Category Archives: David Zemach-Bersin

David Bersin: “Moshe Feldenkrais Is In The Room With Me.”

Last week, I got a marketing email from David Zemach Bersin about his next training program in New York. Bersin leads the email with a quote from one of his students:

“When David is in the room, I get a sense that Dr. Feldenkrais is right there with him. It’s an incredible experience.”

In other words, David’s biggest claim to fame is not who he is a person and what he has done himself but his relationship to a dead man. Don’t go to Bersin’s Feldenkrais training to learn the work. Go to be near Moshe.

For those of you who read this blog on a regular basis, David’s desire to be seen as close to Moshe should come as no surprise. As I demonstrated in an earlier blog post, “Moshe Feldenkrais Had No Interest In The Guild“, David Bersin has been claiming for many years that he represents Moshe Feldenkrais. Apart from the fact that Moshe is DEAD (gasp!), there is no historical evidence to bolster David’s claim about what Moshe wanted. And David claims to have been a close personal associate of Moshe Feldenkrais for 12 years. That is simply untrue.

In Bersin’s marketing email he also claims that his trainings “exceed the highest standards set by the Feldenkrais Guild.” That does indeed sound wonderful. Unless you know that Feldenkrais Guild standards have nothing to do with training competency nor becoming competent in the work. They are rule-based standards and focus on meaningless indicators such as the number of training hours per day, how many trainers and assistant trainers need to be in the room and the like.

As I and many others have noted, Guild trainings have no known efficacy in helping people to launch careers in the feldenkrais method. (See: Feldenkrais Trainings: How Many Practitioners Start A Practice?). As for working with David Bersin? Here’s what a recent graduate had to say:

If I could talk to people thinking of enrolling in his training, I would encourage them to ask him for references of people who went through the training and are doing this work for a living (a reasonable request). David might be able to give you a few PT’s or massage therapists who now give some lessons (or some students who now answer his phones and give lessons at the institute, barely scraping by), but there won’t be more than a handful. Given the hundreds of people he’s trained over all these years, it’s a powerful indictment that so few of them actually have developed the skills to do this work professionally.

If you are interested in some of my own experiences in working with him, let me direct you to: “David Bersin and the Advanced Workshop That Wasn’t

I wish I could close this blog post with some simple advice. I wish I had some type of easy formula that you could use to learn the work and to find a quality training. I don’t. All that I can say right now is “Buyer Beware.” Spend as much time as you can doing the work on your own through recorded sessions and transcripts. Read Moshe’s work. And experience a broad range of styles until you feel ready commit to a training. My hope is that rational and quality Feldenkrais trainings will begin to be the norm and not the exception. But much work has to be done before that becomes the case.

Moshe Feldenkrais: “I Have No Interest In The Guild.”

“My business is to record what people say, but I am by no means bound to believe it.” – Herotodus, 2nd century AD, The Histories, (VII.152).

On my computer, I came across this little quote from Bill Callison that I pulled off the web a number of months ago. I’ve been told that Bill is the person who brought the successful suit against the german feldenkrais guild to challenge their service marks. Bill has an interesting perspective on Moshe’s thoughts about the guild:

Moshé had no interest in the incorporation process, and not very much interest in the “Guild“ activities in the years following. I have a letter from Moshé, stating his unwillingness to give time to an organization, members accepted, no matter how ineffective. With Moshé working hard and travelling, he did not want to waste time with the “confusion”, common to the “guild”, with several factions, wanting to control and influence the “guilds” activities.

Of course, it’s nothing more than hearsay…unless Bill can produce the letter he says Moshe wrote. I would love to see it and will publish it in its entirety if anyone has a copy.

Bill’s image of Moshe is quite different than what others have presented. For example, Paul Rubin and David Zemach Bersin have created a Moshe Feldenkrais who agrees 100% with their current positions (and their bank accounts) regardless of the fact that Moshe has been dead for over 25 years.

Here are a few examples back to the time of the “Anat Baniel Lawsuit.” Just like Bill did, Anat won her lawsuit.

From: David Zemach-Bersin, 11/18/99

“I want you all to know that Moshe very much desired that his work and the words associated with his work be legally protected, and that he wanted and entrusted the Guild to protect them. This was Moshe’s expressed wish. He was also vitally involved in the formation of the Guild and wanted a strong Guild to act on behalf of his wishes.”

So the Guild is acting on Moshe “expressed” wishes as conveyed by David Bersin, former Guild President. Just out of curiousity – Can David show us where Moshe expressed those wishes? In recently years, David Bersin, like Paul Rubin has done, has begun focusing on science and stressing scientific evidence for “the method.” Perhaps in that spirit he could show some evidence of “Moshe’s expressed wish?”

Here’s an illustrative quote from Paul Rubin:

“Moshe explicitly asked us in 1976 and 1977 to form a guild to regulate the future of the work. I know because I was on the committee that he empowered to create and present the by-laws to him. I was also selected by him to be a member of the first Board of Directors in 1975. Moshe himself served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for his lifetime. Because of this, I had many discussions with Moshe about the need for and the proper form of, yes, regulation and control of the future of the work. He absolutely recognised that there was a need for regulation and control to prevent people from usurping the use of the terms we now protect.” (1998).

“I know because I was there”! Isn’t that a hoot? Several people have attributed the idea of a creation of a guild to Dub Leigh, not Moshe Feldenkrais. If Paul Rubin is going to make these blanket phrases of speaking for Moshe, he needs to provide some evidence.

For those of you who are unaware, there is a great deal more to the creation of the guild than you know or have been told. And I’m sorry to say that there is a great deal more that many don’t have the courage to see. I’m often surprised at the way that guild members mentally avert their eyes to not see or consider that which contradicts what they have been told. For the insecure the need to belong often trumps the need to be aware and know the truth.

The Problem

The real problem is not what Moshe did or didn’t think or what he did or didn’t want. He is dead and can’t be consulted.

The problem is that people such as David Zemach Bersin, Paul Rubin and others are promoting and idea that has a deadly presupposition. They are implying Moshe had a hand in creating the system that we have today. That is simply not true.

Every legal and political restriction that we have in the Guild today comes not from Moshe Feldenkrais but from his students. To say that Moshe wanted his work “protected”, as David Bersin asserts is not to say that he wanted the guild to do so nor that he thought that the guild could do so. Nor is to say that he wanted or devised the laborious 20+ year process for certifying others to train using his work. Or that wanted his materials locked up behind restrictive legal and bureaucratic handcuffs.

Would Moshe be hellbent on keeping the Amhest video out of the hands of the public? Would he be shocked that 25 years after the Amherst training that the materials are still not easily accessible? Would he have wanted the Alexander Yanai sessions to cost $1000 and only be available to practitioners? Would he be surprised that the many FGNA trainers have spent most of the last 25 years merely imitating him and the last training that he conducted at Amherst?

Again – the man is dead. We can’t ask him. The honest thing to do is for David Bersin and Paul Rubin is to shut the hell up and stop using the cult-like technique of saying that they are the representatives of a dead man. And the intelligent thing – for you who say you care about the work – is to challenge these people when they put forth their bullshit about doing Moshe’s bidding.

Moshe is dead. But the restrictive monopolistic guild system where the money flows directly to private training institutes is not. These people have their interests protected not only by the Guilds, but also by the members whose dues who pay for the guild to do so. Guild members pay for a system that discriminates against them and keeps training ridiculously expensive and out of the reach of the public. Assistant trainers are stuck at the assistant trainer level. New trainers are not being certified. New training models are not being developed. The work is stagnated and the guild is dying.

But of course, Moshe made it clear 25 years ago that this is exactly how it should be and how he wanted it. Just ask two of the original apostles David and Paul.

Anat Baniel at TEDx

Anat Baniel Teaching Feldenkrais

Anat Baniel

I just found out that Anat Baniel spoke at the TEDx conference in Berkeley earlier this month. I’m very happy for her and others who are engaging in new behaviors and organizations to get Moshe’s ideas deeper into the world. But don’t worry. Those not interested in doing so still have the FeldyForum.

They have not posted videos of the presentations yet. As soon as they do I will post the video or a link. Some brief feedback that I found: Twitter user agoldfisher tweated “EDxBerkeley speaker Anat Baniel: wake up the brain, enormous implications for education. “Even on a bad day, you have an amazing brain.”

Weblogtheworld wrote that,

Anat asked the entire group of nearly 1,400 people to get up, stretch and then reach our toes with a slight bend of knees. She asked us to do it again after rounding our back and stretching while leaning up against our chairs, and then do it again. The result? A much more fluid and smooth experience, without tightness and without pain.”

1400 eh? That’s impressive. I hear David Bersin recently taught a workshop entitled, “Sharing Moshe’s Legacy.” Only three people showed up – two of whom were muttering something about “spare change.” Apparently, Bersin had none to share.

Thanks Anat. May you soon teach an Awareness Through Movement lesson to 14,000 people and then 14 million. And if not you, then someone else.

Roots of the Feldenkrais Trainer Monopoly

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Animal Farm by George Orwell.

From the SRC 2009 Report:

“Since 1992, we [the International Feldenkrais Federation] have a “bottom-up”, democratically organized professional umbrella association in the IFF. Parallel to it, we have an older TAB [Training and Accreditation Board] structure with roots in the group of trainers who initiated it.

What does the SRC committee mean by “an older TAB structure with roots in the group of trainers how initiated it.” Sounds like a sentence from someone trying to be politically correct, doesn’t it? That won’t do.

David Bersin on The Trainer Monopoly

Let’s read the opinion of David Bersin. Get your barf bag ready.

“Please allow me [David Bersin] to bring to the foreground some facts…The TAB’s are three committees which are mandated to oversee the governance or regulation of Feldenkrais professional training programs, the teachers who teach in these programs, and the process by which Feldenkrais Practitioners become eligible to teach in programs, as Assistant Trainers and Trainers. The TAB’s are also responsible for the creation and evaluation of the policies which concern these domains. Functionally, the TAB’s are already committees of the Australian Guild, the North American Guild, and the European Guild organizations, and all policy must be approved unanimously by these membership organizations. This requirement for uniformity in TAB policies was created in order to insure full international discussion and collaboration, high standards for trainings, and to inhibit the undue influence of personal or small group interests.” From: DZB SRC

Functionally, David Bersin is confused. How does taking policy making out of the hands of the majority increase collaboration? How does giving a select few the right to set policy limit the undue influence of a select few? The TAB was created to “to insure full international discussion and collaboration…and to inhibit the undue influence of personal or small group interests”?! I think not.

What David is writing is the exact opposite of how the process works. There is not now, nor has there EVER been shared decision making on policy. Have any of you had a meaningful hand in certifying a new trainer? Setting training policy? Of course not. The TABs were specifically created to limit participation from the rable such as you and I. Denis Leri states it quite succinctly below.

Denis Leri Discusses the Trainer Monopoly

For a look on how the TAB’s were originally designed to work, let’s go back about 16 years to a letter written by Denis Leri (Denis_Leri_TAB-1992 DOWNLOAD). I do not know the exact context for the letter. It was forwarded to me anonymously. But it is written on a Guild letterhead. Perhaps it is from an FGNA newsletter? The first quote is verbatim. The second has my comments in block parentheses [ ].

“Some people think that anyone having anything to do with trainings should not be on the TAB because of conflict of interest. First, we have had an internal policy about conflict of interest dating to 1986 which we are making explicit in this proposal. It has been followed with extreme diligence. There are checks and balances in place. Minutes of the meeting exist. Secondly, speaking for myself as a training organizer, some previous policy decisions of the TAB were not implementable on a practical level not withstanding their good intentions.

I believe, as an organizer and educational director, we should have representation of and by those people who take the risks and do the very difficult and arduous tasks required to form a training program. I feel it is not desirable to exclude people who can and do understand the realities of training situations. Finally, it is a shared perception that generally speaking, the quality of trainings has improved. To me, that says, on the hand, that the trainings are doing a good job and, on the other hand, that you out there are responsible for drawing a broad range of quality people into our work.”

Filling in the blanks:

“Some people think that anyone having anything to do with trainings should not be on the TAB because of conflict of interest. [Not anyone, just trainers. It’s basic common sense. You want to regulate yourself under the guise of faux oversight of the TABs?] First, we have had an internal policy about conflict of interest dating to 1986 which we are making explicit in this proposal. [An internal policy about conflict of interest IS a conflict interest!!] It has been followed with extreme diligence. [Your secret internal policies, that you alone enforce??!] There are checks and balances in place [Says who?]. Minutes of the meeting exist [Who cares. Minutes are worthless and easily changed. Think Enron.] Secondly, speaking for myself as a training organizer [with a vested financial interest], some previous policy decisions of the TAB were not implementable on a practical level not withstanding their good intentions [Says who?]

I believe, as an organizer and educational director, [again – with vested financial interests] we should have representation of and by those people who take the risks and do the very difficult and arduous tasks required to form a training program [In other words, financial rewards are not enough to satisfy his massive ego needs] I feel it is not desirable to exclude people who can and do understand the realities of training situations [Does Leri understand the reality of the shrinking guild and his own training programs?]. Finally, it is a shared perception [I think he means: “shared delusion”] that generally speaking, the quality of trainings has improved [Bullshit]. To me, that says, on the hand, that the trainings are doing a good job and, on the other hand, that you out there are responsible for drawing a broad range of quality people into our work. [Which contribute directly to the trainers’ bottom line, but not our own]

In case you missed or don’t remember my post on Denis’s proposed Feldenkrais Trainer Guild, let me give you one choice quote:

…it’s a drag to cover up the fact that TAB’s and Guilds have no business involved in the formation of Trainers.

Yea, yea, that’s it baby. It’s a drag. It’s really a f*cking drag. Engaging in a decades long cover up has taken a great deal of emotional and intellectual work. And why bother anymore? It’s already in plain site: From the perspective of many trainers the TABs and Guilds have no business. No business certifying trainers. No business certifying trainings, no business engaging in ANY action that might limit the trainer classes ability to fleece the faithful. Feldenkrais: By the Trainers for the Trainers.

Enough said.

Next Up: The Guild Service Mark Application

Soon I will be posting some historical documents and information related to the Guild’s application for the “service marks” back in the 1980’s. You may not agree with my interpretation. But, as always, I will post links to original documents and sources when I can get them so that you can have access to source material. By the way – Please do not assume that this blog and its various resources will always be here. If something interests you, grab it, keep it, and share it.

Do you know anyone who would be annoyed and offended by what I have wrote here? Good! Don’t leave them out. Please click the “share” button on the bottom of this page and send them the link to this post. And take a moment to sign up for notification of new posts via email? You will only get an email when I publish something on this site. And your email will be used for no other purpose.

Click And Subscribe Here To Keep Offended.

IFF Committee Wants Change. Feldenkrais Trainers “NO.”

It is no secret that Feldenkrais training are getting smaller and smaller. Some trainers can barely attract a dozen people into their training programs and yet they passionately write that “everything is fine” and must stay the same. It is mind boggling. I never realized such institutionalized incompetence could exist outside the halls of academia and religion. I guess that’s what happens when you have a legal monopoly and people who are hell bent on keeping it, regardless of its futility.

A little context

Many of you are not members of the FGNA and are thus not kept up to date with what’s going on at the International Feldenkrais Federation (IFF) or elsewhere in the community. Even most FGNA members do not know about this.

What I am speaking to today is the IFF’s Structural Review Group Report. The report made a number of practical suggestions and notations including:

“we have been attempting to regulate quality (of practitioners) through complex rules and regulations, while a more effective way to ensure quality is through culture. By this we mean that we need to rely on the baseline purposes and principals that underlie our training policy, and then encourage a culture of learning, investigation, sharing, innovation, even competition, to encourage quality”

How dare those bastards say that!! You want a method that is based on organic learning and development to have a governing structure to match it? Shame on you! Just kidding. It sounds like a great idea to me. Why not try to use a distal pathway to effect change rather than the 25+ year proximal path – control from on high, regulated by the feldenkrias trainers/gurus/overlords. The report goes on to state:

“it does not make sense to include TABs as members of the IFF, and we recommend that TAB membership in IFF come to an end.”

“…the best practical change we as a community could make would be to shift responsibility for training and accreditation to the national-guild level. Then the national associations and guilds could adopt training policies which suit the regulatory climate in their countries.”

So on others words, they want to fit the lesson to the person – or in this case, to the culture. The SRC committee no longer wants to imitate the legal, law and medical professions. They want to create something organic. It sounds like a wonderful start. But of course, the IFF committee forgot one small idea: those from the trainer class who are not interested in change.

What Do The “Trainers” Think of the Recommendations?

I am sure there are some trainers in support of the changes, but they must be wearing their “cloaks of invisibility.” I didn’t read any positive comments. Here’s Elizabeth Beringer, sounding like a wounded child:

“How is it that a totally inexperienced group got all this IFF money and consultants and it goes directly to the full IFF board. Whereas I’ve been at so many meeting coming up with great ideas and consensus on some changes that go nowhere?” 

Yea, Elizabeth, like TOTALLY! It’s not fair!! “How come they get to have ice cream without finishing their spinach? I want ice cream too!! And besides, their like, TOTALLY inexperienced and I’m almost 5 years old now!” Sorry, Beth. Life’s not fair. Risk takers and those who are independent have the opportunity to get rewarded. That is one of many reasons that people like Mia Segal, Ruthy Alon, Chava Shelhav, Anat Baniel, Michael Krugman and many others are actually getting known in the real world and making contributions. On the other hand, you serve admirably on committees, but don’t get to make much of a contribution. Perhaps you should learn something from that. Ever hear of “learning how to learn”?

Here’s part of the response from David Zemach-Bersin-Feldenkrais

“In the SRG letter, we are told that a small group have had a ‘revelation’ that the TAB’s should no longer be part of the IFF, and that all educational and training program policies should now be determined and regulated by each individual country.”

Oh, shit!! Now that is TOO funny. King David himself had a revelation years ago. You already know about it. What Moshe Feldenkrais really wanted was a religious hierarchy created in his name with David at the head. Suddenly, a letter magically appeared, making David and his buddies, the “Lords of the New Feldenkrais Church®” with right to call themselves “Trainers.” A term, by the way, that Moshe never used. So yes, Bersin knows all about revelation. “Hallelujah! Praise the Lord and Pass the Service Marks!” Divine revelation is the basis of Bersin’s entire career, which sadly, has become the basis for the entire bondoogle of the feldenchrist method mess.

His Holiness the David Bersin, goes on to write:

“Do we really imagine that by de-internationalizing training policies, by making the TAB’s more vulnerable to political pressures from a few people, will bring us closer to well examined and well developed standards?”


“I suggest that the IFF and the Feldenkrais educational community….not make rushed decisions based on who speaks the loudest, to not make the easy decisions, but rather to make responsible decisions that will serve and protect our work in an enduring way rather than serve the interests of the few.”

I’m speechless. (Though, apparently I can still type). David Bersin lives and breathes the ethic that Moshe and his work should be controlled by a few. After 30+ years of being a feldenchrist cult leader he still tries to present himself as “sharing Moshe’s legacy.”

Feldenkrais Trainer by Fiat

Perhaps many of you do not know this, but David Bersin and his buddies are Feldenkras trainers by fiat. They are trainers because they declared themselves to be trainers. It was a legal and political process, not one based on merit. The guild came to power only after Moshe died. And the policies certifying new trainers had nothing – nothing – to do with Dr. Feldenkrais. The initial rules of the feldenkrais church, allowed the first group of American assistants (of which little David was one) to become trainers after 3 three years of practicing! THREE YEARS. Soon that was expanded to 5 years, then 10. Now, it’s ten years on paper, but the reality is 15 to 20 years – IF you can get certified at all.

And why should the trainer class certify their competition? What would be the reason? If a trainer can get barely make a living from his own trainings why would you expect him or her to certify new trainers? Hey! I just had an idea. Let’s do what the Catholic Church does and make trainer certification only available after death! That should limit the competition. “You have now been canonized as a Feldenkrais Trainer. Good luck in the after life.”

Seriously, many of these trainers are simply nuts. They are drunk on their own self-importance, doing their best to keep hold of a monopoly that they themselves created. Any change is seen as bad. They don’t want to open pandora’s box and find that practitioners discover their own power.

Just a few more quotes and I will end. This one is from St. Paul Rubin de San Francisco. Paul Rubin is one who makes no reservations of the fact that his entire professional identity comes from Moshe. He proudy states on his website that he is:

“…one of only 80 people to have completed training entirely under Dr. Feldenkrais and to have received diploma from him. Additionally, Dr. Feldenkrais served as Chair of Paul’s PhD committee at the Humanistic Psychology institute 1975-1978.”

Yes, yes, of course. And Rubin forgot to add: “Moshe told me that I am very handsome, and smart too!! My daddy is a fireman and my mommy is a school teacher.” Good lord. In other words, Moshe Feldenkrais signed Paul Rubin’s permission slip! Isn’t that special? One can only assume that if Rubin had done anything more recent he would have mentioned it on his website.

What does Lord Rubin think of the SRC’s recomendations?

“The policies that govern the creation of new Feldenkrais Teachers/Practitioners should never be trivialized to become about providing employment opportunities for people who wish to perform the functions of Assistants, Trainers and Educational Directors.”

???? What in the hell that statement has to do with the SRC’s proposal, I do not know. But it certainly speaks volumes about where Rubin’s concern lies. He simply does not want any change that would result in more competition for himself and his buddies. The need of the practitioners and assistants be damned! Who the hell do they think they are wanting to a chance to do meaningful work in the community in which they were trained? Thus speaks Lord Rubin:

“Let them eat cake.”

One final quote:

“…in the current atmosphere of false urgency to enable change, I simply have to raise these issues. There is great danger in over-fixing a system that in many respects is working well and is improving each year.”

There you have it people. The final pronouncement from Paul Rubin: “Everything is working fine. Nothing here to see. Just move along.”

When it comes down to it, I can’t say that I blame him for saying that. He did sell his soul to become a trainer. And he did give up any chance of meaningful organic development in order to become a simulacrum of Moshe. He must feel entitled to some payback for becoming a golem. Ditto for David Bersin et al.

cheers – Ryan

Click And Subscribe Here To Keep Updated.

Did David Bersin commit fraud?

“Total transparency has a tendency to reveal and expose those not really adding any value” – Ridderstrale and Nordstrom: Funky Business: Talent Makes Capital Dance


On Moshe’s Behalf…?

Several months ago, I ran across something that got me slightly nauseous when I read it. It was an archived post by David Bersin from a now-defunct online messaging system called the “Feldigest”*

Bersin’s post, originally distributed in 1999 reads, in part:

“In registering the service marks on his [Moshe’s] behalf, I did nothing unethical or fraudulent…”

Whoa! That was news to me. David Zemach-Bersin wants the world to believe that he registered the service marks “on behalf” of Moshe Feldenkrais? How interesting. Does he have any evidence? Would it hold up in a court of law?


To The Guild, From David

For the sake of accuracy, it should be noted that David did not register the marks on Moshe’s behalf. Moshe Feldenkrais already owned his service marks. What Bersin did was register them – transfer them – on behalf of himself – to the Feldenkrais Guild. David was using legal means to take Moshe’s name and legacy and assign it to the Guild. David can try to reframe that any way he choses, but the facts are the facts: He was instrumental in giving the American Guild control of Moshe’s marks.


Did Moshe Want The Guild To Have His Marks?

I have not found any evidence that Moshe wanted the Guild to have his marks. I certainly I have not seen any historical documents in which Moshe specifically mentioned wanting to give the Feldenkrais Guild control of his work and legacy. Have you? If you have such documentation, please send it to me. (And I mean real documentation – not just someone’s recollection of a conversation 25 years ago).

And the idea that Moshe Feldenkrais wanted or needed anybody to register the service marks “on his behalf” is rather dubious. Moshe wasn’t an idiot. If he had wanted to give his service marks to the Guild, he had many years in which to do so. He could have easily transferred the marks during the San Francisco or Amherst trainings, when he was still healthy and in control. The fact that he did not do so is quite revealing.


Why David Bersin?

One could also wonder, “If Moshe wanted this done, why would he have chosen David Bersin?” Moshe had trusted students who had worked with him for decades, people such as Mia Segal, Ruthy Alon, Yochanon Rywerant and many others. If he had wanted someone to act on his behalf, wouldn’t he have chosen one of them?

I’m not going to accuse David Bersin of registering the service marks fraudulently. I simply do not have the evidence to do so. But there are many people in the community – some of Moshe’s original students from Israel as well as several from the San Francisco and Amherst trainings who have personally told me that they doubt his story. They do not believe that David Bersin acted in good faith, nor do they believe that Moshe wanted the Guild to have his service marks.

I will leave it at that for now. You can, of course, come to your own conclusions and do your own research if you choose. It seems to me, that as a community we need to ask for verification of the stories that are told about the origination of the various social structures that have been created.

Awareness is awareness. It doesn’t end when you get up from the floor or table.


*The Feldigest is no longer active, its function now served by the FeldyForum, a place where Feldenkrais Practitioners and trainees converse online.

Historical Note

Moshe Feldenkrals died in June, 1984. According to the United State Patent and Trademark Office, the service marks were originally filed for in the U.S. on June 2, 1983. This was 12 months before Moshe’s death. The marks were granted to the Feldenkrais Guild on December 3, 1985. Fourteen years later in November, 3, 1999 a lawsuit was filed challenging the service marks. It was settled out of court in November 17, 2000.

Here Are Some More Articles about Bersin and the Feldenkrais Guild

Moshe Feldenkrais: “I have no interest in the guild.”

Bersin on the Feldenkrais Trainer Monopoly

David Bersin and The Advanced Workshop That Wasn’t

Feldenkrais Trainers Say “NO” To Change.

David Zemach Bersin And The Advanced Workshop That Wasn’t

Worst Advanced Training Ever?

Or Just Business as Usual?

Early in 2009, I took the most ill-conceived and, I am sorry to say, useless, advanced Feldenkrais training that I have ever encountered – A “Functional Integration Immersion” workshop taught by David Zemach Bersin in Berkeley, California. It has been nearly 8 months since I took the workshop, and I must say, I still find myself stunned by it.

I’m not proud to admit that it has taken me this long to write about the workshop and that it bothers me as much as it does. But I’m getting a little weary of the low standards for training that exist in the Feldenkrais community and I think it’s time for people to start speaking out. My apologies if I sound a little crabby. And I certainly don’t mean to state that all feldenkrais training is universally bad. But in this instance something was seriously amiss.

That fact that a person “studied personally with Moshe Feldenkrais” or is called a “Feldenkrais Trainer” should not give him or her a free pass to put out half-assed feldenkrais training. There is accountability in the real world, and I think it’s time to have some accountabilty in the world of Feldenkrais. It is possible. And it is necessary, if this work is going to reach it’s full potential.

“I have nothing prepared!!”

The workshop began in a manner that I found quite shocking. There were about 25 people, myself included, sitting or lying on the carpet in the training room. If you have ever been to a Feldenkrais training or workshop, you can picture the scene. In walks David Bersin. From the side of the room he starts speaking and says,

“Look, I asked you to email me if you had specific areas that you wanted to address in this workshop. Nobody emailed me, so I have nothing prepared!!”

Nothing prepared?! Jesus Christ. For a brief moment I stopped breathing. I spent $300 in tuition for a workshop and he is telling me that he has nothing prepared?! And it’s the participants’ fault for not telling him what to prepare? Imagine for yourself what you would feel. You have bought a plane ticket, traveled cross country, paid for a hotel room and meals, paid for a 3-day workshop…and the workshop leader tells you that he has not prepared?

I tried to tell myself that David said was using a technique or something. That he really DID prepare something but that he wanted to keep people on their toes. My delusion was soon shattered.

ATM to FI? No.

David had us lie down and do an Awareness Through Movement session. It was a brilliant ATM (one I have never encountered) and David taught it masterfully. I assumed that after the ATM- this being a “Functional Integration Immersion” – we might do some FI. You know, perhaps take the ATM and translate it into an FI or something? But I was wrong. Instead, David launched into a “show,” that I can only describe as something akin to religious revival meeting. He started talking about Moshe and what a genius he was, and how he could “make the lame walk, he could make the f*cking lame walk.”

Then what? Well just like in a religious meeting once you invoke the master and his brilliance, you must talk about the “fall from grace” and your plan to restore everyone to glory. That’s right, Bersin talked about the fact that, in his opinion, no one had reached the mastery that Moshe achieved, and that he (David) was upset by this and wanted to make things right. That he was passionate about and committed to the work…and then…?

FI Practice? No. FI template? No.

And then…nothing. Not a damn thing. David launched into a 90 minute lecture on the conservation of energy and mass. He threw out some of the obligatory “lines” by and about Moshe: The nervous system works well because it is invisible…You are not aware of the process of learning itself…you can’t separate learning form experience etc. etc. But his ideas were not connected to anything. There was no organization to help make the ideas usable nor actionable. And remember this workshop was a “Functional Integration Immersion.” While it was interesting to hear David Bersin quote and repeat some ideas from Moshe, would it not have been appropriate to teach something about FI? And maybe DO some Functional Integration?

So Much For The “Immersion”

We never got there. David took the easy way out. He gave functional integration and expected us to pick it up by osmosis. He talked about functional integration. He brought out the (seemingly obligatory) video of Moshe lecturing. And then – I kid you not – not until the last hour of the last day did we practice FI. And, we practiced ALONE. David was off in a corner talking to someone. If I remember correctly, it was his wife…or perhaps, it was the “assistant trainer” Carol Kress. Either way David didn’t want to be bothered by something so trivial as interacting with his workshop participants.

By the way, the “Assistant Trainer” Carol Kress, had no presence in the workshop. She was relegated to the role that most Feldenkrais Assistant Trainers play, which is to essentially stay in the room and say nothing and do nothing. If we had done a substantial amount of FI, perhaps she could have helped. But I must say that it was comical to see the blank look on her face the multiple times that Bersin look at her and at the group and said:

“So what do you want to do?! What should we do?!!”

Carol didn’t have anymore ideas than did David. I guess she wasn’t expecting to have to teach the workshop for him and provide the structure.

Passion is Not Competence

That David Bersin cares deeply about the Feldenkrais Method, I have no doubt. Nor do I doubt that he is passionate about the work. But the last time I checked passion and caring are not substitutes for competence. And they sure as heck aren’t substitutes for planning, preparation and a well thought out plan for teaching. Charging money for a workshop and then showing up without preparation or thought is inexcusable. And saying nothing and doing nothing when a “trainer” completely disrespects the time and commitment of people who come to his workshops is equally inexcusable. I am embarrassed for myself and embarrassed for the group for not demanding better. I would have gotten more out of my time had I gone to my hotel room and did ATM or simply practiced with the other practitioners there. Bersin’s presence was irrelevant.

For the record – David Bersin is a brilliant practitioner. He is what Malcom Gladwell would describe as an “outlier,” someone whose work is extraordinary. I have seen David give Functional Integration sessions that are breathtaking and that engender truly astonishing changes in the people he works with. That is one of the reasons that I attended his workshop. However, I have seen no indication that David Bersin knows how to teach Functional Integration. In fact, I would be willing to bet that David does not think FI can be taught in a workshop setting. I could be wrong. Perhaps I am wrong. But I can tell you I saw nothing in his workshop that would convince me otherwise.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]