After realising I often get private messages with questions such as – “how do I learn shibari?” – “what are some good tips for new rope bottoms” etc. – I decided it may be a good idea to compile a little list of these questions and things I recommend publicly in order to hopefully direct people who are wanting to learn/ explore more easily 🙂
These are also just my opinions based on my own knowledge and experience – I would also advise do more research and look at different resources to learn more and gain balanced perspectives.
How do I learn rope? I want to tie someone up! I want to learn suspension?!
Sometimes I get questions like “How do I join shibari?!?” – and I think to myself.. hmmm it’s not a secret club! Luckily nowadays there are spaces dedicated to learning, along with excellent workshops and classes you can take – of course not everyone lives locally to a rope space – but check online also! There could be a peer group or munch nearby where you could meet likeminded people and learn. There are also some great resources such as books with tutorials, and online guides – however I would always encourage people to get out and learn in person at workshops or in private tuition – especially with any type of suspension work – as there are certain subtleties in tension, placement, and much more which should be learnt properly and checked for safety purposes.
However don’t worry if it seems overwhelming in the beginning! – rope is really not all about the fancy knots and complicated suspensions.. yes they look spectacularly beautiful and are fun to do – but they also can take a long time to master safely and smoothly, and sometimes even longer to get to the point where you can stop focusing on worrying about the ropes so much and really enjoy the moment with your partner. Also, many of the people you see doing these suspensions have been learning and practicing for years, and although some people do progress very quickly – it is important to really get a hold of the basics and feel confident on the floor before you start to fly!
For me, some of my most enjoyable, powerful, memorable moments in rope have been the simple ties on the floor. The ties with one rope, or a few, wrapped randomly and varying with tightness, pace and sensations throughout the scene. Enjoying that moment with my partner and feeling their intention and focus as they tie me. Being able to connect and communicate without speaking, dancing with the ropes. These are my favorite! – and it is a wonderful place to start. That is also how I would recommend getting in to exploring rope – tying with intention and purpose rather than just trying to make pretty patterns.
It also reminds us why we are doing rope? It should be about experiencing something we enjoy ourselves and with our partners, feeling good, exploring our bodies and minds, fears and desires, and most importantly…having fun! So if seems overwhelming or frustrating in the beginning but you want to keep developing your skill – remember why you want to do it in the first place – and think of the basics such as how you handle and place the rope on the body in order to communicate to your partner, what is the best way to you keep the tension smooth and lay the rope flat, what kind of shape do I want to create to evoke a feeling emotionally? – going back to the basics will always help you to progress forward further, and also the more you practice – the faster you will learn!
A lot of what you learn will be technical knowledge about knots and frictions/ patterns etc, but much of rope is also just muscle memory, and practice practice practice. Some of the most skilled riggers I have met have become that way and continue to grow because they never take learning and development for granted – for instance practicing a single column tie over and over again hundreds of times so they can tie it blindfolded, upside down and on all parts of the body. Having confidence and good technique in the basics will allow you to tie with a smoother flow, but then visa versa, in order to tie smoothly and with good flow you should also have a focused intention, concentrating on your partners body, movement and breath – so it isn’t just technical knowledge that makes a person a “good rigger” or good person to tie with – it is also about being able to read your partners body language and communicate through the rope.
So I hope maybe this answers a bit of that for anyone thinking of diving into this wonderful world 🙂
If you are in London you can learn rope at this incredible space – Anatomie Studio – where there are regular rope jams, classes, workshops and performance events available – I highly recommend this as an inclusive LGBTQ+ friendly, kink friendly, female friendly, awesome space for anyone new to rope – as well as people who are already learning and would like to develop their skills.
I would like to be tied! How do I learn rope bottoming skills? Isn’t that painful?
Ok so let’s first get one thing straight – this isn’t for everyone and yes some people get a bit freaked out at the thought of being tied up in ropes and hoisted in the air! However – if it’s something that tickles your fancy then luckily now there are LOTS of fabulous resources, classes and safe spaces for you to access and explore!
Being tied up may look or seem like the passive role, and though some people do like to include powerplay/ submission into their rope scenes, the role of the rope bottom in my opinion is actually a very active and powerful one. At any moment during a rope exchange, the one being tied/ the rope bottom should always feel able to communicate how they are feeling, their right to be untied (safeword) or ask for changes if the rope is causing unintended pain or possible nerve injury. Even though you are the one being tied and may not have physical control over the ropes, you are always entitled to your body and boundaries being respected, and being able to communicate this before, and during rope is important.
Some people are attracted to ropes because they are more interested in the BDSM aspect of it, others simply enjoy the shapes that it creates in the body, some people find it a cathartic but non sexual experience, some people just like to self suspend! – There are many different reasons we get into ropes – but the most important thing is being able to communicate what YOU want to try or explore with ropes and negotiate that you are both on the same page. It is often different if you are trying this in a couple as opposed to going into this on your own.
When I discovered shibari I was single and did not have one partner to do ropes with – luckily I was able to meet people through a rope event and get to know them regularly before tying – and then when we did tie it was in a public space with others around. As mentioned before – there are now more and more rope jams, munches, events and meet up groups, where you can get to know people before committing to doing anything. Negotiation and consent are SO important – rope can be an intimate experience even if it is not sexual in that moment – respect each others bodies and minds.
Getting into being tied means getting to know your own body, what you like, what you dislike, your flexibility, pain tolerance etc. and that can be a very incredible feeling to connect with your own body, to learn and challenge things about yourself that you perhaps didn’t know. Saying that – not everyone likes pain! Some people enjoy the endorphin rush they can get from playing with intense sensations – but if you’re not into it – that’s also cool! It’s important to be able to identify your limits and communicate them – but being able to explore and enjoy intense sensation in rope is definitely alluring for some!
Also – we all have different bodies and how one person looks in one tie will look completely different on another person – the diversity of bodies and how they look in rope is what makes it so fascinating and beautiful for me. There are certain things we could all do to improve our flexibility, strength and general physical health, but being in rope should be about enjoying it for yourself and not anyone else.
Some resources for people new or thinking of getting tied up here!
Highly recommended in multiple languages and *FREE* – The Rope Bottom Guide http://kinkyclover.com/resources/rope-bottom-guide/ – Clover Brook
The Little Guide to Getting Tied Up – Evie Vane – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Guide-Getting-Tied-Up/dp/1500771686
Better Bondage for Every Body – Evie Vane https://www.amazon.com/Better-Bondage-Every-Body-Evie/dp/153315211X