Getting Started with Rope Bondage
We often hear: “I just discovered rope and really want to get into it. What should I learn?” These are our suggestions:
- Learn about the history of and different approaches to rope bondage …
- Learn all you can about safety as it relates to rope bondage, particularly issues like nerve vs. circulation damage, joint and compression injuries, how to inspect and care for rope and related hardware, how to deal with emergencies, etc. …
- Learn about the different types of rope you might use (see the FAQs), the pros and cons of each, where to get it, and how to treat and take care of it …
- Learn about the other kinds of hardware that typically accompanies rope bondage (carabiners, climbing straps, anchor points, etc.) …
- Learn how to negotiate a successful rope scene, particularly for health conditions and injuries, rope placement and preference, and sexual play …
- Learn about the things that make for a good rope top or rope bottom, consider the type of rope top or bottom you want to be …
- Learn some basic cuffs, then some basic patterns, then how to control your rope and the tension you place on it as you tie those patterns. Get all of that down solid before you think about moving into more complex ties. Get the more complex ties down solid before you think about moving into suspension–partial or otherwise. Don’t move into suspension without someone more experienced there to help guide you.
- Learn about self-tying, either as a way to practice without a partner or as a goal in its own right …
- Learn about tying a variety of body types with a variety of physical limitations and the related adaptations they require …
Find others to learn from, learn with, and share the many facets of rope bondage …
In all of this, go slow and enjoy the process. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you know what you don’t yet know (see: the Dunning–Kruger effect), and don’t assume others know just because they say they do. Rope can be very dangerous, and over-confidence on either side of the rope can cause serious injury.
We often get asked how long someone should be “doing rope” before they suspend. While we don’t believe in any definite set of numbers, and recognize that everyone learns at different paces, we recommend beginners practice only floor work for a minimum of 6 to 8 months (assuming frequently and sustained weekly practice) before starting to apply force on the ties through partial suspension. We recommend exploring partial suspension with the assistance and supervision of a more experienced and skilled practitioner. We recommend exploring full suspension only after regular practice of partial suspension techniques for another 6 to 8 months minimum, and then only with the assistance and supervision of someone with multiple years of successful and proven experience in full suspension. Many recommend even longer between those stages. Pushing to move faster than that can endanger yourself and those with whom you tie.
Be careful … with yourself and with those who trust you in rope.
We strongly recommend that anyone studying rope bondage beyond the basic level find sources of good in-person instruction. There are aspects of rope bondage that can be hard to convey through text, images, or video, and of course, you also miss the instructor/student feedback loop. Without this closer attention to detail and discussion of student-specific concerns, some forms of rope bondage can be more dangerous than it needs to be.
Of course, we recognize this can be limited by the number or types of instructors nearby, the demands of a busy schedule, or the constraints of finances. Still, when possible, it’s your best bet.
Options typically include:
- social / skill-share groups (like Rope Bite or Knotting Circle, for example)
- workshops and intensives (checking Fetlife for opportunities is usually the best way to locate these)
- private lessons (finding local, skilled and experienced rope tops and bottoms is a good way to start)
Taking private lessons:
First, we believe it’s just as valid for a rope bottom to take lessons from another, more experienced rope bottom as it is for a rope top to take lessons from another, more experienced rope top. We also believe tops have lots to learn from bottoms and vice versa.
With that in mind … when considering rope instruction, we recommend you ask the following questions to help you make your decision:
What type of rope bondage do you practice and enjoy (as a top or bottom)?
(This can help you decide if what they do best matches with what you want to learn.)
How long have you been practicing it?
(In our experience, you may want to avoid anyone who hasn’t been practicing as a top and/or bottom for at least 2 years; 5 years is better; 10 years is even better. Of course, as the years go up, availability may go down and cost may rise. Also, years do not, by themselves, make a good instructor.)
How long have you been teaching / presenting? Who are some of your students, or where have you presented?
(This can give you a sense of their experience with teaching, which is a separate skill from practicing rope bondage. Someone can be an excellent rope bondage artist (top or bottom) but not a very skilled teacher … and vice versa. Also, if you’re able to speak with current or former students or workshop/intensive attendees, you’ll get some insight into the instructor’s ability and style of teaching.)
What do you feel comfortable teaching?
(A wise instructor will likely not teach to the limits of their knowledge or skill. For example, they may regularly practice complicated, multi-transitional suspension work, but may only feel comfortable teaching basic suspension work at this time. That sense of responsibility is a good sign in an instructor, in our opinion.)
Who did you learn from?
(Knowing how they learned can give you insight into the type of information they’ll have to pass along. Hopefully, they list more than books and online resources.)
Finally, get and check as many references as possible.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course, and you should find out as much as you can to determine if what they offer matches with what you’re seeking.
Questions? Get in touch!
We hope this brief introduction has been helpful in some way. If you have any questions about practicing rope bondage, or about what we offer through RVA Rope, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Good luck in your rope journey!