Category Archives: Feldenkrais History

Should Paul Rubin Help Choose The Next Guild Director?

I am in the process of working my way through an anonymous email sent to me via anonyMOUSE yesterday. I will post parts of the email as time permits. It is from someone who knows a great deal of what is happening behind the scenes since Susan Marshall’s departure. I must admit, I find it all to be somewhat grotesque and more than a little Faustian.

But for now, I want to point your attention to some publicly available information about the process of picking a new FGNA Director. Paul Rubin is on the committee that has been formed to find a new director for the Feldenkrais Guild. Shall I repeat that? Paul Rubin, who wrote volumes of emails attempting to discredit the last director and her decisions, now wants to help choose the new one. How do you feel about that?

As the commentator noted in the anonymous email sent to me, Rubin’s being on the committee

“…is more than ironic, seeing that Paul led the charge directly against Susan and has a long history of questioning her decisions, defaming her publicly, and basically doing as much as he could to disrupt the functioning of the guild.”

Paul and his trainer buddies got what they wanted. They forced the last director to quit. And now he is getting a direct vote on picking the next one. Perhaps he will help choose someone who will be more amenable to accepting his views? Someone more pliable and not as ethical as Susan Marshall?

If you have a problem with this, perhaps voice your concern to someone at the Guild? Perhaps refuse to renew your membership?

At some point I would consider becoming a member of the Guild again and supporting its growth and the spread of the work. But I just can’t see spending my time and money on an organization with a lack of democratic process, and in which a small group of trainers have defacto power to pick and choose the director and set policy regardless of and in direct contradiction to what members want. It is beyond ridiculous.

Here is some Guild contact information:

The Feldenkrais Guild of North America
5436 N. Albina Ave
Portland, OR 97217
800-775-2118 (toll free)
503-221-6612 (office)

On the page below is an email contact form:

From The Nagy Archives: A Holiday Photo With Ryan and Moshe

“Ryan Nagy is the only one who truly understands my work. Well, Mia Segal is pretty good. And Anat Baniel isn’t that bad either.” – Dr Moshe Feldenkrais.

Simpler Times: Ryan Nagy with Moshe Feldenkrais

Simpler Times: Ryan Nagy with Moshe Feldenkrais

Happy Holidays every one!

As many of you know, I rarely share stories of my time with Moshe Feldenkrais. My relationship with Moshe was very important to me, and as you can imagine, life changing. But I have always felt that I should not commercialize the time I spent with him. Most importantly though, I have wanted to maintain my individuality and freedom. The more people see me as just “Ryan Nagy” and not “Moshe’s most important student ever ever ever in the entire world” the more I can do my own thing without needing to live up to any external standard or idea of what I “should” be.

It has been a wonderful gift. And one that sometimes I wish my trainer colleagues in the Feldenkrais Guild had given themselves. There is a reason why Mia, Anat, myself, Ruthy and others in the community have maintained the freedom to act that many of the “Guild Certified Trainers” seemed to have lost.

When I first met Moshe we were both working on anti-submarine warfare with the Navy in the United Kingdom. It was about 1947, if I remember correctly. Moshe and I hit it off immediately. I would like to tell you that what I remember most were the intellectual and philosophical conversations that we had. There were lots of those, to be sure. But what I remember most was the time we spent in bars, drinking, relaxing and having a good time. I think that’s why I have been able to study and use his work and still maintain my individuality. Yes, his work was important. As were his ideas and mentoring. But at the end of the day, he was just a really great guy to go out with and knock back a few beers. For me, Moshe was just Moshe.

Many of you have already read the leaked emails that I posted online yesterday. And perhaps you remember the one’s that I posted last year when there was a discussion (more of a knock down drag out fight) about Mia Segal’s students possibly joining the Guild. Quite frankly, I have never understood the jealousy and infighting that seems to plague so many in the Guild. I remember when I first met Mia Segal in 1957 when she first started working with Moshe and I. Yes, I was nervous. Yes, I was jealous! Of course! I am only human. And after having Moshe all to myself for 10 years, it felt strange having to share him with Mia. But eventually, I came to have a great deal of respect and liking for Mia Segal. Though sometimes I feel a little sad that she doesn’t talk about me more, or give me credit for the way I helped her learn the method. However, I must admit the lack of acknowledgement from her has given me more privacy. Perhaps Mia knows that and is why she keeps silent about me.

Anyway, there is much more that I can say, but the yuletide is nearly upon us and I have things to do! I am sure you do as well. I hope your holiday is filled with friends and loved one’s and that you will create many memories to last through the next year.

Enjoy! And take heart. Change is upon our communities in many many ways. Most of them more positive than we can imagine.

Ryan Nagy, near Parque de Santiago, Mérida, Mexico

Please note: This post is SATIRE. At the current moment I am 44 years old and was not even born when I spoke about working with Moshe during World War II or with Mia Segal in 1957. And the photo is not real either. It is a photoshoped photo where someone put my face into another photo. Cheers! Ryan

Moshe’s Wish For the Guild

While doing some research for an unrelated topic, I ran across a few choice words in a FGNA publication called, “Learning By Doing: A History.” It was from a San Francisco training graduate regarding his memory of the creation of the guild. The publication quotes the “trainer” as saying:

“Interestingly, Moshe insisted on a rather unique point of view being represented in the organization: ‘No one.’ he said, ‘was to use the organization to put themselves above the others’.”

No one is to use the organization to put themselves above others, eh? I don’t think Moshe got his wish. What do you think?

It would have been interesting to hear what the “trainer” had to say about the statement and if he and the original guild architects had enacted Moshe’s wish. Unfortunately, the interviewer did not ask any follow-up questions. Which is itself an interesting communication. And the article was unsigned. Another interesting communication.

Beware Trainers Bearing Grudges

“Sed quis Custodiet ipsos Custodes?” – Juvenal

Update: This blog post was first published in 2010. Since then, there have been some disturbing allegations of bullying, sexual harassment, and rape against some of the trainers mentioned in this post. And there seems to be a policy in the Feldenkrais Guild community to not speak publically about the allegations as evidenced by several published FeldyForum posts by Roger Russel and several Feldenkrais Guild Representatives.

A small investigation of something Moshe Feldenkrais attempted to teach….and what a few of his students actually learned.


Moshe Feldenkrais Lecture and Demonstration

Thursday, June, 23 1977, From the San Francisco Training Transcripts.

Moshe speaking during a Functional Integration demonstration:

“I used to take it differently. This is Yochanan’s way. [Feldenkrais demonstrates] Yochanan was watching me and finally, he brought to my attention that I was doing this. I thought it was so simple to take that. I never thought I’d do something like this …[Demonstrates] Then I just do that …[Demonstrates] Yochanan showed me that it means doing that … so it is a movement. There are many things like that which I learned from Mia [Segal], Gaby [Yaron] or Yochanan [Rywerant]”

Above Moshe is speaking about one of his earliest students, Yochanan Rywerant (recently passed away), who worked closely with him in Israel for many years. Feldenkrais was showing how Yochanan taught him something valuable. It’s a lovely demonstration of the kind of man and teacher Moshe was. He was not just demonstrating about the Method, but about his own ability to be a man of learning and to learn from his own students. He was open enough, wise enough, and yes – humble enough to learn from his own students. And he doesn’t just talk about the idea – he demonstrated it for all to see.

Moshe speaking to his students again:

“I want you to feel halfway between what you feel now and Mia, Ruthy [Alon], or Gaby. It is not that you do better than them. You should feel that in a year or two you will be capable of doing something similar. They will always have their twenty years experience. They have twenty years of watching me work all the time. People who [come] watch in Tel Aviv a month or two can see some of the things that are worth learning.”

Pretty wonderful, isn’t it? He is orienting his new students in San Francisco towards the eventual achievement of their own competence and ability to learn. It seems to me that he is also giving them an indication that there is much that they can learn from his original students with whom he worked for so many years in Israel.

If you know a little bit of the history that arose from Moshe’s American trainings, you may be aware that some of his San Francisco students were instrumental in creating what is now known as the “FGNA” or The Feldenkrais Guild of North America. Many have now taken to calling themselves “trainers” and they hold trainings that give people the right to use Service Marks such as “Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner” etc. That’s all well and good, but the question I want to ask is,

What did the San Francisco students learn? Do they comport themselves in a manner similar to Moshe? Did they in fact, learn to interact with, learn from, and value his original students from Israel and their own students?”

While you can rarely make valid generalizations about an entire category of people, there are a few comments from the San Francisco students that might shed light on what a few of them believe.

Trainer Emails

The quotes below are from emails that were forwarded to me earlier this year. They are from an email conversation in which a request was made to the Feldenkrais NATAB (North American Training and Accreditation Board) to discuss students in non-guild trainings getting educational credit for attending those trainings so that they could then finish and become “Guild Certified.” Several of Moshe’s original students, including Mia Segal and Yochanan Rywerant whom he mentioned above, have run their own Feldenkrais trainings outside the auspices of the Guilds (i.e. “non-certified”) and have been doing so for nearly 40 years.

I don’t know the names of everyone who was involved in the email conversation, parts of which I am posting below. I saw responses from half a dozen or so from the San Francisco Feldenkrais training, and a couple from the Amherst training. Presumably, some NATAB committee members and some FGNA directors were involved as well, though I do not have their responses. And though I received a great many emails, I did not get them all.

Here are a few excerpts. All of what is written below is from “trainers”:

I cannot begin to express what a slap in the face it would be if the Guild now decides that Baniel and/or MBS [MBS is the Mind Body Studies Institute, Mia Segal and Leora Gaster’s organization], will be given permission be – for every intent and purpose – to offer the first 90 days of legitimate training with none of the constraints we have agreed to, none of the loyalty to the community we have demonstrated and having paid none of the fees we have paid and continue to pay. A “cross over agreement” for students from these or any other organization would mean nothing more and nothing less than permission and encouragement to take the 90 days of class with an unaccredited program and then to join an accredited one for 70 more days with that plan bringing the same graduation as if the student had been in an accredited training all along! Once again, those people who have supported the Guild and have followed common agreements will have been taken for fools.”

I don’t know what the person means by “loyalty to the community.” But it seems to me that loyalty would involve a discussion about what would be healthy for the growth and needs of the various Feldenkrais organizations and members. But if the person views change as a personal “slap in the face” there’s really not much room for a discussion, is there? I guess his personal needs are more important to him. He is not in favor of inclusion.

Later in the same email:

When she [Mia Segal] and Yochanon started their programs I had already left my positions with the Guild and the Feldenkrais Foundation. However, I told Guild board members then that they should sue both Yochanon and Mia for improper use of the terms.  Instead a cross over policy was initiated.  If Moshe wanted either and or both Mia and Yochanon to be the only  trainers he had the opportunity to do so.

Sue Moshe’s most experienced and capable students? For what purpose? Who would that benefit? I believe Moshe wanted his students from San Francisco to learn from two of his most experienced students and colleagues. In fact, regardless of what Moshe wanted, one would have to be an idiot not to do so. Would you not want to learn from the most skilled practitioners you could find?

But the person above did not get the message. He wanted to sue them. Perhaps he still does. Why? What is it about Mia and Yochanon that gets this person so angry? After all these decades is he jealous of their personal relationship with Moshe Feldenkrais? Is he upset that they chose to independently teach their own training programs? What is it?

The idea of “suing them for improper use of the terms” seems like a smokescreen. Improper according to whom? According to guild lawyers? Could you imagine Moshe suing Mia or Yochanon because of how they used the service marks?

Why this is important

These are important to questions to ask for a variety of reasons. As you may know the FGNA went through a lawsuit 10 years ago. It spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend itself, nearly going bankrupt in the processs and then mysteriously settled out of court, giving the plaintiffs nearly everything they wanted.

Now, I’m starting to wonder if the guild is getting ready to start a lawsuit of its own. It recently convened a “portability committee” whose report is so convoluted and technical that it sounds like something written by one of Richard Nixon’s lawyers. (You can read the report online, you’ll need to scroll down the page a bit: Feldenkrais Portability Committee.)

I’d like to give you a full analysis of it, but I don’t want to step into the frame of reference that it represents. To me, the committee member’s report seems like typical political double speak and dissembling. They simply don’t have the guts to say, “We are worried about non-FGNA sponsored trainings happening in the U.S. and want to create a legal framework that will make it easier for us to sue.” [And bankrupt FGNA for yet another 10 year period?]

Here’s another response from a trainer residing in Europe:

It seems to be unofficial policy that most people should follow the training policies, but some people seem to be exempt from those policies, and the people who are exempt are those who express the least respect for those policies. Most of the accredited trainers in North America have made agreements to abide by the policies of the TAB and have done so as far as I can tell from my observer post in [names country]. While they are doing so, they are confronted with others who are publically ignoring those same policies. Now the question is if the students of the people who have basically thumbed their noses at the training policies, should be able to join the guild. If they are accepted, most likely on their own terms, or the terms are dictated by their teachers, then what is the training policy worth to those who have been abiding by it for many years?

That to me is one of the most fascinating responses. It is essentially saying that those who are not part of the Guild system are “thumbing their noses” and ignoring its policy. I simply do not understand the concept. If they have their own trainings and training policies what would be the purpose of following Guild policy? And remember the history. The people about whom he is speaking – Moshe’s original Isreali students – each had over 20 years of experience working with him and also developing their own work – before the Guild was created. Why in the hell would they now or – decades ago – have taken orders and directions from Moshe’s newest students?

His final comment “what is the training policy worth to those who have been abiding by it for many years” is also interesting. Is he asking what the policy is worth to himself and the other trainers who created the policy? Is he asking how it would affect his own trainings? It’s unclear to me. But again, it would be great to have a conversation about what inclusion would do for the entire system, including the guilds, practitioners and students.

For the record, the first two years of trainings after Moshe’s trainings were essentially carbon copies of the Amherst training. I mean that literally. The first two years of the original trainings consisted of playing the videotapes from Amherst. Can you imagine? That was the skill level of the original group of self-named trainers. I don’t mean that as in insult, we all have to start somewhere. But the first few trainings after Moshe’s involved a huge amount of taped calls. With the newly minted “trainers” adding their own commentary where they could.

If you were someone like Mia Segal, already training “live” and in-person, not only with Moshe’s blessing and help but also with well over 20 years of teaching experience, would you have agreed to teach by VCR? Would you have agreed to let new students from San Francisco – that you had helped train – dictate to you how to proceed and how to train? I think that was the original “sin” of Mia Segal and Yochanon Rywerant and many of the other Israelis. They were mature, independent adults who kept teaching according to their own desires and needs. They didn’t give in to the pressure and machinations of Moshe’s American students.

As to the current crop of American trainers who I have been quoting? (It’s interesting that the angry, self-righteous ones often seem to be males and Americans. Excluding me, of course. I’m full of love and peaches and cream.) Their fear and insecurity is still plain to see after all these years. Here’s a few more choice quotes:

…this question is being asked to accommodate people who have been spitting in our faces for years and the best we can do is to be obsequious towards them. Its incredible. Where are your spines? They take away our students for two years and then their students want to come to our Guild to be called Feldenkrais practitioners.  People organize advanced and mentorship programs for them, is it any wonder that practitioner referrals for prospective students are for their ‘trainings’?  We actually elevate them to some sort of super status.  This situation is absolutely absurd.” 

Wow. Talk about fear and loathing. Who is spitting on whose face? “They take away OUR student’s?” Our students, really?! Someone seems to have entitlement issues. And notice the bit about other practitioners organizing advanced workshops “for THEM.” What’s wrong? Are his feelings hurt because people don’t want to organize advanced workshop with him? Poor fella. Sounds like a clear case of professional jealousy.

Here’s a quote from someone else:

I hold no grudges towards Mia, Yochanon or Anat for starting their own versions of the “true” Feldenkrais Method according to them.  More power to them.  However it is chickenshit of them and their students to slam us and then expect to be welcomed into the fold.  I was never a fan of the crossover plan even if I benefitted from it.  Either they believe in what they are doing and accept the consequences or they are fudging it and hypocritically somehow claiming the high road.  If we want to allow for crossover on what basis is it acceptable other than monetary?

hmmm. Have you ever heard of incongruent communication? “I hold no grudges against you, but you’re a chickenshit.” Gee, thanks.

I’m not personally aware of Mia, Yochonan, nor Anat “slamming” the guild. Perhaps they have. But ultimately, why would they? They have been too busy doing their own work and developing the method. That’s the funny thing about organic development. When you are deeply involved in tasks that you find pleasurable and are evolving yourself you don’t have too much time to look askance at what others are doing. On the other hand, when you rely on legal distinctions and social control while simultaneously look backwards to what your dead hero was doing 30 years ago…you have plenty of room to slam others. The FGNA trainers that I have quoted are doing just that – and they seem to be the ones doing the slamming.

As far as Mia Segal or Yochanon Rywerant starting their “own versions” of the Feldenkrais Method? For the love of god, what a load of nonsense. Words simply do not suffice. It’s an idea that is delusional and flies in the face of the facts, common sense, and simple human decency. It would be more accurate to say, that Yochanon and Mia kept teaching and doing the work in the way that Moshe taught them and that they learned. Neither did Anat start her “own version” of the work. She simply decided it was not in her best interest to abide by rules set by others. She created her own marks and her own brand.

Ultimately what Mia, Yochanon and Anat refused to do is bow down. They did not become slaves to the service marks, nor to the Guild, nor to lawyers, nor to what Moshe was doing 25 years ago, nor to a VCR, nor some delusional American licensing scheme which attempted to label and bottle up Moshe’s work like some type of McDonald’s hamburger franchise.

And the American trainers that I am quoting? They did a power grab. With Moshe’s service marks in-hand, and the videos of the Amherst trainings, and some legal and ethical shenanigans, they created an organization that they have done a pretty good job of controlling…and choking the life out of. Organic learning and development by way of committee and the approval of lawyers? How in the hell is that supposed to work?

What’s not in the emails?

There are dozens of other choice quotes that I could share with you. But I will stop for now. It’s too depressing. Perhaps it would be better to talk about what is not in the emails. There is virtually no mention of what would be good for the Guild. There is no mention about what would be good for practitioners. There is no mention of how to provoke development and growth of the work. No. What we have here, is the same thing that we have had for 25 years. A small group of narrow-minded and selfish people fighting to preserve the institutionalization of their own prejudices and arrogance. They are kicking and screaming like children as they have been for years. In their minds, they own the work and they are in a fight to control it.

If you are in the FGNA hold onto your wallet. Because with angry men like that in the background, and I’m sorry to say, a toothless, cowed Board of Directors – who knows what will happen next. Personally, I have kept my guild dues in my wallet until such a time as it becomes a practitioner-oriented organization that lives to promote the Method and its ideas.

The Punchline

Ok, ready for the punchline? It’s pretty unbelievable. The conversation from which I am quoting above is not really about non-guild students wanting to join the Guild. There are no students who are doing so! According to an FGNA committee member who I spoke to in an unrelated email conversation, there are no Anat Baniel Method practitioners who are involved in the “cross over policy.” None of them are involved in becoming Guild-Certified. And I don’t believe any on Mia’s practitioners are doing so either. So what’s all the fuss about? Why are the trainers getting so upset about something that’s not happening?

Good question. Sounds to me like we are dealing with people who have some dependency issues. They are fighting battles from the long dead past – afraid of the shadows of past conflicts that they have not resolved. Whatever it may be, you may want to ask yourself:

Do these people have a vision? Do they speak for you? Do you want them setting policy for the Guild and Trainings? Are these people who are going to lead us into a new era and bring the work in its many guises and moral implications deeper into the world?

I don’t think so. But perhaps you think otherwise.

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Question: Were all the emails angry and negative?

No. There were some comments from other trainers that had a more “positive” slant. I will write them up in another post. Though as usual, the “reasonable” trainers never quite have the courage to challenge the system. I suppose it’s difficult to give up on a scheme that gives you a monopoly on service marked terms and the right to sell them. Some trainers are willing to criticize and provoke. But to date, only a few have developed the maturity and independence to do more than that.

Feldenkrais Guild Service Mark Application (and Conformity Guidelines)


“…the thinking that people do when they create their own ideology – their own vision for society – is broader than the thinking involved in following a perspective that is given.” Jeff Schmidt, Disciplined Minds

Someone sent me a pdf of the entire Feldenkrais Guild Service Mark registration (Download 3.1 mb) registered December 3, 1985. Now that I have that date, I am going to mark it in my calendar as a day of mourning and warning.

My view of the service marks is that people used them to simultaneously limit access to Moshe’s work while destroying their own pathway to organic development, developing a religious hierarchy in the process. They created social categories such as “practitioner” and “trainer” and “educational director” busying themselves with legal and semantic definitions – not noticing how year after year they slowly became caricatures of Moshe Feldenkrais – caricatures of themselves. What a waste.

But how could it have been otherwise? When you let lawyers define your reality, when you look to and imitate the past, when you look only for external social and legal support for your actions – what else is possible? The Guilds currently have a legal basis for the work, but not a moral or ethical one. As for an organic and developmental basis? Nowhere to be seen.

If you want to understand what has happened in this community look no further than the writings of Moshe Feldenkrais:

The education provided by society [In this case the Guild] operates in two directions at once. It suppresses every noncomformist tendency through penalties of withdrawal of support and simultaneously imbues the individual with values that force him to overcome and discard spontaneous desires.

These conditions cause the majority of adults today [some practitioners and nearly all trainers} to live behind a mask, a mask of personality that the individual tries to present to others and to himself. Every aspiration and spontaneous desire is subjected to stringent internal criticism lest they reveal the individual’s organic nature. Such aspirations and desires arouse anxiety and remorse and the individual seeks to suppress the urge to realize them. The only compensation that makes life durable despite these sacrifices is the satisfaction derived from society’s recognition of the individual who achieves its definition of success.” (Moshe Feldenkrais quote from, Awareness Through Movement, 1976, p6)

For examples in your life of what Moshe is speaking to, I will simply ask you to look inside your own heart and your own experience. No one can do it for you. It is the road less traveled. Available to all, used by few. But as the ancient mariner maps show at the edge of the unknown: “There be dragons.” Indeed there are. But they are your dragons.

More examples can be seen in other’s actions. How many in the community do you know that are willing to fight to the death – psychological, intellectual and emotional death – to keep their masks? These are the people that find it easier to follow the habitual, to create and follow restrictions to hide from those areas. Legal restrictions and definitions that lead to a lack of awareness that helps force people to change their behavior to conform – force them to overcome and discard their spontaneous desires.

Feldenkrais Conformity Guidelines

Do you know much about the Feldenkrais conformity guidelines? Also known as selling your soul in exchange for a “trainer mask.” The mask, that Moshe noted, a person can use to “convince himself that society’s recognition of his success should and does give him organic contentment.”

The first step in this process is to give your sense of self-worth and social acceptance to some type of external authority. For one small example, take a look at the EuroTab “trainer guidelines.” It’s stunning. It has the requirements for becoming a “Feldenkrais Trainer”. Here are some of the supposed core competencies that you must have and what they consist of:

Got that? You must demonstrate high proficiency as evidenced by your highly skilled lessons and high level teaching. High proficiency as demonstrated by your high proficiency! Are you familiar with the idea of a circular definition?

There is also this:

(Screenshots taken on 7/19/10 from

Update: Jan, 17th, 2019: I recently came went back the FGNA trainer application to see what had changed. I was not surprised to find that the original circular definition from the screenshots are still on the trainer application. 3_streamlined-trainer-application-policy-by-natab

In other words, you must have the ability to develop curriculum as evidenced by your ability to develop curriculum. Holy cow! Sometimes I wish I was making this stuff up. Do people put that kind of stuff online because they think we are blind and will not see it? Or are they themselves blind?

Historically many people have gone through the process of becoming a trainer (it can take over 20 years) only to be told that they do not qualify and cannot be trainers. I am sure that they are given some reasonable excuse. But lets keep in mind, when all is said and done, it is the trainers themselves who have ultimate authority to certify other trainers. And given that many of them can barely fill their own trainings – why should they certify others? What reason could he have for certifying another trainer?

True Feldenkrais

The trainer certification process, built on top of the service marks, is designed to ensure that a small group of people control the financial and ideological aspects of Moshe’s work. It fits both the form and function of a monopoly, if not a religion. It has been over 25 years since Moshe Feldenkrais death and there are only 60 trainers. Sixty trainers out of the thousands of people who have been through the training programs?!

What happens if you don’t get certified to be a trainer or decide not to be one? Not much. There is no other road for advancement within the community. The sensible thing would be not to engage in the process at all. Some people take this route. But as they cannot use the service mark terms they become “other.” They are “doing their own thing.” While others using the service marked terms present themselves as doing “true feldenkrais.” True Feldenkrais based on what again? A legal opinion on who “owns” the service marks? Not much of a basis.

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.

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Guild Officer: “Are we really the owner of the marks?”

For those who have been around the Feldenkrais community for many years, the passage below is old news? Or not so much? When Bonnie Humiston, two-time Guild President and one of Moshe’s original american students, graciously gave me her time in a podcast last year, I had not read the passage below. Otherwise, I would have asked her about it.

Though I do not have the original letter, the quotation below is from a lawsuit filing, so I have no reason to doubt is veracity. Would love to post the original letter if anyone would like to send it to me.

June 4, 1985

“I’m sure that in the fall last year, I was very much taken with the notion of owning a service mark, and all the power and implications that went with that, and I was responding positively to Fred Goldberg’s [attorney] position that we were the owners of the FI mark and we should do all we could to keep it. However, several weeks ago, I began being haunted by the question, “Are we really the owner of the marks?” My stomach churned…. these are Moshe’s marks, how can we call them ours… . By what authority do we call ourselves owners – maybe we need another legal opinion; what legal grounds do we have to call ourselves owners. Frankly I was scared.”

I have a great deal of respect for Bonnie in writing a letter like that and raising the issue. In my view, it takes a great deal of courage to do so. What Bonnie’s original letter means in the larger issues of guild history and legality of the service marks, I do not know. To a certain extent, I do not care. But I do think that in a practice and community in which awareness is so important, we cannot afford to wall our selves of from any facts or information that might help us reflect on our own history, development and sense of self.

– Ryan

By the way: I heard that there was an early Guild meeting in which the idea of voluntarily giving up the service marks was discussed. Does anyone have any information on that? Are there any minutes or written records of the meeting? I though that there was a FeldyForum or Feldigest post mentioning it, but I cannot find it.

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

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Denis Leri Wants a Separate Feldenkrais Trainer’s Guild

I have heard this idea floated many times over the years – some trainers threatening to leave the guild over some issue that upsets them. Actually, I have seen some of the emails in which trainers have threatened to leave. They are actually a bit funny as the “issues” – if you can call them that – are often over something incredibly stupid such as someone not liking a new Guild-produced brochure.

There are other issues of course. The main one, in my view, is practitioners not being dragged into the intercine warfare between these people. Let them fight their own battles and spend their own money and time doing so. Also, having a separate trainers guild will make it clear – legally and intellectually – where the monopoly actually resides.

Perhaps the idea will finally be considered? Unilateral disengagement by the trainers. Not something unfamiliar to these guys and gals.

Here’s Denis Leri:

“It’s not a trivial thing for us all to realize that we’re at a crossroads. Let’s do the unthinkable and start over. Not discuss it or form a committee but just say that tomorrow we’ll form a Trainer’s association/Guild that will have simple standards. We’ll make up the rules as we are adults and we’ve all done a lot of training. Admit that it’s a drag to cover up the fact that TAB’s and Guilds have no business involved in the formation of Trainers. Sure, the national Guild can oversee practitioners and their wants and needs but they don’t serve our needs or the needs of a changing world. It’s embarrassing to hear all this complaining and whining. If Trainers organize the Guilds will have a lot more money and time to serve their constituents and we can free our selves to really differentiate and vitalize the work. Originally it made sense to get community input about trainers because we wanted to avoid hegemony. But now, face it, there are distinct lineages of trainers and that’s been a natural evolution. Why not bless that development and set it free to really propagate. Years of compromise have sucked the life out of many of us. Trainers of the world: Unite!”

Originally published March 27th, 2009 on the IFF Website: