Category Archives: Paul Rubin

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:

Paul Rubin: Feldenkrais Training Policies are “Insane.”

Paul Rubin, Feldenkrais Trainer

Paul Rubin

Just a moment ago I was searching for a conversation that I had with Paul Rubin on the FeldyForum last year. I was looking for a sample response to Robbie Ofir’s comment on my post from yesterday. I could not find the conversation that I wanted. But I did run across the quote below:

“The policies on how one gets certified as a trainer or assistant trainer are over the top, complicated and plainly insane.” Paul Rubin, July 29, 2010.

How true. Many FGNA members, perhaps even the majority, agree with Paul Rubin. What I find fascinating about the quote is that Rubin does not mention that he has been a major player in devising the insane rules. As he proudly states on his website:

“As Chair of the North American Training Accreditation Board 1993-1997 and founding member of the Training Accreditation Boards for both Europe and Australia/South Pacific, Paul has contributed significantly to the evolution of training programs and procedures world wide.”

I wonder about the wisdom of helping in the evolution of an insane system and working within an insane system.

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.

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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Feldenkrais Trainings: How Many Graduates Start a Practice?

Have you ever wondered how many people graduate from Feldenkrais Trainings on a yearly basis? Curious how many of those people actually start practices?

Paul Rubin’s Answer

Last month on the FeldyForum, Feldenkrais Trainer Paul Rubin stated his belief that most people who graduate from a Feldenkrais professional training program end up using the work in some type of professional context such as a Feldenkrais practice, physical therapy practice, dance practice etc.

When someone on the forum asked him where he was getting his data from, Rubin made some vague reference to a straw poll that he had conducted. I am not surprised that a trainer would want to see himself, his trainings, and perhaps the profession at large, as able to successfully launch careers in the Feldenkrais Method. However, I was stunned that Paul would simply put forth his own assertions – with no supporting evidence or data – and expect people to believe what he was saying. Several people, myself included, said as much.

Rather than owning up to the fact that he had no reliable nor meaningful data, Paul began engaging in a whole series of ad hominem attacks, many of which were directed at me. Apparently, the fact that I challenged him to provide some evidence for assertions means that I am frustrated individual, who is preaching gloom and despair – blah blah blah.

I don’t remember exactly what Paul wrote and I have since canceled my membership to the FeldyForum and can’t go back to check. But suffice it to say, that in the absence of having any evidence or reasoned response, Paul Rubin saw fit to attack me personally. In fact, at one point, Rubin refused to even speak to me directly, writing, “someone said…” and wrote that I was “claiming to be an expert.” Point taken. If you disagree with Paul Rubin, you become a nameless, faceless “other.” And being unable to meaningfully criticize my views he attacked my credentials. I am truly sorry that he is in that space. Not only does it serve no purpose for anyone and degrade both him and the method, but it in no way supports his case.

The Research Answer

After a few days, Paul did manage to find a survey done by Rob Black (currently the FGNA President-Elect) in 1997. (PDF Download: Snapshot of Feldenkrais Practice. Rob’s survey was a valiant first attempt, and does provide some very interesting data about the state of the Feldenkrais Method 12 years ago. For example, it has data on practitioners reported income and satisfaction with their work.

However, like most convenience sample studies it has major limitations. For example, it’s not clear that Rob had access to contact information for those who were not in the guild database and may not have been practicing. We don’t know how many attempts were made to contact people, some regions of the country where not represented, and overall, there is no way of saying that the study is representative of the population of Feldenkrais practitioners 12 years ago, let alone today.

Again, it’s great that the attempt was made, and I am sure at some point that FGNA (The Feldenkrais Guild of North Americal) will follow-up up. However, one study does not constitute an answer to the question:

“How many people take Feldenkrais Trainings and actually start practices?”

Who else might have an answer to the question?

The IFF’s Answer

The IFF (International Feldenkrais Federation) has been doing a great deal of work in the area of developing competency profiles and attempting to improve the practice of practitioners. In a 2008 report, they stated:

It’s sobering but true. Only a fraction of Feldenkrais training program graduates are still
practicing members of their guild five years later.

(IFF Competency Profile, p4)

Note: The full IFF competency profile can be downloaded here:

How they know that “only a fraction” are practicing members of their guild 5 years later, I do not know. Though I would hope that the report, compiled by representatives of Feldenkrais Guilds worldwide, has some factual basis for the assertion. I would certainly give it more credence than Paul Rubin’s dubious assertions.

Personal attacks on my character and intelligence notwithstanding, I cannot find any reliable or meaningful data on the efficacy of Feldenkrais trainings. If anyone can send me information, published or not, please do so, or leave a comment on this post.

Ryan’s Opinion

My personal opinion, (yes, that’s right my opinion) is that many people who take trainings have no intention of becoming practitioners, even if they state that as their goal. Currently, it’s difficult to find intensive experiences of the Feldenkrais Method without going to a training. Many people realize the value of the work and – I think – take trainings because they want a deeper experience of themselves and the method than they can get in a weekly class or weekend workshop. If that is true, it represents a huge opportunity, not just for Feldenkrais trainers, but for practitioners and assistant trainers.


I’d be willing to bet that those taking a feldenkrais training for largely personal reasons would be willing to spend money for less-expensive, but equally valuable intensive workshops. That is, they might be willing to attend a 1-week, 2-week, or even month-long workshop that would allow them to go deeply into the work without having to pay for the additional costs associated with the certification process (administration costs, staffing costs etc.) In addition to costing less, the workshop could be conducted by any practitioner willing to take the plunge and could serve as a valuable pathway for more people to learn about the work. It might also appeal to a much larger segment of the population.

And one last time – the question of how many people graduate from Feldenkrais trainings and then successfully create practices? I do not know.

And neither does Paul Rubin, nor anyone else in the Feldenkrais community.

Like it or not.

cheers – Ryan

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