered my opera [experi­ ence]-that they didn't let me in. So I said, "You won't let me in? To hell with it. I 'll go in."31 So I returned home and took my Hebrew book with the pictures about this self-defense b usiness and went back to the door. I had a card and I put on the card, "You see that I am interested in and [have] studied jiuj itsu and I am interested what j udo is and how it is done. Would you see to it that I can see the demonstration?" and I wrote it to Professor Kano.32 I asked the guardian, the policeman there . . . I said, "Look, call the Japanese. I want this given to Professor Kano." And I signed on the cover, " Dedicated to Professor Kano, Feldenkrais. " And so, a Japanese guy came t o m e and did a funny sort o f bow, looked funny



t o me. I gave him the book, and told him, "Would you please show that to Professor Kano and tell him that I would like to come in." Then, about ten min­ utes later, he came back. I thought already, 'Tm going home. " But he came and opened the door, and asked me to go in. He put me on the side. I was among a lot of people. All of them were in evening suits, or military people with all their decorations . Actually I didn't know what I was going to see, and I didn't know why I came there. There was a ring, tatamis, j udo matting. And Kano sat on one place . . . He was a tiny little man, even small fo r a Japanese. But he looked like a broad­ shouldered man. He was an old man at that time, in his 70s already, with a little mustache. And Yotaro Sugimura, the Japanese ambassador, a giant. I didn't know that there was Japanese of that size, certainly 6 ' 5 " . . . Very tall, broad shoul­ dered man. I have pictures of him afterwards when he came to my club. And the Minister of Education sat in the middle presiding for the audience . . . And then two chaps came out.33

The exhibition began with two Japanese students from English universities. These were advanced j udoists, or 'j udokas : ' The two were supposedly some of the best. O n e was 6th Dan in the Kodokan and one was 5 th Dan,34 and they were both champions of]apan twice before.35 They began to do a wonderful sort of dancing . . . and then one flies in the air, and the other one falls. It looked like a game. It didn't look like a fight at all. . . And there were extraordinary things. The kinds o f falls . . . and the beauty o f their movement . . . it looked like a . . . place without gravitation.36 And obviously it was a prearranged business, because they really didn't do anything and then a chap would fly and then they would make noises, shout HA!37 I thought, "This is fighting? I could kill them both if l wanted." It was amusing, but I didn't think anything of it. It was so perfect, compared to what I saw in movement in fight­ ing, that it looked like a rehearsed dance or something. I couldn't believe that it was spontaneous.3 8 It was a magnificent sight, to this day I can always remember how I didn't know what I was seeing.39 The Japanese Ambassador was a very tall and strong man, whereas Mr. Kano was short and seemed quite weak. When Kano stood, the Ambassador stood, too, and he did not sit down before Kano did, and I did not understand which of them was the more important. 40 I could see that the Japanese, that ambas­ sador, didn't dare to sit while this man was standing. "Who is this little man?" I wondered. 4 1 Then the "old little man" came o u t , came into t h e ring a n d started doing Judo with the two of them . . . These were two strong guys with terrible, fierce muscles and wonderful movement, and then there is an old man of about 70 . . . And h e does something very funny; h e takes that young, strong guy and makes a simple move and holds him there and says "@!!*#" . . . and throws him. Surely the other chap must let him do it and then he threw him again . I believed that this

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0

1 23

was real eyewash, and I thought to myself, "Kano, you are such a big expert, you would live 1 0 seconds in my hands. " And I really believed it, because you know I had real experience in battle with shooting and throwing knives and stones. And this looked to me to be a phony theatrical business. 42

With a mixture of fascination and skepticism, he watched the judo exhibition that evening. When it was over: People applauded. I applauded, too, because, actually, it was fun to see. So I sat, let them go out. ''I'll wait until most of them are gone, until it's easy to go out, and then I will go. " I thought. So I waited. They left, and I began to go out. 43 I intended to go home. I was rather disappointed. It was nice to see, but I didn't think there was anything to learn from this show.44 And as I was almost near the door, the little Japanese [who took the book] comes and says, " Professor Kano would like to speak to you, please. " So I waited. And then the Japanese ambassador comes and tells me, " Professor Kano would be honored if you'd speak with him . " I began to sweat, because at that time, I 'd never met ambassadors like that. I said, "What about?" He said, "Would you like to come with us?" I say, "Where to?" He said, "To the Japanese Embassy. " You can't imagine. It's like taking a mouse out of his hole and taking him there. So I am waiting, and then comes Professor Kano. And then we go out, and there is a Rolls-Royce of the Japanese Embassy. And the chauffeur j umps out and opens the doors. 4 5 And Kano gets in first and the Japanese Ambassador stands there and helps me to get in and I sit there between Kano and this Japanese Ambassador. 46 I felt that I was covered with cold sweat. I didn't know what's happening, in-between these two in a Rolls-Royce for the first time in my life. 47 In Paris there is a big hotel where all Japanese visitors of good standing go. It is a very expensive, exclusive hotel. We went into a big hall about the size of a basketball court. 48 They had put tatamis on the ground of a large room. Kano spoke French, English, German ... and was a very cultivated man. 49 And he begins to talk to me. He said, "Would you like to have dinner with me?" I had never been to a restaurant like that, [but] I was actually far from being hungry in my state.5 0 There was a small table on the floor, funny sort of way of sitting to eat I thought, but I sat on the floor too. 51

They dined with the diplomat, Yotaro Sugimura, a 6th Dan, or sixth degree, j udoka.52 He was then, incidentally, Japan's assistant ambassador to France, not its ambassador. Also present were two of Kano's advanced pupils who had been in the demonstration, Sumiyuki Kotani ( 1 903- 1 99 1 ) and Hikoichi Aida ( 1 893- 1 972) . (Feldenkrais would meet Kotani , a Cambridge-educated, 6th Dan black belt, again 35 years later, while on a trip to Japan. ) They asked m e who I was and what I was doing i n Paris. I was astonished to find he knew what a Bible is. I told him I was from Palestine. He knew that there was a Bible, that there were Jews in the world. I thought the Japanese wouldn't know

1 24


a thing about it, b ut obviously h e was a very cultured man . . . H e asked how and why I went to Israel, who my parents were. I told him all my life history, but I had no idea what he wanted from me. 53

At first, Feldenkrais did not realize that his attendants at dinner were not ordinary servers but luminaries in their own rights. They were "two extraordi­ nary fellows. "54 During the dinner he learned that one was the chief instructor of the Kodokan, [Hidekazu] Nagaoka [ 1 876- 1 952] , . . . the most powerful man in the Kodokan, and [the other was Kyuzo Mifune] , the fastest, the best in quality. 55

Mifune ( 1 8 8 3- 1 9 6 5 ) was a notorious character. Kano , as undersecretary of state for education, more than once had found it necessary to wield his influence to extricate Mifune from j ail. Feldenkrais's story continues: When the dinner was finished, he took my Hebrew book and said to me, " I can understand this even i f I can't read it . . . But here is something I can't understand. Show me how you do that technique. " 5 6 [He] found a place [in my book] , and said, " I have done in my youth all the ryus of Japan . " Before j udo was cre­ ated, there were ryus, some methods which were used by local people. Local landlords had their own defense, and the people learned some sorts of ryus,57 methods of using the hands against the enemy. . . And Kano said, " I learned all the ryus of Japan before I made my j udo. In 1 8 84 was the first j udo lesso n . " I said, "What's j udo? " He said, "j udo is the efficient teaching of m i n d over the body. " 5 8 Kano said, "I learned 1 1 ryus, and I know all the tricks that exist and I 've never seen that trick. Where did you get it?"59 He was very surprised to find a technique in my book that he had never heard of. I told him that I had, in a way, invented it. 60

Kano's interest focused on a knife-defense technique pictured in Feldenkrais's Hebrew-language self-defense book. 61 So, I tell him the story that I wanted to produce a [defense] where the first movement is a natural movement. And I didn't have a trick in the j i uj itsu books, so I invented one myself. He said, "Could you show me? It doesn't look possible. " I said, "All right, take a knife and attack me. " He took a knife, and I didn't even get up. And the knife flew about ten meters away. "Show me that again." So I showed him in slow motion, and again I threw it away. He sat there wondering. 62 And then he clapped loudly and Nagaoka came and Kano gave him the knife and said, "You try it with him, I want to see it again." And I did the same thing again. And he saw it and approved. 63 And I became rather proud. And then he looked in the book and found I used a strangulation block. And he said, "That's no good. " I said, "What do you mean, 'no good' ? Nobody has ever resisted me with that . " He said,

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0


"All right, try. " I had an old man in front of me, I didn't dare. I felt I'd kill him. But

I tried [it] and found out he was a tough, strong man: so I put in all my force, and thought that I am going to kill him now. Instead of that, I felt the world became black. I didn't know where I was, and I fainted for a second. I couldn't make out what happened to me. So he said, "You see, no good." 64 So I asked him what happened; I didn't know. . . He said . . . "Try it agai n . " And I wasn't really keen on trying again, because I never had anything like that happen to me before. [But] I said, "Alright, I'll try again." And while I did I saw that he had his hands completely free, and that he used my strength to strangle me, not j ust choke me, cut off my air, but cut the flow of blood to the brain. It felt terrible . . . I found the more I pushed, the more I strangled myself. I blacked out. Not he. And I [hadn't noticed] j ust because it was so perfectly done. I didn't even realize that he held me . . . And he said, "You are an intelligent man, I must check this knife technique out. But you can see your book is not very good. But it is very interesting. " It was two o'clock when we finished. I had to get up early in the morning. 6 5 I said, " Could I get a taxi to get home?" He said, "No, the Embassy chauffeur will take you . " And I'm driven to my little hotel where students live, and the night watchman sees a Rolls-Royce with a Japanese flag and me getting out. He thought it was a ghost. I went in, and of course, there was my wife [to be] , worried. And I began to tell her the story. And we went to bed about 5 :00 in the morning. 66

Kano's openness t o Feldenkrais while preparing fo r an important public occasion was a striking demonstratio n of his admirable personal qualities. It was truly fortuitous for Feldenkrais that the 70-year-old Kano immediately recognized, from a picture in a book he couldn't read, that there was something new for him to learn from a foreign stranger. Feldenkrais recalls Kano telling him during one of their earliest meetings: I think you're the kind of man who will succeed in bringing j udo to Europe. We have tried three or four times, and it was a failure. We sent Aida, the man you saw in the demonstration. He started with a big group, and in six months he had nobody, he had to close. 67

The history of j udo in France began with the introduction of jiuj itsu at the beginning of the 20th century. The first of Kano's students to visit France were Hikoichi Aida and Keishichi Ishiguro in 1 924. In the late 1 920s, the painter Tsuguj i Fuj ita taught Kano's j udo informally to a few friends. None succeeded in establishing a stable foothold in France for j udo. 68 "I believe that you have the stuff, " Kano continued, "but you can't go on teaching that j unk you have in your book. You have to learn proper j udo. " 69 Moshe was still unsure ( " I have no time to learn anything properly" ) , 7° but Kano was insistent:


M o s H E F E L D E N K RA I S

We will see t o i t that you have the time you need. We will send you an expert from Japan who will teach you Judo . . . And meanwhile [Sugimura] will see to your needs while you're learning Judo, whatever you need, phone him.7 1

Feldenkrais's access to Sugimura continued until Sugimura's appointment as ambassador to Italy. Even later, Sugimura informed Feldenkrais whenever j udo teachers were visiting Paris. Moshe's encounter with Kano was stirring; he was giddy when the chauf­ feur from the Japanese embassy dropped him at his residence. But he could not know then how consequential his meeting with Kano would prove. His Hebrew j i uj itsu book revealed Feldenkrais's fascination with Japanese cul­ ture, but, before he met Kano, his knowledge was limited to what he'd read. Kano was the first of several important Japanese teachers who brought to Feldenkrais's outlook a strong and persisting Eastern influence. Kano dramati­ cally rekindled his interest in martial arts, and soon he began teaching again. With Kano's encouragement, Feldenkrais pursued j udo until he became a j udo teacher, director of a club, and one of the foremost authors of j udo books. He would eventually be one of the leaders of the international j udo community. Kano also urged Feldenkrais to publish jiujitsu in English and French. Moshe recalled that, at their first meeting, before leaving that night, Kano . . . said, "Would you please translate this for me into English or French? And I will take it with me to Japan and we will try it out. . . There must be a snag in it. We'll try it out for a year-teaching, doing, observe them, seeing whether we can find the snag." It felt very nice.72

Kano was so impressed by Feldenkrais's j iujitsu book that he said, Even though the book is not in full conformity to the conception I have of authentic j udo, it remains n onetheless the best publication o n the subject in a language other than Japanese.73

And Kano went on: I feel confident that the author, by means of a study of authentic j udo, will rapidly progress on the path of a perfect grasp of this method.74

Kano spurred Moshe forward and influenced the direction of his revisions. Feldenkrais earnestly sought Kano's approval and asked Kano for a preface to his next edition . Kano generously acceded. Although the English edition was delayed indefinitely, the French edition would go forward. Not long after their meeting, on October 1 , 1 933, Kano wrote to Feldenkrais from Paris : "I am glad to have seen you . " He promised to send Feldenkrais one or two books on j udo written in Japanese. Even if he couldn't get them translated, Kano told Feldenkrais that he hoped that "the illustrations . . . may help you in a way to understand the subject matter. " In his letter Kano also

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0


promised Feldenkrais the preface fo r the French edition o f his self-defense book: "Mr. Suzuki, secretary of the Japanese Embassy, [will] hand it over to you tomorrow or within a few days. " Moshe Feldenkrais and Professor Jigoro Kano, in fact, became collaborators. During a later visit to Paris, on July 27, 1 934, Kano offered to update the current book and to publish it in Japanese under his name and the author's and [he took] with him a copy of the English version of this volume [in manuscript form] for that p urpose, [and] invited us to replace the word "j iu-j itsu" with "j udo. "75

The distinction between j udo and j iujitsu in the public mind was, actually, late in coming. Judo emerged as a unique martial art during the late 1 940s and 1 9 50s, long after Kano's death, as it became established as an international sport, with rules and regulations. The j udo club in Paris was still called the jiujitsu club de France as late as 1 94 8 . Many of the Kodokan's ablest j udoists, in addition to studying under Kano, also trained under teachers of j iuj itsu or Kendo. The public associated j udo with Japanese arts of self-defense, and only a small number of people recognized Kano's unique philosophical obj ectives. Kano himself took advantage of the public interest in self-defense, wishing for people to associate judo with self-defense. Next Moshe translated his self-defense book into French: "I translated that whole book. And it was published in France, and they sent the translation to Kano. " Finally published in 1 93 5 , it was called Manuel pratique du jiu-jitsu: La Defense du Faible Can tre l'Agresseur and " by now [ 1 98 1 ] i t's sold over a million copies. " 76 Feldenkrais kept count of his meetings with Kano: I met Kano . 12 times during his life until he died. He wrote to me ... gave me an appointment somewhere and we met and we discussed [various things] . . . And he became president of the club I made, and sent me a man to teach me j udo.77 . .

Kano also found their meetings important enough to track. As Michel Brousse writes: Relations of mutual esteem linked the two men and Kano dedicated several pages of his travel diary to their relationship.78

Nineteen thirty-three was an important year fo r Feldenkrais. He had graduated as an engineer and, thanks to Kano, reengaged with martial arts. Now these threads of his story fascinatingly converge: "One day. . . Leon Eyrolles, the director of that college, of that school, calls me . . . " Moshe thought he was going to ask him to pay the money he still owed from his engineering school tuition. But, instead, Eyrolles presented him with a unique opportunity:



[Eyrolles said] "Look, you're a n extraordinary, gi ft ed man. You came with extraordinary difficulties. And not knowing the language, and you have done so well at school. " . . .And he begins to tell me a funny story.

Eyrolles told him the history behind the ingenieur-docteur degree. It was, at that time, still a new program, started by the French Faculty of Sciences in the mid 1 920s. In France they were making a major change. It used to be ... the people who did the industry engineering could not lecture at the university. [Even the most brilliant and innovative engineers who had made new things work,] could not lecture at the university because they had no university degree. And the univer­ sity degrees were looked upon by the industrialists as nincompoops-they had no experience of industry. . . they were theoretical physicists, theoretical chemists. So when they put them in practical work to make them practical engineers . . . i t would take three or four years. Because the man i s used only t o theoretical knowledge. So the Minister of Education set up a committee to change that education . . . where the best engineers . . . could have a degree which allowed them to lecture in the university directly to the theoretical people. And some of the theoretical people could get engineering degrees so that they can go to industry and somehow fuse the two disciplines which were so separated. [The separation] had actually destroyed the French industry and destroyed the French science, both. The science was impractical, not practical at all, and the practical people had very little interest in theoretical things. So, it didn't work well in both cases. And so what did they do? [They made it so] all the higher grade schools of France could send a few of their selected students, the best, to go to university. . . and they made a degree, which would b e half industrial and half theoretical. A doctor of science and an engineer. So they would have a university degree and an industrial degree. And that fellow could go and teach [in either place] because he had both disciplines fused in him . . . So, each school got allocated to send so many students, but they had to send the best. So that they. . . should make an impression on the country. . . So, this Leon Eyrolles sits there and tells m e that story. And h e tells m e that "We would like you to go to the Sorbonne and get a degree, and it'll be an honor for our school . " "Oh," I said. I nearly filled my pants. Because I was sure that he was asking me to pay for my tuition. And I told him, "I owe you money. " He said, "Oh, forget that. It doesn't matter. We would like you to go to the Sorbonne." And, of course, I tell him it's cuckoo. "How can I go to the Sorbonne? I am planning to go home. I haven't got any money. I can't stay in Paris. I can't go to the Sorbonne. I can't pay for my hotel. I can't pay for my meals, and I can't pay you either. I can't do it. " "Oh," he said, "Never mind. We will pay for it." . . . I said, "What do you mean, you'll pay for it?" He said, "We'll pay the Sorbonne, and we will see how to provide you with means too. " I didn't

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0

1 29

know what came t o me, I told them, " Look, I can find myself a way ofliving and go to the Sorbonne provided I have a place where I could teach j udo. "

Moshe explained how he had taught self-defense in Israel. He undoubtedly showed Eyrolles his book and told about his meetings with professor Kano. "If I have a place, I will get people of the university, of the students ... they will learn judo, and I could, in the evening, teach that, and they will provide me with money enough." He said, "What do you need for that?" So I told him I need some mats . . . and a place which is easily accessible, so people can come and do it. He said, "Go into the building and have a look. If you find a place, I'll give it to you."79

Leon Eyrolles was a powerful ally, but obstacles still lay in his path. Before his interview with Eyrolles, Feldenkrais had written to Ze' ev Kovensky asking for his help with tuition. After receiving money, in a letter thanking Kovensky, he detailed the remaining complications: In the meantime everything is not so good with me here. I hope that my bad mood will be better in 30 days-that means when I finish. What will be after­ wards, that stupid question always bothers me, and I never know the answer to it. The question is now meaningless. I put myself into the current and the wind carries me whereto I swear I don't know. . . About my doctor's degree, there are difficulties. There was a meeting of the professors. Although the principal [Leon Eyrolles] was very supportive, I heard behind the curtains that many opposed it because I am an alien. The doctor's degree . . . gives the license to work in France without any distinction of religion or nationality, so they decided that maybe they will find a French person to take my place. But I think that they looked before they offered me, and they didn't find one. 8 0

In the end, the problems were resolved, and, in 1 933, Feldenkrais entered the Sorbonne to begin his study of physics. He was granted a Curie scholar­ ship to read for an ingenieur-docteur degree, and receive an education that would fuse practical and theoretical scientific disciplines. On Eyrolles's recom­ mendation, Feldenkrais was granted a role at the Institut du radium (Radium Institute) as an assistant to Frederic Joliot-Curie, son-in-law of the Nobel Prize-winning Marie Curie. Feldenkrais's doctoral work would be under the direction of the scientist Eugene Darmois ( 1 8 84- 1 9 54) , professor and director of studies for physical sciences at the University of Paris. In Palestine, Feldenkrais had experienced a world i n creation almost ex nihilo; he was part of an order that was assembling itself from the ground up. Now with the group in the Curie laboratories, he was at the cutting edge of science, culture, politics, and education. Again, and not for the last time, he found himself in a milieu of momentous change and creative innovation . The Curie laboratories were internationally acknowledged as the center of research on the phenomenon Marie Curie had named 'radioactivity. '



I n many settings Feldenkrais was made uncomfortably self-conscious o f his outsider status, but he could relax in the congenial atmosphere of the labs. As radiochemist Bertrand Goldschmidt recalled: The forty or so researchers at the institute represented about fifteen differ­ ent nationalities . . . Few distinctions were made between the French and the foreigners. 8 1

Researchers were o n easy first-name bases with ' Fred' and ' I rene' , the Joliot-Curies. Feldenkrais accepted Eyrolles's offer of a studio to teach j udo, and, in a huge building in Saint-Germain, the red brick building, [Moshe recounted,] I went and looked. It's a monument there. They also have a publishing house. I found a place on the 8th floor-a marvelous place, a marvelous view of all Paris. I said, "This place-it's small, but it's good enough for me. I could make a living with that." [Leon Eyrolles] rang the bell . . . and said "give him the keys, It's yours. Do whatever you like." Now, a man who, for every penny in his life . . . worked with the sweat o f his brow. . . suddenly getting things like that fo r noth­ ing. I felt myself like a parasite. I wanted to earn my own life. [That is what] started the j udo, [and] that jiuj itsu book I wrote . . . that defense for the Haganah, in Hebrew. 8 2

I n 1 93 3 , i n the room Eyrolles gave him o n the top floor o f the college, a room with a spectacular view of Notre Dame Cathedral through its wide windows, Feldenkrais informally began what would become the ]iujitsu club de France. In the late 1 940s, it would be renamed the Federation franraise de judo (French Federation of Judo) . Michel Brousse in his book, Le judo, wrote, [Moshe's] charisma, and most of all the friendship and material help of ESTP, and its director Leon Eyrolles and his son Marc, enabled Feldenkrais to open a j i uj itsu training room inside ESTP. It was used mostly by students of ESTP and La Sorbonne. 8 3

Feldenkrais recalled, I taught about all the time I was in Paris, and all the time I did my thesis, my work for [Frederic] Joliot-Curie. My income was from the j udo, teaching j udo at night. The club started from that. [Paul] Bonet-Maury was my first student. And then Joliot-Curie and Irene [Joliot-] Curie were my students. 84

Just as teaching had been his livelihood while attending the gymnasium, his teaching income supported his university education from 1 933 to 1 940. Paul Bonet-Maury ( 1 900- 1 972) , a chemist in the Curie laboratories, became one of the leading students under Feldenkrais and Mikinosuke Kawaishi. Other French nationals received black belts at the Kodokan in

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0


Tokyo, but Bonet-Maury was only the second person in France, after Moshe, to earn a black belt under Kawaishi. Bonet-Maury would become a revered figure in French j udo, although Feldenkrais accused him of betrayal for his conduct during the war, saying, " Bonet-Maury withdrew my name from the history of j udo in France. " The famous and wealthy Bonet-Maury would be named founder and first president of the French Federation ofJudo, established in December of 1 946. 85 On one of his visits from Japan, Kano whetted Feldenkrais's appetite with descriptions of films that he had made demonstrating techniques called randori and kata. 86 In 1 934 Kano brought these films to Paris for Feldenkrais. Moshe had limited access to j udo training, and he ardently studied the films to learn the techniques. 8 7 Feldenkrais's j udo education began the moment he witnessed the grace exhibited by Kano, Aida, and Kotani on stage. But his first steps in j udo train­ ing were more tantalizing than intensive. It would be a few years before he earned his black belt and j udo teaching credentials. His martial arts, when he resumed teaching at his club at ESTP, probably resembled, at first, the jiuj itsu he'd practiced in Palestine. It is likely, however, that his training as a mechanical engineer, and the stimulus of his students-scientists and engineers-already led him into new paths as a teacher. He had become aware of the physical principles underlying j iuj itsu from his own studies in Palestine; the rigorous discipline of engineering enabled him, in those early years at his j iujitsu club, to begin his more comprehensive physical analysis of martial arts.

I n 1 9 3 4 Feldenkrais's l i fe entere d a new phase. H e was a chartered mechanical and electrical engineer, engaged in the doctoral program at the Sorbonne. He took classes from outstanding professors and followed from close at hand the rapid developments in modern physics. He had an absorbing role in the Curie laboratories and earned income from his jiuj itsu classes. The time was ripe to renew contact with his family, learn firsthand how things were going, and help them in any way he could. Feldenkrais's parents, brother, and sister still lived in Baranovich, which was part of an independent Poland from 1 92 1 until 1 93 9 . From 1 92 1 through 1 934, Polish Jewry thrived under Poland's reformist leader, Marshal Jozef Pilsudski ( 1 867- 1 93 5 ) . His liberal leadership had enabled Baranovich to become a thriving Jewish community. The Feldenkrais family, however, did not share in the economic revival. They lived from hand to mouth on the income of Aryeh's small textile shop. Sheindel was incapable of accepting the role of poverty; she retained the noblesse oblige attitude that she was reared to assume. She was an active leade£ . in the Jewish community, working for the Zionist cause, aiding the poor, and dealing with social problems.




Around 1 932, Malka had been able t o go t o Vilna t o study pharmacology. Vilna, 'the Athens of the North,' was a center of eastern Europe's Jewish culture. It belonged to Poland at the time; today, called Vilnius, it is part of Lithuania. Baruch stayed in Baranovich with his parents and helped them prepare fo r their eventual aliyas t o Palestine. Ze' ev Kovensky also had family living in Baranovich, and Moshe drew him into his plans to visit Poland. Feldenkrais wanted to seize the opportunity to take the trip now, as he was worried that he would "have no other chance in the future. " 88 Feldenkrais traveled by train to Baranovich at the end of July in 1 934, visiting the town and his family for the first time since he'd left as a child. He wrote to Kovensky from there: Baranovich is the same community as it was . . . I was in your home . . . They are all okay. They look good. Your mother showed me the plans for your house. In my house they are very poor. The poorness whistles [ed. note: Yiddish idiom] . They are bankrupt, not like the other merchants who became rich again. My brother is also very poor. His whole work is to help mother. The only small light is my sister. [Malka] graduated this year and got a degree as a pharmacist's assistant. Here there is no place for her. She earns [in Warsaw] a poor salary. . . I don't know how she can make aliya, and I don't know if you can help her in this matter. Since you know the situation and the possibilities better than I , I write you about this to ask your advice. 89

Ze'ev answered Moshe's letter and proved once more willing to help his friend. Feldenkrais wrote back: Thank you for your interest in helping entrance to Eretz Yisrael for my brother and sister. I wrote to my sister about the university, but they demand matricula­ tion from the last year. Another thing is that tuition is a lot of money.90

Malka was the next Feldenkrais to leave Poland. Probably with Ze' ev's assis­ tance, Moshe brought his sister not to Palestine, but to Paris. She aspired to a scientific career, like her brother, and she began courses in chemistry at the Sorbonne. Through his connections at the Curie laboratories, Feldenkrais secured for Malka a job as a lab assistant at the Radium Institute. I met Malka on one of my trips to Tel Aviv. At Moshe's request, I gave her a lesson at the Feldenkrais Institute. There are many questions I would have liked to ask Malka, who died in 1 99 8 , the same year as Yona. Fortunately, Garet Newell, a British Feldenkrais colleague, interviewed her. Garet made her interview available to me, along with other valuable biographical research that she had completed, particularly about Moshe's decade in the United Kingdom between 1 940 and 1 9 5 0 .

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0


After Malka left fo r France, Baruch was the next t o escape eastern Europe. Under the darkening sky of anti-Semitism, the words 'escape' and 'aliya' were becoming nearly synonymous.91 In 1 93 6 , Baruch left Poland for Palestine where he found an apartment in Tel Aviv. Sheindel and Aryeh j oined him in 1 936. The process of leaving Poland must have been both arduous and costly. In a 1 930 letter to his family, Moshe congratulates Baruch for obtaining an immigration certificate that had probably taken years of effort to secure. It took Baruch another six years to make the move, during which time the political situation for Jews rapidly deteriorated.92 Even as he visited Poland, Feldenkrais embodied Kano's precept, "walk a single path." There was a growing community of Zionist activists in Poland who could read Hebrew. They were a natural audience to whom Moshe could carry his Jewish self-defense proj ect beyond Palestine's borders. While in Warsaw visiting Malka, he tried to arrange sales of ]iujitsu: I sold to B etar [ the militant Zionist youth group led by Ze'ev Jabotinsky ( 1 8 8 0- 1 9 4 0 ) ] i n Warsaw 2 0 0 booklets o f principles o f self-defense. They pay me fo r the shipping, and, after they get the book, 3 zloty fo r each one that was sold during the month. They are n o t good conditions, but I won't be stubborn about it. Please send me 3 0 0 booklets, without the b inding, and about 20 with binding.93

Kovensky, however, expressed reservations to Moshe about dealings with Jabotinsky's Betar party, whose members were also known as the Revisionists. Kovensky sympathized with the socialist Mapai party under the dynamic lead­ ership of David Ben-Gurion. Ben-Gurion ( 1 8 86- 1 973) urged diplomacy in contrast to Jabotinsky's right-wing militancy. The followers of Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky were in fierce competition for the direction of the Zionist move­ ment. Crucial policies were at stake, including whether to sanction violence for the sake of achieving Israeli statehood. Even while Feldenkrais and Kovensky were exchanging letters, arguments between the followers of Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky raged, with allegations of murder and deceit. But Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky did reach an accord in October 1 934, in Ben-Gurion's favor. One of the mediators was Pinhas Rutenberg who, in 1 929, as chairman of the Jewish National Committee and commander of the H aganah, had supported the publication of Feldenkrais's self-defense book. The followers of Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky remained at odds, even after Israeli statehood, as adversaries in the modern Labor and Likud parties.94 Feldenkrais's answer to Kovensky reveals his complicated feelings toward Jabotinsky's movement and his political pragmatism: My ties with the Revisionists are of commercial value. Even if they are right on every count, I still cannot join them for many reasons. My reasons are probably not far from the ones you have for not joining them.95



Kovensky, i t seems, was more ideological a n d sat t o Feldenkrais's left politically. He may have found a covert expression of his misgivings: he somehow 'neglected' to send the requested jiujitsu books, though he never voiced outright a refusal to help. Back in Paris, Feldenkrais's campaign to reach a wider public faced snarls of another sort. Though living in France, Moshe chose to translate his self-defense book first into English, not French. He had begun its revision and translation back in 1 93 2 when his French lagged well behind his English. The English publication, however, as he confessed to Ze' ev, was not to be: This week I made a mistake that I'm even ashamed to tell you. [Frederick] Warne and Co. offered to publish my book about jiuj itsu with the following conditions: twenty-five pounds advance, and 1 0% on the first 1 0,000 books, and 1 2Y2% on the rest. I discussed it with a big French p ublisher and this dummy advised me to demand more. That's what I did. I asked in a smooth way for 1 5 % on the ones after the first 1 0,000. The result was very simple. They gave me back all my letters, with a letter that they are very sorry that they cannot continue the negotiations with me. I hope to find other publishers because the loss is a very big one . . . Next time I will rely on my own brains.96

The next time came soon. Early in 1 935 Feldenkrais completed the French edition of his j iujitsu book, with a prominent place given to the cherished pref­ ace by Jigoro Kano. Five months after the negotiations with Warne had fallen through, he wrote to Kovensky: I sent you [the jiuj itsu book] in French. It was j ust published. The main thing is that it will succeed . . . The publisher gave me an advance, and it sells very nicely. . . The publisher spoke with me about a second edition. Let it be! From the first edition I will get 5 ,000 francs. From the second edition I will get more . . . I send you some pictures that were p ublished i n the newspapers . . . There are a lot of very good reviews. I send you something in a sport newspaper from a very big journalist, [Charles] Faroux, . . . he is by himself a very famous mechanical engineer. I'm sure you will find someone who will translate it for you.97

Feldenkrais and the "big journalist" Faroux were already friends, and they would make the most of their affinities over the coming years. The French-language j i uj itsu book, Manuel pratique du jiu-jitsu, closely followed the original Hebrew text, except for the introduction. Feldenkrais's intentions were to b roaden the b o o k's parochial appeal and to tailor his presentation to his French audience. Quoting from the introduction: T h e original edition of this b o o k was conceived for an Eastern country where permanency o f public safety is rather u nreliable; and to some extent [this] guarantees, therefore, its practical quality.

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0

Jiujitsu is not only a method for physical education of excellence, but also a school of morals . . . The police have for long recognized the advantage and efficiency o f this school . . . But jiuj itsu itself made progress. The new school of j iujitsu founded by Professor Jigoro Kano and called j udo is taught today in more than 200 schools in Japan and at the Institute of Higher Learning of]udo, the Kodokan, in Tokyo, founded in 1 882 by Mr. Kano. The principle of judo is applicable to all domains of human activity, moral as well as physical . . . Psychoanalysis could probably explain why people who most need t o know jiuj itsu, boxing, and other similar kinds of methods, are generally those who are the most reticent in using these methods . . . But the intellectual, the peaceful man, those who disapprove most o f j iuj itsu and boxing, are precisely those who need it most, because they usually do not know how to enhance their strength, even when they have it. Isn't it the primary goal of science to discover laws allowing it to overcome nature? Isn't it the means by which the weak can dominate the unleashed power? . . . One can wonder why this method, which so well matches the French mind, which likes clarity, logic, and causal unfolding, is so little known in France. It seems that it is due to the fact that j iujitsu has always been introduced to the French public as a heap of isolated holds without a logical basis: people were asked to have faith while they'd rather prefer understanding. We made a point to explain the why and the how and we hope that the French reader will find here what he couldn't find elsewhere . . . We are trying t o offer t o the attentive reader a weapon . . . which has, besides, other advantages: it increases-in reality-rapidity of decision, gives health, increases swiftness and agility, develops a beautiful coordination of reflexes and of reactions and, of highest importance, builds up self-confidence. The reader will find in these pages the best tricks of jiuj itsu allowing any man gifted with average strength to defend himself against an armed aggressor much stronger than himself. He will also find a few blows used in boxing, namely those which are very efficient and easy to understand. (One knows that boxing is learned only with long training.) One will also find some tricks of the American method 'catch-as-catch-can' . . . Finally a few which result from my experience as a professor or from my reflections . . . Professor Jigoro Kano who , during h i s stay in Paris , o n the 27th o f July 1 93 4 , has offered to update the current book and to publish it in Japanese under his name and the author's . . . has invited us to replace the word "jiujitsu" with "judo . " According t o conferences given b y Professor Kano a t the University o f Southern California a t the XIth Olympics In 1 932 and a t the Parnasse Society in Athens on the 5 th June 1 934, the term jiuj itsu is no more in use in Japan. He states namely:




One understands this term a s the collection o f tricks and old methods elaborated by different masters. Judo is, on the contrary, the name I gave to a very general principle which applies in all cases. It is the principle of maximum efficiency which is formulated as follows: Whatever may be the goal one fixes for oneself, one will reach it best by using maximum efficiency of the mind and the body.

In 1 933 Moshe published the gist of his introduction to his self-defense book i n a booklet entitled, " S cience versus Brute Force, o r Jiu-j itsu fo r Intellectuals. " According t o Marc Eyrolles, " Desgranges, and Faroux opened doors fo r [Feldenkrais] . " Henri Desgranges ( 1 865- 1 940) , who founded t h e "pre­ miere sports magazine of its time," the weekly L'Auto, was numbered among Feldenkrais's growing list of well-connected supporters. A j ournalist and cyclist, Desgranges organized the first Tour de France in 1 903.9 8 Feldenkrais and Faroux were both ESTP alumni, which may have served them in forming a friendship. Charles Faroux had earned regard as the father of automotive j ournalism in France. He was editor of Desgranges's L'Auto and founder of the j ournal, La Vie Automobile. Faroux's credentials included hold­ ing the title as world champion in billiards and creating, in 1 923, the famous Le Mans auto race-a race he designed and promoted specifically to foster the improvement of automobiles' then inadequate and unreliable electrical systems.99 Faroux appreciated j udo and, according to one of Feldenkrais's accounts, it was he who guided Moshe to his first encounter with Kano. Faroux significantly advanced j udo in France by giving it exposure in the press and by eventually serving on the executive committee of the French Jiujitsu Club. Faroux furthered Feldenkrais's celebrity as a judo teacher and published some of his first articles about judo and, later, on his somatic methods. Moshe was proud of his association with Faroux: "We became friends . . . I helped in [Faroux's] j ournal, L'Auto." 1 00 From an early age, writing played an important role in Moshe Feldenkrais's self image. From his Hebrew diary, to editing a journal and writing essays in his early twenties, even before publishing Autosuggestion and ]iujitsu, he always worked on one writing project or another. In the 1 960s he asked the Israeli telephone company to list in its directory his occupation as "scientist and author. " Though he complained to Marc Eyrolles, "I am too unknown to publish, " his literary efforts were making headway then, too. 1 0 1 Feldenkrais's enhanced profile as a writer and teacher was not the only encouraging development. In 1 934, Frederic and Irene Joliot-Curie synthesized artificial sources of radioactivity, and the following year they shared the Nobel Prize for their discovery. In The Elusive Obvious, Feldenkrais records his pres­ ence at the critical moment of the discovery, which he attributed to Frederic Joliot-Curie's keen awareness of his surroundings:

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0


I was leaving the laboratory after the installation of a newly designed Curie balance following the discarding of one which had served several decades. [Frederic] Joliot-Curie, on our way home, called me to see the new instrument of which he was very proud. The instrument had fifteen hundred volts berween the central suspension and the housing which was earthed. It was late and every one else had left the laboratory except us. Joliot [-Curie] took another last look, removed his overcoat, and indulged in trying out the instrument. He put a metal strip, which had been left near the instrument, in the chamber and switched on the counter, when there was a stream of clicks in the loudspeaker. Joliot [-Curie] expressed his ire that the notice he had had put up requesting that the last person to leave the laboratory should switch off the instrument had not been obeyed. He put on his coat and we were leaving for home when, reaching for the switch, he stopped as if struck by lightning. Whereupon he took off his coat once more and stood by the balance oblivious of everything else. Listening to the clicking he turned and said, "Can you not hear the dying-out clicking? There is no radio­ active material here which has such a half-lifetime. " Once he had switched off the machine as he had instructed we left for home. Next day there was the news that induced radioactivity had been discovered. Had he not become aware of the noises he had heard there would probably have been j ust a dressing down for the person who had left the machine "not switched off." It took Joliot [-Curie] nearly a week to make sure, to convince himself and then the world that induced or artificial radioactivity is indeed an experimental fact . . . I believe that not very many physicists have the awareness available to [Frederic] Joliot-Curie and that many would j ust have thought something was wrong with the new machine. 102

The physicist Lew Kowarski ( 1 9 0 7- 1 987) described Frederic Joliot­ Curie as "the most ambitious man since Richard Wagner. . . [He] wanted to be Beethoven . . . Shakespeare and Caesar all rolled into one. " I n his youth, Frederic Joliot had distinguished himself more in sports than in studies. But he graduated from the Ecole de physique et de chimie industrielles (School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry) with a first-place degree in engineering. 1 0 3 O n the recommendation of the physicist Paul Langevin , he was hired i n 1 92 5 a s Marie Curie's assistant. H e a n d Irene Curie were married in 1 926, and soon thereafter they started using "Joliot-Curie" as a surname. Their collaboration proved as fruitful as the one between Pierre and Marie Curie, as they followed the trail of radioactivity toward the nature of chain reactions and establishing the requirements for construction of an atomic pile using uranium and heavy water. Joliot-Curie supervised massive construction projects in his laboratories and took roles as an administrator and engineer as well as a scientist and ambassa­ dor on behalf of science. 1 04 For relaxation he pursued athletics, classical piano, and landscape painting. Bertrand Goldschmidt describes another side of]oliot-Curie:


Though almost certain t o receive the Nobel Prize that year, o r a t any rate, the following year, Joliot [-Curie] at thirty-four did not give me the impression of a chief who was confident of his future; behind his success there was hidden a certain lack of self-confidence. [He told Goldschmidt,] "Me, I am hared. " [Madame Curie] used to introduce him as "the youn g man who married lrene. " 10 5

Goldschmidt represents Joliot-Curie as a man in great need for sympathy and warmth, a need to be surrounded by colleagues and friends who were greatly attached to him. 1 06

In January 1 93 5 Feldenkrais began working at the Cachan laboratory of Frederic Joliot-Curie. Le service de recherches scientifiques (the Service for Scientific Research) began at Cachan in 1 930. The laboratory at Cachan devel­ oped long-term relations with the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Paris and various scientific and industrial societies, in particular the Laboratory of Construction and Public Works, the Laboratory of Mechanical Fluids created by the Ministry of the Air Force, the Technical and Aeronautical Industrial Services, the Automobile Club of France, and other technical services of ministries. Soon after Moshe began doing research at Cachan, he and Yona moved into a new apartment at 8 , rue Philippe de Champagne, Paris, in the 1 3th arrondisse­ ment. Their increased means had allowed, presumably, a step up from their previous student residence. Feldenkrais rejoiced to Ze' ev Kovensky: I work at the Insitut du Radiu m . Jolior-Curie is the director, the one who discovered artificial radioactivity. [ I work] as an associate, under his direction. Financially my condition is maybe worse than it was, but the hopes for the future are b igger than they were. I invite you to take part in my happiness; I invented a new syndrome in physics, and Joliot [-Curie] takes part in it. May it be a new good beginning! 107

Despite his "hopes for the future," Feldenkrais felt a responsibility to help his family but impotent to improve their situation. Perhaps his family expected more from him than he could deliver: I sent some money [to Baranovich] . I sent them a nice amount, but they're lacking again. And afterwards it was a lack for me. When you pour flour, you can't fill a sieve . . . No matter how much I send, it's not enough. 1 08

In 1 93 5 Poland's reformist leader Marshal Pilsudski died. Poland rapidly shifted into intolerant and authoritarian conservatism. The liberal atmosphere that had permitted a minor Jewish renaissance deteriorated into increasingly harsh anti-Semitism. Edicts prohibited Jews even from the professions that

FRANC E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 940


they had pioneered in Poland. The government and the Catholic Church made every e ffort to drive them into poverty, limit their education, and exclude them from the larger society. Meanwhile, in Germany, the Nuremberg race laws stripped from Jews any semblance of citizenship or legal rights. The Curie Insti tute was exceptional i n its tolerance and lack of anti­ Semitism, because France, too, was rife with increasing anti-Semitism and xenophobia. In 1 934 right-wing students forced the dismissal of a professor who condemned the Italian i nvasion of Ethiopia, and medical students in the Latin quarter, where Feldenkrais lived and worked, protested against the admission of foreign students. In 1 93 5 police officers broke up demonstrations by the right-wing Action Franraise in the Latin quarter. As the situation in Europe grew ominous, Feldenkrais wondered if he could better meet his and his family's needs by returning to Palestine. He wrote in April 1 93 5 that in France he had a working permit that doesn't give me a thing because you can't work for a salary, and at the same time be in the lab of the university. You have to choose . . . In Tel Aviv I would sell a lot of books in Hebrew, I would place ads in the paper with the opinions of the Parisian press, and of Professor Kano. Not too many books written in Hebrew have been translated into three foreign languages. I don't know if I told you that Kano took the English script of the book to translate it into Polish. And in English it will come not too much later . . . Please write to me: how much can I earn if I return to Eretz Yisrael? This question starts to be real. Give details please because I will need to decide in the near future what to do, to decide if it's possible for me to settle down adequately. 109

With the possibility of returning in mind, and perhaps to test the option's viability, Feldenkrais also corresponded with others in Palestine. The Samuel Hugo Bergmann archives contain a letter from May of 1 93 5 that Feldenkrais wrote to his collaborator on the autosuggestion book. The letter, accompanied by a gift of his French self-defense book, includes a third variant account of his introduction to j udo: Accidentally I came across a newspaper article that advertised the lecture of a famous Professor Kano, on the subject of a new system of self-defense entitled j udo. 1 1 °

Meanwhile, on a typical day, Feldenkrais took a ten-minute train ride from his apartment on rue Philippe de Champagne to the Arcueil-Cachan stop at the south of Paris. He would then have walked five minutes to reach the laboratory, with its cathedral-like ceilings. Frederic Joliot-Curie now directed research at Cachan on the 'artificial' radioactivity induced when the nuclear structure of stable isotopes had been altered by bombarding them with high-energy streams of charged particles . Feldenkrais may have been put to work on the proj ect because of his previous electrical engineering

1 40

M o s H E F E L D E N K RA I S

experience a t the " immense factories" that made "pumps fo r b i g dams and alternators to produce megawatts of electricity. " " ' At Cachan, I built for Joliot-Curie a machine that made them wonder. . . I send you a picture of when the minister came to the lab. Joliot-Curie is the one supervising the machine. That's me in the picture. I am [in charge] of the machine. 1 1 2

The machine was an early Van de Graaff generator. Robert Van de Graaff ( 1 90 1 - 1 967) had studied with Marie Curie in the early 1 920s. In 1 929, at Princeton University, he made the prototype of the particle accelerator that bears his name. It was one of the first effective ways to generate the extremely high voltages physicists needed to accelerate the alpha particles (helium nuclei) , and later protons, which were used to probe nuclear structure. When Joliot-Curie decided to build his own generator, he chose Cachan because its laboratory was large enough to house the massive, 5 0-foot-high generator. The device was useful for synthesizing the isotopes under investigation in the Curie laboratories. But the voltage it produced was shy of the 1 . 5 million volts made by the huge accelerator Van de Graaff himself constructed in 1 93 1 inside an unused dirigible hanger. Feldenkrais's first 'invention' at the Curie laboratories was a way to boost the voltage-the electrical tension between charges­ produced by Van de Graaff accelerators: my invention is very simple, by accident I found some special qualities of carbon tetrachloride in the electrical respect. It's . . . a fluid that evaporates very fast, and it's very different from all other evaporations from other fluids, and this differ­ ence gave us the possibility to enlarge the tension of a machine that I built under the supervision ofJoliot [-Curie] from 600,000 volts up to 2 , 5 00,000 volts . 1 13

Feldenkrais hoped for a quadrupling of voltage, but it appears he managed no more than a doubling-still a significant accomplishment. In his letter to Kovensky, he continued, It's important and soon Joliot [-Curie] will present it to the Academy of Sciences in Paris in his and my name, even if I was the one that found it. But this is the custom between a pupil and his teacher. There was established a company to exploit this invention, and again Joliot[-Curie] is a member in the company, and he promised to give me a half of what he will get . . . The company is directed by the manager of a huge company who's worth thousands of millions. The com­ pany has a hundred shares. Twenty will be Joliot [-Curie] 's. When he comes back from vacation he will make a contract according to what he will get, and I will get a half of his profit. .. That's the promise, but what will be the end? 1 1 4

We have scant information about what became of the j oint project between Feldenkrais and Joliot-Curie. In the end, his carbon tetrachloride discovery did not fulfill its commercial promise, although Feldenkrais attempted to bring

FRAN C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 40

attention to its merit as late as 1 948, in a letter he published in Britain's leading science journal, Nature. Evidence points to a dose association between Feldenkrais and Joliot-Curie, beyond Moshe being merely one of many research assistants. In the laboratory, Joliot-Curie kept him b usy and productive: " I sweat and he . . . " 1 1 5 Though devoted to his mentor, Feldenkrais suffered resentment at how the credit for his work fell to Joliot-Curie and not himself. Drawing on his language skills, at Joliot-Curie's bequest, he translated four papers on the Van de Graaff genera­ tor, after which Joliot-Curie typed them himself. Feldenkrais's letters report their undertaking j oint proj ects, both scientific and commercial, in addition to what found its way into public record. And Frederic and Irene Joliot-Curie were to be witnesses at the wedding of Moshe and Yona. "In the meantime," Moshe continued, I created an invention more important than the previous one. The high tension [voltage] that I wrote about . . . it's in DC and not AC. Before no one was able to reach such high tension in DC, and of course there are no devices to measure it. What they tried didn't succeed because it's very complicated. I sought and found a system myself, and Joliot [-Curie] is praising it and showing it off to everybody. He even brought some of the biggest scientists to the institute and showed them the results, and this will be published in my name only. But this is for the future, and the future doesn't hurry more in France than in Eretz Yisrael and maybe it's even behind it . . . I wait for changes in the beginning of the next school year. Professor Joliot [-Curie] promised me that next year he will put me on the payroll in spite of the fact that I am doing my thesis, because I am useful to him in his work. 1 1 6

But six months later, after two of his papers were published by the French Academy of Science, Feldenkrais lamented, To my big sorrow, my scientific works don't give me any profit and I live on jiujitsu. If l could devote to this more time, I could make a good profit on it. 1 1 7

He wanted to put more time into his scientific career, but he lacked the economic freedom to do so. No matter the extent of his industry, his finances restricted his choices and frustrated his hopes. By this time, Marc Eyrolles, who had taken his father's role as principal of ESTP, had witnessed Moshe's tireless activity with his own eyes: "He was working night and day, at his studies and on publications." He was so busy that "he refused lunch invitations , " eating sandwiches instead while at work. 1 18 University rules prevented Moshe from earning a salary for work that went toward his doctorate. For a short time, Joliot-Curie bent the rules to put Moshe on partial stipend, but it wasn't enough. Adding to his other expenses, responsi­ bilities to his family in Poland imposed upon him further financial burdens. As Feldenkrais explained,


At that time, there were already prohibitions on Jews goin g to Palestine. And you had to deposit a thousand pounds sterlin g . . . A thousand pounds of sterling . . . there were in England maybe five employees who got that much money a year. . . That was enough money for a family to live for two or three years. I had to deposit that in order for them to get the permit to immi grate into Israel. And afterwards, they had to move from Baranovich, from Mid-Russia, with belon g­ in gs, . . . tickets. And that had to be on top of the thousand pounds, because those were deposited with the government. I worked five years afterwards to pay the debts of transporting them. 1 1 9

Through frugality, hard work, and borrowing, Feldenkrais did manage to obtain the costly permits from the British. He wrote to Kovensky: My brother [Baruch] will make aliya in a few weeks, about three, I think. I don't know what he will do there. He wants to do hard work, but when you see him you will know that he will not be able to stand it for a lon g time. You know that I am relyin g on you more than anyone else to do what you can for him. 1 20

Moshe was referring to Baruch's diminutive, ectomorphic frame and quiet demeanor. Though only a few inches shorter, Baruch was a fraction of Moshe's size and strength. Laborers both, Moshe and Ze' ev knew the type capable o f a pioneer's hard work. The situation for European Jews was looking bleaker each year, but Feldenkrais's and Kovensky's families were, fortunately, able to reach Eretz Yisrael before it was too late. Moshe asked Ze' ev, " How do you manage with your sister?" after she had j ust arrived from Baranovich. 1 2 1 Baruch followed Ze'ev's sister by only a few months. On Moshe's birthday, May 6, 1 936, Baruch left on a ship for Palestine from the Romanian Black Sea port of Constantsa. Moshe's concern for his brother continued, and he wrote to Ze'ev: I will be thankful if you can make him not feel lonely the minute he comes. If it's in your power to accept him, do it at least for the first time. I wouldn't like him to fall under the influence of the wrong kind of people . . . I am in a hurry as usual. We have today a visit of a famous English scientist, [Lawrence] Bragg, and I have to fix all the instruments so that they will work properly. 1 22

When Baruch left Baranovich in 1 936, immigration was already tightening. In Palestine, in three short months Baruch found a good job and an apartment on a newly developed, attractive, tree-lined street. He was ready for his parents to join him. Later in 1 936 or early 1 937, Sheindel and Aryeh Feldenkrais came to Tel Aviv. The three of them dwelt together fo r the rest of their lives at 49 Nachmani Street. Feldenkrais's letters to Ze' ev Kovensky make clear his affection for his younger brother. Moshe always trusted Baruch implicitly and regarded him

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0

1 43

as among the most intelligent people he knew. Like other Feldenkraises, Baruch was good at math. Starting with accounting, he gradually assumed more responsibilities until he became a manager at the major Israeli shipping company later called ZIM. Years later, when shipping commerce left Tel Aviv for the better harbors at Haifa in the north and Ashdod in the south, Baruch was offered a higher position if he would relocate. He held true to the kinds of choices he had made since a child in Baranovich: now as then, the only son living at home, Baruch chose to remain with his parents in Tel Aviv. Once in Palestine, Sheindel was determined to maintain connections with the Jewish communities in Russia and Poland. One of her ploys was to sew secret messages inside clothing that she sent as gifts to her relations. Some notes made it all the way to Siberian gulags. In the face of enormous obstacles and increasing urgency, she worked to support underground immigration , bringing other family members and friends from Baranovich. Then, as h e r fel­ low townspeople arrived, Sheindel created a network to provide food, lodging, services, and employment. These good deeds earned her the name, 'the mother of the Baranovichers.' The poverty that befell Moshe's parents came also to his grandparents, taking the little that remained from their prewar wealth. During the 1 920s and 1 930s, the Pshaters lived in their small apartment in Slavuta, suffering under Stalin's increasingly repressive and anti-Semitic regime. During Stalin's rule, as Lea Shlosberg recalled, even oral history was shrouded in silence. Not a word could be spoken about the past fo r fear of reprisals and because of the ever-present threat of Siberia. Thus we know little about the last years of Feldenkrais's grandparents. David Hisdai (the husband of Dvora Hisdai, whom Feldenkrais trained in Tel Aviv) remembered taking Michael's hand when he was ten years old and walking him through the snow to one of Slavuta's three synagogues . 123 Lea Shlosberg related that Michael Pshater died in 1 933 or 1 934, soon after a summer when Jewish houses were burned in anti-Semitic attacks. After Michael's death, Rivka Pshater moved into her brother Simha's house, also on the town square, the second house from her own. There she shared a room with Ruchama, her deaf daughter. Both died a few years later, near the beginning of the Second World War. 124 When the Germans occupied Poland in 1 939, the door to further immigra­ tion shut completely. After the 1 939 nonaggression pact between Hitler and Stalin, the Soviets regained control of parts of Poland. They disbanded and out­ lawed Baranovich's Jewish institutions. Finally, in 1 94 1 , the Germans moved into the whole of eastern Europe. Had the Feldenkrais family remained, they would have met the same tragic fate as millions of other Jews. Many of Moshe's Ukrainian relations were not so lucky as his immediate family in Poland; of the 1 03 guests who had been at his grandparents' elegant anniversary celebration, very few survived the war. 125



In Paris, Moshe's sister Malka now worked a s a research assistant a t the

lnstitut du radium. Along with her brother, she too now enj oyed the special hospitality and camaraderie of the institute. Unlike at most scientific institu­ tions, at the Radium Institute there were an exceptionally large number of young women, who were attracted by the prestige of Mme. Curie, a symbol of the successful struggle for the emancipation of women. 1 2 6

The institute valued Malka's contributions: She was introduced to the measuring department. It's a very delicate sort of thing. . . radioactivity was measured by [what was called] a Curie balance. They had to [place] the weight, and take it away, and measure an amount with the galvanometer. And it's delicate, because of the lifting and putting down. Many people worked months and they [still] couldn't do it. And my sister. . . In the first two minutes, she did it right. And eventually, she became head of the depart­ ment of measuring of the Radium Institute. 1 2 7

In 1 93 5 , Malka j oined Moshe's j udo classes and, later, those of Kawaishi. 1 28 Malka may well have been the first of the few woman j udo students in France. She learned quickly and advanced in rank. She particularly enj oyed throwing her older brother, who recalled: I have a picture of my sister lifting m e and holding me . . . That p icture was p ublished in France and was reproduced in about 2 0 different papers. Because it looked fake . . . a young girl, a little girl lifts a heavy, strong man . . . overhead . . . i n a way that only weightlifters can do. 1 2 9

Judo's refinements came slowly to Feldenkrais until he could benefit from contact with a sensei (teacher) . The traditional Japanese student-teacher rela­ tionship is robust, emotional, and committed, in distinction to the 'drier, ' more superficial relationship that western students typically have with their martial arts teachers . Without a sensei, Feldenkrais was limited to learning from books and films sent by Kano , from contacts with ambassador Sugimura, and from visiting j udo teachers. Feldenkrais's j udo training decisively intensified with Mikinosuke Kawaishi's ( 1 899-1 969) arrival in October 1 93 5 . An ex-student of economics and political science, Kawaishi attained 7th Dan rank, and had earned 4th Dan at Japan's Kodokan by 1 924. He left Japan for a ten-year career traveling and teaching abroad, often holding popular and sensational exhibitions. After teaching in the United States, Canada, and Brazil, he taught at London's Budokwai. 13 0 Kawaishi left Great Britain and came to Paris under clouded circumstances. Michel Brousse, citing The News of the World and The Evening Standard, tells how: "In January 1 93 5 , the Japanese expert was accused and sentenced to a high fine for aggression against an acquaintance. " The acquaintance

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0

was female, according to a London authority who was present at the time. Brousse continues: The London j udge also sentenced him for non-respect of the rule applying to foreigners, the Alien Restriction Act. . . At the same time, other articles published by the Budokwai's leaders, who did not approve of the man or his commercial approach, drew attention to his lack of affiliation with the London club: Kawaishi was no longer wanted in England. He contacted several European embassies with the intention to go to a Scandinavian country. The Parisian club, directed by Mirkin, offered an alternative and, it is likely, the Japanese expert selected the most favorable opportunity. 13 1

Sugimura made introductions between Feldenkrais and Kawaishi in Paris. Moshe probably soon j oined Kawaishi's classes in the same hall where M . Mirkin, a Japanese judoka 4th Dan invited from Great Britain, had taught. 13 2 That venue, 62 rue Beaubourg, later became the French-Japanese club. Jigoro Kano had employed his considerable p restige and energy to demonstrate and promote j udo in France. But Michel Brousse has unearthed another impetus disseminating j udo in France. Brousse cites evidence that a Jewish group in Paris sought self-defense training to counter growing numbers of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe. These Jewish activists may also have brought Kawaishi from Great Britain. Michel Brousse discusses David Weinberg's analysis of Europe's racial environment then: The increase of the Nazi persecutions in Germany on the one hand, and the resistance of the Jewish community to British colonial power on the other hand, created the context in which the Japanese method was sought after for its com­ bat efficiency. The Oriental European Jews who lived in Paris quickly recognized the threat that Nazi racism was exerting . . . [They] never doubted the need for a Jewish response to what they considered as a declaration of war on the part of the Nazis against all Jews without exception . For immigrants, the problem was to find the j ust response, that means the most efficient way to fight anti-Semitism in France as well as elsewhere.

Brousse asks: Was jiuj itsu a self-defense weapon for certain elements of the Parisian Jewish community? Were the Maccabi clubs affiliated to the Budokwai of London in contact with similar French organizations, formally or informally, and is that the channel that led Kawaishi to Paris? This is a great probability. 1 33

If Brousse's suspicions are correct, there are striking similarities between the circumstances of Feldenkrais's martial arts activities in Palestine and Paris. The conditions were largely benign when Feldenkrais resumed his martial arts career, with Leon Eyrolles helping to meet his expenses, and j udo offering a path for personal, intellectual, and literary development. Nevertheless, Jewish


self-defense against the Arabs o n the one hand, and against the Nazis o n the other, has unfortunate commonalities of context. If Feldenkrais participated in a Jewish self-defense group in Paris, there was continuity with his earlier mem­ bership in Palestine's Haganah. Perhaps when he met with former Haganah advisor Colonel Kisch in Paris, Kisch may have found a role for him in a self­ defense group in the Parisian Jewish community. Though we lack certainty and detail, our sense is strengthened that, for Feldenkrais, martial arts were inextri­ cably woven into society and politics, as a matter of life and death. Indeed, the line is unbroken from Moshe's childhood fright at the slaughter of a pig, to his jiujitsu careers in Palestine and Paris, and, as we shall see, to Scotland, where self-defense became a necessary precaution against a looming Nazi invasion. It was probably part of the weave for Feldenkrais, too, that he learned from j udo's incorporation of traditional Eastern medical knowledge. When Kano, while a literature student in his first year at college, sought a top-notch j iuj itsu teacher, he searched among the osteopaths in Tokyo. It was common for j iuj itsu teachers, after retiring, to become practicing osteopaths . 134 As Feldenkrais built upon his j udo background, could he have already been initiated in some manipulative practices? Judo katsu are techniques that are used in emergency situations. Mia Segal, when studying j udo in Japan, saw someone break a bone on the mat. The teacher set the fracture and wrapped the bone. To Mia's surprise, the student did not even bother to visit the hospital. She remarked that bone setting in this traditional way might have better results that casting, with its inevitable effects of stiffening. 135 In addition to bone setting, katsu include putting dislocated joints back in place and resuscitation from unconsciousness. Feldenkrais stud­ ied katsu with Kawaishi in Paris and, later, in London with Gunj i Koizumi ( 1 8 8 5- 1 965) . Michel Brousse quotes a journalist who gives a rather sensational account of Kawaishi performing katsu: One saw a displaced shoulder put back into place as if by magic by professor Kawaishi. One also saw a fighter in very bad shape, motionless, with a displaced cervical vertebra, who moved no more than a broken puppet, in the ring. A short and proper hit on the neck, in the same manner as killing a rabbit, by professor Kawaishi, and he came back to life . . . The broken puppet stood up smiling, with his breathing at a somewhat high pace. 1 3 6

One's credulity must be tempered regarding such accounts, as the showman Kawaishi worked with partners who helped him stage his seeming miracles. Nevertheless, katsu embodied real technical skills. Katsu represent an obvious overlap between the training of martial artists and health practitioners, but there are other parallels. Martial artists share skills in the precise control of skeletal movement with osteopaths, chiropractors, and other manipulative therapists. Like their counterparts in the health field,

FRAN C E , 1 9 3 0-1 9 40

1 47

martial artists learn to overcome o r bypass m uscular resistance and to use leverage for directing forces. The fighting and manipulative arts teach one, with different aims, to evaluate posture, balance, strength, and efficiency of motion. Assessing a person's attitude and strength of character is as advantageous for the martial artist as it is for the healer. The training that Feldenkrais received in katsu from Kawaishi, Koizumi, and his other senseis added to the broad foundation in j udo that prepared him for his transition to somatics. Personal factors-not least, his periodic knee trouble-would have attuned Feldenkrais to what j udo offered in the way of remediation and the facilitation of healing. And though the damage sustained to his knee from his earlier soccer inj ury didn't preclude rigorous j udo practice, it influenced how he trained and observed. It was a factor that led him to teach differently from others who had not faced similar limitations. At times, his knee required him to make creative adaptations in his everyday life. The apartment building at 8 , rue Philippe de Champagne, housed Malka and her future husband, as well as Moshe and Yona, along with other university students. Moshe and Yona lived in a flat that was six or seven flights up, prob­ ably on the top floor. The less-expensive student apartments were often at the top where, despite desirable views, ceilings and walls could be uneven and meet at irregular angles. His friends watched Feldenkrais climb stairs two at a time when he was in good shape. But when suffering occasional episodes of knee trouble, he was not so adroit. The need to climb so many stairs challenged him to devise alternative ways to go up and down. Allison Downs described a situa­ tion to Garet Newell that prefigures the next stage of his evolving method: He had his knee in plaster and lived at the top of a long flight of stairs. The bedroom was distant from the bathroom and it was a question for him as to how he was going to get around. [Moshe] discovered something fundamental then. He began to apply his knowledge of mechanics and physics and his study of neurophysiology to the problem of the functioning of his knee. 137

He may have then discovered the advantages of using spiraling movements­ that is, turning-to ascend and descend stairs, a strategy he later taught to his students. The image of Feldenkrais spiraling up and down the staircase evokes Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but without the music. Feldenkrais under­ stood how skillful turning movements are essential to dancing, sports, and martial arts alike, and render diverse everyday actions more efficient. During his Paris period, though focused on physics and j udo, Feldenkrais kept current with developments related to his previous pursuits, including psychology, hypnosis, and mind/body approaches. Following up his involve­ ment with Coue, he read Suggestion etAutosuggestion by psychoanalyst Charles Baudouin ( 1 893- 1 963) . He also studied the Autogenic technique of Berlin psychiatrist and neurologist Johannes Schultz ( 1 8 84- 1 970) . Schultz based his work on the self-hypnosis methods pioneered by neurologists Oskar Vogt


( 1 870- 1 9 5 9 ) and Korbinian Brodman ( 1 8 6 8- 1 9 1 8) . Autogenic training taught control of the body's involuntary functioning, such as temperature or heart rate, by using the imagination to influence the autonomic nervous sys­ tem. Autogenics is still used in stress and pain management programs and by biofeedback practitioners. Feldenkrais refers to Autogenic training in a passage in The Potent Self. [Schultz] has shown that with appropriate training we can dilate or constrict the blood vessels of any chosen point of the body. It is enough to think "My hand is warm, " and the temperature of the hand rises a centigrade [degree] within a few seconds. Training oneself in special condition of relaxation, three times a day for one minute, enables one to achieve the immediate compliance of the blood vessels with the thinking of warm or cold. He has also trained his patients to contract and relax (for therapeutic purposes) the stomach, uterus, and other sphincter muscles . 1 38

Later, Feldenkrais learned about Edmund Jacobson's progressive relaxation techniques, which dated from the same period. Autogenics and progressive relaxation resemble yoga in their training of psychophysical control. However, unlike Eastern yoga, they were based in science. And rather than primarily employing movement, breath, or postural awareness, progressive relaxation focused on relaxing specific voluntary muscle groups. Similarly, Autogenics targeted ' involuntary' musculature. Feldenkrais learned how to control his sweating and body temperature through Autogenic training. 139 Besides teaching j udo in groups, Feldenkrais also taught it privately. Here he could tune more specifically to individual needs and assess how his prac­ tice and self-observation carried over into assisting others. No doubt he was able to deepen the subtle tutoring methods that he had been developing i n Palestine. Feldenkrais told a story about o n e of h i s pupils, a French aristo­ crat. Too self-conscious to practice in a group, he hired Moshe for private lessons . " H e turned out to be a hunter of wild animals in Africa, and he invited me to his house where I was left alone for a few minutes . " Moshe was admiring the splendid antique furniture, rugs, tapestries, and paintings when he froze: toward him, coming down the hall was-a lion. " [The] lion came over to lick me. It had been brought to Paris as a cub and grown up into a real lion . " After the hunter introduced Feldenkrais to his 'pet,' the two men improvised a doj o in a room adorned by massive African game trophies. The aristocrat felt strong and confident behind a gun, but he called upon Feldenkrais to teach him how to feel more secure in himself. In gratitude, the young noble gave Moshe a rare bottle of Napoleon brandy. The lion part of the story did not end happily:

FRAN C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 40


A few months later the lion was taken by the police to the Paris Zoo. The lion

had gone into the street and an old lady with a little Pekingese dog and dim eyesight, mistaking him fo r a big dog, chased him through the streets with her umbrella.

Neither his owner's status nor his riches were enough to recover the creature from custody, and so, "After refusing food and drink for about ten days, the lion died in its cage . " Feldenkrais used this story in a n article t o probe the meaning of health: Now, there was a healthy animal that died, obviously, due to an emotional trauma. But what is a healthy animal? If a healthy lion dies ten days after a sudden change in its life, what is health?

The story served as a dramatic illustration of the importance of emotions and relationships for health. 14 0 In February of 1 936, 141 Feldenkrais became the first person in France to earn a j udo black belt under Kawaishi's tutelage. Norikazu Kawaishi, Mikinosuke's son affirmed that "Moshe was the first pupil who received the black belt in France from my father. " 142 His second-degree black belt was awarded two years later. Feldenkrais explained how j udo students are promoted in rank in his 1 94 1 treatise, judo: It is too easy for a higher Dan holder to beat a single opponent so he is opposed to a group, often of ten opponents. This number is reduced or increased by deci­ sion of the referee according to the standard of the opponents. The time allowed to beat the whole group, one after the other consecutively, is two minutes per opponent, but this is a maximum. A 6th Dan holder, for instance, will beat ten brown belt holders in less than five minutes. It should be noted that a brown belt is the highest degree for amateur students, and a novice would find it hard to believe that a brown belt holder could be so easily beaten. 143

Feldenkrais also underscores that, notwithstanding its competitive matches and practical value for self-defense, j udo is not primarily the art of combat: The whole teaching of the art of Judo is impregnated with the idea of human perfection and efficiency in attaining a given purpose. The initial purpose of self-defense is thus somewhat overshadowed by the higher ideal of perfection and beaury. 144

After he earned his black belt, Feldenkrais was gratified to receive corre­ spondence from Jigoro Kano on official Japanese ' House of Peers' stationary. Kano expressed his pleasure about the establishment of a Paris Judo Club, and accepted the invitation to be its honorary president. 145 According to j udo historian Michel Brousse:



The French Jiujitsu Club was officially established on the occasion o f the last trip that Kano made to Paris, in September of 1 9 3 6 . The members of the Committee of Honor were Kano Jigoro, Professors Frederic Joliot [-Curie] , and Leon Eyrolles . The members of the Executive Committee were the director, Charles Faroux, two vice-directors: Moshe Feldenkrais and Paul Boner-Maury, and a secretary general: Marc Eyrolles. 146

While Feldenkrais was forming the jiujitsu club de France, Kawaishi still taught at the French-Japanese club. Competition between the two clubs was unavoidable. Feldenkrais succeeded, as Kano predicted he would, in gathering public attention and filling his classes by virtue of his teaching skills, charisma, and connections. On the other hand, according to Brousse, Upon his arrival in France, Kawaishi did not have more s uccess than his predecessors. His teaching did not distinguish itself from his countrymen. 147

Despite Kawaishi's expertise, the size of his classes dwindled, and he was forced to close his club. Kawaishi then accepted Feldenkrais's invitation to join his jiujitsu club de France and become its technical director. Their collaboration proved valuable to both men and to the evolution of judo in France. Until he fled from France, Feldenkrais remained Kawaishi's devoted student, and they actively collaborated in ambitious proj ects . Feldenkrais foresaw the value of systematically documenting j udo practice for purposes of study, research, and publication. In the years preceding World War II, he and Kawaishi "spent almost two years preparing" hundreds of photos of them performing demonstrations. 148 He also captured some of their techniques on film. In one film chronicling the history of French j udo, one may watch Feldenkrais use his foot to perform a sweeping movement that lands his opponent on the mat. 149 Through his considerable research, Michel Brousse has demonstrated that Kawaishi's eventual success and fame as a judo instructor, and invention of his own method, stemmed from his fruitful collaboration with Feldenkrais: Respectfully named as the "Kawaishi's method, " it is in fact the result of the confrontation between two complementary minds, Kawaishi's the technician and Feldenkrais' [s] the scientist. 1 5 0

Feldenkrais's j udo club at 1 , rue Thenard, was successful by any measure. Classes were full. Stories in L'Auto and other newspapers and magazines showed him with the Joliot-Curies at the club. Meanwhile, he was at work on his first book devoted exclusively to j udo. Each of Feldenkrais's j udo books would be more ambitious than the last. His first, ABC du judo (jiu-jitsu), was a modest 63-page booklet. 1 5 1 Jean Beaujean illustrated the manual based on demonstrations performed by Feldenkrais and Kawaishi. The book was published in 1 93 8 , several months after Kano's death

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0


in May. Moshe's p reface dedicates the book to Kano's memory and the path of hope exemplified in Kano's life: In memory of Jigoro Kano, my venerated Master, the father of j udo, who was able to show the way to perfection by applying flexibility to both spirit and body. More than anyone else, he entered into solid and sustained friendships with men of all creeds and of all social conditions. Thousands of disciples owe him the very shaping of their personality. 1 52

In ABC du judo Feldenkrais continues his critique of conventional forms of exercises. In Autosuggestion, he criticized prevailing modes of training for inculcating feelings of inferiority and for insufficient awareness of the roles of conscious and unconscious processes . In ABC du judo, he voices a criticism that he would frequently restate: Each one of us knows how boring it is to p ractice what is commonly called p hysical exercise, consisting in repeating ceaselessly s tylized movements representing no interest but the muscle effort which is the purpose. " I believe that I reflect most opinions, " writes Professor Kano, "that if physical exercise is to contribute to a sane body, capable of serving usefully in one's life, it should also contribute to the culture of spirit." . . . A mere review of all the methods of physical exercise in vogue suffices to convince that none of them meets the above requirements . Generally, they exert only the muscles without any other goal, and one needs much will to bind oneself unfailingly to one of these methods . . . . Judo is very different, each movement has a specific goal which is reached after a precise and supple execution . . . . At the very first lesson, j udo enables one to become aware of the hidden potential of the human body. A student today, a fervent disciple of j udo, told me after six months of work: "Judo enables me to become conscious that I have a body, of which I was unaware beforehand." 1 53

Feldenkrais's perspective on judo extends to the psychological, the sociological, and even the political: Judo i s the only method which places everyone on a n equal rank; it fights brutal power by means of the laws of rational mechanics, repairing the natural inj ustice in the unequal distribution of forces among different individuals. One should see how people not physically gifted behave after some months of p ractice; they are literally liberated from an oppression which they have repressed for a long time, oppression which they qualified of little importance but which would, in spite of themselves, influence their attitude towards their fellow men. 1 54

His application of his knowledge of physics to matters of self-defense is lucid and practical in this passage about balance from ABC du judo:


M o s H E F E L D E N K RA I S

About balance In physics one distinguishes two kinds of balance: stable and unstable balance. A book lying on a table, or a stick or man lying down, are simple examples of stable balance. An object (or body) that is in stable balance will return to its original position when perturbed. In this case, the center of gravity of the body is located at the lowest possible spot so that when disturbed, gravity causes it to return to original position. Unstable balance occurs when the center of gravity is high but directly above its support . . . Such balance is easily broken up, the body falls into a stable equilibrium position. All other positions of a stick or the human body are not in equilibrium. The movement of the human body during walking, appropriate movements of the chest, arms and head. By stepping the right foot ahead, the body's center of grav­ ity moves forward and slightly to the right: someone who is not used to walking (a convalescent person who stayed in bed for a long period for instance) , has dif­ ficulty finding the precise foot position and the necessary muscle coordination to rapidly recover the balance that is disturbed by his movement. If he does not find the appropriate position in time, he will fall. It is obvious that this phenomenon is as true for strong men as for others. [I] n matters of balance, 'power' in the usual sense of the word, has no effect at all. This very simple scientific fact is the very basis of j udo. It is perfect knowl­ edge of balance, the manner of breaking it and of recovering it, which enables the j ujitsian to throw the opponent to the ground with ease without using 'force' in the usual sense of the term. To illustrate this truth, consider how easily one would throw to the ground the strongest man in the world if his legs were tightly bound. The typical trend for unstable balance is to transform itself into stable balance as soon as it is bro­ ken. There is a critical point where no power in the world can rescue the falling person and enable him to come back to vertical position. The human body is made to go forward easily. Walking backwards is awk­ ward, lateral walking is impossible without crossing the legs. When exaggerating the forward movement of the chest in the same direction as the feet move, the impossibility of re-establishing disrupted balance becomes evident. From this short study, we can draw the following conclusion: one can make a human fall down either by pulling suddenly the upper part of his body while he is walking forward, or by pushing him hard as he walks backwards. The oppo­ site . . . pushing back with force when he is walking forward or pulling forward when he walks backwards . . . is of no avail to make him fall, unless one is much stronger than him. But by helping him to make the movement he initiated on his own will and in the direction he chose, we j ust have to add an ounce of srrength to lead him to go beyond his goal and be off balance. This additional strength is much smaller than the effort that would have been necessary to oppose him. One would have

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0


had to first neutralize the opponent's effort then to communicate to him the movement required to throw him off balance. This remark leads to another fundamental principle of j udo: "Do not contradict the opponent's efforts, but exaggerate and deviate them. " 1 55

A few years later, Feldenkrais discussed the challenges of writing on the subj ect of j udo: The extent ofJudo and the difficulty of teaching the art by a book are responsible for the fact that even the original language [lacks] a complete manual on Judo, but [has] many excellent works treating [parts of it] more or less extensively. 1 5 6

At their last meeting in Paris, before his death in 1 93 8 , Kano had told Feldenkrais that he wished to write "a complete treatise on Judo, " hoping that he would "live at least until he could compile such a book for. . . future genera­ tions. " 157 Kano did not live to fulfill his aim. Feldenkrais would go on to cover many aspects of j udo in the three books he wrote over the next fifteen years, but rather than being a complete treatise, his work systematically introduced a new perspective and point of departure for understanding and applying judo. Michel Brousse sums up Feldenkrais's contribution to the evolution of j udo as g1vmg another orientation to jiuj itsu as taught in France . . . Feldenkrais was an innovator because his teaching was definite in differentiating itself from the purely func­ tional approach of j iuj itsu destined for policemen and the military. The new style given to the combat method attracted a new public. .. In the early 1 930s, his persuasiveness brought the Parisian intellectuals in his entourage to experiment with the Japanese art. His activity, as brief as it was, freed the Japanese method from its strict utilitarian aspect of self-defense and repositioned it within a framework of analysis and reflection. While proceeding with the same protective movements, Feldenkrais gave them a meaning and unveiled the logic of their unfolding. Thanks to his knowledge of physics and anatomy, he formalized the attacks and counter-attacks. He gave the defensive techniques a scientific foundation. The originality of his approach lies in the concern for linking the most sober and the most immediate efficiency to the understanding of the principles of realized action. 1 58

Feldenkrais found a receptive audience for his writing, documentation, and analysis in the academic atmosphere of his doj o. Many of his students were from a community of teachers, students, and engineers, including some of the century's greatest scientists. How stimulating this brilliant milieu must have been! The values held by Sugimura, Kano , and Frederic Joliot-Curie encouraged Moshe to integrate physical culture with education, the arts, politics, and science. His analytical bent, already evident in his early works



on jiuj itsu and autosuggestion, gained focus in the environment of the Ecole. His scientific consideration of j udo led him to give attention to every detail. I had the privilege of interviewing, via telephone, the very kind and dis­ tinguished Bertrand Goldschmidt ( 1 9 1 1 -2002) , who had known Feldenkrais during these Paris days. Goldschmidt, a celebrated chemist, met Feldenkrais after j oining the Curie laboratories in 1 933. He was the last scientist person­ ally hired by Marie Curie before her death in 1 934. He later played a major role in the development of French policy on nuclear energy and weapons. Goldschmidt renewed contact with Feldenkrais after the war, in Israel in the 1 9 5 0s and again in 1 96 1 when seeking help for his wife who had contracted polio. " He came [to our home] very nicely and helped my wife to improve her breathing. " 159 Goldschmidt was legendary for his outstanding memory; at the time of our interview, when he was well into his nineties, his mental powers, wit, and memory were undiminished. In his book Atomic Rivals, G oldschmidt recalled the beginnings o f Feldenkrais's j udo work with the staff o f the Curie Institute: Among the research workers were two Palestinian Jews, the brother and sister Moshe and Malka Feldenkrais. This was at the time when Palestine was still under British mandate. Their financial situation was precarious, but Moshe was a black belt in judo. To help them, we decided to rent a gymnasium, and we all took j udo lessons, mingling our sweat. I even had Irene Joliot [-Curie] as a partner. 160

In addition to the Joliot-Curies and Bertrand Goldschmidt, Feldenkrais enticed Paul B onet-Maury, Marc Eyrolles, and many other scientists at the Curie Institute to join him on the mat-including Russian emigre Lew Kowarski and Pierre Biquard ( 1 90 1 - 1 992) . He remembered: half the university came to me . . . Kano wrote in his diary that he met a little Jew in Paris who he thinks will at long last introduce j udo into Europe. And I did . . . . Kano sent me a big Japanese certificate written in his own hand, telling that I 'm the first white man who has invented a trick which became compulsory in the curriculum of the Kodokan. And . . . in the Kodokan if you come there . . . i f you don't know Japanese and you speak English, they will give you one of my books. 161

Kano had been an educator and minister in the imperial government, and he incorporated into j udo the highest cultural values. He attracted cultured and accomplished individuals like himself, including Kotani and Aida, and Trevor Leggett in the United Kingdom. Kano saw in Feldenkrais the cultural breadth and depth he sought for disseminating j udo internationally. Unquestionably, as Michel Brousse wrote, The meeting between [Kano and Feldenkrais] was a decisive moment in the history of French Judo. The reputation that Kano had established and his mastery

FRANCE, r 9 30-1940


of educational concepts strengthened the message he spread throughout his life. Feldenkrais is an extraordinary character too. The work that he completed later, on the re-education of the body, has the same universal meaning, the same humane dimension. 162

Feldenkrais recurrently bridged artificial separations i n knowledge and experience. Leon Eyrolles and Kano both spotted him as the man to make a connection: Feldenkrais was Eyrolles's candidate for bridging engineering and physics, and he was Kano's pick for introducing j udo to France. Both got more than they bargained for, as the spectacle of Moshe, a trained engineer, teaching j udo to physicists bears witness. It would have been fascinating to see how the connections between theoretical and practical physical principles became, on the dojo mats, an embodied issue for the physics researchers from the Joliot-Curie's laboratories. And j ust as his earlier synthesis of Coue and j iuj itsu led to new concepts and methods, so, too, would cross-pollinating j udo and physics. In 1 937, Malka was studying chemistry at the university and working as a lab assistant at the Radium Institute. As Frederic Joliot-Curie's energies turned to medical applications of artificial radioactivity, Malka assisted Paul Bonet-Maury's work using beams of neutrons to create polonium isotopes as biological tracers. 163 Their work was more dangerous than they realized, and Malka attributed some later illnesses to radiation exposure received at the Institute. Bonet-Maury thanked Malka for her help in his 1 938 paper " La centrifugation du polonium dans !es milieux neutre utilisables en biolo­ gie , " in the journal de Chimie Physique (Journal of Physical Chemistry) . The Joliot-Curies' continuing research led, in 1 93 9 , to Frederic's groundbreaking demonstration, with Antoine Lacassagne, of the use of radioactive iodine as a tracer in the thyroid gland. 164 Within two years, both Moshe and Malka married. In 1 937 Malka married David Camarcat, a young French doctor. Afterward she visited her parents in Palestine-not long after they arrived from Poland. When he told the story of meeting Kano in 1 933, Moshe referred to Yona as his wife, but he and Yona didn't actually marry until 1 938-some say under pressure from her family. That year Yona received her medical degree, and perhaps that was the moment she and Moshe were waiting for. Moshe and Yona enjoyed the honor of having Irene and Frederic Joliot-Curie as their witnesses. 1 65 To his family in Tel Aviv, Moshe sent a telegram that he and Yona were married. 166 After earning her degree, Yona interned and completed her residency in pediatrics at a local hospital. Shortly before they left Paris, she had begun to substitute for Parisian doctors.


In the Joliot-Curies' laboratories, Feldenkrais's work exemplified Leon Eyrolles's objectives offusing practical and theoretical science. By 1 937, working in a team with Andre Lazard and P. Savel at ESTP's Arcueil-Cachan laboratories, Feldenkrais designed and built the gigantic five-million-volt Van de Graaff generator. It was the second of its kind in the world. With twin towers almost 50 feet high, it produced dazzling electrical arcs more than ten feet long. Later in 1 937, Feldenkrais and his magnificent machine left the Cachan laboratory. He was put in charge of moving and installing the Van de Graaff generator at the Palais de la Decouverte (Palace of Discovery) at the International Exposition of Modern Art and Technology. Moshe assembled the generator prominently at Victor Emanuel III, the entrance of the exposition . Nearby, Pablo Picasso was first exhibiting his famous Guernica, which he had painted to protest the atrocities recently perpetrated by the German (Nazi) Condor Legion in Spain. After the Paris exposition, Feldenkrais moved the generator to the new laboratories of the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS , National Center fo r S cientific Research) a t Ivry-sur-Seine, i n the western suburbs of Paris, where it was intended for use in research. Feldenkrais had hopes fo r commercial ventures planned with Frederic Joliot-Curie, but he also tried on his own to establish commercial applications of his scientific research . He published papers demonstrating the practical utility of the voltages produced by Van de Graaff generators for performing industrial-scale separations of chemical mixtures . He first worked in pri­ vate sector research and development in 1 936 as consultant to Societe Van Steenbrugghe & Breton, a manufacturer of surgical instruments, where his work was acknowledged in at least one patent application. 167 He applied for or registered several patents, beginning in 19 3 7. 168 Feldenkrais was to receive a ten percent royalty for medical applications of his inventions, and he retained all rights to industrial applications. Beginning in 1 939, his system for sterile air production remained in use for many years, though the world war precluded compensation for his technology. As late as April 5, 1 940, only a few months before the invasion of Paris, Feldenkrais registered another French invention, a kind of scissors to be used for cutting out coupons. 1 69 He continued working as a consultant and inventor until the early 1 9 50s. He tried to bring perhaps a hundred different ideas to the marketplace, including inventions for the office, transportation, sterilization, refrigeration, movies, and the recording industry, all with limited success. Tenacious and hardworking, Feldenkrais was discour­ aged when others appeared to have appropriated his ideas for refrigeration and other inventions. 1 70 In 1 9 3 7 , the same year as the international exposition , the French government appointed Frederic Joliot-Curie director of both the nuclear physics and the nuclear chemistry laboratories at the august and egalitarian College de France. Feldenkrais joined the lab as assistant to Joliot-Curie and,

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0


probably, also t o Andre Lazard. He worked there alongside Paul Langevin and other great scientists. But as the details of n uclear structure-and the feasibility of nuclear fission-emerged, scientists perceived the limitations of accelerators that used high voltages. The Van de Graaff generator became obsolete for atomic research with the advent of the next generation of accelerators. These were modeled on the cyclotron designed by Ernest Lawrence at the University of California at Berkeley. When Joliot-Curie began to build his own cyclotron at the College de France in 1 937, he was able to draw not only on the technical expertise of the Americans, but also on the stream of expatriate physicists abandoning the fascist regimes of Italy and Germany. Feldenkrais told his friend Michaeleen Kimmey that he had worked as a technician in the building of Joliot-Curie's cyclotron. Documentation of Feldenkrais's scientific and intellectual activities from 1 938- 1 940 is scant. Prior to that period materials are ample, including eight papers that he rapidly published between 1 9 36 and 1 9 38, and records of his attendance at the university and of his assistantship at Cachan. After that, we find very little for reasons that mostly remain mysterious. Some documents, we know, were intentionally destroyed. After 1 93 7 Feldenkrais was no longer on the payroll at Cachan, but he likely worked as an engineer in other laboratories. Was he on salary, or did his work count only toward his doctoral studies? If he didn't receive money for lab work and his inventions and spin-off technologies did not produce income, what did he live on? There are indications that translation was one source. He had already translated papers on the Van de Graaff generator for Joliot­ Curie. He m ay have used his knowledge of French, English, German, Russian, Polish, and Hebrew for publications and for work as an interpreter at scientific conferences. His principal income appears to have derived from teaching j udo and receiv­ ing book royalties. Reading his earlier letters to Kovensky, we wonder whether Feldenkrais was forced to neglect his academic career in favor of more lucrative j udo activities. How much time did he devote to the publication of ABC du judo and to his two-year photo-documentation project with Kawaishi? Even Feldenkrais's extraordinary energy had its limits. By 1 9 38 he had probably completed enough coursework and laboratory experiments to meet the requirements of his graduate degree. Having collected the data, his focus would have shifted to completing a dissertation. It must have challenged him to allocate his time among so many projects. Nevertheless, he found time for some conventional recreations and vacations. We have pictures of him in costume at the Mardi Gras and as a tourist at famous Saint-Malo in Normandy. We also know that Moshe and Yona visited their families in Palestine in 1 93 8 , likely j oined by Malka and David. It was an auspicious time, with


great cause fo r celebration: Aryeh, Sheindel, and Baruch had recently managed to escape from Poland and were now established in Tel Aviv-j ust in time to celebrate the marriages of Moshe and Malka. 171 Feldenkrais disclosed little concerning his inner life during his Parisian period, and I have found few external documents that shed light on it. Such material mostly dates from the period j ust after his arrival in France. How should we interpret his subsequent silence? The inscriptions in his book to his family and to Yona's showed his aspirations and his low estimate of his previ­ ous achievements and behavior. His first letter to Kovensky laments that he wants to sever connections with his past. Thereafter, we hear of his accomplish­ ments as a student, researcher, writer, engineer, martial artist, and martial arts teacher. He expresses disappointment only about external matters: his own and his family's financial woes, academic issues, and the commercial success of his projects. The greatest external crisis of his time in France was still to come-his harrowing escape from the Nazis . It is reasonable to believe that his focus, dur­ ing his decade in Paris was, in fact, primarily external . The kinds of personal crises that he faced while growing up concerning security, close relationships, and health seem absent. There was nothing, as far as we know, comparable to the liver disease and soccer inj ury he suffered in Palestine. Only his Autogenic training suggests a more internal side to his life, but there are no hints of emo­ tional complications. This picture of Feldenkrais fits the picture Marc Eyrolles gave of an intensely active, ambitious man in his twenties and thirties with "very little time . . . working night and day at his studies and on publications . . . [the] important thing [was] t o fulfill oneself. " Despite the obstacles h e confronted, i t seems h e was fulfilling himself and realizing his dreams. Feldenkrais was increasingly active in organizational roles . Beyond his responsibility for the physical and engineering tasks of installing the Van de Graaff generator at the 1 937 International Exposition, Feldenkrais was a mem­ ber of the organizing committee of the Palace of Discoveries. This building was conceived by Jean Perrin as a permanent science museum, the first of its kind in the West. 172 A proj ect dear to the Joliot-Curie's hearts, it was intended to involve the general public in the romance of the sciences. It reflected the same kind of populist leftist politics that people like J . B . S . Haldane and J . D . Bernal were advancing across the channel in England. These scientists shared a deter­ mination to popularize science in the service of democracy and to promote international scientific awareness as a counterbalance to the special interests of nations and businesses. Feldenkrais's previous occupations, languages, and the geographic range of his background positioned him as a man between cultures. His mastery of languages qualified h i m to b ridge linguistic and cultural gaps within the worldwide community of physics research. During the late 1 93 0 s and until the beginning of the war, he m ay have devoted considerable time to organizational activities.

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0


At scientific conferences-which he may have helped organize-Feldenkrais encountered Enrico Fermi, Albert Einste i n , Niels Bohr, and Werner Heisenberg, the most well-known physicists of the century. On meeting Feldenkrais at a dinner during one such conference in the late 1 930s, Einstein j oked, "What's a Jew like you doing being so strong?" Following his role in the 1 937 International Exposition and the Palace of Discoveries, Feldenkrais became involved in organizing an international meet­ ing of physicists in New York, scheduled for 1 93 9 . The outbreak of World War II caused cancellation of the conference; however, its infrastructure was adapted to frame a historic secret discussion of the military prospects of nuclear weapons. Lew Kowarski was an atomic physicist who had been working in Germany. Kowarski grasped early on the destructive potential of nuclear energy. He real­ ized the importance of denying the Nazis the opportunity to develop nuclear weapons. Kowarski's subsequent role in Allied nuclear weapons development is widely documented. After the war, he went on to become the first head of the Atomic Research Center in Geneva. In March 1 93 9 Kowarski, together with Hans Halban and Joliot-Curie, made the momentous announcement of a discovery: The splitting of the uranium nucleus under the impact of a single neutron is accompanied by, in addition to the emission of new neutrons, a release of energy. This is the very primordial fact that would allow the propagation of the atomic 'fire' by chain reaction. 173

O n e evening around that time Feldenkrais was invited fo r dinner at Kowarski's home. When he arrived, Kowarski, who had a very stooped back, said that he had terrible pain at the base of his neck. He asked Feldenkrais to have a look and give him his opinion. Moshe spent a few minutes feel­ ing Kowarski's spine with his hands. He finally withdrew his hands and said that he couldn't find anything the matter. But Kowarski turned around and exclaimed that the pain had gone away. As Franz Wurm later related the story, Kowarski said, Look here, there are thousands of average physicists in the world, but I think there is only one pair of hands like that in the world, and you'd better change your profession. 174

The fact that his "examination" was enough to alleviate Kowarski's discomfort, gave Feldenkrais pause. Did he have some special talent? Or, was it something about the nature of the examination itselfthat could afford so much benefit? Could it have been that Kowarski gained a kinesthetic awareness with power to heal from Moshe's patient and gentle examination?



I t was s o cold i n Paris during January 1 939 that ice immobilized shipping on the Seine, fire hydrants split apart, and ice broke through cracks in the side­ walks. In February as war drew nearer, France and Britain began maneuvers in the Mediterranean. A so-called phony naval war followed, in which the French claimed to sink ten German submarines. Before 1 93 9 , France and England had met Hitler's aggressive expansion with a policy of appeasement. They allowed Germany to take the Ruhr, then Austria, and finally Czechoslovakia in exchange for promises of peace. The strident warnings of the few about Hitler's real obj ectives were unwelcome and unheeded. Economic depression still shadowed Western nations, and the shrinking world economy had turned countries inward. Most of all, the immense loss of life from World War I was still widely felt and reinforced isolationist sentiments. When Germans tanks entered Poland in September 1 939, France mobilized to wage war. All eligible males were summoned to fight for their country. Eligibility for the draft included French citizenship. We have earlier documents of Feldenkrais's Palestinian, which amounted to British, citizenship. But would his decade of Parisian residence render him subj ect to the draft? There are letters from two doctors stating that he wasn't suitable for the infantry because of damage to both of his knees. Was he concerned that he might be called up and, if so, did he wish to avoid the draft? In this national emergency, foreign nationals were encouraged to enlist, and many did, especially Jews . Some j oined the French Foreign Legion. If Feldenkrais was ineligible for the draft, do the doctors' letters imply that he volunteered for enlistment? Though the matter is unclear, we know that his vocation as a scientist and engineer brought him squarely into the war effort. As the threat of German submarines loomed, the need for better underwater detection technology was obvious. Sonar technology had remained mostly stagnant since Paul Langevin invented it in 1 9 1 8 . Langevin , at the outbreak of World War I I , was not a young man, but he was incredibly active in both science and politics. 175 He immediately redirected his energies and renewed his research in an area now crucial to France's defenses. Feldenkrais began work in Langevin's laboratory as a member of the CNRS Group 4 ; their research focused on magnetism and ultrasound. 176 As war approached, many scientists were adamant that science should play a role in the war effort beyond weapons design. But France's and England's political and military establishments resisted a role fo r science in shaping civilian security and military preparations. Scientists had a wide perspective on world events based on the international cooperation science required. The lnstitut du radium , as the b irthplace of atomic physics, was a nexus of internationalism in science and hosted scientists from all over the world. Feldenkrais's work at the international Palace

F RA N C E , 1 9 3 0 - 1 9 4 0


o f Discoveries science exhibition, and as a translator, drew him fa r into these internationalist currents. Great idealism accompanied science in those times, and a sometimes utopian world-view. The prospect of a rational mastery of nature brought also the prom­ ise of a more rational human order. Feldenkrais's own social values reflected this outlook as early as his reading of Fore! back in Baranovich. The miseries of World War I and the Great Depression strengthened the general sense that scientific principles should play a more decisive role in human affairs. Feldenkrais's introductions to his French self-defense and j udo books show an appreciation for j udo both scientific and socially conscious: "Judo fights brutal power by way of laws of rational mechanics, " 177 "repairing the natural inj ustice in the unequal distribution of forces among different individuals. " 178 For many scientists Marxism o ffered the way to shape a more rational society. Frederic Joliot-Curie, Paul Langevin , and Jean Perrin were among the professed Marxists in French science; while at the Radium Institute, Feldenkrais had worked under all three. In England, a list of scientists whose politics were decidedly on the left reads like a roster of distinguished achieve­ ment: C. P. Snow, Joseph Needham, William Bragg, J .Z. Young, Julian Huxley, P. M . S . Blackett, J . G . Crowther, C . H . Waddington , Solly Zuckerman, and, at the center of it all , J . B . S . Haldane and J . D . Bernal. 179 Of these, even before his departure from France, Moshe had met at least Bragg, Crowther, Zuckerman, and Bernal. Feldenkrais also j oined the Association of S cientific Workers, which had been established by these luminaries of science. The French and English scientists began a remarkable effort to overcome resistance to their c o n t r i b u t i o n s to the war effo r t . They o rganized themselves, supported each o ther, and liaised around war-related research p ro grams and p riorities . In England the scientists o rchestrated a public relations campaign using b ooks, lectures, radio, and, centrally, the j ournal Nature. F i nally, Bernal and Zuckerman were given important roles i n developing civil defense. Beginning with discussions with the French ambassador in February of 1 940, the Anglo-French Society of Science was inaugurated in April. Bernal and Zuckerman had come to Paris under the auspices of John Anderson's Ministry of Home Security. Their work was no longer confined to civil defense in a narrow sense. They were regarded as experts on fortifications, ballistics, and the effects of explosives. They visited laboratories and gun emplacements and dined with the scientists of the Curie Institute and the College de France, among them Joliot-Curie, Jean Perrin, and Paul Langevin. As Solly Zuckerman put it: "We swore eternal friendship and committed ourselves to the closest cooperation in our efforts to defeat the common enemy. " 1 80 It was most prob­ ably during this time that Feldenkrais came to know the two men, J. D. Bernal and Solly Zuckerman, who would be among his first champions when the fortunes of war brought him to England.

M O S H E F E L D E >! K RA I S

The Germans began their offensive o n May 1 0 , 1 940. Within fo u r days Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands were overrun . By May 20th German forces were capturing French armies and cities. On June 3rd German bombs fell around Paris, and Parisians finally realized that their lives, too, must change. By the end of that week, to the horror of the French and British, the Germans were closing in on Paris from both the north and the east. Everyone remembered that spring as exceptionally warm and beautiful. The Parisians j ust didn't want to leave their city. Part of the population still sought nightlife and entertainment. As late as June 8th, the Folies-bergere and the Comedie-Fram;aise gave performances. Meanwhile, people displaced fr o m the war zones flooded s outh i n disorganized a n d disoriented masses, clogging the highways. Many arrived in Paris. The official French evacuation plans bore no relation to the actual aerial conduct of the German offensive, and only added to the chaos, as the Luftwaffe's Stuka airplanes dive-bombed the congested transport arteries. The Parisians at last decided that it was time for them to move, too. From June 8th through 1 2th, 2 8 8 special trains left from Austerlitz station. Between June 1 0th and 1 2th, two million of Paris's three million people escaped. On June 2 1 Jean Perrin , one of Feldenkrais's senior colleagues, left from Port-Vendres in the south for Casablanca, on a ship with 450 Jewish refugees. Many, including Perrin, would eventually come to North America. On June 22nd and 23rd, hundreds of diplomats and government functionaries j umped ship for England. 181 "The quarters [neighborhoods] around the ministries [in Paris] were covered in a rain of ashes and soot as records were burned. " 182 Joliot-Curie made hur­ ried preparations to move scientific equipment south and destroy any papers which might have military value to the Germans. Many of the most eminent scientists in France worked in the college's laboratories. Their research in phys­ ics, chemistry, electronics, biochemistry, and medicine were among the most advanced of that time. For the physicists, the central priority was to keep their store of heavy water out of German hands. Heavy water was a precious mate­ rial that researchers needed for controlling fission reactions in order to design nuclear weapons. Joliot-Curie had understood its importance, and in March 1 940 he secured from Norway, by daring and initiative and under the nose of the Nazis, the world's entire existing supply for the College de France. 183 When invasion threatened, Joliot-Curie arranged for Lew Kowarski and Hans Halban to move more than 1 8 0 liters of the heavy water to a bank vault near Toulouse in southern France. They were then to bring the material, aboard the Broompark, an unprepossessing collier, to England. Joliot-Curie chose Kowarski and Halban for this mission because of their expertise­ they later j oined the Manhattan proj ect-and because, as Jews, they had to escape the Nazis . The Germans got wind of the plan but couldn't precisely

FRAN C E , 1 9 3 0- 1 9 40

identify the ship. The Broompark l e ft Bordeaux on the 1 8 th o f June, a t about the same time as two other ships. The Germans sank both of the other ships, but the heavy water, Halban, and Kowarski made it safely to England. 184 Joliot-Curie sent Feldenkrais to a government ministry to make sure his papers would be impeccable, and then had an Algerian chauffeur drive Moshe and Yona south to Toulouse. He was to assist Paul Langevin , leader of France's antisubmarine warfare research program, in joining the Allied evacuation from Bordeaux. There they were to rendezvous with the Joliot-Curies. But Langevin could not be persuaded to leave France. Feldenkrais had already delayed his departure from Paris in a fruitless search for Malka, who was nowhere to be found. In despair he left her a note, as well as the vintage bottle of Napoleon brandy given to him by his aristocratic j udo student, the lion keeper, and hoped for the best. The day after he and Yona fled, the Nazis marched into Paris . Among the Nazis' first stops were the Joliot-Curie laboratories to put the important equipment and papers under guard and to arrest the Communists and Jews. Moshe's sister, Malka . . . 'sniffed' what was up, and, when the Germans called the entire staff into the courtyard, Malka stayed behind, searched through the jackets and coats of all who were working there and removed their identity papers. 18 5

Malka was thus able to prevent the Gestapo from identifying the Jews . She quickly found it necessary to go into hiding and somehow, miraculously, survived the war without leaving France. When Moshe and Yona finally arrived in Bordeaux, the Joliot-Curies were not there, but they had left someone to give him two suitcases [of secret scientific papers and materials) , sealed with the seal of the French Republic . . . to hand over to a French government in exile in London. 186

There was also an intended designee with the war department. 187 As with Kowarski and Halban, part of Joliot-Curie's plan may have been to save another Jewish scientist from the Nazis. Perhaps for his own safety, Joliot-Curie didn't tell Feldenkrais all the contents of the suitcases. 188 According to Kolman Korentayer, Moshe's close companion and administrator in the 1 970s, included in the suitcases was information about the construction of an incendiary bomb and a description of another way aircraft could use metal strips ('chaff') to evade detection by radar. According to a credible source, the Joliot-Curies had kept a small amount of heavy water for use in their labs because one of the suitcases reportedly also held two liters of it. 189 Feldenkrais with Yona hastened to board a boat for England. Bordeaux had been the main point of departure for the civilian evacuation, but they came too late; they had to j oin the chaotic exodus moving south along the coast, seeking ports that were still open. Many trains had stopped running. Cars and people jammed roads cratered from intermittent Luftwaffe bombing. And at


each more-southern port it was the same news: the last ship had already left. At some point in the j ourney it became impossible for them to proceed with their car and driver. As they continued by foot, Moshe's bad knee flared up and was a constant problem; Yona's congenital hip deformity gave her an even harder time. In the end Moshe had to push Yona part of the distance in a wheelbarrow that he found by the side of the road. The j ourney south led them through the Basque country near Spain's border to the old French resort town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Allied evacuation of civilians from France, Operation Aerial, had begun in the north of France at Cherbourg on June 1 5th. Over the next ten days it swept southward, evacuating over 200,000 people, but Saint-Jean-de-Luz was the end of the line. By the time Moshe and Yona arrived, the evacuation had become increasingly impromptu. A young Naval Intelligence officer was there, assigned to wait for and assist a potentially important straggler: King Zog, the former ruler of Albania. Mussolini had invaded Albania in April 1 939, and Zog, a monarch of dubious character, had convinced the British that he had partisans and an intelligence network in Albania that would be useful in the war effort. 190 The officer assigned to get him out of France was Commander Ian Fleming, future author of the wildly popular James Bond spy thrillers. While he was awaiting Zog, Commander Fleming borrowed a motorboat and bullied and caj oled the neu­ tral merchant ships anchored in the harbor into participating in the evacuation. He then commandeered a car ferry to shuttle refugees to the ships. Each load was an incongruous mixture of desperate Jews and wealthy British expatri­ ates. Fleming ordained that no one could take more than he could carry in his hands, and many had to bid farewell to their valuables as well as to France. 191 Arriving at the dock in the midst of the chaos, Feldenkrais tried to match Fleming's cool demeanor and managed to convince him of the importance of his mission. He, Yona, and the two sealed suitcases were thus allowed to board the HMS Ettrick, 192 the ship being held for King Zog. Another unexpected straggler apparently made it onto the Ettrick, too: Alexander Kerensky, Russian premier until the 1 9 1 7 Bolshevik coup that brought Lenin to power. 193 Also o n b oard was Jacob Rabi novic h , a fellow Jewish scientist and fu t u re grandfather of an Israeli Feldenkrais teacher. Jacob and his wife would later befriend Moshe and Yona in London. Zog finally arrived, in a fleet of luxury automobiles with mountains of luggage, including the better part of the Albanian treasury-on the order of 1 00 sacks of gold. 194 King Zog was exempted from the baggage restrictions imposed on the other passengers. The Ettrick left Saint-Jean-de-Luz on June 27th, bound fo r the B ritish port of Plymouth. It departed five days after France signed the document of surrender to Germany. It appears to have been the last ship to leave France. Stranded in France were tens of thousands ofJewish refugees with no escape.


GREAT BRITAIN, 19 40-1946 Unless your heart i s wide open and your mind i s orderly, you cannot b e expected to be able to adapt responsively without limit, dealing with events unerringly, facing great and unexpected difficulties with o u t upset, calmly handling everything without confusion. � Sun Tzu, The Art ofWar FRANCE COLLAPSED I N the face of the German offensive more rapidly than anyone anticipated. Even the Germans, who might have taken advantage of their success, were unprepared. And j ust when B ritain was desperately on her own, she was challenged to open her doors to hundreds of thousands of evacuees and refugees from the continent. Crowded beyond capacity, hundreds of ships of all kinds docked at the British ports on the Channel. Many of the passengers arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs. The HMS Ettrick put in at Plymouth. The British rose to the challenge of receiving the newly homeless multi­ tudes, but they also had other things on their minds. What would the Germans do next? Britain stood alone against the Nazi war machine. The priority was immediate mobilization of scarce materiel and untrained personnel to defend the island. Time and staff to properly process the arrivals from Europe were scarce. The refugees were shuttled into makeshift facilities called transit camps-meeting halls, prisons, schools, old factories, and the like. Many were then sent to internment camps to cool their heels until the slow wheels of the overburdened Home Office bureaucracy could sort out their cases. D uring the period when Moshe Feldenkrais arrived, from the last week of June 1 940, through the first week of July, twenty-three thousand arriving refugees were interned. 1 Although there are disparate accounts of what exactly took place, it appears that Feldenkrais had been separated from the precious suitcases entrusted to him by Joliot-Curie. Then, an official processing his papers at one of the tran­ sit camps cast suspicion on him. Joliot-Curie had made sure that his papers would be impeccable, but now that counted against him. Virtually none of the others from the ships had such documentation. The British worried that the Germans would use the chaos of the evacuation to introduce spies and sabo­ teurs. It was j udged that Feldenkrais's perfect documentation might be forged. His obscure accent and German surname compounded the suspicions. He was among those directed onto a night-train northbound for the port of Liverpool. There, he was herded onto a ship bound for an internment camp. 2 On July 2, 1 940, before being sent from London, Feldenkrais was permitted to post a card to his parents in Tel Aviv, telling them that he and Malka were safe. He knew Malka's situation was perilous, but he wanted to calm his family's fears .



Most of the refugees were kept uninformed about where they were being sent. During the long passages, rumors of remote destinations took the place of knowledge . There must have been general relief on Feldenkrais's ship when, after a mere six-hour passage, they were put ashore on the Isle of Man,3 an island in the midst of the Irish Sea. The chaos of the internment camps' burgeoning expansion greeted Feldenkrais's arrival. In August of 1 940 internment at the island's eleven camps crested at fo urteen thousand, their wartime maximum. 4 In retrospect, it is obvious that most of the internees didn't belong in the camps. It was British wartime xenophobia and the shortage of administrative resources that held them . Most internees were engaged in furious letter-writing campaigns to get released. But mail was infrequent and the wartime censors had a backlog. It sometimes took a month for a letter to be delivered. Waiting for the processing of their cases, the camp inmates made the most of their impressive array of talents, organizing a remarkable variety of cul­ tural and economic activities. Crafts, trades, newspapers, theater companies, concerts, and "open universities" widely enriched the life of the camps. The British painter Fred Uhlman ( 1 90 1 - 1 98 5 ) wrote in his autobiography: "Every evening one could see the same procession of hundreds of internees each carry­ ing his chair to . . . lectures. " 5 Hutchinson camp, one of the camps located near Douglas, at one time boasted thirty university professors. Toward the end of 1 940, organization of the camps improved. About the same time, on the mainland, speeches in House of Lords and newspaper public­ ity pressured Sir John Anderson, the home secretary, to rethink the draconian internment policies he had instituted. On Anderson's staff, leading the recently established Department of Research and Experiments, were J . D . Bernal ( 1 9 0 1 - 1 97 1 ) and Solly Zuckerman ( 1 904- 1 993) . Even before the fo rmal declaration of war-as noted in the preceding chapter-they led crusades to make better military use of scientific talent and visited the Joliot-Curie labs to establish better liaison with French scientists. When they investigated who was interred on the Isle of Man they were appalled to discover the reservoir of unassigned talent and to learn that a colleague from the Joliot-Curie labs, Moshe Feldenkrais, was there also. 6 Joliot-Curie had likely introduced Bernal to Feldenkrais in France.7 Bernal, on learning of his internment, is reported to have said to Anderson, "We need these people like salt and you go and lock them up!" 8 After more than two months in the internment camp, Feldenkrais was brought to London and put up in a hotel. Moshe wrote to J.G. Crowther: "This is the first Sunday I have free of duty and from running about to and from police stations. "9 Meanwhile Bernal and Zuckerman's staff in the Home Office assembled a profile of Feldenkrais's back­ ground for the War Offi c e, to determine where his talents fit into the war effort. Feldenkrais may have come to know Bernal and Zuckerman better during this time in London. Solly Zuckerman was about Moshe's age and had already

G R EAT B R I TA I N , I 9 4 0 - I 9 4 6

made a name in physiology and primatology. His involvement in the war effort, like Bernal's, developed from essentially Marxist concerns about the relation of science and public policy-and the young Zuckerman felt privileged to work with Bernal. When not occupied clearing up his legal status in London, Feldenkrais would have hastened to visit the Budokwai, London's j udo club. 10 Over the previous twenty years, the Budokwai had established itself as a leading center of j udo outside Japan. Moshe met Gunji K. Koizumi, 6th Dan, who founded the club in 1 9 1 8 , and Yukio Tani ( 1 88 1 - 1 9 5 0) , one of the first to introduce Japanese martial arts to the United Kingdom. During the war years he visited the Budokwai whenever in London. After the war, he became an active member of the Budokwai, taking classes, sitting on national and international com­ mittees, and contributing articles to the Budokwai Bulletin. He took Koizumi as his teacher, and they formed a close and lasting relationship. Feldenkrais made contacts as well at Carlton Gardens, the London headquarters of Charles de Gaulle's Free French. And he raised the issue of the missing suitcases of secret papers that Joliot-Curie had given him. I have listened to what seems an inexhaustible fount of inconsistent accounts of the contents and fate of those suitcases; I will venture here the story that, to me, is likeliest: Feldenkrais had not seen the suitcases since boarding the Ettrick on the way from France. He was brought to Olympia Hall, a cavernous, gray, converted armory in the south London district of Kensington . Olympia served as a recep­ tion center and temporary accommodation for the French who came to join de Gaulle. There, too, were kept the mountains of unclaimed baggage that had come over on ships during the evacuation. Some of the Free French sailors assisted in sorting through the suitcases and eventually one, but not the other, was found.

During the war, as a member of the "Visiting Scientists," Moshe frequented its club in London, located near the Royal Society. He had stimulating discus­ sions there with Jacob Bronowski, J . D . Bernal, and other scientists, testing his new ideas about mind and body. Toward the end of 1 940, London suffered months of unrelenting bombing by the Germans-it was the time of the blitz. Some nights more than a thou­ sand German planes converged on London carrying thousands of tons of bombs. At the same time, the German U-boat campaign threatened to choke off Britain's supply lines and cripple her Navy. 1 1 England was staggering from the effects o f Germany's overwhelming air power and the insidious stealth of the Nazi U-boats. Shortages of essential materials hampered the production of weapons. London's citizens emerged from nightly incarcerations in bomb-shelters to find buildings everywhere burning amidst impassible rubble. Toward the end of 1 94 0 , from the



perspective of almost everyone except the B ritish, Germany seemed assured of a total victory in Europe. When the War Office evaluated Feldenkrais's background, it noted that his most recent scientific work had been in the laboratory of Paul Langevin. 12 Moshe's stay in London soon came to an end. Langevin's name was synony­ mous with the development, during World War I, of what came to be called by the Americans, sonar. The British called their system asdic, 13 and well into 1 94 1 i t was the only established countermeasure against submarines. The British, in dire need of improved antisubmarine technology, allocated additional resources to every facet of the problem. The War Office passed Feldenkrais's profile to the Admiralty. There it was appreciated that Feldenkrais's qualifications embraced both physics and engineering. His recent work in Group 4 of Langevin's lab had been part of the belated French effort to revive their antisubmarine tech­ nology. Moshe was made a Scientific Officer in the Admiralty, and assigned to asdic research and development at His Majesty's Anti-Submarine Experimental Establishment (hmNSEE) . The British regarded their asdic as a secret weapon: it had not been deployed in World War I , so its capabilities were unknown to the enemy. During the inter-war years French research languished, but the British, through the A/SEE, actively pursued underwater detection research and antisubmarine warfare technology. 14 In 1 927, the accumulated organizational and geographical sprawl of the Anti-Submarine Experimental Establishment had been mostly consolidated and centralized in the HMS Osprey at Portland, on the Dorset coast of south­ ern England. Here, in September of 1 940, Feldenkrais took his place in the British war effort. In the first correspondence we have of his with the noted science writer J . G . Crowther, Feldenkrais wrote from Portland: I found extremely kind and broad-minded people at the Admiralty. . . . I have been encouraged to continue with the experiments I dealt with previously, which were found interesting, though parallel methods have been tried here. 1 5

The letter's tone suggests that Crowther and Feldenkrais were already friends-they may have first met in France. Crowther's encouragement would become particularly important for Moshe later, as he prepared the manuscript for Body and Mature Behavior. We will defer more about Crowther until then. Yona apparently remained in London when Moshe first moved to a com­ pound in Portland, as we may surmise from a comment in the same letter: "I am very grateful to you for the kindness you have shown to my wife. She told me you were a real comfort to her. " 16 Portland is an island that is almost a peninsula. It is near Weymouth and across the Channel from the French city of Cherbourg. During the mid thirties the Portland A/SEE rapidly expanded. As the war approached, young grad­ uate students from Cambridge and immigrant scientists j oined the existing

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6

staff of older civil servantsY B y the end o f 1 93 9 there was a staff o f about 300, including about 1 90 civilians, But with the onset of World War II, the Portland establishment proved dramatically vulnerable to German observation and attack. On July 4, 1 940, the Germans sank five ships in the Channel j ust south of Portland. Even worse, on the same day German aircraft attacked the HMS Foylebank, a large anti-aircraft defense vessel in Portland harbor itself. The Foylebank sank the following day. 18 Portland was too exposed for such an important laboratory, and too vulnerable to the feared German invasion, 1 9 The entire research and development estab­ lishment had to move to a new site. Feldenkrais arrived during that move, amid what must have been a logistical nightmare. In November 1 940, two hundred railway cars moved the machinery and experimental gear. Albert Freedman was with the Establishment in Portland before the move: [Most of us] didn't know anything much about it except that we were going to move. And then a special train was laid down and we were taken up overnight and landed up in someplace where the accents were all strange and difficult to hear and that was in Glasgow. And then after awhile, the train backed out and went around ro what I then found out was a place called Fairlie. It was a village by the sea. 20

By November, temperatures in Scotland already hovered just above freezing. It was not quite winter there when Feldenkrais stepped off a coal-burning steam train into a foggy morning at the Scottish village of Fairlie in Ayrshire. Fairlie occupies a narrow strip of the western Scottish coast along the Firth of Clyde, the broad islanded inlet from the Irish Sea that narrows toward Glasgow into the river Clyde. Just behind the town, hills rise steeply to about 1 5 00 feet. The region's earliest history appears in a treaty in 1 09 8 between Edgar, King of Scots, and Magnus Barefoot, King of Norway. The treaty ceded the region to the Norwegian crown. Its violation led to a Viking invasion in 1 263 of the town of Largs, a couple miles north of Fairlie. It is still commemo­ rated in September of every year at the Largs Viking Festival. When the staff of the HMS Osprey Anti-Submarine Experimental Establishment arrived in Fairlie, the village numbered barely a thousand inhab­ itants. It became a familiar j oke in Fairlie that the A/SEE staff were the first foreigners Fairlie had seen since those Vikings in 1 263. Though Fairlie's typi­ cally reserved and provincial Scots compared the coming of the three hundred naval personnel and civilian scientists to a foreign invasion, Fairlie's isolation was a relative thing; it possessed a long maritime history of fishing, ship­ building, and trade, as well as smuggling among the deep lochs and scattered islands along the firth's convoluted coast. The First World War had already brought a handful of naval installations to the area, establishing precedents for the numerous naval and submarine warfare facilities that came with the Second World War. The Fairlie Establishment was j oined from Portland by the


headquarters of the sprawling Anti-Submarine Training School a t Dunoon , 40 miles north across the firth. Also forty miles north o f Fairlie, but on the same side of the firth were the Royal Navy Torpedo Factory and the Torpedo Experimental Establishment at Greenock; another 20 miles north up the firth was the Armament Depot at Coulport. West, across the firth from Fairlie, on the large island of Bute-where Magnus Barefoot had established his castle­ was the major submarine base at Port Bannatyne. Finally, along the coast 70 miles south of Fairlie, there was the Prestwick Royal Naval Air Station. The role of the A/SEE at Fairlie was meant to be strictly limited to research and development of acoustic countermeasures against submarines-with a primary focus on echo-locating asdic (sonar) instrumentation. 21 But the most interesting part of the Fairlie story may be how the scientists were led into projects well outside their assigned objective. Pre-war, Fairlie's claim to fame was the Fife shipbuilding yards. Three gen­ erations of Fifes over the span of a hundred and fifty years earned a reputation as shipwrights. At first they built fishing vessels and steamships. But by the end of the 1 8 00s the large racing yachts designed and built by " Fife's of Fairlie" were famous the world over.22 According to Eric Barnes, who came to work there from Portland: When the war broke out. .. the yard was left more or less empty, and that's when the British Admiralty took it over and it became the Anti-Submarine Experimental Establishment . . . The buildings were originally the yacht building yards . . . j ust wood structures, nothing really substantial. The laboratory itself was one of their molding blocks for the yachts . . . and all these buildings now have been demolished. 23

Albert Freedman worked there too. He remembers that, some members of the Establishment had gone up in advance of us and [were] given powers as billeting officers and they would say to people, "Have you got two beds to spare in your house?" And they would allocate people to go to a private house of one sort or another. The married ones . . . were billeted in slightly different types of places [than the] maj ority of young, unmarried people who were working at Fairlie. Not that far away from Fairlie there was a bigger place, the town of Largs. A lot of people were billeted there. 24

Gwen Barnes, a Fairlie native, found clerical work at the Establishment and later married Eric, who had come up from Portland: [When] we realized that all these scientists and all these people were coming to invade us, we were all quite concerned, [but] everybody mixed in altogether and it was really a very happy time. We had a lovely time. It was very nice.25

Yona came to Fairlie, and part of the time lived with Moshe there. Albert Freedman visited them:

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6


On the occasion when I went to tea with [them] , . . . they seemed to be an ordinary married couple, getting on with things together. She was nice, friendly and hospitable. 26

Yona completed her internship and pediatric residency while still in Paris. Now she joined the pediatric staff at a hospital in Glasgow, and divided her time between quarters in Glasgow and the rooms she shared with Moshe in Fairlie. Travel between Glasgow and Fairlie on the sparsely scheduled trains took well over an hour each way. From Fairlie Feldenkrais kept i n touch with his fa mily in Palestine. For the p resent Moshe and Yon a seemed out of harm's way, but they worried about Malka. Moshe heard news from his sister in July of 1 94 1 , and relayed to the family that M alka and David were safe in free France . He later learned that Malka, hiding i n France, participated i n the French Resistance movement. His salary fr o m the Adm iralty, and Yon a's income fr o m her hospital position , allowed Moshe to frequently send some m o n ey to his p arents and b ro ther. 27 Moshe and Yona, Gwen Barnes recalled, lived with a Mr. and Mrs. McNeil . . . he was a builder. . . and they had a son, John. Moshe used to come to work on his bike, through the village. He had lots of friends. He was always very j ovial, good humored, laughed a lot. 28

According to Albert Freedman: In the establishment there were a lot of young, single men and [it] was a big friendly group. And [it was] the normal thing, if one was . . . part of the group, that the name would be altered to end with the "E" sound. For instance, I was "Freedy. " Another chap, Rushwood, " Rushy. " And Feldenkrais, " Feldy. " Feldenkrais wasn't really one of that same group in that he was a bit older, but it showed some affection that he was called in that particular way. . . . He was a strong person with much stamina, and he flaunted it . . . . He was always a firm person who thought things through, [came] out with some idea of what he wanted to do, and then [pushed it] through to fruition.29

Albert and Moshe were perhaps the only Jews in Fairlie at the time. "I don't recall others at Fairlie. I suppose that was partly a reason for some affinity with Moshe. "30 According to Jennifer Duff, a Fairlie native, Moshe was "very striking, he had charisma, and it was a small village, so everybody knew him . "3 1 N o doubt many things brought people together in Fairlie. The Fairlie Scots, despite a veneer of taciturnity, opened their hearts to the hard-working scien­ tists. And the scientists forged camaraderie out of the long hours of exacting teamwork doing their bit to "save our boys' lives" and win the war. As Albert Freedman remembered:


We used t o work 5 days a week. We were working till . . . 6 or later. And then most evenings, we had to come back for more training . . . . So we had quite long work­ ing hours. And then Saturday mornings was also part of the working period.3 2

Gwen and Eric Barnes said: The establishment itself had two heads or two branches; that was the Chief Scientist responsible for all of the civilian research development work and . . . a Royal Navy Captain who was i n command o f all the application side. S o the establishment was split between civilian and naval. . . . But the Civilian and Navy sides were very intermingled.33

Even fifty years later, Fairlie scientists were hesitant to speak about their work. During the war they were subj ect to the Official Secrets Act, which was intended to keep "loose lips" from "sinking ships. " Gradually they warmed up and shared their experiences with me. Willem Hackmann's book, Seek and Strike, published in 1 984, gives many details that were hitherto classified. The scientific work at Fairlie, under the Chief Scientist, was organized into three divisions. The largest part by far was Experiment and Development, headed by Anthony Law. Experiment and D evelopment produced and deployed more than two dozen models of asdic sets used during the war, as well as the logistics and instruction concerning their use. J . O . Davis headed the Design division. Their task was to design the experimental equipment, the prototype asdic sets, and the modifications and upgrades for existing sets in the field. 34 Because of his background in physics, Feldenkrais was appointed to the third division, Research. It was led by the French scientist Paul Vigoureux, who was barely a year older than Moshe. Vigoureux and Feldenkrais were among the few French-speaking scientists at Fairlie. In 1 93 7 Vigoureux had published the still-cited seven-volume work, Principles ofElectric and Magnetic Measurements, and thereafter focused on marine acoustical conditions and measurements . Fairlie's Research Division investigated the transducers that used electricity for producing bursts of sound directed to echo from submerged objects, and the transducers that translated sound into electrical signals. They also researched the propagation and measurement of underwater sound under the ocean's shifting conditions. Of all the objectives of the Fairlie Establishment, the man­ date to do pure research was most compromised by the exigencies of the war. Again and again the Research division was drawn into the nuts and bolts of actual weapons design.35 The military side of the Fairlie Establishment was headed by a captain with a staff of four Naval Application Officers, who made sure that the apparatus under development met . . . requirements, and who organized tactical exercises and sea trials.36

G R EAT B R I TA I N , I 9 4 0 - I 9 4 6

I 73

The facilities at Fairlie were well suited to practical testing. The laboratory itself was situated close to Fairlie Pier, in the Largs Channel with a depth of 2 5 fathoms. This made it possible to conduct experiments with submarines from the laboratory or from one of the floating [docks] . A most important innovation was the construction of a Traj ectory Range in 1 94 1 , for measuring the underwater paths of [anti-submarine] weapons. It was the only range of its kind and was used by all branches of the Services , including the [Royal Air Force] and the Fleet Air Arm.37

Fairlie's close involvement with that weapons testing range contributed to what some saw as overextending its mission into weapons design. Feldenkrais spent much time aboard ships and submarines at the Trajectory Range and also aboard the Dunvegan, a ship named after the castle on the Isle of Skye. The Dunvegan was perhaps the last iron-hulled ship in the world. It was permanently anchored at Fairlie, and served the Establishment as a floating laboratory.3 8 But as Moshe made his way on the vessel's slippery and unsteady decks, it often exacerbated the knee problems from his old soccer inj ury. Each time his work at sea laid him up in bed, he used the time for rethinking his ideas about healing and recovery, learning and adaptation. In the last part of this chapter we will try to reconstruct Feldenkrais's pivotal investigations and explore some of the far-reaching results of his experimentation. The German submarine assault o n British shipping required a rapid response from the A/SEE. At first they hastily upgraded and redesigned the First World War's ASDICs and mass-produced them for deployment. In May of 1 94 1 , research and development began on an entirely new generation of asdic. Meanwhile the evolving tactics and weaponry used by the Germans demanded additional technological and operational development. The staff at Fairlie found themselves designing numerous upgrades for installation in preexisting sets. They incorporated piecemeal the features that they were devel­ oping for the new sets. Finally in the summer of 1 942, the Type 1 44 asdic went into service.39 Winston Churchill's expectations of asdic for protecting Allied shipping were high. Demonstrations impressed him with the "clarity and force" of their indications. But in the end he remarked that he had "forgot. . . how broad are the seas," and concluded: "ASDICs did not conquer the U-boat; but without the ASDICs the U-boat would not have been conquered."4 0 In fact, the entire situation of submarine warfare proved too complex for the success of any single approach. As soon as the British asdic became more effective, German tactics and technology adapted. The Establishment scientists had a chance to see what they were up against in August 1 94 1 . A lucky break enabled capture of the U - 5 7 0 . The submarine was brought to Fairlie fo r exhaustive analysis. Feldenkrais belonged t o the team researching underwater sound, and they were astonished to discover the sophistication of the massive



arrays of hydrophones fitted to the German submarine. Those "underwater ears" let the U-boats hear a ship's engines or asdic signals and take evasive action long before the ASDICs could register their presence. When British ASDICs improved, German submarines forsook the depths and moved at night, on the surface, where AS DICs could not register. And when the Allies developed airborne Leigh lights and radar to spot them on the surface, the Germans invented the schnorkel, which allowed U-boats to cruise under power j ust beneath the water, where the water turbulence near the surface masked identification. Although ASDICs were mostly used by ships, Fairlie also designed and deployed Harbor Defense AS D I Cs (H DAs) . The early sets were installed on the seabed of a harbor and controlled from ashore. But the Admiralty worried that small, one-man submarines could penetrate harbor defenses. They passed the problem on to Fairlie. Sure enough, in December of 1 94 1 Italian "human torpedoes" made daring attacks o n Alexandria and Gibraltar. More were feared. Feldenkrais was one of the research scientists marshaled into the program to design a new type of H DA. British asdic sets had relied almost entirely on producing sound with quartz-based transducers. But harbor defense and small object detection called for something different. In H . F. Willis's team , Feldenkrais worked with magnetostriction transducers . These pulse sound from the force produced when a surrounding magnetic field induces strain in a metal such as nickel or iron. The original unit, Type 1 3 5 , was specialized for harbor defense. It was designed within a remarkably short time, and Feldenkrais spoke proudly later of its rapid deployment to Gibraltar.41 Unlike the older HDAs, it was portable and could serve as a pattern for designing other kinds of specialized ASDICs. Among these were Type 1 39 , used on small patrol craft and minesweepers, and Type 1 5 0 , adapted to landing craft for detecting rocks and other obstacles on beach approaches. Combined Operations demolition parties employed twenty-five of the Type 1 5 0 sets to clear obstacles prior to the Allied Normandy landings on D-Day.4 2 Earlier, Feldenkrais's engineering background led to his selection for work on Van de Graaff accelerators in the Curie laboratory; now it made him a logical candidate among the scientists at Fairlie fo r proj ects that involved design. Besides being drawn into H . F. Willis's group to work on harbor defense ASDICs, he evidently worked on features of the asdic sets that were far removed from the official mandate of the Research Division. One distinctive feature of the British asdic sets was range recorders, a type of chart recorder similar to a seismograph. These used rolls of paper pulled across a plotting stylus by a tractor-feed mechanism, like the mechanism used to roll film in a movie proj ector-but moving only during the interval between the asdic sound and its echo. The operator, by reading a sequence of such intervals, could cue the ship to close on its target, and signal when weapons should be

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6


used. Range recorders i n the Type 1 44 asdic could even b e set to automatically fire ahead-thrown weapons at specific ranges. Because the paper in the recorder had to start and stop often, but required a constant rate of transport when in motion to allow usable comparisons between echoes, paper handling in the range recorders posed interesting problems. Feldenkrais likely worked on the paper-handling mechanism of the range recorders, because he later applied for a patent on a tractor-feed solution that he believed would be generally applicable to printing on rolls of paper. The scientists and engineers at Fairlie found time for a remarkable range of interests that were outside the agenda of the war effort. According to David Boston, one of Moshe's coworkers on the harbor defense ASDICs, We used to cycle a lot and Moshe had a bicycle, and I remember him claiming to me he could go up any hill in top gear on his bicycle . . . he didn't quite make it, but he nearly did. 43

Feldenkrais's dedicatio n to bicycling j oined his penchant fo r designing gadgets: he invented a pump that inflated his bicycle tires while he rode it. It was a homeostatic control device, like a thermostat. As with the range recorders that actuated weapons firing, his pump was regulated by a feedback loop. It compared tire pressure to a desired set point. Such simple feedback loops are the point of departure for cybernetics, an engineering paradigm beginning to emerge in the 1 940s. Moshe's later somatic work would incorporate detailed awareness of the role of feedback loops in posture and movement. He would broadly emphasize the crucial role of information flow for all learning and functioning. It may have been in Fairlie that he first engaged as an engineer with cybernetic technologies. Technical ingenuity accompanied recreational activities at Fairlie: We had quite an active amateur dramatic society. We used to put on plays, usually comedy and light entertainment, nothing too heavy, in the village hall. And all the local village people used to flock in to see us perform. 44

Clifford Chalker was a research scientist and cinematographer. One of his central roles was filming the tests at the Trajectory Range. Exact synchronization of sound and image was essential. He later became a cinematographer for the Royal Family. Chalker used to make sound recordings of the amateur productions on glass discs. He was a close friend of Feldenkrais's at Fairlie and together they explored issues involved in recording and synchronizing sound for film soundtracks. Chalker helped Moshe get work directing research for Pioneer Film, a company that made documentary films about the effects of the war on domestic life. Several scientists were musicians. They formed a dance band that played in the style of Glenn Miller at the ballroom in nearby Largs. Jennifer Duff, a friend of the Barneses, recalls:


There was a lot o f excitement to all these strangers coming into our midst and they added a little life to the village, they had a band and used to hold regular dances and of course everybody went and we had a j olly good time. There were about ten of them. They were all members of the Establishment, and they had one of the local girls who was a vocalist. 4 5

Eric Barnes played in another, very much more [amateur group] . It was basically an accordion band. We had about six piano accordionists and a drummer. We had to learn how to perform some of the Scottish dances. 46

Gwen Barnes recalled that the Fairlie staff didn't know anything about Scottish country dancing. I mean it's very energetic. It was quite funny really to watch the people who came up to try and learn the steps get angry. 4 7

O n e moonlit Saturday night, mid-March o f 1 94 1 , during one o f the weekend dances, the war came perilously close to Fairlie. German bombers, on their way home from the infamous blitz of the Clydebank shipbuilding yards, about twenty-five miles from Fairlie, jettisoned two of the half-ton land mines that they had used to reduce Clydebank to ruins.4 8 The mines, borne to earth by parachutes, detonated on the hillside behind Fairlie, inundating the entire village with dense clouds of dust.49 There was more excitement later, in May 1 94 1 , as Jennifer Duff remembered, because " Rudolf Hess came down in a plane on the hills j ust above our village. " 5 0 Social events were not the dominant pastime of many off-duty Establishment scientists. Albert Freedman belonged to a group that studied German, perhaps in anticipation of an invasion: [We] used to get together once a week, and we would read German plays, recite poetry, things of that nature. The idea was not to speak English through the entire course of the evening. 51

There were gatherings where scores of scientists presented performances, concerts , lectures, and classes involving their varied interests. Feldenkrais attended lectures based on his colleagues' scientific specializations, as well as on other topics ranging from classical music to psychology. I n psychology alone, Freudian, Jungian, and Adlerian strains were all independently represented. 5 2 Feldenkrais probably delighted in the chance to wrangle with advocates of each. Perhaps such encounters taught him that his own approach, on balance, possessed more affinity with the Adlerian psychol­ ogy, which gave positive emphasis to development and to interpretations based on the sense of potency that qualified one's self-image. As Adler put it:

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6


To me it appears that every child, indeed every human being, for some reason, is continually striving to answer questions, to overcome difficulties, to solve rid­ dles, and to develop himself in some degree towards a self-satisfying completion, the full achievement of his life purpose. No matter what may be the age of an individual, you will find tendencies which have their beginnings-if one may venture to use the phrase-in the dawn of life, and which, by their persistence, ever demand a development to a higher level.53

Nevertheless, o f all the post-Freudians, Feldenkrais found i n Paul Schilder the most "kindred approach" as we will explore in later chapters. A psychoan­ alyst, neuroscientist, clinician, and phenomenologist, Schilder was one of the few analysts seriously committed to a scientific understanding of the nervous system and who believed in the importance of the body and movement to the psyche. During his years in Fairlie, Feldenkrais shared much of the common war­ time experience of the British people: rationing, blackouts, vigilant secrecy and security measures, and the daily suspense over what the war would bring next. Gwen Barnes recalled, We all had ration books. It was a half a pound of butter a week, that sort of thing. And we had to make do with dried egg powder that was imported from America.5 4

According to Eric Barnes: The ships had no lights and they used to j ust slip out. Everybody was suspicious of everybody else. "Careless talk costs lives, " and then a picture of a sinking merchant ship. In other words, if you talk too loudly, somebody will hear it and pass the information along. All this sort of thing went on . . . Moshe maybe would have been treated a little bit with suspicion. By local people if not from the Establishment authorities.55

The British government discouraged all travel that was unrelated to the war effort. They especially restricted the movements of those who, like the Fairlie scientists, were engaged in strategic military work. But the scientists' isolation created an opportunity to forge their own learning community. It was not the first time that Feldenkrais benefited from an informal and impromptu learning environment. In Palestine, except for the two years required at the gymnasium, he spent more time reading in his tent than studying in school, more time in cafes learning from his Haganah and construction fellow­ ship than he did in the classroom. In Paris, the educational innovations that Marie Curie pioneered in conj unction with her laboratories served as another model of learning outside the academy, as did the recently improvised classes and lectures given by the detainees in the internment camps on the Isle of Man. His frequent experience was that the best education didn't require a teacher.


Fairlie reinforced h i s faith in t h e primacy of "organic learning, " self­ education directed by personal initiative rather than societal expectations. Feldenkrais made the most of the educational opportunities afforded through the community at Fairlie and, at the same time, he embarked on a remarkable range of initiatives to share his own knowledge and explorations. Bill Halliday, also a physicist, was Moshe's immediate superior in the Underwater Sound team: When he first came, it was as an Admiralty physicist, but of course he started talking about j udo . . . He was very clever how he interested all the scientists in j udo; he would go around to people's homes and demonstrate on their carpets . . . . H e kept the scientists interested by always supplying the mechanical explanation of the various throws. 5 6

There is little doubt that such explanations included j udo's sophisticated understanding of balance, as excerpted from ABC du judo (jiu-jitsu) in the previous chapter. Feldenkrais first held j udo classes for the Fairlie staff on the Establishment premises: After work at the Establishment, he would go, by himself largely, get up all the mats and things, which is not a small job, and set up the whole floor for the Judo practice and then he'd be [doing) Judo training with individuals. He'd work around everybody there as well as I can recall. 57

In 1 940- 1 94 1 , Moshe found time, between teaching j udo, doing research, attending lectures, or spending time with Yona and their friends, to complete his manuscript for a new j udo book. The failed negotiations with British publisher Frederick Warne in 1 934 for producing his English revision of the Hebrew jiujitsu had disappointed Moshe. But the publisher left the door open for him to submit another book. "They made the counter-suggestion , " that he write "a complete treatise on Judo. " Now, from Scotland, seven years later, he re-approached them victoriously. 58 judo: The Art ofDefense and Attack was a more complete treatise on j udo than his modest, French booklet, ABC du judo (jiu-jitsu). The new judo remained in print for many decades. Moshe's appar­ ent aim was to cumulatively publish a complete treatment of j udo, as Kano had intended. His 1 9 5 1 Higher judo was more detailed and ambitious than judo. And he announced in his introduction to judo pour ceintures noires [Judo for black belts] , that it was to be the first of a four-book series. 59 When judo was reprinted years later, a review in the Budokwai Bulletin stated: The author is writing mainly for the beginner who, while able to practice with other students at the same stage of experience, is without regular tuition by a rec­ ognized teacher. . . Dr. Feldenkrais succeeds in the difficult task he has set himself about as well as it can be done . . . The text is admirably clear and concise. 60

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6


The reviewer's initials-£. R-S .-suggest h e was Moshe's Fairlie friend, Ralph Serle. judo evolved from a collaborative effort between Feldenkrais and his teacher, Mikinosuke Kawaishi. They worked fo r nearly two years on the proj ect, until The occupation of Paris unfortunately brought to an abrupt end our long and instructive collaboration since I founded the Jiu-Jitsu Club de France. 61

The reviewer observed that the book was fully illustrated by remarkably faithful d rawings p ro duced by the "silver point" p rocess from photographs of M r. Kawaishi and the author taken before the war. 62

Had Feldenkrais managed to stow some of the wonderful originals in the suitcase he recovered from his channel crossing? Feldenkrais's introduction casts j udo in its properly philosophical light. In addition to being a basic "culture of the body" that is foundational for all physical skills, j udo advances an ethical and aesthetic view of life. Using adjec­ tives like "pretty, " "beautiful, " and "graceful" for many techniques, Moshe invites the reader to share his aesthetic appreciation of judo. He stresses that j udo has the "paramount aim of enabling men and women to have perfect control over mind and body. " 63 He echoes Coue when he explains why stress is put on the word mental. The reason is that in Judo the body is edu­ cated to respond faithfully and materialize the mental image of the desired act. 64

Extolling j udo's abundant benefits, Feldenkrais tells how it helps to achieve "ever-readiness to meet any emergency" ; " being and a sense o f rhythm" ; "co-ordination" ; [and becoming] "magnificently equipped fo r any emergency in life . . . graceful, alert and strong. " 6 5

Much o f the book describes "throws, " those ingenious applications o f practical physics that enable a smaller, lighter man, t o upset and control the balance and movement of a larger opponent. judo presents fourteen throws in all, and some receive repeated treatment. There are six leg throws, four hip throws, three shoulder throws, and one "sacrifice" throw, or sutemi, so named because "You apparently sacrifice a safe position. " 66 Feldenkrais focuses on one particular example of sutemi in lesson nine, his final chapter on technique, called " Tomoe-Nage, generally known as [a] stomach throw. " He deems it "perhaps the most outstanding Judo throw, " 67 and "not only the most spec­ tacular throw of Judo but one of the most efficient throws. " 68 As the photo demonstrates, the throw is, indeed, a spectacle to behold. Although the throws and other techniques are eminently practical for self­ defense, Feldenkrais emphasizes the non-competitive environment of j udo



training. The aim is learning and " [it] should not be a question of who wins so much as how it is won. " 69 judo included some "mechanical explanation of the various throws, " as Bill Halliday learned from Feldenkrais's live teaching. Concerning the science of a throw, Moshe reminds the reader: "Work is measured by the product of the force and the distance along which the fo rce works . " Thus, because of the physics of a hip throw, "only a little physical exertion is necessary to lift even a very heavy opponent. Any girl will learn, in one or two lessons under expert tuition, to lift and throw a man of 1 5 to 1 7 stones [2 1 0-238 pounds] or more . " Moshe provides the mathematics and physics, illustrated with dia­ grams, to explain why "the straightening of only slightly bent knees is, in this case, the most efficient use of your strength."70 Chapter 2 describes how new skills complete and enhance a person's self­ image. Even a cursory examination ofjudo's illustrations reveals movements and postures often absent from people's everyday activities: moving comfortably on the floor, whether sitting, lying or rolling; standing on one or both knees; sitting on the heels; standing and balancing on one leg; doing forward and backwards rolls; fast movement; and falling. Feldenkrais came to recognize how essential movement variety is for the enhancement of people's ordinary lives . Later in this chapter, and in the ones that follow, we'll see how he incorporated j udo positions and movements into his Awareness Through Movement lessons. What was Moshe's attitude toward the rituals within the culture ofJapanese martial arts training? He left Jewish practices behind at the age of fourteen, but his j udo experience may have renewed an appreciation for ritual. Adhering to Japanese culture, he instructs the reader to "bow before and after Randori, and also before starting a bout and to finish it."71 He later affirmed the importance of ritual on social and personal rather than religious grounds: bowing beauti­ fully expresses respect for the other and dedication to the highest values of practice. 7 2 During the war, most of England's civilians j oined the Home Guard, local defense units under military supervision. They served the wartime mobiliza­ tion, and stood as a precaution in case of a German invasion. The village of Fairlie and the A/SEE itself each had its own Home Guard unit. Feldenkrais first taught j udo for the A/SEE unit, and then added classes for their families and the natives of Fairlie. Most of the Fairlie staff, and many in the commu­ nity, attended his classes in the evenings and on the weekends. The classes took place, according to memories of the locals, in two venues, a hall in one of the town's churches and a space provided by a village school.73 A demand for Feldenkrais's classes soon spread beyond the Home Guard to the military. One of his j udo pupils was Lieutenant Felix G. Apthorpe, commander of Fairlie's Home Guard platoon. After attending a few classes, he approached Feldenkrais "with the request to teach his men unarmed combat. "74 When he asked for classes in "unarmed combat," Apthorpe didn't mean j udo,

G R EAT B R I TA I N , I 9 4 0 - I 9 4 6

per se, but a more condensed, time-efficient course i n self-defense. Feldenkrais had experience teaching courses of exactly that type in Palestine-perhaps in Paris, too, for Jewish self-defense groups. The mounting level of interest surprised Feldenkrais: After a few lessons another platoon in the vicinity j oined in. In a few months practically the whole battalion [had] been trained . . . . I t was not practicable t o satisfy demands coming from farther and farther away. . . "

Unable to meet the military's requests for classes, he decided to create and disseminate another self-defense manual, "compiled . . . as a guide for those to whom I cannot give personal attention. "75 Feldenkrais, characteristically, could not repeat himself; his inner imperative was to grow, innovate, and improve on what he'd done before. His self­ defense course in Palestine combined his experience with j iuj itsu training and manuals and his research into spontaneous defensive reactions. The techniques and pedagogical approach in his Scottish classes-and outlined in his new booklet-marked a radical departure from that earlier teaching. The new approach brought accumulated expertise and his evolving ideas about learning. His manual was geared to Britain's immanent civil defense crisis. Practical Unarmed Combat was published in 1 942 by Frederick Warne & Co. , which had released judo the year before. Donald Herbert, a colleague a t the Establishment, shot the photographs. Feldenkrais demonstrated techniques with Sergeant R. D . Keynes and Corporal Hughes . His friend Eric Barnes also took part in the demonstrations, but doesn't appear in the illustrations. Moshe makes his purpose plain at the outset, to present: [A] system based on a simple movement which can be learned by everybody: men and women, old and young, for it demands no special feats of strength, swiftness or general fitness.76

The movement at the b asis o f the system was a deadly "neck lock, " o r chokehold, which compresses the throat, and "exerts a constriction of the windpipe (trachea) ," and which also pulls "the vertebrae of [the] neck power­ fully apart. "77 Feldenkrais was no stranger to chokehold attacks. Although his first self­ defense book, jiujitsu, didn't contain chokeholds, it had enumerated defensive tactics to counter such attacks. His recent, judo taught five examples of "the art of strangling, " or Shime- Wtzza, presumably learned from Kawaishi. In Judo, he anticipated his readers' reservations about using strangleholds: [They] may sound brutal to the European ear but [a] ttacking the throat is one of the most common methods of fighting in the animal world. You cannot possibly leave out this way of Nature in an all-round science of attack and Defense.78



In the light o f the immediate threat felt b y his readers, Practical Unarmed Combat teaches the choke techniques unflinchingly. judo explored details that are not given space in Practical Unarmed Combat. Feldenkrais describes there the anatomy of the neck region, including impor­ tant nerves, muscles, veins, arteries, and bones, and includes the physiological reasons for the hold's effectiveness: Compression of the carotid artery stops blood circulating to the brain; that of the sympathetic trunk and vagus causes spasmodic contraction of the heart, lungs, and diaphragm.79

Feldenkrais selected the chokehold because it was effective and relatively easy to learn: In a fortnight or so, the whole body of a service, the Home Guard or others could be trained and made ready for an emergency which may be imminent. 8 0

The movement offers several advantages: It is easy to secure, it works against a much stronger opponent as well as against a weak one; [and] you are in safety while applying it. In short you can depend on it. 81

Feldenkrais always based his teaching on firsthand knowledge. He probably experienced being choked to the point of unconsciousness under Kawaishi's tutelage. It was a rite of passage in j udo for teachers to put black belt students unconscious with a chokehold, and then revive them. This was part of learn­ ing j udo methods of resuscitation, used to bring people back to consciousness. Practical Unarmed Combat omits mention of resuscitation techniques; judo refers to them, but doesn't describe them. 82 Did Feldenkrais intend to maintain the tradition of secrecy that has surrounded such techniques? Or perhaps he j udged that it was simply not practical (or safe) to describe them in a book. 83 Apart from its utilitarian value, Practical Unarmed Combat reveals Feldenkrais's evolving ideas about learning. We will see him generalizing these concepts to all kinds of learning. Consider his decision to focus on a single movement with many variations: The advantages of such a condensed system are very substantial for, in a lesson lasting one hour, a single movement can be repeated at least a hundred times; then in the following lessons this movement appears repeatedly in unexpected modes and applications through which a keen interest is maintained during the entire course. By the time this is completed one has repeated the fundamen­ tal movement more than a thousand times, which is sufficient to attain a high degree of skill in its performance. There being only one movement which is so familiar, little conscious effort is necessary to b ring it instantaneously into action. [And there is] no room left for making mistakes as to the choice of an appropriate movement. 8 4

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6

Feldenkrais's thinking recalls the work of Nicholai Aleksandrovich Bernstein ( 1 896- 1 966) , a Russian physician and researcher who, contemporaneous with Moshe, theorized about the learning of skills. Both were years ahead of their time and shared much in their approach. As Bernstein wrote: A moror skill is not a movement fo rmula and certainly not a fo rmula o f permanent muscle forces imprinted in some motor center. Motor skill is a n ability to solve o n e or another type of motor problem. It becomes clear now, how tremendous the work for the nervous system is during the development of such a skill, how many deviations, variations, and special cases it must actually meet or consider. .. The learned movement must be actually performed many times in order to actually experience all the sensations which form the basis for its sensory corrections. It must be performed many times to allow the brain's sensory areas to become acquainted with all the variety for deviations and modifications and to combine a "vocabulary" for all future recipherings . Certainly, the most sensible and correct training would be organized in a way that combined a minimization of effort with a large variety of well-designed sensations and that created optimal conditions for meaningfully absorbing and memorizing all these sensations. 85 . . . The essence and obj ective of exercise is to improve the movements, that is, to change them. Therefore, correct exercise is in fact a repetition without repetition . . . . The point is that during a correctly organized exercise, a student is repeating many times, not the means for solving a given motor problem, but the process of its solution, the changing and improving of the means. 86

More recently, developmental psychologist Esther Thelen ( 1 94 1 -2004) has articulated a Bernsteinian point of view, stating that the "hallmark of skill" is both its stability, or reliability, and its "adaptive flexibility. " 87 Feldenkrais's ninety-six-page manual addressed these dual concerns o f stability and adaptability. Regarding the neck lock, flexibility of response accrues from practicing an extensive range of "modes and applications" in the various situations one might meet in combat. In lesson one, the opponent sits, and one approaches him from behind. The opponent stands in the second and third lessons, and the approach can be either from behind or facing him. Lessons four through six contain knife defenses, and seven through ten oppose a combatant who carries a bayonet. The stability, or reliability, of the learning stems from practicing thousands of repetitions under varying circumstances. Feldenkrais's methods retained a core Bernsteinian conception, which found its full unfolding in the Awareness Through Movement classes he taught from the late 1 940s through the early 1 980s. He instilled learning's flexibility and stability through deploying-incredibly-over three thousand different lessons, each one of which included approximately twenty-four movement variations. While many movement scientists and therapists have recently embraced Bernstein's point of view, Feldenkrais's extension of Bernsteinian


principles is without parallels in other systems of movement education or therapeutic exercises. In Practical Unarmed Combat, Feldenkrais devotes a small chapter-called "Warning" -to instructions for reducing the dangers in learning its techniques. We will hear the echo of such instructions in the guidelines he later gives for practicing the incomparably gender system of Awareness Through Movement. Whatever the action, the keys to learning are the same: Hurry creates confusion. Very little speed is gained by trying to go too fast. Real speed is gained by simple, smooth and well [-] balanced movements . The only way of acquiring these is repetition-calm repetition-especially in the beginning. 88

Slow movement helps the learner to satisfy Bernstein's criteria of "experiencing all the sensations" and the "minimization of effort . " When faced by a blade, minimizing muscular effort is signally crucial: Carry yourself easily, b reathe normally and don't stiffen your m uscles. It is astonishing how much more simply and easily one does things breathing freely and with the face relaxed, especially the lower j aw. 89

Feldenkrais takes account of conditions as remote as the harsh Russian winters still with him in memory. The book closes with: Nothing was said about the effectiveness of the lock . . . against opponents heavily clad in winter clothes, thick furs , several pairs of thick socks and felt or fur­ padded j ack-boots, as used on the Russian front in winter time. Punching, kicking, or elaborate locks and twists are obviously not of any use here, while the neck lock is as effective as ever.9 0

It may be instructive to compare Practical Unarmed Combat with his earlier self-defense books, and the nearly contemporaneous Judo. The first two lessons in Practical Unarmed Combat, which begin with the opponent sitting or standing, resemble the fourth and fifth strangleholds in judo. The throws-so prominent in judo are conspicuously absent in Practical Unarmed Combat; he must have judged throws to require more training than his short course permitted. In place of throws, most techniques in Practical Unarmed Combat include some kind of takedown, except for the knife and bayonet defenses in lessons five, eight, and nine. Following takedowns, many lessons involve grappling on the ground. Feldenkrais's earlier self-defense books predated his training in judo. The more-refined techniques in Practical Unarmed Combat depend less on brute strength and show us what he found expedient to borrow from j udo. The methods for meeting a bayonet attack probably came from j udo's traditional weapons techniques, which in turn derived from the classical Samurai defenses against swords or sticks. His knife defense is similar in both earlier and later -

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6

self-defense manuals. But the compilation of diverse tactics in the earlier books contrast with the single effective movement that functioned as a seed for his system in Practical Unarmed Combat. Historical necessity framed a similar purpose for Practical Unarmed Combat and the original self-defense book for the Haganah in Palestine. Even while Moshe was teaching self-defense in the United Kingdom, members of the Resistance were putting to use his French self-defense book. Feldenkrais discov­ ered this many years later, when he and David Ben-Gurion attended a Tel Aviv performance given by the great mime, Marcel Marceau. As Moshe recalled, We went behind the stage to see him. [Marceau] said, " Feldenkrais, that's my teacher. " I said, "How can I be your teacher? I never saw you in my life." He said, "Your book, La Defense du Faible . . . in the French Resistance everyone had it. I had it under my pillow in the bed all [during the war] . It's the most important book that we had. We learned things from it that were the most useful things we had. It's the most practical book, and you're my teacher. "91

Only briefly does Feldenkrais wax philosophical in Practical Unarmed Combat; it is largely a dry training manual , filled with illustrations and instructions. Besides detailing the nuts and bolts of an effective chokehold, however, Feldenkrais does homage to his inspiration, j udo, which "inculcates in the mind and body a special sense of balance and action . "92 He provides a marvelous Samurai story as an anecdotal lesson illustrating how to exploit the inconstancies of attention: A famous expert in the art wished to find out who among his disciples had grasped his teaching most fully. He gathered them and asked the following question. Imagine your sleep disturbed by the noise of footsteps which you realise to be those of your declared enemy. You then hear him cautiously opening the door. He is armed, he glides stealthily into the room, shuts the door to prevent the half light of dawn from waking you up and then proceeds noiselessly towards you. Knowing what you do, what is the precise moment you would rise to attack and destroy your enemy? Can you explain your choice? The answer that made the master happy was . . . that the assailant should be attacked while he is shutting the door. The j ustification of this is that before shutting the door the assailant is all attention and may take up a different line of action as circumstances change. He may even give up for the time being and look out for another opportunity. After shutting the door the odds are too much in his favour considering the recumbent position of the victim. But he will not shut the door until he is satis­ fied that everything is all right. Thus, while shutting the door, his mind moves from caution to the conviction that he has cornered his prey. He has trapped his victim and is so sure of it that he will probably not mind his victim now waking



up, once the door is shut behind him. So before this i s accomplished, and while he is engaged in this action, attack him. This is the moment! Take him unaware at the very moment when he is about to relax, due to the feeling of safety creeping into his mind. This is your chance, for now he is most vulnerable."93

With seemingly every person in Fairlie over the age of thirteen in his j udo classes, Feldenkrais's proselytizing must have been a force to be reckoned with. He established connections with the Scottish Judo Federation and, accompa­ nied by one of his advanced students, traveled locally to hold exhibitions. His demonstrations included an open challenge to members of the audience to match their strength, agility, and even use of weapons against his j udo mastery. Typically, the largest and strongest member of the audience would volunteer­ or be pushed forward-to take up the challenge. Bets were placed, and the oversized challenger would soon find himself on his back, with the short but strong and resourceful Moshe Feldenkrais standing above him.94 Feldenkrais may have emulated his teacher, Kawaishi, who also used these kinds of tough-guy sensational events to promote j udo. " Under the pseud­ onym of 'Matsuda,"' Kawaishi went "on stage to face boxers and wrestlers. " Despite the public attention i t attracted, j udo's elite did not encourage this rather undignified practice. Later, after reports were published of Kawaishi taking o n the legendary Jack Dempsey, when " interviewed by Henry Plee in Judo-Presse, [Kawaishi] remained . . . very discreet. " As Michel Brousse recounted, when journalist Plee prodded Kawaishi: "One spoke of a lot of fights you had with wrestlers," [Kawaishi replied,] "Oh that was such a long rime ago that I do not recall a thing." [When Plee continued,] "We were also told about your fight against the world champion, Jack Dempsey," [Kawaishi said, ] "That was not a fight, only a friendly demonstration that took place at the New York Athletic Club . "95

Kawaishi was not alone in staging sensational exhibition matches fo r promotional purposes . Judo teacher Yukio Tani s e t the pattern j ust after the Russo-Japanese war, promoting j iuj itsu with popular music-hall dem­ onstrations featuring open-ended challenges. Feldenkrais's participation in exhibitions, besides promoting j udo, was likely an outlet for his enjoyment of competition, though he had long since acquired some measure of ambivalence toward it. His soccer inj ury had taught how his competitiveness could some­ times have destructive consequences. But at an exhibition in September 1 942, he accepted a match with a club-wielding adversary and failed to evade one of the blows. It struck his right arm and ruptured his biceps. Mia Segal gives another account of the same event: One day he was challenged by a man with a metal chain, who hit Moshe's arm and tore his biceps. He said it was a noise, a terrible noise when his biceps tore, but Moshe caught him . . . in the other hand and he threw him.9 6

G R EAT B R I TA I N , I 9 4 0 - r 9 4 6

I can supply a third account: Moshe told me how, recumbent on the mat, he pulled a heavy opponent off of him, as everyone in the audience heard a sound like a sheet ripping, as his biceps tore. By all accounts, Moshe won the match, but ended up in hospital.97 Yona arranged for a well-known surgeon at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary to reattach the muscle and suture the wound.9 8 The surgeon was familiarly known as "Jack the Ripper" for his dexterity with a scalpel. "Jack's" expertise, however, was as an abdominal surgeon. He earned his nickname from his skill in opening the entire abdominal cavity with a single swift stroke. The intrica­ cies of shoulders and elbows, unfortunately, fell outside his competence. He botched the j ob, and reattached the muscle in a way that would not allow it to develop proper force for the limb when it contracted, ruining Feldenkrais's biceps forever.99 That unfortunate experience brought home to Feldenkrais at least two lessons : he learned-again-the idiocy of competition , and it added to his reasons for a skeptical regard of medical procedures. He never returned to a surgeon to have his biceps muscle reoperated on. Instead he found alternative ways to rehabilitate himself. He studied the arm's anatomy and learned that another muscle, the brachialis, also flexed the elbow, and could perform the work of his destroyed biceps. He later explained that organisms often possess more than one part that can accomplish the same task. Such redundancy of function affords living creatures extra margins of adaptability. The brachialis muscle normally serves primarily as a rotator for the elbow, with flexion being its secondary function. The role of the biceps is the reverse; it is an elbow flexor, serving secondarily for rotation. Feldenkrais began train­ ing himself to use his brachialis to take over the work of his disabled biceps. He likened his approach to the legends of the ancient Greek Olympian wres­ tler Milo of Crotona. As a boy, Milo began placing a young calf across his shoulders and carried it with him wherever he went. As the calf grew to its full size, Milo's strength increased as well. 1 0 0 Similarly, Moshe wrapped a lead wire around a wooden spool, grasped the spool, and rotated it many times. Each day he wrapped another strand of wire around the spool. The spool weighed little at first and was easy to turn, but after several months many pounds were added to the spool's weight. Feldenkrais enjoyed challenging visitors to turn the spool. No one could, though for him it was easy. Such gradualism, one of the hallmarks of his Method, was reminiscent of Coue's "small and easy steps. " Flying i n the face o f popular "try harder" regimens, Moshe proved that i t was possible to increase strength exponentially, without suffering any discomfort or soreness. The solution to recovering the use of his damaged arm was simple compared with the complexity posed by his knee. We saw in the previous chapter how, despite the seriousness of his original inj ury, Feldenkrais's life style had long continued with few limitations. Rigorous j udo practice had earned him a



second-degree black belt. And except fo r rare painful periods, h e adroitly scaled the stairs to his top-floor Paris apartment. His knee troubles flared up the day that he and Yona escaped Paris. Now, at Fairlie, his knee improved for a while then, maddeningly, grew worse again. His knee was often swollen and painful after walking the wet decks of submarines, the Dunvegan, and other ships at the Establishment Trajectory Range. Whether aggravated by a fall, a misstep, or an inexplicable irritant, the knee bothered him with increasing severity and duratio n . Around the time of his fiasco with "Jack the Ripper, " Moshe's woes pushed him past his reluctance to consult another surgeon , this time a knee specialist. As he told theater directors, Richard and Helen S chechner in a 1 96 5 interview: [In] the difficult moments of my life, during the German invasion of France, and so on, the knee started troubling me and every second day the knee swelled; I couldn't walk. After a few years I went to see a surgeon . He examined the knee, took x-rays and said, "Look, you need an operation. You can't go on like that." I asked, "Is there any likelihood that the operation will not be successful?" He said, "Oh, yes, it's about fifty-fifty. "

The surgeon explained that the operation might leave his knee being unable to bend and straighten properly. "So, I said, 'Goodbye, I won't do it.' He said, 'You can't go on with that knee."' 101 The orthopedist John Chester detailed for me the types of complications associated with Feldenkrais's kind of inj ury: [In Paris] there must have been some residual laxity in the inj ured ligaments and some deformity of the internal meniscus (knee cartilage) . There may have been some residual damage of the lining cartilage of the femur, tibia and patella and occasional trouble from a "joint mouse" (a piece of articular cartilage which floated free in the knee j oint and slowly enlarged with the passing of years) . .. . X-rays would probably have shown what would be termed post traumatic arthritis in the knee and he [would] likely [be] advised that he will have to accept the inevitable discomfort and diminished functional capacity. 1 02

Chester's assessment of risk retrospectively supports Moshe rej ecting surgery: In the 1 930s and one or two decades following, surgical repair of an inj ury like Moshe's would have been the exception. The extremity would have been put in a cast for a long period of time followed by some reconditioning therapy and the further recovery left to the inj ured's own devices. 1 0 3

It galled Feldenkrais how his own foolishness resulted in damaging his arm. He would not voluntarily sacrifice his leg. His physical capacities were dear to his pride and power, essential to his self-image. But his knee trouble now

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6

compromised his life to a point of crisis. I f he could not rely on surgery, he was determined to resolve the problem himself. He believed he could succeed, with sufficient dedication. Here we meet a critical passage in Feldenkrais's life and the development of his work. Moshe said that his intensive explorations in those Scotland years led to what became the Feldenkrais Method. We mentioned earlier how he traced its roots to his tutoring, martial arts, and work with autosuggestion, but his process of working with his knee added essential somatic ingredients, including his focus on kinesthetic self-awareness and learning the use of touch. It would be wonderful to know more about these pivotal years, but we can attempt a reconstruction of his pioneering odyssey from his own remarks, and stories collected from others. When the surgeon couldn't offer good enough odds for a successful repair, he shunned the hospital door. Besides, he reasoned, his knee problems could not simply be medical or mechanical, since he'd functioned well for years after his original inj ury. His problems must stem from factors in his behavior or circumstances. Perhaps how he used his knee was responsible: B efore I had trouble with the knee I had had thirty years experience with it. I spent a lot of time using the knee properly, but eventually I fo rgot that old, good way.

The adaptations that he made coping with his injury had led him to forget, or made him unable to draw upon , skills established before the i nj ury. His habits stood in the way of using his original, more efficient patterns, and now caused his difficulties, not his knee's physical limitations. He discovered I was holding the ground, that I was afraid of slipping with the knee. I was actually making it slip, but I didn't realize it. 1 04

Feldenkrais told us of probing the ways his knee functioned in order to learn how to use it correctly. He combed the current scientific knowledge to supple­ ment what he knew from sports, j iuj itsu, and j udo. David Boston remembers Feldenkrais borrowing his wife's medical texts, and how he immersed himself in anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology. 105 He studied the structures compris­ ing the knee, and the pathologies resulting from injuries like his. As a physicist and engineer, Feldenkrais mentally modeled the knee as though it were a mechanical device. He conducted thought experiments in his imagination where he took the knee apart and reassembled it. The human knee's complexity and hundreds of components made the task daunting: bones, muscles, nerves, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, membranes, fascia, veins, and arteries. He learned to visualize the knee's intricate structures-"600 parts" he told a friend. 106 Moshe examined the knee from the outside and the inside. He felt it was possible to be a scientific observer who included his subjective,


embodied experience o f acting in the world. His comprehensive approach yielded the kind of "thinking that leads to a change of action." By improving his postural-perceptual-movement efficiency, Moshe bypassed his knee's physical limitations so that, in the end, he said, "I began using the knee correctly and I found it easier. " 1 07 But that wasn't the end of it: [After] the knee was all right, I slipped on a banana skin and the whole thing was undone. That gave me a shock, because until that time I thought I was doing only what I had decided to do.

Feldenkrais's ironic humor may be evident enough by now: Moshe likely referred n o t to the skin of the specific fruit, but to something obvious that he shouldn't have overlooked, which p recipitated an unexpected fall. He continued: I discovered that at the moment of the fall I forgot about my theory and did the wrong thing. I slipped like any normal person would. It was new to me that things were happening in me in spite of my own awareness, in spite of my own decision. I realized that I was moving without knowing what I was doing. I acted myself in a crisis. I then saw that most people don't know what they are doing; they j ust don't know that they don't know. So I read a lot of physiology and psy­ chology and to my great astonishment I found that in regard to using the whole human being for action, there was ignorance, superstition, and absolute idiocy. There wasn't a single book that dealt with how we function. r n s

Feldenkrais required a more inclusive vision and penetrating analysis. Forces of habit were stronger than he'd thought, and the role of the environment more crucial. A minor physical shock was sufficient to trigger old patterns. And his knee could be more negatively affected by emotional shocks than by physi­ cal ones. The flare-up of his knee during his escape from Paris was more than coincidence. That day his ground became less stable than the shifting deck of a submarine. The foundations he labored to build for ten years were crumbling under his feet. Family and friendships, professional and academic contacts, his imminent doctorate, his j udo club and livelihood-all were chaos and loss. His life and the lives of his wife and sister were in immediate peril. How could he isolate the functioning of his knee from his entire circumstances? The gravity of the social environment must be given equal weight to nature's gravitational pull. His knee's giving out was but one sign of the physical-social-psychological unity that compromised his ability to stand. Whether they came to conscious awareness or not, the arrival of the Nazis must have triggered memories, biochemical exchanges, and patterns of muscu­ lar contraction associated with his childhood experiences of anti-Semitism and war. His knee problems had a long history by then, and Feldenkrais learned how chronicity can be both the cause and effect of complications related to

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - I 9 4 6

recovery. Typically, h e observed, the shorter its history the easier a problem is to overcome. Longer-lasting problems are more resistant to amelioration, in part because of the extent and depth of the adaptive habits that emerge from coping with trauma. Addressing these issues, Feldenkrais tenaciously researched a gamut o f subjects. H e reflected later that not going t o medical school gave him a n advan­ tage. He was unrestricted by paradigms of medicine or any other discipline. He compared the human knee with the j oints of other animals, and followed the evolution of its form and function. The study of neuroscience would occupy him for the rest of his life. He studied experimental and clinical psychology, and anthropology, but physics was always at the center of his thinking: his functional problem was movement, and physics is the ground for any science of movement. Proper understanding of the knee required more than an inter­ disciplinary approach; it required a holistic, systemic kind of thinking that embraced complex relationships. As Feldenkrais later said, We need a more imaginative scientific approach to understand the whole inter­ related functions of all aspects of ourselves, rather than j ust being content with some idea of localized function. 1 09

Physics dictated how movement depends upon the composition of the entire body and all the forces present. Consideration of the nervous system's control of movement is enormously complex. The engagement of the brain with the muscles that makes skeletal movement possible reflects the integration of multiple processes within the brain: sensory, motor, perceptual, emotional, cognitive, linguistic, and "autonomic." He considered the ecological conditions that shaped the human knee's evolution. Which movements were crucial to survival, and how did recovery processes evolve to cope with our ancestors' typical inj uries? He hypothesized that evolution prepared us better for certain kinds of inj uries than others. And the kinds of knee injuries sustained in soccer obviously had not been selective factors in the knee's evolution. In consequence, the body's reactions to knee inj uries-swelling, inflammation and the like-though automatic, were not necessarily adaptive. It must be understood that following the nervous system, you follow it in those troubles that humanity has had ten million times over during its growth. Any trouble that the system has not experienced like that should not be paid atten­ tion to. For a trouble that the nervous system has not experienced, the nervous system will do an idiotic thing. u o

If his knee swelling was not an "intelligent" behavior, he should use his intelligence to bypass his body's "idiotic, " natural reaction.


Feldenkrais's knife-defense technique already demonstrated his acumen in discriminating when to utilize and when to inhibit native tendencies. The knife defense followed and built upon an inborn protective reaction; but it rechanneled it by inhibiting its detrimental features. He examined the development of the knee from its embryonic stages through childhood, recognizing how the knee's form and function reflect indi­ vidual history. The images of knees in anatomy and physiology textbooks are misleading. Those finished forms do not show what a functioning knee owes to the dynamics of its development. The knee forms differently depending on whether one's childhood was spent on a mountain or on the beach, wear­ ing shoes or going barefoot, sitting in chairs or on the floor. How we grow up affects the structure of feet, knees, legs, and entire selves. Whatever our history, our human brains make it possible for us to learn to function in new ways. The all-important question is: how can we learn to form

new patterns? Learning depends upon acting, perceiving, and experientially exploring new possibilities. As Bernstein emphasized, training should work towards the "min­ imization of effort. " That requires the awareness that effort is taking place, and discovering how to inhibit it through more efficient means of acting. The degree to which we are sensitive to small differences of effort is therefore one of the most significant factors that can further or limit learning. A comprehensive intellectual understanding would be enough, theoreti­ cally, to show Feldenkrais how to restore functioning to his knee. But actual movement control is dependent on accurate sensory feedback. Sensory motor learning cannot be approached in the same external way as the study of kine­ siology. It requires self-perception within the course of action, including sensitivity to small differences of effort. Here the importance of what is called the Weber-Fechner law becomes clear. Discovered by nineteenth century psycho-physiologists, Ernst Heinrich Weber ( 1 79 5 - 1 878) and Gustav Theodor Fechner ( 1 80 1 - 1 887) , the Weber­ Fechner law quantitatively expresses the minimal changes in stimulus that our senses can detect. We are not sensitive to differences in absolute physi­ cal measures of weight, light, and sound; we are sensitive instead to relative, proportional , differences. For example, although a flashlight adds no appar­ ent illumination in broad daylight, its light is easily detectable in the dark. Likewise, if we carry a ten-kilogram load we are physiologically limited from noticing when a gram is added to it, but we can easily detect the addition of a gram to the weight of a postcard. I n S cotland, when pain and swelling made it difficult to stand or walk, nature invited Feldenkrais to an advantageous position for self-exploration, since lying down requires less muscular effort than being upright. By virtue of the Weber-Fechner principle, the reduced muscular effort lowered his thresh­ old of sensitivity and afforded him an opportunity for greater self-awareness.

G R EAT B R I TA I N , I 9 4 D - T 9 4 6


As in Palestine when he capitalized on periods of bed rest, in Scotland Moshe spent long hours gaining movement awareness lying in bed, on the floor, or the j udo mat. As he learned, even the most miniscule movement affects every part of the body. He wrote (in Body and Mature Behavior) : "No part of the body can be moved without all the others being affected . " 1 1 1 Muscular activity is the final common pathway, as Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Sir Charles Sherrington ( 1 8 5 7- 1 9 52) asserted, for the activity of the entire nervous sys­ tem. The greatest proportion by far of what takes place in us as we move passes unperceived. People's lack of awareness can lead to mistaken notions, such as the idea that we can use only certain muscles, or move only one part. This is impossible: all movements shift everywhere the balance of muscular contrac­ tions and the placement of skeleton, if only slightly. The small effects on other parts of our bodies when we move are, in fact, not effects at all, but ingredients of our actions . Esther Thelen succinctly summarizes systemic unity: "Everything counts. " 1 12 This means that the way we breathe, where we direct our eyes, how we hold subtle tensions in our chests, as well as the influence of our environ­ ment, impact the use of every other part of ourselves. Feldenkrais set himself the formidable task of being able to sense his entire skeleton in movement. When I asked him to describe his early explorations, Moshe told me how, for instance, he minutely lifted and lowered his leg hundreds of times, until he could observe how each part of his self participated in the action. On numerous occasions I observed Feldenkrais practice self-exploration in movement. In Tel Aviv, after enjoying a bowl of stew that Baruch had prepared according to his mother Sheindel's recipe, I often watched Moshe while he took an after-lunch nap on the guest bed in a corner of his brother's dining room. From my vantage point at the dining table, as I sipped tea and listened to Baruch's stories and j okes, I tried to discern when Moshe was awake or sleep­ ing. It was sometimes hard to guess because of the subtlety of his intermittent, dreamlike movements. I remember him slowly taking hold of his knee with one hand. He moved his leg downward many times, which gradually lifted his upper body in the direction of sitting up. After rising from his "nap" of sleep and movement, dream and thought, the lines on Moshe's face were gone, and he looked refreshed and ready for his afternoon's appointments. Feldenkrais's life exhibited a rhythm of alternating nonverbal and verbal, internal and external absorptions. D uring the time he spent by himself in Scotland, when he was not carefully following his body's "narrative of move­ ment," he was reading and thinking. Feldenkrais believed that he wouldn't have embarked on a path in somatics without the recurring challenges posed by his own inj uries. Sports and mar­ tial arts, j oined only with his scientific training, would not have lead to his intimate and intricate somatic understandings. It was during the time he was coming to terms with both his knee problems and the inj ury to his arm that his



new somatic work began t o develop i n parallel with his martial arts. Probably beginning in late 1 942, he began to emerge from the cloister of his contempla­ tions eager to share with others his new experiences, discoveries, and insights. His Method still in its infancy, he passed handwritten pages, sometimes still moist with ink, to close friends and colleagues. In October of 1 942, while recovering from the operation on his arm, he wrote to his friend J . G. Crowther about a preliminary draft for a series of lectures, what would become Body and

Mature Behavior. J . G . Crowther is credited with founding science j ournalism in the United Kingdom. He was science correspondent for the Guardian, author of more than thirty books, and science editor for Clarendon Press. In conversations, Crowther enthusiastically received Feldenkrais's ideas about how to improve mental and physical functioning through a mind-body approach based upon an integration of multiple scientific disciplines. Crowther shared with J . D . Bernal and Solly Zuckerman an idealism fo r bringing the results of science into every aspect of life. In common they rej ected unthinking acceptance of the sta­ tus quo and explanations that did not meet scientific criteria. Body and Mature Behavior's form and rigor owed much to the passionate discussions that Moshe pursued with these and other scientists. The physicist Bill H alliday, Feldenkrais's team leader i n the Fairlie Establishment, recalls, he would turn up rather late at night with the latest piece of manuscript and read it to us. He would come out with some sort of outrageous claim and a tremendous argument would ensue. He was the only chap I've ever met with whom, if you had an argument, he absolutely convinces you, changes your point of view. 1 13

In the acknowledgements in Body and Mature Behavior, Moshe thanked Bill Halliday for his "patient listening." l l 4 Those who worked alongside Feldenkrais vividly recall how skillfully and vehemently he urged his points of view. The "tremendous arguments" that ensued from his "outrageous claims" seem of a piece with his physical bravado. When he wrote to J . G . Crowther from the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, as he recovered from the recent j udo exhibition debacle with his arm, he was in a good position to appreciate some drawbacks of how he threw himself, both physically and rhetorically, into the world. Concerning his work on the draft of Body and Mature Behavior he wrote: I have written about 200 pages on the subject I discussed when we last met, but I have scrapped the lot. I was disgusted with the polemical tone throughout it and will have to start again. 1 1 5

This self-revealing remark about his "polemical tone" is telling. Feldenkrais never lost his love of arguing, of making his points at the expense of other

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6


approaches, but now, as he struggled to give shape to what he really wanted to say, he labored to sidestep those habits of expression. He realized that polemics would only obstruct the reception of his approach. By 1 943 he had begun a new draft of the book. It is interesting to compare the tone of Body and Mature Behavior with his posthumously published The Potent Self One of the reasons that Feldenkrais never published the latter was , perhaps, its more polemical style. Moshe enj oyed taking grandiose risks, but he was also intent on convincing his most skeptical audiences. It required seven, self-critical years for Body and Mature Behavior to meet his high standards. Though ambitious and speculative, the version that made its way to print is carefully scientific and systematic. When David Boston arrived, an electrical engineer assigned to Fairlie in April 1 943, Feldenkrais was teaching j udo to about one hundred of the Fairlie staff on evenings and weekends. Moshe and David soon became friends, and David was a welcome recipient of Moshe's discoveries. In 1 943, Feldenkrais still struggled with his knees; Boston remembered that he walked with a limp, as did his wife, Yona. 1 16 David Boston knew a different side of Feldenkrais than did Halliday. Boston, for example, didn't find Moshe argumentative in their interactions. I believe that Moshe enjoyed adversarial contests, intellectual and otherwise; some took the bait, like Halliday, but others, like Boston, were con­ tent to listen patiently while Moshe argued with often abstract adversaries and wove his fascinating theories. The material for the first few chapters of Body and Mature Behavior had its debut in Moshe's evening lectures for the Fairlie staff and at 1 943-44 meetings of the Association of S cientific Workers . 1 1 7 The Association was headed at the time by J . D . Bernal. Solly Zuckerman and Jacob Bronowski were also among the Association members who encouraged Feldenkrais in his work. The Association maintained a political orientation well left of the mainstream. It is clear that its objectives were controversial, and for some, suspect. Though, according to my research, Moshe was not very political in his outlook, his affiliation with the group did not go unnoticed. When I interviewed his old colleagues-Eric Barnes and Albert Freedman , for instance-I detected embarrassment, even hesitance about mentioning Moshe's connections to the Association. 1 18 Feldenkrais's lectures focused on the physiology of posture and movement, and the significance of upright posture. He suggested that many of our emo­ tional and physical difficulties are linked with a "false sense of the vertical. " 1 19 This description resembles ideas expressed by Frederick Matthias Alexander ( 1 869- 1 9 5 5 ) . Alexander was a n Australian actor who , doing dramatic readings o f Shakespeare and other literature, began t o suffer chronic vocal problems. Around the turn of the twentieth century, he devised what he later called the ''Alexander Technique, " in order to remedy his problems. Alexander discovered


that h e could eliminate the strain on h i s voice b y altering h i s posture, i n particular, the position of h i s head, and b y changing the mental attitude he embodied in his actions. According to David Boston, " [Moshe] had Alexander's books at Fairlie . " 120 It is reasonable to conclude that Alexander significantly influenced Feldenkrais's thinking and methods. Alexander was thirty-five years his senior, and his method predated Feldenkrais's by forty years. How much Moshe "borrowed" from the Alexander Technique has been debated and became, as we shall see in Chapter 8, a subject of controversy and accusation. Feldenkrais met Alexander personally and experienced his methods first­ hand only after the war, when he moved to London. It was then that he felt Alexander's "touch" and the trained touch of his disciples. But his reading of Alexander's original and provocative books in Scotland probably caught his serious attention from the beginning. Commonalities between Feldenkrais and Alexander are easy to find. Both men's methods evolved through processes of critical thinking and personal reflection that uncovered deeper layers of their inner processes. Their shared starting point was the inadequacy of medical treatment. Both then turned their attention to changing habits of behavior-what Alexander termed "self-use . " They realized that any particular function-Alexander's voice and Feldenkrais's knee-could not be understood without taking into account the e ntire body, together with thinking, sensing, and feeling. As Alexander asserted, "It is impossible to separate 'mental' and 'physical' process i n any form of human activity. " 121 Alexander and Feldenkrais both recognized the limits of correcting movement intellectually, of relying upon conscious effort to achieve one's goals. They discovered that force of habit determines our behavior more than our will or intelligence. Alexander and Feldenkrais found that our faulty habits are sustained by the limitations and distortions of our perceptions-hence Moshe's phrase, "a false sense of the vertical . " How can we correct our posture, if we don't know where we are in space, and what in fact verticality, or being upright, consists of? Alexander emphasized that, It is courting failure to continue to depend upon the "feeling" which has been the familiar guide in the old habitual "doing" which "felt right, " but which was obviously wrong since it led us into error. 122

From such considerations, Alexander and Feldenkrais focused on training more reliable sensation and perception, and furthering self-awareness. We leave for Chapter 8 more comprehensive discussion of the differences and similarities between Alexander and Feldenkrais.

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6


The parallels and differences between the evolution o f Feldenkrais's Method and Alexander's Technique are striking. Moshe hailed F.M.'s essay "Evolution of a Technique" as a work of genius. First published in 1 932, Moshe accorded it, amongst somatic literature, accolades matching only Mabel Todd's masterpiece, The Thinking Body. The autobiographical "Evolution of a Technique" finely details the remarkable succession of fruitful failures and creative insights that were steppingstones along Alexander's path to his way of teaching. While still living in Fairlie Feldenkrais probably also learned about the work of another somatic pioneer, William Horatio Bates ( 1 8 6 0- 1 9 3 1 ) . This seems likely because he published an article about Bates i n a French newspaper in July of 1 946. 123 Bates was an American ophthalmologist, born the same year as Kano . The controversial but influential Bates, who m the medical establishment excommunicated as a heretic, believed that correc­ tive lenses were not the only, and not normally the best, means of correcting eyesight disorders. He found that he could improve his patients' eyesight by improving their habits of seeing through relaxation and awareness exercises. He began teaching his methods around 1 8 9 1 , predating even Alexander by a few years, and perhaps making him the first of the somatic pioneers. Aldous Huxley, a student of F. M . Alexander, helped to bring attention to Bates's work in his 1 942 memoir, The Art ofSeeing. Aldous was another member of the famous Huxley family who, along with his brother Francis, may have had contact with Feldenkrais in London . Feldenkrais later taught many lessons about using the eyes that developed out of his experience of working with Bates's ideas and method. 1 24 For Bates, seeing was an action of the whole person , j ust as Alexander rec­ ognized the global implications of carriage of the head, and other somaticists focused in similar ways on the breath. Bates and Alexander, together with Mabel Todd, Elsa Gindler, Heinrich Jacoby, and Wilhelm Reich, led the first generation of somatic pioneers. The term "somatics, " coined in 1 976 by Feldenkrais-trained philosopher Thomas Hanna ( 1 928- 1 990) , has come into more popular usage in recent years. Hanna defined somatics as a field of study dealing with somatic phenomena: i . e . , the human being as experienced by himself [or herself] from the inside. 125

Among the chief criteria fo r belonging to a somatics discipline, are an integrated view of mind and body, and concrete practices that focus on somatic awareness. There seems to be a resonance with Adler's view in how Hanna frames somatics: The characteristic of somatic education is its assumption that the human being has evolved as a self-regulating, self-correcting and self-improving organism,


who can take over greater control of himself through ever greater somatic self-awareness. 126

Feldenkrais was a beneficiary of the seminal explorations of the pioneers somatics, and he was able to develop in his Method a uniquely encompass­ ing and coherent framework for understanding human learning and behavior. His Method allowed him to expand and refine his approaches, free from the constraints of "technique," specific movements, or a focus on particular parts of the body. Over the coming chapters we follow how his approach allowed him to incorporate the practical techniques invented by other somatic practi­ tioners and synthesize their contributions into a single system of thought and practice. Just as Feldenkrais's fundamental approach enabled him to absorb a multitude of techniques, so, too, his general theory was able to draw from many disciplines. Feldenkrais continued to teach martial arts, and lecture on his theories, but according to David Boston, 1 944 was the year he began to apply with others the experiential methods he'd developed for himself Moshe had raised interest in his j udo classes by visiting his colleagues' houses and demonstrating the underlying mechanical principles on their living room floors. Now he used his lectern and extemporaneous conversations to lure Fairlie scientists and engineers to volunteer as subjects for his new experimental classes in somatic awareness-what Boston called his "therapy classes . " Bill Halliday, David Boston, and Ralph Serie, along with Albert Freedman and others, attended these classes, held in the local church hall. Boston helped Moshe set out the mats . In these classes Moshe selected some j udo movements, such as rolls, break falls, and efficient ways to get up and down from the ground. He explored asanas, postures from yoga, such as the headstand. He drew from the movements of infancy and of everyday life. 1 2 7 Bill Halliday remembered, Feldenkrais's principle that in order to get rid of poor posture, you had to lie on your back, like a baby, on the floor with your knees in the air, and gradually lift your head so that you could feel each vertebra coming away from the floor. 128

David Boston recalled, He made a great thing of the usual j udo break fall, which led to lying with the knees up. He made a point about the two antagonistic muscles operating against one another, so that having been down like that you tend to find a more erect position in standing . . . . [He] did many exercises like a baby lying on the tummy and lifting the head up, [and] he included various yoga like exercises like the headstand. 129

How did Moshe become aware that such improvements in posture and experience would result from lying on the floor, and using the flexors a s

G R EAT B R I TA I N , I 9 4 D - 1 9 4 6


the antigravity muscles? I 'm sure that h e became aware o f the phenomenon through his j udo practice long before he unearthed the theory. Moshe spent a lot of time doing j udo in the position described in the Body and Mature Behavior lesson. In Higher judo, he later explains the ease of movement and martial advantages afforded by the flexed, lying on the back position: Once the members are flexed, and the head lifted off the ground . . . a n inexhaust­ ible range of possibilities is at once available. For in this position, the body is very nearly a spherical cap lying on a flat surface. To keep such a body motionless by pressing on it, the pressure must be normally applied vertically downwards, j ust above the point of contact with the ground. If we press at any other point, the cap will roll or rock, so as to bring the point of contact with the ground verti­ cally below the point of pressure. Were there no friction, the cap would shoot out, away from the pressed spot. 130

I imagine that Feldenkrais's experience of the immediate aftereffects of j udo groundwork led to an epiphany of self-awareness . Feldenkrais became aware that he stood on the mat in a new way. He was struck by his feelings of reduced anxiety and increased self-confidence. He found that he was standing more erectly and moving with greater ease. I am reminded by the story told in Chapter 3, when Moshe observed Joliot-Curie noticing the dying-out clicking of his radiation detector-awareness that led to his discovery of artificial radioactivity. Once Feldenkrais became aware of the postural effect of the groundwork, his next step was to analyze scientifically the factors that contributed to the effect, especially the antagonist actions of the flexors and extensors. Now the path was wide open to intentionally creating such effects and devising ever new means to achieve them. The new emphasis in Feldenkrais's classes, was not the practice of a move­ ment discipline, such as j udo or yoga; the focus was not even on improving movement or posture per se, but on innovating a new path for self-advance­ ment on all levels. Feldenkrais understood movement in radically general terms: movement experience gives us the raw material for finding orientation in time and space, and for developing thinking and feeling. Movement was the key to learning, teaching us about ourselves and furthering our self-awareness. Until that time, j udo had impressed him as the most broadly based system of mind-body education. Now he sought an approach even more fundamental than j udo, an approach to movement education general enough to facilitate learning on all levels. And he would draw upon science as a springboard; he invented movement explorations to probe new theories and demonstrate physical and biological properties. His classes experientially examined the neuromuscular mechanisms that he was reading about, such as the righting reflexes discussed by Rudolf Magnus ( 1 873- 1 927) , Charles Sherrington's reciprocal innervation principle, and the mathematically ordered sensory thresholds discovered by Weber and Fechner.



Magnus inspired Feldenkrais's discoveries about how eye movements affect the muscular tone of the neck and the rest of the body. Sherrington's principles showed how it was possible to affect muscle groups indirectly by activating opposing muscles. The Weber-Fechner law inspired him to teach small and subtle move­ ments performed while lying on the floor, in order to eliminate the muscular effort required for being upright or for making movements requiring great strength. Feldenkrais likely promulgated many theories in Fairlie that never found their way to print, at least not in their original formulation. Albert Freedman, who attended Moshe's classes, recalled him lecturing about one theory that foreshadows elements of Body and Mature Behavior: a notion of regulating upright posture by means of five orders of hierarchically organized, neuro­ muscular control. The first is an order of postural resistance. Even in sleep, pressure against the bottom of the foot elicits pushing downward through the leg-this lowest order of the hierarchy is what meets the more or less constant pull of gravity. The second order of control crosses the body's midline and reflexively responds to extension on one side by pressing down on the other side to maintain equilibrium during movement. At the third level is orientation , which occurs a s the vestibular system registers positions of its attached calcium statocysts. The fourth level of control monitors momentum and acceleration from the movement of fluid within each of the inner ear's three semicircular canals. Finally, the overriding order of control utilizes the geometric reference frame given through the visual system. All five orders of postural regulation function in concert, with each higher level either fine tuning or intervening in the lower levels' processes. Of greater importance than this fascinating theory is the remarkable fact that Feldenkrais demonstrated experientially each of these five levels of control in his classes. Albert Freedman is due special thanks for sharing with us what may be this first example of a unique and quintessential feature of Awareness Through Movement. Feldenkrais's ability to make abstract ideas concrete was singularly brilliant. His lessons were adventures in discovery; they were at once intel­ lectual and kinesthetic, intellectually informative and useful for improving people's lives. Future lessons would probe other theoretical concepts span­ ning physics, psychology, and neuroscience. These would include stability and instability, figure-ground perception, centers of gravity, brain laterality, and much more. The classes on the five levels of control advanced a hypothetical, theoretical paradigm for understanding patterns of behavior. Students were invited to test the theory based upon their own thinking and experiences. Albert Freedman was initially skeptical about there being precisely these five orders of control, but after awhile, the logic of it became apparent. And he explained all kinds of troubles in terms of the appreciation of the vertical. . .. He was a good teacher and everyone was impressed with the material. I 3 I

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6


Feldenkrais's classes were a research proj ect, and h e was fortunate t o fill them with a constituency of Fairlie engineers and scientists with time on their hands. Their critical and practical training ensured that each of his ideas was tested and clarified. He could explicitly bring ideas from the wide range of scientific literatures he studied, and question the differences between their abstract knowledge and the embodied awareness of movement he sought. And many in his experimental classes had been his j udo students, so he could share his explorations about the how the new work differed from the martial arts. Martial arts called for training elegance of action, learning to reflexively adopt the most mechanically efficient movements to optimize agility and the specific application of force. Feldenkrais extended Kano's conception of j udo in his new work. Beyond the training of mental and physical efficiency, he offered an open-ended path of learning. Mechanical efficiency was one impor­ tant principle and outcome, but what was really sought was a general basis for the personal learning that could arrive on its own at such efficiency. This meant cultivating an "efficiency of sensibility, " a basis for learning how to learn. In addition to studying himself through his movements, he was also making manipulative explorations, first learning to use his hands on himself, and soon with others. William S. " D ub" Leigh, a fellow student in Feldenkrais's San Francisco training, recalled Moshe describing his process: He spoke to his knee as if it were a sick person distinct from himself. "Yes, we can move it a little here; fine; okay; no, all right we won't do that. Yes, okay here. Easy now. Okay. No, not that." And so on, slowly moving his inj ured knee as he put his body in every conceivable position. He played around with it until the painful area got smaller or disappeared in each of the various positions. " I had complete awareness in my knee j oint," Moshe said, "I had no pain in it." Through the years, he has kept his knee functioning in this way. 132 .. .

Frank Wildman-like Dub and me-also a student in the San Francisco training, recalled: Having been told that he could neither stand on nor bend his leg for several months, he had experimented by pulling on his fingers and playing with his feet, developing a new way of understanding how the body functions-a systems application to the body. Could this have been the first time that anyone had thought of the body in this way? His were experiments in handling himself­ touching his own hands, touching his own feet, manipulating himself in many different ways to discover how he was "wired together, " as he put it. 133

Moshe was drawn in different directions-an immersion in his private, inner life, and sharing his experiences with others. H e found that he paid a price when he made the effort to communicate: " H aving someone share the feeling of what I did with myself, '' he confessed, "is like throwing a stone and disturbing the quiet surface of a pool of water. " 134 He was reluctant, and



resisted the outward pull to bring h i s work t o o thers . Fortunately fo r his students, he overcame his resistance; somewhat paradoxically, he expressed b egrudging gratitude for the pressures exerted by others: I had no intention of [teaching] , but it happened that a colleague, a physicist, asked to participate in what I was doing with myself. Thus I had to share my experience with somebody. Imitating me did not satisfy him as he did not know how or where to look, and he was also unable to discern what was essential and what was a mere detail. The more questions he asked the more I disliked his presence; I was irritated by my inability to explain in a few words exactly what I was doing. I found I had to go back into my past to find my way of self-direction, the reasoning, and later the feeling, that moved me to do what I did. I was jeal­ ous of the waste of time and annoyed with myself; I disliked his inquisitiveness, and my own feeling of impotence made him a nuisance. As my work with myself seemed to me self-observation, it occurred to me that self-examination involves j udgment, good or bad. My annoyance was that I had to examine myself, whereas when I had been alone I was able j ust to oversee myself as an object which acted and moved. us

Let's consider Feldenkrais's distinction between "self-observation" and "self-examination. " The distinction may at first appear elusive, a distinction without a difference, because "j udgment, good or bad" is so ingrained in how we observe ourselves. Feldenkrais learned that self-observation opens us to feelings and sensory feedback that provide essential information about our­ selves, the environment, and the effectiveness of our actions. But the value j udgments that issue from self-examination often derive from considering the expectations and norms of others. Whether good or bad, these j udgments carry emotional charges that obscure our awareness. Following CoUt�'s terminology, j udgments generate "resistance, " and act like obstructive "foreign thoughts" or "internal censors, " blocking us. Attempts at self-correction almost always follow from self-examination, and correction is counterproductive without sufficient awareness. The i ntroduction of an outside observer o r witness was a hurdle for Feldenkrais to overcome, both fo r himself and his pedagogy. How can we include the presence of another person without triggering our habitual social patterns, including comparing ourselves with others? We will later see some of the subtle ways that Moshe bypassed this dilemma in Functional Integration and Awareness Through Movement. Moshe's radical rej ection of the con­ cept of "correction" would become one of the foundations of his Method. But in Fairlie-returning to his account of the beginnings of Functional Integration-Feldenkrais learned that he was far more absorbed in observing how I was doing a movement than I was interested in what that movement happened to be. This seemed to me the real

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6


gist of my knee trouble. I could repeat a movement with my leg hundreds of times, I could walk for weeks with no inconvenience whatsoever and suddenly doing what I believed to be the identical movement j ust once more spoiled everything. Obviously, this one movement was done differently from the former ones, and so it seemed to me that how I did a movement was much more impor­ tant than what the movement consisted of. . . . [It] became clear to me that I was dealing with a process of self-direction and each particular movement was important only inasmuch as it illuminated this process. As the process was obviously not perfect in my case, it seemed that it might also be imperfect in other people. As faulty heredity did not have to be considered, there having been no trouble with my knees for a decade or two, it remained only to discover how I came about learning the process of self­ direction the way I did. No baby is born with the ability to perform adult movements; they have to be learned while growing. I had, therefore, to relearn as an adult that which I had failed to learn better in my past. Learning to learn was the thing I had to share with my colleague. I was not a teacher, yet he had to learn how I did whatever it was he saw me doing. I began by making him realize that learning is very different from doing. In life an act must be accomplished at the right speed, at the right moment, and with the right vigor. Failure in any of these conditions will compromise the act and make it fail. The act will not achieve its purpose. Achieving the intended purpose may be considered as a condition in itself. The intended purpose may be j ust moving for the sake of moving or dancing for the sake of dancing. Yet, all these conditions for successful achievement in life are a hindrance in learning. These conditions are not operative during the first two or three years of life when the foundations for learning are dug and laid. 136

And so began what Feldenkrais called, at first, his "personal guidance" or "supervision . " It seems that he had a very special touch from the outset, even before he more formally began his somatic explorations at Fairlie. The first report came from Lew Kowarski, whose neck pain Moshe relieved. Once, Moshe's friend Albert Freedman suffered a pinched nerve: " I was in agony for a couple of days until [Moshe] helped me. [He] realized where the trouble was, which my doctor didn't . " 137 Freedman said that Feldenkrais also had a reputation for being able to quickly straighten a trick knee-it is no surprise that the knee was one of his first areas of expertise. Macie Adler said that Moshe could "unhook a knee in a minute" with soldiers who'd strained their knees after long training marches. 138 How did he know how to help these people? He might have learned a smattering from Kawaishi, but he hadn't yet experienced Alexander or any other somatic practitioners. It appears that his skills primarily grew from generalizing upon his experiments with himself. Feldenkrais, it seems, began to ply his skills, and test his approaches, with those open to hearing his ideas, trying his movements, or experiencing his touch.



Feldenkrais's creative p rocesses were unusually efficient: his activities synergistically supported each other's development, leading to advances in every arena. Moshe learned how to touch others from working with himself, and learned to understand himself more objectively by touching others . Likewise, his complementary individual and group methods appeared virtually from the inception. He invented movements for his groups that echoed what he'd manipulatively tried with individuals. And what he'd seen in his group's movements further informed his use of touch. His two methods with groups and individuals, verbal and nonverbal, emerged as necessary branches of his overall investigation: When I began t o work on myself, or more correctly with myself, because of my trouble with my knees, I did not distinguish between manipulative Functional Integration and group work to produce Awareness Through Movement. I used them indiscriminately as I did not realize that there was a difference. Gradually, however, I came to see that what I was doing with myself was not simple, and certainly not easy, to communicate to others . 139

His methods would remain without a name for the next thirty years . He referred only to his "work with groups" or "work with individuals" -remi­ niscent of Elsa Gindler's generic " Human Work"-until he coined the term for group work, Awareness Through Movement, in 1 972, and a few years later, named his nonverbal hands-on work with individuals, Functional Integration. Already at that time I worked on one side of the body exclusively during a whole lesson. The other side remained passive or motionless all through the lesson. I wanted to create the greatest possible sensory contrast in the nervous structures and also facilitate awareness of the differences kinesthetically. I thought that the different organization of one side of the cortex and the corresponding side of the body would slowly diffuse to the other side. The person would for hours feel different mobilization and performance on his right side to that on his left side. He would thus be learning directly in his brain and from his own internal self. What would be transferred to the other side of the brain is the (learned) better patterns, by his own feeling and j udgment. It was my friend, Jacob Bronowski of The Ascent of Man fame, who explained to me my discovery that the new side learns from the side that was involved and not the other way round. He argued that if internal feelings did not have any bias for preferring or tending to the optimal, animal life could not survive. 140

It appeared almost accidental that Feldenkrais's work with individuals grew to encompass sensitive personal areas, such as love and relationships and sex. From experiences with himself and others, however, he learned more about the linkages between movement and feeling, and how emotion conditioned behav­ ior. Like Wilhelm Reich, he found that awareness of emotions often coincided with bringing awareness to a person's breathing. He found that changes in

G R E AT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6


breathing and abdominal tension, affected emotions, sexuality, and autonomic processes, such as digestion. Unlike Reichian and post-Reichian body psychol­ ogies, however, Feldenkrais didn't initiate discussions of emotions, childhood experiences, and sexuality. Nor did he believe that it was a good idea to focus on emotionally charged issues. His students often spontaneously brought up these topics in the wake of somatic change. The posthumously published The Potent Self is a window on some of his early insights about the emotions and self-image, and his process of working with his students: With experience, the teacher is able to detect the part of the body that is in the person's mental self-image, more or less permanently, and p roduces parasitic contractions in every action. However, it does no good to mention these findings; to do so would only provoke a flood of rationalizations, which are necessary to sustain the personal acture; 141 they constitute what analysts call resistance. Our way is to first give the student the means to act without b ringing into action his habitual self-mobi­ lization. Once he is in command of a fuller range of action in the particular function , the habitual manner. . . is resolved. Compulsiveness is lifted in that particular function, because of the available alternative mode . . . At this j unc­ ture, the resistance becomes quite conscious, often as sudden insight or what is known as satori in [Z] en practice. Resistance is resolved through becoming unnecessary. The sudden insight that results is then charged with only moderate affect, and does not p resent the danger that premature interpretation does in analytic p ractice. 142

The popularity of Feldenkrais's classes suggests how well his approach suited the Fairlie scientists. It included all of the ingredients that were inte­ gral to their vocation: observation , hypothesis, experiment, and theory. In fact, Feldenkrais viewed his form of education as conforming to many features of the scientific method. The methodological discipline he honed through his work with the Fairlie staff would continue as a distinctive feature of his approach to somatics. At Fairlie, Moshe found new scope for his old vocation in cartography. In Palestine he had made maps based upon visual information; in Fairlie, he pio­ neered uses for sound for mapping objects underwater. And as in Palestine he seemed to internalize and extend his spatial thinking from map-making to the awareness of body movement, his work in "echo-location," or sonar, became a metaphor, and perhaps more, for his later work in Functional Integration. Moshe often invoked acoustic, rather than visual, terms to describe the infor­ mation coming through his hands. He "listened," he said, with his hands. And metaphors recalling issues in underwater sound detection helped to describe the problems of sensing what is happening in another person . In a n intriguing passage in Body and Mature Behavior about measuring pos­ ture, Feldenkrais describes a theoretical experiment involving the application



o f a percussive pressure on a supine person's fo o t i n order t o determine the degree of dampening that limited the efficient transmission of force required for ideal upright posture: A percussion applied vertically upwards to a rigid board on which a person is standing, will be transmitted through the body to the skull, and through it to any pressure sensitive apparatus placed on it, more fully than when the articulations are hyperflexed and hyperexteneded . . . Every joint where the two members are inclined transmits a portion only o f the force applied to either of them, and acts as a dash-pot, damping all transmission of mechanical stress through the j oint. 1 43

When we observe ourselves in motion, as in Awareness Through Movement, we learn to feel how one part's movement affects the entirety of the skeleton. Along with the nervous system's sensory circuitry, there is a dynamic aware­ ness stemming from wave-like transmissions of fo rce through the skeleton . Feldenkrais found-and trained h i s Functional Integration practitioners to detect-the location of a muscular resistance that was creating a blockage from a remote location , say, somewhere between the foot and the head.

D-Day, the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1 944, brought the beginning of the war's end. According to more than one source, Feldenkrais helped train paratroop commandos who, under the direction of Combined Operations, took part in the invasion. 144 On August 2 5 th , Free French units entered Paris, and later that day de Gaulle led a triumphal parade down the Champs­ Elysees. On November 9, 1 944 Malka wrote a letter from Paris to her family in Palestine. She enclosed a photo, "proof that I am still alive . " 145 Moshe's parents and brother lived safely in Tel Aviv in the 1 940s. Baruch worked at the shipping company and Sheindel helped the trickle of ille­ gal immigrants who found their way from Baranovich to Palestine through the underground network. While the Allies warred with the Fascist states of Europe, they turned away from Fascism's worst victims. Despite Jews' desperate need to escape Hitler, Great Britain refused to accept immigrants to Palestine, and Roosevelt barred their admittance to the United States. By 1 943 the Nazis occupied Baranovich and all of Black Russia (Ukraine) . Most of those who had not yet escaped would die in the concentration camps, including one of Sheindel's sisters. "Of one hundred three guests at my grandparents' wedding anniversary, " Moshe said, "only a handful weren't killed b y Hitler. " 146 Some o f Moshe's fam­ ily were spared: they departed Poland and Russia for Palestine, the United States, Cuba, and South America-at "the eleventh hour, " as Sheindel put it. Sheindel's mother and her sister Ruchama, according to Lea Shlosberg, "died in Slavuta before the war-God bless them. " 147 Her brother Simha and his

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6


family narrowly escaped the Germans and their Ukrainian sympathizers by leaving Slavuta on foot. They trekked aboard cattle trains to the Ural mountains in central Russia. Not long after they left, Slavuta's Jewish ghetto was burned and reduced to rubble. Sheindel's poor and devout brother Joseph, then living i n O dessa, was martyred. Ukrainian Nazis murdered him and his wife in the courtyard of their home, at Pushkin Strasse #5 5 . Joseph's son Osher, a Russian soldier, shot himself when he returned home and learned of his parents' fate. The Fairlie Establishment's research missions grew less important as the war wound down. The reduced pressure on the staff gave Feldenkrais extra time for writing and somatic work with friends and colleagues. He could also devote more attention to neglected personal matters. His doctorate at the Sorbonne was one part of Feldenkrais's life that hung i n suspension. D espite his passionate pursuit of somatics, it was a hobby, a "craze, " as he referred to it in a letter to Boston. 148 Moshe saw himself as a physicist, and needed his doctorate to maximize his professional opportuni­ ties. Shifting his priorities, he reluctantly shelved his working draft of Body and Mature Behavior, and thumbed through his dusty dissertation manuscript. The subj ect, as we've seen, was the measurement of voltages produced by the Van de Graaff generator he had built with Joliot-Curie at Cachan. Feldenkrais refreshed his French and his thinking about his previous research. He added the finishing, polishing touches. Then he used his flirtatious charm to enlist his research team's secretary-on the Admiralty's time-to type the final draft. The end of the war brought chaotic changes to millions of people. Some refugees returned home; others returned, but no home awaited them. The ones who were able to unite with their families, and resume parts of their former lives had the simpler task; many had to build completely new lives for themselves. For Moshe and Yona, chaos marked both the war's beginning and its conclusion . In June 1 940, there was a sudden rupture in their personal and professional lives. During wartime they found new rhythms and created a dif­ ferent existence. Despite fears and restrictions, they had lived fulfilling lives. Yona enj oyed meaningful work as a hospital pediatrician. And looking back at his war years, the extroverted, hardworking Moshe had made the most of his life of exile. The war's end brought new instabilities to Moshe and Yona. They faced many uncertainties as they tried to locate themselves in the changing post­ war world. Like many others, they did not know what they would find, who had lived or died, which relationships and connections were intact, which destroyed, and what options lay before them . Moshe's careers as physicist and j udo teacher were in question. Ties were severed between him and his friends, colleagues, and social institutions; ties that he had carefully forged in science, judo, and society for more than ten years. Even with his dissertation



now complete, h e wasn't sure they would award his degree. H e didn't know whether professional opportunities in physics awaited him if he returned to France. Would he regain the helm of his j udo club ? And he was separated from his sister, knew little of her fate, and had limited contact with his family in Palestine. After the war in Europe officially ended on May 8, 1 94 5 , Moshe and Yona remained in Scotland fo r several months. Yona worked at the hospital in Glasgow, and Moshe at the Establishment. One of the immediate changes in their lives, however, was greater freedom of movement. As conditions permit­ ted, they crossed the Channel in order to bridge some of the gaps left by the war. They first returned to France in November of 1 94 5 . Frederic Joliot-Curie may have been surprised upon Feldenkrais's proudly handing him the disser­ tation he had completed during the war. After a nearly six-year delay, Moshe received his ingeniur-docteur diploma on November 2 5 , 1 94 5 . From Paris, he wrote to David Boston: I have been awarded t h e degree I went for with first class Honours. And the whole thing was more ceremonial and more serious than I expected. 149

When Moshe and Yona visited Malka and David, they first heard her remark­ able story of survival. She had remained in hiding for the duration of the war. A Chinese physicist-it appears that his name was Qian-along with other former colleagues from the Curie Institute, had preserved her life, hiding her in a farmhouse in southern France. The Gestapo maintained an active interest in Malka. She had been a chemist at the Curie lab. They presumed she knew about the research there into firebombs . In fact, she had no knowledge of mili­ tary research or weapons. However, in addition to learning Chinese cooking from her benefactor, she learned then about firearms and explosives. She put that knowledge to use for the Resistance to help blow up bridges. Qian returned to China after the war, and became a high-ranking communist official under Mao Tse-Tung. He eventually headed the Chinese atomic energy program. 1 5 0 There were wounds to heal between Malka and Moshe. She had not forgiven him for leaving for England without her. She was the younger sister he had brought to France and took under his wing, only to abandon her during the horrifying last days in Paris. But for Moshe things had happened too quickly, and he had tried to do his best. Like many survivors of the war, Malka preferred not to dwell on the past and rarely shared her experiences. But the war had left its mark on her, and visited her dreams. Once while Moshe was staying at Malka's home, she woke up one night, terrified: she thought she had heard the Germans returning to bomb-but it had only been the sound of Moshe snoring. The war brought strain to many marriages, including Malka's. She and her husband soon divorced, and she later married Tzvi Silice, a Polish-born French doctor, and a survivor of Auschwitz.

G R EAT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6


In December, Feldenkrais returned t o Fairlie for the last time. In France, he no doubt discussed with Joliot-Curie their previous research efforts. Now, with their discussions and his dissertation fresh in his mind, Moshe wished to draw attention to one of his old discoveries. On December 1 7, 1 94 5 , he sent a letter to Nature concerning the use of carbon tetrachloride to influence chemi­ cal reactions. He reported on his doctoral findings, that carbon tetrachloride's evaporation leads to a doubling of electrical voltage, and that the technique had industrial-scale applications. His letter was published later that spring in Nature, Great Britain's most prestigious science journal. As the new year began, the Admiralty began closing down the Establishment at Fairlie. Feldenkrais finished his duties at work, said goodbye to his Scottish friends, and packed his belongings. By then he had accumulated a large library once again, after losing the one he owned before the war. In addition to putting his books in boxes, he carefully packed his j udo mats in crates. In the midst of packing, on February 4, he wrote to Crowther, asking for his help: Just to let you know that my employment with the Admiralty is coming to an end on the 2 8 th February 46 . . . In case you come across something suitable I should be much obliged if you keep me in mind. My best regards to Mrs. Crowther, and my wife's to both of you. 1 5 1 .

This letter was typical of many that Moshe was writing a t the time, a s he tried to assess his options. As he wrote David Boston, I am not quite clear in my mind whether I want to go to Paris or stay on in Britain. I suppose that it will [be] on material issues that the matter will be balanced. 1 5 2

As he shared with Crowther: " My wife is still waiting fo r a passage to Palestine while I know very little what I am going to do. " 153 Too late fo r the millions of victims, Britain finally, belatedly opened Palestine's borders to receive hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors. Yona knew she wanted to see her family, and was seriously considering return­ ing permanently to Palestine. Moshe wasn't sure, but strove, at this pivotal moment in his life, to embody the "postural" ideal of readiness to move in any direction. The Scottish phase came to a close, as Eric Barnes recalled, "The establishment left Fairlie [in] February, 1 946, and that's when the whole staff dispersed." Barnes relocated back to Portland, where he'd been before the war, and worked as an engineer within its greatly reduced staff. 1 54 When Moshe left Fairlie, and Yon a her Glasgow hospital, they m oved "temporarily" to London . Yona had no trouble finding work as a doctor and j oined the medical staff at a local hospital. For a while, it appears that Moshe had some contact with Portland, continuing to draw a partial income from the Admiralty. 155



Meanwhile, over the course o f the war, Feldenkrais's father's health had deteriorated. In 1 946-a most unstable year, filled with transitions-Moshe's family wrote and asked him to visit. But Moshe was being pulled in too many directions, and Yona could not yet make the trip. Moshe had visited his family at least once in Poland and perhaps again in Palestine, when they first immigrated. But he hadn't really known his father since the First World War, when Aryeh became separated from his family on business. Then, before his father's return, Moshe had left home for Palestine. Later in 1 946, Aryeh called out from his deathbed for Moshe to give him his blessing. From London, Moshe wrote to his dying father to assure devotion and reconciliation. 156 Baruch felt impotent to satisfy his father's desire to be with his eldest son. As in the biblical story of Isaac, Aryeh imagined that Moshe had returned, and mistook Baruch for Moshe. 157 Perhaps, in their hearts, father and son reached a state of peace with each other. His father passed away before Moshe could see him. Moshe and Yona managed to return to Palestine for Aryeh's funeral and visit both of their families for the first time since before the war. After Aryeh's death, Baruch remained with Sheindel in their Tel Aviv apartment. In April 1 946, Feldenkrais had written to his mentor, Frederic Joliot-Curie, from Londo n , asking his advice regarding "personal matters . " Moshe had shared many parts of his life with Joliot-Curie-education, employment, sci­ ence, judo, and family. Joliot-Curie had been the best man at his wedding, and after the war, Moshe's sister Malka again worked under him. Moshe probably asked Joliot-Curie for advice regarding his employment prospects in France. Later that year he returned to Paris again. One of his most distinguished and potentially most helpful mentors, Paul Langevin, had died. But Feldenkrais visited his j udo club, and met with Joliot-Curie. Frederic Joliot-Curie shared with Feldenkrais , as he had with Bertrand Goldschmidt, his wartime experience: He spoke . . . about his life and that of his laboratory under the Occupation, of his research on the use of radioisotopes in biology, of his membership in the Communist party after the murders of Holweck and Solomon, of the warm wel­ come he had received in the party, of his role in the Resistance as president of the National Front (a Communist-dominated organization) , of his going into hid­ ing during the two months preceding liberation, and finally of his laboratory's role in making explosives and Molotov cocktails for the last fighting in Paris. 1 5 8

Joliot-Curie had established France as the leader in nuclear research, when on March 7, 1 939, with his colleagues Halban and Kowarski, he demonstrated how, by splitting the atom, it was possible to release the enormous energy into a chain reaction. Joliot-Curie, however, could offer little to support Moshe's post-war career. Both scientific and political obstacles now made Joliot-Curie's

G R E AT B R I TA I N , 1 9 4 0 - 1 9 4 6


status precarious. The center fo r the rapidly evolving new physics had shifted to the United States. Joliot-Curie's role in the Resistance had made him a hero and, for a brief time, his valor was rewarded: he was appointed to important political and scientific positions. In 1 94 5 he was made Director of the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, and became the first High Commissioner for Atomic Energy in 1 946. He directed the construction of the first French atomic pile in 1 948. But with the beginning of the Cold War, his communist sympathies cast suspicion on him, and he came under personal attack. In 1 9 5 0 , he was removed from positions of influence because of the "red scare . " There were precedents that fueled the suspicion: One was Bruno Pontecorvo ( 1 9 1 3- 1 993) , once an associate of Feldenkrais and Joliot-Curie, who, while working as a physicist in Canada, was accused of passing secrets to the Chinese. Pontecorvo eventually defected (in 1 9 50) . Joliot-Curie suffered the insult of not being given access to research that he had begun. In his later years, Joliot-Curie continued the work he had done before the war in fostering international cooperation between scientists. Moshe and Yona extended their second trip to Paris longer than they expected. In addition to surveying his options in physics and publications, Moshe attempted to restore his role in French and international j udo. Before the war, he had helped disseminate j udo in France and elsewhere in Europe. His charisma, contacts, and teaching skills made his Paris j udo club an enor­ mous success. Shockingly, however, he now found no trace of his 2nd Dan black belt credentials, or any documentation of his role in French j udo. Like Russia's communists, the Nazis rewrote history to buttress their own perspec­ tive. Feldenkrais, a Jew, had been purged from the official records. On his return he found Kawaishi, his former teacher, and Bonet-Maury, his first pupil, in charge of his club. His closest judo associates had colluded with the Nazis. Feldenkrais's interview in the French j udo magazine Bushido, contains his most unreserved expression of feelings about Kawaishi and Bonet-Maury. Feldenkrais relates that Kano warned him about Kawaishi. And about Paul Bonet-Maury, he says: As simple as that, when the Germans conquered France, Bonet-Maury withdrew my name from the history of j udo in France. I taught him j udo but he took all away from me; my movies, letters, and all that I left at the club when I fled from the Germans. Later, he wrote to the editor to substitute his name for mine on my books when he became the president of French j udo.

In the world of Judo, the events of this period are even today clouded by controversy. 159 Whatever the friction between them, Kawaishi and Feldenkrais were able to bury the hatchet. In 1 946, Feldenkrais's and Kawaishi's clubs were unified



into a single, official, French j udo association. Moshe, as always, respectfully acknowledged Kawaishi in his next two judo books, the English Higher judo, and the French judo. Their photos demonstrating techniques formed the basis for the illustrations. Despite their instructional and historical value, the entire magnificent collection of photos was never published, only selections, like the ones in this volume. Feldenkrais sent Kawaishi his j udo books and articles as soon as he finished them, and the two later worked jointly on international j udo committees. When Feldenkrais realized that his prospects were limited in Paris, he focused his hopes on London. He made this clear in a letter to his Fairlie col­ league David Boston, on January 2 , 1 946. Writing from Paris near the end of his stay, intensely sensitive to where he was in his environment, Moshe begins with a salutation proper to his present location: Cher Monsieur Boston, Thank you very much indeed for having thought of me and in particular for your present. I am glad to hear that your work is interesting and it absorbs so much. About your slowness to realize your situation in what you call your old relationship, you should know that it is the most difficult to j udge correctly any situation in which one plays himself the active role . . . . I still cherish the idea o f a Feldenkrais school fo r Mental & Physical improve­ ment. Could you keep an eye on a suitable dwelling for such a monumental institution? It should be of course palatial but at the same time very cheap. You know also the minimum size of it, it should house a j udo mat comfortably. I am interested to know that it is a fact that you are taller by as m uch as you say. But my estimate is that you could increase your height by another Y2 " in due time. I am hoping to go to London sometime at the end of this month. I shall be seeing you if I do come. My wife sends you her kind regards. With best wishes for a happy new year. Yours, Moshe' 60


LONDON, 1947-19 5 1 : INVENTIONS, Juno, EARLY CLASSES The balance i n stillness i s not the real balance: it i s the balance i n intense activity that is the real balance. - Trevor Leggett

[Moshe] never lost his ability to walk like a j udo master-that special way of walking with balance and lightness. - Mia Segal (Somatics interview)

M osHE FELDENKRAIS EMERGED from S cotland with a clear and passionate intention: to understand the fundamentals underlying the processes of human development-the essential ingredients of any training for body and mind. The vision that enchanted him was a new scientific theory and a path for inner peace-a practical method and a paradigm for discovery. Feldenkrais's determination carried with it a characteristically allowing attitude. By virtue of either trust or fatalism, he consigned many areas of his life to move and bend with the shifting winds of people and events-but not to shift him from his "single path . " With the war's aftermath, Moshe received a t last what h e asked for in his 1 93 1 letter to Ze' ev Kovensky: " I want very much to be free of all connec­ tions from the past that don't let me live in peace. " ' The peace from his loss of connections went hand in hand with chaotic upheavals for Feldenkrais, but these held fertile, dynamic potentials, and as he embraced them, that embrace unleashed perhaps his greatest creativity. Were it not for the terrible war, Feldenkrais's time in Fairlie would have seemed idyllic. He was insulated from most of the war's suffering; spared the demands of the university and research; excused from family obligations; cush­ ioned financially by the Admiralty; granted time for unhurried self-reflection , reading, and writing; stimulated b y brilliant, enjoyable company and interest­ ing scientific problems. He was freed from having to publicize his classes and given a captive audience for his teaching and current ideas. Except for the war, it is hard to imagine a more congenial environment for him. But with the war over and won, Moshe's five years in London brought him times that were among his best and worst. From the focus on his work, he reaped the j oys of creation-but he was stressed from all sides. He lost his livelihood, his father died, and he separated from his wife. His professional identity became increasingly ambiguous, and his sense of place and belonging grew as tenuous as it would ever become. He faced financial difficulties, intel­ lectual and cultural resistance, professional competition, and family pressures. His determination to pursue his quest despite everything was probably his

21 4


most courageous choice since leaving eastern Europe as a boy. And though his goal was clear, it was a time of profound not knowing. What would he learn and where would his quest lead? In December 1 946, the Feldenkraises moved into their London apartment in Brondesbury Park. Yona was "still waiting for a passage to Palestine. " 2 Moshe and Yona had been in contact with other refugees who, like themselves, were reorienting to new circumstances. Among their friends in the local Jewish community, were the Rabinoviches whom they'd met aboard the Ettrick en route from France.3 In their meetings with other Jewish couples they sensed the growing momentum toward the formation of a Jewish state . Yon a especially felt pulled. Factors now pointed to Yona and Moshe taking separate paths. Moshe tried his best to excite Yona about his latest discoveries . She didn't lack interest or appreciation. They had stimulating discussions. Yona shared her knowledge of pediatrics, and Moshe even taught her some of his techniques. But somat­ ics didn't bond them. A child might have brought them closer together, but I heard contradictory accounts about their conflicts over that issue, and over which of them wanted a child. David Boston remembered Moshe flirting, "chatting up, " women in Fairlie, and igniting Yona's j ealousy. There are indications of Moshe having affairs, as long ago as Paris. Yona felt insecure with Moshe, and she was uncomfortable with his jobless­ ness and dubious professional direction. He spent more and more time lying on the floor, making experimental movements, and talking with friends late into the night about his ever-growing "craze. " It was difficult for her to under­ stand, and irritating to ponder, how these matters could distract Moshe from focusing on his hard-earned career in physics. Moved by Zionism, wanting to be with her family, and feeling dissatisfied with her marriage, Yona returned to Palestine. In early 1 947, after Yona left, Moshe moved to Belsize Park, a London neigh­ borhood graced with the charm of converted Victorians. Somewhat bohemian and cultured, it was home to J . D . Bernal, Francis Huxley, and other scientists, writers, and artists. Feldenkrais's corner building was roughly four blocks from the Belsize train stop, and across the street from an old, ivy-covered church. Franz Wurm recalls: It was a rooming house, really. It was run by a man who used to get all the take home money from his wife. She was a French woman, and he was an English man, and he would go and spend all the money she earned on bets . . . It was a bit of a crazy crowd living in that house. 4

Feldenkrais could view a beautiful garden behind the house through the large windows of his ground floor studio. Its spacious single room was fur­ nished with a bed, table, bath, and kitchen. Moshe allocated a sweep of space

L O N D O N , 1 9 4 7 - 1 9 5 1 : I N V E N T I O N S , J u o o , E A R LY C L A S S E S


sufficient fo r a j udo throw. Though he still had a little work from the Admiralty, his new situation allowed immersion in j udo, research, and writing. On May 22, 1 947, not long after moving to 8, Belsize Park, Feldenkrais sent a revealing missive reconnecting with his friend, Ze' ev Kovensky. Years had elapsed since his last letter: Good day to my friend. There is a way that a man doesn't look into the corners of his consciousness because he has not courage to acknowledge what's in the corner. He is cheating himself with the illusion that if he doesn't look in that place everything will be all right. That's actually my situation. I haven't written to you in years, [because the] corners of my consciousness are full with the knowledge that I didn't dare to scratch the surface. And that's the reason for my silence. In the depths of my soul I can tell you that I succeeded in my journey. I always had the feeling that your heart was with me. I am continuing my mission. I wrote you about everything that I believed, and afterwards I stopped progressing spiritually inside, and since then I don't dare to look into the corner of my consciousness where I may meet your look. Was it worthwhile, your efforts to help me at the beginning? (By the way, soon I will pay you back all that you deserve.) When I left, my intention was to do big things. It's of course silly to think so at the beginning. But I did a lot, but I haven't succeeded in reaching broad knowledge and peace of mind. I write you now because I 'm writing my new book, this time not about wrestling, and I came to something that brings me to a point that makes me satisfied, and that's why I can now look right into your eyes. Your friend, with heart and soul, Moshe PS Don't forget to write Doctor Feldenkrais. You have a big part in this title.5

Feldenkrais's sense of "mission" guided him from an early age, and this letter exhibits his continuing Faustian passion for knowledge. But why this moment-after so many years-for renewing contact with Kovensky? A trig­ ger may have been Yona's recent return to Palestine. She had probably met with Ze'ev, and perhaps Moshe wanted to balance Yona's side of the story with his own perspective. Against Yona's criticisms and skepticism about his "craze, " it was important for Moshe to persuade Ze' ev of his endeavor's value. Also, Moshe was looking for employment, unsure where he would establish a home. London and Paris were his top choices, but he considered Palestine, too. Communicating with Kovensky would have been a way to touch base there. Moshe expressed to Ze' ev that he found himself apart from Yona, not quite knowing how it happened. He never chose to separate. It's one example of where the self-directed Feldenkrais chose not to choose, and allowed things to happen. Kovensky, it seems, hoped to reconcile them, and would have been happy for Moshe to j o i n them in Palestine. Written only a few weeks after the previous one, Moshe's next letter to Ze' ev articulates his ambivalent feelings about Yona:



MF t o Kovensky June 3 , 1 947 London Many greetings to you Wolf, First of all, my letter was written before I received the letter from you. It is hard for me to answer your first letter, since the truth is, I do not know what to say. My love for Yona does not change her opinion. What brought her to make a decision at this particular moment, I don't know. Nothing out of the ordinary seemed to happen lately, except perhaps that one of my English acquaintances from the laboratory, an admirer, decided to talk to Yona and tell her that she's with a smart man. He went on to say that, if she loves me, she should give me freedom, and thus allow me to achieve greatness. What greatness he had in mind, I of course cannot even imagine. It is known that with too much thinking about things it is even possible to get an elephant through the head of a needle, and this is what happened. Of course, this was only something to which a lot of disappointments, and hardships of life could be attached. And in a certain way, my love to Yona is less than what could be achieved if my soul had the ability to prosper under adequate conditions. What our relationship will bring in the future, I do not yet know. I did not send Yona away, and she did not leave me. She decided to go before I gave my opinion. I do not want to prevent her from doing what she deems right. I come to think that a temporary break in the married life will not hurt us. [And] if a temporary separation brings a permanent one, then it is better to do so, rather than continue breathing life into a dead body. Now, please tell me, what was on your mind when you wrote your letter. Yours, Moshe 6

From the correspondence with Ze' ev over the next months we can see Moshe and Yona keeping the door ajar for reconciliation. Years may have passed before that door finally closed. In Moshe's letters one hears a conciliatory tone toward the woman who, legally, was still his wife. But there was much history to overcome. Yona expressed that her heart had softened, but that she was apprehensive, and made it clear that she had few illusions or expectations.7 Years later, after Moshe returned to Israel, he and Yona remained friends, but they never lived again as man and wife. Although they had a Jewish mar­ riage, Moshe made it a point that no religious authority ever granted them a divorce-he meant to imply that their relationship remained permanently ambiguous, since they were still married in the eyes of tradition. The date of their legal divorce I could not discover. Many years later Feldenkrais was asked why they separated. He replied sardonically: she was upset with him for drop­ ping cigarette ashes on the carpet, and he was upset with her for making them late for the theater. Despite his sarcasm, Moshe then added, somewhat regret­ fully, that "for the love of Mike" he didn't really know the cause of their breakup, but that minor annoyances sometimes senselessly drove people apart. 8

L O N D O N , 1 9 4 7 - 1 9 5 1 : I N V E N T I O N S , j u o o , E A R LY C L A S S E S


In autumn 1 947, Franz Wurm graduated from Oxford with degrees in philology, French, and German, and moved up to London , next door to Feldenkrais at 8, Belsize Park. They met when Moshe knocked on his door one day and said, " I heard you have lots of dictionaries in your library. " Twenty years Moshe's j unior, Franz was a writer. One day h e would b e lauded for his poetry, and known for the letters he exchanged with the world's literati. In 1 939 he was a child in Prague, and his parents sent him to Britain "at the last moment. " He was one of the children who were sent to foster families in Britain. His family died in the camps. Franz grew to be one of Moshe's life­ long friends, and one of the first pupils of his somatic method. From Franz we have the story that, when they first met, Moshe told him: "You look as though you were reading something which you admired very much but didn't understand, and also you've got a headache on the right side." [When he replied,] " Right on both counts, " [Moshe said,] "Which one shall we take first?" 9

Moshe helped Franz to overcome his headaches, his anxieties-and his writing blocks. When Wurm struggled with his writing to reach standards of excellence, Feldenkrais counseled: You can't write a masterpiece . . . You can write a book. Maybe it will be a master­ piece, maybe it won't, but you write it until it is one, maybe you can . . . start by writing. Forget the masterpiece, j ust start writing. Io

Franz helped Moshe, too, and drew from his Oxford education to assist Feldenkrais with his manuscripts. Franz, at the time waslooking for a job. It was a couple of years after the war. One wasn't allowed j ust to take on any job, but there was still the law about direction of labor. Since the armed forces were being demobilized, they got priority in getting a j ob.

When Franz moved to Belsize Park, in autumn of 1 947, Feldenkrais was hard at work on both his books, Body and Mature Behavior and The Potent Self . . He was moving over to his later work, which as you know, started in Paris ... He was still in the Admiralty, must have been on the brink ofleaving the Admiralty. . . And he was also dabbling, I think, a little in inventions . 1 1

Moshe and Franz faced similarly dim employment prospects. As England demilitarized, Feldenkrais knew that he couldn't rely on government work. Being a fo reigner and a Jew added to his problems. England was anxious to reestablish its own identity afrer the chaos of fo reign armies and refu­ gees. Despite a veneer of tolerance, anti-Semitism in England was not only widespread-it was institutionalized. At a government employment office Feldenkrais met a posted sign stating "Jews need not apply. " He immediately



shot o ff a n angry letter t o governmental officials . They replied apologetically, but claimed-defensively-that there was no anti-Semitic policy; the sign was an unfortunate fluke. Since his "craze" was not going to keep a roof over his head, Feldenkrais had to generate income howsoever he could. The military research at Fairlie had spin-off applications fo r the civilian sector. When Moshe and his young scientist friends from Fairlie moved to London, they sought to capitalize on the technologies they fostered during the war. Some used their expertise, especially in acoustical engineering, to find work in the film and recording industries. Before the war, Ralph Serie had done work with Western Electric; afterward, he worked at Shepperton Studios. Before the war, Clifford Chalker had been a research scientist and cinematographer for Kodak, known for his work in sound and film. Later, in London, Chalker continued in research and became a cinematographer for the Royal Family. After the war, Moshe's friend, David Boston, got a job working for British Acoustics. Cliffo rd Chalker was close friends with Feldenkrais and Ralph Serie. Chalker, during the war, had helped Moshe get the work directing research for the Pioneer Film company. After the war, Chalker helped Moshe find a job with a London electronics firm called " Katz." Moshe did research and develop­ ment work for other companies as well. While living in France, Feldenkrais had developed four inventions, and his sterilization technique later reached the marketplace. In the United Kingdom, his creative perspectives and tinkering proliferated ideas for inventions, and at least one of his devices was made into a prototype by an interested company, but none brought income. Nevertheless, his "dabbling . . . a little in inventions," had other benefits. Some of his inventive thinking carried seeds to his other activities. And some of his inventions found personal use, like the ingenious, self-inflating bicycle pump mentioned in the previous chapter. It was never made available to the public, but Feldenkrais rode up and down the hills of Fairlie and Largs with the contraption rigged to his bike. Feldenkrais devised new means of incorporating audio tracks onto movie film. Beyond the practical problems of sound and image synchronization, Moshe was intrigued by how the brain converts successive still pictures into perceived continuous motion. In San Francisco and Berkeley, he reminded his students of the flickering in silent era films running at eighteen frames per second. Only when the proj ection rate increases to twenty-four frames per second, do the moving images become smooth. Conversely, how slowly must images succeed each other, for each to be distinct and not blurred? The scien­ tific literature terms this "perceptual framing. " Feldenkrais later hypothesized that the time interval required by the brain to assemble-frame-a coher­ ent perception was a critical constant for brain functioning. He believed that the brain as a whole forms new, discrete states moment by moment. At each moment, "the integration of the brain is absolute," and "every 1 0 milliseconds

L O N D O N , 1 9 4 7 - 1 9 5 1 : I N V E N T I O N S , J u o o , E A R LY C L A S S E S


approximately the slate i s cleaned . . . " 12 I think Moshe believed that such "cleaning the slate" allowed a temporal window for forming new patterns. Did he see it as a neurological basis for free will, our ability to make fresh choices? Feldenkrais's ideas anticipate Chilean neuroscientist Francisco Varela's ( 1 946-200 1 ) notion of the "momentariness of the brain. " A practicing Buddhist meditator, Varela held that the phenomenology of the "present moment" corresponds to the way the brain works. Daniel N. Stern has more recently advanced a similar view of the brain, Feldenkrais's interests, together with his knowledge and the encouragement of his friends from Fairlie, led him also to develop a new type of phonograph record, but it "never came off because the material was too resistant, it couldn't wear down quick enough for the record companies. " 13 As Feldenkrais experimen ted with his tractor-feed idea, Franz Wurm remembered, "He nearly ruined my typewriter with a roll of toilet paper. " Moshe soon discovered that butcher paper did the trick. A few years later, in 1 9 5 1 , the American beat writer Jack Kerouac ( 1 922- 1 969) , felt similar impatience about interrupting his creative process, and arrived at the same solution. Within months of each other, Kerouac was writing On the Road while Feldenkrais was at work on The Potent Self, without having to interrupt their currents of thought to change paper. 14 Unsatisfied with the typewriter workhorses at his disposal, Moshe gave further attention to their improvement, and in 1 949 a company built twenty prototypes fo r what they tentatively called " Typon" - an invention fo r impregnating Typewriter ribbons. 15 Feldenkrais's actual income seems to have been derived from three sources: technical consulting for private firms, his skills as a linguist, and writing. His friend Betty Tilden remembered Moshe interpreting at meetings between Russian, German, French, and English scientists. ] . G . Crowther likely assisted him in finding such work. His experience as an interpreter helps explain Feldenkrais's ability to smoothly shift between languages. At one dinner gath­ ering, I listened to him carry on virtually simultaneous conversations in three different languages. Tilden also recalled that Moshe was paid to translate and ghost write articles for science journals. Here, too, he likely benefited from Crowther's helpfulness. Moshe also continued to draw royalties from his publications in Hebrew, French, and English. Together, Feldenkrais's activities met his expenses, but it seems that for his entire post-war period in London, he rarely held a "normal," full-time job. Time opened for him to pursue his calling. His writing, theorizing, developing new methods, and studying his beloved j udo kept Moshe more than occupied.



Feldenkrais was n o t yet settled in London when h e wrote t o David Boston throughout 1 946. He complained to David, " I am at a lost end about storing the Judo mat which I have nicely packed in crates. " 16 He rold David, I still cherish the idea of a Feldenkrais school for Mental & Physical improve­ ment. Could you keep an eye on a suitable dwelling for such a monumental institution? It should be of course palatial but at the same time very cheap. You know also the minimum size of it, it should house a Judo mat comfortably. 17

Moshe began his new " Feldenkrais" classes in Fairlie, and no doubt expected to see them evolve in London . Did he also expect to teach j udo at his "Feldenkrais School?" Except for the three-year hiatus following his knee inj ury, Moshe had taught martial arts for more than twenty years. Had circum­ stance allowed, he probably never would have stopped. But he did not create a j udo club after Fairlie. And he never formally taught j udo again, though he coached the London j udo team and lectured on j udo for at least one local col­ lege. Still, he held onto his mats-kept them packed in crates-so it seems that he never decided to stop. He was ready if the occasion arose. When he moved back to Israel, he had the mats shipped there. And twenty years later, after introducing Mia Segal to j udo, he offered them to her. Down from his attic came the mats but, by then, time had rotted them. After leaving Fairlie, however, Feldenkrais's involvement with martial arts was far from over. The postwar period would see the culmination of his inves­ tigation and practice of j udo. Sources for Feldenkrais's j udo involvement in London are varied: the articles and Higherjudo capture his scientific insights; his lectures, and interviews with Dennis Leri, provide personal angles; and with help from Caret Newell and Mia Segal, I interviewed by telephone or in person many of his contempo­ raries, including Trevor Leggett, Charles Palmer, Percy Sekine, Martin Lewis, and the Budokwai's historian, Richard Bowen . F o r five years-all of this period in h i s life-Feldenkrais was active in London's Budokwai. " Budokwai" means "for the place of the way, the way of the practice of the art . " 18 Still one of the world's leading j udo centers out­ side Japan, in those days the club occupied two floors at 1 5 Lower Grosvenor Place, shabbier than one might expect for a place not far from the entrance to Buckingham Palace. 19 Feldenkrais took classes from Gunj i Koizumi and Trevor Leggett ( 1 9 1 4-2000) . He captained the British team in the first post­ war international j udo competition-a match with his old French club, sat on organizational committees, and contributed profusely to the Budokwai

Quarterly Bulletin. British jiujitsu history begins with Yukio Tani and his brother giving music-hall demonstrations when j iuj itsu was in vogue following the Russo-Japanese war.

L O N D O N , 1 9 4 7 - 1 9 5 1 : I N V E N T I O N S , J u n o , E A R LY C L A S S E S


B u t Koizumi is perhaps t h e m o s t central figure i n British j udo, a n d his story has some similarity with Feldenkrais's . H e was a p recocious student of j iuj itsu with a passionate interest in electricity. He left Japan, young and unsupported, and m ade his way across Eurasia to England. H e then taught j iuj itsu in London for nine months after his arrival in 1 906, and saved enough money to cross to America where he studied electrical engineering. Koizumi returned to England in 1 9 1 0 with the intention of going into business as an electrician. In January of 1 9 1 8 he "opened the Doj o for the practice of Jiuj itsu, Kenj utsu, and other martial arts ofJapan. " He enlisted Yukio Tani as the Budokwai's co-teacher. In 1 920 Kano sent Hikoichi Aida to be the Budokwai's first j udo instructor. Koizumi and Tani became j udoists under Aida and the Budokwai was brought into the fold of Kano's Kodokan j udo. When Feldenkrais first witnessed j udo in Paris, he met Aida, along with Kano and Sumiyuki Kotani, after watching their demonstration. 20 Koizumi was one of Feldenkrais's most revered teachers. He told our San Francisco training class, Koizumi was an extraordinary man in every respect . . . He was one of the-like Gurdj ieff tells you-remarkable people I knew. That's one remarkable person who has influenced me, and made a part of me crystallize better than before. 21

Koizumi was a cultured man, a calligrapher and an artist who restored fine lacquer finishes to ancient artwork. Feldenkrais told us He had an antiques shop, at Victoria Station, a wonderful, big shop . . . It's not only that he sold Chinese and Japanese antiques, but he was the accredited restorer at . . . museums . . . where they had Chinese vases of 600 years ago , or [thousands of] years ago. If it was broken or found broken [and they wanted] to restore it [to] the same colors as it was-he would diagnose and tell you who the painter who did it was, and in which region he lived and what colors he used. And he would restore the thing, that after the restoration, you wouldn't know that it was [restored] . The British Museum, the French Louvre-there were about half a dozen museums in the world, used him for restoration. So you see he was a skilled artist, an engineer, a clever j udo man, and a unique person . . . This man was the o nly Japanese . . . who was n o t p u t i n prison during the war when the Japanese were in war. The Japanese here [in the U SA] . . . and . . . i n England were put away. Koizumi was the only Japanese who was left free by the British . . . He had a special passport [so] no policemen would ever touch him-all the [other] Japanese were behind barbed wire . . . And not o nly was he left, but he had access to all the airfields to teach pilots j udo. He was a unique person . . . And I [was] especially favored by him, because he wrote a preface to my j udo book [Higher judo] , which is a marvelous preface . . . H e was a tiny little man, quiet, simple, n o show off. . . Nobody has ever met


M o s H E F E L D E N K RA I S

Koizumi without feeling that h e was i n the presence [of somebody with] extreme power. He could beat anybody ten times his weight-no question about that. But you would never hear him or see him without a friendly smile [so] you would feel that [he] feels cowards you like a friend. And when he died, the Times asked, " Is there anybody in Britain who can remember Koizumi losing his temper, or erasing his smile?" .. .In fact, [there wasn't anybody to] whom he didn't [give] an encouraging, friendly word. 22

Franz Wurm remembered seeing Koizumi once at the Budokwai. After the Moshe group, we sat around and watched Koizumi and Moshe having a [ randori] and my j aw dropped when Moshe, who was no fly weight in those days either, was suddenly sent flying through the air like . . . a paper ball. [And] Koizumi was a small, feeble old man, and Moshe after that flight [through the air] landed [on the mat] without breaking a thing. 2 3

For Feldenkrais, Koizumi represented an epitome of human grace in action. He could perform the Kata of the Five Winds . . . In that kata, you have to get up to the standing position, but without bending-doing it as if the wind lifted you . . . there are films [where] you'll see Koizumi . . . where he lies, and then gets up, you don't know who b rought him there. To see it, it looks like he has defeated gravita­ tion . . . There are [only] a few great j udo men who could do this kata really, so that you see it once, and you can't believe it in you r life that it's possible. He could do it better than I could at that age, though I was very strong and a very a good j udo man to his appreciation, and that's a lot . . . No one else in B ritain could do it . . . nobody else, except him.

Moshe said: He wasn't strong, but . . . you couldn't move him, not easier than move this wall, if he stood there. Or if he lay on the floor, on top of you, you could struggle your life out, you couldn't remove him, couldn't get out. It doesn't matter what you did. It's an extraordinary use of skill.24

Koizumi held Saturday classes, Martin Lewis explained, for what he called mature students, who were seekers of wisdom who wanted to know not how it worked, but why it worked and the philosophy that surrounded it. 2 5

Mia Segal put me in contact with Martin Lewis, a friend of her family. A busi­ nessman with long experience in public speaking, Lewis gave lucid descriptions of martial arts principles, and vivid portraits of the personalities of the period. Martin Lewis said, "One of the several points that [Koizumi] made was the question of meeting force with force . " Lewis recalled a sign that Koizumi had

L O N D O N , 1 9 4 7 - 1 9 5 1 : I N V E N T I O N S , J u n o , E A R LY C L A S S E S


posted i n the hall: "Don't meet force with force . " Lewis remembered Koizumi saying: " Don't worry about the things you can't do to save your energy for the things you can . " Lewis explained that j udo is based on the principle of the redirection offorce. . . You use your attacker's forward momentum to continue on his path by pulling him at the right moment, redirecting him away from you, and using his falling momentum to throw him. [Judo is not like] karate, which is a concentration offorce, where you get all the energy of a man swinging an arm in the famous karate chop. [In karate,] all the energy is concentrated on the narrow edge of the side of your hand. This enables you to properly train to break a brick or a slate or even a plank of wood.

As Feldenkrais explained in ABC du judo, balance is essential to Judo's mystery. Martin Lewis remembered: [In the] Saturday afternoon class, we would do interesting movement things, not with the view to throwing each other but with a view to working out the finer points of balance. It was like ballet dancing in a way. . . One of the things [Koizumi] used to do was-obviously, wearing j udo gis-instead of holding forcibly the thick part of the lapels of the j acket and sleeve . . . we would j ust hold lightly with the crook of our little finger. . . Just pulling and pushing slightly, we would find the moment where going around in slow walking-almost bouncing the waltz-type steps-we could find the other person's moment of off-balance. And he would j ust go round and round. [Koizumi] was 78 when he died, so he must have been in his middle sixties when this was going on. He would j ust suddenly twitch with hardly a movement of an eyelid, and you would find yourself falling over. Of course, he knew that moment [of being off-balance.] I outweighed him by probably 20 or 30 pounds and [he was] not ... stronger, but mentally he was amazing. 26

Feldenkrais also took classes from then 5 th Dan Trevor Leggett, the club's senior non-Japanese teacher. When Moshe first met the accomplished Leggett, he didn't know who he was. After donning his gi, Moshe did randori with Leggett and summarily threw him on the mat, leaving onlookers agape. Once he knew him, Moshe never threw him again. Trevor Leggett began his study of j udo under Yukio Tani in 1 929, at the age of fifteen. According to j udo historian Richard Bowen: About 1 9 29 the twin pillars of the Society, Tani and Koizumi, were joined by a third-not immediately a p illar but soon to become one-Trevor Pryce Leggett. When it came to j udo Leggett was single-minded. An early member reported that Leggett never wore anything but a shirt and thin j acket-no vest, waistcoat or overcoat, even in the depth of winter; he was first on the mat and last off-Mondays to Fridays, and most of Saturday, and Sundays if the Society was open. 27



Caret Newell and I interviewed the impressive Leggett not long before his death. He was blind and his voice weak, but his presence evoked the image of a dragon, a word found in several of his book titles. According to Martin Lewis: " [Leggett] became the highest graded non Japanese Judo player in the world." Leggett was a journalist, an authority on Eastern religion, a scholar of the ancient languages of India, China, and Japan, Buddhist texts, and a busi­ nessman. He was head of the BBC Japanese Service from 1 946 to 1 970. 2 8 Along with Tani and Koizumi, Leggett may have also learned from Kawaishi, Feldenkrais's teacher in France. Kawaishi was a "traveling instructor," and he was in England from 1 93 1 to 1 933, until "a difference of opinions" sent him off. 29 Leggett characterized Kawaishi as among the generation that "brought j udo across . " He recalled Kawaishi telling him, 'Tm a good third class j udo, but I have got probably unmatched experience in going against other forms of attack and defense. " By this, Leggett understood "boxing or so-called catch­ as-catch-can wrestling: he had such a unique advantage in how to use j udo against that . " We should take Kawaishi's professing himself "third class" with a grain of salt: Japanese humility notwithstanding, Kawaishi was 7th Dan Kodokan rank, and the linchpin of Britain's victory in the first competition between the French and British clubs. Leggett met Jigoro Kano in 1 93 3 , around the same time as Feldenkrais, during Kano's tour of Europe. Leggett received his black belt by 1 93 2 , at the age of seventeen, and began teaching a few years later. He was interned in Japan from 1 939- 1 94 5 . Moshe met him after he returned from the Far East and resumed teaching at the Budokwai in 1 946. Leggett remembered Feldenkrais taking his weekend class for black belts in 1 947. While we spoke at Leggett's apartment, Caret Newell's sharp eye caught Moshe's Higher judo on a bookshelf. It had an inscription from Moshe: " From whom I would like to learn even more than I did." Teaching and practicing j udo was a spiritual discipline for Leggett and Koizumi . They never "took a penny" for teaching though Koizumi, perhaps in consequence, suffered financial hardships.3 0 "The essence of a good teacher," Leggett explained to us, is not imposing a framework, and if he really knows his stuff, he can see the potentiality in one person . . . It's what you're doing all the time . . . you can see what they could do. Now very often they have no faith in themselves. But you've got faith in them because, you know, you've seen it happen, you've been able to create it before. And then sometimes with luck, your faith will give them faith in themselves . . . and then they get a move on. Well, now that's teaching. [Moshe] may have been a very good teacher.3 1

Leggett affirmed that Feldenkrais could make a "respectable demonstra­ tion," such as appeared in a fifty-minute instructional film on j udo directed by Koizumi for the Budokwai's thirtieth anniversary. The film's 1 948 brochure lists the Dan ranking of those making demonstrations-most of them would reach

L O N D O N , 1 9 4 7 - 1 9 5 1 : I N V E N T I O N S , J u o o , E A R LY C L A S S E S


higher ranks over the coming years. Feldenkrais is indicated as 2nd Dan, the sixth in ranking in the club, after Koizumi (6th Dan) , Leggett (5th Dan) , and 3rd Dan j udokas Frederick Peter Kauert, Edward Mossom, and Percy Sekine. Leggett shared Feldenkrais's criticism of repetitive training: "If you play consecutive thirds on piano, " Leggett said, it affects the general dexterity. B u t repetition , per se, leads to mechanical movement that is unconscious, and it will tend to get worse, like handwriting . . . . I n j udo, the emphasis is on p ractice, which includes unpredictable elements . . . . This is why. . . one can learn jiuj itsu in one year, but it takes five years to learn j udo, and seven years to be any good.32

Leggett emphasized that for Judo and, in general, there are two basic ways of doing . . . and teaching . . . . One is to learn the correct form and always do your accents on keeping good form. Now you won't get results for quite some time, but when you do get results, your actions will be correct in helping [improve] the results. And again, if you're a little bit ill, or in bad circumstances . . . your form will hold you up. Well, the other method is get it over, j ump into tricks, anything, somehow get it up . . . . And when you've done this for a time . . . you learn a few tricks which get people over. And . . . then you find that when you're getting up a little bit and meeting [those] j ust a bit more skilled in j udo, your tricks don't work anymore; they're j ust tricks. A lot of them depend on surprise and against someone more experienced you can't surprise him like that. So . . . from that standpoint . . . you start thinking, "Hmmm, perhaps there is something i n the forms after all" and then you start getting your rough and tumble j udo into good form. 33

In Leggett's view, Jiuj itsu training resembled j umping into the tricks. The jiuj itsu training is more like learning phrases from a phrase book to learn Italian. You try to master a phrase for each occasion-one or two for every possible occasion. What to do when you go to the chemist, what to do at the railway station, . . . you see? Whereas the j udo training is more like learning the structure of the sentences so that you can make a sentence for the chemist, make another one for the railway station, and so on. So the intellect and all the adaptive movements are fully employed, you see. If you learn j udo-six years is the general training-you can then master the j iuj itsu tricks. And there were still a few jiuj itsu schools running in my time, but one of the teachers of one of those schools, he confessed to me what I j ust told you: [someone with] six years of j udo and then a year ofjiuj itsu, [would] be better than someone who'd been seven years with [him] in jiuj itsu. Because you see the jiuj itsu was all done in set forms and if you do it in set forms, you know what's going to happen and you get skill in response . . . But it takes a long time before you get the idea of balance.34



Leggett and Koizumi both taught katsu, resuscitation classes. These classes were for black belts only and considered a rite of passage for advancing j udokas. As the first step of katsu instruction, Leggett and Koizumi administered chokeholds to each student in turn, and then revived them. The chokehold was not, as the term might suggest, a strangulation technique to halt respiration; rather, it applied pressure to stop the blood flow of the carotid artery. Leggett described how they safeguarded the choke's being maintained no longer than necessary. A student would hold an arm in the air. After a few seconds, the fall of the arm signaled a loss of consciousness, the pressure was removed, and the student collapsed. O nce having had the experience, students would then put their fellow students unconscious. Leggett explained: The rule-which I think is a very good one-was that to do it you must experi­ ence it effectively yourself, and then you must do it on someone else effectively.

Such was the case with Charles Palmer and Moshe. Feldenkrais, who had previously studied katsu with Kawaishi in France, attended katsu and other j udo classes with Charles Palmer in 1 9 5 0 and 1 9 5 1 . At Koizumi's request, Palmer "strangled" Moshe to the point of unconsciousness , and Koizumi revived him. 35 Some found it difficult to watch-often it was "not a pleasant sight. " All of the sphincters relaxed upon blacking out, and some students wet their pants or defecated. Students were advised to empty their bladders and bowels prior to class as a precaution. After collapsing some lay twitching on the ground. Leggett and Koizumi then applied katsu resuscitation techniques . On occa­ sion, there was not only loss of consciousness but, even stoppage of the heart; hence the importance of competence in the art of katsu. Still, Leggett recalled no instance when anyone suffered ill effects. 3 6 Leggett asked students about their experiences of going unconscious and coming to. Feldenkrais was fascinated. And "What a pleasant sensation!" exclaimed E.J . Harrison, at his first experience of judo strangulation and resusci­ tation. Some, however, suffered panic; most simply yawned and fell "asleep. "37 When I asked Leggett to describe how katsu is performed, he gently refused, asserting that " It's a secret. " I have come across literature emphasizing the eso­ tericism of katsu, along with other ancient Samurai techniques. E.J. Harrison devotes several intriguing chapters to such subj ects . Some I interviewed, however, debunked the shroud of secret knowledge. At least as far as katsu was concerned, they claimed it was roughly e quivalent to modern C P R techniques-little more than a "thump on the back. "3 8 Koizumi was universally respected as the club's founder and spiritual father, but my interviews uncovered differences of philosophy between Koizumi and some of his students. One issue was competition. As Koizumi wrote in the

Budokwai Bulletin:

L O N D O N , 1 9 4 7 - 1 9 5 1 : I N V E N T I O N S , } U D O , E A R LY C L A S S E S


Matches o r contests are part o f training in Judo, n o t a n end, nor a means o f glorifying individual or collective superiority, a s i s the case in most sports. This uniqueness ofJudo must be retained to save Judo from being degraded to a mere competitive sport.39

In our conversation, Trevor Leggett expressed only admiration for Koizumi, but he distanced himself from Koizumi's priorities, and emphasized his own views. Leggett appeared to strive for a balance between Koizumi's traditional orientation and more pragmatic approaches. Martin Lewis learned through his own experience: Oh yes, [Koizumi] didn't like competition . . . After I got my first [dan] , which I am happy to say I got in quite record time for the club, it was suggested to me that I went to train as well at another club in London run by a family of famous South Africans called the Robinson Brothers . . . They [taught] j udo less by the traditional rules, but by rules that would work and would resemble j udo, [even if they] weren't in the j udo litany. One of these was grabbing of legs, sweeping away the other supporting leg. Anyway, I loved this and got quite good at it. So, on the grading exam, I went to the club and I tried this new trick, and I scored a very good four point against my opponent who was younger and stronger. I looked . . . towards the table hoping I would get a point for this and a point towards my next band and Koizumi looked at me and solemnly shook his head from side to side. Afterwards, I presented myself to him and asked him why. He said this is not real j udo. In order to advance in those days, not only did you have to throw your opponent but it had to be in a manner and style of which respect for your opponent was important, because at the second at which he was hitting the ground, you were supposed to be slightly pulling on the part of him you were holding, so that you would take some of the weight away from his fall. [We were] actually taught to do that. Now, of course, people thump you as hard as they can. 40

Softening the opponent's fall is a remarkably gentle refinement for a martial art, not easily compatible with an ethos of "winning. " To the credit of its pioneers, the late 1 940s and the 1 9 50s brought international recognition and respect for j udo, enabling its emergence as a worldwide competitive sport. The Budokwai was naturally proud of its competitive achievements, but its successes may have contributed to eroding some of j udo's original values. Of today's martial arts, it is now Aikido that probably most closely matches the philosophical approach of traditional j udo. Feldenkrais recalled what Koizumi told him " i n the last years of his [Koizumi's) life" : I have a lot of things to do before I can die. I have to organize the j udo in the world, that there is a committee of honest people to lead the j udo in Europe. Because you know, Bonet-Maury. . .



About Bonet-Maury, Moshe interpolated: "that's a rogue that was the head of the j udo in France, but he did a lot of dirty tricks, and made the j udo cheap . " Then, resuming his paraphrase of Koizumi: " [If] we had another few like Bonet-Maury, j udo will become like wrestling or something else," and Moshe added ruefully, "in fact, it does . "41 Charles Palmer seems emblematic of the younger generatio n of B ritish students that turned j udo toward competitive norms similar to those of other sports. Palmer devoted himself to j udo's p ractice and later its politics beginning at age fifteen . A polymath entrepreneur, he became a man of means, as well as an all-around sportsman and a dance-band musician . According to Martin Lewis, [ Charles Palmer] was one of the b righter young players. H e was a very p romising player. H e was captain o f the British team in the fifties and the most successful. 42

Nearly fifty years later when I interviewed Palmer, his sharp, competitive energy carried through the phone line. Palmer characterized Koizumi as "a nice old boy. . . an ancient samurai type . . . whose theories [were] dubious . . . " E.J . Harrison, 4th Dan, spent many years in Japan as a j ournalist and serious student of Japanese martial arts and philosophy. Harrison was also involved with the Budokwai and taught there for a few years before World War I I . He belonged t o Koizumi's generation, b u r the tide o f h i s entertaining and informative memoir, The Fighting Spirit ofjapan, shows his identification with a more combative side of j udo. From Bowen's history of British j udo: No doubt Harrison, knowing the founder of Kodokan Judo, Kano Jigoro, and other leading teachers, tried to live up to the j udo ethic, but he was a hard man. Here is what one author wrote about him, thinly disguising his name: "I believe Harris was the world's champion knock-down-drag-out fighter. I know he would have made any professional pugilist, Chicago bandit, or the toughest of ' bad men' in the films, look like a lot of little girl babies. When Harris needed practice he went out looking for trouble, and I consider myself fortunate to have observed him in action. " 4 3

Feldenkrais wrote a positive review of Harrison's "great little book, judo." B u t Moshe disagrees with Harrison on some points. Addressing Harrison's comment that "Judo is . . . not designed for weaklings," Moshe says, "Were it so, it would have no educational value and would be simply another form of combat to those who are bellicose by conviction. " One might remark here as well that j udo's designer, ninety-pound Kano himself, as a child was physically weak and often beaten up. In the evenings after Budokwai classes, Feldenkrais often joined a gathering of teachers and advanced students at Choy's Chinese Restaurant, on Frith Street in Soho. It was owned by Mr. Man, a Budokwai member, and advertised

L O N D O N , 1 9 4 7 - 1 9 5 r : I N V E N T I O N S , J u o o , E A R LY C L A S S E S


a s having "the best Chinese fo o d in London. " Unfortunately, w e lack accounts of the discussions about j udo's principles, prospects, and politics in which Moshe must have engaged there. Feldenkrais was also involved in a much more formal aspect of the history of British, European, and international j udo. On Wednesday, July 2 8 , 1 94 8 , at 2:30 p.m., Moshe was present at the formation of the British Judo Association and the European Judo Union. The meeting was held at the Imperial College of the University of London. 44 After further discussion the meeting then resolved itself into the First General Meeting. Officers were appointed and the meeting went on to elect the Judo Council (the technical committee as opposed to the main administrative committee) , this being: M r. G. Koizumi, Dr. M. Feldenkrais, M. Bonet-Maury, Mr. E. Mossom, and Mr. T. P. Leggett. 45

The Second General Meeting of the European Judo Union was held in Holland on October 29, 1 949. It enj oyed greater international participation, including representatives from Holland, Italy, and Denmark, along with France and Great Britain. Richard Bowen, to whom we are in debt for his wonderful history of British Judo, records that, at that time, wrote that [two] new members were appointed to the technical body (the Judo Council) which was then composed of: G. Koizumi, M. Feldenkrais, M. Bonet-Maury, E. Mossom, T. P. Leggett, M . Kawaishi, [and) Dr. Rhi . 46

Feldenkrais contributed frequently to the Budokwai Bulletin from 1 949 to 1 9 5 1 . He wrote book reviews and reported on competitions. Most impor­ tantly, the Bulletin was Moshe's forum to share his scientific observations about j udo. Richard Bowen, the Budokwai's archivist and historian, generously afforded me time over the telephone. We corresponded, and he sent me edi­ tions of the Bulletin containing articles missing from the Feldenkrais archives. A 1 949 issue contains Feldenkrais's review of "The 32nd Annual Display of the Budokwai . . . a lively, interesting, well-planned and well-organized affair. " The event included "two International Contests, France-Britain and Holland-Britain. Both contests were won by Britai n . " Given his feelings toward the captain of the French team, Bonet-Maury, Feldenkrais's comments raise a smile. After praising "one of my first pupils in Paris" for his "drive and enterprise" as regards "the flourishing state of j udo in France," Moshe wrote that he "could not help j oining the general applause when" Bonet-Maury was beaten by his British opponent. Feldenkrais commented on "the simplicity and ease of G . K. 's [Koizumi's] movements. " One of Britain's ablest j udoists, Percy Sekine, distinguished him­ self in the competition, and Feldenkrais wrote, " Sekine is like the cat with nine lives . "47 Yasuj i Percy Sekine ( 1 920- ) "grew up in the club" and started studying j udo at the age of fifteen. He met Koizumi's daughter in 1 92 5 and


M O S H E F E L D E :-.! K R A I S

they later married. Sekine occasionally saw Feldenkrais at the Budokwai and in Koizumi's home. In the April 1 9 5 0 Bulletin, Moshe wrote in the lively style of a sports page about a recent Anglo-French match where the outcome differed from that of the previous year: "The match was won by the French team . . . Mr. Kawaishi is largely to be credited with the French victory. "4 8 Koizumi, as we might imagine, was not troubled by such losses. Feldenkrais remembered another occasion, when the Germans beat the British: When we lost a competition-which happens when a club goes against another country and loses-then the loser would not dare to see [Koizumi] , and [Koizumi] would come and say, "Ah, very nice, very good experience . . . Losing is very good experience . . . You can't be a champion without losing. " 49

Feldenkrais concluded his piece about the Anglo-French match by thanking Kawaishi and other French j udokas (though B onet-Maury's name is not mentioned) "for all the marks of personal friendship they showed to us after the contest was over. " We must call on imagination for how Feldenkrais and Bonet-Maury navigated their proper social duties here. Knowing Moshe, and his talent for nondisclosure, I suspect he put on a fine-tuned poker face and let nothing show of his inner feelings. Feldenkrais remained on good terms with Kawaishi. Long after their times together, it's clear that Moshe continued to view Kawaishi as his teacher, colleague, and collabo rator. Feldenkrais sent Kawaishi his latest articles and books . At Feldenkrais's request, Kawaishi helped him o b tain Japanese gis and belts. Kawaishi invited Feldenkrais to visit his club and when informed about Moshe's Bulletin articles, he remarked that he could trust what Moshe wrote.5 0 Trevor Leggett underlined Feldenkrais's special role at the Budokwai as "scientific observer. " Moshe's most important contributions to the Budokwai Bulletin were among the writings that a reviewer called "the first systematic and scientific analysis of the dynamics ofJudo balance and movement from the viewpoint of the physicist. " 5 1 The writings show Feldenkrais broadening his explanations and refining his theories. Following ABC du judo ( 1 93 8 ) , judo ( 1 94 1 ) , and Practical Unarmed Combat ( 1 942) , there was a six-year hiatus in Feldenkrais's j udo writing. As Feldenkrais's somatic method emerged during the last years of the war, j udo was a principal source. But as his larger synthesis emerged, he began to look at j udo with new eyes. Then, after the war, his tutelage with the inspiring Koizumi and Leggett led him to a deeper knowledge of j udo, even as he advanced increasingly in the light of his own ideas. By 1 94 8 , Moshe was ready to publish again, and he had much to say. Feldenkrais's final works on j udo reflected experience from more than twenty-five years as a martial arts p ractitioner and teacher, two decades as

L O N D O N , 1 9 4 7 - 1 9 5 i : I N V E N T I O N S , J u n o , E A R LY C L A S S E S

23 1

a scientist, and his intellectual and practical researches in the somatic field. The first of this new body of work was titled, "Better Judo," a five-article series that appeared in the Budokwai Bulletin from January 1 948 to January 1 949 . More articles followed in 1 949 and 1 9 50. His culminating j udo publication, Higher judo, appeared in 1 9 52. In his foreword, Koizumi writes: Dr. Feldenkrais, with his learned mind, keen observation and masterly command of words, clarifies the interrelation and the intermingled working of gravitation, body, bones, muscles, nerves, consciousness, subconscious and unconsciousness and opens the way for better understanding. 5 2

Feldenkrais's last judo writing coincided with his writing of Body and Mature Behavior and The Potent Self These first books about his somatic method use important examples from j udo, to elucidate the theoretical foundations of his method. I had originally devoted separate sections to Moshe's last j udo work and to the introductory books on his method. But the overlap between their analy­ ses of action and learning, and of mind and body, became so evident that I decided that it was more revealing-and concise-to view his writings from the late 1 940s to the early 1 9 50s more as a single body of work. Still, it should be kept in mind that the purposes of the somatic writing and the j udo writing were somewhat different, and they were aimed at different audiences. Feldenkrais's appreciation for the knowledge and wisdom in Kano's discipline was inestimable, and he believed that the j udo view of mind and body was "basically sounder that many modern schools of physical educa­ tion. " 53 The commonalities between his last writings about j udo and his first works about his method make clear that j udo gave Feldenkrais much of the foundation for his method. His views about posture and efficient action are entirely congruent with j udo, and his ideas about mental attitude and training are strongly influenced by j udo. As Dennis Leri writes, " Feldenkrais ['s] meth­ odology, while not reducible to either Judo or science, is clearly informed and indebted to both the aims of science and of Judo. "54 As Feldenkrais writes in

Higher judo: The Judo way is to action, as the scientific method is to thought. Both are "new, " not in the sense that our ancestors have never used them, or that they are foreign to the human nervous inheritance, but because they use methodically what was formerly left uncultivated and therefore a matter of chance or luck. 55

For j udo's practical concepts, Feldenkrais furnished scientific explanations that were grounded in physics, biology, psychology, and neuroscience. And his scientific analysis of j udo helped Moshe to formulate "sounder" scientific theories of posture and action. The next step was gargantuan: he general­ ized the knowledge of j udo to encompass a breathtaking range of human activities, both physical and mental. Kano had the wisdom and prescience



to entrust Feldenkrais with the task of extending j udo's vision to the West. But Kano could not have anticipated how far and wide Moshe would carry forward his ideas. It was not in the spirit of a blank slate that Feldenkrais met j udo; His background in Coue and tutoring, and his wide reading and experimentation, had already yielded an orientation. No doubt Moshe drew from an abundance of sources that we will never identify. And it is clear that j udo did not provide all of the strands that Moshe sought. Feldenkrais would learn important lessons from Gurdj ieff and Jacoby, and Gerda and F.M. Alexander-to name j ust a few of his later influences. Feldenkrais drew upon an immense reservoir of personal experience and academic knowledge, so I am loath to oversimplify the genesis of his method. The growth of Moshe's maturing synthesis cannot be traced along a single line. Lateral connections and cross-pollinations served as a modus operandi in the dynamic emergence of his method from multiple sources and influ­ ences. Simple answers to questions of origin are, to use one of Moshe's favorite expressions, "futile. " As we follow Feldenkrais's life, comprehensive under­ standing of his method's genealogy depends on learning about all its paths and interconnections. Even so, as we examine Moshe's analyses of posture, action, and the "potent" personality, j udo's dominating contribution may be clearly evident. Throughout the rest of this chapter I have organized an account of some of the basic principles in Feldenkrais's j udo writings that carry forward in his method and overlap with topics he treats in Body and Mature Behavior and The Potent Self Technical details pertaining mainly to j udo are omitted. But some discussions from Moshe's j udo writings seem to belong even more to his unfolding method than to j udo in the strict sense. These I will defer to the next chapter, where I will also resume the story of Moshe's life and his think­ ing during this period, and trace influences originating outside j udo. The second in the "Better Judo" series of Budokwai journal articles (April 1 948) dwells on the nature of balance. This is perhaps j udo's most important concept. Feldenkrais begins by enumerating qualities essential for a judo master, and then relates them, one by one, to the notion of "unstable balance. " Stability popularly carries mostly positive connotations, while the idea of being unstable typically connotes unreliability. Moshe's j udo writings carefully recast the significance of such terms, in accordance with the laws of physics and the art of j udo. Feldenkrais demonstrates how the capabilities of the j udo expert reside in maintaining an "unstable balance: " Statically, stability is increased by either increasing the base, or lowering the centre of gravity, or both. If you observe beginner's reactions, you will in fact see that they tend to stand with their feet spread wide apart, the knees bent and the hips pushed far back; the whole body is lowered and bent forward. Thus the

L O N D O N , 1 9 4 7 - 1 9 5 r : I N V E N T I O N S , J u o o , E A R LY C L A S S E S


centre o f gravity is lowered and the standing area increased almost to the limit. Wrestlers used to teach this kind of stance . . . . This attitude is p rogressively vanishing even from the wrestling ring, probably under the beneficial influence of Judo. In the Dojo it is purposely eliminated from the start. We use these means of increasing stability only when the opponent's skill is so overwhelmingly great that a purely defensive attitude is adopted to obstruct and delay the inevitable defeat. For, having increased our static stability to the limit, we have at the same time obviously made change of position difficult. More power is now necessary to put the body in motion, as the centre of gravity has to be raised before we can move in any direction except going further down. Also, all voluntary movement will be delayed by the interval necessary to bring the centre of gravity to a higher position before we can disengage one foot from bearing weight and move it to another spot. .. 5 6

Feldenkrais's critical point of departure was analyzing as a physicist the structure and function of the human body's unique postural balance. Moshe first addressed the subj ect of "balance" in his 1 93 8 ABC du judo (Jiu-jitsu). As previously quoted in Chapter 3 : In physics one distinguishes two kinds o f balance: stable and unstable balance. A book lying on a table, or a stick or man lying down are simple examples of stable balance. . . Unstable balance occurs when the center of gravity is high but directly above its support. . . Such balance is easily broken up, the body falls into a stable equilibrium position . . . This very simple scientific fact is the very basis of j udo. It is perfect knowledge of balance, the manner of breaking it and of recov­ ering it which enables the j uj itsian to throw the opponent to the ground with ease without using "force" in the usual sense of the term.57

Following ABC du judo (Jiu-Jitsu), Feldenkrais's next books, judo and Practical Unarmed Combat, do not explicitly discuss balance, though their techniques obviously exploit its significance. Not until ten years after ABC du judo, does Feldenkrais return to the discussion of balance. Then, beginning in 1 948, in articles and books spanning many years, he elaborates a comprehen­ sive analysis of postural dynamics. These works include his Budokwai Bulletin articles (written 1 948- 1 9 5 0 ) ; Body and Mature Behavior ( 1 949) ; Higher judo ( 1 952) ; and The Potent Self(Iate l 940s-early 1 95 0s, published posthumously) . Moshe's later writings about posture-Awareness Through Movement, and The Elusive Obvious build on his original formulations, but do not revise his basic analysis. 58 These are central ideas fo r Feldenkrais and play an enduring role throughout the rest of his career. Much of the remainder of this chapter will be devoted to their explication.


M O S H E F E L D E : 404, 413 , 41 5 , 416, 420, 423 , 430 , 43 1 , 433 , 43 5 , 442, 445, 449 , 471 , 472 - neurobiology 1 9 9 , 204, 241, 243 , 244, 247, 260, 268 , 28 5 , 292, 307, 30 9 , 3 27, 330 , 3 3 4, 343 , 3 54, 3 62, 3 69, 3 8 1 , 425, 428 , 436 - origins 37, 3 8 , 44, 6 5 , 66, 68, 8 1 , 83 , 8 5 , 93 , 9 8 , 10 5 , 1 53 , 1 5 9 , 182, 1 83 , 187, 1 8 9 , 1 93 , 1 9 8 , 199, 2 0 2 , 231 , 248 , 253 , 257, 265, 2 6 7 , 274, 279, 300, 3 13 , 3 16, 326, 3 29, 33 0 , 377, 383 , 3 86, 414, 426, 433, 440

- physical principles 23 5, 260, 262, 267, 30 5 , 333 - scientific principles 1 31 , 191, 1 9 8 , 20 5 , 231 , 2 6 0 , 273, 2 7 9 , 309, 3 27, 329, 334, 342, 371, 39 8 - visual documentation 1 50 , 157, 1 8 1 , 212, 224, 258, 267, 3 5 9 , 3 8 8 , 413 Mind and body 6, 38 , 76, 83 , 8 8 , 8 9 , 9 5 > ro9, n 9 , 167, 179, 196, 231 , 249 , 250, 2 9 5 , 308, 3 26, 340, 361, 392, 403 , 41 9 , 43 5 , 467 , 480 - psychophysiology 177, 1 9 5 , 219, 291, 300, 307, 3 24, 3 26, 33 8 , 362, 3 6 9, 419 , 473 Monomotivation versus cross-motivation 283 , 284, 3 53-35 5 , 3 63 , 3 67, 370, 444, 459 Movement - and breathing 245, 284, 288 - and expression 74, 204, 426 - and potential energy 2 3 6, 237, 246, 260, 263 , 3 04, 370, 39 6 - and readiness for action 179 , 1 8 5 , 238 , 248, 250, 2 85, 290, 370, 397, 39 8 , 448 - and visualization 8 9, ro8, 290, 291, 296, 307, 426, 427 - as pathway of realization 199, 256, 269, 297, 302, 334, 340, 362, 39 9 , 425 , 43 5 , 441 , 446, 459 - contribution of feet 25 3 , 464 - contribution of sight 200, 2 38 , 243 , 259 - coordinating and executing 250, 256, 296, 3 5 9 , 421, 428 , 429 , 439 - efficient 77, 81, ro5, no, 147, 192, 201, 2 3 5 , 240, 246, 247, 256, 286, 288 , 300, 3 90 , 396 , 402, 403 , 423 , 429 - graceful 96 , 179, 201, 40 3 - ingredients of 69, 70, 18 3 , 191, 193 , 231 , 246, 275, 283 , 29 1 , 3 28, 390, 467 - integration 72, 1 9 1 , 193 , 301, 30 5 , 3 66, 434 - physics of ro5, 1 9 1 , 206, 233 , 23 5 , 240, 33 4, 423 , 465 - repetitive 225, 43 6 - reversibility 246, 248 - variations 183, 238 , 286, 288, 3 64, 422, 424, 436 Muscles - agonist and antagonist 1 9 8 , 2 39 , 245, 279 , 280, 3 n , 3 22 - anatomy and physiology 240, 286, 3 6 3 - tonic and phasic contraction 2 3 9 , 245, 33 8 , 3 63 Music 94, 439 , 459, 481


Nazis I4, I45, I46, I5 6 , 1 59 , 162, I 6 3 , I 6 5 , 190, 206, 2II, 448 , 5I4, 5 I 5 , 5I7, 5I8 Nervous system - evolution of 242, 338 , 4I7 - hierarchical organization 242, 244, 28 5 , 340, 3 53 , 397, 4 0 1 , 4I7 - sympathetic and parasympathetic 284, 287, 300, 302, 30 5 , 33 8 , 3 6 8 , 370, 372, 39 3 Neurobiology 3 06, 3 07, 3 0 9 , 3 26, 3 28, 33 8 , 3 54, 3 6 3, 3 69, 3 8 1 , 39 8 , 403 , 4I9-42I Neuromuscular organization 200, 239 , 242, 2 5 5 , 260, 292, 33 8 , 3 62, 39 8 , 428 - conditioned responses 276, 306, 309, 3n , 323 , 3 26, 339 , 343 , 3 5 8 , 369, 4I9 - inhibition and excitation 241, 27 3 , 307, 3 n , 3 63 , 3 68-370, 38 I , 3 9 9 - laterality 307 Normandy invasion 17 4, 206 O rganism 97, 3 29, 33 9 Pain ro6, 38 8 Parenting - interfering with development 272, 320, 3 22, 337, 341, 3 52, 3 5 5 , 3 57, 3 5 8 , 3 64, 460, 463 , 466 - punishments and threats 275, 3 57, 3 59 Patterns, behavior 44, 200 Pelvis and spine 2 8 5 , 286, 3 66, 373 , 39 6 , 397, 425, 427, 464 Phenomenology 3 9 , I77, 274, 279 , 297, 330 , 459, 4 7 I , 533 Physics 68, I3I , 13 9 , 141, 144, I 55-159, 168, I72, 179, 180, 328, 330 , 333 , 478 Physics, relativity 70, 329 Physiological processes 8I, 9I, 306, 3 24, 3 6 3 , 36 9 , 372 Pogroms 19, 21, 25, 40, 50, 498 Posture - critique of concept 3 60, 416, 418, 464, 474 - disorganized 240 , 322, 341, 3 5 9 , 3 64, 366, 3 9 8 , 464, 473 - dynamic ro3 , 109, I75, 1 9 9 , 233 , 23 7, 247, 264, 297, 303 , 30 9 , 3 59, 366, 39 9 , 4I6, 420 - erect I9 5 , I 9 8 , 206, 255, 276, 287, 367, 396, 400, 416, 43 1 , 464 - erect, and balance 72, 107, 196, 233 , 23 6, 238 , 239 , 242, 245, 257, 263 , 304, 30 9 , 334, 4I7 - vertical axis 234, 23 6, 304, 431 Potency and self-reliance 109, I76, I 9 9 , 274, 333 , 425, 463




Potency as dynamic organization 74, 10 5, 237, 246-248 , 252, 257, 28I, 282, 284-288, 296, 300, 331 , 334, 337, 367, 370, 37I, 376, 3 82, 3 93 , 4I6, 429, 43I , 440 , 444, 448 , 464 Psyche I77 Psychology 3 23 , 33 2, 333 , 3 56, 3 7I , 3 8I - Adlerian I3 , I76, 478 - analytic therapies 3I , I76, 274, 3I2, 317, 3I 9 , 3 2I, 3 2 5, 33 5 , 33 8 , 34I, 346, 3 57, 3 60, 375, 3 82, 38 5 , 3 92, 433 , 531 - neurosis 3 23 , 3 25, 3 26, 33 I , 338 , 3 46, 3 5 8 , 376, 379 Resistance 3 I , 45, ro9, 20 5 , 3 54, 3 80, 3 88 - absence of 241, 3 67 - and inner conflicts 92, 9 3 , 3 58, 3 60, 3 67, 378 - and negative emotions 8I - muscular 206, 24I , 260, 3 54 Responsibility, ethics, and morality 1 3 5 , 253 Reversibility 284, 296, 334> 3 56, 3 67, 370, 3 7I , 373> 379, 445 - movement 284, 285, 296, 334, 422, 43 8 Self-defense 57, 120, I46, 3 8 3 - falling ro7, 245, 27I - inborn reactions 80, 8I, 98, 106, 109, 274 - knife technique 79-81, 106, 109, I 24, 125, I 83 - learning strategies 225, 259 - manipulative skills I46, 26 3 - physical principles I 5 2 , I 5 3 , I 5 5 , 178, I8o, 233 , 2 38 , 240, 247, 263 , 418 - physiology I82, 226 - practical 79, 9 9 , 102, I8I - principles 22 3 , 247, 253 , 2 58 , 259, 4I6 - spontaneous reactions 79, 8I, 106, I 5 3 , 274 - techniques 5 9 , 100, IOI, 104, I79, I8I-I84, 222, 223 , 226, 259, 26I, 263 - wrestling and boxing 68, IOI, 10 3 , I86 Self-image 70, 176, 180, 297 - action 70, 291, 294, 296, 3 00, 3 27, 3 34, 390, 444, 459 - body maps 71, 205, 294, 30I, 3 07, 400, 427, 428 , 445 , 473 , 474 - components 7 3 , 295, 53 1 - psychology of 46, 190, 205, 250, 3 14, 3 8 1 , 38 8 , 4 2 5 - refining 72, 96 , 2 0 2 , 2 5 4 , 2 7 6 , 2 9 I , 294, 298, 30I, 30 5 , 3 69, 390, 429 Self-organization 97, 1 9 7 , 30 8 , 3 28, 402, 4I9, 422, 434, 464, 467 - and spontaneity 288, 296, 37I, 4I8, 439


Self, sense o f 71, 2 5 5 , 297, 3 27 Self-use 1 9 6 , 257, 262, 3 13 , 3 5 1 , 3 5 9 , 361, 39 9 , 401, 402, 416, 420, 422, 426 Sensing 89, 328, 457 - differences and minimal changes 192, 257, 259, 275, 277, 286, 292, 296, 38 1 , 3 96, 421, 471 - hearing and listening 205, 458 - kinesthetic 17, 69, 71, 18 9 , 192, 19 3 , 196, 200, 204, 243 , 259, 260, 265, 275-277, 280, 281, 283 , 28 ) , 289, 291, 292, 295, 299, 302, 3 I I , 334 . 338 , 3 53 , 3 69, 3 9 9 , 404, 416, 418, 422, 424, 428, 448 , 474 - perception 17, 3 7, 69, 19 6 , 278, 425, 433 , 457, 459 Sensory motor 191 - feedback 183 , 192, 206, 23 8 , 2 5 9 , 334, 33 8 , 390, 424, 465 - patterns 71, 30 9 , 330 - skill 183 Sexuality 74, 205, 286, 341, 348, 3 50, 3 57, 378, 3 84, 387 - and libido theory 35 1 , 3 57, 37 5 , 376, 379 - and parental influence 3 5 5 , 3 57, 3 7 3 - reform 26, 44, 374, 376 - spontaneity and maturity 3 68, 372, 3 76 Skeleton, directing and sensing ro5, 206, 257, 261, 265, 3 90, 422, 262 Social idealism 1 5 1 , 1 5 5 , 158, 161, 3 12, 3 1 5 , 31 8 , 3 1 9 , 3 57, 3 61, 364, 3 9 9 , 419 , 441 , 472, 476 Somatics: - origins 83 , 148, 20 5 , 401 , 405, 412, 423 , 426, 44 0 , 448 , 473 - pioneers 197, 1 9 8 , 306, 3 7), 3 97, 403 , 433 , 447, 448 , 472, 473 , 48 1 - principles 197, 257, 312, 324, 330, 3 97, 400, 449 , 463 , 470 Somersault 43 , 180, 269, 271, 275, 284, 289, 291, 30 5 Sonar (see ASD!Cs) Spatial awareness and orientation 69, 70, 1 9 9 , 200, 205, 245, 247 , 2 5 5 , 259, 294, 302, 304, 334, 427 Speaking - and breathing 31 - and thinking 3 1 Sufism no, 4 3 0 , 4 3 2 Tanden 240, 24), 248 , 2 5 1 , 2 5 5 , 257, 26 3 , 296, 417 Teaching 89, 268, 422 - encouraging mistakes 280, 444, 461

- self-guidance versus correction 202, 280, 281, 284, 289, 3 61, 397, 3 9 9 , 417, 419 , 423 , 429 , 460, 463 , 466 - stories 7, 2 51, 44 3 - strategies 6, 38 , 64, 92, 177, 224, 252, 275, 280, 288, 289, 294, 3 52, 3 59, 3 61, 38 5 , 3 87, 3 8 9 , 3 9 1 , 392, 40 1, 417, 419, 422, 425, 426, 437, 43 8 , 442, 444, 446 , 450, 461 , 462, 467, 468 , 471 , 481 Thinking 8 9 , 292, 30 1, 437, 458, 460, 468 - and acting 61, 9), 109, 190, 196, 250, 291, 293 , 302, 3 28, 400, 474 - non-verbal basis 37 , 9 5 > 1 9 9 , 292, 446 Touch and learning 1 5 9 , 196, 20!, 20 3 , 205, 257, 259, 260, 265, 307, 383 , 384, 3 8 9, 3 9 1 , 39 9 , 401 , 403 , 40 5 , 418 , 422, 457 Training, physical !02, 1 5 1 , 179, 249Trainings - Amherst training 30 , 271, 349, 426, 437, 443 , 463 - San Francisco training 3 0 , 59, 94, 9 ) , 201, 218, 221, 257, 271 , 293 , 330 , 3 50, 3 5 5 , 38 5 , 387, 42 s , 437, 443 , 463 Transmission of force 205, 260, 262, 265, 366 Unconscious 76, 78, 8 9 , 97, 3 25 - and action 90, 94, 95, ro8, 19 3 , 3 62 - and Freud 91, 3 20, 321, 3 25 - and imagination 9 1 , IIO - capabilities 80, 8 1 , 9 6 - versus conscious 90 , 94, 241 , 276 Van de Graaff generator 140, 141, 1 56-1 5 8 , 1 7 4 , 207 Voluntary versus involuntary 27, 80, 9 1 , 2 3 9 , 241 , 242, 245, 276, 288, 341, 3 68, 370, 377, 417, 474 Walking 152 Weber-Fechner law 192, 200, 259, 277, 28 3 , 293 , 330 , 340, 3 8 1 , 396, 455, 459, 4 8 1, 534 Will 87, 3 62, 417, 434 - freedom 45, 8 7

Zionism 21, 2 5, 2 6 , 38-40, 45, 50, 56, 9 8 , 131 , 133 , 214, 3 1 8 , 475, 476, 497, 500, 503 - Bet Tarbut (Zionist schools) 38 , 51, 1 1 2 - Hovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion) 4 9 7 , 500 - Tzerei Zion (Young Zionists) 41 , 51


NAMES Aaronowitz, Yosef 63 Adler, Macie 203, 267,

268 , 280, 290, 3 0 3 ,

Bennett, J . G . 3 4 6 , 43 1 - 4 3 3 , 5 3 8 Ben-Zvi, Yitzhak 5 0 Bergmann , Samuel Hugo 7 5 , 7 6 , 203 ,

426, 428 -43 1 , 433 - 43 5 , 437, 444, 445, 447,

Beringer, Elizabeth 2 5 9 Bernal, James Desmond

158, 161, 166,

1 6 7 , 194, 1 9 5 , 2 1 4 , 2 6 7 , 3 1 2 , 3 1 5-3 1 9 , 3 2 9 , 347, 516

4 5 0 , 4 5 6 , 460, 4 6 8 , 470, 472-474

Bernstein, Nikolai Alexandrovich

183, 184,

1 9 2 , 2 8 2 , 3 2 8 , 343 , 421

Benhoz, Alain 244 Bialystok, Poland 42 , 499 Bible 38, 91, 1 2 3 Biquard, Pierre 1 54 Blackett, P. M . S . 1 6 1 Black Sea 1 4 2 Bloch, Michael 3 9 8 , 401 , 403 , 4 1 5 , 416, 4 2 0 Bohr, ::-Ji els r 5 9 Bolsheviks 1 64 Bonet-Maury, Paul n 7 , 1 3 0 , 1 5 0 , 1 54, 1 5 5 , 2 I I , 138,

1 4 0 , 1 5 6, 1 5 7 , 207

Asher, Harry 7 Aurobindo, Sri 8 6 Auschwitz 208 Austria 4 Avineri, Emile 6 8 ,

8 6-8 9 , 9 3 ,

108, 139, 317, 505

2 3 2 , 2 5 7 , 3 8 3 , 3 8 4 , 3 8 9 , 3 9 5 -4 1 8 , 420 -424,

Alexander, Gerda 413, 472 Allenby, Henry 5 1 Allenby Synagogue 5 3 Allon, Yigal 487 Alston, Charles Walter 81 Aluf, Yeshua 9 9 Alyagon, Elik 6 6 America 221 Anderson, Sir John 161, 166 Apthorpe, G . 1 8 0 Arabs 5 0 , 5 2 , 5 6- 5 8 , 7 8 , 7 9 , 8 1 , 9 9 , 146 Arbel, Dov 85 Arcueil-Cachan Laboratories, Paris n6,

303, 305, 313,

3 1 8 , 3 1 9 , 4 1 3 , 477, 48 1 , 4 8 7 , 5 0 1

3 1 7 , 3 8 3 , 3 8 4 , 4 0 4 , 43 1 , 47 5 , 4 7 9

Agnon, Shmuel Yosef 4 9 Aida, Hikoichi 1 2 3 , 1 2 5 , 1 3 1 , 1 54, 2 2 1 Akiva (Rabbi) m Aleichem, Sholem 2 3 , 496 Alexander, F. Matthias 8 3 , 1 1 0 , 1 9 5-1 9 7 ,

Belsize Park, London 214, 2 1 7 Ben-Gurion, David 50, 1 3 3 , 1 8 5 ,

227, 229, 230, 513

Boston, David

1 7 5 , 1 8 9 , 1 9 5 , 1 9 6 , 1 9 8 , 207-

209, 2 1 2 , 214, 2 1 8 , 220, 245, 2 6 8 , 270, 2 7 9 , 3 0 3 , 3 1 0 , 3 1 2 , 3 1 7 , 3 1 8 , 3 8 3 , 3 8 4 , 3 8 9 , 403, 408, 409 , 414, 430, 473

9 9 , IOI

Ba'al Shem Tov 5 , 6 Balfour Declaration 40, 42, 5 1 , Baniel, Anat 2 9 , 6 5 , 349 Baranovich 2 , 15, 21 -2 6 , 2 8 , 2 9 ,

56 3 2-34, 3 6 , 3 8 ,

40-42, 5 2 , 6 1 , I I I , I I 2 , u 6 , 1 3 1 , 1 3 2 , 1 3 8 , 142,

195, 209

Baron, Dvora 63 Barstow, Marjorie 402 Banal, Lea 312, 481 Bartenieff, Irmgard 294 Bates, Horatio 2 6 8 , 397 Bateson, Gregory 273 , 329 Bates, William 197 Baudouin, Charles 147 Beaujean, Jean 1 5 0


229, 47 5 , 476, 487

143 , 206

Barlow, Wilifred 400, 404, 408, Barnes, Eric and Gwen 170-172,

Boyd-Orr, Lord 316, 345 Bracha, Sholmo 3 24 Bradley, Bill 69 Bragg, William Lawrence 142, 1 6 1 Bratislava (Pressburg) 43 , 46 Brenner, Josef Hayyim 58 Breuer, Josef 2 7 Britain 5 6 , 5 7 , I I I , 1 6 ) , 1 6 7 , 1 8 1 , 206,

409 175, 177, 1 8 1 ,

British Admiralty

1 6 8 , 1 7 0 , 174, 2 0 9 , 2 1 3 , 2 1 5 ,

217, 3 8 5 , 4 7 7 , 5 1 7

Brodman, Korbinian 1 4 8 Brondesbury Park, London 2 1 4 Bronowski, Jacob 1 67, 1 9 5 , 2 0 4 , 2 8 1 , 402, 441 Brook, Peter 43 9 , 5 3 7 Brooks, Cyrus Harry 84, 8 5 , 8 8 Brousse, Michel 1 2 7 , 1 3 0 , 1 4 5 , 1 4 6 , 1 4 9 , 1 5 0 , 1 5 3 , 1 54, 1 8 6

Brusilov, General Alexi 3 5 Buchovina (ship) 4 7 , 49


Camarcat, David 1 5 5 Camus, Albert 463 Carbon Tetrachloride 140 Carpathian Mountains 5 , 12, 1 5 Carrington , Walter 40 5 , 406, 4 0 8 ,

4w, 4 I I ,

415, 536

Chalker, Clifford 1 7 5 , 2 1 8 Chelouche, Aaron 50 Chester, Dr. John 8 2 , 1 8 8 Chiba Sensei 2 5 9 Chmielnicki massacres 5 , 1 9 , 40, 4 9 0 Churchill, Winston 1 7 3 Claparede E. 2 5 5 , 297 Clydebank blitz, Scotland 176 CNRS, Paris 156, 160 Coghill, George Elliot 420 Cohen, Jonathan 446 Coleridge, Samuel Taylor 83 Coombe Springs 346, 43 2 , 433 Cossacks 19, 28 Coton, A.V. 345 Coue, Emile 27, 75, 77, 8 0 , 81, 84, 86-97, 108-IIO, 147, 1 5 5 , 1 7 9 , 187, 2 0 2 , 2 3 2 , 271, 275, 321, 3 2 5 , 370, 505

Cracow, Poland 3 , 43, 46 Cripps, Sir Stafford 412 Crowther, J . G . 161, 166, 168,

443 ,

4 4 5 , 467

Esalen Institute 375, 407, 430 Eshkol, Noa 422, 43 1 , 4 5 6 , 473 , 481, 4 8 2 , 542 ESTP, Paris I I 4 , II6, II7, 130, 1 3 1 , 141, 136, 1 5 6 Emick (ship) 1 64, 1 6 5 , 1 6 7 , 214 Eyrolles, Leon I I 4- I I 7 , 127-130, 1 4 5 , 1 5 0 , 155, 156

Eyrolles, Marc

n 5 , 1 1 7 , 1 3 6 , 141 , 1 5 0 , 1 54, 1 5 8

Fairlie, Scotland

169-176, 178-180, 186, 1 8 8 ,

1 9 5 , 1 9 7 , 1 9 8 , 200-20 3 , 2 0 5 , 207, 2 0 9 , 2 1 3 , 214, 218, 220, 267, 268, 270, 271, 279, 329, 3 3 4 > 3 8 4 , 3 8 7 , 403

Faroux, Charles 1 2 0 , 134, 1 3 6 , 1 5 0 Feldenkrais, Areyh 3 , I I - 1 3 , 1 5 , 22,

25, 29, 30,

3 3 , I I I , 1 3 1 , 133, 142, 158, 210 194, 209, 219,

3 1 2 , 3 1 6 , 347, 3 4 8 , 5 1 6

Curie, Irene 1 3 7 Curie laboratories Curie, Marie 1 2 9 ,

Eden Theatre, Tel Aviv 5 9 Egypt 5 1 Ehrenfried, Lily 448 Einstein , Albert 9 6 , 1 5 9 , 3 3 0 Ekman, Paul 273 Elter, Hana 19 Epstein (Anekstein) , brothers 42, 52 Epstein, Moshe 486 Eretz Yisrael 51, 112, 1 3 9 , 142 Erickson, Milton H. 2 7 , 83, 3 2 5 , 3 9 2 ,

3 , 15, 3 6 , 5 5 , 75, 97, 112,

1 3 2 , 1 3 3 , 142, 143 , 1 5 8 , 1 9 3 , 206, 2! 0

Feldenkrais, Fishel 5 8 Feldenkrais Guild 471 Feldenkrais, Malka 23,

1 2 9 - 1 3 2 , 1 4 0 , 1 54, 1 6 3 1 3 7 , 1 4 0 , 1 54, 1 7 7

Dagan, Bathsheva II4 Dalcroze, Emile 439 Damasio, Antonio R. 7 1 Darmois, Eugene 1 29 Dart, Raymond A. 4w, 420 Darwin, Charles 74, 75, 80, 248 ,

Feldenkrais, Baruch

56, II2, 132, 1 3 3 ,

144, 1 4 7 , 1 54, 1 5 5 , 1 5 7 , 1 6 3 , 1 6 5 , 1 7 1 , 2 0 6 , 2 0 8 , 2! 0

Feldenkrais, Yona I I , 1 3 , Feldenkraiz, Sheindel 3,

3 6 , 3 7 , 41 6, 8 - I O , 1 2 , 1 3 , 1 5 , 1 8 ,

1 9 , 2 9 , 3 4 , 3 6 , 3 7 , 4 1 , 142

273, 276,

330, 441

Davis, J . O . 172 de Chardin, Teilhard 86, 442 de Gaulle, Charles 167, 2 0 6 de Hartman, Thomas 439 Delman, Russell 251 Delsarte, Francois 403 , 414, 418 Dempsey, Jack 186 de Salzmann , Madame Jeanne 43 2 , 4 3 9 , Desgranges, Henri 136 Dewey, John 399, 4 0 5 , 4 1 6 , 420 Ducos, M. 121 Duff, Jennifer 171, 175, 1 7 6 Dunoon, Scotland 1 7 0 D unvegan (ship) , Scotland 1 7 3 , 1 8 8


Fermi, Enrico 1 5 9 Fifes of Fairlie (shipbuilders) 1 7 0 Firth of Clyde, Scotland 1 6 9 Fiume (Rij eka) 47 Fleming, Ian 1 64 Fore!, August 26, 2 7 , 44, 6 6 , 7 5 , 3 6 9 , 4 1 5 Foylebank (ship) 1 6 9 Franklin, Eric 473 Frederick Warne and Co. 1 7 8 , 1 8 1 Freedman, Albert 2 0 0 French n 6 , 1 3 4 Freud, Sigmun d 2 7 , 3 0 , 3 3 , 7 5 , 8 3 , 8 9 , 9 2 , 9 7 , I I O , 1 7 6 , 248 , 2 7 4 , 2 9 8 , 3 1 3 , 3 1 4 , 3 1 8 , 3 1 9 , 3 21 - 3 24, 3 2 6 , 3 3 0 , 3 3 5 , 3 3 8 , 3 4 0 , 3 4 1 , 3 4 7 , 3 5 0 , 3 5 7 , 3 6 0 , 374-376, 3 7 9 , 3 8 2 , 3 8 5 , 392, 531

Fromm, Eric 3 1 3 Fuj ita, Tsuguj i 1 2 5


Galileo 462 Gerber (babyfood) 243 , 270, 271 Germany 3 , 139, 157, 168 Gibraltar 174 Gibson , Jean 395, 4II - 41 3 , 429 , 43 3 , 473 Gindler, Elsa uo, 197, 204, 447- 449 , 456,



Hitler, Adolf 5 6 , 143 , 2 0 6 , 449 , 4 7 6 Horney, Karen 3 2 5 Humphreys, Christmas 2 5 2 Huxley, Aldous 1 9 7 , 3 9 7 , 3 9 9 , 40 5 , 420 Huxley, Francis 214, 3 1 5 Huxley, Julian 1 6 1 , 3 1 5

4 5 8 , 463, 464, 466, 470, 471

Ginsburg, Carl 3 2 8 , 3 3 9 , 342, 343 Glasgow, Scotland 169, 1 7 1 , 187, 194, 208, 482

Goethe 89 Goldberg, Miriam 448 , 4 5 6 Goldschmidt, Bertrand 1 3 0 , 1 3 7 , 1 54, 210 Golem, The 73 Golinkin, Mordechai 5 9 Goralewski, Frieda 448 Gordon , Aaron David 5 4 Gould, Stephen Jay 441 Grinfeld, Julie 473 , 474 Groddeck, Georg 3 2 5 Grosvenor Place, London 220 Guidot, Professor I I 7 Gurdj ieff, Georges Ivanovich 3 9 , 4 5 , 8 7 , I I O , 2 2 1 , 2 3 2 , 346, 3 9 5 , 4 1 3 , 430-447, 4 5 0 , 4 5 6 , 460, 467 , 5 3 7

I D F (Israeli Defense Force) 6 6 , 477 Irgo, Abraham David 7 Isle of Man 1 6 6 Israel 40, 5 7 , 2 1 6 , 475 - 47 8 , 4 8 0 , 4 8 2 , 484, 4 8 6-4 8 8

Jabotinsky, Ze'ev 1 3 3 Jackson, Hughlings 242, 3 2 7 , 3 3 0 , 3 5 4 Jacobson, Edmund I I O , 1 4 8 Jacoby, Heinrich I I O , 1 9 7 , 2 3 2 , 3 9 5 , 4 3 4 , 442, 446-4 5 3 , 4 5 5 -460, 462-472, 4 8 5

Jaffa, Palestine 47, 49 - 5 2 , 5 7 , 5 8 , 6 1 , 6 7 , 4 9 9 Jahoda, Klara 4 5 1 James Bond 164 James, William 8 9 , 2 9 0 , 400, 473 Jarrett, Keith 439 Jersey, Island of 3 8 8 Joliot-Curie, Frederic I I 6 , u 7 , 1 2 9 , 1 3 0 , 1 3 6-141 , 1 5 0 , 1 5 3 -1 5 9 , 1 6 1 -1 6 3 , 1 6 5 - 1 6 7, 1 9 9 ,

Habima theatre company 7 3 , 7 6 , 449 Hackmann, Willem 1 7 2 , 5 1 7 Haganah (Palestine defense organization)

207-2 I I , 4 7 8 , 5 1 3 , 5 1 4

Jones, Frank Pierce Jung, Carl 1 7 6 , 3 24

398, 399

57, 59, 62, 66, 78 -8 0 , 98, 1 0 8 , 1 3 0 , 1 3 3 , 146, 177, 1 8 5 , 254, 477

Haifa 9 8 , I I I , 271 Halban, Hans 1 5 9 , 1 6 2 , 163, 2 1 0 Haldane, J . B . S . 1 5 8 , 1 6 1 , 3 1 3 Halliday, William 1 7 8 , 1 8 0 , 1 9 4 ,

Kafka, Franz Kano, Jigoro

r y 8 , 1 9 7 , 2 0 1 , 2 I I , 224, 2 2 8 , 2 } 1 , 249 -2 5 1 , 195, 198, 268,

Hanna, Thomas 1 9 7 , 3 7 3 , 462, 472 Hapoel Hatzair (newspaper) 54, 63 Harris, John 481 Harrison , E.J . 1 0 1 , 1 0 6 , 226, 2 2 8 , 2 3 9 , 2 5 2 Hashomer (Palestine self-defense groups) 5 7 Heisenberg, Werner 1 5 9 , 3 3 0 Heller, Gertrud 448 HEMED (Israeli Science Corps) 477, 479 , 484, 486 5 0 , 6 1 , 62,

64, 6 6 , 7 8 , II}

Herzl, Theodor 497 Hess, Rudolf 176 Hirsch, Konrad 451 Hisdai, David 143 Histadrut (Federation ofJewish Workers) 57, 78

5 9 , 1 0 5 , 1 0 6 , 1 2 0 , 1 2 2-1 2 7 , 1 2 9 ,

I } I , 1 3 3 - 1 3 6 , 1 3 9 , 144- 146, 149 -1 5 1 , 1 5 3 -1 5 5 ,

311, 316

Herzliya Gymnasium, Tel Aviv


2 5 5 , 2 5 6 , 404, 4 0 8 , 5 0 9 , 5 1 2

Kaplan, Mordecai 5 Katzir, Aaron 3 7 1 , 477 Katznelson, Gideon 8 Kauert, Frederick Peter Kawaishi, Mikinosuke

225 1 3 0 , 144-147, 1 4 9 ,

1 50 , 1 5 7 , 1 7 9 , 1 8 1 , 1 8 2 , 1 8 6 , 2 0 } , 2II , 2 2 4 , 226, 229 , 2 3 0

Kawaishi, Norikazu 1 4 9 Keleman, Stanley 3 7 5 Kerensky, Alexander 9 8 , 1 64 Kerouac, Jack 2 1 9 Kibbutzim 5 0 Kiev 5 , 7 Kimmey, Michaeleen 1 5 7 , 347 - 3 4 9 , 3 5 2 Kirschner, A.J . 34 5 Kirschner, Eva 1 3 , 1 8 , 2 8 , 29 Kisch, Frederick Hermann 9 8 , I I 9 , 146 Klinkenberg, Norbert 452, 471 , 540

M o s H E F E L. D E N K RA I S Kohler, lvo 1 7 Koizumi, Gunji

Magnus, Rudolf 199, 1 4 6 , 1 4 7 , 1 6 7 , 2 2 0 , 222, 2 2 3 ,

225 - 2 2 9 , 2 3 1 , 2 3 4 , 23 8 , 243 , 249 , 2 5 0 , 2 5 2 , 254, 258, 2 5 9 , 261, 263, 271, 3ro, 458, 482

Korentayer, Kolman 1 1 0 , 1 6 3 Korets . Rivka 3, 7, 9, 1 3 , r r 2 Kosnick, Heinrich 2 9 3 , 473 Kotani, Sumiyuki 123, 1 3 1 , 1 5 4, 221 Kovensky, Ze'ev 5 1 , 5 3 , 6 5 , 85, III, II8,


1 2 9 , 1 3 2 , 1 3 4 , 1 3 8 , 140 , 1 4 2 , 1 5 7 , 1 5 8 , 2 1 3 , 2 1 5

Kowarski, Lew

137, 154, 1 5 9 , 162, 163, 203,

210, 383

Krauss, Jeremy 1 5 , 8 5 Kreitler, Shulamith 8 5 Kremenets 3 , 1 5 - 2 1 , 2 3 , 2 5 , 3 7 , 4 9 4 , 4 9 8 Kretschmer, Ernst 3 1 3 , 324, 3 7 8 , 4 6 8 Kristeller, Lotte 448 , 4 5 6 Kubie, Lawrence 3 2 9 Laban, Rudolf 2 9 2 , 294, 4 8 1 Lacassagne, Antoine 1 5 5 Langer, Stephen 60 Langevin , Paul 137, 157, 160,

161, 163, 1 6 8 ,

210, 3 1 8 , 514, 517

Lapicque, Louis 242 , 3 2 7 Largs, Scotland 1 6 9 , 1 7 0 , 1 7 ) , 2 1 8 Lazard, Andre 1 5 6 , 1 5 7 Leeder, Sigurd 4 8 1 Leggett, Trevor 1 5 4 , 2 1 3 , 2 2 0 , 2 2 3 ,

Magoun, H J . 306 Maimonides , Moses 1 2 , 5 6 , 494 Maisel, Edward 396, 400, 420 Mapai political party 1 3 3 Marceau, Marcel 1 8 5 Marcuse, Herbert 3 1 3 Mardi Gras 1 57 Markevich, Igor 3 1 3 Matman Cohen, Dr. Yehuda 6 1 McCulloch, Warren 3 2 9 Mead, Margaret 3 2 9 , 3 7 5 Mendel , Menahem 4 9 3 Mendelssohn, Moses 4 9 6 Meskin, Aaron 7 3 , 7 6 , r r 6 , 449 , 4 5 8 , 4 8 2 Meskin, Amnon 7 3 , 43 1 , 4 5 8 Meskin, Yuval 7 3 , n 6 , 4 5 8 Mifune, Kyuzo 124 Miller, Glenn 1 7 5 Milo of Crotona 1 8 7 Mirkin, M . 145 Morgan, George and Betty 3 1 2 - 3 1 4 , 3 1 7, 3 1 8 , 3 2 1 , 3 2 3 , 3 2 5 , 3 47, 3 61 , 3 7 5 , 408, 479

Mossom, Edward 225, 229 Mugrabi Theater, Tel Aviv Mumford, Lewis 405 227, 2 3 0 ,

251, 258, 305

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm 462 Leigh Lights 174 Leigh, William S . 201 Leri, Dennis 59, 220, 231, 256, 308,


3 7 1 , 473

Levinsohn, Issac Baer 2 0 , 496 Lewis , Martin 220, 222, 224, 227,


Nagaoka, Hidekazu 1 2 4 Napoleon 4 Natan, Nathaniel 5 3 Needham, Joseph 1 6 1 Needleman, Jacob 4 3 4 , 5 3 7 Neil, Charles 3 9 6 , 4 0 ) , 4 1 0 ,

4 I I , 4 1 3 , 414,

43 3 , 472 228 , 2 3 8 ,

249 , 2 5 9 , 263

Lietzke, Bruce 77 Lillian Theater, Tel Aviv 1 1 4 Locher, Margaret 449 , 4 5 3 Lotze, Hermann 2 9 0 Lowen, Alexander 375 Ludwig, Sophie 448 - 4 5 0 , 4 6 1 ,

242, 326, 327, 3 9 8 , 4 0 3 ,

4 1 9 , 421

Neve Tsedek, Tel Aviv 50, 52, 89 Newell, Caret 346, 1 3 2 , 147, 220,

224, 2 6 8 ,

3 1 7 , 40 ) , 4 I I

Newton , Issac 4 6 2 New York 1 5 9 Nicoll, Maurice 4 4 5 Nobel Prize 1 2 9 , 1 3 6 , 469

Maapilim (pioneer workers in Palestine) Maccabi athletic clubs 2 6 , 6 6 , 9 9 , 145 Macdonald, Patrick ] , 402, 403 , 409 Machon 3 (Israeli military research unit) Macy Cybernetics Conference 3 29 Magnus Barefoot 170



Odessa 1 7 , 2 ) , 3 3 . 207 Orage, A.R. 445 Osprey, HMS (ASEE Naval Facility)


Ottiwell, Frank 4 1 0 Ouspensky, Pytor Demianovich

1 6 8 , 1 6 9 , 209

444. 4 5 6 , 5 3 8

4 3 1 , 43 2 ,

Pale of Settlement, Russia Palestine 1 , 3 9 , 42, 43 , 46,

2, 2 2 , 3 5 , 489 5 0 , 54, 5 6 , 62 , 6 7 ,

7 7 , 7 8 , 84, 9 9 , 1 1 2 , n 3 , I I 5 , 1 2 3 , 1 2 9 , 1 4 2 , 1 5 7 , 177, 1 8 1 , 2 06 , 2 0 9 , 2 1 5 , 3 5 9 , 475-47 8 , 500, 503, 511

Palmach, Palestine (military forces) 487 Palmer, Charles 220, 226, 228 Paris 82, I I I , 1 1 3 , n4, 1 27 , 1 3 8 , 1 3 9 , 147, 1 5 8 , 1 6 0 , 1 7 7 , 1 7 9 , 2 0 8 , 210-2 1 2 , 47 8 , 4 8 5

Pavlov, Ivan Petrovich

276, 306, 326, 328,

3 3 0 , 3 3 9 , 340, 342, 343, 3 5 8 , 419

Perrin, Jean 1 5 8 , 161, 162 Petah Tikva, Palestine 58 Peters, Fritz 445 Petliura, Simon 2 1 Piaget, Jean 6 9 , 3 7 1 Picasso, Pablo 1 5 6 Pilsudski, Marshal Josef 1 3 1 , 1 3 8 Pinhas of Korets, Rabbi 1 - 3 , 6 , 1 2 ,

Rubenstein, Yona

7 5 , I I 4 , II), 132, 138, 141 ,

147, 1 5 5 , 157, 163, 164, 168, 1 7 0 , 171, 1 7 8 , 1 8 7 , 1 8 8 , 1 9 5 , 2 0 7 , 2 0 9 , 2 I I , 214-2 1 6 , 270, 316, 477

Russia 4, 9 , 2 8 , 1 4 3 , 1 64, 184, Rutenberg, Pinhas 9 8 , 133

4 8 9 , 497

Sadler Wells Ballet Company 3 4 5 , 346, 481 Saint-Germain , Paris 130 Samuel, Herbert 5 6 , 62 Samurai 105, 109, 1 8 4 , 185, 2 2 6 , 251, 252 Sandomierz, Poland 3 , 4 Sangushkos (Polish nobility) 1 2-1 4 , 4 8 9 , 494 Satanov 2 Savel, P. 1 5 6 Schechner, Helen 1 8 8 Schilder, Paul 7 1 , 1 77, 2 9 3 , 2 9 7 , 2 9 8 , 3 0 7 , 308, 313, 316, 323, 327, 328, 330, 335, 337,

21, 38,

64, 492

Plee, Henry 1 8 6 Pontecorvo, Bruno 2 1 1 Portland ASEE (see Osprey, HMS) Prigogine, Ilya 3 7 1 Pripyat marshes 3 5 , 4 2 Prussia 4 Pshater, Michael 7, 8 , 1 0-1 2 , 2 2 , 143 Pshater, Rivka 143 , 493 Pshater, Ruchama 13, 1 43 , 2 0 6 Pshater surname 4 9 3 Rabinovich, Jacob 1 64 , 214 Rabinovich, Meir 477 Radium Institute 120, 129, 1 3 2 , 144, 1 5 5 , 1 61 Ratner, Yochanan 477 Rauch, Maya 46 2 , 469 Reich, Wilhelm I I O , 197, 205, 3 1 3 , 3 2 5 , 3 5 0 , 3 7 4 - 3 7 6 , 3 7 8 -3 8 0 , 3 8 2 , 3 8 6 , 43 3 , 4 6 8 , 5 3 3

Richard Bowen 229 Ricoeur, Paul 321 Robinson Brothers 227 Rolf, Ida 4 1 0, 433 Rosenbluth, Arturo 329 Rosen, Marion 448 Rothschild, Baron Edmund 5 0 , 500 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 3 1 7 Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. 4 3 1 Rovina, Hana 7 3 , 454 Rubenfeld, Ilana 407, 408, 4 1 0 , 423 Rubenstein, Shmuel II4

3 3 8 , 341 , 3 4 6 , 3 6 9 , 3 9 2 , 5 3 1

Schroedinger, Erwin 3 2 8 Schultz, Johannes Heinrich

2 7 , I I O , 147,

325, 3 6 9

Scottish Judo Federation 1 8 6 Segal, Mia 1 6 , 5 3 , 146, 1 8 6 , 2 1 3 ,

220, 2 2 2 , 2 5 1 ,

2 6 4 , 2 8 9 , 40 5 , 409-4J I ' 4 1 3 , 446

Sekine, Percy 220, 225, 229 Seiver, Charlotte 448 , 4 5 8 Sergev, Victor 4 8 1 Serie, John 3 n Serie, Ralph 1 7 9 , 1 9 8 , 2 1 8 , 268 , 3 1 0 Shakespeare, William 7 5 , 1 3 7 , 1 9 5 , 2 5 9 Shapiro brothers 2 1 , 492 Shapiro , Moshe 6 , 49 2 Shaw, George Bernard 3 1 2 , 3 1 8 , 3 9 6 , 405 Shchori, Ilan 5 8 Sheldon, William H. 3 1 3 , 3 24, 3 7 8 , 4 6 8 Sherrington , Charles Scott 1 9 3 , 200, 2 4 2 ,


3 2 7 , 3 2 8 , 3 3 0 , 342 , 3 4 3 , 3 6 9 , 420, 421

Shirin, Rabbi Yoe! II Shlosberg, Lea 1 4 , 19, 143, 206 Silice-Feldenkrais , Michel 8, 19, 22 Silice, Tzvi 208 Slavuta 2 , 5 - 1 0 , 1 2 - 1 5 , 18, 19, 2 2 , 2 8 , 3 6 ,


T T 2 , 1 4 3 , 2 0 6 , 4 8 9 , 4 9 2 , 494, 498

Sorbonne 128, 129, 131, 132, 207 Speransky, Aleksei Dmitrievich

306-3 0 9 , 3 1 6 ,

3 2 6 , 3 2 7 , 3 2 9 , 3 3 0 , 3 3 9 , 340, 3 4 2 , 419

Spicer, Sven 406 Srebro, Heim 67 Stalin, Josef 15 Stanislavsky, Konstantin Steiner, Rudolf 8 6

73, 76, IIO


Stephan, Erich 6 8 , 1 0 2 Stern, Daniel N . 2 1 9 Stolze, Helmuth 448 Stransky, Judith 404, 40 5 , 407, Sugimura, Yotaro 122, 123, 126,

4 1 0 , 423 , 430 144, 145,

1 5 3 , 510

Sun Tzu 1 6 5 Suzuki, Daisetz Teitaro 2 5 2 Suzuki, Shunryu 2 5 1 Sweigard, Lulu 2 9 4 , 474 Talmi, Alon

3 1 4 , 3 8 4 , 3 8 8 , 3 8 9 , 4n, 4 1 3 , 4 3 1 ,

443 , 4 5 3 , 478-48 2 , 487

Tani, Yukio Tel Aviv 5 0 ,

167, 186, 220, 223 5 2 , 5 4 , 5 7 , 58, 6 7 , 79, 98, 2 1 0 ,

271 , 3 5 3 , 5 0 1

Thelen, Escher 1 8 3 Thorndike, E.L. 2 9 8 Tilden, Elizabeth 2 1 9 , 3 1 2 , 3 1 3 , 3 1 7 , 3 2 5 , 475 Tinbergen , Nikolaas 420 Todd, Mabel Ellsworth 83, n o , 197, 294, 3 9 6 , 473 , 474

Tolstoy, Leo 54 Toulouse 1 6 3 Trauman , Irma 4 5 6 Travers, Pamela 4 4 2 , 537 Trieste 47 Trumpeldor, Josef 5 1 Tucson, Arizona 8 2 Turks, Ottomans 5 1 , 6 7 Typon 2 1 9 Uhlman, Fred Ukraine 5 , 1 2 ,


Waddington, C . H . 1 6 1 Warsaw, Poland 4 2 , 46, 1 3 3 Weber, Heinrich 1 9 2 Weinberg, David 1 4 5 Weiner, Marcy 8 1 Weitzman Institute 477-479 Weizmann, Chaim 50, 501 Whitehead, Alfred North 241 Wiesel, Elie 2 Wildman, Frank 201 Wilson, Colin 445 Wittgenstein, Ludwig 3 1 3 , 3 2 9 Woodard, R.S. 298 World Zionist Organization 5 6 , 5 o r Wurm, Franz n 6 , 1 5 9 , 2 1 4 , 2 1 7 , 2 1 9 , 2 2 2 , 2 6 8 , 3 1 2 , 3 1 5 , 3 1 7 , 3 2 8 , 3 4 5 , 348, 3 8 4 , 3 9 2 , 4 1 3 , 473

Yeshiva Zvhil ro Yiddish 3, 6 2 , n6, 1 3 2 Young, J .z. 1 6 1 , 3 2 7 Zalman, Schneur 7 Zatopek, Emil 269 Zemach, Benjamin 7 3 Zemach-Bersin, David 2 Zifroni, Abraham 6 2 , 6 5 Zog (King) 1 64 Zuckerman, Solly 1 6 1 , 1 6 6 ,

166 n2

Van de Graaff, Robert 140 Van Steenbrugghe and Breton Varela, Francisco 2 1 9 , 441 Verdi , Giuseppe 59 Vienna 46

Vigoureux, Paul 172 Vikings 1 6 9 Vilnius, Lithuania 2 5 , 1 3 2 Vogt, Oskar 147 von Foerster, Heinz 329 von Helmholcz, Hermann Ludwig


329, 516

194, 195, 3 1 5 , 316,


Boo KS ABC du judo

74, 1 5 0 , 1 5 1 , 1 5 7 , 1 7 8 , 2 2 3 ,

230, 233


74, 84, 8 5 , 9 3 , 9 7 , 9 9 , ! 0 2 , rn4, I 0 6 -

110, u9 , 120, 126, 133, 134, 136, 178, 1 8 1


7 5 , 7 6 , 7 9 , 8 4-8 6 , 9 0 , 9 2 , 9 3 ,

9 5-9 7 , ! 0 8 -1 1 0 , 1 1 5 , 1 3 6

Awareness Through Movement

31, 65, 71, 77,

8 5 , 8 6 , 8 9 , 9 3 , 2 3 3 , 2 3 8 , 347, 423 , 43 9 , 447

Body and Mature Behavior

26, 7 4, 7 6 , 8 5 , 9 0 ,

9 6 , 9 7 , r n 9 , 1 6 8 , 1 9 3 -1 9 5 , 1 9 9 , 2 0 0 , 206, 2 0 7 , 231 - 2 3 3 , 2 3 7 , 240 , 242, 246-248 , 2 5 3 , 2 5 9 , 264, 2 6 7 , 272- 2 7 5 , 2 7 7 , 279 , 2 8 1 , 2 8 3 , 2 8 4 , 3 0 0 , 3 0 1 , 3 0 6 , 3 0 9 -3 1 1 , 3 1 4 , 3 1 6 , 3 1 8 322, 325, 326, 328, 330, 3 3 1 , 334, 3 3 5 , 337, 3 3 9 , 3 4 0 , 342, 343 , 3 4 5-3 4 8 , 3 50 , 3 5 1 , 3 5 3 ,

judo 7 4 , 2 3 0 , 2 3 3 , 487 judo pour ceintures noires 212 judo: The Art ofDefense and Attack

178, 179,

181, 184

Manuelpratique du jiu-jitsu: la defense du foible contre l'agresseur 1 2 7 , 1 3 4 , 1 8 5 Practical Unarmed Combat 7 4 , 1 2 0 , 1 8 1 , 1 8 2 , 1 84, 1 8 5 , 2 3 0 , 2 3 3 , 248

The Case ofNora 6 9 , 8 5 , 264, 3 9 1 The Elusive Obvious 1 , 7 , 1 7 , 3 3 , 4 5 , 8 5 , 9 3 ,

3 5 8 , 3 6 1 , 3 6 3 , 3 6 5 , 3 6 7 , 3 7 1 , 3 7 2 , 374, 3 7 6 ,

2 3 3 , 2 3 7 , 243 , 246, 2 5 7 , 3 1 7 , 3 2 2 , 3 3 7 ,

3 7 8 , 3 84, 3 8 5 , 3 9 1 , 3 9 2 , 3 9 5 , 3 9 8 , 404, 406,

3 9 1 , 451

408 -4! 0 , 413, 415, 4 1 6 , 418, 4 3 0 , 447 , 450, 4 5 5 , 463, 473 , 4 7 8 , 480, 487

Budokwai Quarterly Bulletin

167, 178, 220,

The Master Moves 4 5 1 , 454 The Potent Self 2 1 , 2 6 , J4, 44, 47, 74,

85, 1 4 8 ,

1 9 5 , 2 0 5 , 2 3 1 -2 3 3 , 240, 242, 245, 2 4 7 , 248,

2 2 6 , 229 - 2 3 1 , 233, 2 3 5 , 240, 2 4 5 , 248 , 249 ,

253, 2 6 7 , 2 8 0 , 2 8 1 , 283, 284, 2 9 6 , 3 0 0 , 3 0 1 ,

2 5 2 , 263

} I O , 3 1 4 , 3 1 5 , 3 1 8 -3 2 0 , 3 2 2 , 3 24, 3 2 7 , 3 3 1 ,

Higher judo

74, 85, rn4, 1 1 3 , 178, 199, 21 2 ,

2 2 0 , 221 , 224, 2 3 1 , 2 3 3 , 2 3 6 , 2 3 7 , 241, 245, 248 , 2 5 0 , 2 5 2-2 5 4 , 2 5 6 , 258, 2 6 3 , 2 6 7 , 2 7 1 , 275, 283, 296, 3IO, 331, 333, 352

3 3 4 , 3 4 1 , 343 , 3 4 7 , 348 , 3 5 0-3 5 3 , 3 5 9 , 3 6 5 , 3 6 7 , 3 6 8 , 3 7 1 , 374 , 3 7 6 , 3 7 7 , 3 8 3 , 3 8 4 , 3 8 7 , 3 9 1 -3 9 3 , 4 1 8 , 429 , 4 5 0 , 4 6 2 , 463 , 487





Body and Mature Behavior: A Study ofAnxiety, Sex, Gravitation and Learning The Potent Self A Study ofSpontaneity and Compulsion Awareness Through Movement: Health Exercises far Personal Growth Body Awareness as Healing Therapy: The Case ofNora The Elusive Obvious The Master Moves Embodied Wisdom: The Collected Papers ofMoshe Feldenkrais 0N jUDO

jiu-jitsu (Hebrew) Manuel pratique du jiu-jitsu: la defense du foible contre l'agresseur ABC du judo judo: The Art ofDefense and Attack Practical Unarmed Combat Higher judo: Groundwork


a world renowned authority on the work of Moshe Feldenkrais. Born in Chicago, Illinois on March 1 5 , 1 9 5 1 , he was one of Feldenkrais's o riginal American students, studying directly with him from 1 97 5 until Feldenkrais's death in 1 984. Mark was pivotal in introducing the Feldenkrais Method in the United States, and was among the first American teachers chosen to train new Feldenkrais Practitioners. He became one of the world's most influential Feldenkrais Method teachers , training over a thousand Feldenkrais Practitioners in the U . S . , Europe, and Australia. Before meeting Feldenkrais, Mark was involved in music and experimental theater in the San Francisco Bay Area. A 1 976 graduate i n psychology and philosophy from Sonoma State University, Mark's passion for science, phenomenology, linguistics, and embodied cognition permeated his approach to Feldenkrais's theories and practice. He read widely and was profoundly influenced by the applied dynamic systems theory of psychologists Esther Thelen, Edward Reed, and Alan Fogel. Beginning i n the 1 9 8 0 s , Mark contributed numerous articles on the Feldenkrais Method to diverse publications. He wrote the foreword to the 2002 edition of Feldenkrais's The Potent Self, coauthored Relaxercise (HarperCollins) with D avid Zemach Bersin, and recorded numerous audio programs o n the Feldenkrais Method. Concurrently, M ark b egan t o devote himself t o researching and writing this definitive biography of Moshe Feldenkrais , an ambitious synthetic work, tracing the complete arc of Feldenkrais's intellectual development and maturation. Mark embodied the principles of the work he loved, and inspired students with his incisive intelligence, generous presence, and brilliant teaching. Mark Reese passed away on June 23, 2006. He leaves behind his sons Nathan and Filip Reese, and his wife Carol Kress Reese.



PUBLICATIONS Relaxercise, with Zemach-Bersin, David and Kaethe RECORDED PROGRAMS Relaxercise, with Zemach-Bersin, David, CD. TM] Health, with Zemach-Bersin, David, CD. Walking: Awareness Through Movement, CD. Basic A TM, CD. Moving out ofPain: The Feldenkrais Method, CD. The Feldenkrais Method and Walking, an Advanced Training, DVD . Sensory Motor Education for the Mouth andjaw, with Zemach-Bersin , David, CD.

1988 Advanced Tra ining Workshop, with Zemach-Bersin, David, CD. Ribs in Relation, an Advanced Training, CD. I mproving the Carriage ofthe Head, Exploring Creative Circles, Advanced Training, DVD . JouRNAL ARTICLES " Moshe Feldenkrais's Work with Movement: A Parallel App roach to Milton Erickson's Hypnotherapy, " Feldenkrais]ournal, # 1 , 1 98 4 . "A Bibilography of the Feldenkrais Method" Somatics, 4 : 4 , Spring/Summer 1 9 8 4 . Revised edition published by the Feldenkrais G uild, 1 99 2 . " Moshe Feldenkrais's Verbal Approach to Somatic Education: Parallels to Milton Erickson's Use of Language , " Somatics, 5 : 3 Autumn/Winter 1 98 5 - 1 9 8 6 . "Jill: Notes toward a case study, " Feldenkrais Jou rnal, #3, 1 9 8 8 . " Function: Realizing Intentions," Feldenkrais Jou rnal, #7 , 1 99 2 . " Tel Aviv Letters fr o m 1 9 8 0 - p art l , " Feldenkrais]o urnal, # 1 3 , 2 00 1 . " Tel Aviv Letters from 1 9 8 0 - p art 2 , " Feldenkrais Jou rnal, # 1 4, 2003. " FELDENKRAIS :

An Illustrated Biography and Reso urce , " Feldenkrais Journal, # 1 7 , 2 0 0 4 .

" Transcription of a talk by Mark Reese, June 2 8 , 2 00 5 , " Feldenkrais]ournaL, #20 , 2 00 5 . Links to other writings by Mark Reese can b e found at: www.





'oo ._______,..__ M iles


@ ,,.�"' q.; 0


� [:I:][:J[:J:J:)[:J(TI:J:.'J::I:I:I: :)

1 . 07


Sheindel's parents, Michael Pshater with his wife, Rivka. Courtesy of!FF Archive.

1 . 08 Top row: Sheindel, Aryeh, and one of Sheindel's sisters. Malka on Sheindel's lap. Moshe, center. Baruch, bottom. The picture was taken in Baranovich, around 1 9 1 3 . Courtesy ofIFFArchive. -

1 . 09

Slavuta in 1 999. Only a few hundred Jews now live in Slavuta, where there were about 1 2,000 in 1 926. Photo by Fred Onufryk c. 1999.


71' ur s o l i c i t o r s , Such c on t r a c t to e mb o dy the te r ms as ou t l i ne d in th i s l e t t e r , Your c onf i rma t i on t o th i s w ou l d b e a pp r e c i a t e d , D e a r Dr ,


Dr , M . 8,

N , 1¥

Fe l d e nkraus , Be l s i ze G r ove ,


5 . 04 - After the war, colleagues from Fairlie helped Feldenkrais find work doing research and development for several companies, including Pioneer Films. Courtesy !FF Archive.

5 . 0 5 - Feldenkrais with Ralph Serie, a colleague from Fairlie, after the war. Courtesy ofIFF Archive.

5 . 06 - Gunj i Koizumi, a central figure in British Judo. Feldenkrais said, " . . . he was an extraordinary man in every respect . . . [a) remarkable person who has influenced me and made a part of me crystallize better than before."

5 . 07 - Trevor Leggett (left) and Percy Sekine, rwo contemporaries of -------+





Nage-W� u.

( throws)


hand throws,


Succes•ive attacks The



foot throws, technique

hip throws,



{ Ground work)


t hrows,


body throws.

of following

successful attack.


E. Rt1MltLt.-SMITll A. K . TAMON

Ba11ic Theory of


T. P.

of with


defence against common assaults



Approach to ground work, posture, movements, controlling points,



general 5 hold­

ings, 12 ncckloc.ks, 20 joint locks.









holds on the wrists, throat, chest and

hody, and attacks with



and Orgasm .

Fu l l

graj; i + i c at i «t

is a of


prot e c t ive ,

wit h out

o rga sm d o e s

fu l l

frame .

ent i r e

a s s e rt i v e


fun c t i on s

axa �eiz> :i:n� a s i gn

f o r as actual 'VVO


n t ·


p r ov ement , ba:tt t h e r A e xe rt! i s in g


t- ltt.

h i ghe r t h e

o e �r,..t; •.....,._

:[(}n"bt h e h i g h e r �'1 � para

. whi c h e x c ·

ympat he t i

t he


will the



s e xua l

d om i n a c e .

a s s e rt iv e e

� wait e d

'l'.{l.�'VVO·vt- �

We mu st 1 arn t o f e e l and . "

�e ,.,


impr ov e m e

i nt e grat

up .

su c h

We mu st

an d p r o t e c t iv e

s ympat he t i c an d h ind e r e r e ct i o


5 . 1 0 - A page from The Potent Self, written during chis period concurrently with Body and Mature Behavior. Courtesy of!FF Archive.

WtltMdt 0 1 ' 4


� I 0

5. 1 1


Falling in love - musings by Feldenkrais on 30 April 1 950. Courtesy of!FF Archive.

5. 12


Moshe at a beach in England, after the war. Courtesy of!FFArchive.

5 . 1 3 & 5 . 1 4 Moshe finger wrestling with Franz Wurm, Charles Neil, top right. Photos courtesy of!FF Archive. -


5 . 1 5 - Yona in England before she moved to Israel. Courtesy of!FF Archive. 5 . 1 6 - Malka, Sheindel, and Baruch Feldenkrais in Israel, early 1 9 5 0s. Courtesy of!FF Archive.



Feldenkrais in London, after the war. Courtesy ofGaret Newell.

5 . 1 8 & 5 . 1 9 - Two photos of Feldenkrais in London by David Boston, c . 1 9 5 0 . Photos courtesy of Garet Newell.


8.0 1


Moshe Feldenkrais


1 9 5 0s. Courtesy of!FF Archive.


8 . 04 Coombe Springs in Kensington near London was a Gurdj ieff center led by J . G . Bennett. Feldenkrais taught here at Bennett's invitation. Courtesy of!FF Archive. -

8 . 0 5 - Heinrich Jacoby and Elsa Gindler, Zurich 1 9 57. Photographer unknown. From: Sensory Awareness Foundation, Bulletin No. 1 2 , Summer 1 98 5 ; "Elfriede Hengstenberg, Her Lift and Work" Editor: Mary Alice Roche.

8 . 06 - Alon Talmi, 1 998, Israel. Photo by Mark Reese.

8.07 Moshe with his mother, Sheindel, his sister, Malka and her family. In Israel. Courtesy of!FF Archive. -



Sheindel and Baruch Feldenkrais with family friends in Israel. Courtesy of!FF Archive.

8 . 0 9 Feldenkrais, right, with colleagues from his scientific department at the Israeli ministry of defense (HEMED) . Courtesy of!FF Archive. -

MARK REEsE's biography of Moshe Feldenkrais is at once a great example of historical research and an odyssey of self inquiry and discovery fo r the book's subj ect, for the author, and for the reader. In a really good biography, it seems to me, one learns about a life and a time and a place not one's own. A great biography additionally offers another sense of the reader's own time and place. In the biography of Moshe Feldenkrais, one man's journey-driven by a dual sense of self discovery and geographical and cultural displacement­ can't help but excite in the reader a desire to inhabit his o r her world in a new way.

Dennis Leri, ftom the Forewords Moshe Feldenkrais: A Life in Movement is a book that only Mark Reese could have conceived, undertaken, and written. He is the only person I have known who is intellectually capable of contextualizing, illuminating, and conveying the incredible complexity of Feldenkrais's thinking. . . . May you, the reader, be blessed and altered through your engagement with the extraordinary life and ideas of Moshe Feldenkrais.

David Zemach-Bersin, ftom the Forewords

Printed in the U S.A. ©2015 ReeseKress Somatics Press, LLC

G E N I U S , OF THE magnitude possessed by Moshe Feldenkrais, defies categorization: what, after all, was he? He could function at the highest level in nuclear physics, as a martial artist, as an inventor, as a developer of top-secret counterespionage projects, and as one of the most prescient observers of neuroscience. But the role for which he would have wished to be remembered was his bringing all these backgrounds together to become one of the most important forces in holistic healing, who fused insights from Eastern thought and Western science in a whole new way. Now, finally, the great integrative genius and master of turning scientific insights into practical ways to help people has found, in Mark Reese, the biographer he deserves. Moshe Feldenkrais: A Life in Movement, Volume One, is a fastidiously researched, exciting, profoundly insightful story, that gets deep inside the mind of the swashbuckling, theatrical, brilliant integrator, as he lived through many of the greatest intellectual, political, and scientific events of the 20th century, met and worked with many of the most creative scientists and clinicians, and who, in his struggle to overcome his own major inj ury, pioneered a unique way of teaching people to learn how to learn, and to change their brains, by increasing awareness of whatever they did, providing the foundation for a gentle but powerful approach to alleviating human suffering. Norman Doidge, MD Author of The Brain That Changes Itself and The Brain's Wtiy ofHealing

From the Book: F E L D E N KRAi s 's PERCEPTIVENESS seemed to defy the limits of our ordinary senses. Feldenkrais could touch a person's head and feel patterns of muscular contractions in regions remote from where his hands were placed, such as the spine, chest, and pelvis, all the way to the feet; by touching and pressing on the feet, he could feel reactions all the way up to the head . . . . The principles that belong to Feldenkrais's method cut across distinctions between war and peace, competition and cooperation, and accurately reflect nature's under­ lying order. Such generality, understood as fo undational for complexity, is the hallmark of lasting contributions to human knowledge and capabilities. I S B N 9780985 5 6 1 208



R E E S E K RE S S S O MAT I C S P R E S S 9 780985 5 6 1 208

S a n Rafae l , CA 9490 1 www. feldenkraisbio graphy. com