A short history of Moshe Feldenkrais

What I’m after isn’t flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I’m after is to restore each person to their human dignity.

Moshé Feldenkrais

The Feldenkrais Method was originated by Moshé Feldenkrais, D.Sc., a pioneer in movement science and the innovator of therapeutic and educational approaches. Feldenkrais was born in Russia in 1904 and emigrated to Palestine at the age of 14.

As a young man he was an excellent athlete and self-taught in jujitsu. While attending night school preparing to study physics he was a surveyor and tutored problem students. He had an early interest in hypnosis and translated Emile Coué’s book on autosuggestion into Hebrew.

Feldenkrais earned his doctorate in physics at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he assisted Nobel Prize Laureate Frederic Joliot-Curie at the Curie Institute. During his university years he met Kano, the originator of judo. Feldenkrais studied judo intensively and became a well-known judo teacher.

During World War II, Feldenkrais fled to England where he worked in antisubmarine research, trained paratroopers in self-defense techniques, and authored books on judo. On slippery submarine decks, he aggravated an old soccer injury to his knees and began many years of extended work on himself.

His self-research led to discoveries about movement re-education and to the development of his methods of Awareness Through Movement® and Functional Integration®.

In Tel Aviv between 1969 and 1972, Feldenkrais trained his first, small group of practitioners. From 1975 to 1978 he completed the training of a second group of practitioners, this time in the U.S.

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Feldenkrais authored six books on his methods. In addition, his main body of work is preserved in thousands of hours of audio and videotapes and transcripts. Feldenkrais vast educational system was the result of 40 remarkably productive and creative years during which he focused on the sensory-motor aspects that underlie human action and experience.

Among his closest American students was Mark Reese, who studied with Feldenkrais over a period of nearly 10 years, both in the U.S. and in Israel.

Feldenkrais died in 1984, leaving a small group of highly trained practitioners who have continued to teach his methods worldwide.

Feldenkrais Southern California Movement Institute was originally founded in 1982 by Mark Reese and Donna Ray. The name of the Institute at that time was Reese Movement Institute. Mark and Donna for more than twenty years worked as a team to train Feldenkrais Practitioners in the United States and Europe. Together they trained more than a thousand Feldenkrais Practitioners.


Mark Reese, Ph.D., was one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Feldenkrais Method®. Adding to a broad, interdisciplinary background including philosophy, biology, theater, and music, Mark earned his Master’s and Ph.D. in Psychology. He is a graduate from the first U.S. Feldenkrais® training program and studied with Moshé Feldenkrais from 1975 -1984 in San Francisco, Amherst and Tel-Aviv.

Mark published extensively on the Feldenkrais Method® and related health issues, and is co-author of Relaxercise: The Easy New Way to Health and Fitness. He also appeared on television and radio.

At the time of Marks passing on June 23rd, 2006 Mark was working on a biography of Moshé Feldenkrais. This book is currently being completed by Cliff Skoog his long time friend and editor and his widow Carol Kress.