The blind leading the blind

Posted on Tue, 26 November 2013


Out of curiosity to see how others do things, I was present at a beginners' introductory class presented by a well-known figure on the scene, who I also know socially. Not long into the class, I was surprised to see him show a spread-eagled tie to a bed commencing with 4 or 5 wraps around each wrist, with no safety space or mention of a slip-proof knot. For a moment, I hoped this was a demo of how not to do it but it soon appeared this was not the case. As I was seated off to the side and well in front of the audience, I attracted his attention and whispered "Don't you think you should show them a proper safety tie?". He reacted by saying "Oh, it's only on a bed" and then proceeded to shout at me to "Get out!".

I was tempted to ask him to explain his outburst to the assembled company but bit my tongue with uncharacteristic dimplomacy. Maybe it was not my business to mention it, however discretely, but with my knowledge of how easy it can be to cause nerve damage, I hated the idea of 30 or 40 people getting the impression from a seasoned BDSM-er that was the way to do it. The tie demonstrated did not have the wraps supported so would be subject to secondary tightening. In my opinion, limb ties that are prevented from tightening by a cinche or coming under the wraps are the way to go. One should always allow safety room for one or ideally two fingers to slide under the wraps and be aware of the risk of nerve compression at the wrists, especially when it might get when somebody is tied to a bed! Limb ties should always be made with a secure non-slip knot. Unless you show newbies, most will tie a couple of hitches, thus creating a slip-knot and a recipe for very tight bindings. Personally, I'd welcome a heads-up if I missed a vital point. It is easily done, especially if you are dealing with questions whilst doing something else. I have been known to miss whole stages in ties when interrupted :-)

Here's a nice little video by my friend Hebari, who does know how to teach a single column tie safely. at the end of this post. Even with proper tuition, I am constantly amazed by the deviations from specific forms, e.g. Osada/Kinoko ties, demonstrated by students who claim to be competent in such ties. Some bear little resemblance to the original article and others exhibit major faults. Whilst it is acceptable to make variations if the result is sound, but they often fail due to a lack of understanding of the basic engineering principles. Personally, I don't give a monkey's whether you use a Kazami style friction or a Kinoko/Osada one, so long as it works. Unfortunately, many folk don't seem to care how or why it works and just want to learn the steps.

Even if you can remember every step accurately, and that's a big if, I really think an understanding of the function is important if you are going to tie safely and creatively. This becomes vital if you learn such a tie second hand as errors are likely to become compounded as it passes from rigger to rigger. Resist the temptation to rush ahead. Learn proper forms and why they work. Get reputable tuition from an established teacher who has a proven track record of credible study behind him. Ask who taught him and how much tuition he had, how many classes he has run, look at examples of his work (ideally live) and, most importantly, check his reputation with both respected riggers and his students.

Practice what you have learned, then practice some more. If you still have to look, go and practice till you can tie and untie blindfolded. Don't move ahead until you can do everything that way. Only when you work by 'muscle memory' can you be spontaneous and communicate. Too many people are tying to do too much, so end up somewhat like a fumbling virgin trying to replicate every trick in the Karma Sutra :-) Best learn to walk before attempting a four minute mile! You might learn to run with some practice but the four minute mile takes hard training too. Dutch Dame and Ropemarks put in six months dedicated training for their latest show, so consider that before trying to copy the pros. Remember, just owning a motorbike does not make you a Red Bull X-Fighter extreme motorcross star any more than owning a set of my ropes makes you a rope god. The consequences of this misapprehension can be just as fatal. Don't risk your reputation by making this mistake. Being known as the guy that broke their rope bunny's neck won't enhance your popularity when it comes to new volunteers, I promise.