The four stages of learning

Posted on Tue, 26 November 2013

I found these definitions in a book on NLP but I'm sure they have cropped up before. Anyway, they apply very much to learning to use rope. I say "use rope" as opposed to knowing how to tie as I think they are very different. Knowing how to tie is the technical bit in my definition. Knowing how to "use rope" is what makes it communication and not just tying parcels.

I very much believe that this only comes with stage 4, 'unconscious competence', when you are no longer distracted by the technical process. This is what I term 'muscle memory'. In other words, you act without having to consciously access memory, like finding keys on a keyboard or a soldier stripping a weapon in the dark.

  • Unconscious incompetence: You know so little, you don't even know you are doing it wrong.
  • Conscious incompetence: You know enough to know you are doing it wrong.
  • Conscious competence: You know enough to know you are doing it right.
  • Unconscious competence: You are doing it right but you are no longer aware how you are doing it.

Treat tying like making love. You don't embark on that with a check-list (I trust!), so why should rope be any different? You only need a plan when you are not confident about what you are doing; so, it is worth practising the simplest ties until you can do them without looking or thinking before moving on. Then, just play with a single rope and don't try to do any specific tie, wrapping is all you need to do as long as you think about what you are trying to say. Are you caressing and teasing with the rope? Using it to dominate and control? Are you being gentle or harsh? Slow and methodical or urgent? Rope is a language. Think how many ways you can say "No" and how many things it can mean from an emphatic "No!" through "Maybe?" to "Yes!"; indeed, how many nuances each of those might have depending on tone, volume etc.

Before rushing off in search of the Holy Grail of a perfect 3 rope takate-kote, learn how to reduce your partner to mush with a single rope. That way, you will have 3 ropes to turn your partner to mush with when you do your t-k and not just a bored rope bunny. After all, is it better to be able to perform every position in the Kama Sutra with little satisfaction or just one or two where you know what you are about and can really whip up some passion?