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Judo and Mind Body Studies: The historical connection

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MBS Academy promotes continuing education in the form of workshops, DVDs, news articles and blog posts to keep our students and practitioners up to date with industry happenings. With the recent inquiries, and forum postings centering around Judo and its relation to Mind Body Studies, we have compiled information to help bridge the gap in understanding the connection and history between the two. 

We hope you enjoy!


"Martial Arts practitioners find great insight in how Dr. Feldenkrais’ MBS work breaks up each movement into the elements of initiation and progression through the system. "

Shared beliefs and principles in action:b2ap3_thumbnail_judo.jpg

The ground as feedback-

  • In judo the practice of falling and getting up gives you stability and teaches you not to fear falling, which translates psychologically into life lessons in all your endeavors.
  • In MBS, contact with the ground is utilized as your feedback system, giving you the ultimate autonomy and confidence of being your own best teacher.
  • The concept of learning to befriend the ground and not fear falling builds a fundamental sense of balance and security. This safeguards you throughout life from losing your balance and is hugely important in older age.

The study of balance

  • Martial Arts and MBS are a studies of the integration of movement.
  • In both disciplines you learn how to return to your center and keep your balance intact.
  • Working with a counterpart teaches you by providing another perspective on yourself.
  • The play of balance - Looking for key places that affect patterns of movement.
  • As you get to know yourself and value your center and balance, you find respect and value in others.
  • By finding your center and balance, you are able to move in many new directions physically and psychologically.

Integration and congruence of movement

  • Congruence of direction primes the system so that all parts move with the same intention.
  • Going with your opponents’ direction in order to get to a desired outcome. In Judo, you take your opponent out of balance by learning to be precise with direction. In MBS, you move yourself or your client in their way and pattern, in order to expand possibilities.
  • Through learning about your counterpart’s balance and organization, you learn to know your own.

Patterns and Precision

  • Finding and working in patterns defines connections within each system.
  • Learning precision in each pattern provides keys to unlocking the possibilities.
  • Precision is the key factor in getting you more results than power or size.

Combining these principles in action, from both points of view and both techniques, strengthen each and adds competence and depth to your practice and your life.


As for the connection between Judo and MBS Academy, Leora tells us how she was first introduced to Judo:b2ap3_thumbnail_Mia-Leora-and-Moshe-1.JPG

 “[Moshe] often pointed out the limited ways of conventional teaching - based in so many words, children sitting still and required to memorize rather than understand, never involved or taught by real experience.

 Teachings and philosophies of the East were very avant-guard.  No one knew about martial arts - and Moshe was a great Judo teacher and at home we studied Judo from a young age.  Today it is hard to imagine how closed were people's thoughts.”


How Mia was introduced to Judo:

"Moshe had told wonderful stories about his experiences in judo. He was a great story teller, and he had so many amazing experiences.”

 “I began to study judo by getting a copy of Moshe's book on judo. A very good friend of mine from Australia was also interested in the martial arts; and, together, on the living room carpet, we followed the exercises laid out sequentially in Moshe's book. The next day, I could not walk, nor could my friend, who commented, "My whole back is split near the tailbone." Of course, I was in equal agony.

            Later, I said to Moshe, ‘Your book and your teaching - just look what happened!’

He retorted, ‘You must be stupid to think you can learn judo that way. You need a proper mat and the right teacher.’ “b2ap3_thumbnail_Mia-Leora-and-Moshe-13.JPG


An excerpt from the interview by Thomas Hanna with Mia Segal for Somatics Magazine:

When asked how Judo influenced her learning and how it led to her stance on teaching Mind Body Studies, Mia replied:

“The ]apanese master's traditional style of teaching was new to me. For example, I found out immediately not to ask questions--that I was to copy...copy...just copy...You had to get the feeling of the whole thing yourself. If you asked a master how to do a certain movement, he would reply "I do not know. One minute..."; and then he would do the movement in order to demonstrate it. He never explained; he just did the movement, saying, "It's like this...and like this ... " It was similar to the way Moshe taught me: you felt it; you knew it-except that Moshe would then discuss it.”


The above pictures are of Leora Gaster practicing Judo in Japan. Leora was the first non-Japanese female student to earn her black belt in Judo.

Please feel free to view our complete photo gallery of Mia and Leora's experiences in Japan and of learning Judo.




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Guest Jan 21, 2019

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