Monday, August 23, 2010

Letters to Monk, Practicing Solo

Monk - I've been following you on twitter and watched most of your vids, so thank you for being such an inspiration!

My question is tied to my circumstances, but it boils down to, how is it possible for a person to start practicing ties and knots *without a partner*?

Yes, the knee-jerk reaction is "find someone to play with!" and thanks, I've read that in every forum I've searched. But sometimes that is not an option, to wit: I live in a small Southern town with no real "scene" to speak of (I know what scene there is here, all three of them); I'm a grad student on a very tight budget, so I can't afford to travel much less pay for shibari clinics/training; I'm recently divorced and very much NOT into developing sexual/romantic relationships with anyone right now. Heck, I barely have time for my friends.

I'm also a bit of a control freak (yes, really) and I don't want to worry about my partner's situation during play while I'm trying to figure out a damn knot.

I've thought about mannequin torsos, life-size rag dolls (not that I've found any), practicing with thin rope on teddy bears...seriously, I've considered options. But surely I'm not the only person in this situation? If you have any advice particular to this, I'd love to hear it. Thank you!

I remember my friend Sam used to practice her ties on the back of a wooden chair. She would joke “If I can top a chair, someday I might be able to work up to a person!”

In all seriousness, this is a common question even for those who have a regular practice partner. Everyone needs to learn the basics, those fumbling first ties can be intimidating and even with your regular lover, who wants to worry about the whole “bunny goes out of the hole, around the tree” thing? No way, you want to do the fun stuff. I’ve seen many a scene become mired and stall due to the top becoming obsessed with the technical and forgetting that there is a living, loving human they are supposed to be interacting with thru the rope.

Here is what I did. Vending at classes and conventions means lots and lots of down time behind the table waiting for classes or end/ vending hours to start / etc. In those days I would pass the time practicing my single and double column ties on my legs. Part of how I developed my own personal style of fast bondage was due to this practice. Over and over, tying the same thing till it was reduced to muscle memory and not something I had to “think” about.

I will pause here and caution, using your legs to practice ties on and “self bondage” are very different things. I am not a fan of self bondage and would urge you to read up on the topic. Some very well informed people have made this argument far better than I.

As for mannequins, rag dolls and stuffed animals? I’ve heard of folks using these methods too. In the end, it is all about rope on the body. Substitutes will help you gain the confidence in your technical ability, but in the end you will want to put that rope to good use on a person.

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