Section: Martial Arts
The Art of Learning
The martial arts could be described, as Webster does, "as any of the several arts of combat and self-defense that are widely practiced as a sport." Once you're on the training floor, it becomes clear, through the depth and scope of the training, that the term "art" is truly warranted. Participants are constantly studying and experimenting with their movement. They develop, by necessity, a holistic approach to human movement - if that other hand or foot is forgotten, one's technique is clearly less effective and you may receive an unpleasant reminder.
Tai Chi and the Feldenkrais Method
Tai Chi and the Feldenkrais Method both see natural human movement as involving the entire person in a smooth and flowing way, balanced without effort in the field of gravity, under a special kind of effortless control. Moshe Feldenkrais calls such movement "elegant," while the Chinese speak of a body "so light that a feather will be felt and so pliable that a fly cannot alight on it without setting it in motion."

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Applying the Feldenkrais Method in the Martial Arts
Today's martial artists are concerned about what can they do to be more flexible, and injury free. As a martial artist I can appreciate this first hand. After my training in 2001, I started to incorporate Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lessons in my classes. Many students were hesitant because of the strategy of moving slower, as opposed to moving fast.

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Moving From Your Center In All Directions
I love to introduce the Feldenkrais Method into my teaching. My first Awareness Through Movement classes were, in fact, taught at the dojo where I have practiced Aikido for 24 years and have been teaching for 15 years. In the 13 years since I began my Feldenkrais training, I have observed that my personal practice has been clearly enhanced and my Aikido instruction has been enriched. I am 58 years old, and I know the Feldenkrais Method has allowed me to keep practicing Aikido in a very full manner. My technique continues to improve, my Ukemi (the ability to respond to the technique without harm) gets smoother. I continue to take break-falls and do Suwari Waza (knee-walking).
Martial Arts
Martial artists from all combat disciplines have found that the slow, gentle movements of the Feldenkrais Method help enhance awareness and improve reflexes. Many Feldenkrais teachers practice various martial arts disciplines - from Ninjitsu to Tai Chi.

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Martial Arts IS Integrated Movement
Jack Hoban is an executive in the health industry, holds a 10 degree Dan in Ninpo Taijutsu, and teaches this ancient Japanese martial art at the YMCA in Red Bank, New Jersey.

Jack was first introduced to the Feldenkrais Method by Doron Navon (of Israel), a practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method and fellow instructor of Ninpo Taijutsu. Jack says, "It took less than five minutes for me to realize that this method would be a real help to martial artists."

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Dr. Feldenkrais and the Martial Arts
Moshe Feldenkrais was a master of Judo; his contributions were recognized throughout the world. He opened the first European school in France in the 1930's. His two books, Judo and Higher Judo: Ground Work, as well as numerous articles, are still highly praised by martial artists. He remained connected with Judo training for the rest of his life. On his visits to Japan, many Judo teachers would attend his demonstrations with their students.

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Rolling With It
When Steven first came to see me, it was about his yoga practice. He explained to me that he had been born with spondylolisthesis (horizontal shift of one vertebrae relative to the next). This, he informed me, gave him lots of back pain, short hamstrings and an inability to do good forward bends. As we worked together, we both learned about how determined his lower back was to remain in an arched curve, and how his pelvis preferred stability to any kind of movement.
When to Consider Feldenkrais Lessons
Martial artists tend to reflect the general population in terms of when they seek out someone like a Feldenkrais practitioner. It is generally either those experiencing a setback in their functioning (e.g. due to an injury or perhaps a training flaw that has progressed to a strain interfering with their practice) or those at a high level of performance looking for a key to the refinement of their art.
Aikido, Karate, and the Feldenkrais Method
Awareness Through Movement working with the Feldenkrais Method, I had an experience which brought home to me how valuable Feldenkrais could be for my martial arts training. I had gone out on the lawn to practice my karate kata. I started to do a punch. I remember it quite clearly. I started the movement of a punch, but I couldn't tell where to end the movement. I suddenly realized that I had normally put a lot of needless tension into every movement I made. It didn't accomplish anything useful. It just wasted energy, but I judged how far I had moved by how much effort I had expended. All of a sudden it took so little effort to execute the punch that all my habitual movement cues were irrelevant, and so my punch just kept going. I had to watch my fist to see when it had gone far enough. Over the course of the next few months, my body recalibrated itself so that moving with much less effort became normal.