Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais is best known for pioneering the somatic therapy that bears his name, the Feldenkrais Method. Less well known is that he was one of the earliest European practitioners of Judo and wrote Higher Judo: Groundwork, first published in 1952. Judo was a natural choice for Feldenkrais because of his fascination with the relationship between mind and body; the Judo mat served as a research lab for his explorations of optimal functioning through awareness. In Higher Judo, he presents Judo as an art which uses all parts of the body to enhance general health, revealing Judo’s potential for improving mental and physical coordination. Through clear instructions and line drawings, Higher Judo covers specific movements and positions and shows how groundwork, in particular, can help practitioners developmental and physical awareness to their fullest potential.
Higher Judo was written at a critical juncture in Feldenkrais’ development, following publication of Body and Mature Behavior and after 25 years of the author’s involvement in the martial arts. The early chapters of Higher Judo are essential reading for every student and practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method. They go far beyond self-defense, arguing for Judo as an educational practice that furthers maturation of the whole person, and revealing some of the fundamentals of Feldenkrais’ thinking engendered during the time he was developing his method. Also, those who work with athletes or active individuals will find the book particularly insightful.
It’s how Feldenkrais addresses the deeper benefits of Judo practice that elevates ‘Higher Judo’ from just a good book to a classic.
Feldenkrais Trainer and martial artist, from the foreword
Table of Contents
- Editor’s Note
- Forewords to the 2010 Edition
- A Judo Pioneer in France by Michel Brousse
- The Principle of No Principle by Dennis Leri
- Turning Point by Moti Nativ
- Preface by Moshe Feldenkrais
- Foreword by G. Koizumi
- Judo Practice
- Uniqueness of Action
- Where We Start and Why
- Principles of Ground Work
- Some Useful Exercises for Ground Work
- Ground Work Tactics
- Starting Ground Work
- six O’clock Approach
- Right or Left Approach
- Head On Approach
- The Astride Position
- Opponent Facing the Ground
- Appendix: Original Photographs
- A Biography of Moshe Feldenkrais
- About the Feldenkrais Method
Editor’s Note Excerpt
Moshe Feldenkrais is best known today as the founder of the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education; however when Higher Judo was first published in French in 1951, he was much better known as a judo teacher and scientist. Few people can reach the high level of expertise Feldenkrais attained even in one domain, but Feldenkrais managed in his lifetime to excel in three distinct areas: physics, judo, and somatics. He worked and published with Frederic Joliot-Curie, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist; he was an influential member of the original group teaching judo in Europe, publishing four books focusing on the martial arts; and finally he founded the Feldenkrais Method, which takes principles from judo and physics and applies them to issues in human learning such as chronic pain, high-level performance, and self-development. In Higher Judo one can clearly see, perhaps more than in any of his other published works, the conjunction of these three domains.
Higher Judo was first published under the title, Judo Pour Ceintures Noires (Judo for Black Belts), and was clearly meant for the advanced judo practitioner. It was published in English a year later. The book has been out of print for decades but has continued to be photocopied, shared and discussed actively, achieving a kind of cult status. For me, as a long-time practitioner of both the Feldenkrais Method and the martial art of Aikido, early exposure to Higher Judo was of pivotal importance in my development. The early chapters especially illuminated how both practices can be seen as applications of the same generative principles. As Feldenkrais’ last, and most conceptually rich, judo book, Higher Judo is not only an instructive groundwork manual but essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the relationship between Feldenkrais’ martial background and the somatic education method that now bears his name. It is thus with tremendous satisfaction that I have seen this remarkable book brought back into print.
The original design and text of Higher Judo has been reproduced in the new edition unaltered, including the insightful foreword by Gunji Koizumi. We have added historic photos, some notes at the end, and three additional forewords. Michel Brousse has researched and published extensively on the history of judo, especially in France where Feldenkrais co-founded the first judo club. His foreword helps place Feldenkrais and Higher Judo in its historical context. Dennis Leri was a close student of Feldenkrais’ and they spent many hours together discussing his martial arts past. As a trainer in the Feldenkrais Method and a long-time practitioner of the martial arts, he is uniquely situated to engage in a discussion of the relationship between Feldenkrais’ study of jujutsu and somatics. Moti Nativ, a Feldenkrais Method teacher, and professional martial artist has devoted himself to researching Feldenkrais’ martial arts past. His foreword focuses on the evaluation of Feldenkrais’ ideas and their overlap in the realm of judo and what was to become the Feldenkrais Method. These new forewords add significant depth and dimension to this multifaceted book. I am very grateful to all three contributors for their commitment to writing in the midst of their busy schedules.
From Higher Judo: Groundwork by Moshe Feldenkrais, published by Blue Snake Books/ North Atlantic Books, copyright © 1952 by Moshe Feldenkrais, Copyright © 2010 by Somatic Resources and the Feldenkrais Estate. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.