There have been some posts recently on the subject of qualified or competent teachers, codes of conduct etc. Will there ever be an accepted code of conduct for bondage teachers? A qualification? I really don’t know.
There are some recognised methods taught, notably Osada Ryu which is taught in Japan, Australia and Europe. This is a method from a single teacher, will it spread, become widely accepted? I don’t know. It has things to be said for it, it has accredited teachers, you can I think be assured of quality, but then it isn’t for everyone. Will bondage ever head down the route of having specified, defined systems? Again I don’t know.
Are defined methods even desirable? I think both yes and no. Useful for giving people the tools to do good bondage, essential safety knowledge etc. but beyond a certain point of competence perhaps not really conducive to creativity. Then again some people love bondage but are not creative and would benefit greatly from defined, well constructed bondage education.
What I do know is that the practical reality of things is that outside of the very small minority people learn from people who are not in any way qualified as bondage teachers. Outside of the confines of single source systems (with one root teacher which are self governing) there are to the best of my knowledge no qualifications as such for teaching bondage. No boards of ratification or governing bodies.
Should there be codes of conduct and governing bodies? That is a question that has answers and arguments from both sides. It is also not a question that I intend to consider here!
So what is this article about?
Once again it’s about something that so many things in kink come down to… personal responsibility.
Given the above the point is that seeking someone to learn from, choosing what sources to draw from is also a matter of personal responsibility. You can’t say, oh I didn’t know he wasn’t a very good teacher, he said he was great! And expect that to excuse your mistakes. You are responsible to take care in the choosing of a teacher.
Having said that I should probably give some advice on how to choose a teacher. I’m not going to endorse specific teachers or warn you away from others. I am I hope going to give you a reasonable starting point to help you choose a teacher for yourself. These aren’t fool proof and you will have to…. wait for it…. take personal responsibility for the choices that you make. Also most of this applies to people who are actually looking to teach.
So check out their stuff, pictures, videos, if possible you should see them tie in person. It is entirely possible to have very lovely pictures whilst being less than wonderful at bondage, sweet in front but a rats nest at the back, or it looked good but something that should take a few minutes took half an hour etc. Seeing someone tie or failing that video give you a much better idea of how they tie than stills. Remember you’re looking to learn bondage not how to do nice pics.
Really, really check them out. I’ve seen people advertising bondage lessons who were using good rigger’s images as advertising material (yes mine included). People who I call vanity teachers that want to make a name for themselves by being a teacher who are driven by ego and are more concerned with how they look to others than the content of their lessons.
Get references. Sometimes people feel awkward with this but really, you’re learning skills that could adversely effect someone you care about, feeling a little awkward is a small price to pay. And please get more than one reference, you might catch someone that really loves the person or someone that really hates them, and anyway if they teach there should be plenty of satisfied students more than happy to testify as to their skill. You might want to consider what it means if this turns out not to be the case.
Do they have a reasonable amount of experience? By this I mean at least a few years of actual practical experience rigging an awful lot, certainly enough to have met with and dealt with adversity, bad situations, things not gone quite as they should. Experience is something that comes with time, that is a reasonable few years of time. Saying ‘a few’ years is unfortunately a generalisation. Some rig for years but show no signs of benefiting from the experience some absorb their lessons quickly. I’d be very wary of someone who was offering to teach without having pretty substantial experience and a body of good work and good reputation backing them up. I personally always sigh and worry for those being taught when I see people who are only just learning themselves offering to teach.
Remember also that there are different strokes for different folks. Someone could have the greatest references in the world but still not be the teacher for you because their style isn’t what you want to learn. There are lots of styles of rope bondage, take some time to work out what you want to learn and then find someone that can teach you at least a solid beginning of what you want to learn.
Beware that ‘vanity teachers’ and the very inexperienced are often one and the same. Often, though sadly not always experience teaches a little humility.
Don’t settle for whoever’s available locally if they’re not the person you would really have chosen. Be prepared to invest in acquiring your skills, even if that investment is just time and travelling or if it costs you money it is your responsibility to learn the best you can, it’s your responsibility to the person you’re tying. Just before anyone makes a face about that I’ll point out that I’m considered pretty good with rope but I am still prepared to travel (internationally if necessary) to keep on learning.
My final thought on this is… please don’t half ass it. If you want to learn determine to really do it well and do your rope well. I believe a few hours with someone really good is worth more than many hours with books. You would be amazed how much and how quickly you can learn from the right teacher. So find the right teacher for you. Make sure they know their stuff, can teach you what you need to keep your partner as safe as possible.