Dropped model: A lesson learned

Posted on Tue, 26 November 2013

Yesterday, Nina had the courage to post the following incident report in my 'Esinem's Kinbaku Group' on Fetlife. I say "courage" as too many people allow ego to get in the way of admitting mistakes. This is very unfortunate as it prevents others learning and taking steps to avoid a known pitfall. Some life lessons can only be learned first-hand but this is one that is far better not to inflict on others. One man's lucky warning might provide a lesson that avoids tragic consequences to another. Nina's case was one such incident. Luckily, no models "were harmed during this production", as they say. In other circumstances, it could have ended far worse...a concrete floor, a little higher, a bit faster, just the wrong angle. Nina has done countless suspensions under show conditions with a significantly heavier model so it can happen to anyone. One small component changed and created an unexpected result. Take this as a valuable lesson, don't let it happen to you. To make mistakes is forgiveable, to fail to learn is unforgivable.  This is what she wrote:

"Yesterday I dropped my model -fuoco- :(

I am writing this post, hoping that others will learn from my mistake. We were practising for BOUND when it happened, here are the details.

The ring I used to suspend was in metal, with a very thin diameter(8mm). Previously I have seen the advantage of the reduced friction, yesterday I discovered also the disadvantage.

Fuoco, my model was in an inverted position, with the head one foot from the floor. She had one main line on the waist and one line on the ankle. The waist line was secured firstly with a lock off on the ring and 2 half hitches after.</em>

I have untied first the leg and I've bring the body parallel to the ground, but not completely down. My hand was now holding this line. With the other hand I have start untying the mainline. I open the first hitch and all was good, but soon as I open the second hitch, my model went down. The lock off on the ring didn't do it's job because of the diameter and also because of the polished surface of the metal ring. Previous experience shows that using a larger diameter wooden ring, this lock off would of held.

Opening two lines together is common practice to me. Working with a metal ring is not. Whilst this lock off on the wooden ring works perfectly and I'm highly shocked that this method is useless with the THIN metal ring.</em>

Thankfully the model was not injured and we have been able to do our performance the same evening.

How do I feel after this? Well, my confidence went low and the fear up. I am still in shock.

I want to thank -fuoco- for continuing to have faith in me."

Her model, _fuoco- replied:

"Just wanted to chime in! I appreciate everyone who expressed concern for me. NinaRuss asked me to let everyone know how I remember it happening to add an additional perspective. I remember being tied face up and being very close to the ground. The drop was short and quick, and I believe that I probably processed everyone's shock and concern regarding my drop before I even realized what had happened. After a few seconds I noticed a bit of pain on the top of my head, but felt confident that I was fine and uninjured. After everyone calmed down Nina told me that she would be completely understanding of my decision to not perform that night if I didn't feel comfortable, and she also told me to talk to anyone I wanted to about the incident. We talked about what went wrong, and she felt that the suspension ring was why her friction came loose. We went on and performed and had a good night. I completely agree that it was very lucky that I was so close to the ground. I don't know enough about rigging to add my opinion to the debate about the ring. But I can say that I felt very looked after by Nina and was happy with how she responded to the incident."

It seems the problem arose due to the reduced friction of the small diameter polished metal ring and it is possible that is wasn't compatible with the type of friction used.  Nina had recently changed to this ring since she found the lower friction a big help as all her models weigh more than her. As she discovered, friction is a double-edged sword. It can be both friend and foe. On one hand, it creates hard work and stresses your rope. On the other, it can bear weight for you and aid control. Her usual wooden ring provides enough grip for a 'half friction' around to be quite enough. It's not entirely clear if the friction contributed as she can't recall if she used a half or full friction. Anyway, the metal ring turned out to her surprise and embarrassment not to provide sufficient grip. The friction didn't perform as expected and released suddenly enough for the rope to slip through her fingers rather faster than intended.

Later that night, Benjamin, one of my students who performed earlier, reminded us a far more suitable version from Kazami Ranki that took a turn around the main line before going around the ring. Given how well that performs compared to a half friction, I shall be using and teaching this one from now on. We will upload a video to explain what I mean shortly.