I was reading a thread on FetLife about the relative difficulties of learning something like shibari against the difficulty of learning a musical instrument. The discussion on there had degenerated somewhat and it seemed that adding any kind of constructive comment would probably be a waste.
There were merits on both sides. I don’t know how open either side would be to admitting that given the level of animosity but there were.
Basically someone had said that you can’t learn Shibari online. This of course depends on your definition of Shibari. To some this just can’t be pinned down. To some it’s just the physical techniques, to some it’s about the connection and so on and so forth.
However I’m going to address the thought rather than the argument because maybe it’s one that bears exploring…
Now learning an instrument takes time. You have to admit that. I’ve done it myself. Learned the instrument, learned to read music and gotten good enough to play by sight. I wasn’t a great musician by any stretch. Competent certainly but I’d never be near the professional level. I taught myself, I enjoyed it and to an extent I found it easy but! It took time, lets be clear about that, it did take time. Much longer than it took to grasp the basics of Japanese style tying.
However, once you get past that…
What took and would always take a lifetime playing an instrument is interpretation and expression.
What took and will always take a lifetime tying is interpretation and expression.
I think that holds true for anything you can consider an art. No matter how simple or difficult it is from a reductionist point of view it’s perhaps something you can’t express, the thing that makes one thing art and the other craft that makes a difference.
Consider, there are a great many people play classical guitar, but very few giants like Segovia or Bream.
There are a great many who practice rope in Japan but very few giants like Nureki or Yukimura.
In a sense the comparison is not fair though as anyone can be taught a few chords just as everyone can be taught a basic kata.
In the discussion I saw the challenge was to learn one tie against learning a Beethoven string quartet.
To take another example, how much skill does it take to wet a brush and daub paint on a canvas? Not a lot and anyone can do it.
However not everyone can take that simple action and refine and command it to the point that they can paint a Vermeer, a Picasso, a Van Gogh.
And yes you can say there’s more to it than that. And there’s more to Shibari than memorising patterns.
What makes something art ultimately? Maybe it’s the artist that takes even the simplest technique and creates something beautiful with it.
Can you learn Shibari online or from a book? Yes, in the same way you can learn to play an instrument from online resources or from a book.
A good teacher however can make a huge positive difference and get you much further than you can get on your own in the same time.
By the same token a bad teacher can do an awful lot of damage.