We often hear: “I just discovered rope and really want to get into it. What should I learn?” These are our suggestions:
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.
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:
(This can help you decide if what they do best matches with what you want to learn.)
(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.)
(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.)
(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.)
(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.)
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.
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!