Feldenkrais Method® and Martial Arts

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Judo - The Art of Defence and Attack

Frederick Warne & Co., (revised edition) 1944

Moshe Feldenkrais

In 1933, Moshe Feldenkrais met Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo. Feldenkrais earned a black belt in Judo in 1936. He was a co-founding member of the Ju-Jitsu Club de France, one of the oldest Judo clubs in Europe, which still exists today. Moshe Feldenkrais published Judo The Art of Defence and Attack and he believed that "the essential aim of Judo is to teach, help, and forward adult maturity, which is an ideal state rarely reached, where a person is capable of dealing with the immediate present task before him without being hindered by earlier formed habits of thought or attitude."

Higher Judo - Groundwork

Frederick Warne & Co., 1952

Moshe Feldenkrais

Moshe Feldenkrais' Higher Judo goes far beyond self defense, arguing for judo as an educational practice that furthers maturation of the whole person, and revealing some of the fundamentals of Moshe Feldenkrais’ thinking just as he is developing his method. Higher Judo was written at a critical juncture in Feldenkrais’ development, just after writing Body and Mature Behavior, and after 25 years of involvement in the martial arts. The early chapters of Higher Judo are essential reading for every student and practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method®

Hadaka-Jime: The Core Technique for Practical Unarmed Combat

updated by Genesis II Publishing. Inc., 2009

Moshe Feldenkrais, 1942

Hadaka-Jime: Practical Unarmed Combat is a unique training program that is based on one core technique. Dr. Feldenkrais developed the program as  emergency training for soldiers in World War II. Through ten one-hour lessons, soldiers learned to defend themselves  against an armed opponent in the most rapid and effective way possible. The program is based on one Judo technique. Feldenkrais emphasized concepts of the learning process throughout the book. He encouraged the reader to maintain a relaxed attitude, to start with slow and precise movements as he explained the timing, and to master the movements by repetition. The result would be a spontaneous movement which was correct and precise.

Practical Unarmed Combat

Frederick Warne & Co., 1942

Moshe Feldenkrais

In 1942, Moshe Feldenkrais published Practical Unarmed Combat.  Feldenkrais had been requested by the British military to teach their soldiers unarmed combat in a few short lessons.  After teaching these lessons to a few groups of soldiers, Feldenkrais realized that he would have difficulty in reaching many more soldiers and he published his Practical Unarmed Combat as an illustrated manual to better equip the British military.

Review: Higher Judo: Groundwork, by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais

The Art of Fighting

Dr. Tzun Tzu, January 2011 (latest edit)


There are a certain few Martial Art text that are recommended study for a Martial Artist. There are the obvious basics like The Art of War, or Book of Five rings, and I recommend to all of my students R. L. Wing's “The Art of Strategy” workbook. Higher Judo: Ground Work (1952) by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais is another must own for the educated practitioner of any Martial Art and I consider it required reading. Not only is the original work a masterpiece in itself, but it is also a historical reflection on how beatifically information can be transmitted and refined in the form of publication. It is a work that can be and should be reread and shared with others, and this is best served in a printed form. Consider that this book has been reprinted after 58 years, then reflect on how powerful a document that must be to get reprinted on paper as the world of hard copy is fading away.

Excerpt from Higher Judo: Groundwork by Moshe Feldenkrais

Available on the website : Blueprints for Movement


Higher Judo - Groundwork:

"The essential aim of Judo is to teach, help, and forward adult maturity, which is an ideal state rarely reached, where a person is capable of dealing with the immediate present task before him without being hindered by earlier formed habits of thought or attitude. ... To help teach and foster adult independence seems a formidable task and it seems difficult to know how and where to begin. What do we do in Judo that is so different from other disciplines? The most striking thing is, that Judo ignores inheritance as a factor of importance. We do not find that size, weight, strength or form have much connection with what a man can learn to do so long as it is within the limit of his intelligence. Furthermore, by admitting frankly the physical shortcomings, we are capable of turning to them into advantages in due course!"

Review: "Higher Judo: Groundwork" by Moshe Feldenkrais

Modern Judoka

Blog - December 2012


In terms of judo content, “Higher Judo” contains 300 line drawings (traced from actual photos of Feldenkrais and Mikinosuke Kawaishi) with

accompanying commentary. Unlike most instructional books that stick to explaining 1 or 2 pictures at a time, Feldenkrais works to

tie together different positions, constantly referring back to earlier pages. ... “Higher Judo” represents one of the first attempts by

a judoka to capture “proper” newaza instruction in print. There are definitely other instructionals covering newaza, but it seems that the goal of judo print during the mid-20th century was capture judo through a series of photographs. The line drawings lack color, which is a choice probably made to draw your attention to the text. Even if you are a visual learner, the best photography of the 1952 was not that good, such that the crispness of the line drawings is actually superior from an instructional standpoint.

Applying the Feldenkrais Method in the Martial Arts

Feldenkrais Guild of North America, Thursday, September 1, 2005 
by: Charlie Velez


Today’s martial artists are concerned about what can they do to be more flexible, and injury free. As a martial artist I can appreciate this first hand. After my training in 2001, I started to incorporate Feldenkrais® Awareness Through Movement® lessons in my classes. Many students were hesitant because of the strategy of moving slower, as opposed to moving fast. After starting with actual lessons addressing functional martial arts moves many students were amazed at how much more coordinated they were. In addition, their injury rates dropped considerably.

Moshe Feldenkrais and Modern Judo: The Strange Forgotten Tale of a Physicist who Learned Judo

DC Judo

Terence McPartland September 2012


Feldenkrais left Palestine to study engineering and physics in Paris. There he met Judo’s founder, Jigoro Kano, in 1933. Kano encouraged him is study Judo. Feldenkrais learned Judo from Mikonosuke Kawaishi earning his Shodan in 1936 and a Nidan in 1938. He published several books on Judo including his most important Judo work: Higher Judo (Groundwork). Feldenkrais and Kawaishi founded the Jujitsu Club de France in 1936. This organization eventually became the Federation Francaise de Judo et Jujitsu(FFJJ) in 1946. The FFJJ was instrumental in the creation of the International Judo Federation which oversees sport Judo throughout the world. ... Relatively few have heard of Feldenkrais, but his impact on Judo has been large and significant. Feldenkrais brought together his engineering background, his own process of learning Judo and his experience of real fighting on the streets of Palestine  to develop new methods of teaching Judo.  He used the analytical skills of a physicist to break down techniques into a series of discrete movements that could be easily explained and practiced slowly while building proficiency. 

Feldenkrais and Judo

Judo Info - Online Dojo

Dennis Leri, 1997

Also published in the newsletter of the Feldenkrais Guild, In Touch


“… it is bad in Judo to try for anything with such determination as not to be able to change your mind if necessary…” (M. Feldenkrais, Higher Judo, pg. 94)

“From my perspective, which is of course as a martial artist, in the Feldenkrais Method you take my balance and I have to find a new balance.” Chiba Sensei, 8th Dan Aikido, after receiving an FI lesson from Elizabeth Beringer, 4th Dan.

Judo practice and its pedagogical analogies when scrutinized by Moshe provide us with the “logical and scientific reasons” for Judo’s effectiveness. Let’s look at how. The Higher Judo book provides guidance for Judo practice when both practitioners are on the ground. The person on top, “top dog,” or the person on bottom, “underdog,” has no advantage as far as winning the contest. The great difference between them is in the “attitude and control of the body.” If one is in the down position lying on the back only two movements are possible: rolling forward and backwards or from side to side. The position that is assumed to accomplish the rolling is one familiar to all Feldenkrais practitioners: knees to elbows, head off the floor.

Moshe on Moshe on Martial Arts

Feldenkrais Journal, Issue #2, 1986 pages 12 - 26

Published by the Feldenkrais Guild

Interview with Moshe Feldenkrais by Denis Leri, et. al., San Francisco 1977


Awareness through Movement and Karate

Feldenkrais Journal, Issue #2, 1986 pages 9 - 11

Published by the Feldenkrais Guild

Jack Heggie


When teaching Awareness Through Movement, Moshe often made the Point that a move was to be done in a certain way not just because he said it was that way, but because a well organized nervous system would move in that way. ln other words, ATM was not so much invented as discovered. lt taps the natural or built-in motions of the human body. The ancient martial art of Karate, passed down through many generations of practitioners in the Orient, shares this property of utilizing the built-in movements of the body.

Martial Arts

by Victoria Worsley

Found on her website: Feldenkrais Works


DR.MOSHE FELDENKRAIS was one of the first westerners to gain a black belt in Judo. ... Moshe and his main teacher, Kawaishi, went on to found the Judo club of France and Moshe wrote several books on Judo. ... JUDO was a key influence on the [Feldenkrais] Method and some of its fundamental ideas are already present in the introduction to his book ‘Higher Judo‘. ... You can fairly easily locate the rolling and groundwork skills in many ‘Awareness Through Movement’ lessons: his ideas on dynamic stability, readiness, efficiency, ease and lightness of movement, the crucial role of the pelvis and relationship to the ground all arguably owe much to Judo – as do some of the techniques used in ‘Functional Integration’, the hands-on version of the method (albeit for a rather different effect)!

The Feldenkrais Method, Martial Arts (and me)

Containing both the written article plus an audio lesson

by Victoria Worsley (Feldenkrais Practitioner), 2018

Found on the website of the Feldenkrais Guild UK


When we begin the Feldenkrais Method many of us are surprised by the emphasis on slow, gentle movements in an Awareness Through Movement class or the subtlety of touch in a Functional Integration lesson. It is for a clear reason: we need to slow down and reduce intensity so we can feel the way we involve unnecessary tensions in any action.  ...  it is not necessarily intended that we live our entire life at that slow level — unless we choose to. ... Moshe Feldenkrais was a very active and energetic man himself.  ... He was one of the first western judo black belts, co-founded the Judo club of France and wrote several well-regarded books on judo ... The experience and understanding he gained from self-defence — especially as a Judoka — and from working with his own footballing injury (torn cruciates and meniscus) are deeply ingrained in the Feldenkrais Method. ... These days, the slow easeful movements of Feldenkrais attract or direct many towards the softer martial arts of Tai Chi or Chi Gung, but his background in Judo also connects with methods that foreground grappling, locking, throwing and groundwork such as Aikido and Brazilian Ju jitsu. 

The Feldenkrais Method as an Extreme Sport

Feldenkrais Guild of North America, Friday, July 31, 2015 
by: Terence McPartland, GCFP


People do extreme sports for the reliable experience of bodily presence and the possibility of achieving a joyful organizational

catharsis. People do the Feldenkrais Method for the same reasons. That’s why it is an extreme sport. The Feldenkrais Method

creates a reliable experience of bodily presence. Lessons start with awareness. The role of the practitioner is to serve as the external

demand for bodily presence and a guide to a fuller experience. By calling the student’s attention and awareness to the body, the practitioner helps create the container for presence. The most ordinary Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) or Functional Integration® (FI) lesson reliably invokes that experience of bodily presence. The Feldenkrais Method offers the possibility of achieving organizational catharsis. I suspect every practitioner experiences at least one moment ... where he experiences an organizational catharsis. Sometimes this experience can be dramatic, like finally managing a headstand. Sometimes it can sneak up as the organizational change reveals itself suddenly.

The Martial Arts Roots of the Feldenkrais Method

Article by Raffaele Rambaldi



Also found on: Infos Bujinkan 


The martial spirit of Moshe Feldenkrais is deeply incorporated into his system.  And significantly present also is the study which he made on the ‘inner structure of martial arts’, this type of internal organisation which allows the old masters, even at an advanced age, to overpower students who are younger and physically much stronger than they are.  For this reason and for many others, the rediscovery of the martial-arts roots of the Feldenkrais method is an extremely valuable thing for everyone, at whatever level.  Obviously it is in order to draw still more benefits from the practice of the Feldenkrais Method.  But it is too for anyone who practices martial arts or any other movement-based activity from dance to sport, or who simply wants to feel healthy and fit.

The Method

Tablet, on-line magazine

Robert Slatkin, July 2011


Feldenkrais’ martial-arts study helped give birth to the Feldenkrais Method, a philosophy of human movement. In Feldenkrais’ first four books on jiujitsu and judo, he began introducing concepts that would reach their apotheosis in Higher Judo. Social constraints, he wrote, have stunted our physical development. We are stuck in an infantile stage in how we use our feet (predominately for upright carriage), how we react to falling (which begs for a “more adult independence of the gravitational force”), and our lack of a more thorough “development of our space adjustment in all directions from the origins of our movable co-ordinate system.” What is the best way to overcome these liabilities? Judo, he argued, the way of gentleness.

Oni Kudaki - Feldenkrais' Way

From Jiu-Jitsu and Self Defense book, Published in 1930 by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais.

You tube video

Demo by Moti Nativ


Feldenkrais Toronto West recognizes that the article in Jiu-Jitsu and Self Defense book by Moti Nativ on Oni Kudaki - Feldenkrais' Way states you tube video.  Feldenkrais Toronto West Sue Seto offers mindfulness Awareness Through Movement classes, Functional Integration lessons and workshops in somatic education, neuromuscular re-education, neuroplasticity developed by Moshe Feldenkrais Method provides health movement education learning based on neuroplasticity pain management back, lower back, knee, shoulder, neck, hip, feet, chest, mobility, arthritis, fall prevention, recovery of injuries, stroke, concussion, surgery. Feldenkrais Method benefits are improvement athletic performance, dance, music, balance, anxiety, trauma, neurological movement disorders, Parkinson’s, EDS, ehlers-danlos, MS, multiple sclerosis, CP, cerebral palsy, scoliosis, visual eye problems, walking, climbing, stairs, sitting, breathing, aging well, older seniors, children, alignment, meditation, yoga, Pilates.

On Better Judo

article found on the: Warrior's Awareness website

Bujinkan Israel

Moti Nativ, 2017


Better Judo is a series of 5 articles, published from January 1948 until January 1949, which Dr. Feldenkrais wrote for the quarterly bulletin of the Judo Budokwai club. “A true secret is still a secret even when it is revealed to all.” (Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz, Preface to The Thirteen Petalled Rose) 1 Judo concepts and techniques had a significant impact on Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais’ development of the Feldenkrais Method for improving a person’s abilities in action. We can see the results in many Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lessons, although the judo component may not always be obvious to those without the proper background.

 The impact of using Feldenkrais Method on improving Flexibility, coordination and some psychological Skills for karate player 

Available in Academia.edu

Safaa Saleh Hussen, Hoda Hasen Sabr

Faculty of physical Education, Zagazeg University, Egypt


This research aims to using Feldenkrais Method and identify their impact on improving flexibility, coordination and some psychological skills for karate players. Researcher used the experimental method with one group. The test of the rope jump to measure the coordination, a test bent the trunk forward from the sitting position,to measure the flexibility. The test of the attention concentration. ... the main results demonstrated significantly improved in the flexibility, coordination and some psychological skills (attention concentration - the ability to imagine) after ten Weeks of Awareness through Movement for karate player.

Be a Baby, a Ninja Baby - The Feldenkrais Method

Found on the website: Japanese Jiu Jitsu: A Journey

Online blog, June 7, 2011


Babies and toddlers know how to fall.  They know how to move, reach, roll, lift. and move around (after the hilarious awkward stage).  Their movements and their breathing are natural and relaxed.  ... Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984), who created the Feldenkrais Method was an avid martial artist who studied Judo and Jiu Jitsu. He studied movement, health, and taught an integrated method of re-learning how to move naturally and easily as an adult. Much of his work was influenced by studying the natural effortless movement of children. 

8 Steps to improve your jiu jitsu

Found on the website: Zenyo Jui Jitsu

Online blog, August 2016


Acting is easy. Learning to relax while acting, especially if someone is pressuring you in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, is hard. Relaxation is a higher order skill than action. Through it, however, is the path to rapid improvement.  This is the path mapped out by Moshe Feldenkrais, a neuroscientist who studied judo, in his book Awareness Through Movement.

Sue Seto, Toronto West

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