A computer implemented method and system for gesture category recognition and training. Generally, a gesture is a hand or body initiated movement of a cursor directing device to outline a particular pattern in particular directions done in particular periods of time. The present invention allows a computer system to accept input data, originating from a user, in the form gesture data that are made using the cursor directing device. In one embodiment, a mouse device is used, but the present invention is equally well suited for use with other cursor directing devices (e.g., a track ball, a finger pad, an electronic stylus, etc.). In one embodiment, gesture data is accepted by pressing a key on the keyboard and then moving the mouse (with mouse button pressed) to trace out the gesture. Mouse position information and time stamps are recorded. The present invention then determines a multi-dimensional feature vector based on the gesture data. The feature vector is then passed through a gesture category recognition engine that, in one implementation, uses a radial basis function neural network to associate the feature vector to a pre-existing gesture category. Once identified, a set of user commands that are associated with the gesture category are applied to the computer system. The user commands can originate from an automatic process that extracts commands that are associated with the menu items of a particular application program. The present invention also allows user training so that user-defined gestures, and the computer commands associated therewith, can be programmed into the computer system.