Moshe Feldenkrais refers to the handwriting as the unique style by every teacher

An inquiry about the shape of letters and handwriting

"He (Yochanan Rywerant) has his own “handwriting” like all the others. Everyone learns the Method without imitating his teacher. Yochanan is not imitating anybody.

"...He has his own “handwriting” like all the others. Everyone learns the Method without imitating his teacher. Yochanan is not imitating anybody..."
Foreword 1983 by Moshe Feldenkrais in the book "Teaching by handling"
"...But, if you do it your own way and do something else instead, it means like inventing your handwriting. It is like writing an “m” instead of an “a.”Then even a chemist would not be able to read your handwriting..."
Moshe Feldenkrais in San Fransisco

This article discusses the concept of "handwriting" as it has come to be used in professional Feldenkrais training and later among teachers.
I also present a deeper reading of the meaning of "letters" and "handwriting" in the Jewish civilization.

I am convinced that the idea of handwriting was obvious to MF and that he used the metaphor partly to insist on the uniqueness of the Feldenkrais model and partly to emphasize his idea of human uniqueness and autonomy. An approach that lies as a subtext in both Feldenkrais theory and philosophy.

When Moshe Feldenkrais taught the first group of trainers in Tel Aviv in 1969-1971, he was the only teacher. Later in the second, he explains that the teachers from the first training,  who assisted him in San Francisco, all knew the exact letters, and all did it differently, each in their own way.

I was trained the same way Moshe Feldenkrais did in Tel Aviv, by Yochanan Rywerant. By that time, he had developed and conceptualized the letters that make up handwriting into a metalanguage. I have never understood the importance and necessity expressed in the various TAB´s that require four different handwritings to understand the essential form of the letters.

I have asked many influential teachers/trainers this question, and no one has ever given a reasonable explanation. If there is no pedagogic explanation, nothing remains for me other than economic reasons or possibly the difficulty of training trainers with sufficient competence.

There are stages of development and after knowing the ABC's, there is a point to study with many trainers. If the purpose is to copy, MF has made it clear. It's not good enough. If it is to broaden horizons and stimulate creativity, it obviously has a value.

December 5, 2022
Eva Laser

This quote is from Dr. Feldenkrais' teaching regarding FI during the lecture/demonstration during the third year of the San Francisco training. July 7, 1977, day 15 page 224.
“Try to see if you can slowly decide for yourself what you would do first. No one will hurry you. Get a reason why you would do it first. Then, as usual, after you have tried it yourself, I will give you guidance. Because if I try to give you guidance now, you will imitate me.

Therefore, you will have something which is imitation. You will never improve. You will not have your own handwriting. Then we will see if there is some reason for choosing one over the other. Then we take two other people and see what we should do.

I wanted to say something which came to my knowledge. What I do here, like we did yesterday, or we did the pelvic business… I did it like this. Some assistants showed you this. Some assistants showed you that. Well, this is their proper handwriting. As you see, they can do the thing, but they do it their own way. I am proud of that because I do not want mannequins or imitators.

They can do the thing, but I want them to do it their own way. I am proud of that because I do not want them to be mannequins. If you imitate, you will never be yourself. You will never do good work. If you keep on writing the copybook handwriting, then your person is inhibited.

You can never expect anyone to recognize your own handwriting from another person’s. Therefore, you will remain cramped, trying to struggle to make the pattern of the letters. It gets smoother and smoother, but it’s still not your own way of doing it. “

“…Therefore, in doing the same thing… except that you will see where I do not agree with the private handwriting. Because in many of the handwriting I saw they did not do the same thing I was doing. Handwriting means that you write it your own way, but you write so it is legible. The legibility here is what happens to him. If I put my hand here, look what happens… This is not the thing. We did something where this is pushed down so you can lean on it in safety, if you do it that way, or this way, I do not mind.

But, if you do it your own way and do something else instead, it means like inventing your handwriting. It is like writing an “m” instead of an “a.” Then even a chemist would not be able to read your handwriting.

You would need a CIA man who would record what you wrote. The CIA will write that this person writes an “m” instead of an “a” every time. Then they will be able to read it. This is the same thing. If you do it like that or like this, it is immaterial…

…Therefore, if you want to change that into your personal way of doing it, by all means do it. But, your first, last, and forever thought should be, “I am doing it not because I am doing what I know and how I want it to be; I am doing it in consideration of what this skeleton needs at this moment.” Therefore you turn yourself. You twist yourself. You stand on your head. You make what you have learned, what you have judged, into something for the consideration of that person. However, do not introduce new parasitic movements. Do not be unaware of what you are doing…

..You should not do this work if you do not feel what you are doing. You can see what delicacy, and with what precision, and with what insistence, regularity, and clarity there is when I go like this. There is a going from the general to the minute detail. People lose the minute details. Therefore, if you see the assistants doing their personal handwriting, sometimes you will find the people…some of them are too far away learning. That is why some of their…they can rehearse some of their learning. They can feel these things much better and dearer than you.

When they show you their proper handwriting, they will all be different from mine. And they should be different from mine.

Yes, all of them should accomplish the same thing? If their private handwriting introduces parasitic movements, unwanted efforts, unwanted results, unwanted movement in the skeleton, then they are wrong. If I do that, I am wrong. You should correct your self and not do it…” 

The concept of handwriting comes from writing Tora scrolls. The writer, a sofer, must be very precise in his craft. Each letter exactly right and they all have different handwritings.
Hebrew is regarded as a holy language and from that point of view the shape and meaning of every letter, every word is related to a teaching and holiness

More so, for the rabbis, the Hebrew word dvar means “thing” as well as “word”. Words “create, characterize and sustain reality.” Primary reality is linguistic, and the biblical word and letter is not only a token of God’s unending covenant it is also “the real thing”. The central religious act is interpretation and not incarnation. The words, consisting of letters, are infinitely analyzable and strike each recipient in a way appropriate to his or her strength and life situation.

This knowledge is to my understanding brought into the lecturing of Dr Feldenkrais concerning his use of metaphors around the shape of letters & skill of handwriting.

The Hebrew letter samech is connected with the smachta, seal and authorization.

“The roof of the letter samech should be long and level; the base should be rounded so as not to confuse it with the final mem, and there are many schribes (handwriters) who write it so it touches the base line at only one point. The upper left hand corner of the samech should, unlike the other three corners, be squared and extended over equal to the length of the letter vav.”

It is from the letter Samech the meaning of smachtha is drawn

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, a kabbalistic scholar, who wrote a meditation book about the Hebrew alphabet, continues;
“The letter completely encloses a space within itself. It is the quiet sure smile one has when finding a shelter …”
only to ask some lines later
“But why must all the shelters of Samech appear so transient? Only to teach you that God’s shelter is unlike man’s. Only He who gave you life can keep you in life. For one who knows this there is no anxiety. The samech is all around him…
That is the meaning of to lean, somach, each matter leans upon the next and the sheltering presence is all around you.”

The letter samech 
The letter mem

I can date the shape of the letter samech back to the Nabeateans living around 100 B C E which I find at the description of the development of the alphabets I have as a poster from the Israel Museum. No change of shape despite more than 2 100 years of use. In the Latin alphabet, this letter has the form of an X. A cross.  The Hebrew culture (like the Chinese calligraphy) uses the art of handling the wrist & hands with brush, ink & strokes. The Romans seal is simpler, rougher.

Read my argument about how Moshe Feldenkrais's foreword to the book teaching by handling has been misunderstood to its core just like the handwriting metaphor which also comes from a different culture than the Western or Eastern one.

Moshe Feldenkrais on the book teaching by handling

An exposition about his foreword 

 Luc Viatour / 

If I enlarge the samech I can put a man within, and I see the same image as the famous painting of Leonardo da Vinci
The man surrounded by the square and circle

I visited my colleague Mikael Lönnbjers’s office  in Stockholm many years ago. His IFF diploma was hanging on the wall and I saw the yellow goldish circle and the word seal written in it. At that time IFF issued diplomas.

It was different from my own accreditation from the Stockholm training with YR as it only has signatures to reinforce the "smachta".

I understood more about the “roomy” samech squarecircle could differentiate it  clearly from the “contract” full circle as a metaphor for another kind of seal – wax or lac, stamp & stamp-duty. I say two teaching cultures existing in parallel paths. It was touchable. 

(written in 2007) informerar kring feldenkrais i allmänhet och verksamheten på Feldenkrais Skolan i synnerhet. 

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Eva Laser

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