Recently I saw a post about Top drop or as they described it a 'Rigger's Melancholy' (which is a term I really liked btw.) It caught me at a wrong moment and I posted that yeh, everyone knows about it. I was expecting someone to take issue with the tone of my response or criticise me for ever being exasperated by the endless repetition of the same questions, any display of less than perfect temper or humanity. Something along those lines. I was pretty surprised therefore to see a reply that didn't make any of those reasonable complaints but instead insisted that not everyone had or was aware of this experience. I will quote the response exactly here so you can see that I'm not making this up. No, WykD_Dave, not everyone already knows about it. The great thing about this group is that we have a wide variety of experiences and skills. I would like to hear positive and constructive information from experts like you about how to recognize top drop coming on and how to deal with the feelings. What most struck me is the assumption that this is some unique experience or out of the ordinary emotion or feeling. You do something emotionally and or physically intense and you have a natural high from it, then you have a low to a greater or lesser extent afterwards. Yes we're all a bit different and have greter or lesser responses and some come down sooner or more steeply than others but surely this is a common human experience though to anyone who's ever done anything intense, euphoric, joyous. To anyone who's triumphed on the sports field, been in love, had great sex, strived [...]
References are a valuable tool for keeping you informed, aware and safe when considering playing with others. I cannot recommend getting references enough, although they are often overlooked and not used enough when considering tying with new people. I think that rope tops should vet bottoms and bottoms should vet tops before playing, shooting, and especially performing. I have heard of instances when this system has been abused, confidentiality is broken and people get angry and hurt. This results in a bad feeling and quality of reference. It can lead to scene drama and people being unwilling to give references. It is very simple to avoid this situation and have a great resource for our community. Giving References A good protocol to abide by when you are asked for a reference is to report facts, your own actual experience. Try not to sensationalise things in your head. It can be difficult but try to remain unbiased when giving a reference, separate your feelings from the person and inform the person what your own experience was or what your current knowledge is surrounding that individual. Getting References When asking for a reference, it is important to remember that you are asking for an account of someone’s individual experience with the person in question. They may be the one person to have a positive or negative experience so it is important to get more than one reference. When it comes to rope bondage I recommend gathering as many references as possible from tops and bottoms to build a picture of the person you are considering doing rope with. Potential Questions Negotiation How was negotiation handled? Was it done? Were agreements and limits honoured? Injury Accidental etc. What [...]
You need experience to be a good teacher. I'm not saying that it takes decades to get that experience but it does take some time and application. People often argue this need... actually people without experience often argue this need. They usually stop arguing it after acquiring experience. Especially when that experience is acquired the hard way. The real problem is that only experience really teaches you how valuable your experience is. Before you have it it's hard to imagine what it gives you. Unfortunately it is often only when people have the experience of coming undone and learning the hard way that they realise that actually experience does inform our actions at all levels, especially when passing on knowledge to others. It teaches us what was crucial and what was not. It allows us to recognise and head off developing problems that are otherwise noticed too late. Experience allows us to make judgements that are based not just on book learned facts. It develops our ability to balance many factors though practice. Inexperience and overconfidence can lead to the attitude that all this crap that experienced people are coming out with is just unreasonable. They're only saying that because... (insert today's justification here). It's unfair to try to stop them, who are manifestly an exception to the normal process of learning and maturity! It's a problem I have with some kinds of peer workshop teaching. The guy who learned something yesterday is teaching it today. Weirdly people don't seem to think that this could lead to problems. I think that peer learning can be great when people already have very good basics and are therefore able to recognise problems for themselves. When beginners are [...]
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 [...]
A friend today made a very good point about when he found things most likely to go wrong in rope bondage. And I absolutely agree with him on this. Often its when you're doing the routine things, the small things, the things you've done a thousand times before. It's in those moments when you're running on automatic pilot rather than when you're working on something on the edge where you're focused and paying complete attention. You should be able to do some parts of your bondage completely without thought, you should know what you're doing so well. The mistakes in things you have done a thousand times before happen not because you don't know how to do it but because you are not focused. It is absence from the moment. It is something unregarded and considered unimportant. All things in rope bondage are important, from the first detail, especially from the first detail. Those brings me to the main point of this article. The need to be present in the moment. Now there is an apparent dichotomy in the concepts that you should know what you're doing so well that you can do it without conscious thought and the idea that you must be present and focused in the moment. This dichotomy is however only apparent. There is a very big difference between having practised things so well that you can do them automatically i.e. that you have developed muscle memory for an action and by contrast, simply not paying attention to what you're doing. When you are focused in the moment you are paying attention to all things including those things that you do automatically.
Sunday began with a bondage lesson for a very lovely couple in the teaching van outside the gallery. (Yes I know that might sound a bit odd but it did provide a perfectly serviceable teaching area complete with suspension point). We had a great lesson and I was really very happy with the progress made. I love it when I can feel that I've really given people something that they can use. For Sunday's performances we began with Aliya from Russia doing a self suspension show which was very impressively athletic. Moonlight Shadow followed with a psychedelic feeling show. I can only describe it as a very interesting and different and challenging performance. While it might not have been 'Japanese' style bondage it was very different to every other performance and had an affect on the audience. Next was Hebari and Rabbitbunny. Hebari's usual partner was unfortunately unable to make it to the festival. Rabitbunny again deserves credit for stepping in at the last minute and Hebari for making it though a good show with hardly any chance to practice with a new partner. Andrea Ropes from Italy was another rigger without his usual partner. Nina Russ stepped in for this show. (I have to give her special credit for hard work in bottoming for two shows and topping for one.) The show was another unusual ones, Andrea in full wa-fuku style clothing and Nina in a zentai suit with a paper 'radiation suit' over that. It was an interesting mix of styles. Last on was Bob Ropemarks and Dutch Dame. Again I can only remark on how different the styles of all the performances where. Techno music, industrrial sounds, samples from the film SAW [...]
One phrase that tends to set my nerves a little on edge is when people say I've done X therefore I'm good at Y. I've done sailing; therefore I'm good at rope bondage (because they both involve rope) I've done climbing; therefore I'm good at rope bondage (because they both involve rope) I've done engineering; therefore I'm good at rope bondage (because bondage is just engineering) I've done knife fighting; therefore I'm good at cookery (because they both involve knives) 1, What this assumes is that... because bondage involves knots being good at knots is the same as being good at bondage. While you do need to be able to tie the odd knot for bondage the majority of the skills that make you good at bondage are not tying knots. 2, This is often quoted when it comes to suspension. What I'll say here is that climbers can have a lot of good knowledge where it comes to equipment and creating secure points to work from. The knowledge is good for that reason and purpose but does not translate into bondage. Climbing has very little to do with binding the human body. 3, While having the kind of mind that can understand engineering aspects it doesn't teach much about binding the human body. Purely technical knowledge has it's place very much so above the suspension point for instance. An engineers knowledge of structure and material properties can be very useful in informing you if a point is likely to be robust enough to hang your suspension point. 4, This one was kind of a joke to make a point about about not assuming that "It involves rope therefore I'm good at bondage" isn't always a [...]
This is the final blog on this experience. All that's left is a few words about the dojo anniversary party on Saturday night. The Copenhagen shibari dojo is two years old. Our congratulations go to its founders and members. In a moment. The night was marked by two performances by members of the dojo and by a tying demonstration by Yukimura Haruki Sensei which used all the techniques taught during the teaching days in the week. A little while later the grand master tied again, and I'm sure that there was not meant to be any kind of show element, however there was an audience. As the evening progressed a number of people moved onto other events nearby. We however were happy to stay at the dojo and enjoyed the company and some tying of our own. A final treat of the evening was that grand master Yukimura tied again another two times utilising techniques and ties that were not in the lessons. Having the opportunity to observe these sessions was an education in itself. A great end to a wonderful experience. We were to leave Copenhagen with nothing but good memories of our time there. Of wonderful people and wonderful lessons learned. The last mention here must go to clover without whom this trip would not happen. As birthday presents go, this one was something special.
This is a variation I came up with while wanting a tie that could be done in bed without having to pass rope under the body while the person being tied is lying face down. I've called this nemui shibari because I happened to know that 眠い(nemui) is the Japanese for sleepy. This may btw. be a terrible name for this but it's what I made up off the top of my head because the tie was thought up while tying someone who was sleepy. My sincere thanks to Hajime Kinoko san for correcting my Japanese in the naming of this tie. The first time I taught this tie was at the London festival of the art of Japanese bondage. It's not often that you get to show a tie to the Japanese so I was very happy to be able to do so. Here's a link to the tutorial
To be honest a lot of the posts on this blog only exist because of the amazing amount of negativity being generated in the rope scene. How many people can there be that just can't stand the success of others, that can only make themselves feel big by trying to belittle others? There is so much going on in the bondage world that is wonderful and creative and pushing the boundaries in a good way. I see the standard rising all over but yet I see people decrying this and that. More good education is available and the general standard is rising. The worse riggers are finally being pushed out because their incompetence is revealed by the generally rising standard. This keeps bottoms more safe and this is a good thing. There is more information and education for bottoms, this helps them to recognise and avoid the worse rope tops and this is a good thing. I see with great satisfaction people copying education for rope bottoms all around the world. I'm glad that people are catching onto this. It helps to push for a better educated and a better standard of rigger, it helps to push out the incompetent. All this is so much to the good. People have incredibly asked if we mind them reproducing the materials for rope bottoms that we publish for free in multiple languages or use them as part of classes. Why would we mind? The whole point is to increase education for rope bottoms. The whole point it to make good general information available. This information is from a rope bottom for rope bottoms and I'm very pleased to see this information out there. When people copy the [...]