Category Archives: IFF

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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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: http://feldenkrais-method.org/en/node/1984

Who Own Feldenkrais Ideas? Everyone. (That means YOU!)

I had a brief email conversation recently about the ownership of certain Feldenkrais materials. For example there are transcripts of the awareness through movement sessions that Moshe Feldenkrais taught at Alexanader Yanai in Isreal. Someone wondered about the legality of teaching a version of an Alexander Yanai session. What if you create workshops or products based on Moshe’s Alexander Yanai? Would your lesson be considered “derivative”? Could you sell it? Can the International Feldenkrais Federation sue you?

It is important to recognize that copyright law does not protect a concept or idea, it protects the expression conveyed. The copyright holder of a certain transcript owns the word order and particular expression not the ideas. If you teach an ATM and put it in your own words – as you will invariably do – you then “own” (if you choose to) that particular work that you created.

This is a very important concept to grasp. The Feldenkrais Guild of North America does not own Moshe Feldenkrais’ ideas, neither does the International Feldenkrais Federation. They may own the particular transcript and word order, but that’s about it. They do not own any particular ATM or movement sequence. You can learn and teach any idea based on Moshe Feldenkrais’ work. It does not matter whether you are guild certified or whether you have taken a training or not.

If anyone tells you otherwise, they are confused or lying. Ignore them. Use Feldenkrais transcripts and ideas in any way that you choose. Do not copy the exact form or word order. But teach the ideas. Do it. The world needs this work and it needs your contribution.

Moshe Feldenkrais at Rotterdam (1977)

 

I recently purchased an mp3 CD that contains over 13 hours of lectures and Awareness Through Movement by Moshe Feldenkrais. The material was taught in Rotterdam, Netherlands, 1976. True to the understated (one could say boring) marketing style of the International Feldenkrais Federation, the lessons are described thus:

Volume 1: Moshe Feldenkrais in Rotterdam 1976 (MP3 audio files). In this workshop Dr. Feldenkrais teaches seven classic lessons that range from simple to challenging.” (snooze).

Seven classic lessons my ass! The mp3’s are vintage Moshe. From the very first moment he dives right in as only he can do – speaking to experiential learning, health, awareness, the relationship between structure and function – the primacy of movement for functions of life. Hmmm!! If you are interested in Moshe’s work, grab this product and geek out. You will be glad that you did. After listening to the first two hours, I have been experiencing myself and the work much more deeply.

Luckily, I found about the CD’s and bought them based on the basis of recommendations of several people in the community, not from the IFF’s description above. Who recommended the sessions to me? I can’t tell you lest I be accused of something. Normally I don’t mind. But today, I am not in the mood. Let’s just say that it was Che Guevara. On a motorcycle trip around the world, he became aware of the suffering of Feldenkrais practitioners. He is one his way to Portland to start a revolution. He is armed.

Unfortunately, the sound quality on the CD is not that great, there is a bit of echo here and there and some “tinny” sounds. And for a guy like me with tinnitus, it can be damn annoying at times. I already have enough ringing in my ears from the meth-induced abuse to myself that I did in the 80’s. But even so, I can tell you that after the first two sessions I am completely hooked. Come to think of it I got hooked on meth just as easily.

By the way: According to the IFF the products on the website are only “for the exclusive use of persons who have graduated from, or are currently enrolled in, a professional Feldenkrais training program.” Yea, whatever. Just between you and I, the IFF has no way of verifying if you are or are not in a training or have graduated from one. So do yourself a favor – if you want them just order them.

And don’t worry – Moshe wants you to have these sessions. He told me. I swear. In fact, in a dream last night Moshe told me, “Ryan, thou art my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” I was a bit scared when he told me that. Sensing my fear, he gently rolled my head. I breathed deeply. The master had touched me! And I will never forget what Moshe told me next. It was so weird. He said,

You will go to the Dagobah system. There you will learn from Yoda, the Jedi Master who instructed me.

My eyes opened wide. I wanted to speak, but he waved me off impatiently and said:

Oi! Don’t be idiotic!! Listen to the Rotterdam mp3’s first.

Moshe Feldenkrais at Rotterdam

Update: April, 2013. I do not think you can buy the Rotterdam sessions unless you are a Feldenkrais Practitioner. Give me some time and I will see if I can figure out a way for you to steal them or obtain them illegally.

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More On The IFF’s Folly

“If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of everyone, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it.

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.” – Thomas Jefferson

In a previous post I made note of the IFF’s filing of a copyright infringement regarding videos of Moshe Feldenkrais teaching at Amherst. The filing effectively shut down any public playing of the Amherst video. In case you didn’t have a chance to read the response of Robert Black, The IFF Distribution Chair. Let me repost part of it for you:

From Rob Black’s Comments:

“There are several points to this issue:

1. The IFF’s first priority is to get materials to practitioners for their own
learning and development;

2. The IFF publishes materials through legal agreements with the copyright
holders, primarily the Feldenkrais family;

3. Part of the agreements include the responsibility to maintain copyright;

4. All video materials include the explicit statement, “Copying is strictly
prohibited”;

5. The video recordings at Amherst did not have the kind of release permissions that are current in this day. Consequently we do not have permission to share images of people at Amherst other than Dr. Feldenkrais. This “sharing” includes still stills and video;

6. We differentiate the distribution of materials for professional learning of
practitioners from distribution to the public;

7. We are working on digitising the videos of the Amherst training and FI’s for
the community of Feldenkrais practitioners; we are close to being done;

The IFF looks forward to working together with practitioners to find ways to
excerpt sections of the Amherst videos for the learning of all practitioners.”
—-

Great. A bunch of legalistic nonsense from a man who thinks the Gutenberg press is a new invention. Do you ever get tired of bureaucrats quoting scripture to you? I sure do.

It is easy to see that Rob Black isn’t engaging in conversation; He is simply quoting policy. He is not thinking of the consequences of his actions; He is following his policies and procedures manual. He has no understanding of the larger issues at stake; He is doing what he is told. He does not understand the internet and the modern world that we live in; He is living in the past.

And sadly, this man is in a leadership position at the FGNA. Though to be fair, most at the IFF and FGNA think in much the same way as Rob Black. Keeping the material secret and hidden away from the public benefits no one. It does not benefit practitioners and it does not benefit the public. It’s also important to consider that Rob’s idea that he is protecting the copyright is dead wrong.

In the words of Jeri Eaton, a member of the Guild, who left a comment on the previous post (emphasis mine):

I am a Feldenkrais practitioner and member of the Guild. My husband and I also have a television production company, he’s a producer/director who’s been in the business for 35+ years. For the past 20 years he’s worked primarily, though not exclusively, for PBS on their high-end national and international documentaries. Because much of his work has been music shows, dozens of clips from his shows have been posted on youtube (not by us), all of it copyrighted and none of it with permission. His attitude – and that of most performers and other producers – is that postings on youtube rather than being a negative actually benefit all concerned.

Program producers across the country are now realizing that, irrespective of the legalities of release forms and copyrights, anything that brings added attention to a program or subject is beneficial. Networks like PBS are now accepting the reality of unauthorized youtube postings because it helps spread the word about programs. There is also a general recognition that it is impossible to get permission for video shot over 20 years ago and that it shouldn’t stop the dissemination of this information.

While it can be argued that the IFF has a legal responsibility to object to the youtube postings if an entity as large as PBS is willing to tolerate this because of the ‘greater good’, then IFF might do the same. Also note that because the IFF did not post the video they are not responsible for any lack of release forms or liable for any copyright infringement. They don’t have to condone it, they just have to stay out of the way.

Is there anything else that I can add that would make Jeri’s argument clearer and more cogent?

I don’t think so.

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Conflict of Interest on the FGNA Board of Directors?

NOT IFF Approved

 

IFF and FGNA: Anatomie de L’Enfer

I could write volumes about the conflict of interests, parasitic actions and cross-motivated behavior at the “official” Feldenkrais organizations. Quite frankly, there are so god damned many that I wonder if the system was designed to be dysfunctional. To whom would such dysfunctions be a benefit? Perhaps we can talk about that later.

Conflicting Roles

For now, I will just speak to one: What I see as the inappropriate dual relationships of Robert Black and Jaclyn Boone who serve on both the FGNA Board and hold positions on the International Feldenkrais Federation Distribution Center or IFF DC.

Robert Black is the President-Elect of the FGNA board of directors. Jaclyn Boone is the Vice President. Robert is also the chair of the IFF DC organization and Jaclyn is the secretary. Ostensibly, the IFF and the FGNA are separate organizations, with different bylaws, different purposes and different sources of funding. Normally, I would say that it is simply a bad idea for the organizations management to be co-mingled and blurred by having dual appointments.

But given that the IFF DC is actively limiting access to materials by filing copyright claims (See: International Feldenkrais Federation Files YouTube Complaint) Robert and Jaclyn’s positions seem to be in direct conflict with each other. The FGNA website clearly states that the organization’s purposes include:

“Educating the public, in all its diversity…” and, “increasing public awareness of the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education…”

The IFF’s actions limiting access to material is in direct contradiction to that. Looks like a pretty strong conflict of interest to me.

And that’s just one example. I do not personally know any practitioner who is happy with access to archival material. Some of the materials, such as the Alexander Yanai sessions are extremely expensive – $935 for the complete set. And it had been nearly 30 years – THIRTY YEARS – since the Amherst training began. And currently only Feldenkrais Trainers (as per the script) have full and unfettered access to them. Everyone else can only rent them – at exhorbant prices.

Except, of course, the public. They are completely shut out. They can neither buy nor rent archival video or audio. And thanks to the IFF and the actions of Rob and Jaclyn they cannot see the materials on YouTube.

As an aside – the list of ways that the IFF has limited access to the materials is truly astounding. You may have heard that the IFF is going to release the Amherst Videos as DVDs? Great idea. I applaud. I hope you will too. But you might not have known that DVDs of Amherst have been available for quite some time through the Israeli Guild. So why not just buy them through that Guild? Can’t do it. I tried. Apparently the IFF threatened them with a lawsuit and they stopped selling them.

I’ll stop for now. Detailing what the IFF has or has not done is not my purpose here. What is important to understand is that Robert Black and Jaclyn Boone are supposed to be elected representatives serving the needs of the FGNA and its members. As should be clear, the needs of the FGNA and IFF are not identical and each organization has different stakeholders.

If you are an FGNA member, you need someone working for you and your interests. Rob and Jaclyn have conflict of interests that prevent them from fully serving that role. If you – like most members – want greater access to archival materials, and at a more reasonable price, Rob, Jaclyn and the other FGNA board members should be lobbying on your behalf. In the case of Rob and Jaclyn, how can they do that? Their roles at the IFF preclude acting in your interests.

For this reason, I call on Rob Black and Jaclyn Boone to immediately resign from one or the other boards. Their roles have inherent conflicts of interests that prevent them from doing their jobs effectively.

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